St. Agnes hosts Time and Talent Festival for Pentecost

After more than two weeks of rain in Arlington, the sun was bright on Pentecost Sunday. To celebrate this day when the Twelve Apostles and Mary were filled with the Holy Spirit, St. Agnes Church in Arlington hosted "St. Agnes Time and Talent Sunday" after the 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Masses. More than a dozen tables covered with bright red tablecloths were lined up outside the church. As parishioners left Mass they were greeted by friendly and enthusiastic volunteers representing 30 ministries and outreach programs.

The event was hosted by the St. Agnes Year of Mercy Group with the goal of emphasizing Pope Francis' call for tangible, hands-on corporal and spiritual works of mercy during the Jubilee Year of Mercy and beyond.

While the event is not new to the parish, this was the first time the "Time and Talents" event was held in conjunction with Pentecost Sunday.

"Pentecost was an ideal time to have this fair, as it gives parishioners concrete ways to build up the Body of Christ, in response to the charisms and gifts that they were given by the Lord and Giver of Life," said Father Frederick H. Edlefsen, pastor. "Building community through participating and contributing to the life, joy and mission of the parish gives the Holy Spirit the raw material that He needs to touch the lives of people who would otherwise not feel part of Christ's Body, the church."

In the past, only ministries specific to St. Agnes were included in the event. The group of volunteers would gather inside the vestibule armed with smiles and clipboards. This year the parish opened the event to ministries in both the diocese and surrounding Arlington community. The volunteers decorated their tables and many had handouts to accompany their clipboards.

Another new aspect of the event was introduced a week earlier when Father Edlefsen encouraged parishioners to complete a "Spiritual Gifts and Natural Talents Inventory." The inventory was specifically designed for Catholics by author Sherry Weddell to help parishioners reflect on how they could best match their gifts with the needs of the parish.

After completing the inventory, parishioners attending the event were hard pressed not to find at least one ministry that could benefit from their gifts. The parish flower ministry was happy to speak with anyone with a knack for decorating. Opportunities to work with young people or help the homeless were there via youth ministry and Catholic Charities. Tables provided a plethora of opportunities for the Sunday crowds - from young children to retirees.

"It is our prayer that many people who have not volunteered before will realize the outward-facing attributes of spiritual gifts bestowed at baptism and confirmation that must be given away to be kept and to increase," said Katylee McInerney, a member of the Year of Mercy Group. Dozens of people who haven't volunteered with St. Agnes before stopped at the tables and signed up for different ministries. Interest was so high that there was a request for the event to be offered after the noon Mass next year.

McInerney hopes the success of Sunday's event will not only help St. Agnes parishioners, but will encourage other parishes in the diocese to host similar events.

"We are praying that, empowered by the Holy Spirit, our efforts will enkindle the fire of love for neighbor so that the pentecostal fire will spread in Arlington and around the world," said McInerney.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016