Monday, August 15, 2011

Sing to the Lord--A Wonderful Ecumenical Experience

 POPS River Revival--Ecumenical Concert (click on this link to see excerpts from the concert)

    I have been coming to Eagle River to assist at St. Peter the Fisherman Parish in the summerti
me since 1995.  After a few summers I became aware of an ecumenical concert put on by Prince of Peace Lutheran Church here in Eagle River. I joined the choir in 2005 and have sung each summer since then (except in 2006 when I had to stay in Florida to take care of health issues). People from many different churches and denominations come together to praise the Lord in song with music from the Great Awakening and Revival periods.  This year there were 105 of us plus the directors.  You can see some excerpts from the concert by clicking on the link above.

   Ever since the Second Vatican council promoted ecumenism I have been a strong supporter of any effort in that direction.  Honest ecumenism doesn't whitewash our differences with other Christians but seeks to celebrate our common ground which is belief in God and in God's Son, Jesus Christ, with the hope that such common sharing will lead to greater unity and the overcoming of our differences.  Right now I think that we are stuck in a time where great steps forward have been taken but we don't know just how to proceed from there.  We certainly need to pray to the Holy Spirit to guide us and to open doors that we don;t seem to be able pass through right now.

   Right from the start i have not only enjoyed singing with POPS, but have been impressed by the deep Christian faith of its members.  This was especially so in 2006 when I could not come to Eagle River.  Not only did I receive prayerful support from the Catholics in Eagle River, Phelps and  Land O'Lakes, but also from the members of the choir from many different churches.  I will never forget that.

   As for the singing part of it I have always loved singing ever since Sr. Mary Magdalene "volunteered" me to join the boys choir at my boyhood parish of St.William's in the Savin Hill neighborhood of Boston.  I was a member of the seminary choir and am told that I do well singing the Mass parts.  Because I'm the presider though I don;t get to sing in the choir.

   POPS gives me a chance to do that.  We practice every Wednesday evening for 6 weeks and have a dress rehearsal on the Sunday night prior to the concert.  The concert runs for three nights (Tuesday through Thursday) and a free will offering is taken each night with proceeds going to local charities.  This year we raised over $5000.00. I hope to keep coming back to POPS and hope that you my readers will seize whatever opportunity presents itself to join with other Christians in prayer, song or promoting works of charity and justice.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Relay For Life

  I have copied in to this entry the column I wrote for the St. Peter the Fisherman parish bulletin on July 31.  Tonight (August 5) I will walk with the St. Peter's team in the Northwoods Relay for life.  I have done this every year since my own diagnosis of prostate cancer 5 years ago.  Every year I also try to do something to raise consciousness about the need for getting the appropriate checkups and screenings.   This blog entry is part of my efforts in that regard

 In the St. Peter's bulletin I wrote:

He (she) has cancer.  This sentence is so often whispered in hushed tones. Cancer takes lives and we don’t like to speak about it, yet millions of people have had that statement made about themselves. Five years ago I left Florida in June and was on my way to Eagle River for the summer.  I had been biopsied for the third time for prostate cancer, but since the first two times were negative I was confident that this time would be as well.  That was not to be.  I was in Atlanta visiting friends as I journeyed north when I got the call from my doctor’s office telling me that I indeed did have cancer.  Instead of continuing north I had to turn south again and return to Florida.  I called Fr. Bob with the news that I would not be able to come to Eagle River that summer.

   Fortunately  I had been going for regular checkups and cancer screenings and my prognosis for recovery and cure was excellent.  After consulting with doctors about possible treatments I chose a radiation approach and things have been just fine so far, though I do get nervous every six months when I go for follow-up exams.

  The good news today is that cancer does not in many cases have to be a death sentence.  There are millions of us in this country  who are survivors and who will be participating in one of the many American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life programs. The Relay celebrates our survival but also works to find both better treatment and even a cure for cancer.

   St. Peter’s has a  team in the Northwoods Relay for Life called Walkers with Soul. I will be joining several parishioners who will participate as cancer survivors The Relay though is not just for survivors.  It is for anyone who wants not only to support them and also for anyone who wants to support the struggle for a cure.  Please consider coming out to Northland Pines High School field on Friday evening, Aug 6 for the opening ceremony and for the beautiful luminaria  ceremony at dusk where candles are lit in remembrance of those who have died of this disease and honoring the survivors as well.  Anyone can join the team even if you are not a cancer survivor.

   Finally I urge everyone to get the cancer screenings that are recommended for your age and gender. Granted that there is squeamishness and humor regarding several of these tests, but remember THEY SAVE LIVES. This is so because most cancers can be treated with early detection. That was certainly so in my case.  I might also add that care of our bodies and doing the things that prevent not only cancer, but other illnesses as well, is a Christian responsibility.  God Bless and hope to see you at the Relay for Life.

   For more on the Relay just click below.

Moving Out and Moving Ahead Cautiosly