Mary Andrysiak has been at Sacred Heart Parish for five years and her notion of church has always revolved around her own parish community, until now. She has broadened her understanding of church by serving on a committee for Courageously Living the Gospel.
“It’s not just within our own parish that we are called to serve. Courageously Living the Gospel has given us the opportunity to embrace other parishes as we try to serve our collective population,” said Mary.
Mary is the lead volunteer on a Community Education Project that involves seven parishes in Pasco and Hernando Counties known as the East Central Deanery.
Father Krzysztof Gazdowicz, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, oversees the East Central Deanery and he with the other pastors within the deanery developed the vision for the project.
“This educational initiative will benefit parishioners as well as those who live in the nearby communities by addressing common needs. It demonstrates the Church’s desire to meeting people where they are and helping them, with not only spiritual and material needs, but also daily life issues all of us encounter,” said Father Gazdowicz.
The workshops could also be viewed as a way to evangelize.
“It can serve as a way for parishioners to invite neighbors and others to attend informative presentations free of charge and experience the Catholic community firsthand,” added Father Gazdowicz.
With ongoing input from the priests at the East Central Deanery meetings, Mary and her team are able to take their feedback and continue to develop an array of educational offerings to support individuals and families within the parishes and surrounding communities. The experience has been uplifting for her personally and spiritually.
“This has deepened my prayer life. I feel a sense of gratitude to work in the Lord’s vineyard. I know that when challenges come my way, I can stop and pray and God opens those doors every time. It’s had a wonderful impact on my trust in God and my gratitude to be a part of doing His work,” said Mary.
In early 2019, Mary and her team surveyed the community to find out what topics would be most beneficial. Close to 1,200 people responded. The two areas that ranked as most important were Spiritual Growth and Elder Care.
Spiritual growth opportunities, such as Bible study and faith sharing, are being addressed at the individual parish level. The multi-parish effort, also known as the Catholic Impact Initiative, is focusing on the other most important area of interest, Elder Care, which includes dealing with grief and loss, end-of-life issues and healthcare support.
The East Central Deanery offered their first workshop in the Fall of 2019 at three parishes. The topic, presented by two registered nurses was, “How to Make the Most of Your Doctor’s Appointment.”
“The feedback we received from the people who were there was that they all found the information very helpful,” said Mary.
Two more classes are planned for this month and next month. They are working closely with representatives at all of the parishes in their deanery to request bulletin and Mass announcements and additional publicity so that more people can benefit from this initiative.
These workshops have been canceled due to COVID-19.
Workshops in Pasco County
“Legacy Planning,” a seminar addressing estate planning and end-of-life issues, will be presented by Kim Peabody of the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development and Laurie W. Valentine, Esq. on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at Sacred Heart Parish in Dade City from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. “Navigating Medicare,” a presentation to help seniors and their families understand Medicare and make informed decisions about their health insurance needs, will be presented by SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) on Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at St. Joseph Parish in Zephyrhills from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The other members of the East Central Deanery Catholic Impact Initiative committee are Sharon Cardona, St. Joseph Parish, Zephyrhills; John Pollock, St. Anthony Abbott Parish, Brooksville; Angie Herrera St. Rita Parish, Dade City.
The parishes of the East Central Deanery are Sacred Heart Parish, Dade City; St. Anne Parish, Ridge Manor; St. Anthony of Padua Parish, San Antonio; St. Anthony the Abbot Parish, Brooksville; St. Joseph Parish, Zephyrhills; St. Mary Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, Masaryktown; St. Rita Parish, Dade City.