2019 Mission Trip: Louisa, Kentucky Day 6



“I desire mercy, not sacrifice”


This was our last morning to attend 7:30am Mass at St. Jude Church. It was great to share liturgy with the youth from Immaculate Conception, their pastor, Msgr. John McCann, and adult leader, Liz, all week. Fr. Mike began his homily discussing how the rules for fasting before Communion have changed over the years. He stated that food and drink are not what’s important. The love of God present in the Eucharist is the important thing. In today’s Gospel Jesus stated, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” referring to the fasting rules at the time for Sabbath. Eucharist should lead to compassion and charity. We need to be reasonable and not rigid.

After Mass our group was broken into three groups to do our last jobs for the week. Dan, Mark, Cameron and Michelle went to Miss Judy’s home to complete the ceiling project they started yesterday. They painted it ‘Pumpkin Spice’ to match the rest of the room and put up the moldings. They ended their work tasks by weather-proofing her exterior door. They were able to spend a little more time getting to know Miss Judy, finding out that she did clogging, a type of dancing. She and Cindy from the mission center belong to a group that dances at local fairs. Miss Judy also sells costume jewelry at flea markets to make some income. Michelle thought she would help her out, so bought several pieces to take on her upcoming vacation. Our team left Miss Judy feeling happy with her completed living room and with a little bit of money in her pocket.

Our second team included Rocky, David, Ashley and Sheryl. They went to Miss Norma’s in Inez, a neighboring city about 35 miles away. She has custody of Brayden, her 14 year old, severely disabled grandson. Brayden’s father also lives with her. He is working very hard to overcome addiction and has been clean for about a year. Their assignment was to finish up some projects started by some other teams. The tasks that they completed were adding a step and a railing to an exterior set of stairs, weather proofed two exterior windows, painted a hallway and kitchen wall, installed some floor transitional moldings and stabilized and improved a kitchen island. While they were working, the neighbor came over to check who was there and inform how much the work was needed. Miss Norma’s dedication to her family and the concern her neighbors showed for her was very inspiring for our missionaries. They felt they really witnessed faith in action.

The last group, Joe S, Rob, Joe C, and Renee’, stayed at church after Mass to help Sr. Pat do some work around the property. It was very fulfilling to give back to the place that had been spiritually feeding us all week. Today was a very hot day (95 degrees) with very high humidity, so all of our teams tried to stay hydrated and get outdoor work done early in the day before the heat hit its peak. This team’s first job was to do some weeding in all of the flower beds around the church. The frequent rains had really helped the weeds grow out of control. The church also had a side patio gathering space with a ceramic tile floor that was cracking and coming loose. About half of the tile was removed and stacked so it could be reapplied with better adhesive. Finally a carpet was removed from an office space, the floor was washed, then a new carpet was put down. This team was blessed to share lunch with Sr. Pat in the Parish Hall and learn a little bit about her. She has led a fascinating life. After entering the convent she first became a nurse, then went to medical school and became a surgeon. She was sent out to do missionary work in hospitals in St. Lucia and then in Africa. When she first came to Kentucky she worked in local hospitals doing surgery, then worked in wound care. She works only for the church now, doing just about anything that needs to be done.

By about 3pm all groups were done with their assignments. We gathered with the Immaculate Conception group at the Point of Hope Center and shared moments when we felt God’s love this week. Most of those moments included the families we interacted with this week. After that Cindy showed us a short moving video about Fr. Beiting. What a remarkable man he was. He said that it was good that he lost his mind early in life. He lost his mind so he could take on the mind of Christ. He said that he went before the tabernacle and waited for God to tell him what to do with his life. Fr. Beiting went on to help thousands of people and build up a remarkable mission ministry. He was able to bring a positive image of Catholics to an area that had formally distrusted all of our faith.

For our final evening prayer we discussed our favorite memories from our experience in Kentucky and how God was present in those moments. We discussed how there needs to be a delicate balance between providing the physical help for the families and the emotional and spiritual care we give. We agreed that we all bring different gifts to this ministry and no one talent is more important than another. Because we all carry the Holy Spirit with us and frequently receive Jesus in Eucharist, everywhere we go is holy ground. We hope to remember this as we return home and look for the best in the people we interact with daily.

Tomorrow morning we will be packing up and heading back to Michigan. We are all looking forward to getting back to our families, but will carry the goodness we have experienced here in Kentucky home with us. We sincerely thank you all for the prayers you have offered for us.

Many blessings from your mission team.