Johnnie Torres

St. Robert Bellarmine Parishioner

Every community that has a parish, especially one with a school, should feel very blessed by God. When I think about what it means to me to have a parish like St. Robert in my community, I get an overwhelming sense of security. Secure in the fact that I know if I am in need, my needs will be met; and not just spiritual needs. The parish and its parishioners also help those in need with other basic life-sustaining needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. It is quite literally a lifeline. I like to draw an analogy with the church and a lighthouse. Think of what a lighthouse does for sailors lost at sea with waves crashing down on their vessel, and the sailors not knowing whether they will find their way in the dark or perish at sea. Seeing the lighthouse gives them assurance that they are no longer lost at sea, but rather; they have found safe harbor. The Church is that lighthouse. Not just for those who find themselves hopeless and lost, but also for those who have already discovered Jesus and choose to worship him and accept his free gift of salvation. St. Robert Bellarmine Parish has been, and with God’s grace, will continue to provide for the needs of this community of which I am grateful to be a part.

Donald Kolebar

St. Robert School Class of 1973

I spent my youth growing up at St. Robert. I attended school there grades 1 - 8, was an Altar boy, in Scout troop 206, had my own key to the choir loft where I practiced playing that awesome pipe organ during recess and even played guitar for Saturday night Mass from 1971-1973. My family moved to Flushing in 1963 and moved away in 1977. I remember Fr. Jacobs and later, Fr. Fackler and associate priests like Fr. MacDonald and Fr. Kalinowski. Sr. Mary Josetta was the principal followed by Sr. Rose Martin. Sister Pauline was my first grade teacher. I'll never forget crying when I realized I had forgotten my lunch and Sr. Pauline taking me to the convent and feeding me. Sometimes Fr. MacDonald would play his guitar on the playground during recess and we would all sing along to "Michael Row Your Boat Ashore" and "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt". Sr. Anthony Marie would sometimes play the autoharp. Sr. Carol Jean was my 5th grade teacher and Srs. Judith and Mary Ann were the 8th grade teachers. I have so many great memories of St. Robert and I'm sure many others do as well. I am thankful for the education I received there both academic and spiritual.

Linda Sylvester

St. Robert Bellarmine Parishioner

As a cradle Catholic, I attended weekly Mass and received the sacraments growing up. As I grew older, however, I fell away. But even while I was away from the practice of my faith, I always had a nagging feeling that I was meant for more. Eventually I returned. Little by little, I started feeling the need to participate and become active in the church, but how? I would read the bulletin looking for something to do, and I would find it! God was talking to me and I was listening! The more I did, the more I wanted to learn. Then one day Debbie Thiede literally ran to me eager to tell me about the Called and Gifted Workshop. This was it! Little did I know that I was going to learn that everything God had been calling me to do over the past year were gifts that HE had bestowed upon me at Baptism. I had them all along; I just needed to open my heart and my eyes to His glory and grace. Through the Called and Gifted process, I have seen and heard amazing things that could only be GOD. I have met many caring, spiritual people that I can relate to without worry. If you feel like I did—Listen! You may be scared, I know I still am at times, but you will not regret and you will be amazed by the power of GOD in your life!

Marianne Goergen

Spiritual Life Commission

When I originally read about the Called and Gifted workshop, I was immediately intrigued. I’ve always enjoyed inventories that allow for the examination and reflection of our unique personalities. Although the results of the inventory were very interesting, nothing could have prepared me for the awareness that I have been given unique gifts, or Charisms, at Baptism to be shared with others! As a Cradle Catholic, I'm sure I was instructed at some time during my Catholic school education regarding these special, individualized gifts, but that knowledge had been lost over the years. Not only was I excited to learn and decipher which were the actual Charisms given by God to me, but I was also excited to see how I had already been sharing these gifts with others! I have greatly enjoyed a new found closeness with my group members as we have trusted each other with our most intimate thoughts and feelings regarding the exploration of our gifts. Thank you to Cathy, Clare, Pat, Don, Loxie, Bob,Terri and Debbie for your gentle, loving guidance that has made this process so wonderful. Marianne Goergen

Clare Londrigan

St. Robert Bellarmine Parishioner

God wants you to use your special gifts! A few months back there was an invitation in our Parish Bulletin to attend a Called and Gifted Workshop. With some tribulation, but with much encouragement from my wife, Susan, and friends, I agreed to attend. Wow, what a good decision! All my life I knew that each of us, without exception, had been given special gifts (called Charisms) from God at Baptism and Confirmation. What many of the gifts are and how we use them, though, I didn't fully know. I also didn’t appreciate how uniquely the gifts are given by God to each of us. For example, some people are given the gift of wisdom, others the gift of teaching, others the gift of service, others the gift of hospitality, others the gift of administration, and so on. In fact, we are all given multiple gifts to build up the Church. I definitely didn’t know that there was a way for us to identify these gifts! The Workshop opened up new ways for me to share my faith and see how special each of us is to God and His Church. God truly wants us to use the gifts He gave us to build up His Church and bring others close to Him. If we don’t answer the call and discover our gifts, there is a possibility that the work He wants us to accomplish will be left undone. The Called and Gifted Workshop will be rolled out to the whole parish in the New Year. It is not the “program of the month” or “program of the year,” but what the Church has been called to from the very beginning. One of the best gifts you can give yourself in the New Year will be to attend one of these workshops. You will never be the same.

