IN THE PEWS: A conversation with Chris Gray

Chris Gray had a bit of a late start in her faith, but since her teen years she has been guided by God and her faith. She now shares those beliefs with others, especially young people.

Mount Carmel was your parents’ original parish. You really started to attend church when you were a teen and early 20s with your grandmother. What kind of influence did she have on you.

My grandmother was my influence in faith. She never missed Mass, attended several novenas and had a prayer corner in her house. She was in a Bible study group and was part of a prayer chain. She always encouraged me to pray and look to the Bible to help through difficult times.

You had your grandmother until age 97 and she shared her faith with your all your adult life. How have you passed along that influence to your children?

They definitely know church is always welcoming, loving, forgiving. When they are here, they know they are home. And they know I always have a prayer corner if they need it.

You’ve been very involved at Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament, teaching Faith Formation classes for nine years and serving six years on the Parish Council, in addition to other duties. Why are you so involved?

I enjoy sharing my faith with the youth of our parish. I was also called to serve on the Parish Council. Volunteering at church feels very rewarding and I am honored to serve when I am called to.

Has serving the parish changed you as a person and what have you learned from those experiences?

I definitely learned a lot from being involved in church. Being on Parish Council allowed me to understand the business side of how a church is run. I also became aware of the many committees, outreaches and ways the church meets the needs of our parishioners and the community.

You’ve also been involved with a program called Notre Dame Vision, in which teens travel to the University of Notre Dame for a weeklong faith experience. What was that like and what did you take home from those retreats?

The first time I attended Vision, I was profoundly overwhelmed by faith and the Notre Dame community. I realized continuing to learn faith is a lifelong process. I jumped in with both feet and have returned several times to continue to learn my faith. I have also taken classes through the Syracuse diocese and within three years accomplished my Level II catechist certificate based on accumulation of classes at both Notre Dame and Syracuse diocese.

As a “side-effect” of those experiences, you’ve become a Fighting Irish fan, attending several football games and basketball games on campus. Tell us how that came about.

During Vision, many of our kids were able to meet the football players at breakfast. I have pictures of many players who now are in the NFL and NBA. There is a culture at Notre Dame that after faith come sports. I believe it goes, “God, country, Notre Dame.”

You say your husband, Jim, claims your hobbies are “church and Notre Dame.” Is he correct?

Yeah, pretty much.

You like to ride bikes, and helped organize something called “Ride for Faith.” What was that experience like?

I had an idea for a youth events called “Ride for Faith.” I wanted the high school youth to disconnect and ride bikes through the city and to visit other churches than their own. Every church is different. Their culture, their outreach, their vitality is all different. Many youth feel disconnected from faith. Maybe as adults, they remember seeing the other church or have a need and would reach back to their faith. It worked the first year; the second year weather prevailed, and it became a bus trip.he children to do something that they have not done. After going around the room, the children asked me what I was going to do to challenge myself. The children always give me a new, fresh attitude about the teachings of our church which keeps me alive in my faith.

Chris Gray

Age: 54

Occupation: Radiographic technologist (X-ray technician).

Family: Husband Jim, son Steve (25) and daughter Taylor (23).

Things you like to do: Cooking, baking, reading.

Favorite movie: “Forrest Gump.”

Favorite TV show: “Modern Family.”

Favorite author: Jodi Picoult.