A Change in Name and a Stronger Focus of Mission!

Quantum Computer became AOL. BackRub is now Google. United Healthcare is Optum. Sound of Music became Best Buy and Blue Ribbon Sports is now known as Nike! You see, companies and institutions change their name to reflect their mission and future. This past week, we did the very same thing when Zion Preschool at Saint Miriam became Saint Miriam School.

Since we purchased the property almost five years ago, we have operated Zion Preschool as it was, a part of the former church that occupied this campus, and even though we owned it, try as we might to tie it more to our own mission, we simply failed. We gave the former staff the opportunity to learn about us and our mission, but they decided it wasn’t their mission; that is fine, it doesn’t have to be, but the work must be in keeping with the goals of our parish. And although we failed in some respects with that goal, over the past four years we learned a lot, grew a lot, and helped a lot of people along the way. When we purchased the property, the school was shuttered, the teachers let go, and a 38+ year legacy was in ashes. We decided to resurrect the school, hire the teachers (and even the cleaning lady and administration staff) and continue its mission to serve the children. We kept our end of the bargain; they failed to do the same, so a change has now come.

Over the past three years in particular, we watched and grew, and more students came. We implemented cost controls, added salary increases, and brought new security and upgrades. We also saw the change in School Directors, and then a few of the former teachers decided it was time to retire or move on. All of that was expected and needed. This new change is, too. This past year, the administration team gave me their notice for next fall, but a few unexpected happenings occurred in the last few months that caused us to decide to move up that timeline. It was time to bring a better relationship, a tighter bond, and cohesion to our mission. Welcome Saint Miriam School, a Franciscan Preschool and Kindergarten, tied to who we are and the way we view the world; not a separate entity on the periphery of our vision, but a close-knit community that makes us stronger and brings with it a renewed focus of mission and outreach. And, quite honestly, a whole lot of excitement, too!

Over the next few weeks we will begin another round of needed upgrades and construction. Almost every year that we have been here we have made some significant updates! This year, we will reconfigure the administration areas, change how students enter the school, and build two new offices as well as a S.T.E.A.M.M. Classroom! We will update our signage to reflect the new name and mission. And something even more exciting…we will also put a new roof over our heads! Yes! The parish will get a new roof to match the new Friary Rectory, and the Maintenance Garage for the cemetery will get one to match, too! We are excited about the new look and renewed focus of energy that is about to happen, and the better way we will manage our school, cemetery, and our beautiful church!

After construction is complete, our exciting new school will open September 4thand soon after we will also move toward our new outreach initiatives: Dinner, Church, and Sacred Spaces in Kensington and Dorothy’s Glenn, A Franciscan Village right here on our campus! So much to do, so much to be grateful for…

We are a mission-centered parish community. We have so much to be proud of and so much more to do, together. Please, if you haven’t already, choose now to support us by visiting this page, so that we can continue to do even more great things!

 

 



A Tale of Two Entities!

It has now been almost five years since we purchased the former property of Zion Lutheran Church and made it our home. It was June of that year when Zion decided it could no longer function as a church, and ironically, the same month we began looking for a property to build a new home for Saint Miriam after being in Blue Bell for six years. That is how we discovered that wooded lot of almost three undeveloped acres at the northwest corner of our current property, bordering Church Road. We placed a bid and it was accepted and that led to negotiations for the entire 12+ acre that included the historic cemetery and a closed school.

Many no longer remember that day, but it is worth noting that the cemetery was in disarray, the church building was badly in need of repairs and upgrades, and the school had been shuttered. At their final day in June, the teachers that had cared for Zion Preschool were formally let go, the school students gone, and their families told that the preschool would be no more after over 35 years of service to the community it called home. Enter Saint Miriam!

We closed on the loan on August 26th. We opened the parish on September 9th and we resurrected the school, too! After only a mere few weeks of hard labor, and well over 37 subcontractors and 42 volunteers, we made our deadline, hired back every teacher, increased their wages and bettered their working conditions. We added safety measures to the school, remediated mold and gave them new paint and carpeting and a safe place to learn and grow. We welcomed back a few former students who still had not committed to another school and every year since we have made it better and better. 

Our sojourn in education has led us to where God wanted. At least that is our belief. We treat our school as one of our major outreach projects and support her financially, with our prayers, and by other means of support and care. We give scholarships to those who cannot afford to attend and we welcome every religion, every creed, all without reservation. All are welcome in our school, just like in our parish. For us, our school is as important as all of our other mission projects, because we know it is our future, and incumbent upon us as parish to outreach, to grow, and to care in kindness those who will one day be our new leaders in the world. We care not about their faith tradition, only that they grow and learn to love in a world so often bent on hate.

