Dear Parishioners and Friends,
Last Sunday’s snow storm was, if anything, inconvenient. Here in Hartford we were spared from the higher amounts dumped on areas north of us – 14 inches in Stockbridge, according to someone I know up there. The timing of the storm was what made it so inconvenient, forcing many folks to stay home and watch Mass via livestream. I celebrated the 8:00 AM Mass with just six people in the pews, plus two lectors and two musicians! The other Masses had a few more attendees, and our in-pew collection was not nearly as disastrous as I had expected. So, thank you to the brave souls who managed to get through the nasty weather to worship with us, and for your generous offerings.
Just a few days before Storm Aspen hit, I participated in an interfaith prayer service at Center Church on Main Street for our newly inaugurated mayor, Arunan Arulampalam. Shortly before the service started, I had a brief conversation with Arunan and wished him well in his service to our city, and especially in view of the impending snow storm. As we all know, political fortunes are often made or destroyed due to snow removal and/or garbage collection!
The prayer service which followed included a large gathering of area clergy. Five members of the clergy, representing the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths, were asked to speak on the theme “We Believe in Hartford.” For my reflection, I was asked to speak on the topic “We believe in Hartford to create a sense of community.”
I began by recounting how the Covid pandemic greatly challenged cities and faith communities to stay connected despite “social distancing” requirements. I incorporated portions of the 17th chapter of the Gospel of John, in which Jesus prays to his Father on behalf of his disciples. Twice in that prayer, Jesus refers to his disciples as his Father’s gift to him.
We, therefore, should think of ourselves as gifts – not only to Jesus, but to one another – and how necessary we are to one another. The struggles for peace in our world and nation only reinforce the need for us to honor the dignity of every person, no matter what their faith, race, gender or sexual orientation might be.
In its noon newscast on Thursday, January 4th, television station WFSB Channel 3, aired a report about the prayer service which included part of my reflection, saying: “The more efforts we make to come together in grass roots ways, the more we will recognize and respect our common humanity, made in the image and likeness of God, and the community we create will be a powerful force for justice and peace in our city, in our nation, and in our world.”
I ended my reflection with the first part of the Peace Prayer of St. Francis: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.
May all of us know love, pardon, faith, hope, light and joy this year!
Blessings on your week ahead!
Fr. Tim Shreenan, O.F.M., Pastor