September 17, 2021
Dear Companions on the Journey,
The local expression of the Body of Christ — the Paulist Center Community – is ragged and tired; renewed and hopeful; struggling emotionally or surprisingly untouched by financial worries. Some have been surrounded by death, sickness, anxiety and loneliness; others exclaimed, “We had a baby!” From the big things (I miss receiving communion, seeing my friends, celebrating around the Table) to the small things (“I miss baking the bread for Eucharist,” Holy Water, and donuts after Sunday worship). Some have been worshiping together since we opened for weekend liturgies (second weekend in August 2020), so many others have decided to rely on live-streamed liturgies for a few more months. So many have mentioned how nourishing and uplifting they found the Zoom Church, made up mostly of families, on Sunday mornings, with their children’s insights mixed with lay led services. Still others wondered if we might have a return of the every-other-Wednesday LGBTQ-led prayer services. Many have used the last eighteen months to deepen their personal prayer life, while they miss the communal and in-person dimension of our liturgies.
These are some of the results of the survey we sent to all on our email list (of 1050, close to 200 replied). (The staff has begun to get back to those who requested a phone call, and we hope that is complete within the week.) As one might expect from such a survey, answers were all over the place, from those who have found great personal and spiritual growth over the last months, to those who have experienced human depths of pain and alienation. Those who expressed such feelings gave me hope, because they indicate that they still find nourishment, hope, and life-giving community at the Paulist Center. But everyone has been hit with painful moments, and these were reflected in the survey.
As I wrote four months ago:
We must reflect on how this moment provides for our recommitting ourselves, not only to gathering around the Table of the Lord, but also to becoming more intentional, reaching-out, evangelizing followers of Jesus….A Paulist Center Community who gather in-person around the Table of the Lord is not only so grateful to be back together, but also so eager to reach out and bring others with them.
To get back to our survey, it was crystal clear in reading through them all that all had experienced some sort of loss or heartache. Some profound – death of a loved one – some just what makes for human flourishing, including being with family or seeing a grandchild. To honor the sacredness of those moments please set aside 1pm, Sunday October 17th for a gathering on the Boston Common:
* * * * * * * *
For All We’ve Lost:
A Prayer Service of Remembrance and Reconnection
Sunday, October 17 @ 1:00 pm in the Boston Common,
directly across the street from the Paulist Center.
Join us for a time of prayer, song, and reflection, as we come together to grieve our individual and communal losses during the pandemic: a time to remember those who have died, for those who have experienced a loss of employment, and for all who have faced illnesses; for the loss of the ability to come together in our Chapel for worship, companionship, and communal support, for our shared grief and anxiety around the uncertainties with regard to our work life and school life – for the loss of safety, social connections, and personal freedoms. And, finally, to remember that through all the tumult and strife, we are a people of hope.
If you plan on attending and/or if you have lost a loved one during the pandemic and would like the person’s name read at the prayer service, please let us know here.
Bring your own chairs if you are able. We will have some available.
Please remain after the service to socialize and reconnect with friends. Individually-wrapped snacks and drinks will be offered.
No rain date. Check the Center website and Facebook page by 11 am the day of if weather is questionable.
This prayer service is being offered by the Center staff to our Paulist Center Community in response to the poignant losses shared in our community survey and to offer us an outdoor gathering opportunity before the colder weather arrives.
For the safety of all, we are requesting everyone to mask.
Paulist Center Family Retreat
All Paulist Center families (inclusively defined!) are invited to join in a “hybrid” family retreat on Saturday, October 9, and Sunday, October 10. Virtual and optional in-person small group programming will take place both days, and families are welcome to participate in any portion of the retreat. This year’s theme is Healing and Hope For All!
We are requesting registrations by September 17 to allow us sufficient time to plan.
To learn how you can take part in the gathering of men’s clothing for our good friends at Haley House (next weekend!), go here.
To join Paulist Father Steven Bell share about “Racial Reconciliation and our Catholic Faith,” from the Church of St Paul the Apostle, Los Angeles, go to its website at 10pm EDT (!) on Monday night, September 20th.
We conclude with the prophet Micah 6:8:
Our Faithful God has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
And let us pray for/with one another.
Michael McGarry, C.S.P.
Director, the Paulist Center