Five years ago I left St Clare looking for spiritual nourishment that I felt I was missing. This was a difficult decision because my husband Dave stayed, but I needed to move on so I ventured down the road to another Catholic Church for mass. The services were okay and I went there for 3 years, but I never actually joined the parish.
When I heard a new order was coming to St Clare I thought I might try it again because I missed going to mass with family. I had heard rumblings about the new priest and how he was “good” so with a somewhat skeptical mind I came to see for myself. I watched Fr. Andrew celebrate the mass and even though I had just a little trouble catching everything he said I thought to myself, not bad, this could work..... So I slowly began attending mass again at St Clare.
Not long after, there was a note in the church paper requesting a volunteer to help with the vigil candles. I thought to myself how hard can that be? So I called the number listed, and spoke to Joan, now once a week I come in and replace the burned out candles in the side chapels. When I do this I cut through the parish offices and along the way I met Janet, Jozefa, Mike, Dennis and Tim some of the daytime staff.
This past November one Sunday at mass Father Andrew was talking about the funeral services we had had over the last year. There were 23 so about 2 per month and he wanted to add adults as greeters to welcome visitors coming in, and as servers for the mass. I thought to myself, I can do that, so I called Janet to volunteer and was asked to train with Laura to become a sacristan for the funerals. I agreed and along the way I met David our music minister, Louie, Lou, Maureen, Rose, Roger, Bob, Diane, Joe and a host of other parishioners that also agreed to help.
Since mid- November we have had close to 30 funerals roughly one per week, this ministry has quickly become very dear to my heart. It's a team effort with other volunteers who are assisting our St. Clare families during a very difficult time. They are so appreciative of the support they receive, for me it has been both enriching and personally rewarding.
On a Sunday in January information was shared about the Alpha Program that would take place over the next few months. After mass I talked to Art, who would be facilitating the program. I decided to participate and along the way I met Frank and Gina, Mike and Sue, Bob and Sue, Rosie and Joe, Tracey, Larry, Chee Chee, and many others.
Recently there was a request for additional Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist. I had been an EME in a previous parish, and we are at mass anyway so I thought to myself, I can do that, so I contacted Rosemarie for the training. Along the way I met Kathy, Donna, Cora, Bruce and Deacon Larry.
That pretty much brings me to the present. Before I came back to St. Clare when I went to mass, yes I prayed, shook hands at the sign of peace, but I realize now it was habit. I was just going through the motions and heaven forbid if the mass was not over in 60 minutes. Now I see the faces of friends, not just a crowd of people I recognize because they were here the week before. I know them and a little of their story and they have become part of mine.
And I listen, really try to listen to the readings and the homily to understand the message, I even use the Mass journal. When I serve as an EME and say the words the Body of Christ I feel a personal connection to the recipient.
I don't pay attention to the time anymore, and after mass I usually talk to a handful of people instead of heading straight for the car. For me now when I walk through these doors I look to the tabernacle and say hello to Jesus, I have a smile on my face and a real joy in my heart because now I feel like I am truly home.
In closing what I am attempting to do is this;
#1 Be Bold- that would be me standing up here sharing this story.
#2 Be Holy – being an active participant in not just the mass but in the life of our parish.
#3 Be Catholic – by embracing the words in the Nicene Creed that is the foundation of our faith.