Field Hospital – A Spiritual Reflection
Last week our Director of Family, Fellowship and Youth Jason Carter began with a quote from Pope Francis: “The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle.” Jason outlined two ways in which young parishioners have taken the Holy Father’s challenge to heart. Other, perhaps not-as-young parishioners have also answered the call to discipleship in ways that seem to fit whatever their particular “charism” is.
“We swing hammers.” That was a recent quote to me from one of the men from the Holy Name Society. “We’re Clydesdales; we do stuff.” And, by the way, they do it well. Several months ago, a number of the men came to me and asked, “Father, is there something specific you would like us to do or is there a particular project around the parish the men could knock out for you?” I mentioned that any issues with the parish grounds were pretty much being covered by Frank Pantano, the Facilities Committee and contracted professionals. However, I mentioned that there was an organization called “Legacy of Life” that supported two crisis women’s centers in Bucks County and Philadelphia. They had purchased two houses and had done some preliminary renovations but had mentioned that further repairs would probably be most welcome.
So some of the guys and I took a “road trip” up to Bristol. After introductions and a short presentation of the mission by the Legacy staff, you should have seen the guys in action. They walked the grounds. They took photographs. They grabbed pencils and pads and began drawing. They pulled out tape measures and started taking measurements. They said, “Yeah, we can do this. And this… and this … and this.
Legacy has a support program called “STAR” (Self-Transformation And Renewal) which not only provides baby and maternity supplies to women/families of the community but also includes weekly classes to help (mostly) young mothers learn necessary life skills so that they can raise their children well. The challenge is that many are single mothers. So what to do with the kids while the mothers are in classes? Holy Name saw the need and, after a few months of planning, went back up and started on project #1; building a new playground for the children. Step one was to clear ground and put in a new fence to keep the young children safe and protect the playground equipment.
So what was the experience of the men? Let them tell the story:
“To whom much is given, much is expected”… I was given wonderful, loving parents, my Catholic Faith, above average education and a vocation and profession. Indeed, I was given a lot. Helping with projects like the fence installation gives me the opportunity to not only help someone in need but also to share time and talent with like-minded Christian, Catholic men. Working hand in hand with these guys reinforces my faith and gives me hope that there are others who, like me, are willing to give time, talent and treasure in God’s name. Like me, they were ‘given much’ and are compelled to give back. Sometimes I feel a little guilty; like I get more out of working on these projects than the actual recipient! I’m just happy that I have much to give… Michael L. Cappelletti
What a rewarding experience it was. Working together made a week long project happen in 1/2 day. It is wonderful to work side by side with other members as it gives you the chance to get to know each other better and you form a common bond. Knowing that it will help all of those children is very satisfying and humbling. Dan McMonagle
It was great putting our words into action and not giving lip service to a need but rather doing it. It was well worth giving up some sleep time to get up early on a Saturday and assist on a much needed project for children and their mothers. The opportunity to work together with other men from the Parrish, that I might not normally work with. It was a tremendous comradery thing, learning to use an auger while Mark DiLuca was drilling the fence post holes. Diamond Jim Claffey
Life issues are among the most polarizing and yet important that our society faces. And while not all people understand the Church’s clear teaching on this point, one thing we can all agree on is that every woman who wants to try having her baby needs the full support and love of her community. I was glad when the HNS saw this need and made it its mission to support future and new mothers by repairing and updating the Legacy of Life center in Bristol. One thing they lacked was a safe place for the children to play, so we built a fence to enclose a safe play-area in the back yard. This summer, we’ll add some play equipment and maybe expand the building to provide more space for their programming. These are little things for us to do, but then little things for one person can have a great effect on the life of someone else. Levi Keene
Pictures of the project are on my website and were featured on the St. Monica Facebook page. The playground isn’t finished yet but, once the snow melts and the weather gets a bit more amenable, you can bet Holy Name will be “rarin’ to go” to finish the job … and move on to the next one.
Pope Francis called people to “go out” and serve “on the fringes.” Sometimes the fringes are not that far away. Next week we’ll look at another group that is helping out in a more local setting.