Fr. James is from St. Daniel the Prophet Catholic Church in Wheaton, Illinois, and his parish has been running ChristLife for several years now. Recently, ChristLife sat down with him to hear about how his parish has been doing since starting ChristLife. 

Why did you decide to bring ChristLife to your parish?

After a long search, we discovered that ChristLife introduced people to the person of Jesus within the community of His Church. The tipping point for us was how it presented the Scriptures, the Sacraments, and the Tradition of the Church as vital parts of our personal encounter with Jesus. Within that meaningful relationship, developing a Catholic Christian lifestyle is convincing, and our spiritual outreach to others is compelling.

The ongoing offering of ChristLife is transforming our core parishioners. They know their faith, love their faith, and live their faith in ways that attract others. ChristLife also appeals to prospective parishioners who sense we have something they long for, a life filled with meaning, purpose, and love. Jesus can truly deliver these blessings to those who embrace Him personally in the community of His Church.

As we present ChristLife for the third time, a spiritual difference is apparent in our liturgies, ministries, and daily lives. New people are showing up at Mass and at ChristLife. Something wonderful is happening. The Spirit seems to be working in our midst through ChristLife. Other parishes in our diocese are also catching the ChristLife spirit as part of a great spiritual reset of the Church in our day.

 

As a priest, how has ChristLife helped to broaden your understanding and practice of evangelization?

As a perpetual student, I usually promoted the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of our faith. After taking ChristLife, I am focusing more on the ‘who’ and the ‘why’ of faith as the foundation for everything else. In my forty-fifth year of priesthood, ChristLife is like a new pair of glasses that highlights spiritual treasures which have been hiding in plain sight. The faith story I composed at ChristLife has also been a helpful tool in my evangelization efforts.

When I share my story about how Jesus is real to me, it motivates people to search for that unique part of themselves that can help them bond with Jesus. When I relate how Jesus makes a difference in how I understand my life and how I live my daily life not just as a priest, but as a Catholic Christian, people seem more inclined to explore what differences Jesus can make in their own personal lives as well.

 

As a pastor with many competing priorities, why is running ChristLife so important to you?

In my opinion, the “creative minority” church, predicted by Pope Benedict, is already here. The age of cultural religion is history, and the prospect of intentional faith is now upon us. Just like the Apostles who were engaged in the old evangelization, we are embarking on a new evangelization today. What does this Church of the future look like? For me, I think it looks a lot like the graduates of the ChristLife process today.

A ChristLife graduate is someone who wants to know Jesus better because they are already in a meaningful relationship with Him. They want to spend more time with Him in prayer, Scripture, and the Sacraments, because they know that is what Jesus likes. They so identify with Jesus, they want to share the Good News and help those in need, just like Jesus did. Thus, I regard ChristLife graduates as being the future of the Church right now.

Please join me in our parish ChristLife prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. Fill me with your Spirit so that I may live a new life. Help me to know you, to love you, and to serve you in this world, so that I may be happy with you both now and for all eternity. Thank you, Lord! Amen.”