If asked about her past, Christie would reply, “I used to be such an introvert, always happy to talk to someone if they started the conversation first. Now I will just go up to anyone and talk to them. I have become an intentional Catholic. Now, I am known for going around and handing out Light House CDs. My friends tease me because I always have them on hand.”
Christie credits her mother for the depth of her faith. Her mother has been praying for her to find "good friends" for as long as she can remember but she never quite understood what that meant. Christie grew up a practicing Catholic. She went to World Youth Day in Denver and she even went on retreats. “While in college, I began to go to church less and less. My faith was always important to me, but I was not living it, day to day. I was married in the Catholic Church and when we had children, we had them baptized, because that's just what you do.” Christie was going through the motions. She went to church when it fit into the schedule, but her faith life had become something that she pulled out of her pocket on Sunday and then tucked away the rest of the week. Her friends at the time were all "Catholics" by name but they were not living out their faith any more than she was.
When she and her family moved to Buffalo in 2007, they joined St. Gregory the Great in Williamsville but stayed at the margins, until the spring of 2010 when Christie lost her brother to an overdose. All of a sudden having the right house, the right car, the right clothes were not so important to her anymore. In the fall of 2010, a mom on a baseball field and she started talking. After a few games the woman invited her and her husband to attend a gathering of married couples and gave her a Lighthouse Catholic Media CD. This was a game changer for her.
Christie made a commitment to get involved in the parish and to step out of her comfort zone. She started listening to all the Lighthouse CDs that she could get her hands on (www.lighthousecatholicmedia.
org). Christie joined the MOMS group at her parish and she started forming beautiful friendships. The parish that had seemed so large before, became her family's second home. She started reading the daily readings and meditations each day, and over a few months her prayer life started to evolve, but she still felt restless.
One day her mother agreed to come to her MOMS group to share a witness about the sacrament of reconciliation and Christie was asked to introduce her. “I kept wondering, how can I introduce her when I haven't been to confession myself? I shared my fear with a Mom over a cup of coffee and she encouraged me to go to confession. She shared her own story on coming back to the Sacrament. I was scared to go. I had not been to confession since high school, and even back then I went out of obligation, never understanding the Sacrament. I fully became alive in my faith that day. It was like a light switch turn on inside me. That morning at our MOMS group, I shared my own story with our MOMS group, and a few women shared with me after their own fear of going. That day I felt that tug in my heart to reach out to fallen away Catholics.”
Christie accepted a friend’s invitation to attend a Lighthouse Catholic Media sponsored conference. At that conference she witnessed what the "New Evangelization" meant first hand. “It was so much more than these amazing speakers on CDs. It was about reaching the lost. “At that conference I felt God tugging at my heart in a powerful way. On the flight home, my friend and I, spread Lighthouse CDs and books all around the plane. That was my first experience with spreading faith seeds.”
When she came home from that conference, she became a Catholic with purpose. The Lighthouse and Dynamic Catholic resources made it easy for her to evangelize. “Everyday God places people in our lives. There are always opportunities to share faith if we listen. It could be on the baseball field, in a doctor’s office or even at Wegman’s.” The song “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath helps Christie to see the people all around her in a new way. She and her friend have partnered to do evangelization weekends in parishes. Her favorite part is hearing the faith stories of people afterward.
There is so much power in a simple invitation. “I just hand them a CD or a book and let the Holy Spirit take over. Stepping out of our comfort zone is a challenge for all of us. I am inspired by the words of St. Catherine of Siena “If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire.” Christie invites us all to consider this question: “Where is God calling you to use your gifts?” Christie was in customer service all her adult life. Now she is a customer service rep for Jesus. “I want to give back what has been given to me.”
Office of Parish Life
Original from Western NY Catholic pg 15