Being an authentic Christian requires more than talk, it requires action as well. This is a hard lesson to learn, but one that is vital to our salvation.
As a small parish, we don’t have a lot of parishioners. That does not mean that the work is any less important or that the struggle is any less difficult. In some ways, the struggle is greater. We have fewer people to help with vital programs that our community needs.
We started a new mission in Graniteville South Carolina in the hopes that we will be able to grow a parish in the Midland Valley area. Our attempts at growth in Augusta Georgia have been difficult. Sadly, the South is a difficult area for liturgical churches, especially progressive ones.
One of my greatest fears as a pastor is that the parish will fail. After 7 years of attempts in Augusta, that fear is becoming all the more real. Yet, we continue to try. We look for new ways to reach out to those who are in most need of our help. Our parish started the Blessing Bags program to aid the homeless in our area. We are working to find a location to place a Blessing Box that the parish will keep stocked with basic food items. We are reaching out to the ministries in the area to provide assistance to programs already in progress.
And every Sunday, Father Matt and I celebrate Mass for the needs of our church and the community at large. This Sunday we are offering Mass for all our beloved homeless who are in such great need. Just like Lazarus in this Sunday’s Gospel reading, they are ignored and abused by those who could be helping them.
So many people wish to call themselves a Christian, but lack the desire to actually help those in need. Our ministries and parishes in the OCCI continue to astound me as they work to provide much needed services to those in most need. We don’t just talk about helping others, we actually do it.
At Saint Francis Parish we decided that despite the lack of people in the pews, we would build programs to help others. We are continuing to help those in need with the meager resources we have. And thanks to our family in the OCCI, we continue to build blessing bags stocked with much needed supplies.
And you can help too. All you have to do is come to Saint Francis Parish in Graniteville or Augusta and volunteer to help. Become an active part of our parish ministry and help us help others.
And in doing so, you will experience a new and authentic way to be a Catholic Christian.