After the cattle drive concluded Monday, most of us returned to the monastery in Clark. A very hungry group ate a late supper and retired for the night. Tuesday morning, I celebrated Mass with the monks and then conducted some business. After enjoying lunch and a tour of their relatively new coffee shop, I rested a bit before making my way back to Cody for dinner with the priests at St. Anthony.
One of the benefits of July is trying to take a slower pace. I truly enjoyed the camaraderie of time with the monks, as well as a wonderful evening visit with our priests at St. Anthony. Fr. Vernon Clark is a great priest, great cook, and a wonderful host. On Wednesday, the 4th of July, he invited all the deanery priests and deacons and wives to come to St. Anthony for a brunch, prayer and reflection, followed by a bar-b-que.
The day began with an early 7:30 Mass, due to the huge parade in Cody at 9:30. Half of the parade ‘stages’ around the parish, so we had to get parishioners in and out prior to the build up of traffic. Cody has one of the biggest and best parades of the summer. I was quite impressed with the number of entries. I think three fourths of the horses from Park County were in town for the parade! (sorry, no pics)
After a nice lunch, the priests and deacons gathered in the living room for midday prayer and a great discussion. Our focus question asked how we as priests and deacons can prepare ourselves for the New Evangelization. I’d like to share just some of the thought provoking ideas the discussion generated:
Priority for us to spend time with the Lord in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
Importance of preparing well for our role in celebrating the Eucharist and preaching.
With the New Roman Missal, it is important to spend time prior to Mass ‘praying’ with the Presidential Prayers, not only to get comfortable with the prayer, but also to ‘mine’ them for thoughts to be incorporated into preaching.
One priest is finding great benefit in simply visiting the elderly from his parish. This is not only personally rewarding, and beneficial for the person visited, but often can serve as a pastoral entry to meeting other family members who no longer practice their faith, and help to bring them back home.
Another priest began a program in his parish which is called “Each One, Reach One.” These parishioners are making a point to visit Catholic families in the area who no longer come to church. They are learning how important it is to simply listen to their story, the reasons why they left, and help them understand that we miss them, and want to know how we can assist them in their faith life.
One priest finds it quite beneficial to simply get out in town and visit the stores, whether people are Catholic or not, to get to know them, and make himself known. He is often surprised with the results of such a presence in the broader community.
I am grateful to see and hear how our priests and deacons are taking our pastoral plan and priorities seriously, and looking for ways to continually enhance their own spiritual life, as well as their ministries.
There was also a good deal of excitement and enthusiasm expressed for the upcoming Year of Faith celebrations.
I hope all of of this readership had a great Independence Day celebration.