True Faith

I took the bus when I was in high school. A lot of students had rides or drove a car, but I always took the bus. We were a one car family, and my dad worked 8 – 5, Monday through Friday.

We lived in an old brick farm house with an extremely long gravel road. The bus opened its doors to let me out, and I began the hike home.

It was a late fall afternoon, and the sun was beginning to set in the sky. I could feel a change in the air as I saw flowers begin to wither and leaves begin to brown. We were quickly losing the warmth of summer.

I had one final bend in the road, and when I turned the corner, I saw our family car in the driveway. It was the middle of the afternoon; the car was never in the driveway in the afternoon. Why was the car in the driveway? Something had happened. My heart began to pound.

I didn’t want to panic and run to the house, but mind was pushing my body and my feet moved quickly to the back stoop.

I pulled open the old, metal screen door and entered the small dining room area. Both of my parents were sitting at the large wooden table.

My dad looked up at me and told me to come in and sit down.

He stared at me for what seemed like five minutes.

“I was laid off today.” For a moment, my brain couldn’t process what “laid off” meant. Was it temporary? Would he get his job back? Was he fired?

“What does laid off mean?” I finally asked.

“They made cutbacks. They let about a dozen people go today.”

We had a family of seven—five kids in school, ranging from high school to grade school. My father’s paycheck was our sole source of income.

In all my years, I never sat alone with my parents at the dining room table. There was always the family. Always a lot of noise and activity. Always commotion. But now it was just us.

Being the oldest son, they wanted to sit and talk to me about what this meant.

I felt like our world was vanishing before my very eyes. Lost his job…no money…how do we eat?…what do we do?

Before I could say a word, my mother looked me in the eyes and said “It’s all right. God will take care of us.”

My dad smiled. “We’ll get by. We always do. We just have to have faith.”

At that moment, I discovered what it meant to be at a crossroad. It’s the moment when you make a decision on who you want to be and where you want to go.

“It won’t be easy,” my dad added. “That’s why we need your help.” He never told me what he needed me to do or what my responsibilities were, but I said yes, of course, whatever they needed.

And that was it. That was the end of the conversation.

Change came and knocked me off my feet, and my parents and their faith placed me upright.

They didn’t have to say a lot. They didn’t have to explain. They simply had to remind me that God was at the center of every moment of every day, and no matter what the world threw at us, God was there to protect us.

It was a lesson I never forgot. In fact, in a very weird way, I’m glad that my dad lost his job.

On that day, at that old, wooden dining room table, I learned what it meant to have true faith.

This month, theROCK is focused on Change.


Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK and a member of St. Dominic Parish Marketing Committee.




A Message from Fr. Dennis Saran

William Shakespeare said, some are born into change, some achieve change, and others have change thrust upon them. Well, not quite in those words. No matter how ordered we condition our lives, we all experience change thrust upon us. It is not easy. No one wants to change. This difficulty with change is not unique to human beings.

Isaac Newton perhaps said it best in his first law of motion, “Every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force.”

Well, the archdiocese has exerted an external force to St. Dominic Catholic Parish, and I was chosen to be your next pastor. I come having experienced a great amount of change in my life, and in humility, and compassion. I hope to become a member of your family.

We are all called to conversion; to give up our pride and self- centeredness and to become closer to God. We are all called to transformation; to change. The uneasiness we feel with change is a tension, and tension is a creative force. Holding both “what was” with “what is” is life giving, and giving life is the purpose of our worship and  the purpose of our faith: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

I ask that we help each other “turn around” towards Jesus. God is limitless and he/ she is not done with you or I yet. Conversion is a process; not a goal, not an endpoint. It is also not a process of one-size-fits–all. Each of us is called by God, when God, and how God, feels like it.

I was called by God at an early age. I served as an altar boy throughout grade school and well into my high school years. I was interested in being a priest, but I was more interested in being better than my older brother…and I liked girls and could not imagine not being married.

God waited.

I abandoned any thoughts of priesthood during my college experience studying Biomedical Engineering in hopes of admission to medical school, like my brother.

God waited.

He didn’t let me forget him, as I found solitude and peace at our Neumann Center at Northwestern University. By the time I was graduating, I had been attending Mass most evenings. I was accepted at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine, as my brother had been, and entered once again with no thoughts of serving the Lord.

