Hi Friends! I wish you a very Happy and Blessed New Year! May 2009 be a year of grace for all of our catechetical efforts!
Yesterday, I spent the morning with 15 catechists (and about 5 aides) at Maternity BVM parish in the West Humboldt Park area of Chicago. If the name of that neighborhood rings a bell, it’s the location where the recent movie, Nothing Like the Holidays, was filmed (a very funny movie!).
Humboldt Park, on the northwest side of Chicago, is a predominantly Puerto Rican community – proud, gritty, economically challenged, and more than its fair share of gangs and crime. Anchored in this community is Maternity BVM parish, pastored by Fr. Tom Pelton, a wonderful priest that I met about 13 years ago. He invited me to speak to the catechists for their mid-year meeting, as they get set to resume classes next Sunday.
I had such a wonderful time meeting, listening to, and speaking with the catechists at Maternity BVM. We talked about the successes and challenges of the year so far and I came away inspired by their level of dedication and commitment. Most of all, I was touched by their warmth…they greeted one another with hugs and kisses! Thanks to Fr. Tom and to Becky, the Coordinator of RE and to all of the catechists at Maternity BVM parish…a shining light in the West Humboldt Park area of Chicago!
We (my wife accompanied me) stayed for the noon Mass which is bi-lingual and features a lively choir with a Caribbean sound…what a wonderful celebration! It occurred to me that, on this day, the Feast of Epiphany, when God’s glory is revealed to all the nations, how appropriate it was to have made this small pilgrimage to a parish that is beyond my usual community – a parish whose ethnicity is different than my own. What a wonderful reminder of how God’s glory is revealed to all the nations. Perhaps making a pilgrimage to a parish of a different ethnicity than our own should become an Epiphany tradition for Catholics!
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Tonight, it’s back to class…our second Confirmation intensive. I should have lots to report tomorrow.
My prayers are with you as you start up classes again after the holiday break!!!