by The Rev. Patrick Collins
On Oct. 4, 2014, the diocesan youth program joined with the All Lancaster Emergency Response Team for a Work Mass. Our full day of liturgy began at both St. Edward’s, Lancaster and St. John’s, Marietta with the first half of a Eucharist. At the time of the Offertory we all went to our various work sites and gave of ourselves in an effort to assist those who were in need.
“This was more fun than I thought it was going to be,” announced Danielle DiPace, diocesan youth volunteer. Approximately twenty-five energetic people from the Lancaster convocation gave of their time and talents on a beautiful fall day to help friends with yard work and house chores.
The groups removed air conditioning units, did various yard work duties, cleaned up a parish garden, prepared a local AIDS memorial garden for winter and several other tasks as well. The underlying principle was that our service to others in need was our offering of thanksgiving to God.
“Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!! It is such a joy to know that everyone cares. I can’t thank you enough!” said Ruth McDivitt (as she handed out candy and iced tea to people who were working in her yard.)
In the middle of the afternoon, all of the groups, which started at two different churches, came together at St. John’s, Lancaster for the second half of our liturgy. We ‘restarted’ our mass where we had left off, at the Offertory. At this time, we told stories of the work that we had done and the people whose lives we had impacted. Each group was asked to bring back something from the work that was done. Shrub branches, flower petals, leaves and even a tomato were presented and displayed on tables as symbols of our work. It was a great opportunity to reflect on our ministry.
At the end of the Eucharist, we all gathered together in the parish hall for a meal together. It was a time of fellowship, friendship and community building across several generations and parishes. 9 parishes from the Lancaster Convocation, plus one member of the diocesan staff, were represented in the event.
“I like being able to give back to people who gave so much to me over the years,” announced volunteer Mike Gbur. The work mass is a yearly event, sponsored by the Lancaster convocation.
Thank you to everyone who participated in working, cooking and inviting people into their homes.