Faith formation is a part of Gail Shepard's journey of grace
Gail Shepard is "in love" with the plans for the St. Joseph Church renovations. The narthex/expanded vestibule is her favorite part, because it creates a gathering space for fellowship activities, while defining the sanctuary as a holy place for the celebration of the Eucharist.
"I'm also thrilled that Father Mike is keeping the tabernacle in its place -- so many churches move it to the side," explains Gail. "I'm thrilled with the plans and I know Father Mike will be a good financial steward of the campaign. I've already sent in my pledge!"
"St. Joseph is my home. I'm in love with the fact that St. Joseph is almost 150 years old -- we have such a rich tradition of faith in our community," Gail explains.
The exuberance in Gail's voice is genuine. She began her own journey of grace in 2007, before she was Catholic. Having lost her husband of 25 years, with whom she had gone to Mass, she felt such a void.
"I was at a really low point. I heard God tell me, "Go to Mass," Gail says. "So I did...I felt so good when I was at St. Joseph Church."
"I remember Father Mike said, 'Even in your darkest hour, He is calling you to come closer to Him," she recalls.
Gail entered the RCIA program in 2007 and joined the Catholic Church in 2008 at St. Joseph. Since then, God's grace has filled her with love for the Lord. "I go to daily Mass -- that is my choice -- I need that," Gail explains. I get renewed each day with the sacrifice of the Mass."
21st Century Catholics
As a recent convert, Gail clearly recognizes the challenges the Church now faces, which is why she’s so amazed at the impact St. Joseph has had in the community for almost 150 years, with community outreach and ministries to enrich people of all walks of life.
“It’s tough to be Catholic in this day and age,” admits Gail. “Participation is so important in this secular age and political environment.”
“Our church is so rich in tradition and so consistent in its guidelines,” she says, noting that St. Joseph Church reflects that.
With the Journey of Grace 150 campaign, Gail believes we can pay tribute to the people who sacrificed much to build our current church 50 years ago. “Others have taken care of our parish for a long time, and it’s our duty to continue that,” she says.
Now immersed in ministries ranging from RCIA leadership to Cursillo to serving as a Spiritual Mentor for the Archdiocese, Gail credits St. Joseph Church as the place where her journey blossomed. "In so many ways, we all carry crosses, and it's so important to have a solid faith life and a place to call home. St. Joseph is my home!," she says. She just can’t say it enough.