1

RENEW small groups a path to the priesthood

A Texas priest who is now pastor of a church in The Woodlands discerned his calling to holy orders while he was participating in a RENEW faith-sharing process.

Fr. Patrick Garrett, pastor of Sts. Simon and Jude Church in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has said of RENEW 2000:

“That really is the source of my vocation.’’

“I am a late vocation,’’ Fr. Patrick explained. “I have been a priest for six years; I worked in industry for twenty years.’’

The pastor said he had participated in the original RENEW process in the early 1990s at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Houston, but the small group he was in drifted apart.

When RENEW 2000 appeared in 1997, Fr. Patrick said, he signed up again.

“I had been involved in the RCIA program, and I put together a group from that ministry, both people who had come through RCIA and people who had worked in the ministry.

“We started meeting, and our faith flourished. We kept wanting to do more and discussing what that ‘more’ might be.’’

The small group continued to meet after completing RENEW 2000, Fr. Patrick said.

"We kept doing whatever program we could get our hands on; we kept meeting and challenging each other to grow in faith.’’

In 2003, the men in the group started discussing the possibility of formation for the permanent diaconate.

“At the time, I couldn’t take part in the process because of my work schedule. I was traveling a lot, and I couldn’t start discernment.’’

As the group kept meeting, though, Fr. Patrick discerned his call to the priesthood.

He entered the seminary in 2003 and was ordained in 2009.

For nearly four years, he has been pastor of Sts. Simon and Jude.

“Because of my experience with Renew 2000,’’ he said, “I was adamant that we be part of ARISE’ —meaning ARISE Together in Christ, the faith-sharing process from RENEW International. “We were part of the first group of parishes to do ARISE in this archdiocese,’’ Fr. Patrick said.

Fr. Patrick said the parish has ARISE activities for various age groups in both English and Spanish.

“We have targeted having more young families involved with our ARISE program,” Fr. Patrick said, “and we have been real pleased with the number of families that have started to participate.’’