One of the interesting phenomena of my recent reassignment to St. Francis of Assisi in Triangle VA has been a rather dramatic shift in my sleep patterns. Be it attributable to winter’s approach, different sunlight in this more northern climate, getting on in years, or some as-yet-to-be-diagnosed condition – I am living out the old axiom of “early to bed, early to rise.” By 8:30 pm I am glancing at the clock, thinking whether its too early to go to bed. While I think “maybe I can write for a bit…” that never works out well. So, pull the covers up, settle in and come 3:30 am or 4:00 am life again stirs. And I find I have more energy for the creative things and early morning prayer…and its always surprising what captures my imagination.
Given our location in downtown Tampa, we encounter a range of people — individuals and families, poor and needy — that present their needs and hopes. Our parishioners experience one aspect of those petitions every Sunday as folks gather at or near our church: people asking for money, people selling palm crosses, folks asking for assistance of all kinds. A smaller group of parishioners who make up the Hands of Hope Ministry, see another view as each Saturday they prepare, meet, greet, and feed about 150-200 people. The crowds are always larger at the end of the month when money is a little tighter. The parish staff sees another aspect of the needs from people who daily and constantly come to the office, call, or are referred to us by another charitable entity. Some of these people we can assist, some we cannot because of the request, some we help discern what agency is better equipped to assist them and their need. Continue reading