Category Archives: Meeting Summaries

SMYPP Supper and Speaker 9/21

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On Sunday, September 21st SMYPP held a Supper and Speaker event, where member Cecil Coutinho, PhD gave a talk about Science and Christianity. Cecil has been a member of our group for about six months, and has quickly become an integral part of SMYPP. This talk revolved around questions he has been asked as he has gone through his life as a Catholic and a scientist. Some highlights of his talk included a discussion on the beginning of the world, the story of 3’s and how he finds ways to evangelize in the workplace. This event also featured a delicious dinner and some networking before and after the talk.

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Ways to Evangelize in the Workplace

 Attend daily mass during lunch hour 1x a week (invite a coworker to join you!)
 Carry a rosary on you, or in your car and don’t be shy about answering when someone asks about it.
 Behave in a Christian way, and lead by example.
If anyone has any other techniques or ideas, feel free to share them!

 

The Story of 3’s

In the Bible, and in our faith, we learn about the Trinity of the Lord, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They are all part of one Trinity and yet different from each other. This can be analogized to the coordinate systems used in mathematics and engineering, such as Cartesian (x, y, z). To learn more about the story of 3’s, feel free to ask Cecil when you next see him, or do your own research.

 

Summary by Cait McRae
Photos by Carla Spitelle

November Meeting: Bishop Malooly

September Meeting Summary: Peer Panel

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For our September Supper & Speaker event, we heard from 3 fellow SMYPP members: Katherine Deegan, John Mullan, and Chris Hartung.  Each one shared how God’s love has been a powerful influence on their lives.

Katherine: “Have you ever talked to God?”

For Katherine, the voice of God has always come as a “nudge” in the right direction.  Four months ago, Katherine managed to get an interview for her dream job. Unfortunately, at that time, she was feeling very sick.  Not knowing where to turn, she sent an email to her peers at SMYPP, asking for very specific prayers.  That night, at 3 a.m., when she reached for her Bible, the chaplet of Divine Mercy fell from the pages—a hint that promptly took.  With her anxieties eased, Katherine aced her interview as was promptly offered the job.

Her “dream job” however, turned out to be “the job from Hell.”  Despite her disappointment, Katherine did not lose her trust in God’s will.  “God wanted to teach me, and I needed to listen.”  Once again, she felt a “nudge” to pick up her Bible and came across the passage in Numbers 9:15, with Moses and the cloud over the tabernacle.  She knew it was a sign to trust in God’s presence and guidance.

In the end, Katherine finally arrived at her true calling: a position at DuPont.  With the experience that she gained from her previous job, Katherine was able to approach her new role with confidence.  “Have you ever talked to God?” Katherine asked us.  “Acknowledge your weaknesses and ask him for what you need.  God gave us free will.  We have to ask to continually be drawn closer in our personal relationships with him. ”

John: “God calls us all to certain vocations”

Growing up in a family of 10 children, John has seen multiple examples of how God leads people to their chosen paths.  His parents, although devout, never “forced” religion on their children.  Rather, John and his siblings decided on their own to follow the path of Christianity based on the love that their parents showed them as well as the happiness that they seemed to gain from their relationship with God.

In order to better understand his calling in life, John decided to enroll in a seminary.  There, he felt that he was able to eliminate outside distractions and concentrate solely on God’s message to him.  In the end, John realized that he was not being called to be a priest but, rather, a computer engineer.   Although he chose a different vocation, he believes that his time in the seminary was truly valuable.  “God calls us all to certain vocations,” John explained.  “we must take the time to listen and follow what He wants.”

Chris: “He wants me to walk in His own time”

Although Chris was raised in a Catholic family, he never felt a true connection to his faith until his senior year in high school when he joined Young Life, a nondenominational Christian youth group.  Inspired by this experience, Chris joined a number of Christian groups during his first year of college.  During his second semester, he went on a retreat with the college’s Catholic Campus Ministry.  Not knowing what to expect, Chris asked God to give him 4 things during the course of the retreat: 1) A friend he could trust completely, 2) To know if he was meant to be with his crush at the time, 3) To know if he was meant to be a Catholic, and 4) To learn how to pray.

