Peace and grace to you all!
In the June/July 2007 issue of the Catholic Extension Magazine a news item was mentioned that demonstrates part of the Gospel message this weekend: from small things, big things one day come. On June 16, 1907, the Catholic Extension Society dedicated its first railway chapel car, the St. Anthony, to bring Mass and the sacraments to churchless areas on the frontier in America. Two more chapel cars were built later on – the St. Peter and the St. Paul. Many churches sprung up throughout the country after visits by these churches on wheels. One Church was St. Catherine of Sienna in Mill City, Oregon. There was a sizeable Catholic population in the area and many people came from nearby Jordan, who were mostly German Catholics, to see the chapel car and hear the Gospel and have the sacraments. Jordan became the site of the first Trappist Monastery in Oregon and the foundation site of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon whose Mother House is now located at Murray Blvd. and the Tualatin Valley Highway in Beaverton. I am friends with two of the Sisters, Sr. Michael and Sr. Krista, and I occasionally get to visit them!
This kind of story from our local area reminds us that first impressions and humble beginnings can frequently grow to greater and lasting realities. As people entrusted with the mission to advance the Gospel, one of the most important things to remember is that first impressions are important! Many Catholics feel uneasy or afraid when it comes to talking about their faith with non-Catholic people. Why is that? We have a lot to be proud of and so much to share with others! A couple of points that are important to remember about faith traditions: living your faith in the day to day relationship with God is a prerequisite for talking about it. An important question you might ask yourself each day is “how is my faith important to me right now?” Of equal importance is to never criticize or put down another person no matter their belief. Also it’s never a matter of who is right or wrong. As Catholics, we believe in giving dignity and respect to every person—it’s a debt we owe by love. Reading Scripture, articles or books about Saints or the Catholic Church can help you feel more comfortable, more knowledgeable and more at ease when faith comes up as a topic for discussion but the most important element of all is the personal relationship of love we have in Jesus! God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter