Here is the text of my address to the congregation attending the 5pm Mass at St. Paul’s on Saturday, May 25. Parishioners are giving quick testimonies at all the Masses this weekend as part of our stewardship initiative.
Hi everyone, my name is Clayton Imoo and I currently serve as the Director of the Parish Religious Education Program here at St. Paul Parish. My lovely wife Gail is a grade 2 teacher at St. Paul School and she was the one who introduced me to Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church when I met her back in 1989. Together we have Sean Isaiah who is in grade 6, Jacob Isaac in grade 4, and Kayla Marie who is in kindergarten. My full-time job for the past 10 years has been as the Director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Archdiocese of Vancouver, and prior to that I was the parish youth ministry coordinator here.
I received the Sacraments of Initiation at this very church 20 years ago at the Easter Vigil and since then I’ve been blessed to encounter and experience the amazing love of God time and time again at this parish. I love this parish because it is a main conduit to share God’s love for me with others: through what I do, through what I say, and most importantly, through who I am. Put simply: St. Paul Parish is a huge part of my life.
And it’s in the community of believers here that I find my closest friends. I find spiritual mentors and role models. I find the teachers, learners, and the playmates of my children. I find people who lead me, and I find people to lead. All of these people collectively contribute to who I am.
I believe in young people. It’s an incomparable feeling when you see a young person do something special all in the name of God. In my work for the archdiocese, I’ve seen countless older teens and young adults from this parish step up and lead at archdiocesan events. I was inspired when I witnessed 60 children receive Jesus for the first time at this very Mass 2 weeks ago. And I was blown away by the talent displayed over in the gym last night at the school talent show.
Many of you are aware that I was blessed to go Rome in March to attend the inauguration Mass for Pope Francis as part of the Canadian delegation travelling with the Government of Canada. I wouldn’t say at all that I “earned” or “deserved” the invitation – rather I was blessed to be “noticed” for the work that we are doing collectively here in the Archdiocese of Vancouver. The people here at this parish continue to play an instrumental role in my formation…a process that started way back in my days at RCIA.
I choose to give to Project Advance and our new church building fund because I want future generations of young people to continue to have opportunities to grow in their faith, and in turn inspire young and old alike.
To quickly update you on our financial picture, we have saved $320,000 so far this calendar year, which brings our savings to just over $3 million total. We are more than a year into our current three-year plan, and are targeting $1,500,000 saved for this year so we can hire an architect in 2015.
Also, for this weekend, we have produced a flyer with some really great ideas on how we can give of ourselves, and you will also be able to read some wonderful testimonies from a few of your fellow Parishioners on the backside. We have volunteers at the doors ready to hand these flyers out after Mass; please be sure to get one.
In conclusion, my testimony is simple: I am a husband and a father. I am a believer in God, follower of Jesus, and dweller in the Holy Spirit. And may I never forget these priorities of faith and family.
Because when it’s my turn at the pearly gates, they won’t ask me: How many kids were registered for PREP? How many teens came to your youth rallies? How many friends do you have on Facebook or followers do you have on Twitter?
Instead, I will be asked: “The 4 people at home that you were given to love: do they know who Jesus is? Do they know what it means to love others as God loves them?”
May my answer be a resounding YES!
Thank you and God bless you.