Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Parish Community

 One of the young  diocesan priests writes for the priest's bulletin about his new assignment as pastor. It is a small parish with about 400 active parishioners, most of them old. What was he to do? He writes about two of the activities he has inaugurated in the parish with fortunate results.

He decided to  begin a monthly travel picnic for those over 65. It was given the name 'silver light travel'. They go to parks, palaces, arboretums and islands. One woman, after visiting a palace in Seoul, told those who were with her that she was ready to die. At the age of 80, she saw the King's palace for the first time with the priests and sisters; what else is there to desire?

This grandmother was making a living by gathering papers and worn out articles, and rummaging trash cans to find articles to sell. She lost her son in an accident, leaving her in poverty and loneliness. These monthly excursions are something  she anxiously looks forward to. It is easy to understand that each month her trip is one of the happiest moments in her life. The priest reflects that it is the first time that anybody ever said what he had to offer made for the  happiest day in their life. He wonders how many can say that about something they have done?

He then tells us about a priest he met who told him about his chrysanthemum festival  that was well received by the parishioners.  He returned to the parish and meeting with the sisters and the some of the Christians decided to gather some pots of chrysanthemums. Little by little they had pots of chrysanthemums in all kinds of  shapes  and sizes, numbering 150. And in a short time, 100 other flower pots were also  brought in by the parishioners. The surrounding area is not a very pleasant sight but with these 250 or more potted flowers, it makes for a whole different feel  for the churchyard. After Mass, there are many parishioners who stay around to admire the flowers. In groups of twos and threes they move around to the different pots, while conversing.

On one occasion, a woman who was at the flower display mentioned that her husband, who had never talked about the beauty of flowers before, had done so after seeing the display at the church and came with her to see what it was all about. She was amazed at the beauty of some of the Chrysanthemums; the beauty of flowers, as we know, can easily grab one's attention.

Next year he wants to increase the number of pots and mentioned it to the sister, who said, looking at him intently, "You  are going to have to select someone to water the flowers. My biggest job this year was watering the flowers." This is the natural  result of the work, the priest reflected. 

The pastor considered these two works like sacraments, resulting in much personal good that was not immediately seen.  It was a way of fostering parish unity, of creating a more closely-knit  community.

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