On October 20, 2020 we will be celebrating the forty-first anniversary of service to the “least, the last, and the left out.” It is with mixed emotions I come to this point. First of all, the number 41 is staggering. It seems like 41 days, not 41 years. Secondly, we will have to have a dumbed-down celebration due to the restrictions placed upon us because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
When Kathy and I said the first “yes” back in 1979 to help resettle a family of thirteen from Vietnam, we had no idea of the road we had set our feet upon. Over the years we have had the privilege of helping many wonderful people who were willing to share their lives and culture with us. We also had the opportunity to meet and get to know many people who responded to our calls for help and came forward with “their time, talents and treasure.” The number is in the thousands, but each one twinkles like a star in the heavens.
The latest group of volunteers came to help amid the cries of caution and all the voices proclaiming, “protect yourself, stay apart, and watch out because the other guy could infect you with Covid-19.” This group of five young people and two leaders came to help. It was the only group this year, so far, that had the courage to step out and help.
Of course we accepted their request to help, but not without determining how to do it safely. Masks must be worn, hand sanitizer must be used. “Wash those hands,” were the cautionary words for the four days they were here cutting back the bushes that had grown up around the fence and were almost covering the stairs to the footbridge next to our parking lot. And did I tell you it was HOT? It really was and they worked through it with smiles on their faces. What an example of Urban Missionaries spirituality – doing small works of charity.
When they finished, one of the young ladies approached me and asked if she and her friends could bring in some school supply donations. “Of course,” I replied, “We could get them into the store for the beginning of school. A few weeks later they back came wearing their Urban Missionaries T Shirts, with bags of school supplies. We took a picture in our warehouse next to the clothes sorting and pricing table. The young lady who brought up the question concerning school supplies asked, “what kind of clothing do you need?” I replied, “what we need most are the consumables, like underwear, socks, towels. These items usually get used until they’re done.” “Ok”, she said, “Let me see what I can do.” Since then she has brought in bags of new socks and underwear and towels. I just wanted to give her a big hug, but I can’t, in the time of COVID!!
This year we cannot gather as a community of Urban Missionaries of Our Lady of Hope due to the Covid-19 restrictions. So we are going to gather on Tuesday, October 20, 2020 as we do every Tuesday for a communion service. It’s what we do, we pray, constantly.
The highlight of the service will be the induction of another Urban Missionary into the service of the “least the last and the left out. It is a simple ceremony, where the applicant makes promises not to poverty but to live simply, not to chastity, but to live faithfully, not to obedience, but to live respectfully. and receive the missionary blessing:
Abba, Father, we ask you to
Bless the mind of your servant so they may understand “love of neighbor” for all your children.
Bless the heart of your servant so they may feel the pain of all your children.
Bless the shoulders of your servant so they may carry the burdens of your children.
Bless the eyes of your servant so they may see the injustices visited on your children.
Bless the ears of your servant so they may hear the cries of anguish of your children.
Bless the hands of your servant so they hold the tears of your children.
Bless the knees of your servant so they may kneel often in prayer for your children.
Bless the feet of your servant so they walk among your children.
Bless the tongue of your servant so they praise your name eternally.
And so Father we ask that your finger touch the soul of your servant so that they may know they are yours.
We ask this through your Son, who lives, and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
Then we will have a welcoming lunch. As in everything we do, it will be small, simple, and in honor of the Lord!