Terri Witt

Parish Pastoral Council

What is God calling me to do? For some time now I have been searching for the answer to my question; what does God want from me? So, I was excited when I got the opportunity to attend a workshop that promised to help me find the answer. I recently attended The Called and Gifted Workshop where I learned to uncover my gifts from the Holy Spirit (my charisms). Discovering my gifts gave me a new sense of purpose and direction. I did not fully appreciate the important role that I play in the Church's mission. Sharing my gifts is vital to the building up of the Body of Christ. I have new found energy and confidence from the discovery that God has called me to a unique and meaningful work in his Church. One of the most important outcomes for me was to understand that I have unique gifts -- this freed me from comparing myself to others. This was a very healing experience. I learned not to judge myself for not measuring up to someone else's devotion to missionary work and I was freed from judging others with different priorities than mine. I am now able to appreciate and recognize the wide variety of gifts within our parish community. I urge you to participate in this life changing program.

Debbie Thiede

Director of Adult Formation

Several years ago, the Lord called me to serve His Church in adult formation and pastoral care ministries. I love the work I do and the wonderful people I serve, and I’m grateful each day for the opportunity to witness Christ’s love to the St. Robert community. Although I knew God gave me gifts with which to serve His Church, it was still very empowering to go through the Called & Gifted process and identify the particular gifts I had been given by God and am currently using. I now have a greater understanding of why I am drawn to particular ministries, an even deeper sense of commitment to these ministries, and a greater appreciation for gifts others have been given. The Called & Gifted process also provides a means by which seekers can explore and discover God’s plan for their lives. It is such a blessing to be able to identify the charisms given to others as well as oneself…and to share the goodness of God as He works in and through us all!

Linda Noll

St. Robert Bellarmine Parishioner

Last year I approached Debbie Thiede looking for ways I could get more involved at St. Robert. I previously asked the Lord to show me how I could help build up His kingdom. I had an idea of what I could do, but I wanted to be sure it was what He wanted for me. Debbie described the Called & Gifted program she and some parishioners had attended and suggested I go through the small-group process. The Called & Gifted process seemed to be a way to explore what God had planned for me. I was amazed at what were considered gifts (charisms) and the difference between them and talents or acquired skills. I had no extensive formation in theology, so you can imagine how overwhelmed I was! Do you know, for example, that we are all called to be apostles, each with our own mission? God has a plan specifically for each of us! The first exercise we did was to take a Catholic Spiritual Gifts Inventory. Then, we sat down with a person trained to review our inventory and listen to our responses. The interview helps us discern what gift (charism) we might want to test. In part 2, the discernment phase, we met every other week for 5 weeks and discussed our progress and experiences in groups. This was such fun, and yet challenging. Life has a constant learning curve, and I find learning about my Catholic faith exciting, fun and challenging. A quote from St. Theresa of Avila: “Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” We ALL are the Body of Christ and we all have work to do while on earth for the body. Discovering your charisms and using them for the good of the Body builds the Kingdom of God. Please consider joining us for our next Called & Gifted series (we have a summer series currently being offered). Learn what God has planned for you!

Dave Williams

Easter Vigil 2013

From the Thursday night sessions, to meeting the Bishop, to the retreat and the Easter Vigil…being in the RCIA was an overwhelming experience of God’s love! I met so many like-minded people on their own journeys seeking to know Christ, and we helped each other and developed friendships along the way. Every time Amanda and I step into Church, there is someone there we know…it could be a team member, a sponsor or someone who joined with us. The whole parish community has been very welcoming. It has definitely been an incredible, life-changing experience.

Timothy Riley

Easter Vigil 2013

I’m very grateful and proud to be one of the newest members of St. Robert Parish after going through the RCIA last year. The Holy Spirit led me here, guided me through, and I'm confident will continue to show me the way. This journey was filled with countless wonderful moments, but a very special moment was being baptized at the Easter Vigil with my son, Nicholas, standing by and serving at the altar. I was fortunate to meet many incredible people that were on the same path as me, plus enjoyed getting to know the RCIA team that supported us each and every Thursday. A special thanks to Debbie, Fr. Roy, Fr. Paul, Deacon Denny and Deacon Rich—and again, to the whole team—for your spiritual and educational leadership.

Dan Nelson

Easter Vigil 2013

When the Church says that Baptism washes it all away…it isn’t kidding! Last fall, when I walked into the parish office to meet with Debbie Thiede, l was an angry and bitter man. I wasn’t there for me…I was there for my daughter. But my sister-in-law convinced me that if I really wanted to help my daughter, Adrianna, I should join the Church myself. So I agreed to go through the RCIA to support her in her religious formation. Was I in for a surprise! I can’t adequately describe what happened, but I can tell you the Holy Spirit was like a vacuum and sucked me right in! It’s been a whirlwind ever since…and it keeps getting better. I only wish I could be baptized every year again…it was that fantastic! All the anger and bitterness were gone, replaced by a new sense of peace. On top of it, I got to share the experience with Adrianna who was baptized with me. I envy the next group of people who will be standing up there to be baptized at the next Easter Vigil. I have a special bond with all the people who joined the Church with me last year, and all the team and sponsors. I haven’t missed a Sunday. I am part of something so much bigger and better than I could have imagined. In fact, this year I am back at RCIA to be a sponsor. I want to give back to the Church by sharing with others what was given to me. Like Adrianna says, "St. Robert is the best church there is!"