Saturday, November 5, 2011

Not a numbers game

Back at Bemidji State University, Fr. Jerry Rodgers said, "The Lord never said to count the sheep, just to feed them."  This wise saying has remained with me ever since and has served as a good reminder of Glenmary's rural missionary ministry.
First English Mass attendees in Rutledge, TN

This week, on Tuesday, we signed a lease for worship space in Rutledge.  The community will be known as Blessed John Paul II Catholic Mission.  The Saturday night before we held the first Mass and ten people were present.  Furthermore, last Saturday only 45 attended the Spanish Mass that followed.  Yet, even through I was disappointed at the low attendance at the Spanish Mass, I was thrilled at the ten people who attended the All Saint's Day Mass in the home of a parishioner. So it is not about the numbers, but about  providing the Sacrament to those who are present.  If anything, these small numbers compared with the potential of Catholics and unchurched in the area indicate why Glenmary's ministry is needed.  We will see what happens this weekend when we hold the first Masses in the newly rented storefront.

All Saint's Day Mass in Rutledge
At Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Mission in Maynardville, we thanked Miller's Chapel United Methodist Church for their kindness and hospitality.  Then on November 1, 2011, on the feast of All Saints Day, we held our first Mass in the worship space on Hwy 33.  We had a 90% attendance.  This might be one of the highest ratio of attendance for a Holy Day in the diocese.  Of course, that translates into 38 people.  So it is not about the numbers.
Appreciation Plague presented by Fr. Steve to Rev. Ken of Miller's Chapel
On All Soul's Day, November 2, we held our first Spanish Mass in the history of Union County, TN.  Twelve people were in attendance.  I was thrilled.  After Mass we visited and decided that every Wednesday night Mass will be bilingual followed by faith formation K- Adult.  The Adult classes will be held in English and in Spanish.

Now that we have a physical location and a patron Saint for each place a new phase of missionary development is about to begin.  We do not know how many folks will be worshipping with us.  Yet, whoever comes will be feed. 

Pray our missionary team will not spend time counting the sheep, but remain available to feed the sheep as the Holy Spirit directs us.

Inside of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

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