In 1922, St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in New Carlisle had a parish mission focusing on the crucifix. The theme of that mission was “Save Our Souls.” One hundred years later, St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish invited another mission speaker, this time Father Jewel Aytona, CPM, of the Fathers of Mercy in Kentucky for their parish mission from April 24-28. The theme of this year’s parish mission was “Thy Kingdom Come.” Father Aytona preached at the parish’s Divine Mercy weekend Masses, reminding the parishioners that a parish mission is intended to help refocus the faithful’s lives back on God. Over the course of the week, from Sunday night through Thursday night, there was adoration, an opportunity for confession, and then Father Aytona’s presentation. The final night also included the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Father Aytona’s parish-led retreat focused on the following themes: God’s divine mercy, confidence in God and St. Joseph, the Four Last Things, lukewarmness is the devil in disguise and humility: the path to heaven. During the week, Father Aytona stressed the importance of faith, trust, confession, the Eucharist, prayer and fidelity in striving to lead a holy life. He gave very practical advice and repeatedly stressed to those who attended the mission to increase their prayer life, increase adoration, frequent confession at least once a month and attend weekly Mass.
Father Bob Garrow, the current pastor at St. Stanislaus Kostka, stated that this year’s mission is part of a larger mission in which the parish is participating. Last year, the parish created a three-year plan with priorities involving catechesis and faith formation, evangelization and addressing the parish facilities. The parish mission was one goal of the faith formation and catechetical priorities. Another goal was to celebrate and focus on the crucifix in daily life during the 2022 calendar year as a way to commemorate the mission from 100 years ago.
Father Garrow looks forward to the many graces that will come from this parish mission. He is praying that hearts will be changed, that there will be a deeper love for the Eucharist and confession and that faith is strengthened. Coming out of the pandemic, the parish was in need of a spiritual renewal, as are many parishes and individuals throughout the world.
The Fathers of Mercy offer these retreats or parish missions at no cost, aside from a free-will offering on the final night of the mission, as well as through nightly sales of CDs to support their apostolate. Father Garrow highly recommends these mission priests for those discerning to host their own parish mission. There are other mission speakers who cost extraordinary amounts of money, some costing more than $20,000 for a three-day parish mission. For a parish desiring a mission focused on the Eucharist, confession and the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church, Father Garrow highly recommends the Fathers of Mercy. Many parishioners at St. Stanislaus Kostka would agree.
Parishioner Kathy Henderson said, “The parish mission has been very inspiring. Father Jewel is a great speaker, and the opportunity to pray a holy hour every day has been wonderful.”
Sue Gadacz said, “The whole mission was great, he (Father Aytona) kept my attention. What he said spoke to my heart.” Other parishioners expressed similar sentiments, including professing that Father Aytona was “inspiring,” “refocused me to God,” and “strengthened my faith.”
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