7 Quick Takes: Building Community

7 Quick Takes about Building Community
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Social Community – This past week our Life Teen took a little break from the semester’s Social Justice curriculum for a Social Night. Instead of our traditional proclaim (subject lesson lecture) followed by small group discussions, we gathered the teens in the church, lifted our voices in Glory and Praise (singing), asked them to count off into teams (surprisingly harder than it sounds) and sent them outside. A simple hula-hoop relay race got the blood moving before setting up the Color My World paint powder main event. Everyone was told in advance to wear white shirts and old pants. The game resembled Capture the Flag, with the object being to throw paint on another team’s leader, while protecting your own. Thankfully, we had enough post-Confirmation teens available to lead, so we adults didn’t have to get dusted. What chaos! What mess! The paint powder covered not just their shirt, but arms, neck, face, hair, glasses, etc. I hated it.  The kids loved it.

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Spiritual Community – Thank you for all the prayers offered while I was on my ACTS retreat. A longer post is in the works about this amazing experience. Part of the spiritual development of ACTS is allowing the process to be revealed slowly as it takes place. Since I’ve never been on any other retreat, I can’t even offer comparisons. Take it on faith and trust that this life changing event brought many of those in attendance a lot of healing. ACTS retreat also developed an immediate sense of community between both the women who attended and those who served; we are all Sisters in Christ. When it was over, one of the many thoughts in my mind was how much I wanted to share this feeling, this community, with the men and women of my own Parish. Pray that an opportunity to bring this retreat to St. Angela’s will one day appear.

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Building Community – Speaking of developing community, there’s a discussion taking place on the Facebook page for Catholic Working Moms concerning how a parish supports Single Moms. The mom who started the discussion noted that she is a single working mom in her late 30s – too old for Young Adult ministries, too divorced for Married ministries, too employed to meet during the day for Mommy group, and too busy to volunteer much. She doesn’t feel very supported at her parish and her comment spurred good conversation on the group. This morning, I saw a link to her article about the same topic on Time.com. In the article she makes an excellent point that’s not about creating yet another mommy group, it’s that

The Church should be aware of our existence at this point, recognize our growing numbers, and be there to offer the support we desperately need. At the very least acknowledge, that we exist.

The conversation and dialogue coming out about our shared experiences are what’s important; these discussions allow us to support one another and build our own Catholic community, even in an online forum. 

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Family Community – This Saturday night, our parish is hosting its annual Trunk or Treat. Are you familiar with the practice, because I’d never seen it before moving here. Families sign up for a parking space, decorate the back of their vehicle, and hand out candy to the kids in costume trick or treating. It’s one of those events where families come together as a real community. Last year my family set up our truck with a Duck Dynasty theme, not exactly unique that year, and had a blast. This year we’ve been a little busy to be inspired, but Lisa reserved a parking space. We can’t wait to see all the creative themes and costumes. Now…. how should we decorate for tomorrow night?
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Pet Community – When my mother-in-law died nearly 13 years ago, she had recently adopted (rescued?) a poodle mix. Not being a dog person, I don’t remember the details except that Saydee needed her and she needed Saydee. My mother-in-law’s unexpected death caused great stress and turmoil not just for our family, but also for Saydee. Thankfully, my husband’s brother lovingly took in this crazy dog. His girlfriend, who became his wife, supported him in offering Saydee a stable home. Sadly, this week Saydee crossed the rainbow bridge. Losing this last little connection has brought back many sweet memories of my mother-in-law though I’m sure for her in heaven, it was a joyful reunion. 
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Secret Community – During my long daily commute, it’s been my habit to listen to books on tape CD.  It feels like my “theme” this year was books about World War II communities. The most recent book, finished this morning, is titled The Girls of Atomic City written by Denise Kiernan.

While listening to this story about a secret government reservation built in the Appalachians, I kept picturing the tv series Eureka. The super-secret Site X, now known as Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was massive, gated, and heavily guarded. Workers were forbidden to talk about their jobs, even to one another, even to their spouses. They spoke in code, using words like “Tube Alloy.” The author did an excellent job of collecting and using first-hand stories of the now-elderly women who said “Yes” to taking an unknown job in a place that didn’t even exist on any map. Many of them boarded trains without knowing the destination, just trusting that everything would be taken care of. This secret community grew to a population of 70,000 at its height, with precious few knowing they were enriching plutonium for the first atomic bomb that would finally bring an end to World War II.  If you like reading about everyday women who collectively contributed to an historic moment, you will love this book. 
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Work Community – As a working Catholic Mom, I spend 50+ hours of the week either in commute or in the office. On a particularly long, stressful day, I snapped this sunrise photo when I first arrived.
And 11 hours later, I snapped this sunset picture before I left.
These two pictures that bookend my day, felt like a perfect bookend to my week. Wherever you are today, I hope you see beauty all around you, even in the little moments of the day. TGIF!!


Shelly Henley Kelly