Welcome to our ‘Faithful Servants’ series
…a new regular feature of the ever-present ‘servants of the faith’ across our local parish community.
We continue this feature with a focus on our new Ministry Area leaders. This week we introduce OLR Adult Faith Formation Minister Jacinta Elks.
Cradle Catholic to Convert
For Jacinta Elks, a cradle Catholic, the path to true conversion was at times a little bumpy, but looking back she believes God has protected and indeed blessed her during her life so she always understood her dignity and worth as a daughter of God.
“I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t know God,” said Jacinta, the new Ministry Leader for Adult Faith Formation at OLR Parish, when asked about the first time she encountered God or experienced God’s love.
“I did however have a real encounter during my Alpha course at OLR, which I was actually doing under a bit of sufferance – God definitely has a sense of humour! It put a rocket under me in many ways, including studying Theology at postgraduate level and saying ‘yes’ whenever Fr Josh has another project,” she added.
Growing up in Nambour in a large Catholic family to parents who had been lay missionaries in the Church in Papua New Guinea, it was a family routine to pray the Rosary every single day.
“By the time I left home, I was so over praying the rosary. At around 30 years of age, I was happily married with three very, young children and a busy life, but my faith had been diminishing for some time. I still ‘believed’ but I certainly didn’t ‘behave’. Mass attendance was sporadic; pretty-well everything else took priority. There were definitely no rosaries being prayed,” said Jacinta.
Faith bounced back fast when the news of a fatal car crash killing her dad and younger sister brought Jacinta to her knees. “I adored them both and it was utterly devastating,” she said of the news.
“Literally all that got me through that dreadful time was the love of my family and the rosary. I started praying the rosary whenever the grief got so unbearable, I could barely breathe. I could do that because it was so deeply embedded in me – it was the only thing that required no effort. I am so grateful that Dad had given me the very tool I needed to survive their loss. Trying to pray the rosary every day, even if it’s using an app on my phone while I’m driving, now helps me to live out my faith every single day.”
Jacinta, who has lived in Mount Mellum for 30 years, is a self-professed mass Gypsy.
“I grew up at St Joseph’s, and love Stella Maris, and often still go there to have Mass with family members. Raising our own family, many Sundays were spent at St Catherine of Siena at Sippy Downs (afternoon Mass is more amenable to teenage boys!). Now I most frequent Maleny and Caloundra. I have also been known to put in appearances at Beerwah and Unity; and I do love Fr Tyrone’s 9.00am Mass at Landsborough on a Friday – Mass, Adoration and Reconciliation – amazing!”
Jacinta says that within the OLR parish, pockets of dynamism already exist, and the Adult Formation Team has an excellent foundation to build on.
“The ministry is served by a wonderful Leadership team – Caroline Kettle, Carol Devcich, Ed McHugh and Julie Borger – all committed to serving and having already displayed immeasurable support and enthusiasm as we worked together to develop the Strategic Plan for this Ministry.
“We also have a secret weapon – God wants us to know Him!” she adds.
Jacinta believes that the human response to God is an obedience of Faith, at intellectual, emotional and volitional levels.
“Faith is both a grace and a human act,” she says. “Freedom isn’t the ability to do what we want but the power to do what we ought. Faith must include action, not merely assent. Faith is our response to God. God brings us abundant light as we search for the ultimate meaning of life. There’s a reason why Fr Josh keeps making us say that ‘Yes’ prayer!”
Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Adult Faith Formation Ministry, hope to make available to all a better grasp of the sacred deposit of our faith through lots of exciting activities including Sacramental preparation, Bible study groups, Alpha programs across the Parish, Catholic Book Club, Catechesis and Apologetics programs, and even a Pilgrimage program…save the date for a Holy Land pilgrimage possibly in Sep/Oct 2024!
Jacinta says that she has found from her own experience that the more we learn about Jesus and His Church, the easier it is to live a Catholic life.
“If we can help to make it easier for our parishioners to develop their own faith lives through access to quality faith formation resources and community, I hope we will bring more people into a nurturing and maturing of their faith and an intimate communion with Jesus Himself.”
Jacinta says that the Adult Faith Formation Ministry at OLR will seek to support all parishioners as they walk towards God, knowing that we are all on different points of the journey.
“The search for God demands an effort of intellect, a sound will, an upright heart and the witness of others, but ensuring quality faith formation opportunities are readily available will hopefully help people along their own paths to Him.
“I hope every parishioner is supported to understand the kerygma fully, and to develop their full, conscious and active participation in Christian life,” said Jacinta.