Recognizing the Ordinary

I recently received an email from a 6th grade parent thanking us for the lessons presented in Sunday's iCONNECT meetings (6th/7th youth group). She stated that it has given her child an outlet to express feelings and thoughts about issues that concern all kids . . . their relationships with God, their parents, their friends, and even themselves. They found ways of communicating with God, and developed an understanding that prayer is simply a conversation with God. They talked about things they worry about and how their faith can help them work through it. They discussed healthy solutions to deal with anger. They thought about their self-image and the huge pressure to fit in, to be liked, to look and act right. Although I was the recipient of the email, it is the four iCONNECT leaders who should be thanked. I may have "produced" the lessons, but they made the lessons applicable to the lives of their young students.

Due to full and busy schedules, our pool of youth liturgists has dwindled quite a bit over the last few months. It's especially difficult to fill the six weekly slots during school holidays such as spring break, which traditionally occurs around Holy Week/Easter. But there is a core group of  students and families to whom we can turn to in a pinch. There were weeks in a row when the same young faces led the 9:00am procession, or the same voices read the prayers and Scripture. It is because of this small but dedicated group that we are able to maintain the tradition of youth participation in our liturgies.

We are fortunate to have several parish families who feel it is their obligation to the community to be good stewards of the gifts they have received. One family generously offers a matching gift annually during our special collections for outreach. Another parishioner calls every few months out of the blue asking how we're doing with our budget. It's actually a rhetorical question; without waiting for an answer, he tells us that he'll go ahead and send us a check to tide us over.

I just had a conversation with a parishioner who stopped by my office after working his shift for Misericordia Candy Days. He was stationed in the shade outside a Winnetka grocery store where the temperature was in the mid-40's. A parishioner passed by as she was walking her dog, but didn't have her purse, so she told him she'd be back later. He assumed later would be much later, but within a few minutes, she was back, with a cup of hot coffee to warm him up. His comment to me was that this simple "act of kindness" was a reminder of what a wonderful, loving, caring community Holy Comforter is.

Recognition Sunday is May 13, a day in which we traditionally and intentionally thank our church school teachers and choir members for the service they provide for the parish. On this day, let's also think about all those who, everyday, make Holy Comforter a wonderful, loving, caring community . . . by their unsolicited good deeds, their compassionate ministry, their gracious stewardship, their joyful participation in worship, fellowship and formation. No one is expecting special recognition; none are waiting for a pat on the back. What they do just comes naturally; to them, these are ordinary acts.  So it is to you - our Holy Comforter community - that we extend our gratitude and appreciation this Recognition Sunday.