By Christopher Spiegel
It is autumn 2022 and the leaves are in peak form in the mountains I see on my regular drive from Jay to Farmington. Having returned to Maine almost two weeks ago after a month away, I think it is a perfect opportunity to update everyone on how things are going and what we’ve been up to.
I moved into the St. Rose Rectory on October 1st, the feast day of St. Therese (one of the patron saints of missionaries) and began the start of my missionary year with the Saint Isidore Corps. I was received back with great love and excitement by the parishioners . Picking up right where the summer missionaries left off, I held a bible study for our high school students that first Sunday.
Outside of the high school ministry, my role this year will also include serving as a Campus Minister to the University of Maine – Farmington. I am excited for the opportunity to engage with more college students in the area and hope to increase participation with different ministries at the parish level such as our active Social Ministry. We already have a service-retreat trip planned to Bethlehem Farm in West Virginia for mid-March which I am excited for as this will be a great community building opportunity for the students. Bethlehem Farm is a Catholic Community in Appalachia that transforms lives through service with the local community and the teaching of sustainable practices. They invite volunteers to join them in living the Gospel cornerstones of service, prayer, simplicity, and community, something that we too are striving towards at St. Rose and St. Joseph’s!
Speaking of Social Ministry, there is a lot going on this year and I am grateful to be present for both parishes whenever possible! Our summer missionaries started sharing our joys via Instagram back in June and we try to keep things up to date. Our social handle is @st.isidorecorps, so please give us a follow!
I am also continuing other work we began in the SIC summer missionary programs such as working with the bread guild known as Ora Breads. Ora Breads is a local volunteer bread guild working together to feed the hungry and provide the community with wholesome, healthy, delicious bread! The purchase of Ora Breads helps supports practical assistance to neighbors in the communities surrounding Jay and Farmington. We currently have been providing bread to sell at the local farmer’s market as well as local grocers. It is remarkable to see the level of participation not only within the parish for volunteers but also how well the community is supporting us. On a recent delivery to a grocer I had a gentleman stop me and tell me how much he appreciates not only the taste but the mission of the guild, it is great to see the support of Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
In addition to our bread making efforts, another part of social ministry where St. Isidore Corps has gotten involved is the thrift store which is located in the old-school building across the street from St. Rose of Lima Church. What started off in just one room of the building has now expanded to two floors and seven rooms all within the first year! This social ministry embraces what we call “the mission of presence”, not only to other volunteers but to the community members we encounter each day we are open to serve. Just being there ready and willing to engage in a conversation, while seemingly a small, thing, can be important in developing relationships with those we serve.
We are seeing a rise in ‘regulars’ who not only come to buy but also donate, and even give back with their time in serving alongside other community members and parishioners.
As you can imagine, there is a lot going on at the two parishes of St. Rose of Lima in Jay and at St. Joseph’s in Farmington. It is truly amazing to watch Fr. Paul and to work alongside him.
We are grateful for the support and the mission of St. Isidore Corps and for the prayers of those at the Catholic Company and Catholic Coffee.
Saint Isidore, Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Therese, Saint Christopher, Saint Anne, Saint Catherine, Sts. Peter and Paul, All Holy men and women …. Pray for us!