From the Pastor…

frmark_headshot_150x150
My experience this past Saturday at STM served as a reminder to me of what makes St. Thomas More parish so strong and vibrant, so much a reflection of Jesus alive and active in the world in and through the Church.

My experience began with a funeral Mass for Helen Scherer, a longtime STM parishioner. That there was a funeral was not particularly unusual. What I found noteworthy was that, in addition to many of Helen’s family, several parishioners also attended the funeral. Helen, because of age and failing health, had not been active at STM for several years. Most parishioners probably did not know her; I had never met her. The parishioners who attended the funeral were mostly persons who had ministered to Helen in recent years, visiting her, taking Eucharist to her on a weekly basis. They had developed a close relationship with Helen that they expressed through their care of her as she aged, and now they had come to help commit her to God’s care. Their presence at the funeral witnessed to their belief that their relationship with Helen continues.

After the funeral, there was a reception for the family and friends of Helen in the parish’s Julie Room and library. The reception was hosted by an STM ministry known as Martha’s Ministry. Martha’s Ministry is a group of several parishioners who provide hospitality to the family and friends of the deceased following a funeral service. They prepare a light lunch and serve, thereby giving the family and friends of the deceased an opportunity to socialize and comfort one another. Martha’s Ministry has been active at STM for many years. Most recently, it has been led by Cyndy Fordyce, with several others regularly contributing food and service, including Shirley Roberts, Maggie Ericson, Betty Griffith, Patsy Warren, Patti Wilson, Marge Pina, Paula Refi, and Joan Ward.

This sort of care for those who are grieving the death of a loved one is precisely the care that Jesus gave when he was on earth in his body. Now Jesus does this through our parishioners.

Later that same Saturday, STM held its annual Epiphany party in Mulhern Hall. This is an annual event that typically features song and dance within a pot luck dinner. As usual, parishioner Myrna Hardjono produced and directed the dance program that featured dozens of parishioners in a recreation of the Nativity story, complete with shepherds, angel, Magi, and two-humped camel, and a complicated, colorful Korean fan dance. Parishioner Margaretha Darmawan provided spectacular, imaginative costumes for the participants. Myrna’s husband, Dwi, also assisted. It was obvious that the participants had as much fun performing as we in the audience had watching.

The attendant pot luck dinner featured a wide array of side dishes and desserts provided by participants in the event (thank you!) around a main course of roasted pork loin and potatoes. Again, Cyndy Fordyce, as she has done repeatedly with our STM More Eats events, led a group of cooks and servers, including Maria Kubitz, Eva Lyle, Maggie Ericson, Maureen O’Toole, Marlene Sanek, and Linda White.

This sort of social event to which all parishioners are invited, is a very important part of our parish life, for it serves to bind us together in friendship. Again, by our communion with one another, we better reflect the Body that our common baptism has made of us. I and all other STM parishioners are grateful to those who serve through Martha’s Ministry and the annual Epiphany party and many other similar activities and events.

An unrelated item – I encourage parishioners to participate in the upcoming Catholic-Lutheran ecumenical event, From Conflict to Communion: Catholic-Lutheran Dialogue and the next 500 Years, on Sunday, January 28, at 6:30pm in Mulhern Hall. STM is hosting members of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Decatur for a shared meal and a conversation about the evolving relationship between the Catholic and Lutheran communities since Martin Luther broke with the Catholic Church 500 years ago. Two professors from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University will lead the conversation. I am hoping for a large turnout.

Fr. Mark