Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A view of the ministry

First off, I'll attempt to update this blog once a week, probably sometime around the weekend. Now that my laptop is back from being repaired and appears to be working, I can do this from home. Having access to the internet through work or the library is not the most convenient thing.
Anyway, I've been in MN for just over two weeks now so I have a better idea of what is happening at the parish. I would like to let you know about it so you can keep us in your prayers and offer any feedback if you have some insights.

The big event of the week, besides Sunday Mass of course, is the School of St. Paul on Wednesday nights. The school is a missionary formation program run by the parish to help potential leaders from the parish encounter Christ and the Emmanuel Community charisms (praise, adoration, evangelization, etc.), be catechized, and then sent on mission in the neighborhood of the parish. I came in towards the end of the encounter stage, which included teachings on praise, the conversion of St. Paul, the Word of God, and fraternal charity. The next stage, Catechesis, will include talks on salvation history, divine revelation and authority, the sacraments, Mary, and one more that slips my mind. The last stage will teach about mission and the new evangelization, practical points for giving testimony and speaking to people about God, sin and mercy, and the question of suffering.

As for the format, the night begins with a praise song and prayer. This is followed by a 30 minute teaching and 20 minutes of sharing. Up to this point, the groups are split by language, Spanish or English. After the teaching and sharing, the groups join in the church for a time of bilingual praise and usually adoration. The praise and adoration last around 25 minutes and after a closing prayer or blessing by Fr. Joseph, the night is over. The whole thing lasts an hour and a half.

I've only had two weeks to observe the program, but it looks really good to me. The first night, a visiting priest who was going to speak to the Hispanic group forgot to come so Fr. Joseph delivered his teaching in both languages. It was the first time the groups had shared a teaching in the same room and while you would miss parts of the teaching if you didn't understand both languages, the general consensus is that the night build community between the groups because we would laugh at the same story and be around each other. This growth in community between the language groups led to an idea for the next week, which was an icebreaker to learn names during the time of praise. While the clump of Anglo names at the beginning proved to be a challenge for the Latinos who followed them, the rapidly listed Spanish names at the end proved to be equally challenging to remember for us English speakers. The exercise was good for a laugh and did what its purpose was, which was to increase communication between the two groups. After the night was officially over, I observed pairs or triplets of people speaking in Spanglish or with translation.

The second big event for me during the week is the Spanish Holy Hour and Mass that happens on Thursday nights. Some of you may be thinking, "Wow, Heather, I didn't realize you were so competent in Spanish to participate in such activities." Well, you are right. I'm not fully competent, but I try and that is good enough for the embracing and forgiving Spanish-speaking community at St. Stephen's. Fr. Joseph introduced me at the Thursday Mass last week, explaining that I was at St. Stephen's for four months to help with the mission preparation, and so many ladies gave me hugs and kisses and welcomed me to the parish. One sweetheart of a woman, Raquel, told me I could come to her house anytime for food or a nap, I just had to give her a call. At least that is what I put together from the parts I understood. What a generous and loving community.

As to what I'm working on right now, the school is making a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in La Crosse, Wisconsin at the end of the month and I have to coordinate the logistics for that along with Deacon Luis Rubi. Today that means making a flyer and printing it in time for the meeting tonight, but first I have to nail down a price for the coach we will be renting. It's always an adventure at the parish and every day is different. Whatever needs to be done for the mission, I'm the point woman.

P.S. Pictures will come soon. Now that I have my laptop, I can load them with the card reader.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Heather,

    I'm very heartened to hear of the things you've been doing to help increase contact between the Anglo and Hispanic communities at St Stephens. And a I have a tad of holy jealousy that you get to go to the shrine of OL of Guadalupe. The pix I've seen are gorgeous. Be assured of my prayers.