Great answer by Fr. Mike Schmitz
I try to make it no secret that the key for me to being a priest and remaining in the priesthood was the spiritual formation I received through the Institute for Priestly Formation (priestlyformation.org) which is based in Omaha.
For 20 years IPF has been quietly but powerfully transforming diocesan priesthood by inviting seminarians and priests to a “radical reorientation” to Christ. This summer 180 seminarians from dioceses all across the U.S. will come to Omaha for 9 weeks to learn how to pray in integrate that prayer into every aspect of their life.
The ultimate purpose of IPF is to have pastors that can make their parishes schools of prayers. IPF is FOR YOU my dear friends. Once we learn how to hear the voice of God our lives change. Forever. Then and only then can we invite others to taste what we have tasted.
I was invited to give a witness about IPF at an IPF dinner on March 31st at St. Robert Parish in Omaha. Fr. Scott Harter of Grand Island preceded me. I was followed by Msgr. John Esseff who received an award for his decades of priestly service.
Today’s guest post is from Kim Sullivan – parishioner, daughter of God, loving wife and mother of four children. She shares with us this beautiful encounter with Jesus.
…but He was ready to give me more!
As I sat in the pew on Good Friday, my attention went back and forth from the veiled crucifix up front, to my 2 1/2 year old that was climbing back and forth from me to my husband. I knew why I was here, and I knew why I had brought my family with me. I wanted to venerate the cross that has changed my life over the past 5 or so years.
I brought a lot with me on this evening. I wasn’t sure I was ready to let go of it yet and I didn’t have any expectations, but Father’s homily about surrendering all of your heart to Jesus, led me right to where I needed to be. Jesus was there, finally unveiled, and ready to carry all that I had carried in. All I needed to do was give it to Him. Led by the Holy Spirit, I opened my heart to let Him in and all of my ‘junk’ spilled out. It started with me naming them; self-doubt, unworthiness, self-hate and shame. In my human weakness, I knew I would forget something, but I felt myself let go. I knew that Jesus knew better than I, all of the places that I was longing for healing, so I surrendered my control also. It was just Jesus and me, heart to heart. I could feel my heart being emptied and pouring out all that I have held back. There was a sense of freedom and trust, that the One who created me has so much more for me than all of this ‘junk’.
So I went up, and kissed the feet of my Savior. And as I sat and watched others do the same I was filled with a peace. Luke finally settled in on my lap, and all was still. I was trying to close my eyes and just sit with Jesus, but He kept nudging me to open them. I think He wanted me to see my parish family. We were all here, for our own reasons, but we all have the same Savior. He would have died for any one of us. There was a great number of people that I don’t know personally. Many that I do know, and some that I know very well. As my friends and family went up to venerate the cross my eyes welled up with tears and my heart grew even bigger. It was such a gift to see us, as a parish, worshiping in this way!
We went up for Communion and again I was filled with peace and an awe for this parish family He has given me. I sat with a full and grateful heart for what He had shown me. But there was more! As the priests, deacons and altar servers put things away after Communion, I heard Him speak to me. The words “you are worth it” rang in my ears! I was startled, and looked around to see if others had heard this as well. It was meant for me! It was personal! For the first time, I heard it AND I believed it!
Since that evening, I have been overwhelmed by this Love. Not only the love He has for me personally, but for the love He has for us as a parish family. I thought I was already at a good place in my relationship with Jesus, but He has shown me that He can always take us further!
All glory to God, the Father who’s Love is unfailing.
Jesus, who longs for us to give Him our hearts.
And the Holy Spirit who guides us in all!
If you have a personal experience of an encounter Christ, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. We will help you share it with our parish.
My friend Dr. Carole Brown, Director of the Office of New Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, has been producing this series called “Profiles in Discipleship”. Please take the time to watch. There is great power in personal witness.