Ode to a country church
This reflection was printed in The Catholic Spirit back in October 2010. It is one person's way of coming to terms with the changes at St. Thomas.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Today, the Parish of St. Thomas will celebrate the last Mass as a parish community. It will be a sad and difficult day for many parishioners. The following is an excerpt from the last bulletin. It was written by Father Dave Barrett.
Ode to the IrishAh the Irish what a fine people are thee. In general they are clever and witty. The Irish can be hard working, out spoken with wee streak of independence. They are loyal and loving so many more things I could write. If you have ever been to the Emerald Isle you know that the beauty is overwhelming, just like the Irish. The Irish did come to America, some by choice others by circumstance to start anew. They brought their faith with them as well. These immigrants brought their Catholicism which shows their deep devotion to God.
The Irish settled in St. Thomas. Names of early parishioners included but not limited to Connolly, Halloran, O’Connell, Burns, Doherty, Moran and Sullivan. These faith filled pioneers founded this beautiful parish in the Archdiocese of St. Paul. Like the Irish of their home land they held their faith as a priority. In the early years it was often hard to have a regular priest, but they built 3 different churches to attract a resident priest to build their families in the faith. The Irish live in St. Thomas and they probably always will.
There is a deep sadness in closing a building built in 1883. Some of the saddest poems and songs were written by the Irish. The entire Church needs to comfort St. Thomas in their pain. With that sadness there is anger and frustration. These are natural feelings and they should heal over time. Both parishioners and neighbors need to offer a Christ centered love.
The Church of St. Thomas built 1883 is an important building having deep meaning for so many. As important as this building is, following the church founded by Jesus Christ is more important than any building. For we are all living stones making one universal church. The church calls us to close this parish so that long term the church can be stronger. We call this church Catholic because this is what universal means. Through this church we are connected to the whole world.
Despite only being with the people of St. Thomas for one year, I feel connected to them. I believe that God has been present in our relationship and that we are more faithful Catholics because of our time together. My prayer is that we remain connected to each other wherever we worship. Even though we may not be together as much as we would like, I believe one day we will all be reunited in the Kingdom of Heaven.