Posts Tagged ‘Vita Nova Women’s Retreat’

A beautiful church, a wonderful homily, a heavenly liturgy

Monday, January 17th, 2011

I had the privilege of attending liturgy at St. Marie Church in Manchester, NH, the home parish of many members of  Vita Nova, the organization running the women’s retreat that my partner, Ann Wagstaff, I will be leading the weekend of March 11-13. Ann and I were invited to mass at St. Marie’s so we could worship with the retreat team before we had our meeting about the upcoming retreat.

I looked forward to the prospect of attending mass with these wonderful women but I had no idea just how beautiful St. Marie’s was, and I was pleasantly surprised and quite fascinated by the story of this magnificent cathedral, and its phoenix-like rising from the ashes of disrepair and a dying congregation.

This is a church that has been lovingly restored, both physically and spiritually. Approximately 27 years ago, a young 33 year priest was assigned to a dying French parish in the midst of of the city of Manchester. The church building was in desperate need of repair, but the congregation needed a much deeper healing. According to the stories I heard that Sunday, this young paced the altar in the empty church, begging God for an answer and he received a rather unusual answer: hire an evangelist. An evangelist? Where would the money come from? But following the example of Mary, the priest said yes and proceeded to secure the funds. A few days after saying yes to God, a parishioner came forward with a donation for $20,000. The priest was off and running! He hired an evangelist and the two of them gave presentations and conferences to the local area, teaching and sharing the faith. The parish community began to grow.

The priest then made another bold decision: he discontinued the practice of bingo, their largest source of funds. That occurred many years ago and today the parish is thriving. Over the years, the congregation grew in faith and numbers and today, St. Marie’s is as beautiful and healthy inside as it is on the outside.

This pastor has since been transferred after 27 years of faithful service The current pastor,  Fr. Moe, gave a beautiful homily based on the Gospel story of John the Baptist, recognizing Jesus as the Christ, and crying out that He was the Lamb of  God. In the homily Father spoke of references to the Lamb of God in the old and new testaments, concluding with the Book of Revelation where the 4 creatures are worshipping God on the throne by crying out, “Holy, holy, holy!” Fr. Moe spoke of the eternal liturgy taking place in heaven and how every earthly liturgy is connected with that heavenly one. In essence, we we were worshipping God with the saints, the angels and the heavenly hosts. As I heard Father Moe’s words and gazed upon the magnificent altar of St. Marie’s, it was easy to be transported straight to heaven, and imagine the heavenly Father, Son and Holy Spirit on the throne. When you look at this slide show I’ve prepared, I think you’ll see why.

A healing miracle has occurred for me since visiting this beautiful church and soon I will post about it. Stay tuned . . .

In the meantime, enjoy the slides of this lovely cathedral.

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