Friday, April 18, 2014

The Beloved Community--at St. Mary's in Painesville, Ohio. A Way to Celebrate Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday was special at St. Mary's Church in Painesville, Ohio. Before the church service, we celebrated the diverse and special community of our church with a potluck dinner. Everyone was invited, including the normal Thursday night Karpos crowd (some of whom are homeless), as well as the diverse members of the parish--Anglos, Latinos, rich and poor. I think of the hymn by Marty Haugen, "All Are Welcome in This Place." I also think of the "Beloved Community," spoken of by Martin Luther King Jr. This event was an embodiment of the Beloved Community. The meal was prepared by Karpos Ministry volunteers, including Jan, Kathy Flora, Judi, Susan Allsip, Linda Coughlin, and many others. Jim helped with set up. Louise and Ken Fitzsimmons helped with set up and clean up, as did Brian Rice. Bea was heroic on dishwashing (what seems to me the toughest job), I was involved in serving and clean-up, as were many people (including some very young people) that I don't know well. I can't begin to mention all the people who were involved in preparing the meal, serving, and cleanup!
Musicians singing and playing before the meal (Mary Ann Ratchko, on flute)
 Before the meal began, Fr. Mark Riley said a blessing in English and in Spanish, and musicians, led by Mary Ann Ratchko-Gamez, played and sang a hymn. Accompanying her was her husband Feliciano, with Bea leading the singing.
Louise and Ken Fitzsimmons

Jim, Linda, and Bea doing the dishes
Dan Philipps, passing out the chicken drumsticks
 Kathy Philipps, super busy these days finishing up her dissertation for the University of Toronto, stopped by for a while. Kathy is the co-founder of the Karpos Ministry. We were all so happy to see her.
Some of the diners. Servers, in background, including Jan, far right
 Among the diners was Fr. Steve Vellenga, pastor of St. Mary's. Father Steve should get a lot of credit for the Beloved Community developing at St. Mary's! Thank You, Fr. Vellenga!
Homemade cabbage rolls and ham
Susan Allsip

A view of the crowd before the meal began
The diverse diners present--many races, languages, nationalities. Everyone contributed, everyone got something out of this event. In many ways, we reenacted the Holy Thursday Passover meal Jesus celebrated with his friends the day before he died on Mt. Calvary. I felt the event was as sacramental as anything held in church--it was a holy communion.

Postscript: Oddly, the sense of communion was not present just in the serving and the eating of the meal. It was also in the preparation and the clean-up.

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