Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sunday Thanks: My Church

I know this post is a bit late (it's already Tuesday!), but I still wanted to write about what I am thankful for this week.

It actually came to me on Sunday while I was at Mass. James and I belong to an awesome church in Albany: Saint Vincent de Paul. When I was in college at Saint Rose, we used Saint Vincent's for our student Mass each week and had a relationship with the parish. Now that I am living in Albany again, I still go to Saint Vincent's and recently became a registered member.

I love the community that exists there. First of all, they have an amazing music ministry which is really important for me. There is also a ton of diversity in age, race, economic status, sexual orientation, etc. At the beginning of Mass, it is always reiterated that everyone is welcome and it is obvious that this sentiment is genuine. The whole congregation also sings! It's beautiful! I have been to so many Masses where no one sings along with the cantor or choir, but at Saint Vincent's everyone sings! It's awesome!

The moment that sparked my idea to write about Saint Vincent's for this edition of "Sunday Thanks" happened during Mass this Sunday as the alter was being prepared for the Consecration. The entire congregation was singing along with an a capella spiritual and you could feel the communion of the people in the notes. As I watched the gifts being brought up to the altar, I noticed that our priest, Fr. Vosko, was seated and it was all women who prepared the altar. They laid out the cloth and set out the bread and wine. They were so reverent and deliberate in their actions, and the sight was beautiful. I was moved by their humble actions, but also the humility of Fr. Vosko as he watched them complete a task that is traditionally reserved for the priest of deacon. I was filled with pride for my faith community and joy at seeing "regular" people participate so intimately in the Mass.

I know that there will be people who read this and won't feel the same way that I do. There are very strong opinions around the role of women in the Church and the changing role of the priest. But before you judge this community and our more liberal approach, let me tell you that our congregation would not even exist if not for lay women and men who are willing to keep it alive. Fr. Vosko is only at our parish to say Mass. The rest of the administration of the parish is done by our Parish Life Director, Betsy. A woman. I'm not typically known for tooting the feminist horn, and I don't consider myself a "feminist," whatever that term even means. But, I am a humanitarian and a Christ follower. I am a Catholic, and I love our faith, but I am also open to changes in the Church that may need to happen in order to keep it alive.

I am so thankful that the people of Saint Vincent's who have so enriched my faith experience, and I am proud to call myself one of them.

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