Phillip replied, “Come and see.”
Fr. Jack Wall, our president at Catholic Extension, likes quoting this exchange between Nathanael and Philip from the first chapter of John’s Gospel. After three months working at Catholic Extension, I finally understand why.
Being part of Catholic Extension’s mission is a distinct privilege. We see the work of God alive in some of the most remote corners of the United States, cities and towns most have never heard of. Our mission is to strengthen the Church’s life and work in hundreds of places that, at first glance, beg the question: Can any good thing come out Elberta, Utah or Cleveland, Texas or Browning, Montana? These are places where the faith of its residents is abundant, but often the resources they have are not. In these places, live people whose hope – rooted in their love of God and each other – buffers the temptation to become overwhelmed by poverty and isolation. These are people who are committed each day to work for change and a future that reflects the richness of their giftedness and diverse strengths.
In each of these places, the Catholic Church walks alongside the people, ensuring that their faith is being nourished by their communion with God, among one other and with other Catholics around the country and the world. Catholic Extension exists to sustain, strengthen and transform the Church in every single one of these places throughout the U.S.
Catholic Extension is often referred to as the “best kept secret in the Church.” The only thing I knew about it was that it produces calendars – the kind of calendars my grandmother may have once hung in our kitchen when I was growing up. I had no idea of Catholic Extension’s unique century-old mission which now – thanks to Fr. Jack and many others new to the cause like me – in the process of getting a major refresh and update. It has been literally out with the typewriters, in with the laptops. That’s where this blog comes in.
As part of the Grants Management team at Catholic Extension, each month Joe Boland, my Grants Management colleague, and I are privileged to lead visits by our staff to the places we serve. We go to hear stories and meet the people whose faith is transforming their lives and the lives of those around them. We go to meet the Church leaders who are dedicating their lives to inspire hope and work for change. It is their stories that compel us to renew our promise each day at Catholic Extension to help our Church grow and flourish, along with its people, in some of our country’s most forgotten corners.
At the end of the first chapter of John’s Gospel, Nathanael, having taken Philip’s advice to “come and see” meets Jesus face to face for the first time. It doesn’t take long before Nathanael proclaims that Jesus is King of Israel and the Son of God. Jesus reply to him: “You will see greater things than these.”
Our hope is to convey the stories of what we “see” in the Nazareths of our nation. And, like Nathanael, become witnesses to what God is up to in these places. To paraphrase Jesus’ response: We ain’t seen nothing yet.
– Frank Santoni, Regional Director of Grants Management
Frank & Joe will contribute on a monthly basis to the Catholic Extension blog, documenting and reflecting on the compelling stories and inspiring people Catholic Extension helps along the way.