Anniversaries are important parts of people’s lives. From Wedding anniversaries to the anniversaries marking the death of a loved one, the anniversary of an institution or event, like our parish or Easter. Often anniversaries are bittersweet moments, as life is not just happiness, but often tinged with sadness, regret, or longing for more. We are in the middle of 3 such anniversaries in the life of our Church: the anniversary of the life and death of St Anthony Claret on the 24th, our parish 140th anniversary on the 29th and this week with the celebration of All Saints/All souls/Day of the Dead (Nov 1-2).
St Anthony’s death, much like the death of loved ones we remember after they have passed, is an invitation to reflect on their lives, think of the good they did, and pick up where they left off. It is our chance to finish the good they started in this life. Were our loved ones, like St Anthony, concerned with the poor? that is a good place to start. Did they do things to make the world better? sharing positivity or faithfulness, that too is a good place to start. Did they work to grow in faith or pass on the faith?, that gift is needed more now than ever for our next generation.
Our parish anniversary too is a time to think back to the past, to think about the spirit of those first few families that moved out from the Immaculate Conception Church so they could be closer to the business district on commercial street and the railways. We have a lot in common with our first fathers and mothers, as we are still an alternate church to the larger churches of Springfield. We are a place small enough to give people a sense of welcome and belonging. We are still a place that welcomes the new migrants.
As we celebrate 140 years of faithful service, we also look forward to our 150th anniversary in 2032. What kind of church do we want for the future? Now is also the time to dream. I think a reason that Jesus was so attractive to His listeners is that He helped them to dream about the kingdom of God. With a dream, we have something to aim for.
Sometimes, for all the good we want to do, there are never enough parishioners to finish the tasks, but St Anthony Claret had a good response to his fellow missionaries when they questioned what good can so few do? St Anthony replied, “Perhaps we are few, but that is so others will know that it is God who helps us to accomplish all that we do.”
With a heart for Mission,