Hi Everyone,

I hope you are doing well this week. I realize that we are still in the middle of what feels like a never-ending pandemic. In fact, it seems like we are getting used to this. Well, kind of…

The last two weeks, I’ve asked you to open you hearts to consider your work as Prayer In Action and then to think about what it means to be loving and present to others by Being Vulnerable. Today, I wanted to take a step back and look at what God has put in motion. Whether you know it or not, you are a part of a “small faith community”. What I realized 18 years ago when I starting at the cemeteries in the Diocese of Oakland is that most cemeteries had a relatively small staff that had known each other 10 or more years. Many of the staff considered their job a life-long vocation. In fact, they were often like a small family, sometimes there was some dysfunction in the relationships (hey, we all have a crazy uncle or cousin, right?) but overall most of the staff learned to love and accept one another.

At the same time I started in Oakland, I joined a program called Renew at my parish. They asked us to pair up with 5 other couples that we didn’t know to form a small faith Christian community. It was life-changing for my wife and me as we would end up meeting with this group every other Friday night for over ten years. It was very simple as we would do a prayer reflection together and share a meal together. What made this so much a part of our life is that this is where we could share our faith with each other. It made going to Church more meaningful and I had a sense of God’s presence in our lives.

I see each of our cemeteries and funeral homes as small Christian communities. Yes, we are part of a greater Church ministry, but you will spend nearly half of your waking hours with a relatively small group of fellow workers. You can be an important support to each other. We have never been one to force staff to worship together. We do try to have you all start your day or meeting with a short prayer, inviting God to be present with us in our work, and to pray for each other’s intentions. The purpose of my weekly message is to help stimulate discussion on God’s presence in the experiences that you share with your co-workers. My prayer is that you’ll engage with each other caring for your mutual physical and spiritual well-being, even occasionally sharing a meal together. In a couple of dioceses, some staffs have even gone as far as meeting weekly to discuss a chapter in one of the Matthew Kelly’s Dynamic Catholic books, or celebrating mass together. There isn’t a formula to be followed as much as it is about getting each staff to reflect on the meaning of your work as part of God’s plan. Some days will be good, and some days we will struggle to get by together.

Over the past two weeks, you probably saw a communication inviting you to a new program called Namely. In fact, most of you should have received an invite to sign up with your own personal login. Many of you may still wonder what the purpose of this is for. For quite some time we have wanted a “closed forum” where all of the employees could communicate, check-in and even track important employment information. I’d suggest that you sign up and give us feedback. Our first attempt was the Mission Central web-site. It has been well received, but we wanted something more social and a place that you could find important information and even track your career path. This is still a work in progress, but our goal is to create a site that you want to sign into because it provides value. There are a number of features that we have yet to announce, but this is another way that we will connect our growing small faith community of CFCS.

I want to thank a number of you for sending the occasional response to one of my messages. They are always appreciated and I try my best to respond as best I can. Have a great rest of your week!

With blessings and gratitude,