by Joe Bollig
OVERLAND PARK — The leadership at Queen of the Holy Rosary Parish here has figured out a great place for Mom and Dad to go for a date night: church.
Queen is hosting a program called ChristLife — a Catholic ministry of evangelization popular in parishes across the country.
And the program, which launched on March 10, is the perfect place for couples to spend some quality time.
The first session drew 132 participants; they will continue to meet every Sunday from 5 to 7:30 p.m. for seven weeks. The sessions start with dinner, followed by a movie and then conversation with friends in the making.
And the price is right: free.
But ChristLife is not just for moms and dads needing a date night. In truth, ChristLife is for everyone, said Ralph Pruente, the program organizer at the parish.
“This is the new evangelization,” said Pruente. “Most of the people who come are fallen away Catholics or lukewarm Catholics. . . . You can be single, you can be a couple, you can be from the parish or another church — you don’t even have to be Christian. Everyone’s welcome.”
And if young parents want to use it for a cheap date night, that’s OK, too, he said. Child care is provided. The first evening they took care of 19 children.
Participants have to register, and the current seven-week session is filled. The good news is that the parish will host another session in October and people are already registering.
ChristLife is divided into three parts, or modules. The first — which the parish is doing now — is called Discovering Christ. The second is Following Christ; the third, Sharing Christ.
Discovering Christ is about reflecting on the meaning of life, our need for Jesus and having a personal relationship with him.
Following Christ is about deepening one’s personal relationship with Jesus, especially through different kinds of prayer.
Sharing Christ is about learning how to reach out to others and sharing one’s faith in Jesus, whether they are Catholic or non-Catholic.
Queen of the Holy Rosary is hosting two Discovering Christ modules this year and will host Following Christ and Sharing Christ in 2020.
In the Discovering Christ module, people are assigned to a table of about six participants, who are guided by a facilitator and an assistant. People stay at the same table for the full seven weeks.
“That’s intentional,” said Pruente. “You get to know each other and get a comfort level for sharing.”
The table groups follow typical small group sharing rules: confidentiality, no judging, everyone is entitled to their opinion and what is said at the table stays at the table.
“We passed out some comment cards for them to fill out at the end of the evening,” said Pruente. “There is already interest about what’s next. And some want to keep their groups going after the seven weeks are through.
“[We] hope small faith groups, starting with the friendships that develop at these dinners, will run on their own afterward.”
Debbie Kolarik and her husband Tom are volunteer table facilitators. She counts the first evening a success.
“It went well,” she said. “I think there is a real hunger for this. It was Lent and there was free food. Everyone was so hospitable and welcoming.”
And the program was certainly successful in drawing in newcomers.
“I didn’t know more than half the people who came — young people, old people, singles and married people,” said Kolarik. “It was awesome.”