God waited.

After medical school, I married in the hopes of companionship, moved from home to a new state, a new job, with a new wife. But marrying for friendship and to avoid being alone doesn’t work, and my marriage lasted six years. During those six years, new home, new wife, new job…I abandoned Church.

God waited.

My divorce changed my life and was exceedingly painful, but during those dark days, I returned to Church. I devoted my life to my children. I would spend my entire energy being a good father. I petitioned for an annulment. The day I learned my annulment had been granted, I felt that God held me once again. I met another wounded soul,  and together we offered each other healing. We married and started the process of a mixed family. There were trials and joys… more joys than sorrows. I would strive to remain a good father.

God waited.

My wife’s mother and aunt moved in with us ten years into our marriage. My oldest daughter was in college, two others were on the way. I started to write letters to express my love for my daughters. Being much wiser than I, they remarked the letters were not meant for them, but were love letters to God. I continued to write, to read, to explore, to “turn around.” For the next six years, through digesting the writings of many saints, I was drawn to a relationship with God, one of intimacy but without direction.

One year before my wife’s illness, we mused that if anything would happen to her, I would want to be a priest. In one year, my aunt and my wife both died of cancer.

God waited, and now he walked with me. Within a year, I was admitted to the seminary to be a priest.

The scariest part of change of conversion is realizing that God can work on you whenever, and in whatever way he chooses.

My story is one of change, one of conversion, one of a heart broken, and now is broken open for you, my new beloved family of St Dominic. 

It Will Be Okay

In the end, it will be okay, because God is always with us.

Are your children afraid of change? Are you looking for a way to discuss change with your family?

Check out the book written by New York Times bestselling author, Lysa TerKeurst, It Will Be Okay: Trusting God Through Fear and Change.

It will help kids discover that in the end, it really will be okay, because we have a God who is good and kind and always with us.

Focus on Change

There is one thing you can always count on in life: things change. But change is not always easy. In fact, some of us have a very strong tendency to resist change. It may be habits or routines, it may be responsibilities at work, it may personal relationships, or even how our body changes over the years.

So how do you handle change? What role does faith play in handling change? What can you do every day to keep yourself open and ready to accept change?

This month, theROCK is focused on change. We will explore what each of us can do, every day, to not just accept change, but to embrace it.

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.”

Are you ready?

A Life of Passion

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver

We come to the end of July, and we sum up the entire month with one simple sentence: To truly live a life of passion, we must have God as the core.

This week, find a quiet spot where you can be alone. Take sixty seconds and ask yourself the following question:

“What do I plan to do to honor God today?”

You don’t need a life plan, you don’t need a six month plan, you don’t even need a weekly plan. You simply need a plan for today.

If you honor God with your words and actions today, your life will be filled with passion.

What’s your plan? Share your thoughts with us.

I Will Accept My Responsibilities

What is your call to action? How will you live a life of faith?

During the summer months, we’re featuring a post called “I Will.” What’s one thing you can do to make the world a better place?

I Will…Accept My Responsibilities

We often hate them, yet we can’t live without them. They guide our decisions in life, yet we often look at them as an enormous burden.


Is there another word that has so much weight?

Living a life of passion starts with looking at life through a different set of eyes:

  • Statistics over the years show that 15-20% of all pregnancies in the US ended in miscarriage.
    • Ask any of these potential parents how difficult it would be to get out of bed for a midnight feeding or give up a Friday night out with friends.
  • As of June of 2017, there are almost 7 million people in the US who are unemployed.
    • Ask any of these people how difficult it would for them to get up on a Monday morning to punch a clock.
  • According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, approximately 500,000 men, women and children go homeless every night in the United States.
    • Ask any of these people how difficult it would be to mow the lawn or clean out the garage on a Saturday morning.
  • About 2,200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of 1 death every 40 seconds.
    • Ask the families and friends of these people how difficult it would be to encourage their loved ones to quit smoking, exercise, and eat healthy.

God, help me to accept my responsibilities in life, to view them with a fresh perspective, and to savor all of my moments on earth.

What are you passionate about? Share Your Thoughts with Us.

My Pilot Light

If you’ve ever cooked with a gas stove you’ve noticed the pilot light. It’s the tiny flame that ignites all of the burners with a single spark. It’s very small, but very mighty.

