Dear Brothers & Sisters,
For a long time I have desired to write this letter and I have been waiting for a good occasion for it. However, it has been very difficult to find. In this month of October we dedicate to “Respect Life Month,” we are called to pray for all the babies (born and unborn), the sick and the dying. Surely I pray for all of you every day, and now I hope this is the right time to address you in this letter.
Often when we think of “Respect Life,” abortion seems to be one of the first things that comes to mind. We all know that respect Life covers all parts of life, from conception to natural death. Certainly, we do need to speak more on each of the stages of life. Our first reflection should be what are we doing about “life” as individuals, as children of God, and above all, as a Parish? I hope that individually we were able to contribute to the baby shower for First Concern, the Tootsie Roll drive we had last week, Saint Vincent de Paul, and other charitable initiatives. But individually we can do very little. The saying goes that “it takes a VILLAGE”, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s time for us to get the village together.
I have been here at IC for just over 5 years now. There were a lot of things that happened and they needed to be addressed. It took a lot of time and effort what had to be done. But there is still much more that is necessary to do. For many nights I have stared at the Blessed Sacrament wondering and discerning what I should do. One of the things that I found out is that there is very little that I can do on my own. Whatever the Lord has put in front of me I did with the best of my abilities. I know that it was not great, and far from what is ideal. There is very little that can be done regarding the past, but we have the whole future ahead of us. My heart has been burning to start a parent’s group, a hospitality ministry, a youth and young adults ministry and hold important talks to people of all ages, such as funeral arrangements, mental health and etc… As I said before, there is very little that I can do and I do poorly (this is not false humility, it’s reality). We have great people sitting in the pews of this parish that are being called by God to work in His vineyard. The youth are struggling tremendously and we as the Church and a parish, have just began helping them this semester. Couples are struggling in their marriages and parents don’t know how to help their kids anymore. People who are lonely or maybe even feel disconnected are seated next to us, and we don’t even say good morning, or extend our hands. We know that we have a group of refugees that have landed here in Marlborough and we have not visited them (yet). As Jesus would say, “the harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few.” (Mt 9:37)
I urge all of you to start a time of discernment to know what God calls you to do. We need leaders, people to come up with a plan and execute ideas, and hands, lots of hands, to work in the Lord’s Vineyard. Yes, I know, we are all busy and don’t have much availability to help…I think the same. However, first, if we all do a little bit, we can go a long way. Second, we do spend a lot of time doing things that are not essential and at times they are a waste of time. Third, and maybe most importantly, THERE IS AN URGENCY IN RESPONDING TO GOD’S CALL. People are by the second getting lost, suffering, losing hope, distancing themselves from God. And again, what are we doing? If it would not be by the intervention of some people in our lives, we would also be lost by now. Maybe some of us would be divorced, others might have had fewer kids, maybe even having a vice or two…Christ encourages us not by a utopian effort, but by what we have received. “Love one another, as I have loved you”. He simply asks us to give what we have received. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but simply pass onto others what He has already given us.
I hope this letter is only the beginning of a special time in our parish. We are already starting a youth ministry for Middle schoolers this month (we invite you to bring your kids to our retreat) and High schoolers next month. The hospitality ministry is starting to take shape. But we need your help to do the rest. People need your help to be reached out. Christ needs your help to make His kingdom present here. I should add that the other ministries also need help, such as Saint Vincent de Paul, Knights of Columbus, the Monday Cenacle, Bible Study, Religious Education Program. It is certainly a lot for so few of us, but not much if we all pitch in. Imagine what people did when they built our church almost 150 years ago. As it took a village then, it takes a village now.
Father Steven Clemence