Together Msgr. McCulken and Frank have led the ChristLife process at St. Eleanor Parish since 2017. It is a suburban parish of 4,200 families in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. In 2020, they finished their fourth offering of the entire ChristLife Process—Discovering Christ, Following Christ, and Sharing Christ. Not even a pandemic could stop them from fulfilling the mission of the Church to evangelize and make disciples.
At the beginning of 2020, their plan was set. The parish would offer Following Christ in March 2020, shortly after the end of their Discovering Christ course. But three weeks before their start date, COVID-19 restrictions shut down all in-person activities throughout Pennsylvania.
What seemed like unsurmountable limitations were embraced as an opportunity to rely on God. While it was unknown at the time what ChristLife online might look like, they prayerfully discerned and decided to forge ahead.
"The need to gather together greatly overrode any of our concerns about the limitations of technology. We thought better to do something even if it wasn’t perfect than not do anything at all, especially with people feeling so isolated."
After training both team members and course participants in using new technology, Following Christ began. The first three weeks went extremely well. Discussions were fruitful and the leaders were pleased.
Session 4 begins a series of prayer experiences. There was major concern regarding how they would be received. The fruit was exceptional. Many leaders thought they were the most powerful times of prayer ever. The participants were exceedingly blessed.
"Even when we feel we are limited as to what we can do, we should not extend those limits to the power of the Holy Spirit."
Since 2017, they have witnessed transformation in the lives of those who attend the ChristLife sessions:
- People are more faithful in prayer.
- Spiritual habits are initiated and grown in people’s lives—Scripture reading, reception of the Sacraments, and service.
- People are praying for one another right then and there, instead of simply saying they will pray.
- Many participants became team members for the next series.
"Lives are changed because of ChristLife. That’s more than just a slogan. I see it first hand."