The harvest is plentiful….

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When I first read today’s gospel I thought immediately of my beginning days in the Formation for Ministry program. There is always work to be done in spreading God’s word and in caring for His people. I thought long and hard, prayed a lot, resisted at first and then in 1988 met with my pastor about entering the process in the area of Ministry to Sick and Elderly (later Pastoral Care) as I had been visiting the home-bound for several years. But as plans sometimes are, mine was changed pretty quickly. By the end of the interview, I was making plans to form a bereavement ministry for the parish!

Jesus sent them out in pairs….I needed a whole team!….And I needed guidance. The 72 were sent in pairs to support one another. They also had guidance from the “Master Mentor,” Jesus Himself. I received much of my mentoring from a wonderful woman, Nan Newman, who had a very successful ministry at St. Margaret’s Parish in Mattydale. Sister Monica Nortz, who at that time was at Immaculate Conception in Fayetteville answered my request for assistance: “We are a fledging group, just getting started. But I’ll help you if I can.” (To my knowledge they were the only two bereavement ministries in the Syracuse area at the time.)

“I send you out, lambs among the wolves…..” No one said ministry would be easy—our first meeting was held without the pastor who had a conflict, but returned by the end of the meeting –with an assignment for us. A 24 year old parishioner had been killed in a whaling expedition! What a way to start! And early on a very willing team member had to resign as her child care plans fell through. (Bereavement ministry is somewhat “spur of the moment.”) Then one of our most available members was seriously injured in a car accident. But in spite of all of this, we had Christ’s full support and we were able to bring some of His solace (I think) to His people at a most difficult time in their lives. When I moved to Cortland, He graced a very capable team member to take the lead and she developed the funeral luncheon and choir in addition to the liturgical preparation.

This was our experience. We are ALL called to assist others on their journey to the Kingdom. Doing so is part of our own journey to reaching the Kingdom. Every day is a “harvest day” whether it is at home, in school, at the office, on the playground or in the parish! There are many things we can do for Christ and if we don’t, they will go undone. We are called not merely to be good people, but to spread the word and love of Christ!

Linda Caminiti