Thursday, February 16, 2006

"FROM GUNS TO GOD" - A Leap of Faith Comes Full Circle

In November of 2004, I took a leap of faith. I placed my life in the service of the Catholic Church. And I haven't looked back since.

I became a parish member at St. Patrick's Church in Moreno Valley in 1991. Like most church-goers, I was what our current priest-minister Fr, Joe Nacu, MS, would jokingly call a "space man." I would go to church on Sundays, occupy the same “space” and drop a measly $1 into the alms basket as it made its rounds. My Mass attendance was spotty at best.

My career as publisher and editor-in-chief of GunGames Magazine was the center of my life. It was a jet-set life, hobnobbing with important people across the U.S. and all over the world. I was micro-managing my daily life with precision, running a publication that was honored as one of the "Top Ten New U.S. Magazines of 1996." During these high-flying days, God was a mere footnote in my life.

Then in 1999, my family life went through a major upheaval. I hit rock-bottom. I spiraled into a deep depression. And just when I thought all was lost, God somehow found His way back into my life.

"Let go and let God," said the inspiration card my mother had given me. I did. I let go and I let Him take charge.

I found peace in God and started attending Sunday Mass once again. It was as if He was talking to me through the Mass, telling me how to live my life. I was developing a wonderful relationship with God, a personal relationship. I placed all my burdens on His shoulders and He lightened my load. My life began to turn around in every aspect.

It was late Fall in 2004, when I heard a call to service during Mass. Our parish leaders challenged us to put our talents to work for the service of God. The parish needed new people to help manage and guide its affairs through its pastoral council. Deep inside, I felt this strange stirring urging me to put my name in the runnin.

What? Me, a "space man," volunteering my talents to serve our Lord? Until that day, the thought had never even occurred to me.

But maybe it was all God's plan. I was elected to our pastoral council and immediately went to work.

It became apparent to me in no time that communication - my bailiwick - was the single major issue facing my parish. Every difficulty we faced as a parish, from not having enough money to fund our ministry work to not having enough people to help in our many activities, could all be alleviated if the issues were more effectively presented to our parish members.

It had always seemed to everyone that most of the parish members just didn't care. But the truth was they were simply not informed enough.

Using my own resources and at no cost to my parish, I published an online parish magazine.

Soon, other parishes in the area began hearing about what I was doing for St. Patrick. They asked if I could extend my ministry to them. I agreed, and before I knew it my little network had grown to ten local churches.

Then our friendly monsignor from the Diocese suggested that more people would benefit from our evangelization efforts if I extended the on-line magazine ministry to all the other churches in our Diocese.

I said I would like to do it. But I had to ask him, "How do I send my kids to college if I just spent all my time caring for 120-some parishes in the diocese?"

He replied, "Find a way. You will be able to find a way."

Find a way I did. And the ball has never stopped rolling since.

Hooking up with my friends at Ambient Solutions, Inc. - one of the top internet advertising and creative agencies in the country - we developed a structure that would meet the two real challenges we needed to overcome.

First, our structure needed to be robust enough to accommodate a lot of churches - and I mean a LOT of churches.

Second, the average volunteer worker at church - who more than likely is a retired senior citizen with zero web programming background - should find this magazine easier to build when compared to the church bulletin he or she prepares weekly.

We have achieved both these goals.

Twelve months from the day I first conceived the very first online magazine for my parish, we released our completed ParishWorld Catholic Magazine. Prior to this, we were playing around with the beta version I had developed. This new release is ParishWorld as we had truly intended it to be, the realization of our grand vision.

And we're very excited to share it with you.

Now we can expand our ministry not just among all the parishes in our Diocese of San Bernardino as we had originally planned. Our system is robust enough to accommodate all the parishes in all the Dioceses in the United States.

ParishWorld is America's Catholic lifestyle magazine and it's filled with interesting articles for all Catholics everywhere. It is also the online-community center of every single parish that belong to our network. Through us, parishes can share with their members the many wonderful stories and news events regarding their parish community. And it's available to all parish members around-the-clock. 24/7.

More importantly, parishes and their members now have a wonderful tool for evangelization. It will help them spread the good news of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Virally, by email.

ParishWorld is a living publication; it will always be a perpetual work-in progress. So let us know what you think. Send us your thoughts and ideas. We take all comments and suggestions we receive quite seriously.

Twelve months ago, I took a leap of faith. I ask that you in turn also do your share in helping keep this wonderful ministry going forward. Share it with all your family and friends. Send it to them by email - all it takes is one mouse click.

And if your parish is not yet a member of our ParishWorld network, please show this magazine to your local pastor and we will be most glad to get them started. In most cases, we can get a new parish up and running in a matter of days.

From its inception, ParishWorld seemed to have always had a life of its own. It was as if the Holy Spirit was guiding its development, clearing hurdles and opening doors and opportunities at every turn. All I did was place my trust in the Lord and use the talents He gave me in the way I know best.

Enjoy your ParishWorld Catholic Magazine. May God also find His way into your lives; just as He found his way into mine.

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief
ParishWorld Catholic Magazine

No comments:

Post a Comment