By Dr. Carly York | Correspondent
“I love New Jersey!” Chris Stefanick announced happily before kicking off his third “Reboot! Live!” event in the Diocese of Trenton in as many years.
“When I come to New Jersey, I am with my people,” he joked, explaining that he grew up in the Diocese of Paterson.
Photo Gallery: 'Reboot! Live!' in St. Monica Parish, Jackson
During his Jan. 30 and 31 visits to Jackson’s St. Monica and St. Aloysius Parishes, respectively, Stefanick focused on the overwhelming love that God has for all of humanity.
“Catholicism without the love story behind it is just a bunch of doctrines that mean nothing in everyday life. Why do we want to have this love story from God?” Stefanick challenged the Jan. 30 audience. “So we can have an amazing life!”
Walking those gathered through the modern scientific proof for God, he said, “If there is no God, then you are a lucky accident, and your destiny is nothing. We believe in one God, and that is the foundation of our love story. Then through the light of faith, we see who God is: Love.”
He continued by reminding the faithful of the Salvation Story that is presented in the Bible and the life of Jesus. “Coming to communion is your altar call. It is your ‘yes’ to God’s love.”
Known around the globe, “Reboot! Live” is a dynamic, multimedia event designed to motivate and encourage faithful of all ages to become more engaged in their parish communities and energized about being Catholic.
This year’s visit to the Diocese was spearheaded by the faithful of Cohort 23, namely St. Monica Parish and John and Caroline White, who went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem with Chris Stefanick and others last summer.
“I was moved by the fire of evangelism I saw in John and Caroline,” Stefanick recalled, explaining that though the 350-member community in St. Monica Parish is small compared to other locations that typically host “Reboot! Live,” there was a special spirit among the parishes in the Jackson cohort.
“I think the key to my ministry is the six months of intentional outreach that parishes need to do before I arrive in any area. It makes the churches be intentional about what our true mission is: reaching people with the Gospel,” he said.
Event coordinator Barbara Rookey of St. Monica Parish worked tirelessly for more than six months to mobilize the faith formation groups of Cohort 23, which include the two Jackson parishes; St. John, Lakehurst, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Whiting.
“We had a combined membership of 35 people from our cohort churches who got the message out about the ‘Reboot’ event and ministry,” she said, praising the collaboration of the cohort. “Our main focus in mobilizing the parish communities was through small faith-sharing groups. Research shows that adults learn best in small groups when they are discussing meaningful topics, and that is where we started the evangelization mission.”
Glen Campbell of St. Aloysius Parish was another key member of the team to bring Stefanick to Jackson. “I went to as many faith groups as possible to … invite people to be inspired by Chris’s message,” he explained. “I hope that our region will see increased Mass attendance and overall participation in parish life as a result of this event. I hope that we will all learn what it is to be fully Catholic and enjoy the ‘why’ and ‘what’ of what we do.”
Something for Everyone
Many generations of faithful were represented at “Reboot! Live!” Jerry Burst, a retired police officer from Jackson and a longtime St. Monica parishioner, attended when his wife bought him a ticket for Christmas.
“After 66 years as a Catholic, I am looking for any inspiration I can get,” he said.
Scott and Carla Cucci of St. Isidore the Farmer Parish, New Egypt, attended with their two sons: Joseph, a senior in high school, and Michael, an eighth-grade confirmation student.
“I told my kids, ‘You might hear just one thing that really resonates with you that can give you an edge as you tackle life’s challenges as you get older,” Scott Cucci said.