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Rebuilding my Faith

November 1, 2018

In our Landings meetings, which happens throughout the year on Wednesdays in the St. Francis room we gather as returning Catholics called by God to review our spiritual journeys thus far and to redefine our spiritual lives within the community of the Catholic church. Many of us have been away a long time and have only just begun to experience the beauty of being “immersed in our faith”, as Father Michael has said we must be, for the first time as adults. And though some of us might have felt like outsiders, we are grateful for how warm and welcoming our journey back home has been. In fact, we’ve come to realize that our experiences and wisdom gained from the outside can be valuable gifts to those who never left and also to those who are still lost in the wilderness.

Some of us have previously spent many years and even decades away while learning about other spiritual paths, or believing in only science and chance, only to find these paths lacking in ways that finally forced us to embrace our church for true and full nourishment. All of us have, in one way or another, let life get in the way of our daily relationships with God, whether by working too much for material gain and consumption, or by wasting our time on self-centered interests, or through hours spent engaged in soul-robbing entertainment. At the same time, all of us bring many unique and important gifts back to the church and with unique
perspectives and life experiences that we are not ashamed of.

This fall we launched Landings 2 for brothers and sisters who have completed the original Landings program and who wish to further develop their faith practice. This group is designed to dig deeper into the roots of their faith and to allow it to flourish tall, healthy and proud like a giant Sequoia. We are being asked, in this program, to look at where we are now, now that we’ve returned; to consider what gifts we bring to our community and to decide on ways that we can contribute and profess our love of God through ongoing acts and deeds. We are also actively thinking about the stress the church is under at the moment. Just as we have returned to the church, we read in the news about Catholics leaving due to the sex abuse reports and so we are energized to welcome any one who has left the church recently or many years ago. We speak their language better than anyone, we know how things will be for them outside the church and we know how it will be when they decide to come back. Brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers--we all know family members and friends who have stopped walking with God, or who still walk with God but lack the close community of faith and brotherhood that only a loving church can provide. We ask you, reading this now, to look into your circle of friends and family and let them know about our ministry and help us reach them. It might only take a small nudge.

Our church is rebuilding itself and perhaps at the right time. We are rebuilding our faith and connections with God at the same time and so we understand that the Catholic Church is a living and breathing institution that has evolved without stopping for more than 2,000 years. As returning Catholics, we have much to offer our community as it seeks to revitalize, redefine and renew itself in a time where it is becoming perhaps harder to reach a world that is overly distracted and isolated by technology, by media and the daily grind. Like the hero’s journey of a Hero With A Thousand Faces, we returning Catholics once left the village, explored the outside wilderness, fought temptations and maybe even conquered some dragons and have returned to tell the tale and share our experiences and findings with our community. It’s good to be home.

Posted by Joe Witherspoon

Tags: #catholicconfession, #catholicreconciliation, #returningtoconfession, #returningtoreconciliation, #returningcatholic, #returningcatholics, #Landings, #Landingsprogram, #Landingsforreturningcatholics


A Eucharist Centered Life

August 8, 2018

Mass is the source and summit of our Catholic life. It’s where heaven and earth intersect. Divinity wraps itself around humanity, and through Eucharist, we become rooted in the sacred, replenished in spirit, and reminded that -our lives are not about us. Who will we share the Eucharist with this week?

And when families make the Mass a Sunday ritual, our days become centered in God. We place God first in our lives. And in the words of St. Francis of Assisi, we begin a simple, joyful walk - to “live the Gospel”. Catholic thought leaders liken it to a good exercise regime: Other things start to fall into place.

