By Anna Sherman – Director of Religious Education, Holy Name parish
It was Friday, around February 15 when I was leaving adoration at San Ysidro Catholic Church in New Mexico. My husband Frank had moved up here to Ketchikan to settle and start his job at the Forest Service. I decided to wait for our son Francis to finish his sophomore year before the move, but I digress. I just had a beautiful conversation with our Lord for the hour. I remember telling him, “My life is in your hands. Whatever you want for me is cool. I am but a servant Lord, do with me as you will.” Always ending my prayers with thanksgiving, I regularly had conversations like this with our Lord during adoration or silent prayer. I also have a great devotion to the Divine Mercy and our Blessed Mother. I pray the rosary daily, always think of the words, “Jesus, I trust in you.” I feel that God has put me in situations that I might practice that trust, and again, I digress.
“St. Laurence, pray for me. Give me something to smile about today!” I prayed after leaving the church. Thirty minutes later, a call from Fr. Patrick Travers to offer me the position as Director of Religious Education here at Holy Name Parish rang true. I had to pull the car over and think for a minute. That ended with a great big smile. Everyone needs a saint they can run to like a best friend; St Laurence has been mine ever since.
Saying yes to Fr. Pat was easy, but after hanging up the phone and letting it all sink in, reality took over, and I looked up asking, “Really, can I do this? What can I offer the church that is starting over?” A definite call to my spiritual director was the answer I needed. “Anna, this is your calling. God will lead the way. Have trust and it will all come together.” “Trust,” the magic word; the one thing I have to practice in my daily life. Hence, my journey to Ketchikan, Alaska began.
Fast forward to present day here at Holy Name Catholic Church and School. I have been with the parish for almost three months, and together working with Fr. Pat, we are looking to reenergize the Religious Education Program not only for the children, but our entire church community. To begin, Holy Name School administrator and teachers have worked tirelessly as a team and dedicated much of their time preparing for the first days of school. Every day I see them, they always have a smile, a joke and kind words to share. The first day of school was met with eager new and returning students and their parents walking the halls with smiles, laughs, and pictures. There may have been a time I really wanted to photobomb a picture, but that might have to come later when everyone gets to know me and my sense of humor. Each morning, students and teachers all gather in the hallway with Fr. Pat as we begin the day with prayers and intentions. It is always a beautiful day when you listen to a child pray for their mom, dad, or even the pet goldfish. What a blessing it is to have this school, the staff, the students, and listen to the support of parents!
Here at Holy Name Parish, my office might be in the basement, but I enjoy sneaking up into the office and working with Fr. Pat and staff. We are a team, and I am blessed to work with such a group. But my favorite moments are when we come together as a family, pray and enjoy lunch and laugh.
In all seriousness, Catechetical Sunday is approaching, and we will be offering a Religious Education Fair to promote various activities. 2nd Sunday Formation, a men’s study group, a women’s study group are just a few being offered. It will be a great opportunity to see where the interests lie and since food always seems to be a big draw here in Southeast Alaska, a lovely cake made by one of our young adults should be a hit!
Catechetical Sunday is a wonderful opportunity to have the parish come together and pray for our catechists as they are commissioned for their ministry. “Stay with us,” is this year’s theme and it couldn’t arrive at a better time. With so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ leaving the church for one reason or another, it is even more important for us to reach out. Our spiritual growth is a lot like a muscle. If we try to work out on our own, get poor advice, eat wrong, or only believe that one way is the best, our efforts of going to the gym are meaningless. We might lose muscle, give up, or look elsewhere for new trainers. Just like our physical being, our spiritual growth is just the same. We constantly need to feed and nourish our faith, so that we can properly evangelize our children, family, and friends. We constantly need help from our priest and parishes to keep our faith strong in the end. It is definitely a “use it or lose it” mentality! I pray for our old and new catechists this year, that they might lead our children and adults training in prayer and spiritual growth; training in holiness through formation so that we might reach out to others and welcome our brothers and sisters back with open arms, no judgment; only love and compassion as we say to them, “stay with us.”