Posts Tagged ‘8-8-2021’


Sunday, August 8th, 2021

As I read through the Scriptures – each week – certain words,
phrases – just seem to pop out at me and cause me to wrestle with
them and see how they speak to my everyday life.
A. An example of this came in the Second Reading of Paul to
the Ephesians, “Be Imitators of God.”
How can I do that I thought? I started thinking about people in
my life experience that had impressed me by the way they were
trying to imitate this Compassionate God that we talk so much
I have a very powerful memory of some people of faith just like
those of us here, putting flesh and blood, hands and eyes, a heart
on the Compassion of God. Some years back, I had the opportunity to attend a convention near
Stanford University on Parish Life Today. A lot of people from 4 or 5
different states – very practical workshops on various aspects of Parish
Ministry. I chose to attend one workshop entitled, “Ministering to Persons
with AIDS and their Loved Ones.” The speaker was Fr. Tony Maguire,
at that time the pastor of Most Holy Redeemer in San Francisco’s Castro
District, the heart of the gay community.
The description of the workshop went like this:
How a parish of “gays and gray” became a healing presence to a
community ravaged by AIDS? This was done by means of growth in
prayer, (liturgical, personal, devotional) and by developing service
programs inspired by unconditional love and by opening the parish to
the real needs of local community.
Fr. Maguire began to explain how all this took place. A. The parish leadership began to realize there was a problem.
Many young gay men dying all around them. What was the
parish doing to minister to these people, children of God. The
leadership believed all people deserve to die with dignity and their families. They reframed an old church practice called the
40 hour devotion and prayed for healing. What they found was
that the more they prayed as a parish – the more their hearts
become open – more sensitive.
C. What happened next was a process of education. Through
lectures by doctors, nurses and psychologists they started
dealing with the prejudices – phobias – questions/fears people
had. This was a very slow process – which is ongoing. What
all this did was to build some bridges of understanding between
D. They developed and trained working groups, 60 home care
volunteers, (regular people like you and me), who made personal visits to people who were dying of AIDS. They
brought them to Church, gave them attention, and listened to
them. 80 support volunteers sent letters, cards, and hot meals to
the families.
Maria Sorentino, an 80 year old Italian Nonna had been in the
parish for 50 years; her ministry, hugging people in wheel chairs. When someone would question her she would say “MA!” They are
people – just like me and you.
E. Fr. Maguire made it very clear that there were limits to the
parish’s involvement. There was a clear moral line, anything
and everything was not okay. That line however never got in
the way of compassion.
Some real miracles began taking place; — people became more
open to the Church that they had been away from for years. They
experienced a more compassionate and hopeful and sensitive
church. Grieving parents found a place where they could come and express
themselves. One lady said, “I come here each week from San Jose,
(50 miles away) to find the support I need to cope with my son who is
dying of AIDS. I can’t say anything in my own parish.
F. Fr. Maguire ended his presentation by quoting a male prostitute
who was dying of AIDS, whom the parish was ministering to:
–“In this death bed – I have finally found human love that I
spent so long looking for. In this death bed through these people, I have finally found my God.”
Be imitators of God – Be compassionate, love one another. It does
not say love one another (if) they are healthy – young – good looking
– get good grades – agree with your moral standards – live like we
think they should live.
It simply says: LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Thank you people of Most Holy Redeemer for being
Imitators of God.
Thank you people of San Carlos for also being Imitators of
with support and care of people around them.
B. The first thing the parish began to do was to pray – the petitions
at Mass often mentioned the names of people with AIDS and