Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Presidential Visit and another Open House

Fr. Chet visiting two parishioners at Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
The President visited us a couple weeks ago.  No, it was not the  President of the United States, but the  President of the Glenmary Home Missioners.  Fr. Chet Artysiewicz was elected in June and was responsible for assigning myself and the two brothers to these developing missions.  It was a delight to have him here.  His words were encouraging to us and the parishioners.  One of the things he emphazed is" that almost any Catholic someday or another will be asked to contribute to a building fund, but it is a rare priviledge when the Lord asks a Catholic to be part of building a new faith community where one was not present before."

Fr. Chet playing to organ at Blessed John Paul II
Besides his affirmation of our missionary effort, he shared his gift of priesthood and music with the people.  During the Spanish Mass in Maynardville, which does not have a musican, he played the piano and lead the singing.  In Rutledge at the Spanish Mass at Blessed John Paul II he presided and played the organ.  After both the english and spanish Mass at Blessed John Paul II, Fr. Chet put on the accordian and entertained us all.

Edith J. and Helen R. preparing for the Open House
After all this fun and enjoyment, last Sunday, we finally were able to have our open house for Blessed John Paul II.  It has taken a longer time to get the building looking like a church.  Yet, we finally made it.  The folks put on a great spread of food and over fifty folks came to visit.  Among the our visitors included, two Methodist ministers, one Baptist minister, and one Quaker minister.  Many of the people who stopped by were neighbors, friends and family of our English Speaking Parishioners.  The atmosphere was joyful and the  pride of our parishioners to "show off" their church with people they value was delightful.

Pastor Ryan of Rutledge Methodist Church with another quest
In an area where Catholics are unkown and a huge minority, to recieve such a welcoming reception was affirming.  It is very exciting to have the support of the Methodist and Baptist churches.  Something new in terms of unity, in terms of service, and in terms of Christian fellowship seems about to bloom.  The  affirmation of Glenmary's President is significant, yet, the affirmation of local citizens and ministers in Grainger county is even more important.  May all of this love, especially the Love of Jesus,  help us praise God and proclaim His Kingdom of Love, Mercy and Justice to all of Grainger County, TN.
Donna B. and Tom C. who designed the santuary
Tom D., Br. Joe and visitor

Friday, March 9, 2012

O' Brother, Where Art Thou

Br. Craig during Morning Prayer
 Though this is a title of a popular movie staring George Clooney, it also is a good title to describe the outreach ministry of Br. Craig Digmann.  Br. Craig made his final oath last May, but he works like a veteran missioner.   Since he is about visiting and touching the lives of many over a two county area, I am often wondering "Where Art Thou, O Brother?"

Competing at the fall Hay Bail Throwing Contest
In the last two months, Br. Craig has visited over 50 households, many who are Catholics living in the area but not worshipping at one of our two missions.  We also frequently stops in unannounced to any of our parishioners.

Br. Craig is also well known by a number of business where he has the talent to linger and chat with just about anyone.  He is a gentle presence of affirmation wherever he goes. 

Posing with folks at Blessed Teresa
It amazes me of all the different activities he has become engaged in.  Currently he visits two nursing homes and three Senior Citizen Centers.  He is a bingo caller at some of these. As he wanders the halls he stops and speaks with both residents and workers offering them encouragement and hope.  He frequently prays with those residents who desire it.  In Grainger County he leads a bible study once or twice a month.

Br. Craig is also a greeter at the High School every Monday morning.  This is a program sponsored by both I-Care (a group aimed at preventing drug abuse) and a government agency concerned with the prevention of domestic violence.  He is also helping an adult improve his reading level so this man may read the King James Bible.
Visiting with a fellow minister
Other activities that Br. Craig is involved in includes helping distribute commodities in both counties, praying and worshipping in various other christian churches, and teaching confirmation classes in Rutledge.  We also rotates with me bringing the Eucharist to our homebound.

All of this, does not begin to reflect the depth of Br. Craig's ministry in Grainger and Union County.  He is known as a gentle presence and has become a friend or better "a brother" to many.

Br. Craig is on the road most of the time, so I really do not know where he is any given hour.  Yet, I know he about the business of the Lord in Union and Grainger County, TN.  His gentle presence, humble service and sensitive care to all reflects his deep faith and the man of prayer that he is.  We are blessed to have him on the missionary team.