Megan: Although Chris and I came to St. Francis through two very different paths, we both acknowledge and appreciate the family here, both in the church and at the school. And spoiler alert, that family helped lead to a big moment in our family's life!
My path began as an infant when I was baptized here at St. Francis, followed by 13 years of Catholic education at St. Francis and Bishop Carroll. The SFA family always played a big part in my life, and stewardship was a big focus in my immediate family. As an adult, I understand that we received more from the church and our church family than we ever would be able to give.
When our oldest child started kindergarten, we were welcomed back into the school family with open arms. Many of the same teachers and staff were even there, and surprisingly, the building hadn't changed either! Those same orange bathroom stalls and tiles in the women's bathroom next to Cana Hall were still standing.
I desired the same sense of family and community that I had experienced growing up at St. Francis, so I started volunteering as much as I could. Various volunteer roles over the past nine years allowed me to see the awesome way in which the people of St. Francis serve our parish family's spiritual needs of worship, fellowship, education and stewardship. There are not enough pages available to detail all the hard work I have witnessed going on behind the scenes, all with the goal of helping our parish to grow in our love of God and neighbor. It is through this lens that I have grown closer to my church family, my own family, and to God. How can you not strive to be better and more holy when you're surrounded by such great role models at your church and school?
Chris: As Megan said, my path took a slightly different route. Growing up, I attended the Baptist church in Mulvane and was pretty involved throughout childhood and high school. When I met Megan, I learned that she was what I lovingly called a cradle Catholic. I've had lifelong friends with a similar upbringing and had attended a handful of Masses over the years, but really didn't know much about the Catholic faith. Through the time that Megan and I dated, got engaged, and eventually married, I would attend Mass with her somewhat regularly but still didn't quite take it seriously.
Once we began to add to our family, I had a desire to be a good role model for our children, and we began attending Mass regularly as a family. Once the kids were in school, I really began to understand the faith and community that St. Francis provides for the children and to the congregation. I found that even though I wasn't Catholic, I was always met with a smile and a warm greeting. I was impressed by the school, the parents, the priests and everyone I met from week to week.
However, even as impressed as I was with my new experiences with the school and the congregation while regularly attending Mass, I was still comfortable in keeping the Catholic faith at an arm's length away. It wasn't until a weekend volunteer experience I had with an amazing group of people did my outlook begin to change. Megan and I met with a group in the rain to dig, assemble, coordinate, and enjoy fellowship to rebuild the school playground. That experience left me with a pride that I had been involved in building something all the kids would enjoy for years to come. It also left me with a new desire to change my attendance to the church and its activities from merely being present to wanting to belong – to the church and to Catholicism. It was then that I knew I wanted to attend RCIA and convert to a faith I had witnessed time and time again to provide my family and myself with a true feeling of acceptance and direction.
Megan: With Chris having gone through RCIA and two of our three kids being old enough to have received some of their sacraments, we've celebrated a lot of big moments at St. Francis. Those big moments don't overshadow the little day-to-day celebrations of this church family. Our oldest is at Bishop Carroll and our other two are in school at St. Francis, and we feel as loved and appreciated as ever.
We know the priests, staff, teachers and administration love our children as fiercely as we do and spend every minute trying to help get them to heaven. That love doesn't stop there; we feel it as parents. We felt it when Fr. Jarrod invited Chris to join the Church and start attending RCIA. We felt it when Fr. Drew chatted with us in the hallway. We felt it when we saw videos of Fr. Luke in the kindergarten class, and everyone in the class was laughing and smiling from ear to ear.
We felt it when Mrs. Carter stopped a parent to say hello, and through her own genuine way made them feel valued. We even felt it when Mrs. Barles called to say someone's gotten in trouble at school! We are so lucky to be a part of the St. Francis family, and we will never take that for granted.
Our church has shown us so much love over the years; let's return the favor and show some love to our aging facilities and leave the structure in place for our children to return as adults and say that St. Francis is still knocking it out of the park at meeting the parish family's spiritual needs of worship, fellowship, education and stewardship.
Chris & Megan Davis, General Chairs of Rebuild My Church Campaign