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Catholic Reflections 10/9/22

My ministry journey has taken me to many destinations in the Northwest. I remember one winter in Wenatchee. My assignment was to work with the migrant families who were now permanently living in the area. Many of the youth, ages 7 -17, had moved frequently in their short lives and hadn’t had the opportunity to receive instruction for first reconciliation and first communion. Finally, their parents were able to gain year around work and they could take their classes. Finally, they would receive their sacraments. Finally, they would experience the mystery. Our meeting room was the bathroom of the single men’s dormitory, their parents met in the adjacent lunchroom area. The parent classes taught in Spanish, the youth classes in English. Week after week, I would come with homemade posters depicting bread and wine, hosts, and chalices to decorate the doors of the showers and stalls. We would sing, (and oh how we could sing in that bathroom), laugh, and study as we learned the importance of Jesus and the beauty of Eucharist. The excitement built, even in these simple surroundings. The day finally came for the youth to receive their sacraments. They were ready. They had put on their finest outfits, which for most were clean jeans and shirts; ironed and pressed. The “reconciliation room” was the kitchen of one of the family homes. One by one they crossed the gravel road to enter the kitchen for the priest to hear their confession. After reconciliation was complete, we gathered in the lunchroom for Mass. One simple guitar, played by a dad. Father’s simple traveling mass kit of chalice and ciborium. A cowboy hat used for the collection; a bandana offered for Father to take the collection home. Voices raised together to sing praises to our God. And proud parents who wanted their children to receive and have an encounter with Christ. This is one of my fondest memories from my years of ministry. It taught me so much about the presence and love of Christ. The desire of parents to pass on the faith. A faith freely given and freely received. How we are all called to join into the mystery and to be the Body of Christ in our world, together, no matter what we do, who we are, or where we come from. We are all one in the Lord, one in the God who created us. Thanks be to God. –By Valerie Winston Healy


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