Sunday, July 27, 2014
in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 3:5, 7-12
Psalm 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-130
Matthew 13:44-52 or
Camp Fort Worth is a service ministry camp for teens in the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas. In effect, it is a mission trip at home.
The teens sleep on the floor, attend daily Mass, and minister at local agencies that serve children, the elderly, and the homeless. They also build baby cribs that they donate to local pregnancy centers.
But Camp Fort Worth may never have happened if my life had gone differently.
Early in our marriage, my wife and I experienced six miscarriages in the span of two-and-a-half years. Those were years of tumultuous emotions: joy when a pregnancy test was positive and crushing sorrow when it was clear the pregnancy was over.
We saw specialists and did everything we could to sustain the pregnancies, but after the sixth attempt ended in another devastating loss -- and some consultation with our parish priest -- we decided it was time to stop trying.
When we were trying to get pregnant, I was a parish youth minister, and I had been looking for other jobs outside of ministry so I would be home more nights and weekends for the family. When we decided to stop trying, we asked God, what next?
One answer to that question was a new ministry venture.
A year later, I started Camp Fort Worth, and in the past 16 years, more than 2,000 teens have attended this camp with the vast majority experiencing a life-changing encounter with Jesus.
In this week's second reading, St. Paul states, "We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." Whenever I hear the adage, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade," I think of these words from St. Paul as saying that God is the master lemonade-maker.
For sure, my wife and I were devastated when we did not have children of our own, but that was not the end of the story. Had we had children, I may have left ministry, and Camp Fort Worth may never have happened. The thought boggles my mind.
None of us escapes this life without some heartache. But knowing that God is always working for my good helps me to press on through the sorrow to the waiting joy.
This column is offered in cooperation with The North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.