Since we worship a God who literally rose from the dead, our "God of surprises" has the wonderful quality of regularly surprising us with the miracle of breathing life into things that were dead. And I was pleasantly surprised to recently see that a parish I had heretofore avoided as a moribund place now has a fresh spirit blowing through it. The feeling was palpable as soon as I walked into our island's mother church of St. Peter's (now officially part of the parish cluster of "The Catholic
Community of St. Peter-Assumption-St.Paul").
There didn't seem to be much going on in the bulletin but there was a pretty rousing flyer calling for men to join the Holy Name Society of the parish, describing their mission as being to make themselves better men, supporting one another's spiritual needs, and doing good works. There was a racially diverse congregation with a few young families sprinkled throughout. Honestly, there didn't seem to be too many more people there than attended when Monsignor Dorney was alive, but there was something new and ineffably encouraging about the church now. The choir was talented and seemed genuinely animated by a holy joy in their task. The priest was, I believe, Filipino and spoke rapidly with an accent with precluded me from understanding more than about 70% of what he said. And even though I couldn't really grasp the main point of his message, what I could understand of his passionate sermon was filled with one holy sentiment after another which, surprisingly, satisfied my soul. In addition, the church- which had been allowed to crumble away for years on end, now seemed like it had enjoyed some repairs and regular cleaning.
After Mass, a group of men hosted a social gathering in a room adjacent to the foyer, which had once been a chapel I think. They provided coffee and juice and a lavish spread of delicious pastries. The fellowship was warm and welcoming. I came away from my time there with an optimistic mood and uplifted spirit. I don't live close enough to attend regularly, but would definitely consider joining the parish if I did.