So yesterday we gathered on a beautiful day to share fellowship together in Mack Hall. Over two hundred gathered for the afternoon. The committee did a outstanding job at organizing and coordinating the affair, and everyone seemed to truly relax and enjoy themselves. The parish provided hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill with buns, fresh corn on the cob and buttered red skinned potatoes, and drinks. The rest of the serving tables were filled with an overwhelming variety of covered dishes. It was like the multiplication of the loaves and fishes ... the food just kept multiplying.
We ate and talked, we had games and face painting for the youngsters, bingo for all ages, fourteen school back packs filled with items for school were donated by parishioners and given to youngsters, beautiful potted plants as door prises, raffles and a "share the wealth" set of prizes. For the second year in a row, our men's group sponsored a "pie baking competition" of which I serve as a honorary regular judge. Seven of us had the most difficult task of tasting seven homemade pies and choosing the top three. The winners included an apple pie (1st), a peach pie (2nd), and an oreo/chocolate cream pie (3rd). The job of judging was hard, but somebody had to do it. Last year I started out with large pieces and ran out of room. This year I started small, then went back for seconds of my favorites (don't tell my diabetes doctor). Ribbons were awarded for 1st, 2nd & 3rd places, with the 1st place winner (Pat Swanson - apple pie) receiving an apron and her name being placed on the plaque in Mack Hall. We do it up right! They are already talking of how we can improve on things for next year ... a good sign.
Later that evening I visited the kick off of our junior and senior high youth ministry/religious formation programs. The three local parishes share in a combined program on Sunday evenings at our local Catholic center. I saw many of the kids, I thanked the parents for entrusting their children to us, and I led the prayer to kick off our senior youth ministry and introduced our new director of Regional Youth Ministry - John McCulloch. We look forward to great things from John and our catechists and volunteers... but most especially from our young people as they grow to know the Lord.
At the Masses this weekend I also had two groups stand for recognition and prayer. Since school has or is about to begin locally, I first asked any teachers present, or administrators or those involved in educating our children to stand and be recognized, then those who have started the school year as students. I/we thanked them for their hard work and journey, then I offered a prayer for them, entrusting them to the Divine Teacher - Christ.