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The following report comes to us from evangelist Nancy with our Lower Bucks County team:
The weather was less than ideal when Deacon Mark and I met in the parking lot of St. Joseph in Ambler, so we decided to drive to visit inactive parishioners. We arrived at the first house, rang the bell and were met by a pleasant woman in her early 70s who invited us in. Turns out “Kay” is still an active Catholic, but now attends a nearby chapel that focuses on social issues like immigration and poverty. The reason she stopped attending our parish was its lack of outreach groups, and she sincerely wants to help the poor and marginalized. After a half hour of talking, we blessed her home before taking leave.
We drove to the next home, which was under major renovation. Turned out the people that we wanted to visit had moved away. (As we left, we regretted not inviting the new owners to the parish. We resolved to keep that in mind for future visits.) When we knocked on the door of the next home, a woman invited us in. We explained the reason for our visit and asked “Martha” if she had any ideas on what the parish could do to revitalize the faith community. She told us that she’d become inactive because she preferred to pray from home. Mark told her that while the Church certainly encourages a prayer life at home, there was a value to coming together as a community. As he explained how the church community helped him when his 8-yr. old daughter died suddenly in 2000, the doorbell rang. A woman came in carrying a triangular wooden box shaped like the folded flag used at funeral committals, which she presented to the husband. We could tell that she was also there to console the couple. The box had the name of a man, along with his birth and death date (16 Feb 2021). We instantly knew the couple had just lost their son, an Army veteran. We teared up as we offered them our heartfelt condolences, and the grieving couple knew that we understood their pain from our own losses. We told them that we didn’t know their son had passed when we set off for their home that afternoon, and that the encounter had to be the work of the Holy Spirit. “Martha” tried hard to keep her composure but wasn’t ready to talk with us. But she eagerly took our goody bag when we told her that it contained our contact info. We prayed for the family, blessed their home, and gave them a big hug before departing.
At that point, Dcn. Mark had to return to the parish for the 4 PM vigil, but we were both deeply touched by the last encounter. We had no doubt of the need for such personal visits to the inactive members of our faith community, and thanked God for guiding our mission and leading us specifically to the bereaved couple. Upon returning home, Mark sent the couple a condolence letter, and we hope that they contact us.
Praised be Jesus Christ!