A lifelong member of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Christine Gentile has always treasured our parish as an integral part of her life. She remembers going to Mass with her parents and siblings as a young girl and receiving all of her sacraments here. In truth, Nativity is home for Christine.
“Ours is a small, homey parish,” Christine says. “I think that’s why I’ve stayed. This church is home for me.”
And when Christine began serving as a lector five years ago, she says her experience as a member of Nativity took on a depth the likes of which she could not have imagined.
“Before I got involved, going to Mass was kind of routine for me,” Christine says. “I didn’t connect the way I do now. Being a lector makes me feel closer to God, and I pay more attention to the Mass.”
As Christine continues to explain how her life has changed since getting more involved in the parish, it is clear that the faith-filled connection she’s experienced extends beyond the church walls. After volunteering to serve as a lector, Christine got more involved. She now also serves our Church Dinners Ministry and lends a hand whenever baking is needed for one thing or another.
“I help out wherever I can,” Christine says. “It has been so satisfying and enjoyable to get more and more involved. It is great fellowship with other parishioners, some of whom I wouldn’t know otherwise.”
Even more still, Christine’s stewardship extends beyond our local community. She has found herself seeking out ways to serve others far and wide! And in April of last year, she — along with a few other Nativity and St. Joseph parishioners — ventured down to El Salvador to serve the poorest of the poor in the region.
“It was a diocesan-sponsored mission, and our Altar and Rosary Society generously donated money for us to spend on the poorest of the poor in El Salvador,” Christine says. “And when I say these people are poor, I honestly didn’t realize that people still lived the way these people do!”
It was bone-chillingly humbling for Christine as she walked through the villages and witnessed people living in houses for which piles of branches pass as walls!
“Their floors are dirt — and not smooth dirt!” Christine says. “Some of the people live in homes put up by a company started by a couple from Amherst, but even those houses are not houses like we know. They are simply concrete pads and blocks topped with metal roofs.”
And yet, as Christine recalls her time in El Salvador, she says that the thing that sticks out most in her mind is the gratitude of the people there.
“We brought them bags of rice and beans, and the families were so grateful,” Christine says. “I remember watching as these people who live in conditions like I’d never seen before walked to Mass. They live in such poverty, and they were coming out of the hills and walking to church to thank God for their blessings. Witnessing how spiritual the people of El Salvador are made a tremendous impact on me.”
Today, as Christine continues to live a life of stewardship here at Nativity, she says she carries that experience with her. It has enhanced her awareness of the many blessings God has given her. It has reaffirmed her commitment to live a life of faith rooted in gratitude for the One who gives us everything! May we all take note of our gifts and spend our lives giving back to the One who gives! In everything, may God be praised!