Monday, November 11, 2013

The Mission Team after 2 years

Br. Joe and Br. Craig at early  planning meeting
Vocation Prospects visiting (now Jeremy is a student!!)
Our first year as a mission team involved Br. Craig, Br Joe and myself.   Occasionally we had Glenmary vocation prospects and students.   Then last September we added Fr. Aaron Wessman,  a newly ordained priest.   Last year and this year we have also had novices who serve for about five months in the mission with us.   Then in May of 2013 we welcomed Joe Grosek and his family.  Joe is the director of volunteers and in launching the new site on "Toppa Joppa" as we like to call it.  This increase of Glenmary missioners has a large impact on the two communities we aim to serve.
Welcome Fr. Aaron and Godfrey

The first six months of Fr. Aaron's time here was for all of us to get to know each other and figure out each others gifts and talents.   Also, every student brings a set of gifts and limitations which require another dimension of learning and adapting.   Now we have hit our stride and a certain rhythm has developed.
Joe's Housing Ministry

Joe at work
Br. Joe Steen  after a year of waiting on the Spirit has found his home repair ministry to be in full swing.   His ministry, also, includes caring for the emergency calls for help.   This ministry is greatly aided by a generous donor who funds his ministry.   He has been able to help numerous individuals with medicine, rent, food and utilities.   Also, he has fixed floors, repaired bathrooms, built handicapped ramps, and improved general housing conditions for several families.   He has been working on a long term project for a individual where my car can not make it to the top of the mountain.   His truck struggles to make the climb.  Br. Joe also serves on the board for the Narrow Ridge Community in the Hogskin area of Grainger County.   This community is committed to trying to live with nature and respecting many aspects of "green" living.  They are also reaching out and helping their neighbors in any way that might be able.

Br. Craig visiting
Not standing on his head, just in a banana suit
Br. Craig Digmann has visited over 90 homes of Catholics, both inactive and active.  Furthermore, he has visited more than 30 other Christian churches in the last year. He is also very deeply rooted in the local events and pace of people in both counties. He is a greeter at the High School every Monday morning.   Br. Craig volunteers with most of the Senior Citizen Centers and Nursing homes in both counties.  Recently he began serving on Grainger County Senior Citizen Board.  Yet, he is best known for being a good friend, visiting with the local people and once in a while, standing on his head!!

Fr. Aaron Wessman has taken on three large responsibilities, he is conducting faith formation K- adult in both missions, directing the RCIA program and helping with music and musicians for four Mass hours. ( I will touch more on our faith formation programs in next week's blog.)   One of the opportunities Fr. Aaron created last year was eating lunch at Grainger County High School in Rutledge one day a week.   This ministry of presence allowed for some deep faith sharing with teachers, staff and students.   Unfortunately, with a change of Principles it was not possible this year.   However, this has not stopped him.   He now is making arrangements to volunteer at the Maynardville or Union County Middle School, most likely using his Math skills to tutor students.  His youthfulness, his reflective homilies and his deep spirituality are a great gift.
Fr. Aaron after a Baptism
Hanging out

Guitar lessons
Godfrey, last year's novice, and this William, this year's novice, provide other opportunities of mission presence.   Both of these students have been involved with Kingswood Home for Children--   A great ministry that allows children and teenagers a safe place to overcome various home challenges.   They too visit many of our homebound and volunteer with a number of civic and service oriented organizations and businesses.   Both of these men came from Africa --- Uganda and Kenya-- specifically.   Sharing their culture, demonstrating the mission spirit, and seeking understanding of our American ways brings another level of joy and depth to these two missions over the last year.

Novice William with friends
Finally, Joe Grosek, with wife Laura and his two children bring a new dimension to our area.   This summer Joe organized the volunteers to help with a day camp, a weekly lunch program, and several repair projects.   He personally has gotten involved with two local food distribution programs.   I am confident that as the winter and spring programs begin, he will continue to expand the mission effort of establishing the reign of God in Union and Grainger Counties guided and aided by the Holy Spirit.

Joe Grosek with the other Joe
Setting up for Summer Camp
I guess, I do a few things around here too.   Yet, I am amazed and blessed with such a faith-filled missionary team.   These men are only part of the story.   There is another great group of parishioners involved in the mission effort as well.   Wait until you hear their stories.
Yo, enjoying food (the work of the pastor is never done!)

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