My parents have lived for more than 45 years in what I would consider a pretty modest home on the South Side of Chicago in the Morgan Park neighborhood. As far as I can tell, there is no talk of moving or selling. I am told it was in anticipation of my birth (being the 8th child) that an addition fi nally needed to be added. Over the years, as the nest has emptied out, there seems to be more room than I ever remember (there is no waiting for the bathroom and shower anymore!) and my parents have made some simple improvements. What baffl es me about my parents nowadays with respect to their home is the place where I fi nd them every time I visit: the kitchen. No matter that they now have free reign to their own castle without a bunch of raucous kids and despite a small investment in some comfortable furniture, they still choose to “camp out” in the kitchen. On one hand it might seem strange, but I am not surprised.
For as far back as I can remember, the kitchen has always been the gathering place for my family. It is the place where everyone automatically drifts when we enter the house. For whatever reason, the kitchen has been designated as the place to huddle, debate, counsel, challenge, argue, bargain, laugh, learn, connect, discipline, pray, plea, and of course eat! It is where I learned of the death of my sister and where we planned the funeral Liturgy for my brother. It is where books were spread out and grammar school science projects were created. It is where new girlfriends and boyfriends were introduced and “interrogated” by the siblings! It is where lots of “happy birthday” has been sung and candles on the cakes extinguished. The kitchen has become a sort of sanctuary for my family and my parents preside over it even still.
We GATHER in places that make sense to us. We gather where it feels most natural and comfortable. Today on this Solemn Day of Pentecost, you will hear some simple words that seem to capture the Mission of Old St. Patrick’s: Gathered and Sent. Gathering is so important to us. Whether it is actually here in the physical space of this historic church or gathered in some space and time and with those who share in this passion for great church, our sense of GATHERING in order to be nourished and fed by Spirit is essential to our identity. We need to gather and likewise, we need to be SENT!
I remember many times leaving that kitchen and being sent to my room, sent to school, sent to church, and sent to be with friends. Being SENT means taking the wisdom and the life-giving gifts of the GATHERING and going forth to make a difference. We need to gather and likewise we need to be sent.
Welcome today on this Pentecost to what we have designated as the Feast of the Mission. In the coming months, we will continue exploring and discerning what this Mission means for us at Old St. Pat’s. But like those fi rst disciples who gathered in that room, the gift of Spirit breathed a new life into them so that they might be sent forth into the world.
Breathe on us, O Spirit of God, as you gather us together and as you send us out to make your world a Holy place.
Fr. Tom Hurley