There are many privileges of being a priest. One of the greatest and best – is the view. When we gather for prayer, I have the privilege of standing in the sanctuary in front of the community looking out upon those assembled for prayer. As I gaze around, it’s a humble moment to see the rich diversity of people gathered with such a wide array of joys, and needs, and struggles. Somehow, by God’s grace, we all come together to find from the Lord what we need.
This ‘view’ is one that I have every time at the table of the Lord. The moments of reflection happen every time we gather. This past week, I had one more moment to embrace this ‘view… and it was simply overwhelming!
On Thursday morning, we gathered together to dedicate the new Church in our mission community. It was soul stirring as we gathered with 3 bishops, 12 priests, 3 deacons, and about 250 members of our local community. As I stood looking out, I watched people streaming into the Church (they were running on DR time admittedly) and it was a steady stream….coming to the House of God…coming to prayer. Simple, hard working folk from up the street (about 1.5 miles), walking to Church in the very best clothes they could find. They were eager and excited. They were proud of what WE had done together to build this house of God. They knew this was a big moment for them and their community. Watching them stream in….watching us come together in prayer….lifting our voices in song and prayer was simply inspiring.
The Bishop was amazing – he was passionate, grateful, and caring. You could feel him lift up the hearts of all who had gathered. At least 12 times throughout the dedication of the ‘temple of the Lord’, he expressed his heartfelt thanks to God, and to Mission Possible, for this Church to serve those most in need.
The Church looked GREAT. The faith was STRONG. The energy was PALPABLE. The outpouring of thanks to YOU and MP was HEARTFELT. The sense of community pride was UPLIFTING. The love of God was OVERWHELMING. The day started in rain and as Mass time approached, the clouds cleared and the light and love of God poured forth from the sky upon all who gathered.
After Mass, we successfully (and peacefully) fed 275 people a wonderful lunch of chicken, rice, beans and spaghetti (for good measure)!! It was a great day for our Church – our mission efforts – our community.
The Church was dedicated: Divina Misericordia – Divine Mercy. The name was selected in the spirit of John Paul II who was a great evangelizer and Mother Teresa who lived a profound depth of compassion for the poor and hungry. Our hope and constant prayer is that this community will come to this holy place of God again, and again, to experience the outpouring of God’s mercy and compassion. May they come to know the Good News of Jesus Christ that offers light, and hope, and comfort, and wisdom every day. May this Church remind us, and them, of the great compassion that God has for each of us and especially for those most in need.
It was a great view. I watched William walk 1.5 miles in a suit with his wife and children at his side. I witnessed Lorenzo wearing the ‘real shoes’ that he got for this special occasion. I saw Sonia come with her children to prayer knowing that faith is essential for her family and her children. I watched and witnessed a real moment of transformation for our mission efforts for if, and when we bring them to the Lord, we will have accomplished our real mission which is to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to our world. Jesus is the answer to their needs, questions and struggles now and always.
May God bless you in this New Year for the good you have done for those most in need.
Three practical thoughts:
1. We really need your support for the Grand Slam Gala on Saturday, March 29 at Progressive Field. This event raises enough funds to help us build ten homes a year. We need these houses. The people without housing need these homes. WE NEED YOU. It’s a great event. It’s lots of fun. We really need this to be successful. Please visit the website for info.
2. We are looking for people to join us for our June mission trips. We are taking two groups overlapping two weeks. If you would like to learn more, please let me know (frbob@StAmbrose.us). WE need YOU.
3. Please help us spread the word about our mission efforts. We are making a real difference among the poorest of the poor, and we are clearly doing the work of God. Spreading the word….telling the stories…pulling out your pictures…..will make all the difference in helping us make 2014 a blessed year for our friends in the DR.
God bless you.
Father Bob Stec