Last Saturday, two friends from New Orleans and I were standing in the Old Federal Building looking at the first place prizewinner from the Artprize competition held here in Grand Rapids. The first place winner was entitled “Open Waters no. 24” by Ran Ortner. Everyone who had seen it said almost the same thing to me, “You need to see this.”
I stood in front of a three-canvas painting of the sea. It was beautiful and something I have seen over and over again having grown up on the Atlantic Ocean . I reached the conclusion for a person to have such a comprehension of the sea; he had to have grown up by it or lived on it. The nuances of his work were incredible. The dips in the swells, the white caps, and the coloration of the sea were all ‘spot on’ of a tumultuous ocean. Unfortunately, as I looked at Ortner’s work I could not help but think about the tumult and turmoil that is sweeping our country at this present time.
Our city, Grand Rapids , as well as our whole state and country, has fallen on economic hard times. We are looking at unemployment rates that are staggering. It is an unsettling time and we wait with watchful eyes for the light at the end of the tunnel.
As we began to plan our Mass of Hope, one recurring theme kept surfacing that is affecting our parishioners. It is the unemployment situation. It is not only those who are unemployed, but the owners and managers of the employees struggling to make difficult decisions knowing it has a serious impact on the lives of many and our community at large. As we all know, the current economy doesn’t discriminate. It is impacting everyone regardless of race, age, gender, or family situation. Nobody is unaffected.
It is at times like this, that as a parish family we can come together and find comfort and hope in our faith and in reaching out to one another to lend a helping hand or at least a show of support. So this year, our Mass of Hope is being celebrated for the unemployed AND for those going through difficult times.
The Mass of Hope will be on Thursday, October 29th at 7 p.m. The following week there will be a three night series of seminars beginning Monday, November 2nd with a presentation by Dr. Denise Gribbin on “How to Stay Up, In Down Times”, Tuesday night’s presentation is “Navigating the System/Resource Night”, and Wednesday night there will be presentations on “Impressing the Employer/Landing the Job.”
As I look around this parish, I am filled with such gratitude and love for the people of St. Al’s. Because of this, it becomes very difficult to see those among us struggling. It is very unsettling to me and I hope that the efforts being made by the Parish will somehow make a difference, to ignite the hope and faith that we rely on in difficult times that will get us through to the light at the end of this tunnel.
The sea can be a lonely and treacherous place. Help us to reach out and touch those in great need.
Blessings, Fr. Denis