Last Sunday May 19, I celebrated Eucharist at Saint Andre Bessette Church for the last time. I want to share with you the blessing that I received from Tom Dulley. Click here.
Also, below is the text of Carleen’s testimony after communion for Andy Noethe and me. I am so grateful for all the kind words and thoughts during my final days at the parish.
I’m Carleen. I’ve been a parishioner and a volunteer for the last seven years. I came here with a lot of pain and brokenness- a long history of metal and emotional illness and a trail of wreckage dragging behind me—and I ached to belong! Fr. Ron and Andy Noethe, have both had a great deal to do with my healing and growth over these past seven years, and, with the development of the gifts and strengths that are mine, today. Together we’ve walked a journey and I hold in my heart many memories with will be a comfort in these days of transition.
It was Fr. Ron who invited me to have my feet washed during the Holy Thursday liturgy that first year. I’d lonely been here a couple of weeks and was hurting really bad. I remember that I cried through that entire experience. To think that someone would want to touch me!
It was father Ron who invited me to become a lector and a Eucharistic minister. I love being a lector. It’s like standing at the head of a long line of people stretching all the way back into Old Testament days—people proclaiming the Word of God! Fr. Ron has helped me to learn to love the Word of God and that is something that I will carry with me as he moves on.
It was also Fr. Ron who invited me to be one of the people to help carry our beautiful Icon of Christ the Healer, on he the day it was installed. We processed around the block, presenting it to the four directions and lifting Christ the Healer to our neighbors in the needy corner of the world.
I remember the many times Fr. Ron has led us out to the street to pray for someone who was been murdered – to bless and pray and reclaim our streets and to witness to the dignity of human life.
But most of all, I value the profound reverence with which Fr. Ron approaches the sacraments in this most sacred place. His witness announces the very real presence of God in people whose lives are shattered by poverty and homelessness- by mental illness and addictions – by isolation and profound loneliness. People who ACHE to belong! Fr. Ron speaks boldly and yet, so quietly – of the truth of human experience – for people who have no voice of their own – and yet they bear the face of Christ! I have leaned here, to seek God in those I meet, in the “Holy Ones”.
Andy was the one I went to learn how to truly become a “part” of this Community. On the morning of May 1st, 2006, I presented myself out on the sidewalk at 9 AM and asked him if I could come in and volunteer – he said “sure!” And with that, I was on my way. I learned about other people’s suffering and I began to learn compassion. But, in this setting, I also get to address some of my won baggage – my shortcomings, reactions, fears and anxieties that would surface in relationship to other people – I received a lot of help from others — “guest” and fellow volunteers alike and I have made a lot of friends.
Throughout these years, Andy has been a strong and patient support and example. He has never judged or criticized or shamed. He has let me find my own way. I have also watched him give this same respectful gift to others as well. Andy consistently treats people with dignity and respect, even if they are angry and lashing out, his attitude expresses care and concern – and, if nothing else, provides a safe way to leave with hope for a better experience another day, when they are feeling better.
The last thing I’d like to mention is about “greetings’ and “sendings”. Andy starts each morning by sa8ying to volunteers – ‘welcome friends” and ends each morning as he sends us off by saying “be good!” There is much to reflect on in those simple words. So, thank you both for all you’ve shared.
Andy, you are in my heart and prayers, “ Be good!”
And, Fr. Ron, there are a whole lot of people out there waiting who haven’t told you their stories, yet! So, Listen! And go in Peace!