The home the Nagels lived in was their family homestead. In 1929, when the Franciscan fathers began to minister to the Polish farm families in the area they first celebrated the Sunday Mass at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Marcyan Nagel, Jessie’s in-laws, until St. Francis of Assisi Church was built. So Jessie’s personal history of the parish and the polish families who established it is quite extensive! Jessie recently moved out of her home into a Senior Living facility. It was so good to hear from her. She gave me a run down on many of the ladies who had been members of St. Francis, most of whom are in their eighties and nineties! It was good to hear how they were doing. Some of them facing health issues in their last years, but their faith is still strong. While many of their contemporaries have passed away, many of whom I personally buried, those who remain of their generation are still a great blessing. I enjoy so much the stories they can tell about the history of their families and their parish.
When I arrived at Good Shepherd Catholic Community, just a little over two years ago, Father Shatzel gave me a list of the homebound parishioners that he so faithfully visited. I try to visit them at least once a month. The list has had names added to it since then, while some on the list have moved on to be with the Lord. But, like the homebound I visited in St. Francis of Assisi Parish and the other parishes I have served at during my priesthood, those I visit have such a rich history to tell about their life experiences. As I visit with them, and hear their stories, it strengthens my faith and makes me appreciate all the struggles and hardships that their generation lived through. As they continue their life on this earth and draw ever closer to death which awaits us all, I am encouraged by their perseverance and fidelity to the gospel message and the ways they have lived out the Paschal Mystery, the ongoing dying and rising with Christ. I encourage you to visit our parishioners who are homebound or in Nursing Homes and to ask them about their lives. Many of them might not be able to share much about what their lives are like now, but most people seem to light up when they begin to share about the past experiences of their life. While the elder members of our families and parish communities are still with us may we take the time to be with them and give them the opportunity to share their stories. In doing so we show them our love and respect, and we might even learn some lessons that will help us in our lives as followers of Jesus.
As parishioners and family members grow older they often deal with more and more health issues so I encourage you to ask for the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick for them. If you are in need of receiving the Sacrament of the Sick I encourage you to do so. You can call the church office (364-7197) to schedule a time for me to meet with you either at church or if you are homebound at your house. If you are able to attend Mass you can ask me to anoint you after Mass. I encourage this approach especially when you are going in for surgery or some other medical procedure or course of treatment. I will also be offering the Sacrament of the Sick a couple times a year during the monthly Mass at Howd Nursing Home in Moravia. We celebrate the Eucharist at the Nursing Home on the second Tuesday of the month at 9:30 a.m., all are invited to participate in the Eucharist at the Nursing Home, it isn’t just for the residents. Your presence at Mass with them could help brighten their day.
God bless you, Father Bill