As a priest and pastor, it always amazes me how much the greater church decries the lack of young people in the pews while simultaneously removing schools from their campuses and cutting educational opportunities. That is why this June, after more than five years of watching Zion change and morph, learning what is important to us, to students and their parents, and designing a program we can truly be proud of, we have decided to increase our support and dedicate even more resources to our school! These changes will strengthen our identity and care for the school, as well as bring unique resources and a renewed focus and vitality to the education of the youngest among us!

That is why the last few years have been very much like a ‘tale of two entities; the educational entity and the parish entity, but in reality, they are one the same. So, this coming fall, after years of experience now ‘under our belts’, we are bringing everyone to one table to serve better and to reach more people who need a place like ours!

Please join me this Sunday as I walk us through the coming changes for our school as well as our other mission and outreach programs.
 
Saint Miriam… ‘she ain’t done growing yet!’
 
 


I am a Terrible Runner.

It’s true. I am a terrible runner. My speed is less than average and because of my lifelong fight with Asthma, my lungs literally hurt during a run. But on Memorial Day, I will gather with my other Crossfitters and participate in the Murphy WOD (Workout of the Day) in memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, New York, who was killed in Afghanistan on June 28th, 2005.

This workout was one of Mike’s favorites and he named it “Body Armor”. It consists of two, one-mile runs, one at the beginning, and another the end of a WOD, that encapsulates 100 pullups, 200 pushups, and 300 squats. For the real warriors among us, some of us will also wear a twenty-pound vest, or body armor, or carry a weight on our backs. From the day it was first honored to him, it has been proudly and simply referred to as “Murph” and is one of the hardest workouts we ever do; but think of what Mike gave for us. I will do so this year, as I now have for the last four years, in the bright sunshine or the pouring down rain, along with my fellow athletes, in honor of a focused warrior and a great American, who wanted nothing more in life than to serve this great country and the beautiful people who make it what it is. He did just that. This Memorial Day, we will again remember, and many of us will cry, too, but the tears will be more than just the physical pain and exhaustion, it will be because we remember our people, and our nation, still have so far to go.

We, too, as a parish will tie simple, but beautiful ribbons this Sunday on our Cemetery Gates to honor those who served, like my dad, who is with me in ways I never expected, even as he is now gone from this life. A decorated Veteran; I will grieve again as I remember. (Click Here to get your ribbons to remember and honor.)

St. Francis once said, “Men lose all the material things they leave behind them in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give. For these, they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve.”  This is true of every warrior who died in service to our nation and her people. It certainly was true of Lieutenant Michael Murphy, and my dad, and so many others who served and some who fell in honor.

As we honor Memorial Day again, I pray each of us will take a moment to honor our fallen heroes. Then, let us begin the hard work of restoring our commitment to our patriots who have sacrificed for us, but still live among us. They deserve so much, and certainly at the very least, respect, jobs, healthcare, and thanks for their labor while in uniform. Finally, let us work together to assist the forgotten and the downtrodden, in obtaining meaningful employment, better access to affordable health care, recrimination against discrimination of any kind, the treatment for both mental and physical wounds, and by rejecting the ‘names’ and any other limiting factor that divides us as humans. As Emma Lazarus reminded us with her infamous poetry, The New Colossus, “A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.”

It is what Mike, and so many heroes, died for; they did not die for one, or for one type; rather, they died so all might be free…

Blessed Memorial Day, Lieutenant Michael Murphy, we still remember.
 
 


Promises Kept.

Saint Miriam demonstrates and develops faith each week through prayer, worship, adoration, presence, teaching, witness, and service. Through its ministries, Saint Miriam assists the poor, those experiencing homelessness, visits the sick, supports people in times of trial, teaches our children, protects the vulnerable, worships a loving God, and addresses needs locally, nationally and internationally. And, each year, clergy, church staff, board and members make a financial pledge so that Saint Miriam may continue its vitally needed mission. There are no other churches like ours; we are singularly impacting the way people are accepted and loved. We are needed; so are you. In the end, it is about promises kept. We have kept every promise and we continue to strive to do more and be more and love more, but to do so, we need you to keep your promise, too.

