Monday, November 14, 2011

Can we do it?

The Congregation of Blessed JP II from the priest's view.
Today's blog is dedicated to Fr. Larry Goulding, who died Saturday evening.  I lived with him for three months as a student, three years as his associate and four years as his housemate during his retirement. Fr. Larry served his country as a marine in Korea and his church as a priest in the rural areas of the United States. He told me many times over the last few months, how going to Union and Grainger County where there has never been a Catholic Church was what Glenmary was all about.  He prayed for our success. I was privileged to have known him and be missioned with him.  May he enjoy the rewards of heaven for his faithful service on earth.

Can we get it done?

Donna cleaning the door
Tuesday, November 1st, I signed a two year rent agreement for our newly established storefront church under the patronage of Blessed John Paul II.  Saturday, November 5 we cleaned the building and had Mass that evening.  Then we had Mass again on Sunday, November 6 at 5 p.m. in Spanish.  I was so excited this was to be the first full weekend of services.  We were up and running in both counties.

Br. Craig and help building the confessional wall
Yet, for the first Mass in this worship space, folks had to bring there own chairs. We had a second hand table for the altar, no curtains, and just the basics for the Mass.  Was I being foolish?  Was I trying too hard or moving too fast?  The ten people who attended that Mass were excited!!  The music was guitar and fiddle which filled the room with joy.  Yet, how would such a small congregation manage the rent?

The faithful few
At the Spanish Mass, we had only 24 people.  Before Mass a long discussion took place about the wisdom in having our own space?  Through the potential for Spanish speaking worshipers is close to 150 or more, would they come?  When they had Mass only once a month, it only cost them 50 dollars.  Could we afford to be in this space?  Yet, we spoke again at the end of Mass and the attitude changed.  Yes, we can do it!!  They began planning Guadalupe and organizing faith formation.  Yet, I was full of doubts.  Should I have moved slower?  Should I have had more conversations with the Spanish speaking population?  Was I truly listening to God and doing God's will?
First Spanish Mass in storefront chapel

So Tuesday, November 8th, I receive a call from a lady in Rutledge.  "I hear there is a Catholic Church in Rutledge.  Can I join?"  The person on the phone began to explain for how three years she has been studying about the Catholic Faith and been listening to tapes produced by Lighthouse Catholic Media.  She suffers from M.S. and is homebound, but she said, "I think I prayed y'all here."  Then I knew, even if it was only a handful of folks, it was right to begin with so little.  The faith is what matters.  Thursday of the same week was our first bilingual Mass.  The group in attendance was both English and Spanish speaking and the interaction was full of joy. They want to be one community of believers.

So what happened last weekend?  Attendance at both Masses more than doubled.  We had twenty people at the English Mass.  This was followed by a surprise birthday party for Br. Craig.  They discovered it was his birthday around noon and by 5p.m. they had every thing ready for him. 
Br. Craig's birthday party

Also Saturday we purchased twenty five chairs.  No more than fifteen minutes later, a Spanish speaking parishioner arrived with ten more chairs-- the same as we just purchased.  Wow, God was at work.  Then Sunday evening at 5 p.m. by the start of Mass every chair was filled.  We put back out the chairs people brought the weekend before and they were filled.  Over fifty folks were present. 

So I join doubting Thomas in seeing the Lord who helps my unbelief.  The Lord is in charge, not I.  Once again, He humbles me and calls me to trust more deeply in His Way.  Fr. Larry used to say, "Anything worth doing, was worth doing poorly."  In others words, if  it needs doing, then start doing,  and leave the rest to God.  May I only be aa good as a missioner as he was.

I do not know if we can get it done, but I am learning, once again, God will get it done!!

No comments:

Post a Comment