Without Us, There Surely Would Be An Empty Chair. 

If You Think We Aren’t Needed…

As I greeted folks departing from Mass last Sunday, I realized how fortunate we are to be a progressive and truely welcoming Franciscan Catholic Parish. I was reminded how needed we are; not so much myself, but all of us together that make us so special, and this place we so often take for granted. I was reminded in small ways and not so subtle ways that we are needed in a world that is so often cruel and divisive. I wondered if we ever thought what an empty chair would be left behind if we closed our doors?

After Mass, an older woman approached me in tears. The Sunday before last was her first time receiving communion since her divorce some 31 years ago. Think about that! She went without Jesus because a priest banished her for getting divorced from a man who abused her. 

This past Sunday, a woman stopped and asked if she might get a hug. I, of course, obliged. I love hugs! She told me that today (last Sunday) was her first time with us and that she had been looking for a new church for years. “Today’, she said, ‘I found my home!” She said as much in her online donation comments, too!

This past week I also met with the single mother of a child who was recently placed on the Autism Spectrum. She was devasted when her parish priest demanded she sit only in the ‘cry room’ when she attended Mass. Her son is 8 years old, and he called him ‘a severe distraction to others’. 

A few weeks ago, I sat in my office with the parents of a new infant who only wish to have their son baptized into the Catholic faith. They are lesbians and married and were refused at a local parish not too far from us. I saw in their faces– strangers to us really – a deep pain. We will baptize their son this summer.

I heard from the mother of a child who died from HIV/AIDS be email. Her son was only 32 years old when he died back in 2002 and he was never honored with a Mass Intention because the parish priest forbade it. He has one now at Saint Miriam. 

Yesterday afternoon, a parent of a child in our school on full scholarship stopped me to say, “Thank you, thank you for giving my family this wonderful place!” 

Finally, every Saturday our all-volunteer force cares for those who are experiencing homelessness or are unhoused. Together, we feed, help provide hygiene, and give warm clothing and fresh water. We ask for nothing in return, but the truth is, what we do get – every single week – is priceless. 

I was reminded by a reporter from the Daily News of how we first met when our parish reached out, without any prompting whatsoever, to take custody of and bury the body of Diamond Williams, tragically murdered and dismembered by the killer, only to have her body rejected again, but this time by her own Catholic family, all because of she was transgender. By the way, thanks to one of our parishioners, Diamond is now the longest continual Memorial Mass Intention in this parish’s history. I am reminded by the email that I received from one of our families when they stated so wonderfully, “Our daughter will be the first child born into our family that will not know what it is like to have a priest preach hate against others.”

Yes, if you think we aren’t needed, think of these wonderful examples.

We began with Lent a very simple and straightforward Stewardship Appeal for 2024 with three very simple and very achievable objectives for a parish of our size:

  1. Give if you aren’t giving and please do so via recurring donation to help us plan
  2. If you are giving, Increase your giving, even if by a small percentage, and 
  3. Change the way you give from debit/credit cards to direct checking or savings withdrawals to save us the exorbitant credit processing fees. 

That’s it. Once we reach the $1,000 a month modest goal, the campaign ends, and we continue on our mission of love and welcome. 

I wonder also what would happen if we reach this goal? What would it be like with our ministry strengthened, and our worries smaller, and the pressure on those who run this wonderful parish lessened. If you think your giving is not needed, think of them – those who reach out to Saint Miriam because otherwise they would have no where to call home. Then, please sit down, complete your appeal card this Sunday, or do so online, and return it with a prayer for those who have yet to find a place like ours.

Please, I give, and I pray you will now, too. 

Without us, there surely would be an empty chair. 

Monsignor +Jim 

Leave a Comment