January 28th, 2012

What Brought You To St. Sophia?

St. Sophia has many diverse people who attend and each has a unique story about what brought him or her to our church. In Sean’s case, it is not what brought him, but who! He tells us that his daughter Mia is the driving force behind their attendance. Here is his story in his own words:

I must express to you the emotion and reasons why we attend service at St Sophia when we can. First, I attend as an adult because I like to see the other view of the theology–such as the feast of the immaculate conception and the feast of the Conception of St Anne or the theophany and the epiphany. Further, attending St Sophia is a beautiful experience because it is not only a beautiful church, liturgy and congregation, but also because it allows me to see similarities and differences in my faith. It brings out the key points of our faith and shows how the customs, cultures, traditions and perspectives shape our expression of faith.

With that in mind, I do not actually attend for myself. My attendance for myself was meant only for the purpose of the experience, interaction, and in essence the homily of key masses during this christmas. But what kept me coming back was my daughter who is 9. She really has taken an interest in liturgy at St Sophia. Probably because the liturgy of St John Chrysostom is so much more interactive and I think that it is more work for her to attend the mass. As a priest once said, the more work you put into mass, the more you get from it. Further my daughter loves the environment of the congregation itself. She really likes it when folks walk up to her after church and show her things, talk to her, and pray with her. The other Roman Catholics in the church are particularly good about knowing what to explain to her. I honestly learned that engaging children after service is really really appreciated by the children. I never really talked to the kids before because it seemed creepy but I now learned from my daughter that the children yearn to learn. Even if they look shy! So I have taken more interest in talking to children, with their parents in witness even if for a minute.

I did look up some details on why Roman Catholics attend Ukrainian Greek Catholic Mass and I was surprised by how many used similar reasoning as myself–the children love it.

I attend mass with her and afterwards we pray in the tabernacle for adoration at St Francis so my daughter was particularly comfortable with solemnity and spirituality. In St Sophia the small size of the church allows for a personal experience that is shared more closely and with more solemnity. Further, Father Pavlo is very good about bringing the children up to the front pew and address and engaging them in mass. My own childhood priest when I was 9 did much the same thing. When done correctly with reverence and the right intention, this interaction and involvement bears great fruit. We even were bless to have Father bless our home for the Theophany. I really enjoyed it because it clearly helped us put Christ into our Christmas this year.

I’m not sure how long my daughter will feel called to attend St Sophia but I feel it is my duty to nurture her experience and share with her the calling she feels.