Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington



From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302


October Mission at Otis Orchards parish: ‘Growing Closer to Jesus’

by Emanuele Portolese, for the Inland Register

(From the November 20, 2014 edition of the Inland Register)

Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers (IR photo courtesy of St. Joseph Parish, Otis Orchards)

Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers presented a parish mission for St. Joseph Parish, Otis Orchards, Oct. 18-22, titled “Growing Closer to Jesus.”

Parishioners and visitors alike had the opportunity to experience four highly animated talks given by the internationally known Catholic speaker.

Deacon Burke-Sivers is a powerful and passionate evangelist and a popular speaker in the Church today. Listeners described him as dynamic, enthusiastic, humorous, piercing, candid, sincere, intelligent, and riveting.

He captured the attention of over 200 people in attendance with powerful words that rang true. To tell listeners they would not fall asleep during his presentations was an understatement. His resolute, and sometimes earsplitting and startling, punctuations of vital points, and his high-energy style, held listeners’ attention during every minute of each presentation.

“A new life requires us to let go of the old, just as faith requires that we surrender everything to God,” said the deacon. “Surrendering and ‘letting go’ is never easy, and we must look to Jesus as our example of what it means to make of a gift of our life, because it is in giving ourselves away in love that we truly find ourselves. When we pray, we ask God to lower the walls that we’ve erected between him and ourselves, so that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus enters into our most guarded places of our hearts, willing to set us free to love.

“Christ allows us to see and understand that by the power of God and none other, we can be transformed by prayer,” he said. “We must take our hands off the steering wheel and let God drive. We must empty ourselves of sin so that God can fill us with his love. We must die to the ways of this world so that Christ can live in us.”

Deacon Burke-Sivers gave an overview of the foundation for the Catholic faith, how the Scriptures are intimately involved in Mass, and why knowing the truth, engaging in sincere prayer, and attendance at Eucharistic Adoration are so important to everyone. He explained in great detail how to sow the seeds of faith to help bring others to Christ and the Church.

He devoted a segment of one evening speaking directly to young people who freely volunteered the feeling that “Mass is boring” for them, as it is for many of their friends. In response, he gave them tangible reasons why regular attendance at Mass is so essential. He clearly explained the vital aspects of the Mass, gave them practical ways to become intimately involved during the Mass and, with great empathy, challenged the youth present to experience the gifts God freely gives to them, and to everyone else, during this special hour of the week.

Perhaps one way to judge the effectiveness of a speaker is how people react at the closing of the presentation. When Deacon Burke-Sivers gave his final and very moving message, the prolonged standing ovation provided clear confirmation of the power of his presentation. Clearly, all who attended wanted to hear more and regretted that it had ended so soon – another definitive testimony to the effectiveness of this mission.

The parish’s Stewardship Committee, with the leadership of Father Mike Kwiatkowski, pastor, was instrumental in making this mission possible at St. Joseph. The committee’s hard work is very much appreciated by the parish. There is no doubt that annual parish missions will bring forth much good fruit in the coming years.

(Portolese is a member of St. Joseph Parish, Otis Orchards.)


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