Thursday, August 16, 2012

One Year Review--Nurture

First Public Mass in Union County-2011
One year ago, on the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the first Mass ever in Union County, TN was offered.  Br. Craig and myself were the only two in attendance as it marked our arrival together at this mission.  Br. Joe arrived about a month later.  Therefore the next few blog reflections will review our first year in these two new Catholic missions.
First English Mass in Grainger County 2011

Spanish Mass Social at Agricultural Center- Sept. 2011
Glenmary Home Missioners often promotes five areas of missionary activity.  These are Catholic Nurture, Ecumenism, Evangelization to the Unchurched, Social Outreach, and Universalism.  These categories will guide my reflections.

Obviously, the largest amount of activity this year has been Catholic Nurture.  Prior to my arrival, I received a list of Catholics who attended interest meetings and a list of those who receive the Tennessee Catholic Newspaper.  Thus we invited those in Union County to attend a meeting at the Senior Citizens Center for two information meetings in August. Our first public Mass was a" bring your own chair" Mass under our Carport on September 7, 2011.  The first Sunday Mass was held October 2, 2011 at Miller's Chapel United Methodist Church.  The first Mass in our rental building under the name of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Mission was All Saint's Day, November 1st.  Our first Spanish Mass was for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12, 2011.
Planners of the first Spanish Mass in Maynardville - 2011

The beginnings in Grainger County were different.  Once a month Saturday evening Masses in Spanish were already being celebrated at the Agricultural Center with the priests from St. Patrick's in Morristown conducting them.  I took over the responsibility on the last Saturday in August.  In September we had a huge gathering for the feast of St. Michael the Archangel with 108 in attendance. On November 6 was the first Sunday Mass in Spanish in our new building with only about 30 people in attendance.  The English Speaking community gathered in the American Legion for our first meeting in September with 34 in attendance.  We struggled finding meeting space and physical location in the months of September and October. In October, Rutledge Methodist Church opened its door for our planning sessions.  We managed to offer our first English Mass on the last Saturday of October with 11 people in attendance.  These were our humble beginnings at Blessed John Paul II Catholic Mission.

First Guadalupe Festival in Rutledge--2011
From November until now the growth in both missions has been incredible.  At Blessed Teresa of Calcutta we now have Mass in both languages every Sunday.  We average around 50 folks in attendance at both hours, but they both can have much higher attendance as well.  We have had one adult confirmed into the faith and six young people make their first Holy Communion and another eight are preparing for Confirmation in October.  The boy scouts won awards at their first diocesan gathering and we have sponsored several socials with great success.  We even managed to have a Bible School. 
Scout Sunday - 2012 at BTC

This Saturday a group of men will begin remodeling the expansion unit.  Yes, we are now renting the storage unit between the office and worship space, so there will be room for socials, additional classroom space and counseling area.  God is doing something amazing here.  The Holy Spirit is alive and moving.

In Grainger, we have had a fantastic year.  Our Saturday evening English Mass continues to grow even through we remain small.  We have gone from an average of 18 people to 30.  On Thursday evenings for our midweek service, we averaged during the school year about 30.  We had 18 children make first communion in June and 24 youth and adults to be confirmed in September.  We have formed a mission advisory team and mission resource team (similar to parish and financial councils). Adoration is available every Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.  We have regular socials. We held an under the tent Bible School.  Last week 38 people attended the English Mass and 89 the Mass in Spanish.  So we continue to grow under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

First Communicants at JP II - June 2012
First Communicants at BTC- May 2012(plus one)
One important factor has been the home visits of Br. Craig.  He continues to visit homes weekly, discovering new Catholics and talking to ones not yet coming.  Through his work, our homebound list for communion as grown and most likely will continue to grow. 
Bible School at BTC- August 2012
Let the Holy Spirit Flow

Who could have predicted such a beautiful start to these two missions a year ago?  I am humbled and blessed to be a part of God's gracious work among such wonderful people.  Together with Br. Craig and Br. Joe we are excited for year two!!

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