Knitting Together Communities
Date Published: May 23, 2016
IRVING, TX -- Senior Mary-Therese Hafernik’s work on her Pastoral Ministry Capstone
Project has resulted in the knitting together of two groups of people that, on first
glance, would appear to have little in common.
Mary-Therese Hafernik spent her spring semester ministering to parishioners at St.
Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Carrollton, TX. She knew it would be an eye-opening
experience. What she didn’t know was that she was about to knit together two communities
that never would have met otherwise.
Tasked with two projects at St. Catherine’s--RCIA for Teens and Communion for the
Sick--Hafernik began her capstone project unsure. How could this culminate in a cohesive
presentation by the end of the semester?
“For capstone you have to discern what is the need within the parish and the need
in whatever ministry you are serving,” Hafernik said. “Since I had two very diverse
ministries, I was uncertain of how it would come together.”
Through keen discernment, Hafernik soon united what would have been two separate initiatives
with a special bond.
“I decided to bring the RCIA kids to the nursing home,” Hafernik said. “The elderly
loved the quality time and the interaction. At the same time, going to the nursing
home showed the teens what it means to really live their faith. It gave them the chance
to serve others, to be taken out of themselves and challenged.”
“At first, I was apprehensive to teach RCIA to teens because I’ve had more experience
working with the elderly,” Hafernik said. “But then I realized that I could use my
experience working with the elderly to help the RCIA teens by giving them a tangible
experience to help their faith to grow. I’ve really grown to love the RCIA program
and the teens. It’s been inspiring to see their faith grow deeper over time.”
Of those taught by Hafernik at St. Catherine of Siena, two RCIA teens entered the
church this Easter. Several others received their sacraments.
Reflecting upon her experiences working in these ministries, Hafernik sees how her
skills have grown over her time at UD.
“My classes in the Neuhoff Institute have given me a foundation for how to talk to
people, how to be Christ to people in a very tangible way,” Hafernik said. “In class
you hone these skills.”
Looking forward, Hafernik is interested in serving in hospital ministry.
“In that area there is so much good that can be done,” Hafernik said. “I think it's
really special for you to study something that you’re going to use for a career but
that is also going to be helpful for you in growing closer to God. Here, you're able
to do both.”
Hafernik’s experience of bringing communities together, it seems, will not end with
her Capstone Project. After a semester of hard work, Hafernik is ready to face new
challenges and opportunities.
“In ministering to others, you’re ultimately trying to do something powerful,” Hafernik
said. “But I’ve learned through all of this that it’s not so much about delivering
an amazing talk or message to my RCIA class. When you take yourself out of the equation
and go to serve and to be there for people and not put the emphasis on yourself, I
think so much more comes from that.”