Monday, 13 January 2014

Wild and wonderful days in Pittsfield (MA) (and other places).

I received an e-mail just a while ago from a Pittsfield, MA parishioner.  She wrote
"Michael----just got off the phone with Anita McConnell.....
she wondered if I was still in touch with you and if you remember her.  She worked with you distributing condoms at local bars as part of the "love carefully" campaign through the Red Cross.....she remembers being quite impressed that you would be such a visible partner in this necessary effort to spread the word.  I told her that you would most likely recall that episode in your Pittsfield life!
Well, goodness gracious me!  I had not forgotten that campaign, but I had not thought about it in many years.  Of course I remember Anita, and I also remember the look of panic and shock on a bartender's face when I marched into a local tavern, wearing my clerical collar, and asked him to place a bowl of condoms (and some literature) on the bar.  He agreed to do so.

On a similar note, I received a Facebook message from a colleague in my Cambridge days. She and I had not been in touch in so many years.

She wrote: "I remember you as being .........  an advocate for the disenfranchised"

Those are generous, gracious and kind words. They caused me to get a bit teary eyed.

I am glad that she remembers me as "advocate for the disenfranchised"

I have not always been courageous but I have done my best to follow Jesus in such areas as:

(1) speaking out against anti-Semitism (Jesus was a Jew);

(2)  working and learning from the poor in

(a) Chicopee ( serving anonymously in a feeding programme at a Catholic Church in Holyoke) 
(b) Pittsfield (our parish community meal, and ministry at the Christian Centre),
(c)  Cambridge ( the food pantry at St. James's, and street ministry with the "Outdoor Church"),
(d)  Sarasota (ministering at Resurrection House)

(3)  Opening the doors for gay and lesbian people in a couple of parishes.

(4) Always, always, always working against the nonsense called racism.

None of these ministries are particularly radical, and I have often been reluctant or timid.

But they have seemed to be the "right thing to do" as I have tried to follow Jesus (with varying degrees of commitment).


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