The Rhythm of Parish Life

St John BoscoSince Easter twelve families in our parish community have carried the body of a loved one into the church to commend them to a loving and merciful God. Five of them are doing so this week. They are greeted by the members of our Bethany Ministry as they gather for prayer.

A story of life and love accompanies each person that we entrust to the Lord with Christian Burial. A wife of 66 years left a husband who can’t image what life was like before they met. A down-syndrome brother who communicated love with a smile, enabled people who met him to look beyond his disability and see him as a person. A mother who wasn’t able to speak for the last nine years of her life – but the beauty of her eyes along with her laugh enabled her family to realize that she knew they were with her. Men and women who courageously fought cancer. A husband watching television with his wife one minute and gone the next. Each family has a panorama of memories that accompany their grief – along with the assurances of faith that in death our relationships are changed, not ended.

The people of our parish grieve with each of these families – and we lift them in prayer, asking God to give them comfort and consolation. The members of our “Stitched with Love” ministry will visit each family and present them with a prayer shawl. It is a tangible symbol that we are holding them in prayer as they face the reality of a new sense of “normal” following the death of a husband, wife, brother, sister, mother and father. I invite you to remember these twelve families in your prayers.

Yes, death is part of the rhythm of life in any parish community. But that rhythm of parish life, as articulated in the Book of Ecclesiastes, involves much more. Here’s a glimpse of what it looks like at Saint John Bosco.

Children and adults are being welcomed into the community at the font of baptism. Their presence among us, especially the cries and voices of small children, represent new life and a future.

This past weekend twenty children joined us at the table of the Lord to receive Eucharist for the first time. Two more will be joining them this weekend. Their excitement challenges us to be just as excited as we receive the Body of Christ – and then becoming the Body of Christ for the world.

In two weeks fifteen members of our parish community will complete their initiation into the faith with the celebration of Confirmation. As we anticipate their confirmation we pray that the gifts of the Holy Spirit will empower them for a greater witness to the depth of their faith.

Seven couples will be married between now and the fall. They will join the married couples of our parish who reflect the love that God has for all humanity – in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health!

Yet, there is so much more to the rhythm of parish life than sacramental encounters.

Another year of our Parish School of Religion came to a conclusion as families gathered for a closing Mass on Monday evening. A team of volunteers are already putting together July’s Vacation Bible School – with this year’s theme “Deep Sea Discovery – God is with me wherever I go!”

This week a committee met to finalize the details of our first “Community Service Day” – which is on Saturday, May 14th. 190 people have signed up to help at one of 18 sights that we have made a commitment to be of service to in the Parma Heights/Brook Park/Middleburg Heights area. Another committee is finalizing the details of our third annual “SJB Run with Me” – our 5-K Run and 1 Mile Walk that benefits the Parma Heights Food Pantry and the Saint John Bosco Saint Vincent de Paul Society. Both are wonderful opportunities for the people of our parish community to give and be of service to our local community.

Choirs are practicing; Seniors, the Parish Pastoral Council, and Scouts are meeting; and our NAMI Family Support Group will gather to be present to one another in ways needed at this point in their lives.

Add to all of this – people are gathering for daily Mass and spending time in prayer, 24 hours a day – 7 days a week, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in our Adoration Chapel. And yes, people are being faithful to their vocational calling of being the face of God’s mercy in the places that life takes them this week – and making those places sacred by their presence.  Then, they will return to celebrate with fellow parishioners around the table of the Lord this weekend to be strengthened to go out and do it all again next week!

It’s all part of that rhythm of parish life this week at Saint John Bosco. Yes, it will be different next week. But, as always, it is led by the light of Christ that leads and guides us as people of holiness, faith and integrity. For this rhythm, and so much more, we give thanks to God!

Question – How are you involving yourself in the rhythm of the life of your parish community?

 

April 27th, 2016 |