Hoping for a rebirth - Catholic Courier

Hoping for a rebirth

I recently traveled to Florida, and beside the beautiful sunshine that gloriously appeared every day, I found another amazing sight.

A standing-room-only Mass followed 10 minutes later by a just-as-crowded additional Mass at Holy Redeemer Church in Kissimmee.

Now, I know many of the people who attend Mass on Easter Sunday may not necessarily do so the rest of the year. So I asked my brother, who is a parishioner, how many people usually attend church there. He said about the same amount of people more or less!

I could see that by the interactions I witnessed that these were not drive-by parishioners. And we knew right away who were visitors, such as my immediate family, as they asked us to stand up and welcomed us with applause. It was heartwarming to see such camaraderie and affection among such a diverse group of people. Even the celebrants were diverse, and my son especially enjoyed the reading of the Gospel by an obvious-by-his-accent Southern African-American deacon.

The number of Catholics in Florida has in fact quadrupled between 1966 and 2006 due to three factors: families moving from the Rust Belt to the Sun Belt, the growth of the Hispanic population and the settlement of retirees in search of sunshine (which I can relate to the most), according to an article at www.americancatholic.org/Messenger/May2007/Feature3.asp.

I know our diocese has been trying to find ways to evangelize and bring people back to the church as well as trying to maintain the parishioners we have — an especially difficult task in the city of Rochester, where churches have closed.

I hope that, in time, we can experience such a rebirth as well. And I long to see the day when my church can be that full and vibrant again.

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