I am writing today to warmly inspire and invite you to be a part of continuing Saint Miriam mission as well as experience the benefits of the spiritual discipline of making a financial commitment. Let’s be honest. Finances can be a difficult subject, and our attitudes about money can be peculiar and the result of years of being misled or scorned from a pulpit. Money can provoke anxiety in people of every tax bracket and take away peace of mind. But I have learned that God wants us to have peace of mind and wants us to know the spiritual joy of being generous. That is why we have never provoked fear or scorned those who cannot give but have always tried to gently nudge everyone to consider the gifts they give and the ones they receive, too, by being a member of Saint Miriam. And, I give – and so does every priest, deacon, and lay minister. We give, you give, and together…we give back to a world that needs us!

Saint Miriam, and its parishioners, are recipients of God’s grace, as well as the many “Generations of Generosity” that have kept us going for over 11 years, and as a Church community, one of our goals is to more fully become the generous people and church that God created us to be. 
 
This summer we will once again be “under construction” with some amazing projects to enhance our school, forge new ministries, and prepare for the fall which will encompass a major new outreach! We are growing, because our focus has always been and will always remain on the heart of Jesus!
 
As you consider and prepare your pledge, please keep in mind that we continue to rely entirely on voluntary pledges to make up nearly 94% of our revenues every year. Saint Miriam does not receive any money from either the greater Church or from our School, and in fact, we support the mission of our school and its children as we know that God wants us to care for those who will one day lead us into a new future! So, in order to support its mission, everyone’s help is needed, big and small!
 

If you’ve never pledged before, please pledge now; and if you have pledged before, please consider increasing your pledge this year so that we can expand our mission and serve more of those in need. And, most importantly, please – please – give electronically for consistent giving that helps us ease our budget concerns and allows our priests, myself included, to do more ministry and less administrative tasks to bring us into the next decade, together!

This week, on the 19th of May, I will celebrate my anniversary of being ordained a priest in Christ’s Church. I have spent over 11 years of that time with you. I have enjoyed being your pastor and pray that I will be able to remain for years to come, but I also need your help, and your generosity, so we can achieve that goal.

I am not sure what the world will look like in ten years. I do know it would be a much sadder place without Saint Miriam.
 
 


The Jeep Wave!

Well, I leased a Jeep. Those who know me recognize that I lease a new car every 3 years. You see, I know myself and I get bored, plus it includes maintenance and I have a fixed budget that I live within so it is the easiest way for me to keep myself in check and handle the abundance of travel I do as a priest, especially with so many weddings! So, I left VW and Mazda and decided it was time for something new!

Why a Jeep? Well, it may have been my midlife crisis moment, or the fact it’s the SUV of the Year for 2019, or that I had the excitement of driving one at this year’s Black Tie Tailgatefor Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia with Katelyn, or that I am still angry at Volkswagen for their climate lies. Whatever the reason, I did it and I love it and it was all thanks to Nick Nensel at Deal Hitmen (Their ad appears on the back of our newsletter cover every week!) What I did not know was that I was buying more than just a car, I was buying a community!

From the first time I rode home to several times each day, I get a wave! At first, I didn’t understand, then I thought it just a fluke, then Nick told me it was the famous “Jeep Wave”!

So, I have now discovered that owning a Jeep doesn’t just open up the opportunity for me to traverse the path less traveled, I have also gained a kinship among all other Jeep owners! This camaraderie is on display every time I pass another person driving a Jeep in the form of a wave. The Jeep Wave is an honor bestowed upon those drivers with the superior intelligence, taste, class and discomfort tolerance to own the ultimate vehicle: The Jeep! Oh ya, baby that’s me!

The Jeep Wave generally consists of a vigorous side-to-side motion of one or both hands, a raised hand waving, or two or four fingers extended upward from the steering wheel. However, I must say that my favorite version of the wave is usually just a raise of two fingers from the steering wheel and a slight nod. An homage to the peace sign!

Now the rules for the Jeep Wave are pretty straightforward. All Jeepers are responsible for upholding the tradition of the wave. If a fellow Jeeper waves, you are required to return the wave; it’s as simple as that.

Now, Katelyn thinks this all so funny! A fortuitous accident of luck, she calls it! You see, she (and almost anyone who knows me well) knows that I wave at everyone, and I say hello to everyone I pass! When I worked in the hospital as a Trauma Chaplain it drove my companions crazy! “Why would say hello and how are you to sick people?!” They demanded. “Why not?!” I would assert! “They need it more than anyone!” And so, do I!

