February 11, 2022

Guest Column / Richard Etienne

Never forget importance of a faith community along ‘the way’

Richard EtienneDo you believe that you can do or make it all on your own? Do you live as if your highest priority is to never be dependent on others?

Does a person really need them? Specifically, does a person really need other people to grow in their lives of faith?

Does every person have to “touch every stove” to learn for themselves, or do you believe an individual can learn from a community of like-minded persons that has collectively “been there and done that,” learning from their many life experiences?

Is there value in having a community of others to support you when inevitable bumps in the road come along? Could this community be the body of Christ gathered at your local parish?

In September, Pope Francis told an audience, “Let us allow Jesus, the living bread, to heal us of our self-absorption, open our hearts to self-giving, liberate us from our rigidity and self-concern, free us from the paralyzing slavery of defending our image, and inspire us to follow him wherever he would lead us.”

I believe it is our task in life to seek meaning in all we do. And yet, during this ongoing process of growth, a person always senses that they will periodically need to restructure and rebuild as they mature as persons.

Let us also embrace the fact that a community of faith plays a pivotal role in assisting each of us in finding meaning as we go through life. And this search for meaning will be especially critical when we are faced with those inevitably difficult moments in our lives—the sickness and death of someone close to us, and our own physical and emotional frailty, among other things.

I witnessed this reality in the aftermath of a tornado in my neighborhood many years ago, and am re-learning the importance of others through my volunteering experience with the recent tornados in Kentucky.

Let us never underestimate the importance of gathering regularly with a faith community and pondering our faith as we walk together along “the way.”

(Richard Etienne has a degree in theology from Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad and resides in Newburgh, Ind.)

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