Parishioners at SS. Peter & Paul Parish in Waterloo and St. Augustine of Hippo East St. Louis are using their faith as a cornerstone to build relationships with one another.
For the first four months of 2017, they decided they would share experiences of faith at each others’ churches. Here’s how it started: When the Jubilee Year of Mercy ended in November 2016, people in those parishes were not ready to let it go. Given the racial tensions in this country that have caused anguish and death in many areas of the country, people in the two parishes wanted to gather with their Catholic faith as the basis of an experiment in reaching out to one another with the liturgy and Sacred Scripture as their common ground.
To that end, about 30 people traveled Jan. 8 to St. Augustine for Eucharist and then a gathering to discuss Scripture, the homily and the experience of the liturgy in an effort to get to know one another.
The group also included a parishioner from Immaculate Conception in Columbia and a parishioner from St. Patrick in Tipton.
According to Karen Seaborn, one of the planners and pastoral associate of adult faith formation at SS. Peter & Paul, the event was a rousing success.
“Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion was especially meaningful for me as I walked to the table amidst Christ’s Body in all those gathered, black and white,” Seaborn said. “I felt that spiritual connection quite strongly.”
Seaborn said about 70-75 people gathered for luncheon after the liturgy to discuss the readings, the homily or personal experiences.
The next sharing took place Feb. 12 at SS. Peter & Paul. About 35 parishioners from St. Augustine were welcomed to the 10 a.m. liturgy.
Again, Seaborn commented on “visuals” of the sharing, noting: “Our gift bearers included two SS. Peter & Paul parishioners and two from St. Augustine of Hippo, a wonderful visual for our parish family.”
After the liturgy, more than 100 people attended the luncheon and faith sharing.
Father Von Deeke of St. Augustine in Hecker joined the group as well as the parish Vincentians, Father Osang Idagbo and Father Sebastian Ukoh.
“A few people shared with the large group how hopeful they felt that this conversation has started,” Seaborn said.
The next gathering will be held March 12 at St. Augustine in East St. Louis at the 9:30 a.m. liturgy, and then the group returns to the 10 a.m. liturgy in Waterloo.