This next week marks the beginning of the school year for many of our parish children, and with their return to school, the pace at STM picks up
considerably.

The Parish Council will be presenting its draft Statement of Parish Identity and Mission to the parish at large early this fall. The Council spent much of the past year prayerfully reflecting on who we are and what we are about as a Catholic community sponsored by the Society of Jesus in this Archdiocese of Atlanta. As part of this process, the Council asked STM parishioners at all the weekend Masses on two successive Sundays this past winter how they understood our parish identity and mission. The Council incorporated this feedback in their draft document. Look for me to present this draft to STM parishioners during weekend Masses sometime in September or October. The Council wants further feedback from parishioners before finalizing its work.

The STM Facilities Planning Committee who will be advising me and the Archbishop regarding future improvements to and expansion of parish buildings and other facilities will continue to meet through the coming year. The Committee recently heard from the Catholic Construction Services, Inc., the entity that will oversee this effort on behalf of the Archbishop, regarding its role in the planning and construction process. Next steps include selection and hiring of a firm to do the assessment of the condition and capabilities of our current facilities and systems, to determine future needs, and to prepare a phased program of improvements.

Our Religious Education classes and our Edge and LifeTeen programs resume near the end of this month. Religious Education is what we call our program of religious instruction on Sunday mornings for children 4 years old through 5th grade who are not enrolled in Catholic school. We still need a few catechists in Religious Ed. If you want to be a positive force in the religious and spiritual growth of our children as a catechist, let Michele McHale-Pickard, our Director of Youth Faith Formation, know (mcp@stmga.org).

(Incidentally, with Elaine Phillips’ departure for a new job, STM is looking for a part-time person to manage our religious education programs. If you are interested, or if you know someone who might be interested, let Michele know.)

Andy Otto, our new Pastoral Assistant for Faith Formation, is collaborating with our colleagues at Ignatius House Retreat Center to develop a comprehensive program of faith formation for our adults, including retreats, days of recollection, Scripture study, adult education, and sacramental preparation for parents of children to be baptized and couples preparing for marriage. As this
program takes shape, check the bulletin and website for the schedule of activities.

Our Young Adult Ministry (YAM) is growing as it offers more and varied activities for those parishioners in their 20’s and 30’s. Recent activities include a hike in Sweetwater State Park, a Saturday night dinner out, and a newly formed Saturday morning weekly prayer and support group. If you are a parishioner in that age group, whether married or not, whether with children or not, participating in YAM is a great way to meet peers who want their Catholic faith to be a significant part of their lives.

After their usual summer hiatus, our adult choir will be gathering in anticipation of resuming their contribution to our Sunday liturgies. The first practice of the year is scheduled for August 17 at 7 PM in the choir room in the parish office ground floor. If you are a singer or a musician and would like to participate more actively in our Sunday worship, let Joe Messina, our Director of Worship, know of your interest (jmessina@stmga.org).

The S Factor, a group of older parishioners who gather regularly for fellowship, prayer, and service, is collecting winter coats for homeless veterans. This is their first service project of the new ministry year, and The S Factor is inviting all parishioners to participate. Donations will be accepted through August 15.

Watch for these and other parish activities and events in the days to come.

Fr. Mark

P.S. STM parishioners who have a special devotion to Mary and who would like to deepen their personal relationship with Jesus through Mary might consider doing the My Soul Magnifies the Lord – A Retreat about Mary at Ignatius House Retreat Center in Sandy Springs from August 10 through August 13. Fr. Peter Fink, S.J., will offer the retreat. Register at: www.Ignatiushouse.org, or call: 404-255-0503.