Tuesday, May 22, 2012

First Communion

The First Communion Class
Last Sunday, on the feast of the Ascension, we celebrated First Communion at Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Mission.  As MayPo, their teacher told them, "You are making history.  You will always be known as the first group to make first communion at our new mission.  When you are older this will be a terrific thing to share with your children." (Of course, I am hoping some of them will be priests, brothers or sisters, therefore, they will share this with the people they serve.)

MayPo, their teacher
Our six young people were well prepared and did a great job.  We combined services to hold an "All Parish Mass" which means that it was bilingual.  Our pianist and canter were absent because of other obligations, put they had recorded the songs earlier and we all sang the best we could.
Francisco doing the first reading at Mass

Singing their special song
The children did the readings, wrote the petitions and sang a special song.  They were reverent, devote, and happy!!  They joy made the 139 people in attendance experience the joy of the Lord as well.  Among the congregation only about twenty were quests, including a visiting soccer club.  It was the first time we did not have enough chairs.  That, too, was a happy experience.

The many levels of meaning in the Eucharist were very visible.  The sense of innocence and purity in our young people is a reflection of how each of us is forgiven through the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ, thus we are purified and restored to holy innocence.  The Real Presence of Christ, as light of the world, is expressed after each of our first communicants lit their candle after receiving the Body and Blood of Christ for the first of what will be many times.  The sense that we become what we eat, that is, we become the Body of Christ broken for one another and the Blood of Christ poured out for the salvation of the world.The strong sense of unity--of many races, classes, and ages-- uniting together under one roof to pray to One God and participate in the One Sacrament was overwhelming.

 It is such a privilege to be part of the blooming of new faith and a new faith community.  The joy of who we truly are as a family of God becomes more evident each day of service in this humble mission.  The parents, godparents, and teachers of these students deserve great praise for their dedication and hard work in sharing the faith with our six young people.  What a joy to be part of the Body of Christ where the heartbeat of Jesus is strong and healthy!
AMEN!!  We are the Body of Christ!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Six Weeks of Easter

Our first Baptism at Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
Today is the sixth week of Easter and Mother's Day.  How did we get here so fast?

Truly since Easter, the Spirit of New Life has been blooming in these two missions.  It has kept me hopping but it has also been full of surprises and joy.  .... And lots of visitors.
The beauty of Spring in Tennessee

 Among them was a writer for the Glenmary Challenge, where a story about our mission will appear soon.  The folks were generous with their time and shared their stories with Mr. Dale Hansen.  The theme I heard over and over  was "thank you Jesus for having a church closer to home".  I am hoping that these little missions will be a home for many.
My family stops for some local ice cream

Then my sister and her husband drove my parents down for a visit.  It was terrific to spend time with them and show them what God is doing here.  Of course, at the same time, we received visitors from St. Malachy parish, the parish that has adopted us.  Then because God has a plan, all our visitors were able to enjoy "Art in the Park".  This is the second year for the town of Maynardville to host this event.  The goal is to draw more attention  to Maynardville featuring our many artists.  Our booth won the "People Choice Award".  That  picture made the paper!!  Publicity always helps.
Enjoying our company from St. Malachy
Side view of our "Art in the Park" award winning booth

Then we were blessed with Fr. Fid Levri, a Glenmary Priest sweeping in to spend a few days with us.  He lived with Br. Craig for two years, so they had a great reunion.  We enjoyed his musical talents and appreciated him sharing his mandolin playing with the people at church as well as at the local Sunday afternoon jam session at the local museum.
Every guest deserves some food

This was all followed by our first major fund raiser .... a yard sale.  Everyone pitched in and "pitched out" ... but one persons junk is another's treasurer.  Many treasurer hunters came and left very satisfied.  We made over 2,000 dollars which is just fantastic.  This will be our seed money for a building fund.  Not even ten months old, and we are dreaming of our future.
First Communion Preparation

In the midst of this, regular church life is moving along.  I conducted our first funeral since my arrival here, followed by our first wedding and then our first baptism.  Next week will be our first group for first communion.  The Lord has been working and is shining in our little community.  The sacramental graces of Jesus are blessing people in spaces never done before.  Comfort in grieve and celebration in joy is happening.
Two of our members relaxing after Mass at JP II

So here we are now as we enter into our sixth week of Easter.  We are ready for more, even if the pace keeps me hopping.