September 27, 2008 – Walkin’ Down Memory Lane

I had one of those experiences this past week that I’m sure you have had.  There may have been an event or happening in your life that you hadn’t thought about in a while, and then suddenly someone says something or does something that jars your memory, and it brings that event back into the forefront of your mind.  The other night at our parish council meeting it was discussed that we have not had a parish mission for some time.  Do you remember when our last mission was?  Hint: it tok place right around this time of the year.  Give up?  Our last mission took place in September, 2001.  This mission was the beginning of the Renew 2000 process that our parish took part in at that time.  What was unique about this mission is that basically we did everything ourselves – no priest or other religious person was brought in from outside the parish as is typically done.

As we talked about holding a mission in the near future, I couldn’t believe how vivid my memories of our last mission continue to be.  I remember when the idea was first presented to us and thinking “there is absolutely no way we can do this on our own!”  Then I remember the panic I felt when it was suggested that I lead the mission committee!  UGH!  I remember thinking at that time that the only way we were going to pull this off is if I had 2 things on my side: the Holy Spirit and a very dedicated group of people on the committee with me.  Both came through with flying colors.  We spent literally the entire summer preparing and recruiting participants and we pulled it off.  Do you remember the four nights of the mission?  Night 1 was basically an introduction to the Renew process led by yours truly.  Cheryl Gross, Judy Crain and Carissa Cushman gave personal reflections.  Kelly Gardiner gave words from St. Augustine in full wardrobe.  Linda & Lloyd Stern and Linda Smith took part in a sort of “public” faith -sharing session to show folks how it was done.  When we asked the congregation to split into groups for a faith-sharing session, I was skeptical as to how it would fly, but everyone really seemed to get in to it.  However, it seems that what people remember most about that night was some of our young people going up and down the aisles of church with floating candles and ribbons while the song “I Hope You Dance” was played.  It was a really nice topper to the evening.  I think the first night cleared away any doubts that we could pull this off.

Night 2 focused on reconciliation.  Mike & Anita Bievenue led the evening.  Madona McCaslin gave a personal reflection about overcoming her serious illness.  We all then went to “confession,” in which we wrote our faults on a piece of paper, and then we approached either Fr. Dennis, Fr. Maes or Fr. Stout and they burned the paper and gave us an absolution.

Night 3 focused on the family.  Jan Crow, Paula Platt and Marla Cushman led the evening.  We heard two very personal reflections from Joe & Pam Tretter and Rob & Rhonda Wingerter about families that left some in tears.  An individual blessing was given to each family, and some of the school kids performed “Awesome God”.  I can remember Fr. Dennis saying at the end of the evening that “all of this is giving me goosebumps!”

Finally, Night 4 was the closing Mass.  Linda Stern, who led the evening, came out in a graduation cap and gown signifying the end of our mission journey, but just the first step in the Renew journey.  Fr. Dennis and Linda Smith gave reflections about life-changing events, and in St. Mary’s tradition, we had our wine and cheese reception following Mass.  I could keep rambling about my memories of that week.  If you were there, you probably have some memories of your own.  It stood out to me I believe because the mission occurred right after the 9/11 attacks, and it took place at the time when issues concerning the school had come to a head, and because so many people opened the doors of their personal experiences to everyone.  It was the right event at the right place at the right time.

We have a set of VCR tapes in the library at the Parish House of the mission.  Feel free to check them out sometime if you feel like a stroll down memory lane.  As fulfilling as the mission was, it was a tremendous amount of work by a lot of people.  Our next mission will be a more traditional mission, with a priest from outside our parish community leading it.  Hopefully if the stars align it will take place sometime during Lent.  Pray for us as the initial plans begin to be made.

We give a shout out this weekend to our teachers in school, the catechists in our PSR program, and the members of the RCIA team as they are comissioned at the 9:00AM Mass.  Religious education is so fundamentally important to the life of a Catholic, and we are very blessed to have such a dedicated gruop of educators in our parish.  God Bless all of them for their efforts.

There is a lot of new information on our website,  Be sure to check it out.  I am even beginning to get information from other parishes to put on our website!  You will see it on the homepage.



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