Over the course of the weekend, all four of Chris’s prayers were answered after meeting Teresa, one of the group leaders who later became one of his closest friends.  Most of all, she taught him how to pray: “prayer doesn’t have to be anything fancy, it’s just a conversation with God,”  He began praying often with another friend from the retreat, Laura.  When he learned that she was going to become a nun, it inspired him to purse a vocation in the priesthood.  However, at the end of his senior year in college, the vocation director of the order he had chosen told him that he did not believe that he had a vocation there.

“The vocation director’s response was completely unexpected, and it raised a lot of questions for me,” Chris said.  “What does God want me to do now?”  Although Christ doesn’t have any definite answers yet, he does have a few ideas: grad school, FOCUS missionary, and marriage.  Despite the difficulties he will face, Chris believes that God will be there to guide him.

April Book Recommendation

During our April Supper & Speaker meeting, Tom Shea recommended the book “Adam, God’s Beloved,” by Henri J.M. Nouwen.  The author, Nouwen, was a Catholic priest who was born in Holland.  Near the end of his life, Nouwen became a pastor at L’Arche Daybreak, a community in Canada for people with intellectual disabilities.  During his time there, he met Adam, a man who could not speak and experienced violent seizures. From working with Adam, Nouwen experienced a renewed understanding of faith and God’s love.  It is for this reason Nouwen called Adam “my friend, my teacher, and my guide.”

April Meeting Summary: Tom Shea

Tom Shea

A few years ago, Tom Shea had a difficult choice to make.  When his first career selling building materials came to an end after the market crash in 2008, Shea had to figure out his next step.  He received tempting job offers from a few nonprofits, but few of them really offered an opportunity to work with people one-on-one.  In the end, Shea chose to be the director of external affairs at the Mary Campbell Center, a loving home and residence for children and adults with disabilities.  “If you can find something where you can bring your heart to your job, and engage other people’s hearts, it’s very rewarding,” he said.

The Mary Campbell Center was founded in 1976 with the goal of providing a home-like atmosphere and a supportive community for people with disabilities.  Currently, the center houses 67 residents of all ages and circumstances.  In addition to providing a variety of therapeutic and education services for their residents, the Center also hosts a Children and Youth program and a respite program for individuals with special needs.  “It’s a remarkable place,” said Shea.

One important lesson that Shea has learned from working at the Center is that “there is no limit to what anyone can do or achieve.” Despite a number of odds, many people with disabilities are able to accomplish amazing feats.  From completing marathons to flying a helicopter, residents at the MCC have achieved difficult goals.  However, even small victories are something to celebrate.  “To see someone who’s never put their face in water because they’re afraid, to watching them swim to the bottom of a pool on their own…it’s allowed me to appreciated the potential that everyone has, regardless of their ability,” said Shea.

Regardless of your strengths or limitations, Shea feels that it’s a matter of your attitude and your environment.  When a person is surrounded by compassion and encouragement, they become more willing to challenge themselves and take risks.  The staff at the MCC “bring a joy and a presence to the residents every day,” said Shea.  Conversely, working with the residents has taught Shea to see grace in every person that he meets.  “I never used to feel that the person bagging my groceries mattered,” he said.  “But now, they make my day.  And I make their day.”

Want to learn more about volunteering at the Mary Campbell Center?  There are plenty of opportunities to lend a hand, either behind-the-scenes or hands on. Please contact MCC’s volunteer coordinator, Sean Chandler: (schandler@marycampbellcenter.org).

To view more photos from our Speaker & Supper event, visit our Flickr page here.

February Meeting Bibliography

In addition to her talk, Sr. Betty McAdams suggested the following books:

