“Father, you need us, as much as we need you” is the phrase that Clare McCarrick, one of my parishioners at Our Lady Lourdes Church in New Holland, tells me every time we gather to worship or to celebrate other church activities. What Clare tells me (almost every time she sees me) sums up in a very powerful way our Christian understanding of the Church as a family, as a community that, with all its members, forms Christ’s Mystical Body. “The eye cannot say to the hand, I do not need you. Nor can the head say to the feet, I do not need you.” (1 Corinthians: 12, 21.)
As we gathered on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018, Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes, to celebrate the payoff of the money we borrowed to build a Parish Center by symbolically burning a check for $1,034,973.07 representing the total amount of money borrowed from our diocese, I could not stop thinking about St. Paul’s message in 1 Corinthians: Namely, that as important members of Christ’s Mystical Body, we should always work together in spite of our own uniqueness and personal differences to put to good use all our resources, our gifts, and our talents; not only for our own salvation, but also for the salvation of others.
While we were celebrating this great accomplishment, I realized, as I never had before, that if our honest goal in life is to be successful in both our spiritual and temporal matters, then we must learn to work together. I have no doubt that in order to succeed one needs others.
A healthy, working-together parish community is something that every pastor dreams of. Because as it is with our physical body, when all the members of a parish community work together, their big dreams indeed can, will and do become a reality.
From the very first moment of my arrival at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, I experienced the tremendous potential of this awesome parish community. They see themselves as indispensable members of God’s family and as brothers and sisters to each other, which to me shows in the dedication to their church through their sacrificial but joyful giving of their time, treasure and talent.
By the time of my arrival as their pastor in June of 2014, they had already accomplished their dream of building a Parish Center as a place where their children could have Vacation Bible School, a place where their youth could play sports, a place where families could celebrate baptisms and marriages, a place where parishioners could gather for a luncheon after the funeral Mass of a loved one, a place where they could meet for Bible study or for a group discussion, a place where videos and movies could be shown for no other reason than to provide the opportunity to meet other parishioners or to just promote some fellowship among the different members of the parish.
Great things can be done, and dreams do come true, when people have a sincere willingness to work together. It is a blessing for me to say that such is the case at my parish. We are family. I constantly witness my parishioners looking for different opportunities to serve within and throughout our parish community. I see them spending time in front of the Blessed Sacrament praying for their needs and the needs of others. Such things strengthen us as members of Christ’s Mystical Body, and it is only when the members of the Body of Christ are strengthened by working together when we can achieve our dreams, when great things happen, when those things which seem almost impossible can be accomplished in record time. For instance, dreams like the payoff of more than a million dollars not in 20 years, but only in seven years and four months.
(Father Walter Guzmán is pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in New Holland.)
By Father Walter Guzmán, Special to The Witness