Many years ago while a seminarian at Saint John’s Seminary in Brighton during our summer break, I had the fortunate opportunity to travel through a number of countries in Western Europe and a few in Eastern Europe using my Eurail Pass. It was a wonderful experience to travel, visit international cities and make contact with relatives in Sicily. August brings back memories of closed museums, deserted cities and many Americans wandering around empty locations. August in Europe used to be a time when most people were able to flee the cities for the sunny beaches and mountains. It was also a time in Poland when there was a break from farm work and the coming harvest season, and many went on pilgrimage to religious shrines that abound. My Mom told me stories about my Polish grandmother also making a walking pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa. I travelled by train from Prague and arrived at the shrine on August 15. The shrine area was jam-packed with pilgrims waiting to visit and pray before the historical image of the Madonna. It was a very moving experience even with the chaotic crowds pushing themselves and others for a closer view.
Fr. Joe and I also took a trip on August 15 to visit Fr. Dick at his home in Maine. It was not the best of weather to visit the coastal area and do the traditional dip in the water on August 15, but that was not the point. Taking the time for a short visit with our brother priest was the point. To me and Fr. Joe, it was good to spend some time in conversation and catching up. He was in good spirits and seemed very similar as to when he departed here and took up residence in Maine. I reminded him that his bed here has not been slept in, nor has his orange-colored room been repainted. He is always most welcome to sleep or spend any time he wishes at the Rectory. He has lost some additional weight, but he is still the same spirited Fr. Dick that so many of you have experienced over the years. He truly appreciates all the cards, prayers and love you send his way. May the Lord continue to grant him the graces needed on his journey.
Looking ahead, the parish is preparing to launch a simple electronic newsletter highlighting parish and school news sharing the many ways we are living the Catholic faith and practice here in Winchester and beyond. At baptism, parents and godparents are asked to accept a responsibility of bringing up a child in the ways and practices of the faith. This intimate relationship with faith and good works gets expressed in so many generous ways. The Sunday celebration of the Eucharist is the heart of every parish. At the celebration of the Mass, we are drawn more intimately into the Paschal Mystery and feed on the Body and Blood of Christ. In receiving this gift of the Eucharist, we are then sent forth to be the Body of Christ present in our families, relationships and the wider community. Without the Eucharist, we are less than who we are called to be for others.