Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Welcome in the Name of Jesus

A little welcome dance in Africa
When I traveled to Nigeria during my time as vocation director, the word "Welcome" took on a whole new force.   The word "Welcome" when you arrive at a new place was used over and over.  In some homes a beautiful ritual of welcoming with a special type of nut or fruit was common.   This would be blessed by the elder of the house or the priest and shared along with some non-alcoholic drink.

Our little missions do not have a special ritual but over and over I hear people talk about the sense of being welcomed here.  People introduce themselves to visitor and new comers.   This welcoming in the Name of Jesus occurs when individuals receive the sacraments or at a yard sale.

We have had several baptisms this last month, including my first immersion baptism here.  Riley was born in his sixth month and weighed 1 pound and 7 ounces.  You sure can not tell it now.   The family on his father's side are not Catholic and they were very welcomed here.

The Baptism of Johnathon at Blessed John Paul II last weekend, also was a special welcome.  His mother is not yet baptized herself and no members of their family were present.  Yet, the members of the church stepped in and provided them with special support and a small meal.  This extra step of welcome is so important.  It is being family ... the family of God.

Our second group of first communicants were welcomed to the table of the Lord as well.   Our largest attendance for the Spanish Mass occured that day.  One of the girls was brought to church every Wednesday night and Sunday by a neighbor since her mother works at a restraurant and is not able to bring her daughter here.  That welcoming spirit is also fantastic.
First Communion Class of 2013

Our second annual yard sale was also full of humor and a welcoming spirit.   We had workers who are members of a local baptist church step in to help us.  Material to sell came from beyond our parishioners.   One lady said she stopped in to buy something just to support us.  She is glad we are here and wanted to help welcome us.   Some monies were made, but greater fellowship happend. 

Our missions are here to welcome anyone looking for a spiritual home.  We welcome anyone who just wishes a short visit.   We welcome people of all faiths and no faiths.  All are welcome here in the name of Jesus.
We are all smiles here.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

May Celebrations

The month of May brings many happy celebrations in the life of our two missions. 

May Crowning Procession
We had four people receive confirmation at neighboring churches last week.  The first Sunday of May was May Crowning.   May 4th was a baptism with more to come.

This Sunday will be Mother's Day and First Communion.  May 19th will be another set of Baptisms on Pentecost.   Then we will have on the last Sunday of May celebrations of our graduating High School Seniors.  In other words, every Sunday is a party!!!  Who ever said church was boring?

These various celebrations during May are a true joy.  They require work and planning on everyone's part.  Fr. Aaron has taken the lead this year with Faith Formation and English Sacramental Preparation.  Parents and sponsors are busy planning all the parties that go with these.  Our choirs' are focused on provided good music.  Many happy hands are required for the church to rejoice with the members of the body of Christ.
Baptism of Three at JP II

May also marks the end of our second year of faith formation.   This year faith formation at Blessed Teresa of Calcutta was very successful.  We had eight classes on Wednesday night:  Two adult classes (one in each language) two classes for new members (one for adults and one for children), High School, Middle School, Primary and Pre-School classes.   It is wonderful to have such energy and enthusiasm at the church on Wednesday night.   Yet, it was not so successful at Blessed John Paul II.  Our first semester went okay with high school classes, middle school and primary classes meeting every Thursday night.  The Adult English group meeting before Mass and the Spanish Adult group meeting after Mass.   Yet from Lent on the participation dwindled.   Yet, with a good meeting with the parents last month, I am optimistic for a better result next year.
Confirmation Recognition

Still after only being open since November 2011, both of these communities of faith are a marvel.  I could not be more humbled and surprised by all the activity that occurs here.   What a wonderful blessing.

As May is the month to honor Mary, the Mother of the Church, I give her thanks for looking after her children.  I praise her son Jesus, Our Lord and Savior for guiding these communities of faith.   May every day be a witness to others from us of Christ's great Love and Sacrifice.