Monday, March 21, 2011

Rites of Welcoming

     It has been a very busy weekend here at SEAS.  Many of the things that we were busy about involved welcoming.

     On Friday morning I joined with the family of a good friend of mine whose mother had died.  As we prayed together, we found comfort in the words of the minister of the service.

     On Saturday morning I celebrated a Memorial Mass for Stella Doyle, a former parishioner who has been living and who died in Florida at the age of just over ninety-three.  Her family is large and with their friends joining them there was a good crowd in church for Mass.  From their spirit and from the words from her son, it was clear that Stella possessed the best traits of her Irish heritage: a love of life, of family, of food and very much of Faith, attending Mass daily.

     A little later that morning I celebrated the funeral liturgy for another parishioner who was much younger, a mere eighty-one.  Her name was Shirley Andonisio.  She too gave birth to a large and vibrant family with whom she shared countless experiences of grace.  I told the family that her obit in the papers was one of the longest I have seen, recounting the joys of family and the gift of life.

     Both families chose a reading from Proverbs from the Hebrew Scriptures, the one that describes the virtues of a good woman, a good wife and mother.  One line says that "her children will rise up and call her blessed (or sing her praises)".  All three of these families did that for their Moms.  It was my joy to celebrate their entrance to the Heavenly Banquet.

    Later that day at the evening liturgy for the Second Sunday of Lent we shared the Scrutinies with the three friends journeying with us to the Table of the Lord at the Easter Vigil.  For Jodi, Ryan and Jonathan we extended our arms in welcome and anticipate a great celebration at the Vigil.

     Then on Sunday (even though it is Lent) I welcomed into the Family of God little Ryan Edward Joyce through the Sacrament of Baptism.  Again, it was a large group of family and friends who shared in this Sacrament, including the sister of a high school classmate of mine and her daughter.  It is a small world.

     All in all, a tiring yet refreshing series of celebrations that speak of who we are as CHURCH.

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