Happy 75th Anniversary to Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish Community! and thanksgiving for those original 16 brave and Spirit-filled Black Catholic founders who dreamed of a parish where they could worship in truth and dignity!
And Happy Birthday to the Spiritan Community who along with those first 16 Black Catholics helped found this parish. The Spiritans were founded on Pentecost Sunday in 1703 and so it is no coincidence that Fr Joseph Hackett chose that the first Mass was held on Pentecost Sunday in 1945 at the home of Lawrence and Jessie Butler. And from that small Spirit-filled group of Black Catholics, Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Parish was born and today we celebrate our 75th anniversary!
Congratulations to all of you, our current parishioners and to all of those who came before us who have all opened themselves to be led by the Spirit and join together as a family of faith and live our discipleship of Jesus Christ by living out Jesus’ clarion call to love one another as I have loved you. And we are able to do that because we are filled with the Holy Spirit!
St. Augustine said that the Spirit blows where the Spirit wills…not exactly comforting if you are someone who likes things neat and orderly or if you prefer to have life all figured out and neatly pack-aged. Most of us would prefer to see life’s decisions as right or wrong, good or bad…as if everything in life were black and white. The problem with life is that most of the time we are living in the grey, everything is not black and white! This is where the Holy Spirit offers counsel, the challenge is to be open to The Spirit’s counsel! The Holy Spirit blows where it wills and inspires and guides whomever it chooses, whenever and wherever S/he chooses. Most of us get use to a particular routine and we find comfort in doing things in a particular way and we find discomfort when our routine gets changed by outside influences or when we are forced to do things in a different or new way. It is no different in the church, we all get comfortable in the way we worship, in the way we pray, in the way we sing, in what we sing, and then when change comes we suddenly are set off center and we feel “off balance” at the change or new ways. We are experiencing it right now, this is different, this is not the normal way we “gather” to celebrate Eucharist.
I am sure that many in the church today see the Pope’s challenge to live a radically gospel centered life as a change from what they were used to. In answering the Gospel’s call, Pope Francis has called us out of the church buildings and into the streets to be a “field hospital” where binding up the wounds of the poor and brokenhearted is a priority. The Pope is following the call of Christ, who calls us to be a welcoming presence to immigrants and refugees, to seek out the lost and forsaken and to “be” the word of peace in the presence of war, to “be” the word of love spoken to the lonely and marginalized of the world, to “be” the word of justice and equality spoken in the midst of injustice, racism and exclusion.
What word of justice and equality do we speak in the face of the horrific, brutal killing of George Floyd by a white police officer? And just weeks before, the shooting of another unarmed black man, the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery by two white vigilantes. What words do we speak and what actions do we take? President Obama wrote on Friday “This should not be normal in 2020 America. It can’t be normal. If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must do better”… “but it falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station – including the majority of men and women in law enforcement who take pride in doing their tough job the right way, every day – to work together to create a “new normal” in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts”!
As well, we are called to be part of the solution, in our local community, nationally and internationally. While all of this can all seem overwhelming, we need to remember that we are not called to do all this by ourselves but rather it is in and through the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit within us and around us that we are able to do all good things! As we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost let each of us ask ourselves to where and to what is the Holy Spirit calling me in my life?