Give comfort to my people!
Recently at the multi-cultured parish where I serve as Pastoral Administrator, one of our young men from Togo introduced to me a couple from Togo in our gathering area after Mass.
Very early that same morning, their 4-year-old son had suddenly died. The family was resettled by an agency in Arizona, but moved to Louisville where their son could receive needed medical help for a serious condition he’d had from birth. They had just begun to see a specialist when his brain shut off his breathing, something they had moved here to prevent. The couple had no family here nor means to cover the costs of having to bury their beloved boy. They also have an older daughter who they had yet to tell about her brother. If anyone needed comfort, it was this mom and dad.
I knew I needed to do more than offer prayer. And because of my years at Catholic Charities, and having been a key part of bringing an Indigent Burial Program there prior to retiring, I made a call to the person we’d hired to lead this incredible program.
Within a matter of hours, the wheels were in motion! In only two days, between the agency and my parish, we were able to secure a funeral home, cemetery with a plot, interment, casket, and service to the family at absolutely no cost to them. You can only imagine the comfort this brought to them. Since then, they have officially joined the parish and have introduced to me several new Togo families to join as well.
Is this not what we do? Does this not fulfill in a very concrete way today’s beautiful Advent words from the prophet Isaiah? Did we not act like that tender Shepherd described by Isaiah and in Jesus’ gospel parable? This is but one recent personal example of what the partnerships between parishes and Catholic Charity agencies do all the time. We seek out the least and little ones, gather and carry them, leading them with care towards healing and wholeness. And like Jesus said, it is the Father’s will that none should be lost.
So let us be heralds of glad tidings by sharing such stories as mine which bring hope and comfort to a nation and world saturated with fear and 24/7 news of violence and despair. We are tangible evidence that God has not abandoned this world, but is here with us — even in the midst of the struggles and challenges our world faces daily. Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God!
Deacon Lucio Caruso is Pastoral Administrator of Saint Ignatius Martyr Parish in Louisville, Kentucky. For twelve years he served as Director of Mission for Catholic Charities Louisville.