"A lay Catholic perspective"

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Providential Care

by Colin Riley


EVERY CATHOLIC is called by baptism to participate in the mission of the Holy Spirit. This is particularly true for the laity. The teaching of the Catholic Church stresses that there are places in our world and in our ordinary lives where only the laity can bring the Gospel of Jesus.

The call of Christ to share in Christ's mission creates some interesting situations in our lives. It can seem like quite a balancing act to get everything working right. How do we balance family, family activity (school, skating, etc.), work, education, social life, church and mission without spinning ourselves into a frenzy? Often we don't. We choose the most uncomfortable thing on our "to do" list and plan to get to it "whenever". And we never do. Most often, the call to mission is relegated to the "whenever" part of our list.

This is a mistake because we unwittingly deny ourselves great joy. There is nothing quite like the security of being where God wants you to be. Facing a situation which is overwhelming and beyond our human resources is challenging, but watching the Father's providential love carry us through is exhilarating.

Providence moves through all of our lives. However, we tend to notice it the most in the area of finances, probably because we place so much importance there. A lot of misconceptions and insecurities surface when God and money are mentioned in the same breath.

Providence plays a big role in putting out an issue of Olive Leaf and has played a big role in our Community over the last twenty years. We strongly believe that Olive Leaf should be provided free of charge. It is not a business or a profit maker, but rather a mission of love that we consider our privilege to do. Also we do not put out an issue until the previous one has been paid for. Finally, Olive Leaf is funded three ways: our donations of time, effort and money; advertising; and unsolicited donations.

The journal was originally intended to support the people we were doing parish home visits with. We decided to expand our circulation to the archdiocese. Through the encouragement of people such as Monsignor Norman Chartrand we were able to rise to the challenge of an increase in circulation. Yet, the printer we had been using was unable to handle the increase in printing. Having already been through several printers we were concerned about finding a good one, but Providence was caring for us and we found Dave's Quick Print. We were very fortunate to obtain the generous price and extra services they have provided us.

Olive Leaf was well received and circulation continued to grow. The journal expanded beyond the Archdiocese. While this response was welcome and gratifying, it grew tougher to continue publishing Olive Leaf. At first we hoped to publish every two months, or six times a year. The staff quickly discovered that was too exhausting and costly. Our difficulties continued and by January of 1998 we found that we just could not keep publishing. It looked like we would have to cease issuing Olive Leaf, although that did not seem like the right thing to do. Our Archbishop remained positive, and many people asked us to continue relating personal stories of how their faith was encouraged.

Clearly something had to change. Prayer has always been a major part of our work; therefore, we began to seek the Lord. The first break came when Mark was visiting John Cliffe in Toronto and shared our difficulties with him. John showed him a high speed copier he used in his office and suggested it for our work. When Mark returned to Winnipeg he met with people who sold that type of machine to get more information and decided that it did not suit our needs. Still, it was the first glimmer of hope. Neil and Mark agreed that the search should continue.

Now, in this sort of situation we would not normally go to our printer for advice. After all, we would be asking him to help us make him lose business. But Ken Blackmore has always had a Christian, caring attitude towards us, so Mark and Neil went to him for advice. Not only was he unhesitating in his advice, but he gave us a referral to someone he highly recommended. So Mark and Christine went to Gerald Wilcox at Xerox who showed them a machine that looked perfect. Initially the price seemed too high for us to move to such a high quality printer. Further searching revealed that between changing how we do our printing and Ken Blackmore's generous assistance with the work we still would not be able to handle operating costs. Besides, that still left the not so minor matter of how to get the machine.

At this time Vince Kaskiw was talking to a friend who mentioned that if we ever needed anything we should let him know. So we approached him with our need and he agreed to pick up the lease for one of the five years.

Things are now in place. We have been given the security to keep publishing for this year and yet we must continue seeking providence for the rest of those five years. Changes still continue as we strive to improve Olive Leaf and every issue remains a challenge that leads us to seek divine help. Today Olive Leaf continues to grow. There is a diocese in New York that wants it for their youth. How they will be able to obtain it still remains a mystery. Different parishes also want it. Through our web page we know that places as far away as Brazil, Ireland and Philippines appreciate what God is doing through this effort. We constantly receive requests for prayer intentions from around the world.

The work continues. Is it anything like we thought it would be when we started? Not at all. The Father has transformed our efforts into something much greater than we would ever have believed possible. His providential care continues to look after us while keeping us continually seeking his will. We constantly experience his care through the love of his people.

Several years ago we sensed that Jesus wanted to reach the whole world through our community. That frankly seemed preposterous. Yet today, less than five years later he seems to be starting to do that. Where is it going? We do not know. But we will know when we need to. Providence is like that.