I love the feeling I get when I see that wave now. No matter the type of day I am having, no matter where I am going or coming from, no matter how rough a day, I know there is someone who will give me that affirmative wave and somehow, almost magically, I am in a better mood; a better place. It is why I love remembering my mom this day, too. Moms do that very same thing. I kind of think my mom might love a Jeep ride soon!

This is how I have also come to know Saint Miriam. That almost magical place where church still means community, a loving God, a warm embrace, and where everyone is friendly and all of us wave at one another in some form or fashion every week! It is the gift we are giving to others, and the legacy we will one day leave to our children. It is why we sacrifice and give and support and work hard and build. That wave is more than just a wave, it is for us a sign of the truth of what we believe. I guess, maybe, we might one day have our own Saint Miriam Wave!

Well, until then, I gotta go! See you Sunday! I have a Jeep to wave at!
 


Immaculate Mary! How Sweetly We Sing of Thee…Even Today in our Chaos.

As a lifelong Catholic, but more poignantly, an Italian Catholic, one of my first, and fondest, “Catholic” memories was of Mary at the annual May Crowning at our home parish of St. Paul, which took place on the first day of their annual Italian Festival! The songs are still fervently stuck in my head: Hail, holy Queen! Salve, Regina! Hail Mary, Gentle Woman! Ave Maria! And so many more!

I wish that all children were welcomed into the fold of Catholic faith with the innocence and tenderness of singing seraphim, with a mother of who exemplifies the epitome of mercy and love. And, I wish, too, that all could witness what I did so young: adults and children of all shapes and sizes, of all ages, coming together and bringing the statue of our Blessed Mother from insidethe walls of our church to the streets where she was so needed! Adorned in a glorious blue cope, glistening crown of gold, and beautiful blue and white streamers flowing from her sides, she was such a beautiful site! I was always elated to be part of it!

I remember, too, how many of the residents living around the parish, mostly of Italian or Polish descent, would prepare well in advance of the scheduled Sunday processional by cleaning up after the harsh Erie winters. Some even painted their curbs blue and white in her honor! My mother’s aunt, who was the only grandmother I ever knew, Cha Cha, was always ready with a beautifully painted white curb and fresh flowers newly planted! As the procession would come by, the priest would stop and people would hand him money, or flowers, and say a prayer. Some would go up to the large statue and pin bills to her streaming ribbons in support of the work of the church. The priest would then give a blessing and off to the next home we would go! The procession had bells, incense, singing, a cross leading the way, and the fully adorned Knights of Columbus with swords drawn! Oh, what a site! When I regale the stories today, many still look at me as if I am crazy! I assure, you, I am not. It was real and I am so very grateful for the memories that my parents allowed me to gain by taking me to see Mary on her special day!

I thought about Mary and these memories as I sat and worried this past Monday evening. I thought about how hard we have worked to keep our parish and school safe. I thought about the almost $10,000 we just spent in security upgrades this past month alone. I thought about the eyes of the children. I want none of them hurt; certainly, none of them dead. I was in my office with the FBI “Duty Agent” on a speaker phone and three WhiteMarsh Police Officers in my office. We were included in a ‘threat letter’ received by Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. We didn’t have many details, but the mere fact that we were in it, was cause for alarm. We consulted, we prayed, we thought deeply. It was almost midnight by the time we broke until morning. I included my school administration and we collectively all agreed: close the school. There really was no other choice. We did. I am glad. This past week has been better, save for the fact that I have been demonized for this decision. Even a few parents have decided to send me hateful letters and include my past mistakes. One said, “It is my estimation that you could have handled the situation very differently given the circumstances. Yet you chose to create unnecessary anxiety for many families. It became more and more apparent that you seem to surround yourself with controversy. And rather than diffusing situations, you stoke the fire.”

My reply is simple: tell that to the family of Riley Howell, a University of North Carolina Student, who chose to fight when a gunman walked into his classroom. While you were writing your hate filled words to me, his family was planning his funeral. The alert received on his cell phone was direct “Run, Hide, Fight. Secure yourself immediately.” He could do none of that and so he fought.  “But for his work, the assailant may not have been disarmed,” Chief Kerr Putney of the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department. “Unfortunately, he gave his life in the process. But his sacrifice saved lives.” That is what we are called to do. Protect, love, care for one another. Our decision was sound.

The next day, just after midnight, we finally received a copy of the letter and saw what was actually written. How the letter began as “Terrorist Alert”. And, while we were not the obvious target after all, the hospital was, but the person was obviously at one time in our parish. I am glad we closed for the day. It was the right decision. It was the only one. 

