God’s Puzzle

This past Saturday the catechists for our class were required to help with food distribution. This is an intricate part of St. Norbert’s parish services. This organization is under the direction of a lady named Mary, who knows exactly what needs to be done. Her team is organized and ready to delegate anyone who is there to help. As the students arrived, they were quickly put to work. We had a lot to accomplish before the rain arrived. The first assembly line was filling the grocery bags with cans of chicken broth, black beans, corn, and chopped pineapple, followed by dry beans, rice, spaghetti, granola bars, and cereal, 200 bags in total. Then it was time to fill the bags with fruits and vegetables: potatoes, onions, carrots, bananas, oranges, and tomatoes. In addition to this weekly service, special bags are made for children, with snacks provided by the parishioners. Once a month St. Norbert puts together packages for the seniors, and we also give out diapers for families with babies.

The students naturally adjusted to the role of servanthood. The rain arrived just in time to drench the volunteers; they were running to the cars to hand out the groceries. Although constant rain wreaked havoc on the volunteers, not one person complained. We worked from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Reaching Young Souls

To reach the youth, we must pray diligently against the works of the Devil. It takes two years to complete the Sacrament of Confirmation at our parish, and as volunteers we have many obstacles against us to reach the hearts and souls of these teens. We need  strong, relatable leaders to guide them through this maze of confusion. It’s not an easy task to mentor a generation who has grown up during a counter-cultural revolution.  Many of them have believed elements of this world view as acceptable norms. An example of this is the promotion of abortions as “reproductive rights.” We, as a team, work to bring the Word of God to them in truth. Every good team must have great captains, and we at St. Norbert were blessed when Abraham joined our team.

Abraham and his lovely wife Luciana directing the students
Abraham Gonzaléz

Abraham is the director of our Youth Ministry. When I first met him, I saw something special in this young man’s kind eyes. Abraham was raised in the bay area of San Francisco by a family of devout Catholics. His upbringing included attending meetings several times a week with his parents, who where spiritually connected to their parish. How did he know if this piece of the puzzle would be a right fit for him?  Abraham prayed and discerned which direction to take in life. His top priority was to remain faithful  because church life was like his second home. He prayed about going into the priesthood but God had other plans for him. He was certain of one thing and that was to teach religion to the youth. He had many prayerful decisions to make, and one of them was to be married. After Abraham and his beautiful wife Luciana married, they settled in Southern California. Luciana received her tenure in teaching, so this was one of the deciding factors to stay in Southern California. This was also an answer to the direction they would take in life. They both followed their dreams, and God granted them great favor.

Abraham had been offered a position at another parish before he interviewed with St. Norbert. He wanted to be certain that our parish was the missing piece of the puzzle for his spiritual journey. Before making his decision he and his wife prayed about the first offer and waited until the interview with St. Norbert. After one interview, Teresa, the director of Faith Formation at St. Norbert, offered him the position. She, too, had a team (including me) praying for the right candidate to fill that post. Abraham has the heart to serve in this not too highly regarded position. This is why it’s a calling from God; there are no career experts directing people into this type of job. Unless you’re in seminary, these positions are not on the radar of job seekers.

I’m grateful for Abraham because he comes with a world of modern knowledge; he’s social media expert, tech savvy and young! Being young is a prerequisite to reach the youth because they can relate to him and he can better understand the negative influences challenging this generation. Part of Faith Formation requires the anointing to oversee spiritual growth of those discerning Confirmation.

“The best job in the world is working for God!” Abraham Gonzaléz

I saw an interview with Rita Moreno, a 91-year-old actress, who recently starred in a movie. I’m 71 and God is still using me to teach and spread His wonderful gospel. Nothing will hold me back from my calling, and I pray that at 91 I’ll still be able to fulfill my part in the work of God.

My Prayer

Lord, open the floodgates from heaven and pour out Your Holy Spirit on our youth! Help all who are involved in Faith Formation to be moved by Your Spirit as we teach. Lord, You are the Great  Puzzle Master, and many are still waiting to be placed in that special part of the puzzle You have set aside for them. I pray for all who continue to question Your existence. Lord, reveal Your love to them and bring them into Your Kingdom. Amen.


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