On any Sunday near St. Bartholomew Parish in Long Beach, parishioners living in the neighborhood can be seen walking to church, engaging their neighbors in friendly conversation, proud to be part of a community graced by its proximity to mild ocean weather — and even more by its people. “I love being a part of this beautiful seaside community,” says Msgr. Bernard Leheny. “The people are wonderful. They reflect the beauty in their friendliness and welcoming spirit.”“People greet others on the streets; they know each other. Participation at Mass is excellent, and liturgies and celebrations are very participatory as a result. At the same time, this is an outward-facing parish. Our people reach out to the poor and the homeless, to those in need in the community of Long Beach.”These parishioners are very involved in their church and they make the word come alive by participating in religious education, Bible Study, adult faith formation and outreach. Nearly every ministry in the parish does some sort of outreach to the larger community. “People want to connect with, and have, community,” says Kathleen Flood, who with her husband Ted is in charge of Adult Faith Formation and RCIA. “How we put our faith into practice is the point of it all.”Kathleen recalls being “at a crossroads” in her life and thinking about what she was going to do next. “Then I made the decision to follow my heart and that was to work at St. Bartholomew’s as the adult faith formation coordinator,” she says happily. “I am passionate about my faith and love to share it. I love watching people grow in their faith as they uncover new levels of spirituality. There are big and little ‘aha’ moments, or ‘God shots,’ as my husband refers to them — realizing that the Holy Spirit is acting in one’s life.”About a year and a half ago parishioners Matt and Rosi deDomenico started a small Bible Study Group in the parish. The group is now four times its original size. “We wanted deeper relationships and others were invited to join us,” says Matt. “So we met every two weeks and relationships deepened. We broke bread, had dinner and talked about what was happening in our lives.” Last year they discussed St. Luke’s Gospel and now are studying St. John. The group has also started working with a Long Beach group helping the downtrodden in society at Christian Outreach in Action. “It is a nice parish and we want to grow in our faith spiritually,” says Matt. “We want to grow with our fellow parishioners.”Child care is provided by the group and the children refer to their time together as “Kid Party,” adds Matt. “Without our children we couldn’t do it because the kids love it, too. The impact on them is tangible. Dads go surfing together and families go camping. Some really great friendships and bonds have developed as a result.” Rosi is a Catholic and Matt — who grew up in a non-denominational household — is not, but he does not see this as a barrier. “I want to bring more people into the St. Bart’s community,” he says, noting that “God chose David because he had a heart for God.” Parishioners generously share their time, talents and treasure. Each year they organize a Christmas party for 1,500-plus children hosted by Christian Outreach in Action. Parishioners also cook meals four times a month at Christian Outreach, taking turns with other Long Beach churches in providing meals. Most importantly, despite the apparent affluence that exists in the parish, St. Bartholomew parishioners are focused on giving, says Msgr. Leheny. “All are equal here,” he says, “and all are welcome.” {gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/1115/stbart/{/gallery}