Next weekend, on October 7, our parish will celebrate its 107th anniversary. From humble beginnings at the original mission church, built by the Larkin area Polish and Slovak families as a mission church of St. Brigid to our present, beautifully elegant worship space, the Catholic faith has been proclaimed, celebrated, lived, and prayed constantly by the community that God has gathered here at the corner of Monroe and Jefferson.
Going all the way back to St. Luke’s description of Christ’s first followers in the Acts of the Apostles (2:42-47), a Christian community (church) does four things: worships, proclaims the Gospel, fosters communion, and serves (especially the poor and vulnerable). Standing in the example of faith of those who have gone before us at Assumption parish, we continue to perform these essential functions of Christian community.
This is a parish that daily worships God through liturgy, prayer groups, and personal adoration and petition. The source and summit of parish worship is the celebration of the Eucharist (Mass) every weekend. We are a deeply Eucharistic people, and we bring and offer our best every week in praise and worship of God. Fr. Rick, our Sacramental Minister, thoughtfully and prayerfully presides at Mass. Our music ministry, under the leadership of Jim Renfer, brings beauty and depth to our worship. Our liturgical ministers (Sacristans, Lectors, Altar Servers, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Ushers and Hospitality Ministers, Live Stream Team, Children’s Liturgy of the Word Leaders) consistently share their gifts with excellence. The singing and responses of the Assembly are strong and loud.
Our parish proclaims the Word of God, answering Jesus’ last directive to his disciples in St. Matthew’s Gospel, “go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations...each them to carry out everything I have commanded you” (28:19-20). Flowing from the sacramental proclamation of the Liturgy of the Word, we host bible studies, adult faith formation opportunities, and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for our children. We are a parish of those who have been evangelized and go out as evangelizers. Kathy Russell works tirelessly to include all our youth in the life of the parish and into a deeper relationship with the Lord Jesus, proclaiming to each person how much God loves and cares for them. Our volunteer catechists generously give of their time and talents to hand on the Catholic faith to the today’s generations in a way that honors what we have received from those who have gone before us, passing their faith to us.
We foster true community here at Assumption. We share a common life, all of us grafted onto the vine which is Christ. We call this fellowship, rooted in the Trinitarian communion of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the life of Grace. In the mysterious divine plan, God has called us together, at this time in this place, fashioning us into a People with a destiny for communion with God and neighbor in love. We celebrate community at parish events such as the upcoming PolishFEST and remembrance celebration of Fr. DuRussel’s life and ministry, Mardi Gras dinner, picnics, etc. We also care for each other in the community, carrying each other in our moments of need. We share our hearts and pray for each other before and during Mass. All week long, ministers to the sick and homebound bring comfort, companionship, and (often) the Eucharist to those who cannot join us regularly. Volunteers from the church bring meals to those recovering from illness or surgery and flowers to homebound parishioners at Christmas and Easter. On a daily basis, Sandy Martinski, Sharon Worthington, and Val Rossi do the daily behind the scenes work, connecting people to our parish life, ensuring that parishioners get accurate and timely information on parish happenings, coordinating volunteers, accounting for the gifts of stewardship entrusted to the parish, making sure that nothing and no one is overlooked. Our new Maintenance Coordinator, Anthony Donoff, ensures a safe, tidy, and inviting environment for the community to gather.
Finally, we are a people of generous service, together performing the works of justice and mercy. Just to give some recent examples, our Summer Food Truck gave out food for 200 households, paid for by your donations and bringing together almost 90 volunteers. That is over and above our regular monthly food collection. During the September Knights of Columbus Blood Drive, 23 units of blood were donated, which represents life for 69 people. The Stitch & Prayer ministry donates hundreds of items to people in need. Our collection for the Franciscan Missionaries this summer donated $3,968 to their vital ministry. The Rummage Sale raised a little over $11,000 for charity. Our monthly parish promise commits $500 from our collection every month for the next two years to the beautiful ministry of Toni & Trish House. This is just the tip of the iceberg of this parish’s commitment to Christian Service, reaching beyond our parish needs to make lives better throughout Midland County, Mid-Michigan, and around the globe.
One of the most important ways we give and serve every year is through the diocesan Christ’s Mission Appeal. It ensures that the diocesan church can perform the essential functions of worship, evangelization, fostering communion, and service throughout the Diocese of Saginaw and beyond. The financial goal given to us by the diocese this year is $82,813.77. Last year, Assumption was the first parish in the diocese to reach its financial goal, and the donations over the goal were returned to the parish to help us in our mission. However, just as was the case last year, our real goal is 100% parishioner household participation. We made strides toward that goal this past year, which is very encouraging. Nevertheless, we still didn’t reach 50% household participation. I truly believe that we can make even more progress toward our 100% participation goal this year.
We are truly blessed to have been called by God to be a part of the amazing work God is doing at Assumption parish. We can be tempted, though, to forget that the primary presence at Assumption is God. It is God’s life of Grace we share, God’s light we shine before all, God’s compassion, mercy, and love that is expressed through our service. All glory, honor, and praise be to God! And I praise and thank God for you!