Pope Francis wrote back in March of 2000, “We are all in the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other.”
We spend so much time these days isolating from others, feeling life is already too hectic and chaotic. The one place I feel united with other people on a deeper level because of the faith we share is at my church, St. Aloysius. The Eucharist unites us. The teaching unites us. And the music fills my soul with the desire to worship and be healed by the words. The first time we visited St. Aloyisus, the music drew me in, and I knew this was where I belonged.
We’ve moved around a bit. We bought our first home in Wenatchee when our son was three. The house was a true fixer-upper. I joined a women’s guild to become involved in our parish. Some members were young mothers like me, others older retired ladies. I received a warm welcome, and then the formal meeting began. Planning for the traditional Christmas traveling dinner, people were asked to volunteer to sponsor different courses. When it came to dessert, silence ensued. Uncomfortable, I offered our home.
The big night came. We’d borrowed card tables and chairs, put on tablecloths, cups for coffee, and wine glasses. Centerpieces and our Christmas tree made things look festive. Another lady brought the dessert. We met at the first house – a beautiful, spacious home that overlooked the city. The second house was massive, and every inch seemed to hold precious holiday keepsakes from the couple’s travels. I became nervous. Our house featured worn carpet, and hand-me-down furniture sparsely spaced. What would people think?
No one seemed to notice. After dessert, we played games and visited among ourselves. The room filled with laughter and warmth. At about ten o’clock, people started to leave, telling us how much they had enjoyed meeting us. However, an older couple stayed quite late visiting with us. When they did get up to leave, the older gentleman said, “I have to tell you. I’ve always hated going to these stuffy affairs, but I really enjoyed being in your home. I felt comfortable and welcomed. I believe my wife Jean would agree.
After that, we looked forward to going to Mass and visiting with our friends we’d met. The women in the group became lifetime friends. Many are gone now, but I still receive a Christmas card from Jan, who moved to Minnesota 40 years ago, and this summer, one of the couples invited us to their rented home in Coeur d’Alene. John was Ron’s sponsor when he became a Catholic.
For me, some tough times were ahead. This group of women supported me. Psychology Today states, “ Female friendships can be a source of confidence, reassurance, comfort, joy, and candor that can guide women through life.
I’m not discounting men. Good marriages help support other good marriages. When we came to St. Aloyisus, I joined the Altar Society. And recently, I had a hip replaced. Who called me, sent cards, and presented a delicious casserole? It was those ladies I met at the Altar Society. Every book study, committee, and ministry leads you to meet more of the Body of Christ. You have to make the time. The reward is greater than the effort.
I told a priest once that everything in the parish happened during the hours I worked. “We need something like an evening women’s group,” I told him. Okay, good idea. You start one, he suggested. Well, I didn’t expect that!
We were living in Colorado, where a large part of the parish was Hispanic. Just three ladies with backgrounds different from mine met together for three years. I learned so much from their faith traditions and developed a new awareness of Mary, the mother of God. About that time, my youngest daughter was killed in a car accident. These ladies opened their homes to my family, prepared food, and arranged for other parishioners to take over all our needs.
Our church was being remodeled, so we hosted the reception after the funeral at our home. As we left to go to Mass, people from the parish were bringing in food and I felt overwhelmed with their generosity of time and talent.
If you are like John and I, for a long time, we went to Mass to fulfill our obligation and tolerated the sermons. If you feel you want more for your family, put aside the overloaded schedules and make time to be active in St. Aloyisus. Take advantage of the many wonderful programs and opportunities.
Our population is aging and that includes many in our parish. Don’t forget those who have been active but are no longer able. They need you to share your faith with them. We are all in the same boat.