In the end 2 are dead and 4 wounded in North Carolina. At our school there was no one harmed; no one dead. Perhaps my feelings are the only casualty here this week and my bruised ego and a little dismay. I’ll take those odds and now get back to praying to my rosary to the Blessed Mother who gave me the love of God and a devotion to her as a child. By doing so, she saved me from my self. And, she helped me gain the ability to create a place that these parents have loved, even as they demonize its creator.

Oh, if I remember my history correctly, there has always been a lot of that around. I think even Jesus would cry with me today. I know he was grateful we closed as a precaution. After all, He was too busy holding Riley Howell to handle much more…
 
 


A Season of Renewal: A Spring of Fulfillment!

Spring has sprung and Easter Sunday is now behind us. The WE ARE ALL HOMELESS Exhibit will also end this Saturday, and the parish is falling into a ‘normal’ routine as we find ourselves in the beautiful season of Easter! We have so much to look forward to and so much to be grateful for.

The Holy Week experience this year was simply beautiful. Palm Sunday found us gathering in our beautiful outdoors with donkeys and goats as Jesus rode into our hearts again, and together, we turned our faces toward His Passion journey. The Easter Triduum – from Holy Thursday to the Easter Vigil – were something to behold and relish. We welcomed the children of Teta and Beth and exclaimed the good and welcoming invitation of Jesus to another family! Then, Easter Sunday was packed from ‘stem to stern’ with families and friends in all shapes and sizes with 500 beautiful doves flying overhead! A beautiful way to welcome home Easter – into our church and well into our hearts where the goodness of God grows and is nurtured. And, as an added bonus, after a beautiful Easter week, we find ourselves featured in another article in the Philadelphia Inquirer!

We now turn to a more regular routine as we finish our PREP/CCD year with more baptisms (including today’s with Noah Bradley!) and First Holy Communion and then our annual May Crowning. This summer will bring a new face to our parish ministry team, renovations to our administration and school, a new playground, and added stabilization to our historic cemetery. So much happening, so many new things, and so much more to care for and become good stewards of! We are blessed. Let’s act like we are blessed, too!

So, we now make our final push to complete our annual appeal and we will show the world something we have already learned: Giving to others is such a joy! I have learned in my life that our God is a generous God – A God who has been revealed in Jesus as the One who deeply and passionately loves us. This is the season we now celebrate! Our God is also a God of transformation – who changes us, and through us, changes the world.  And this is our renewed invitation to share the love and power of God with others!

We now turn our eyes to bring our hearts to give thanks, as we continue to care for so many yet to come!

Help us to bring our appeal to fruition and watch as many more good things come to us, those who have been faithful to all that Jesus is!
 


An even more holy, Holy Week!

I waited to reflect before I sat down to write this week until I was at a place of calm. You see, for almost a year now, I have been dealing with medical tests, doctors, specialists and surgical biopsies. All the physicians concluded, based on medical testing, that I was going to have to deal with a diagnosis of Prostate Cancer.

Therefore, for months now, I have been on edge, moody, and downright scared. After all, I am about to get married, try to have a long-dreamed of family, and build a life; now is not the time to deal with cancer. I did a lot of praying. I ‘preached’ at God many times about how much I gave up and how deeply I sacrificed. I yelled, screamed, begged and even cajoled. Then, one day a couple of weeks ago, in my exhaustion and admitted desperation after my surgical biopsy at the hospital. I sat quietly in our Sanctuary, praying before the Blessed Sacrament at Adoration and I suddenly realized…nothing that I have given up, or ever done, even comes close to what God gave to me. I also know that nothing that I will ever do will merit one ounce of what Jesus did for me; for us.

So, I sank deeply into the hardened wooden pew, and I asked God for one last thing, forgiveness. Forgiveness for being so arrogant as to even ask Him for anything. Forgiveness for doubting His love for me. Forgiveness for being so weak as to not believe that I am going to be okay, no matter what the diagnosis. Forgiveness for being well, me. The test results came back this past Tuesday afternoon: all 12 biopsies were negative. They did didn’t fully understand why. I did. And now I need to add one more forgiveness request: for not being thankful for I already have been blessed with. Maybe, that is a reason for us all to stop this coming Hoy Week and attend the Masses of the most intimate encounter we can have as Catholics with the Lord who gave us so much, even this parish.

We have endeavored to bring to you a special experience. Once that will begin with Palm Sunday, the official beginning of Holy Week, and this year we have scheduled a few amazing events to make your experience moving and memorable!

