Dominican impact often happens off the beaten path
After over 40 years in ministry it is not easy to rise to new challenges, but they do happen. I have read Celebration for almost all of those 40 years. Since I am not imaginative by nature, I have relied on Patricia Sanchez, Gabe Huck, Pat Marrin and other scripture and liturgical experts to get me moving on the Sunday liturgies. It came as a shock to be asked to write the lead article for the September issue. We work as a team, but generally preach as individuals. However Pat Marrin, the editor wanted it written as a team effort, and he wanted the stories we have garnered to illustrate the article on God’s mercy and ours as a theme for the month.
It was a lot of work, but to see our names in print in the magazine for preachers was a thrill and made me proud to be a Dominican!
Every now and again we have to minister to friends in trouble. That creates another dimension to my ministry, I cannot go home and turn off. My lifelong friend Brian, whose four children I have known since they were young schoolkids phoned from Australia to say his wife, Marilyn was seriously ill with leukemia.
For days it seemed she would recover but she got an infection and died suddenly and tragically. She was a strong woman and a great mother and wife – and a good friend of mine I was grieving as I ministered. We think young people are not religious, well Marilyn’s two daughters and two sons proved that false. While I traveled to Australia they prepared the Mass, chose the readings, wrote the prayers and the eulogy, all presented to me on arrival. They witnessed to her faith and the faith she and Brian had taught them, and the faith they in turn were teaching to their children.
I am not at the Synod on the family, I would love to have been invited! I am thrilled that each session begins with lay people witnessing. Big pastoral decisions have to be made in the next year, but I hope the bishops and leaders reflect on the faith that is there, not always orthodox, but always real and based on the Gospel, a faith I could relive with my young friends.
– Fr Nick Punch, Thomas More Center
Early May, Melbourne, Australia:
We had the opportunity to preach in a huge suburban parish whose membership was 90 percent first and second generation Indian. The two priests were from India and the pastor had a wonderful contemporary spirituality and was revered by his parishioners. All meals were prepared by Indian parishioners and every day we had authentic Indian food much of which I had never experienced. The evening sessions of the renewal were attended by nearly 800 people and the morning sessions had 300 in attendance. We were expecting some simple piety but found the congregation was well educated and expecting good biblical interpretation and a contemporary spirituality. We met (both male and female), doctors, accountants, attorneys, teachers, IT experts and successful business people. Parents are very concerned about good academic and theological education for their children and had raised the money to open two Catholic High Schools within the parish boundaries. Our open Q and A parts of each session were lively, enthusiastic and challenging. There is a clear desire to become Australian and still hand on the richness of their culture. We arrived wondering how three “anglos” would be received and finished the renewal program with a request to return in a few years.
Late February, Moneta, VA:
Resurrection Parish, Moneta, VA was established in the mid 1970s and has never had a resident priest.
For the past 15 years the Thomas More Center Preaching Team has celebrated all of the Holy Week Services and has preached 7 Parish Renewals there in the course of that time. We have many good friends there and among them, Susie and John Parrish. Susie cheerfully battled cancer for 14 years and finally died this year. I was asked to come celebrate the funeral by her family and it was truly a memorable experience. Susie had planned her funeral in a remarkable way and it was spiritually, liturgically and emotionally a profound experience of resurrection for everyone present.
– Fr. Mike Champlin, O.P,
Thomas More Center
During the summer, Br. Ambrose Lowman and I spent two months in Grenada, a small island in the Caribbean. Our mission in Grenada was primarily to assist in social justice work with Caritas International. Our base of operations was Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in the St. Paul neighborhood near St. George’s, the capital and primary port town. The work we pursued involved assisting with the building of low-income housing, the distribution of food to more impoverished areas of the island, and canvasing neighborhoods to get information about the needs of the island’s residents. We also contributed to the life of the Church in Grenada, preaching during Novenas and charismatic conferences.
Our work placed us in direct contact with the most impoverished on the island. Grenada continues to recover from two hurricanes that practically flattened the island in 2004 / 2005. Many homes remain abandoned, and some Grenadians have taken to “squatting” on government-owned property so as to be nearer to the economic centers of the island. A once growing economy based on agriculture and tourism struggles to gain a foothold in the global marketplace. Church and family life has not been immune to the afflictions of the island, and much evangelization and conversion must take place on the island if recovery is to continue. But the people of Grenada are resilient, and we have great hopes for them into the future.
After two months on mission in Grenada, we were able to come back to the States with valuable knowledge of the island’s history and culture. This knowledge was later shared during the fall semester in our class on Catholic social teaching. You, too, can share our knowledge through a series of interviews we did for Good News Catholic Radio in Grenada, available at http://www.preachingfriars.org/friars-spice-isle-0.
– By Br. Brian Zuelke, O.P.