One of the highlights of my time here was just over a week ago, a cool and crisp Monday with blue skies and bright sunshine, as our parish and school staff gathered in the church for prayer and then spent the next several hours doing different service projects, both onsite and offsite. As the day went on the photos started to come in: staff pulling North Carolina sweet potatoes out of the dirt on a farm near Louisburg; staff sorting out food at Catholic Parish Outreach; staff working in the community garden in front of the log cabin; staff writing letters to the inmates on death row at Central Prison.
When it was over, a gathering for lunch followed by mass in the church and a sense throughout the week that the staff enjoyed spending time together and loved, especially, going out and getting involved in all kinds of worthy projects. We were inspired by the words of our beloved Pope Francis who at a World Youth Day gathering in Brazil last year said, “I want people to go out. I want the church to go out into the street! I want to defend ourselves against everything that is worldliness, that is installation, that is comfortableness, that is clericalism, that is being shut in on ourselves. The parishes, the schools, exist to go out!” Many thanks to all the people who helped to make the day such a success for us.
On Saturday last week we had our annual columbarium mass, outside in the courtyard. Mass started at 9:00 am and the temperature was in the low 40s, with many people bundled up in jackets and gloves and scarves. Again, it was another glorious fall day and as I stood outside at the altar, I could look up and around at the blue sky and the reds, yellows, and oranges of the leaves outlined against the bright sky. The mass was held in memory of those whose ashes are reposed in our columbarium. Afterwards there was a reception with hot apple cider, which reminded me of my days skiing in New Hampshire and coming inside to the lodge to warm up with hot cider. Thanks to all who helped organize the mass and reception.
I have been here at St. Francis for just over two months and I’m slowly learning my way and getting to know who’s who and what’s what, though that will continue to take some time. Beginning next week and continuing through December, I will be having a series of listening sessions which are open to anyone in the parish, as a way for me to learn more about this parish of St. Francis of Assisi. Each session will be limited to 10-12 people, and will have a facilitator and a scribe. I will be present to listen. To sign up for one, click here or follow the link on the home page of the website.
Blessings to all on your week!