  • Faith: We seek out more opportunity during mealtime, bedtime, and drive time to pray with each other and individually – putting our trust in God – HIS will be done.
  • Intimacy: The Gospel message becomes part of the family conversation. It ignites a discussion, sometimes a debate over meals, on the way to or from school – drawing the family out.
  • Presence: The religious art that adorns our walls seem to illuminate and draw us in as if to invite a personal conversation. We feel a sacred presence in our home.
  • Healing: The family gets to confession more frequently, and we talk more openly about the things that weigh heavy on our hearts which leads to more family discussion, and sometimes… resolution.
  • Serving: We search out opportunities for the family to extend ourselves to others less fortunate and to our parish community, seeking out more meaningful opportunities that remind us that our neighbors matter… that we matter to them.
  • Enriching: We become more sensitive to social media, TV, music, and other forms of entertainment – opting to “unplug” on a lazy Sunday afternoon to spend more quality time with family.
  • Readiness: We begin to make more decisions based on the present and eternity, leaving the past behind and the future in God’s hands as he has much better plans for us that we ever dreamed possible!
  • Celebration: Family moments become bigger celebrations because the nature of life and each person in the family becomes more precious. And then the celebration begins: Saint’s Days, Church Seasons… SUNDAYS!
  • Gratitude: Nature and humanity in all her colors and hues become illuminated. We start to recognize and acknowledge our many blessings throughout the week.
  • Discipleship: We invite others in and encourage them to participate in parish life, to become part of our community.

And over time, we start to shed our ego, our fears, our stuff, our need to be busy; to ultimately simplify our lives, to find the joy in everything. We become grounded in God, and more connected to each other.

Posted by Laura Elmore

Tags: #Franciscan, #Capuchin, #Simple, #Serving, #Gratitude, #Healing, #Faith, #FamilyLife, #Discipleship



(Len Privitera, OLA SVdP President)

OLA Brown Bag Sundays

July 2, 2018

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink... - Matthew 25:35

If it is the first Sunday of the month, then you know it is "Brown Bag Sunday" at Our Lady of Angels, Burlingame. Volunteers for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) make 300 lunches every month to help feed the homeless.

The SVdP San Mateo County central office has a Homeless Help Center on B Street in San Mateo that offers meals to those in need during the week. On weekends there is no meal service, so the Center distributes the brown bag lunches so that the homeless have weekend meals.

All are welcome to help put together the lunches. Arrive in the "Lower Hall" at 8:00 am the first Sunday of every month. Volunteers organize the assembly line and then help pack the non-perishable lunches. There's usually some protein, canned fruit/applesauce, chips, cookies and a drink. The team effort usually takes an hour or less. It is a great family activity or a way to make new friends and achieve community service hours.

Since its inception, OLA "Brown Bag Sunday" has created well over 30,000 meals and volunteers have donated thousands of hours feeding the homeless in San Mateo County.

Posted by Tanya Roberts

Tags: #OLABurlingame, #SVdP, #Catholic, #Volunteer, #Meals


Journey back to my faith...

April 16, 2018

I went to confession for the first time in 30 years last week, allowing myself to accept one of God’s most precious gifts. Well, that’s not entirely true. Two years ago I thought I could get away with reconciliation by going to confession at the Vatican while in Rome during Holy Week. The helpful Italian Father there listened to my predicament, seemingly absolved me, but politely referred me back to my home parish for further guidance. “Uh oh”, I thought.

I was baptized and confirmed at OLA as a youngster and drifted away from the Church and its beliefs as a teenager. Like Saint Peter and the rest of the Apostles, I denied Jesus again and again throughout my life in public, unable to reconcile the religion of my childhood with the adult life that we are all thrown in to. And I dreaded the idea of going to confession, confessing to a priest who I have known since I was a young boy.

For the past few years, I’ve been on a journey, a pilgrimage, back to my faith, my Church and to God and the community of faithful who have been there all along. It’s easy enough to get back into the rhythm of going to mass but it is something else to approach a whole internal belief system that you let go undeveloped since you were a teenager. I knew the doors of the church were always open to me, but I yearned for community and I wanted help expressing my mature faith now as an adult and Landings provided the perfect, warm-hearted invitation to focus on my faith in the company of others who were in a similar situation.

