Spreading the Good News
Fellowship is encouraged at every opportunity, but it’s much more than just the fellowship. The priests at Our Lady of the Desert preach and teach the Good News of plentiful redemption.”
By Margaret Beymer
I discovered the Redemptorist Renewal Center about 2011. It was not a parish at the time, but masses were offered on Saturdays and Sundays. I found myself attending Sunday mass. The congregation was small, especially in the hot summer months. Many of the participants were ‘snowbirds,’ those who live in the northern states but spend the winter months, from about October through March, in a warmer climate. Many of them were seniors. I found a real sense of community among those attending mass winter and summer. Redemptorist priests minister to the congregation and run the renewal center.
My first involvement at the Center was on a committee preparing for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Redemptorist Renewal Center in 2014. It was a wonderful celebration. Many people were involved and I think it was then that I realized what the Redemptorists meant to me and to the community they serve.
Our Lady of the Desert is designated a conventual parish, which is a church attached or belonging to a convent or monastery. While attending mass, listening to homilies where the priests share stories about themselves and their families as they relate to the liturgical readings, and feeling the genuine warmth and interest of the priests in the lives of the church community, I feel very much at home.
Fellowship is encouraged at every opportunity. Some of the celebrations include: Mother’s Day, celebrated with a desert ‘party’ after the 10 am mass on Mother’s Day. During mass that day mothers are recognized and applauded; at every Sunday mass, birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions are recognized; at Christmas and Easter a buffet is presented for those who may be celebrating without family, or for those who would rather not cook! A potluck bar-b-que is held with the help of the Knights of Columbus during the summer. The participation is wonderful, and everyone has a great time.
The Redemptorist community give of themselves tirelessly and it is apparent in the growth of the congregation. A project to enlarge the church is nearing completion. In the meantime, we are ‘bursting at the seams.’
These are some of the external reasons I feel at home at Our Lady of the Desert parish, but it’s much more than just the fellowship. The priests at Our Lady of the Desert preach and teach the Good News of plentiful redemption. Engaging members of the congregation by inviting us to become Redemptorist Associates is an extension of living and teaching the Good News of plentiful redemption.
I knew nothing about the Redemptorists and next to nothing about St. Alphonsus before I came to Our Lady of the Desert church. When the opportunity arose to learn about St. Alphonsus and the Redemptorists, I decided to explore the possibilities. I am so glad that I did. Under the guidance of Father Paul Coury, and Lee Morrison, we read and studied the Redemptorist story, beginning with the life of St. Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer. The lives of some of the other men and women who were instrumental in spreading the Good News of God’s plentiful redemption were also studied. In addition, we learned about other groups of Redemptorist Associates in the United States and Canada.
During our meetings, tapes by Anne Walsh were shown in which she told us about her experiences as a lay associate in different locations. Anne paid a visit to Tucson to meet us. She outlined how other Redemptorist groups are coming together to spread the Good News of plentiful redemption. She is an inspiration to us all.
Time spent learning about Our Mother of Perpetual Help, has allowed us to begin or deepen a devotion to her. We discussed the symbols represented in the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. Last year we were also privileged to have the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help that was commissioned by the Redemptorists in Rome at the Redemptorist Renewal Center. We explored the elements of the Crib, the Cross, the Eucharist, and Mary, and the special significance they have for Redemptorists.
During the formation of the group, we met to study together, to ask questions, to pray, and to begin building our community. We discussed how we as individuals, and as a group, can follow in the footsteps of St. Alphonsus to reach out to the abandoned, the homeless and the poor. At the end of each meeting, we were invited to continue our conversations while sharing a meal in the dining room of the Renewal Center. These times allowed us to interact in a more personal way with other members of our association.
As the commitment ceremony drew close, we were each asked to choose a mission, something special that we could do or are already doing to spread the gospel of plentiful redemption in our everyday lives.
At the commitment ceremony on January 20 we signed a written pledge to help spread the Good News of plentiful redemption. Our mission choice is something personal, with special meaning to each of us, but it is about giving of ourselves—our time, our talents—to help those most in need: the abandoned, the poor, or those who have not yet heard the Good News of the gospel.
As I follow my mission, I know that by giving to others, I reap blessings for myself as well. As a Redemptorist Associate, I have a responsibility to do my best to make this world a better place. Through Our Mother of Perpetual Help, and by the grace of God, I will succeed.