Look around you. Do you see God? Do you see Jesus Christ? In a real sense you do. You see them through the Holy Spirit who is in yourself and every baptized person around you. You can feel the Trinity’s presence in every kind word and good deed you’ll experience today. In just a few moments, you will be asked to share a sign of peace. Jesus said, “You are in me and I am in you.” Feel this presence as you wish the people around you peace.
Nine months ago, when I came to this parish, I was in a difficult point on my journey to become a Deacon. Several years ago, our parish was closed. A community that my family had belonged to for 30 years ceased to exist overnight. Because of the deaconate program, we haven’t joined a new parish and so never formed a new spiritual bond like we had at our old parish. Within a few weeks of our church closing Carol lost a dear friend to cancer. I remember her coming to me in the field where I was working. She was devastated; not only had she lost someone special toher, but she felt that the place she needed to be to talk with God was gone; the people she would have gone to for support were dispersed. We prayed and held each other, and in looking back I can see the Holy Trinity with us in the middle of that hay field. They strengthened us and we moved on. These events that happened at the beginning of my formation, I believe, had a lasting effect on my feelings about community.
I felt that it would be difficult if not impossible to ever have that spiritual communal closeness again. I learned over time that though our sacred buildings are important to us, more important are the communities they house. The trinity is in the community not the building; the trinity exists in the human heart not in stone and mortar. In this turbulent time in our Church so many of us lose sight of this, placing stone and mortar above flesh and blood. This was my mindset when I entered this community last November.
Coming to St.Kateri healed this misconception; I felt almost at once welcome. A building does not do that; a caring community does. I saw over the last several months two communities not dissolved by merger, but rather two communities coming together, blending and forming a new, stronger and more beautiful spiritual community. A new community strong enough to withstand a major crisis, rally together and move forward with Christ’s help. God sent me here to witness this; to give me back the feeling that I once had so many years ago. In a real sense, the Holy Spirit has been breathed in to me anew.
I will be going now to put my ministry to work. I’m going forward with renewed hope and promise given back to me by a strong and loving parish called St.Kateri, a parish that will prosper and grow with the guidance of the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit.
Someone recently said to me that it will be St. Helen’s and Our Lady of Fatima until there is no one left from before the merger. On this accord, I suppose I am more fortunate than others. Fortunate because my history at Union Street, the better name to use, dates back to the 80’s and into the beginning of the 90’s. I spent two decades in Las Vegas, tending to my parents and sisters, when I knew it was time to come home. My return has made me the new kid on the block.
There were a lot of great places to worship when I returned. I have had a history with a few other parishes along the way. None of which was Rosa Road, the better name to use. Union Street became my most comfortable house of worship once again, my “home base”. This feeling of comfort, I am sure, is the very reason that most of the parishioners go solely to their own home bases.
When I had the good fortune to attend my first ever mass at Rosa Rd, I was amazed. It has an intimacy, a closeness that is breath-taking. The WORD carries so well in this majestic House of God. The music is upbeat, the parishioners friendly, even the priests rest and meditate down near the people. The organist and the announcements are close enough to reach out and touch. The choir, while clad in their gowns, raise their voices from a gently raised platform.
The social atmosphere after the mass is great. They have doughnuts and conversation, a tradition well entrenched in this half of our parish. The offices and the grounds, used for picnics, carnivals and of course the blessings of the animals, are more strong attributes of Rosa Road.
It is sounding like I have been converted from my old home base of Union Street. Not so fast. Union Street has the beautiful stain-glassed windows, the school, and the open spaces that allow so many faithful people to assemble. Periodically, the children from the school arrive at Mass and use their voices to enhance the Mass. Also special are the celebrations of Christmas, Easter, and the special event when all the teachers in the diocese attended one of the dwindling appearances of Bishop Hubbard as he prepares for his retirement. The P.A. System recently upgraded to bring the voices from the choir to all the areas of this grand old building. The carefully orchestrated movement of the readers and the Psalmist is addicting. I love the priests, during homilies, traveling the isles and enlightening us with their words, which carries to all corners of this half of our parish. Finally, one of my favorite events occurs when all the Eucharistic Ministers begin converging on God’s Altar, following the peace greeting and during the “Lamb of God”. They come from all different directions to lend their hands in the celebration of the centerpiece of our faith, the Body and Blood of our Lord.
So I conclude, if you feel an urge to proclaim you belong to either of the old parishes instead of to St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the real name, in honor our most worthy patron saint, then I suggest you wander from your own home base and experience the other half of your parish. Maybe you will see what has made this whole parish my new home base and why I love the beauty of both of these Houses of God. We are a truly great Parish of God.