Parish visits are always inspiring - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Parish visits are always inspiring

At St. Mary Parish in Auburn last Sunday there was a celebration honoring parishioners who during the year just past offered their time and talent and treasure to build up the parish and to support its mission.

There were two components to this delightful experience — the regularly scheduled noonday Mass and an elegant brunch at the Springside Inn, which is located just south of the city on Owasco Lake.

Both events were filled with life and good spirit. The liturgy was beautiful. The participation of the assembly was vigorous and inspiring. The music — both congregational and choral — expressed and inspired the prayer of the people. All who carried out liturgical ministries did so with grace and confidence. Add to the careful preparation and reverent celebration of the liturgy the great beauty of St. Mary Church and it is easy to understand why that experience of the church’s central act of worship was so deeply moving.

Another pleasing part of the celebration was the presence and participation of several students from St. Joseph School which, serves students from prekindergarten through eighth grade. They wore their school uniforms to church that Sunday to remind the assembly that that day began our diocesanwide celebration of Catholic Schools Week. As always, the presence of the little ones nourished the prayer of the community.

The ensuing meal was also enriching — and lots of fun. I never tire of being with our parish communities when they take time to recognize and express gratitude to God and to one another for the good things the Lord accomplishes through them. At this gathering of the St. Mary’s community, it was immediately and abundantly clear that nobody was looking for credit or praise. Rather, my impression was that all delighted in the company in which they found themselves, and drew strength from that company that will support their continuing service.

Father Frank Lioi, pastor of St. Mary’s, expressed the spirit and tone of the day in a very apt way in his remarks to the assembly at the end of the meal. In substance, Frank said that he thought of those present not so much as volunteers but as people who understand their baptismal call, and who give daily expression of that understanding in their service to neighbor.

Over the years I have written many times about parish visits such as the one made to St. Mary’s Jan. 30. In doing so, I often encourage readers of "Along the Way" to think about visiting some of the parish churches and communities around our 12-county diocese. To enjoy the beauty of the churches. To worship with the community. To develop a deeper sense of those things that they hold deeply in common with other communities. To note the distinct personality and spirit of each parish. I know that I always find that such visits inspire and encourage me — and often suggest possibilities for pastoral growth that I might otherwise never have considered.

If the idea holds any attraction for you, you might think of such a trip as part of your Lenten journey. Why not start with St. Mary’s, Auburn?

Peace to all.

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