By Andrew Sensenig, OMI
“To receive mercy and to give it is, then, to participate as son (or daughter) of the Father, in the work of the new creation and of redemption.”
This quote from Thomas Merton’s essay, ”The Climate of Mercy,” came alive in Sitka from May 20 to May 26, 2016 at our parish, St. Gregory the Nazianzen, when we welcomed the Youth Mission Team from Our Lady of Angels in Kenai, Alaska.
The group was led by Deacon Kevin Woodvine, who is a Permanent Deacon at Our Lady of Angels with two adult volunteers, Ms. Heather Stockton and Ms. Karla Smith and the rest of team were high school students of the Our Lady of Angels Youth Group.
Their mission was to simply do works of mercy around our parish. Some of their good works was assisting us in getting the windows of our buildings clean, but the more important work was to reach out to the elders of the parish.
This meant they would assist in serving lunches to our elders at the Senior Center and doing home visits to the home bound. But their mission did not stop there, our parish members came out to feed them, offer hikes, and to accompany the Youth Group to different cultural events.
Seeing these Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy like, “Comfort the Sorrowful, Visit the Sick, Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, and Shelter the Homeless” being shared with the Youth Mission Team and members of our parish reminded me of the virtue which is often seen as the keystone of being a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, which is “simple hospitality.”
We are called to share in small gracious ways to love each other. Often, the best ways are to receive another person’s gifts.
That is what happened here between the Youth Mission Team from Our Lady of Angels and the parishioners here at St. Gregory the Nazianzen.