Shinnston Parish Project is Reviving its Faithful

Fr. Chris and his poster

Have you ever heard someone say, “Mass is so boring, I don’t get anything from it?”

Maybe you can even admit saying that yourself.

“We take for granted that everyone knows the Blessed Sacrament is the Body and Blood of Christ,” Fr. Chris Turner of St. Ann’s in Shinnston said.

Mass is spending time with God, receiving His graces, and the celebration of the sacrament of the Eucharist. Taking that for granted or not understanding that is a big problem in the Church.

“Its’ our problem,” he said.

So, Fr. Chris and the music ministry team at St. Ann’s in Shinnston have chosen to take action to teach and revive the understanding that the Eucharist is Jesus, the Bread of Life, present for us.

“When Bishop Mark Brennan announced the National Eucharistic Revival, we began to embrace the idea of putting more emphasis on the Eucharist and teaching it’s meaning,” the Harrison County priest said.

After the results of a 2019 pew study revealed that only 30 percent of Catholics acknowledge Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist, Bishop Brennan and the bishops of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, voted to launch a national revival to strengthen the Church and reach out to the 70 percent of us who are missing the encounter with Jesus through the Eucharist – the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord. The Blessed Sacrament – our holy Communions – are not symbolic we receive his Body and Blood transformed from bread and wine, so that we, the people of God, can be united with Him and each other.

St. Ann’s posters

One tangible way St. Ann’s is accomplishing this is through what many would consider an unsophisticated way, but has proven to be invaluable – a humble poster project. The idea came from Colleen Driscoll, parishioner and assistant music director. Liturgical Music Director Jimmy Mazzie bought the posterboards and handed them out to St. Ann’s parishioners at Mass as Fr. Chris explained the purpose was to showcase what the Eucharist means to them.

“It was so great to see the reaction,” he said. “Men, women, and children in the parish participated as an individual or together. It’s evident when you look at the display that they have taken the mission to heart and spent a lot of time thinking about and creating their poster.”

The posters decorate the back of the Pike Street church and will stay up through July of 2024, the end of the Parish year of the National Eucharistic Revival.

Driscoll’s poster is a mosaic with the face of Jesus revealed on a cross on the Eucharist elevated above a chalice. Another parishioner drew a stairway to Heaven and wrote “Every time I receive the Holy Eucharist, I feel one step closer to Heaven!”

One of the posters “is almost an ad,” Fr. Chris said with a proud laugh, as he acknowledged the poster made showcasing Adoration and the times that their Blessed Margaret of Castello Eucharistic Adoration Chapel is open (Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday from 6am to midnight).

The poster also prompts the viewer with Jesus’ question to his disciples, “Could you not keep watch with me for just one hour?” (Matthew 26:40)

“One of my favorite things here at St. Ann’s is the Adoration Chapel,” Father said. “Our families know it’s here, but we can definitely do a better job of inviting them to come in and spend time with Christ; and teach them why it’s not only important to do so, but what they gain from it.”

Even though he grew up in a devout Catholic family and active in his faith, he like many Catholics didn’t know what Adoration was until adulthood.

“To put it simply it wasn’t a thing,” he said gesturing with air quotation marks. “But we should all know that its graces are endless.” It is in Eucharistic Adoration we can be ourselves and, in the silence, talk to Jesus.

Father’s poster features real life images, illustrating “The Eucharist in Action: Feeding the hungry, serving the poor, comforting the broken, and loving one another.”

“These images show agony and depression, as well as compassion, hope, and joy in the midst of terrible surroundings,” he said. “It makes you instantly feel for the people in the photos and also realize how lucky we are in this country. I want it to make us think about what we do and how we can serve as a Eucharistic people.

“We go to Mass and receive Communion to strengthen us and become one with Christ,” he said. “We are guilty, and I am guilty of taking that for granted. We need to get our parish families and our own families revived.”

One of his favorite saints is St. Maximilian Kolbe who said, “If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.”

“He was a smart one,” Father Turner said. “If this project has made someone realize that Christ is here waiting for them in the Eucharist – then it’s been successful.”

Driscoll said she hopes other parishes can run with St. Ann’s idea and form their own poster or art projects open to all ages within the parish as a way not just to teach and preach Eucharistic revival, but also to be an active participant an effort to awaken our thinking and our world.