Sunday, October 2, 2011

What a week

From the last Sunday of September to the first Sunday of October many things have transpired.

On the last Sunday of September, Br. Joe, Br Craig and I attended worship with the folks at Miller's Chapel United Methodist Church. This is the church that agreed to host us during the month of October.  It was a wonderful welcome.  Then that afternoon, I was off to the hospital to baptize a four year child just coming out of a coma. It was a time of hope, but with caution, since the child was off the respirator but was not talking or walking.

Sunday evening and Monday were spent with the Glenmary members of the area.  Five Glenmarians have been in this district for many years and five of us are new.  Like any new group, it took sometime to figure out how we will pray, share and support each other with such an expansion of the group.  It was not without some tension, but like any family, we worked it out.

On Tuesday, we began the process of signing a contact for a building for worship in Maynardville, TN.  The dialogue between Glenmary, the Diocese and the Property Mission Team took some time.  Administrative details are a major part of being a missionary pastor.  Yet, on Wednesday we paid the first month rent and on Thursday we were insured.   What great team work from all parties involved.
Br. Craig and Br. Joe entering our new building.

Br. Craig and Br. Joe checking out the building from the inside.
Tuesday, however, was the first time I felt direct anti-Catholic discrimination.  In Rutledge we were set with a date to have a meeting next week.  This was set almost two weeks ago.  Then a call comes in that says, "You are not meeting there!"  The tone was harsh without the ability for discussion.  It appeared as if this conflict would not have occurred if we were another denomination.  Yet, in one hour, with one phone call, we had a new place to meet.  The Rutledge Methodist Church opened its door for our meeting next Tuesday.  The goodness of the Methodist brothers and sisters is greatly appreciated.

Thursday night was our last carport Mass since we are now able to have Sunday Mass and the temperature is cooling down.  Our accompaniment was by an 81 year old man playing harmonica. This same man hopes to make his first communion soon.

  There was great joy over preparing for the first Sunday Mass.  Faith formation planning began.  There was such a high spirit of joy and enthusiasm it washed away any worries, fears and anxieties prior to the night.

Friday began with a clear communication with the diocese about our next steps in forming a parish here.  Hopefully, Wednesday of this week, I will receive a letter from the Bishop outlining the necessary steps to becoming an official parish.  The other great news on Friday, was I returned to the hospital and the four year old child was going home.  He is not fully recovered, but he is out of danger.  Praise the Lord!!

Saturday was a great opportunity to get to know the community some more.  Maynardville was having its Heritage Festival.  This is the annual festival or community celebration.  Br. Craig competed in the Heritage Festival Olympics.  He placed first in seed spitting, second in hay bale throwing and bombed in feedbag trowing.  The highlight is watching the women throw the skillet.  I believe 49 feet was the winner.
Br. Craig throwing haybales.
Fr. Steve promoting boy scout popcorn.
This lead to Sunday, October 2 when we held the first ever Sunday Mass in Union County, TN.  The location was at Miller's Chapel Methodist Church at 8:30 a.m.  44 folks attended.  Many were families we were meeting for the first time.  We had a 14 year play the flute and an 81 play the harmonica.  The Methodists offered hospitality afterwards.  Truly a gracefilled beginning.

Miller's Chapel United Methodist Church
What a week!  Many emotions and yet it ends on a high.  Only the Lord knows what will be next.

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