As the 10 week series came to an end, perfectly timed with the end of Lent and the coming of Easter, I happened to go to Mass and notice an evening reconciliation date for Monday. With Landings under my belt, I finally felt completely at ease with the idea of going to confession and I knew I had to go and I knew exactly what I was going to confess. I felt that I had landed, that accepting God’s gift of reconciliation was like a graduation gift for my hard work of coming back to God, to the Church and to Jesus.

Posted by Joe Witherspoon

Tags: #catholicconfession, #catholicreconciliation, #returningtoconfession, #returningtoreconciliation, #returningcatholic, #returningcatholics, #Landings, #Landingsprogram, #Landingsforreturningcatholics


Your faith journey continues...

March 14, 2018

Here’s an interesting option to explore on your faith journey

Last year I helped Our Lady of Angels kick off a program for returning Catholics called Landings. Landings helps reconnect people who have left the church or are no longer inspired. Since the initial debut, we’ve had dozens go through the 10 week program. Landings is far more rewarding and enriching than I could have ever imagined.

About 10 - 15 of us meet once a week to discuss our Catholic faith. We take turns sharing our stories. Every week we also explore a different facet of the church. We talk about the Eucharist, prayer, sin and suffering among many other topics. There’s always a lively and thought-provoking discussion.

Each session is made up of a variety of people who are at different stages of their faith journey. That’s one thing that makes Landings so compelling. We’ve had some participants who haven’t stepped into a church for more than 30 years. Others faithfully attend mass their whole life -- but are feeling like something was missing. We have people who enjoy talking, and we have people who prefer to listen. There’s often a member or two well-schooled in Catholic doctrine, and then others who don’t really know that much about the church. In every session, there’s one thing that’s always a constant. Each Landings group is special - filled with interesting people who have something meaningful to contribute.

Here’s some of the feedback from past OLA Landings participants:

“If your faith is in doubt, Landings is worth your while.” -- Ling G.

“Landings biggest benefits are meeting such great people and learning other’s beliefs.” -- Linda T.

"Landings helped me to get closer to my religion and my church by going through the exercises personally and coaching me through this process. I'm on a pilgrimage and Landings is part of that and it's never ending." -- Joe W.

A new Landings session starts May 2. If you’re interested, email us today for more information at landings@olaparish.org. There’s no obligation and all are welcome. We’d love to have you join us.


Posted by Tanya Roberts

Tags: #catholic, #catholicfaith, #catholicchurch, #returningcatholics, #nonpracticingcatholics, #faith, #landings


Is God giving you a nudge?

December 21, 2017

Have you or someone you care about been away from the church for a while? Perhaps you feel God’s nudge that it is time to come back. Our Lady of Angels has a wonderful opportunity for returning Catholics called Landings.

Landings is a 10 week program that helps you re-engage with your Catholic faith. You meet one night a week with a group of both practicing and non-practicing Catholics. Each evening different faith-related topics are discussed. Stories are told. You can ask questions and get answers in an open, accepting environment.

My friend Darlene Wigler and I started a Landings chapter at Our Lady of Angels because we both spent a good number of years away from the Catholic church. Coming back isn’t always easy. Landings helps make it a smoother, more rewarding journey because you are not doing it alone.

This is our second year offering Landings. Past participants ranged from people who never left the church, but didn’t feel “connected,” to others who were gone for more than 30 years.

Landings is offered by parishes across the U.S. (and other countries around the world). Developed by a Paulist priest more than 20 years ago, thousands and thousands of people like you have enjoyed the program.

The first session starts on Wednesday, January 17 at 7:00 pm. Space is limited and re-registration is required. If you would like enroll or would like more information, email landings@olaparish.org before January 10. We look forward to hearing from you.

Posted by Tanya Roberts

Tags: #Catholic, #Catholicfaith, #Catholicchurch, #ReturningCatholics, #NonpracticingCatholics, #Faith, #Landings