Last week, we were blessed to celebrate forty years of the Urban Missionaries. It is difficult to imagine, even for those of us who work here everyday, just how many lives the Urban Missionaries have touched over those forty years. Over one hundred people joined us for this momentous celebration, in order to reflect on what we can do when we come together.
For the curious, the forty years marks the time since 1979, when Walter and Kathy first opened their doors to a refugee family. In fact, the priest who celebrated the Mass at the event, Fr. Nguyen, once stayed with Walter and Kathy alongside his family. To see Fr. Nguyen celebrate a Mass alongside the people who opened their doors to his family was a deeply touching sight, and a strong reminder of why it is we do what we do.
From opening their home to a single refugee family, it might be difficult to see how this massive ministry could possibly have grown. The Urban Missionaries now operates three different retail programs out of a single location, two food pantries, and an absolutely massive Christmas program. See what just saying yes can bring?
Perhaps the most natural progression of the Urban Missionaries’ ministry was the launching of the St. Stephen’s housing initiative just last year. In that short time since the purchase of the house, the Urban Missionaries can now offer a refuge to three families. In years to come, those families will move on, and new families will take their place. It cannot be overstated that this program gives our ministry a reach into the future and a relevancy that can now be a permanent facet in our central Massachusetts community.
This is just a small part of what over one hundred people came together to celebrate on October 26th. There were the speeches, the food, the Mass. What we celebrated was the combined efforts of everyone who has said yes to this ministry, all those in attendance, the people we have the privilege to serve, and our readers. The efforts described above, all the service done to our neighbors would be impossible without you all, and for that we are deeply grateful.
Please consider saying yes for another forty years, and see what the future brings.