CAPTION: Seminarians Michael Quillen and John Paul Heisler visit our parish every Thursday through the end of April 2018, as part of their field education program

The Saint Elizabeth Parish Vocations Committee is working to promote vocations to the diocesan priesthood. The Church has always needed priests to serve her people and celebrate the Sacraments, and the need has never been greater. The simple fact that the average age of men in the priesthood is rising at the same time that fewer men are entering seminaries and being ordained as priests, tells a big story. More priests are needed to fulfill the ever-growing needs of parishes in our archdiocese. The parish Vocations Committee provides opportunities for young men to discern a possible vocation to the priesthood. The committee plans and hosts events where high school and college-age students can learn more about the priesthood, pray together, gain insight into God’s will for their lives, and meet priests and community members to help with their personal discernment.

This year, Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary invited Saint Elizabeth Parish to host two seminarians during their field education program. Each Thursday between September 14, 2017 and April 26, 2018, Michael Quillen from the Raleigh, N.C. diocese and John Paul Heisler from the Arlington, Va. diocese are travelling from the seminary in Philadelphia to our community to gain some hands-on experience in parish life and pastoral care. They are also spending time each week with students in the parish school.

“We met the new seminarians in religion class. They help us review the material before tests,” said sixth grade student Trevor Barbadora. He
added, “It’s also pretty cool to talk with them about what they are doing to prepare to become priests.”

John Paul is the second oldest of nine children, and his sister is a Carmelite nun. He was home-schooled, but later attended Catholic college, spending one semester in France. “In my freshman year at Christendom College I heard God calling me to the seminary,” said John Paul. “I believe a young person enters the seminary because he feels God placing desires for the religious life in their heart.” His advice to young men who may be considering the priesthood is, ‘Pray often and pray from the heart,’ adding, “Peace will come through prayer, so a daily prayer life is essential.”

Michael is the middle child of seven, which contributed to his strong sense of family. “Being in formation at Saint Charles is teaching me how to be a Father – in the true sense of the word,” Michael explained. He was raised in the Baptist tradition and was received into the full communion of the Catholic Church at age 14. “I always had a ‘tug’ to do more than just altar serve,” he recalled. For Michael, being called into formation is a call to a deeper relationship with Jesus. A great benefit of this bond with Christ is the development of “stronger and deeper” relationships with his family and friends.

Father John Stokely, who guides our Vocations Committee, commented, “We are fortunate to have Michael and John Paul serving us at Saint Elizabeth
Parish this year.”

There are so many great vocations and professions for young people to think about: priesthood, permanent diaconate, religious life, marriage, single life, really a multitude of possibilities. These two young men have responded to God’s call with confidence and clarity, which is not easy in today’s complex society.

“It’s not unusual for young people to feel lost or uncertain about what the future holds,” said Father John. “I hope that our parish Vocations Committee evolves into a team dedicated to helping all young men and women seek God's will for their lives, enable them to hear His voice more clearly, and have the confidence to say ‘Yes’ to whatever call that might be.”
                                                                                                                                                                                   - Jonathan Hess

freeplayclipart2Parents...get out your calendar and pick a date! Saint Elizabeth’s Parish Youth Ministry is hosting Freeplay Nights on various Saturdays through the year. Children in kindergarten through fifth grade get a chance to play a sport, hone a skill, make a craft, or do anything in between, all under the watchful eyes of our youth ministry team. The cost is $5 per child and includes a pizza dinner.

“Last year, these events were a big success,” says Ryan Schwalm, Parish Youth Ministry Coordinator. “We hope these nights give parents a chance to unwind for a couple hours while their children experience the parish in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.”

To register, visit the website at and follow the youth ministry link on the home page. If you do not register online, you will need to fill out a waiver when dropping off your child.

Remaining Freeplay Nights:
December 16
January 20
February 10
March 10
May 12
June 9

Diary of a wimpy kid Greg

Saint Elizabeth High School Youth Group Hits the Big Apple!

Taking a page out of the New York Times bestselling novel and blockbuster movie series Diary of a Wimpy Kid, here is a day-by-day account of the Saint Elizabeth Parish High School Youth Group’s busy mission trip to New York. This summer, five adult leaders accompanied 24 parish teenagers to St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parish in Jamaica, Queens, where they joined forces with eight other high school youth groups to refurbish a 100-year-old church.