  • Andre Dupliex, 15 Days of Prayer: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (“Each volume contains A brief biography of the saint or spiritual leader introduced in that volume, a guide to creating a format for prayer and retreat 15 meditation sessions with focus points and reflection guides. Follow the footsteps of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.”)
  • Denis Edwards, The God of Evolution: A Trinitarian Theology (“The God of Evolution is an insightful, thought-provoking work that shifts the boundaries of theology by examining the traditional understanding of God and melding it with evolutionary ideas.”)
  • Jerry D. Korsmeyer, Evolution and Eden: Balancing Original Sin and Contemporary Science (“Jerry Korsmeyer examines how an evolutionary perspective impacts on a traditional understanding of original sin.”)
  • Langdon Gilkey, Creationism on Trial: Evolution and God at Little Rock (“This fascinating work documents theologian Gilkey’s participation as an expert witness in the 1981 trial over the constitutionality of the Arkansas law requiring that creation science be taught alongside evolution in the public schools.”)
  • John F. Haught, God After Darwin: A Theology of Evolution (“Theologian John F. Haught argues that the ongoing debate between Darwinian evolutionists and Christian apologists is fundamentally misdirected.”)
  • Kenneth Miller, Finding Darwin’s God (“Miller, professor of biology at Brown University, believes firmly in evolution. He also believes in God.”)
  • Ronald L. Numbers, The Creationists (“The book meticulously traces the dramatic shift among Christian fundamentalists from acceptance of the earth’s antiquity to the insistence of present-day scientific creationists that most fossils date back to Noah’s flood and its aftermath.”)
  • Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden (‘Dawins introduces general readers to some fairly abstract problems in evolutionary biology, gently guiding us through the tangles of mitochondrial DNA and the survival-of-the- fittest ethos.”)
  • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Divine Mileu (“[de Chardin] shows how man’s spiritual life can become a participation in the destiny of the universe.”)
  • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Christianity and Evolution (“Nineteen essays concerned with the relationship of science and religion”)
  • Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Creation and Evolution

February Meeting Summary: Sr. Betty McAdams, OSU

For our February meeting, we explored the complex topic of Catholicism and Anthropology with our speaker Sr. Betty McAdams, OSU, who holds advanced degrees in both subjects.  During her talk, Sr. McAdams mainly focused on a subject that, among some circles, can cause contention: evolution.  “There is a lot of misunderstanding about evolution in church and society,” she said.  When interpreted correctly, however, the scientific and theological aspects of evolution can go together.

What is Evolution?

Contrary to common misconceptions, evolution is much more than just saying we  “came from monkeys” or “survival of the fittest.”  Rather, the straight definition is “a change in the genetic structure of a population.”  “Humans came to Earth 2.5 million years ago and have gone through a cycle of adaptation and change in form, brain, and body structure,” explained Sr. McAdams.  And while opponents often dismiss evolution as just a theory, “a theory is more than an opinion,” said Sr. McAdams, “it is well proven, and tested.”

Fundamentalism and Literal Interpretation of the Bible

According to Sr. McAdams, one of the main reasons why people have religious objections to evolution is because they “don’t understand how to interpret the Bible.”  Since the early 19th century, there has been a rise of “Fundamentalist,” literal readings of the Bible.  “They do not recognize literary genre,” said Sr. McAdams.  “They think everything in the Bible is historical writing.”  This is why Fundamentalists believe that the first chapter of Genesis should be taught as a scientific fact (ie, Scientific Creationism).  A similar idea, Intelligent Design, tries to present itself as a “middleway,” but it is also flawed, for it does not take the theory of evolution into account.

Catholics and Contextual Interpretation of the Bible

Overall, the Catholic church has advocated a “contextual” interpretation of the Bible, one that takes history, culture, linguistics, and anthropology into account.  Pope Pius XII’s Divino Afflante Spiritu encouraged the study of the Bible in its original language:

[T]extual criticism … [is] quite rightly employed in the case of the Sacred Books … Let the interpreter then, with all care and without neglecting any light derived from recent research, endeavor to determine the peculiar character and circumstances of the sacred writer, the age in which he lived, the sources written or oral to which he had recourse and the forms of expression he employed.

Thus, while a fundamental interpretation would see Genesis 1 as historical and scientific fact, a contextual interpretation would study the patterns that occur in the text (ie, God’s actions each day), it’s similarity/disimilarity to other creation stories of the time (ie, Enuma Elis and Gilgamesh), as well as the literary form (ie, poetic).  What we learn about Genesis from this interpretation is the importance of the Sabbath and the fact that the universe was created by one, benevolent, priestly author.  Unlike the other creation stories of the time, the one told in Genesis describes a theology of goodness, a world that was not created out of chaos or a war between multiple gods.  As one can see, this is completely different from a scientific theory.

