Getting participants to consider their roles in the faith community was the idea behind "We are the Body of Christ," Schuyler Catholic Community’s Lenten mission that took place Feb. 15-17 at St. Mary of the Lake Church, Watkins Glen.
Deacon Larry Feasel of Irondequoit’s St. Salome Parish, who also serves as a chaplain at Rochester General Hospital, presented talks on Feb. 15 and 16. The mission culminated on Feb. 17 with an Ash Wednesday Mass celebrated by Father Paul Bonacci, St. Mary’s pastor.
Deacon Feasel’s presentations on Feb. 15 and 16 centered on Scripture passages, according to Schuyler Catholic Community parishioner and mission participant Nancy Letteer. She said that Deacon Feasel walked down the aisles of the church as he spoke, giving his talks a personal feel.
"Many people told me Deacon Feasel was one of the best speakers we’ve ever had at the church," Letteer said.
Deacon Feasel opened each of his talks with prayer and continued with a presentation, a time for questions and reflection, and a final closing ceremony.
His Feb. 15 presentation, "Called to Witness and Serve — One Body, Many Parts," was based on 1 Corinthians. According to an outline of his presentation, Deacon Feasel told participants that every human is uniquely gifted, and each brings a package of gifts to the body of Christ that no one else can bring. He challenged the parish to make each member feel important, as well as missed when not present, and the evening included the singing of "One Bread, One Body."
Also on Feb. 15 Deacon Feasel introduced the concept of having both vertical and horizontal relationships in a spiritual life. While it is important to have a vertical dimension in spirituality (that is, a personal and prayerful relationship with God) this is not enough for salvation, he noted. This prayerful relationship must be matched with a horizontal element, which is a connection with other humans. It’s impossible, Deacon Feasel said, to love the creator but hate one of his beloved creations.
The closing ceremony on Feb. 15 featured a presentation of pins. Each participant received a pin in the shape of a puzzle piece with a cross on the top, symbolizing discipleship and community.
"I’ve been wearing my pin ever since the ceremony," Letteer said. "I’ll look at it to remind myself that we all come together (as a church) to serve our part. Each of us has something to offer the church."
Participants also received a handout that listed presentation highlights as well as outlined the importance of each piece in the body of Christ such as "We are one in the Lord. It is not about you or me. It is about us."
The mission continued Feb. 16 with Deacon Feasel’s presentation, "Common Priesthood of the Faithful," based on 1 Peter and Revelation 1. The evening also included the singing of "They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love."
During his presentation Deacon Feasel discussed holy ground, saying that all of creation is holy, whether it is water, land, sea or sky. The home, he said, is a special holy ground because the family that dwells there is a domestic church. Deacon Feasel encouraged families to find a quiet corner in their homes that can become a dedicated prayer space, giving suggestions for objects that might be included in the prayer space, including a crucifix, holy water and the family Bible.
He then talked about the common priesthood of the faithful, saying that it comes with certain opportunities for and expectations of laypeople. He noted that the faithful must have full and active participation in the worshipping community, and as individuals they must share their time, talent and treasure — not just from the excess in their lives, but from the substance. And, he noted, they must develop their consciences, which is necessary for true reconciliation.
Dee Mizzoni, a member of the Schuyler Catholic Community’s mission committee, noted that the community offers an annual Lenten mission and said she believes these missions have strengthened the parish and parishioners alike.
"Deacon Feasel thought we were a very close community," Mizzoni said.