CALDWELL, NJ — Nearly 200 people attended the first part of Faith Quest’s Lenten series of adult spirituality presentations on Wednesday after it was rescheduled from March 15 due to the snowstorm. Guests came out to St. Aloysius parish in Caldwell to hear speakers talk on topics of prayer and spirituality, understanding Sacred Scripture, and faith in practice.
Faith Quest is a four-week Lenten adult spirituality forum introduced in 2007 as a result of the New Energies initiative of the Archdiocese of Newark.
Trish Macaluso, Loretta Dremel and Karen Mazepa, West Caldwell residents and parishioners of St. Aloysius, came to hear Ginger Grancagnolo, Ed.D., DMin., speak on “The Way of the Cross: How to Bring Problems to Peace.”
The women said they felt the program was “uplifting and inspirational” and that Faith Quest gave them time during Lent to do something positive. They added that so many times people give something up for Lent, but Faith Quest gave them an opportunity to “do something” for Lent.
The decision to attend the program began when Macaluso heard about Faith Quest through church and asked her friends to join her. Something as simple as extending an invitation to a friend can make a difference, the friends explained.
The women said now that their children are older, it is easier to get out at night and participate in such events—and they are thinking of attending other programs as well.
“Don’t think your problems are bigger than your God,” said Dr. Ginger.
This statement really resonated with Macaluso. Dremel took with her the message that “miracles can and do happen.”
Dr. Ginger’s discussion was intended to not only lead one on the “Way of the Cross” and to the “foot of the Cross,” but to also encourage one to take the next step, which she said is stepping directly onto the Cross with Christ, “where His heart simultaneously beats with yours.”
Dr. Ginger also talked about her new book, entitled, “How to Find Your Joy in a Crazy, Upside-Down World.” Quoting from her book, she said, “Life requires us to P.U.S.H. – Pray Until Something Happens.”
Christopher Pasternak, a parishioner from St. Thomas More (STM), attended the talk given by Pastoral Minister Mary Bertani, who spoke on “To Love without Tiring - Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the Making of a Saint.” Pasternak said he came away knowing not only the calling and life story of St. Teresa of Calcutta, but also an awareness of her experiencing the Dark Night of the Soul for 50 years.
According to the presentation, it is known that throughout 1946 and 1947, Mother Teresa experienced a profound union with Christ. Soon after she left the convent and began her work among the destitute and dying on the streets, the speaker explained, the visions and locutions ceased, and Mother Theresa experienced a spiritual darkness that would remain with her until her death.
Father Roger Haight, SJ spoke on the topic “An Easy Method of Prayer for Difficult Times.” He is currently assigned in New York City and has early roots at St. Aloysius. He has taught on five continents and is a published author.
Father Haight spoke about praying with the Bible and meditating with the Scriptures. He suggested putting oneself into a scene from the Bible and becoming part of it.
According to Haight, the praying person uses all his senses to place himself in a Bible scene and sees himself as part of the story. He said this immerses the whole person in Scripture, which is a springboard to living and praying in the reality of God.
“Father Haight told us to get into a dialog with God telling Him what we want in relation to the Scripture,” said Priscilla Cole, a West Caldwell resident and STM parishioner.
Peg Johnston, one of the original Faith Quest team members, said that Faith Quest is the perfect way for adults to be fed on the Word of God. She stated that it is also very inexpensive and is conveniently located.
“What could be a better way to deepen and strengthen our connection with God than by attending the Faith Quest presentations that are given by some of the most esteemed members of the Catholic Church?” said Mary Ann Durantino, another Faith Quest team member.
Johnston encouraged attendees to get together in small groups outside the scheduled series to discuss and share the knowledge of what they learned.
She said that she knows of a group of people who decided to have all sessions attended by at least one member of the group so that when they have small group gatherings, all Faith Quest topics can be discussed.
Faith Quest came out of the New Energies parish initiative program that began in 2004. The program divided the Newark Archdiocese into clusters of parishes. The West Essex cluster includes Notre Dame in North Caldwell, St. Aloysius in Caldwell, STM in Fairfield, and Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Roseland.
These four parishes developed Faith Quest, which is in its eleventh year. There have been close to 100 speakers over the program’s history with hundreds of parishioners attending annually.