Hello Saint Anne Parish Family,
I write to you in the midst of what often feels like a social desert. Six months of quarantine has often left me feeling lonely. No doubt these feelings are shared by many of you, and certainly our children and teens. Earlier this week, school began for many of our youth. I imagine common feelings as we begin yet another chapter of uncharted territory include: fear, uncertainty, frustration, and worry. Many of us ask: how will our children and teens find community this school year? Will they learn all that they are supposed to?
In the midst of this we hear Psalm 85 this weekend repeat over and over to us: “The glory of the Lord will dwell in our Land.” But how? If the Glory of the Lord is in our land, a land that feels like a social desert, where can we see it? How can we find it? One answer we cannot overlook is in the mirror. Jesus tells us that we are the salt of the earth. Salt adds flavor, it brings out the best in what it is mixed with. We are called to bring flavor, light, and hope to the world today. Now is the time for the Church to show up. And WE are the Church.
If the glory of the Lord is to dwell in our land, and if the world is to see and recognize it, we must prepare the way. We have to ask ourselves regularly: Am I falling into the pit of negativity? What have I done to serve Christ today? Have I shown love to my neighbor, my family, and the forgotten? It can be done in small ways: that extra ounce of compassion and listening to someone who needs to talk, even when we’d rather be checking off our to-do list. Reaching out to someone we’ve been meaning to call but just never get to it. Taking the time to check in with our children and teens, asking: How are you feeling? How are you coping? Then, listening attentively to their responses.
Basically, we are called to do what Jesus did: show people that they matter. There is not a brighter light of hope that shows that “The glory of the Lord will dwell in our Land” than an outstretched arm in simple kindness. This hope has been shown to me time and again as Youth Ministry prepares for the coming school year. Catechists, adult volunteers, teen volunteers, and I have been working hard and prayerfully. Our PATHS Catechists are stepping up to the plate to lead online learning, and create a space of belonging, open sharing, and community. Teen leaders, entering their senior year amidst a pandemic, are committing their time and energy to create small online faith sharing groups for juniors and seniors, all while continuing to prepare for Kairos, even though we do not know exactly when that will be. We continue to creatively and energetically plan on more ways to support our families. Many good people are thinking of you and your teens, and are working to support you. These are concrete ways the Church is showing up so that the world can see that “The glory of the Lord will dwell in our Land.” What is God inviting you to do?
Yours in Jesus Christ,
Joe Tomaso, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry