By: Randy and Rosie Chavez
We call ourselves the Friday Night Prayer Warriors. We belong to St. Brigid’s Catholic Church in San Antonio, TX. Our group started fifteen years ago in 1994, when Rosie and I were invited to a Bible Study group by a friend while playing Volleyball at a parish pickup game. Megan and Jenna were 4 and 8 years old. The children played in another room while we gathered. It was part of the Renew Lenten activities, but we decided to keep it going all year. When the host moved, Rosie and I offered our home. In 2002 our Parish began to organize Small Christian Communities (SCCs) and asked for existing groups to identify themselves and participate in the SCC formation and yearly meetings. We still slip and call ourselves a Bible Study group, but we truly are a Community family, really.
We have developed strong friendships and spiritual relationships with our pastors and deacons and involve them in our SCC. Father Tom Flanagan (now Bishop) comes once a year and we have a Rosary, Advent Dinner and fellowship. He renewed our marriage vows for Valentine’s Day one year. Deacon Pat Frisina enthroned the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Deacon Juan, before he became a deacon, was a member of our SCC. We have dinner night at a restaurant once in a while, just for fun. Other annual special activities are a backyard BBQ and an Advent Dinner. We keep plugged into existing parish communities, activities and ministries, which binds us to the greater parish community.
The most effective way we have found in recruiting new members is through a personal invitation. In the Narthex after Mass and at Parish signups for SCCs, we invite new people from ACTS, Women’s and Men’s Retreats and RCIA elect. We help them feel like family and pray for each other. We feel tied together through Christ. Rosie makes a call to each one every week. We have different ages, and backgrounds: some in their 80’s, some are newlyweds and some have been married 55 years. We have supported each other through our joys and sorrows: ups and downs in our lives and marriages, our children’s accomplishments and milestones. We help and benefit from each others’ experiences.
We are pretty radical in the resources we use: the Bible and Catechism of the Catholic Church, primarily and in that we are not afraid to discuss openly what is going on in the Church and around us. The Sunday Visitor, one Bread One Body, current events from Catholic Websites, i.e. Knights of Columbus, and Catholic Radio and TV, etc. are good resources. I prepare for our gathering by making mental notes during the week about what I hear or read and then an hour or two prior. Everyone is encouraged to bring up a topic to share and reflect on.
All of our members have always been involved in our church and community. The most palpable transformation the Holy Spirit has worked in our SCC is the affirmation of our faith. We have had healings, not just from illnesses, but spiritually. A prime example is when Linda Cortez was very ill and had isolated herself. When someone advised her to call us (she had been a friend from our Parish) she and her husband joined our SCC. Our prayers and faith sharing opened up the floodgates. Now that she is in remission, she gives testimony to the power of community prayer. Our SCC kept us personally together with prayer and encouragement when Randy’s family business fell apart and we had to start over. Then three years ago when Randy’s brother died at such a young age, Meme and Val who had tragically lost their young son, were very helpful and supportive. Sharing our stories, our faith and our SCC experience has drawn us toward evangelization, outreach and special activities within our own home, parish, or community. The adults even had Stations of the Cross at the prison!
What has kept our SCC together for fifteen years is the integration of our faith with our daily life. We are together all the time, not just Friday nights, both at church or social activities. We celebrate each other’s birthdays and anniversaries. We have Group Prayer to give thanks or pray for our needs. Another factor is that we hold each other accountable, letting members know we miss them when we don’t see them at church or on Friday nights. But, we always welcome them back. As Teresa and Alfred Cooke say, “God wants us to be together in these difficult times, to be involved in all activities at church. We know that here we have friends. This is a good example of how we are supposed to be as church and society, for us and our children. It really sinks in (living our lives as Brothers and Sisters and as God wants us to.”
SCC “UNITING YOUTH NOW” AND ST. BRIGID’S YOUNG ADULT GOUP
Our children consider our SCC and parishioners as family. Because the adults are involved, our children volunteer or are asked to participate in choir, the Easter and Christmas plays, to help with Bible Study and youth formation. We are very proud that Jenna and Megan stepped forward to lead the Young Adult and the Youth Groups, but the other youth have been very much involved and supportive. Jenna leads St. Brigid’s Young Adults (18-30 years old), whose focus is on community service and fellowship. Megan’s SCC,”Uniting Youth Now”, focuses on community service, fellowship and bible study. They gather at the same time we do, but have separate meetings. At the end of their meeting, they come down and tell us what they discussed, what actions they decided to take. Of course we support them in carrying them out. Then, we all share in closing prayer and fellowship.
Megan and Jenna have found that for the Youth and Young Adult groups, a personal invitation to join in works best, too. They put notices in the Bulletin, send e-mails and make phone others to invite them to activities and meetings. The Youth SCC is on Face book, and they share photos of activities. We have all gone on field trips to the zoo and other places. Adults, young adults, and youth do some things together.
The youth and young adults have cleaned up the Church grounds, refurbished the outdoor Stations of the Cross, helped with vacation Bible School for Kids, volunteer at Frank Garrett Community Center, and helped at the fund raiser for Kenny Hudnall. Ten of our young adults attended the Young Adult Conference sponsored by the San Antonio Archdiocese. Our SCC put together a Youth Mission project last summer
SCC “UNITING YOUTH NOW” SPEAK:
Andrew Ligon: At first, a long time ago, I did things for the church and community because my friends and family were there, but now I love my community and my church and care for their growth. I care what happens to the people, I want it to be a place that cares for everybody. I am an Altar Server, in Agape and have had roles in the Easter and Christmas plays.
Priscilla: I enjoy being involved with the group and in Agape Dance Ministry, Matachines along with other members of our adult and youth SCCs.
Jenna: I know we are using the word Community, but we have grown to be more of a family. They have brought out skills I didn’t know I had: like time management, interpersonal skills, and persuasiveness. One day I just asked Debra (Adult Faith Coordinator) if she had anyone working with the young adults and she said “No.”, so I volunteered. My parents support me in what I do. We have our family, plus we consider the SCC our family
Megan: I second that. This is my second family. My first memory is of going to the playroom, but I saw a change in my parents and our family life. Our lives have been way better than those of other kids our age, who have family issues we don’t have or have no family. Ours are great role models for us. You see how we act differently with each other and with adults. We treat each other with respect. Our parents talk with us not at us. They support us in what we want to do. I am grateful my parents raised me in faith, for being there, building a good foundation. After our High School Retreat we started our own group. The Youth Group keeps me serving.
Randy and Rose Chavez
St. Brigid Catholic Community
6907 Kitchener Rd
San Antonio, Texas 78240-2718