Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Four years and more to go

Today I begin updating my blog only discover I have not shared what is pounding in this missionary heart since August.  Time sure moves fast when the Holy Spirit is filling it.  There have been many joyous moments these last two months. 
Blessed Teresa Dancers

The biggest news is that both missions have been open now for four years.  This Sunday, Oct. 18,
 I have been asked to make a presentation to the Catholic Foundation of East Tennessee on our  progress, specifically, of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Church in Maynardville, TN.  There is certainly progress to celebrate, but there is also much to do. Among the celebrations are that we have grown from 26 people at the first Mass to 130 families.  We have more people taking more responsibilities and sharing the faith.
One of three Gospel Choirs who performed for our annual fund raiser

Our biggest news is that we are hoping to break ground on a church building the Spring of 2016.  The Master Plan was approved on August 18, 2015. The architect has been hired and the building committee is actively meeting.  This truly is an exciting time.
The Master Plan for our 24 acres and future home of BTC

To accomplish the building, monies are needed.  To this extent the Capital Campaign  brought in over  206,000.00 dollars in pledges.  That is incredible and represents a huge sacrifice on the part of the  people.  Yet, this still leaves much to be raised.  Our second annual carnival raised over 15,000.  So  progress is being made.  Yet, we will still need to borrow money to complete the project.
Raising Money at the Heritage Festival

The challenge, however, is how to still be church in during this intense time of raising funds and planning to build.  Church is not a building, it is the people of God in service to others and Christ.  Our communities still need to strengthen and deepen our Catholic Faith.  We only have one person in the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults). Thus, we need to reach out to the over 60% unchurched.  Many of our Spanish families come occasionally, but not every Sunday.  Our Adult English Bible Study Class is not very large.  Our outreach to the poor is limited and largely dependent on outside donors. Four years has seen a lot, but we are still just beginning.
Quinceanera is one of the many happy events of the summer

Steps to meet this challenges are being taken.  Our faith formation teachers are attending classes to be better teachers.  We are helping five to six families a month with basic financial needs.  We are active in the food pantries.  Home Repair continues, mostly, through the Volunteer Program on Joppa Mountain.  Progress is being made, but we are not there yet.
Back to School give a way
Food Pantry outreach at Tomato Festival

The Church building is an important step, but if the community inside is not strong, the structure will not matter.  This is the current challenge, how to build both a building and a community of faith.  With God's help all is possible.

Sharing Faith
Sharing Food