By Frank Wilcox, Parishioner
I was having lunch with friends of mine prior to Christmas. Each of us is at a different point in his spiritual life. One of my friends asked me what I was doing for Christmas, which, as you remember was on Monday this past year. I replied, "My wife and I going to 9:00 AM Mass on Sunday and then later in the day, Midnight Mass at 10:00 PM." They looked at me in disbelief. He said, "You're going to church twice on Sunday? Why?" I failed to give my coworkers a good answer and missed an opportunity to start a dialogue and witness to my faith. This was an evangelization moment.
Whenever I've heard the word "evangelization", I think of a preacher in a cheap polyester suit with a heavy southern drawl. I did not grow up learning that Catholics are called to evangelize. I did not know how to articulate my faith and belief in Jesus Christ. I am convinced that the majority of Catholics have this difficulty sharing Jesus Christ. The need for St. Mary of the Lake parishioners, like me, to know their mission and articulate their faith as disciples of Jesus Christ led to the formation of a dedicated position focused on discipleship and evangelization.
This brings me to introduce Samantha Hagel as the new Director of Mission at St. Mary of the Lake. Samantha is not new to the parish. She and her family have been parishioners of St. Mary of the Lake for 18 years. Samantha grew up in Anchorage, Alaska and met her husband there before relocating to Minnesota. The Hagels' have 4 children ranging in age from 15-27. In her spare time, Samantha enjoys cooking, traveling and spending time with family.
Samantha has a Bachelor's degree in Social Work from the University of Arkansas and worked for the prosecuting attorney in Fayetteville, AR as the Victim-Witness Advocate for child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence cases. She has been active in the Victim's Rights Movement and has experience working at a women's crisis center. Samantha put her career on hold and was a stay at home mom while her children were young. Prior to starting her position at St. Mary of the Lake, she held the positions of Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Human Resources Officer at The Improve Group, a research and evaluation consulting firm. She has a wide breadth of experience and from our discussion it is clear that she knows, follows and easily shares her faith in Jesus Christ.
St. Mary of the Lake has the mission of forming disciples who know, follow and go forth to share Jesus. The Be My Witness faith sharing program at St. Mary of the Lake is the first Mission initiative under Samantha's direction. The program's small group format is designed to help us deepen our relationship with Jesus, help us follow Jesus, and help us develop the ability to share Jesus.
The work ahead for St Mary of the Lake is about the new evangelization-evangelizing both within our parish and to those outside of our parish. The vibrant, descriptive words of Know, Follow and Share from our mission statement will guide this work. Recently, the Parish Leadership Council, staff and parish committee members held a consensus workshop to establish priorities for the next three years. These priorities evolved from a parish survey of nearly 200 parishioners conducted over five months in the fall of 2016 and spring of 2017.
Samantha encourages everyone to share their gifts, to pray for our parish, to watch for updates and to get engaged. We are an Easter people, full of hope and joy and it is our call to share the news of Jesus with others! It is our vocation to be evangelists.