Today’s guest post is written by Fr. Peter Precourt, A.A.
Fr. Peter is a member of our new community in El Paso, Texas, which recently began ministry at St. Francis Xavier Parish. Our efforts at the parish will focus on meeting the spiritual and material needs of migrants; our presence along the U.S./Mexico border will allow us to carry out this work that is at the heart of our Assumptionist charism “to go wherever God is threatened in man and man threatened as the image of God.”
Where do I begin? We are no longer at the Pastoral Center of the Diocese of El Paso. We are now living in our “new home”, the rectory of St. Francis Xavier Parish, since September 18, 2020. The parish is situated just before the bridge into Mexico.
We arrived just as the Diocese was opening church attendance to 25% capacity for all the parishes. This was the opportunity for us to meet some of the parishioners for the first time. We were warmly received by the community. This a very poor parish where almost all work is done by volunteers, especially the Knights of Columbus.
We were beginning to settle into a rhythm of celebrating the scheduled Masses when there was a huge spike of the virus in El Paso and churches closed. Suddenly we were thrust into learning how to livestream Mass on Facebook. Facebook? Did this parish even have it? Well, we found out we not only had one page but three. None of these were the official page of the parish but creations of current and past parishioners. One of the pages seemed to be inactive and another occasionally updated. We were able to find who was overseeing the third page – a current parishioner. Luckily for us we were able to reregister this page with Facebook as the official page of the parish. God was obviously watching over us because this parishioner was also able to do live streaming and post our Masses on YouTube. The blessings multiplied, because she and her husband could also lead the music with violin and guitar. Every Sunday we would livestream a bilingual Mass for the parishioners. Finally she was able to create a website for the parish which is slowly being built up.
On Christmas Eve Day, the diocese reopened to 25% attendance. Since that time we have been able to return to our regular schedule of services. People are slowly coming back as they gain confidence that the virus is less prevalent than before.
He has also been responsible for creating a home for us as a community on the second floor of the rectory. This rectory is very old and has been the source of many problems since our arrival. We had a major plumbing break that took down part of the ceiling in the dining room. We had to replace the microwave, washer, dryer, and repair the garage door. Recently we needed to replace the water heater. Before we arrived, the parish installed some new air conditioning units. They later found out that the duct work was old and faulty so it had to be updated. We often wonder what will be next.
We still await the third member of the community from Mexico. Fr. Chano will hopefully join us in March. Slowly we have been able to make this into our home and look forward to sharing it with you when life becomes more normal.
I will add some pictures so that you can get a sense of some of the things I mentioned.