Read more: Diary of a Busy Mission Trip


Caption: JoAnna Benton and Donna Benik, fourth grade EFF catechists, are two of many EFF stewards, who bring a message of faith to children.

What does it mean to be a catechist? Teaching young children about faith and helping them establish a personal relationship with God means stepping into a role as a personal representative of Jesus – quite a meaningful task! Each week, over 100 volunteers come together at Saint Elizabeth Parish to make the Elementary Faith Formation (EFF) program happen for parish children in kindergarten through sixth grade, along with the Encounter program, designed for seventh and eighth graders. Forty-five catechists serve as teachers, while many others contribute as assistants, teen aides, babysitters, office helpers, and car line attendants. Those who decide to become catechists have answered a call to share their faith with parish children and foster the next generation of Catholics.

“So many amazing people are involved in this program,” noted Director of Religious Education, Beth Riordan. “Each week I am inspired by the creativity, preparation and patience of our catechists. Motivated by a desire to bring children into a living relationship with Jesus Christ and the Church, they are people of prayer and service.”

Many catechists attend a summer training session and are encouraged to pursue the Archdiocesan catechetical certification. Each weekly lesson is based on a book series, with content provided by the publisher. Yet at the heart of every class is the personal expression of faith and inspiration brought to the students by their dedicated teachers. “It is evident that they spend time praying over their lessons and how to present them to the children,” added Beth.

“They research so many creative ways to engage their students in both the presentation of the weekly Gospel and their specific lesson. It is an honor to work with these devoted and faith-filled volunteers.”

Fourth grade EFF teacher Donna Benik explained, “My experience as a volunteer in the EFF program began 10 years ago when my family moved into the area and my son was starting kindergarten. I initially volunteered as an aide, and soon after that, answered the call to become a catechist. With the help and support of experienced catechists and the EFF staff, the transition came naturally. I knew this was where I needed to be on Monday afternoons. Praying together and reading the Gospel are part of our weekly routine. We also incorporate internet media, music, and movement. This year, I have invited parents and family members to participate in oursessions. Freely sharing our faith together is a great feeling!”LisaKelly

CAPTION: Lisa Kelly (center) says that being an EFF teacher is one of the most rewarding experiences of her life.

“My EFF journey began six years ago when my son was in first grade,” added Lisa Kelly, kindergarten teacher. “His teacher was so energetic and passionate, which inspired me. When she first asked if I would teach, I was dumbfounded. I didn't think I was holy enough! But I agreed to do it, and it has become one of the most enriching and rewarding experiences of my life. Along with the children, I have deepened my faith, and feel much more
intimately part of our church community. I have met so many wonderful parents, children, and catechists who have taught me about my faith and myself.”

“I believe we are at our best when we support each other as part of a community,” noted Bill Kelso, a second grade EFF teacher. “After attending a retreat a few years ago, I felt empowered to use my talents to help others in our parish. I feel we have an obligation to help guide the next generation, not in place of parents, but along with them. Everyone in our EFF program is welcoming, supportive, and helpful. We are blessed in our parish and it shows in our children, who are smart, polite, and attentive. This is the real strength of our community. As a catechist, I have received far more than I have given. Guiding students through their First Holy Communion, and watching them hug their parents after their First Reconciliation, are memories that will last forever.”

“Being a catechist has certainly brought me joy and enriched my life,” added Donna. “I have met so many amazing parents and children. I have watched them receive sacraments for the first time and witnessed their faith grow and develop. My own relationship with God has become more vibrant and
meaningful. I have made friends that share the values and faith that I hold so dear. And although I am the one teaching, I am also the
one who has learned from the children of our parish. I have learned to keep my heart open and to have more of that childhood
enthusiasm at life's endless possibilities for joy.”

Many catechists here at Saint Elizabeth agree, the experience has deepened their faith and allowed them to receive so much more than they are able to give. To learn how to volunteer with the EFF program, contact Beth Riordan at

                                                                                                                                                                                           - Julie Krumenacker

6th Grade TeamOdyssey8th Grade Team


























CAPTION: Odyssey of the Mind Teams from 6th Grade (Top left), 7th Grade (Top right), and 8th Grade (Bottom).

Three Middle School teams from Saint Elizabeth Parish School successfully competed this year in Odyssey of the Mind, the largest problem-solving competition in the world. A 25 year-old international education program, Odyssey of the Mind consists of complex, open-ended problems which students must collaborate, brainstorm and work creatively to solve.

Read more: Parish School Students Compete on World Stage

Page 21 of 22