Monday, August 29, 2011

First Catholic Gatherings

Two fantastic gatherings of Catholic in Union and Grainger counties have occurred.  Thursday, August 25,  2011 twenty five people ranging from ages 11 to about 82 , attended the first meeting to begin to organize a new Catholic community in Union and North Grainger counties.  The spirit was wonderful and hopeful.  Many spoke about how the coming of the Glenmary missioners to begin a local Catholic Church was the answer to years of prayers.  Their spirit was upbeat and positive.  One of my frequent responses to their questions, was "you are the church, you will make those decisions in the near future."  Two of the folks in attendance were inactive Catholics. Several were near tears with joy.  We shall meet again this Thursday.  Keep us in prayer.

The second gathering was in Grainger county at the once a month Saturday evening Spanish Mass in Rutledge.  The priests from Morristown began this Mass several months ago after the Glenmary Mission Planning committee visited.  Just that visit, encouraged the people to request this Mass.   The Mass is held in the Agricultural Building, which has a nice meeting room and outside is the area for animal shows and competition.  45 people were in attendance.  Of course, in my anxiety, I arrived without my alb and stole.  I had all the items for Mass and all the items for the planning meeting which was to follow.  I even had a respectful homily prepared and Spanish songs sheets available.  But ... no alb or stole and it would be more than 90 minutes to return to my house and return.  Well thank God, Br. Craig came to the rescue!! 
My first Mass in Rutledge, TN

Br. Craig was at the  parish in Jefferson City, about 30 minutes away, speaking about the new mission.  So with the aid of  cell phones, he was able to bring an alb and stole and a valid and licit Mass was possible.  The spirit of the people is very positive.  These families have been living in the area for over 14 years and many of their children were born here.  They spoke of hope for a strong religious education program, a place to plan religious festivals, and the desire of having Mass every Sunday.  The next scheduled Mass is not until September 17, but those who are bilingual will attend the gathering of English  speaking Catholics on September 12th in Rutledge.  Also another group is planning a meeting of the parents to begin organizing religious education classes in the homes for this year.  There is an abundance of faith and enthusiasm here.

The ol' Mill dating back to the 1800's
Finally, on Sunday, Br. Craig and I joined the Union County Christian Churches in the first March against drugs.  I have heard estimates up to 3,000 participated in the March.  Who really knows?  The prayer vigil afterwards was lightly attended, but did give a sense of the style of prayer here in the county.  Most marchers had white t-shirts, so I stood out in my black Catholic priest uniform.  So I think many now know the Catholic Church is coming. We meet many very good people during the three mile march.  It was a very positive experience.

We are slowly learning the holy ground and the people who live here.  We are blessed and humbled to be sent here by God and Glenmary.

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