Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sacred Sunday... Old Fashioned Parish Picnic!

I am really loving the heart of our parish since our new pastor, Fr. Kelly, has joined us. And that's high praise, because I really loved our previous pastor, very much. We have been very blessed to belong to a true parish family. Our church is alive and vibrant with a strong faith formation and an abundantly active youth ministry. We are surrounded by young, growing families, who are the third and fourth generations of their families in the parish. It is a joy to worship and grow together in our faith.

So, what is it I love about Fr. Kelly? He is a genuinely gentle man. He is soft spoken. He is deeply devoted. He is simple. And I mean that in the most complimentary way. His simplicity is echoed in the activities he plans for our church family. Every year, our youth ministry shows appreciation for all of the kids and adults who volunteer throughout the previous year by going on a field trip. For many years that meant a long drive to a large amusement park. It was fun. But, it was big. It was crowded. It was expensive. And, for the most part, we were separated into small clusters, and didn't spend any group time together. This year, we all met at the church for some prayer time. Then, we drove a short distance to a wonderful local mini golf course. We played golf, side by side, then we lined up and visited the ice cream shop to pick our favorite treat. We all ate outside, together. We laughed, chatted, caught up on each other's lives, and enjoyed a beautiful evening.

This simplicity played out again today, as we enjoyed our parish picnic. We haven't had a parish picnic for about 9 or 10 years. We used to go to a local park, and a central crew of people arranged everything and cooked for everyone. The grills were burning all day as some of us played and others worked. Today's picnic was different. Another local parish welcomed us to use their beautiful, pristine grounds. We started off by gathering at the shrine/garden, and praying together. Then, we all ate our own picnic lunches. No extra work for any one group! The youth minister and her assistant did plan numerous old-fashioned games for the children to play. There were three legged races, water balloon catch, dodge ball, and volleyball for the adults. It was a blast. It could not have been a more beautiful late summer afternoon. We relaxed, enjoyed fellowship, and renewed our spirits.

I read so often about how people wish life could be like it used to be... simple, family oriented, taking time for what's important, getting outside in the fresh air, away from technology...  Life can be all that. Life is all that. If that is what we choose. I am glad that the good Lord saw fit to send Fr. Kelly to us at this moment in time. When so many are striving for brighter and louder ways to attract, he is quietly leading us to remember the joys of simple gatherings, and good old-fashioned fun.

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