Friday, December 14, 2018
Marlene Quaroni - Florida Catholic
COCONUT GROVE | At the start of Mass on the second Sunday of Advent, people gathered in St. Hugh Church turned to their neighbors and introduced themselves with a handshake. They had written their names on the “Called by Name” tags placed at the back of the church as part of Welcome Weekend in the Archdiocese of Miami.
The goal of the Dec. 8-9 event — part of the archdiocese’s 60th anniversary celebration — was to encourage parishioners to personally invite people they know to “come and see” the Catholic Church for themselves.
“Ninety-nine percent of the Church is you,” said Father Damian Flanagan, St. Hugh’s parochial vicar, in his homily. “We, clergy, are only one percent. Despite being in the limelight with negative publicity recently, the Church must not retreat. You are where the Church really happens, in the local community. Some churches have very active ministries, some churches are charismatic, some are quiet, some have many ethnicities with Masses in different languages, Hispanic, Portuguese, Creole. The Church is made up of a string of thousands of churches.”
Parish ministries console, bring the Eucharist to the homebound, feed the poor, help immigrants, provide fellowship for youths and senior citizens, and help in countless other ways, he said.
“Active, dedicated, loyal people are trying to increase their love every day for people in their church community,” said Father Flanagan. Amid a world beset by distractions, he added, “in church you can discern what is of value.”
Parishioners Pat Seitz and her husband, Alan Greer, wore their red Marriage Covenant Ministry polo shirts to the Mass as a display of St. Hugh’s many ministries. She proclaimed the first reading from Baruch, which included the words, “You will be named by God forever.”
It was the theme of a training session that Father Luis Largaespada, St. Hugh’s pastor, conducted for all the parish ministries.
“He told us that each person is special and has a story and they are in a particular place at this time,” said Seitz, who is a U.S. District Judge. “We need to be open to that. We are all God’s children.”
The point of Welcome Weekend was to encourage parishes to be “the most welcoming and joyful reflection of who we, as the Church, are called to be,” said Stephen Colella, director of the archdiocesanSecretariat of Parish Life.
To that end, after all the Masses Dec. 9, St. Hugh parishioners manned a welcome table displaying the various church ministries, and handed out free hotdogs, chips, coffee and donuts. The Mercy Train, sponsored by Mercy Hospital, also transported children around the church plaza and parking lot.
“St. Hugh Church is the best kept secret in Coconut Grove,” said Father Flanagan. “We hope it’s no longer a secret.”