In his pastoral letter, A Light Brightly Visible, Archbishop Lori invites us to “be missionary disciples” and to consider what being a “missionary disciple” calls you to do personally and what it calls our parish to do.
Last fall each parish in the Archdioceses was asked to reach out to those who come to its services, including those who attend occasionally with a survey. The survey was not a demographic one but one that seeks to understand the spiritual needs of Catholics. We had a great response rate and now have the results of this survey for St. Vincent. In addition to the survey data the Archdiocese sent an executive summary of St. V demographic data compared to other parishes in our region and to the Archdiocese as a whole.
Every Friday for more than a decade, St. V in partnership with Our Lady of the Fields (OLF) parish has hosted a huge dinner for all comers in our undercroft. Usually aroud 200-300 people show up. OLF organizes the food, and St. V provides the space.
While all involved would agree this ministry has been a wonderful success, there has been little agreement on its name. People have called it everything from the undignified “Friday Night Feeding” to the undescriptive “Friday Night Ministry.”
This month the organizers have officially named it “Breaking Bread With the Hungry.” This reflects the true nature of the event. As Deacon Ed Stoops of OLF says:
The term breaking bread is used in Acts to refer to the Eucharist. Our mission statement explicitly says our mission flows from the Eucharist.
The term the hungry excludes no one. We are all hungry. We are born hungry. In addition to hunger for food, we all hunger for acceptance and love. The term also includes Jesus who said, “I was hungry and you gave me to eat.” Whether we prepare the food, serve it or eat it, we are all the hungry.
Father Ronchi in his retreat for the Pope and others in the Vatican, recently said “Some people are so hungry that for them God cannot but have the form of a loaf of bread.”
For both volunteers and diners, the meal is typically a joyful commotion, where the ups and downs of the lives of our guests surface as they enjoy dinner out after a long week. Every week has a little different vibe. OLF has produced a video for its website that captures the essence of Breaking Bread With the Hungry. Check it out.
Why is it so hard to forgive and show mercy (even though we want both for ourselves)?
Date: Friday May 20, 8 PM-Sunday, May 22, 1 PM
Retreat Director: Pat Fosarelli M.D., D.Min.
Cost: Suggested donation is $100 per adult staying the rooms and $50 for campers and Saturday-only attendees. Kids are free.
Setting: Lovely, green Nawakwa Retreat Center near Gettysburg, PA, with hiking trails, playgrounds and a labyrinth.
During the retreat, we will discuss forgiveness and mercy, topics close to the heart of Pope Francis. We will see how withholding forgiveness and failing to show mercy have deleterious effects in the body, mind, and spirit. During our time together, we will look at the areas in our lives – personal, professional, and church-related – that are in need of repair, reconciliation, and renewal, and how to go about that.
We will have age-appropriate programs for kids so both parents and children so that all can come away feeling renewed.
This week Pope Francis released his apostolic exhortation, which draws on the Synod of the Family in 2015. The document is intended as “an aid to reflection, dialogue and pastoral practice, and as a help and encouragement to families in their daily commitments and challenges.”
Though the exhortation is aimed at the clergy, lay people will certainly find much of interest in the Pope’s words. Here at St. Vincent will have hard copies when they become available. In the meantime, you can find it online here.