Bringing the Parish Together — By Theresa Nguyen

NGUYEN-THERESA2Last year, I attended my first parish picnic at Newman knowing just one person — Joe Bradley, my then boss who asked me to attend to take photos. I would not have gone if he didn’t ask me to. I don’t remember who the handful of people I met at the picnic were, except one person who I got to know really well, but it was my first exposure to the parish beyond the students. Since that time, I have gotten to know many people from the parish who continually reaffirm the first thought I had from the picnic: this parish is really cool.

Over the summer, you the parishioners gave us your thoughts in the Dream Big project about what you want from this faith community. Several of those responses included a request for more events and activities that brings the whole parish together — student and resident parishioners. I have been privileged to be a part and involved with both the students and residents at this parish; I can see why it is a request. The resident parishioners we have here continue to give and support our students and the community at large. The student parishioners are energetic and hungry to deepen their faith and spread the Good News. In the past few years alone, I have seen the desire grow for us to get to know the people we sit next to in the pews. Resident small groups is beginning its second year to grow in faith and fellowship with one another. Student attendance for the Awakenings retreat and weekly E3 fellowship is increasing. This community is more than just going to Mass for an hour once a week. So here is another opportunity for us to stop the busyness of our daily lives and enjoy one another’s company.

The Parish Picnic is simply that — a picnic. For the past couple of weeks, I have been brainstorming ideas of “extras” we could do at the picnic. Last year we had the kickball game. Pie-eating contests? Bingo? (If you have any ideas or activities you’d want to see, feel free to send me an email.) But what truly makes this picnic special is the people. Any ministry or event we do would not be possible without you. A couple weeks ago, the Gospel reading from Matthew 18:20 said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Whether that be for prayer, for volunteering in the Columbia community, or for just getting to know one another, we are a community of faith always bringing a piece of Heaven to Earth and Jesus Christ to one another.

After last year’s picnic, I went to an intern meeting and named the picnic as one of the best parts of my internship thus far. I met great people and had good food. I felt comfortable and welcomed though I knew only one person.

And so, I invite you. Our Parish Picnic will be held on Sunday, October 1 from 12:30-3:30 p.m. at Leech Shelter in Cosmo-Bethel Park (same location as last year). Pulled pork and smoked chicken will be catered from CoMo Smoke and Fire, and we’ll provide lemonade and water. Please bring a side dish (last names A-I), dessert (last names J-R), or fruits and vegetables (last names S-Z) to share. Thank you in advance to the wonderful volunteers who work to make this possible. Thank you to the parish for giving me the opportunity to host the event that invited me into this faith community and made me want to stay here. Thank you for taking the time and energy to strengthen this community.

I hope to see you there.