This year we celebrate the 154th anniversary of our parish St. Francis de Sales! It’s hard for us to think about what it was like in 1866 when the first Mass was celebrated on Christmas Eve at midnight in the little church. I’m sure there was a great deal of joy and perhaps some well-deserved pride on the accomplishment of building the church that would serve the local community of Abingdon. It’s hard to imagine the amount of effort that went into putting everything together: the planning, fundraising, arguments excitement and perhaps even some doubt that it would really happen. And yet today we stand in the very place God chose to put a church back in 1866. If ever there was a time to think about God working in our lives, this is the weekend to do it.
I’m sure as the parishioners looked around the new little church, they were filled with great hope. Their faith was strengthened by being able to worship and pray in the building they were an integral part of producing. They must have felt God was very close to them and Jesus was among them in a special way.
Our Gospel today from Matthew 4:12-23 quotes Isaiah by saying “the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has risen.” A great light shined on the hamlet of Abingdon 154 years ago. Today a great light is shining upon us too because of the people who came before us, and the people we are today have assured that the light of Christ will shine on for the people of Abingdon and surrounding area. Our forefathers provided this church for us. We have decided we want this church to continue to be a symbol of God’s love and gentle care in this cold and sometimes heartless world.
Thank you Lord for choosing Abingdon for your church. Thank you to those who came before us and their foresight in making this parish what it is today. Thank you to all of you who allow us to keep this church going. Know that the Lord is with you and will stay with you as long as you remain open to his presence!
Peace and All Good!