Saturday, March 09, 2013

Back from the Buckeye State

My week was quite full, even though the two parishes which hosted me are the smallest I've ever visited. One of them, St. Sylvester's in Zaleski, is the only Catholic Church in its county. The pastor has to drive forty-five minutes up and down country roads to get there for Sunday Mass as well as on Thursdays, when this tiny parish has Eucharistic Adoration all day. But they aren't an almost-priestless parish: an elderly priest resides in the hamlet and celebrates daily Mass. (One of the most memorable scenes of the week came after all the adorers had taken their hour: the priest took the luna out of the monstrance and gave it a kiss before heading to the tabernacle!)

The "main" Church is in Jackson, a town that doesn't seem to have flourished much since the Victorian Age when many of its shops and homes were built. Some have been beautifully restored; others are falling to pieces--but they are still so lovely I found myself wishing that one of those TV crews from the DIY channel would come and restore them. I stayed in a home that had been so beautifully maintained that I could marvel at the level of craftsmanship invested in homebuilding over a century ago. Even the hinges, of cast iron, had filigree detail, and the heating vents in the floor were hand-carved wood.

A local artist presented me with a clock he had designed; I had no way of bringing it back to Chicago, but I think that where it is now, in the parish hall, it will impress the children who come for their religious ed program.

The missions were well received; Father was impressed at the number of people who attended (far more than the usual turnout for things that aren't obligatory!). I was impressed that they kept coming back! I was also impressed at what is asked of a priest in a rural district who must simultaneously maintain two parishes at a time when church attendance (and support) keeps diminishing (not to mention helping families cope with problems related to the rampant drug abuse in these depressed areas). The pastor must be doing something right: there is a steady flow of townspeople seeking full communion with the Catholic Church, and getting involved in parish life.

When I got back yesterday afternoon, I found that our new volunteer had put together a trailer for our upcoming Theology of the Body program. Here is the work in progress.

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