I always think of a pilot light when we get to the end of the Mass. When the priest gives the final blessing, I think of that moment as relighting my personal pilot light, helping to keep my faith burning throughout the week.

How do you light your pilot light?

Just like the gas stove, it doesn’t take much. Here are three simple solutions.


Take three minutes each day to read something inspirational. This is your mental workout, something to start to get you in shape. Look for writings that bring you closer to God. Try to increase the time each day.


Go for a walk. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who am I?
  • What do I stand for?
  • What do I believe?
  • How do I live these beliefs every day?


Do one purposeful thing every day. Something that you know has an impact on another person. Something that allows that person to see God through your eyes and your heart. It doesn’t have to be complex. Keep it simple. Smile. Hold a door. Ask questions. Be a friend. Show compassion.

If you get frustrated and your pilot light goes out, simply light it again. All it takes is one tiny spark.

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”   -Matthew 17:20

What Will You Laugh at Today?

What is your call to action? How will you live a life of faith?

During the summer months, we’re featuring a post called “I Will.” What’s one thing you can do to make the world a better place?

I Will…Laugh. A lot.

How much do you laugh? According to Psychology Today, the average four-year-old laughs 300 times a day. The average 40-year-old laughs only four times a day.

A recent study examined a group of adults in their 60s and 70s. They were measuring their short-term memory and stress levels. One group was asked to sit silently and read. The other group watched humorous videos.

After 20 minutes, each person gave a saliva sample and took a short memory test. The “humor group” performed significantly better when it came to memory recall. Participants who viewed the funny videos had much higher improvement in recall abilities, 43.6% vs. 20.3 % in the non-humor group.

Research has shown laughter may reduce stress hormones and boost your immune function. Laughter has demonstrated a wealth of physiological, psychological, social, spiritual, and quality-of-life benefits. In fact, many health care facilities are using “laugh therapy” as part of their care.

God has given us so much on this Earth to make us happy. Let’s share some of that happiness with others in our lives.

So…what will you laugh at today?

A Sunday of Baseball and Love

When I was very young, my entire family would gather each year at my grandmother’s house for a summer picnic. Aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, boyfriends, girlfriends…we were all one giant family.

My grandmother lived in a huge farmhouse with an enormous front yard. The area was big enough to create a make-shift baseball diamond.

So that’s what we did. We played baseball. Every year. At every picnic. For hours at a time.

Being a young boy, I was obsessed with baseball. I loved the beauty of the game, I loved the strategy, I loved the teamwork. But most importantly, I loved sharing this passion with my entire family.

I would have dreams about the giant game months before the actual event. I couldn’t wait to get on the field. It brought us all closer together as we laughed and screamed and jumped for joy with every play.

My passion on that specific Sunday started with baseball, but it quickly overflowed onto all of the “players,” as well as those watching on the sidelines. Baseball brought us together, but it was our love for each other that kept the passion alive.

Year later, I still have incredible memories of those games. I long to feel that passion again, and long to have all of those people together in one place with one central purpose: to love each other.

What are you passionate about? What gets you excited? How do you share this passion and excitement with others?

The key to it all is this: live life like a child. Find something that makes you happy, then find a way to share this happiness with others. Don’t think so hard about it—keep it simple. It may be an afternoon bar-b-que, a day at the pool, watching a sunset, or dancing to a band at a church festival.

Bringing your passion to life means bringing the best out of others. It means making our moments on Earth meaningful.

It means swinging hard at every pitch and loving every minute.

What is your passion? Share your thoughts with us.


Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK and a member of the Marketing Committee at St. Dominic Catholic Parish.

Focus on Passion

You know who they are. They’re the ones who light up a room when they walk in. They’re the ones that smile brightly when they tell you a story. They’re the ones with eyes that can see into your soul.

They’re the people with passion.

We love to be around the people with passion.

“I wish I could be more like that.” “They’re always so positive.” “I love their energy and enthusiasm for everything.” Sound familiar? We never think of ourselves as the passionate ones,  yet, we all have the power to live a life of passion.

We just have to learn how.

This month theROCK is focused on Passion. We’ll discuss ways to became the person that you’ve always hoped you would be. And…we’ll discover ways to let God shine through you onto everything and everyone in your path.

“What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.”