Linda English was speaking about something that happened nearly three months ago, only her enthusiasm made it seem the event had occurred this week.
She was describing a cluster mission that took place at Holy Cross Church in Callicoon, her home parish, during the first week of Advent in late November. She was the coordinator for the mission that involved other far-flung parishes in Sullivan County.
The weather did not cooperate, with rain, snow and fog threatening two of the three evening gatherings. That did not deter the participants, even some in their 90s, who took advantage of carpools that were set up.
Then there were young speakers who gave personal testimonies on the second night, and a couple of teens that provided music along with a cluster choir that performed each night.
“We were using the gifts of the people in the cluster,” said Ms. English, whose husband, Craig, joined her all three nights.
The pastors of each parish in the cluster played key roles, offering the sacraments of anointing of the sick and reconciliation. “It was wonderful to have all the priests there,” Ms. English said.
Father Fernando Real, a member of the Idente Missionaries, gave the mission. His contemplative spirit invited everyone to prayerful participation. He asked those gathered to consider God as Heavenly Father gazing at each one of them as sons and daughters. “He was exactly what we needed,” she said.
The parishes in her cluster are not large, so the numbers might not be the best indicator of the mission’s success. Still, 100 people attended on the first night, and a little less the other two evenings. People didn’t want to leave the reception that capped the final evening.
A truer indicator may just be the fruits that have started to flow from the mission. Ms. English spoke about a potluck supper on Jan. 11, where the laity discussed where they wanted to go from here. An afternoon retreat is also planned for all of Sullivan County’s parishes on Sunday, March 12.
Coming together as a cluster makes a lot of sense for many reasons, especially in Sullivan County, Ms. English said. “We’re so small; we’ve been isolated. We really have to pool our resources together.”
The mission for the Sullivan County cluster is part of a two-year program that will enable each parish in the archdiocese to participate in two such missions. It’s called Revive: Faith Every Day. You may remember Cardinal Dolan writing about it last September. It was actually an outgrowth of the Making All Things New pastoral planning initiative. Clusters of parishes, which came together to work on that process, are continuing their cooperation on this initiative. Members of many religious congregations are leading the missions.
Already, about a quarter of this year’s 75 or so missions have been held across the archdiocese. The goal can be gathered from the program’s name: a hoped-for revival in the faith lives of individual Catholics, parishes and the community of the archdiocese. “We’re hoping for that sense of being revived,” said Dr. Daniel Frascella, director of the Office of Adult Faith Formation, which is coordinating Revive.
It’s a worthy goal. We’ll be doing more reporting on the missions as they resume early in Lent and continue through June. Information: www.faitheveryday.com