VAN BUREN — St. Michael Church’s 2023 T-shirt boldly proclaims the Eucharist as the source and summit of their parish life.
The bright turquoise cotton tee, available in short and long sleeves in adult and youth sizes, features a monstrance holding the parish logo on the front and a quote from Blessed Carlo Acutis on the back.
“We make T-shirts after each annual festival, and this year our staff brainstormed and decided to have a T-shirt celebrating the Eucharistic Revival,”office manager Deysi Sandoval said. “Jacob Steininger, a parishioner’s son, turned our ideas into a beautiful design.”
Blessed Carlo Acutis is a favorite of pastor Father Rick Hobbs. The young saint, who died of leukemia when he was 15 in 2006, was a daily communicant who sought to convert the world by cataloging eucharistic miracles and approved Marian apparitions on his website, carloacutis-en.org.
He became the first millennial to be beatified by the Church in 2020.
He taught himself computer programming and animation when he was 11 so that he could promote love of the Eucharist worldwide. Pope Francis called Carlo a saint for the digital age and a role model for teens on how to properly enjoy technology and social media.
The quote on the back of each T-shirt proclaims that “The more Eucharist we receive, the more we will become like Jesus, so that on earth we will have a foretaste of heaven.”
“Father Rick has always had a great devotion to the Eucharist,” parish secretary Jennifer Cummins said. “And this year he wanted to share it even more. Our parish has adoration before each daily Mass, every Wednesday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. and before our Saturday vigil and Sunday Masses.”
The parish is in the midst of a video study, “Jesus and the Eucharist,” developed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Augustine Institute. The seven-week series is held in English and Spanish after each Mass.
“Each session is two hours,” Angela Long, director of religious education, said. “Our parish is surrounded by rural areas, and parishioners come from Alma, Ozark, Chester, and even Roland and several other Oklahoma towns. It’s an easy way for us to get together to share our faith and some refreshments before heading home.”
Father Hobbs, who is recovering from back surgery, plans to incorporate a monthly Mass into religious education and youth programs when he gets well.
Proceeds of the T-shirt sale will be used to support religious education programs, and the staff expects that the shirts will be very popular.
“We sell lots of shirts every year,” Sandoval said. “And after the close of the sale, we always get another flurry of orders. The phone just keeps ringing.”
The shirts are available to the public as well. Order forms can be found on the church’s Facebook page and on its website at stmichaelvanburen.com. Short-sleeve shirts are priced from $15-22, and long-sleeve shirts are $18-25. The parish will accept cash or checks as payment at the parish office.
Father Hobbs said he is pleased to see his parishioners’ enthusiasm for the eucharistic T-shirts.
“Being a priest is the greatest joy of my life,” he said. “Providing sacraments for the people is a blessing. Our parish is participating in the Eucharistic Revival in hopes that we can bring more people to Jesus in the Eucharist. These shirts are a way for us to evangelize and to proudly proclaim Jesus to our community.”
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