To help distinguish science from theology, we can look to the Magisterium, the teaching authority of the Church. “We are very lucky to have a Magisterium that is well educated and uses experts to decide our teachings,” said Sr. McAdams.

Catholicism and Evolution

Through an enlightened reading of the scriptures, one can see that evolution and Catholicism are not necessarily at odds.  Pope John Paul II believed that Catholics could embrace the theory of evolution without having to accept an atheistic outlook on the world.  Rather, he felt that evolution can help us understand the “cosmic Christology” of the universe.  Throughout time, the entire universe has always been silently shaped by God, and science can help us gain a richer understanding of this.  “We have to look at what science has to teach us and meld it with our faith,” said McAdams.

To view more photos from our Supper & Speaker event, visit our Flickr page here.

January Meeting Summary: Bishop Malooly

For our January meeting, we had the honor of welcoming  Bishop Malooly, who was installed as the 9th Bishop of the Wilmington Diocese in September of 2008.  As our speaker, Bishop Malooly explained his 4 Priorities for the Diocese, as well as the importance of young adult participation in the Church

The 4 Priorities

Bishop Malooly’s goals for the Dioceses over the next 5 years will include new models of ministry, catechesis, new evangelization, and vocations.  The first, new models of ministry, includes exploring and developing options in case a shortage of priests occurs in the future.  Currently, though, the Bishop stresses that the Diocese will not move into a new model unless it is absolutely necessary.  “Parishes don’t need ‘weekend helpers’,” he explained.  “Parishes need a full service priest, someone who the people know they can turn to when they need him.”   It is for this reason that the fourth priority is to encourage awareness of vocations, especially vocations to the priesthood and religious life.  This might not be the right calling for everyone, though, so we must also encourage those who choose to live out the vocation of married life or the single state.

The second and third priorities, catechesis and new evangelization, go together hand-in-hand.  In the past, Catholics grew up with a strong faith identity: there were predominately Catholic communities, and Catholic schools had high attendance.  However, for the past three generations, these dynamics have shifted.  Many Catholics, including young adults, do not have a solid understanding of their faith.  Thus, new evangelization is needed to help Catholics renew their relationship the Church and spread their experience to others.  “It’s hard to reach out to someone else if you don’t have a strong foundation in your faith,” said the Bishop.

Young Adult Participation

A key group for the future of both the Diocese and the Church as  a whole is young adults.  Known as a “lost group,” young adults are notoriously difficult for the church leadership to reach out to unless they are regular mass attendees.  To help remedy this, Bishop Malooly believes that the best people to communicate with young adults are other young adults.  “We can’t reach you with a parish bulletin, but you can reach out to each other,” he said.  Through social media or other networking groups (like SMYPP!), we can effectively form a strong identity with each other.

The Church needs young adults to understand the importance of their religious values, to encourage those values among others, and to live those values faithfully in their own lives.  “Continue to find ways to grow in your faith and continue to pass it on,” he explained.  Rather than stick with the “maintenance model” of the older generation, we need to put aside our fears and find new ways to effectively spread the Good News.  “We don’t want to impose on others,” said the Bishop, “we just want to say the Lord has been good to me, and I want you to hear that.”  It can be as simple as smiling a lot, inviting a lapsed Catholic to a Christmas mass, or encouraging a friend in their vocation (marriage, the priesthood, etc).  A strong community of young adults acting as witnesses to their faith “would be the best gift the young church could give me,” said Bishop Malooly.

To view more photos from this event, visit out Flickr account here.

SMYPP’s Second Annual Christmas Party

Our second annual Christmas party was graciously hosted by the residents of the Elizabeth House in Wilmington.  Party goers shared food and fellowship in our “potluck” style dinner.  With a mixture of both new and familiar faces, it was a wonderful way to celebrate another successful year.

To view more photos from our Christmas party, visit our Facebook group or our Flickr site here.

November Meeting: Suggested Reading

Want to “re-evangelize” yourself, but you don’t know where to start?  Meg Kilmer, our November speaker, has the following suggestions:

 

Books

Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis)

Orthodoxy (G.K. Chesterton)

Hail, Holy Queen (Scott Hahn)

Catholicism and Fundamentalism (Karl Keating)

 

Blogs

http://www.patheos.com/Catholic.html

http://www.ncregister.com/

www.catholic.com