Palm Sunday: We will have live Donkeys for the 9:00am Family Mass with a dramatic and emotional version of the reading of the gospel that will leave you breathless!

Holy Thursday: will find a renewed commitment to both our historic liturgy, as well as to the rejected and marginalized by our using two new vessels for the Foot Washing: one is handmade and imported from Jerusalemand the other is handmade by a potter from Mexico

Good Friday: will stun us with a visually moving liturgy with a brand-new Veneration Cross and spectacular draping that will move you emotionally to connect with Our Lord!

Easter Vigil: is where we will include fewer readings, but welcome two new Christians with a moving Baptism and the beautiful Ancient Rite of Blessing of the Waters, plus a St Francis of Assisi Pascal Candle!

Easter Sunday: is when we will gather together at a 9:00am Mass where we will be greeted by one of the most visually dramatic displays we’ve ever contemplated to allow your souls to soar as we say, “He is Risen!” 

The Easter Triduum, which includes Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil, is – in reality – one long Mass with two dramatic pauses. It is a minor sacrifice to adapt your schedule to attend each, but it will make Easter all the more glorious. For me, I know it is something I must do, especially in light of all I have been given. How about you?

Your attendance may just be the beginning of a new and more fulfilling life.

Join us…at a place for everyone!!
 


“Whiteous” Indignation.

His hands were almost like leather, but they were so big! It actually surprised me. When he shook my hand, it engulfed mine in an instant with more room to spare, but somehow there was a gentleness about him. His eyes met mine instantly and without a moment of hesitation. You could – if you dared set aside your ‘whiteous indignation’, behold the eyes of the God we worship in human form. I handed him a Saint Miriam Blessing Bag and added a single one-dollar bill; you would’ve thought that I had just given him the world!

His eyes darted and lit up, he became emotional and when I asked him his name, he almost stumbled. I doubt many – if any – ever ask him that question much anymore. “My name? My name is Scott Pearson. Mr. Scott Pearson!” He stood straight backed again and proud when he relayed that information to me. He thanked me over and over again, telling me how ‘I blessed his day’. And since I had done such a wonderful thing for him, he would return the favor with the only thing he had to give, a bit of humor. Mr. Pearson told me and Katelyn a joke that evening, as we sat at the traffic light and God blessed us all with a little time together before we traveled to our destination, ironically to meet someone who once was homeless, too, but survived because of the kindness of a few strangers who dared look beyond their own selfishness and prejudice and helped him become human again. There we were, sitting in our vehicle at the traffic light at I-76 and the Girard Avenue Exit, just before the Philadelphia Zoo, and we made a new friend.

I remember glancing back in my rearview mirror at the large Porsche SUV behind me. I was worried they might honk in irritation if I missed the light turning green. As Mr. Pearson’s hand took ahold of mine, I saw it, in that expression of the lady behind me. It was what I fear the most, rejection and repulsion.  

Oh, I know what you are thinking. It is the very same thing I so often thought, too. “Not me!” “I would never…” But, alas, we do. Those of us with privilege of color or education or living or status, we fall complacent to those who struggle and – in our brokenness – we become indignant and uncaring.

This Sunday we honor the life and legacy of St. Benedict Joseph Labre. He is the patron saint of the homeless and his life stretches any scale of success beyond usefulness, even one duly chastened by any gospel expectation or mandate. Benedict was a failure, not only “according to worldly standards,” but also, by any imaginable churchly standard. Before he embarked on his life of vagrancy, he pursued tenaciously a monastic vocation, and failed. By the time he reached his early twenties, he had applied repeatedly to multiple Carthusian and Cistercian communities, and he managed to get rejected or turned away by all of them, some of them more than once; he failed. Benedict was a failure at both ways of living and yet, as Thomas Merton observed, “the only canonized saint, venerated by the whole Church, who has lived either as a Cistercian or a Carthusian since the Middle Ages is St. Benedict Joseph Labre” (Ref: New Seeds of Contemplation). He was a failure by any measure at all, in all things but holiness. On this day, we will gather and honor him, and we remember him and all the ‘Mr. Pearsons’ of the world who fail to live to the standard of the majority, but still are beautifully and wonderfully made.

Yesterday I was indignant, today I am disillusioned…but together, things will change.

I pray you will join me as we take a brief journey to see all this wonderful parish does for the world. We, together, set our eyes not on the things that vanish, but those things of life eternal.

Join me.