Posted December 06, 2012 in MH Roanoke VA:
Notes from Near and Far: Roanoke, Virginia

by Patricia Lawton.

In June, we attended the ordination of four seminarians for this diocese of Richmond, Virginia.

The cathedral was filled to capacity. One of the ordinands, who had emigrated from Columbia, had been preparing for this event for almost ten years. He quietly wept through the whole rite. It was so touching. There is nothing like an ordination to lift up the heart and fill us with joy.

At Roanoke Catholic High School the students are required to do service work as part of their curriculum. Two of them, Emma and Naomi, volunteered on Friday afternoons during June and July. They enjoyed coming, and we were grateful for all the cleaning and gardening they did—among other things.

On Friday, June 29, sections of Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia experienced a derecho (taken from the Spanish meaning "straight ahead," a derecho is a hurricane that doesn’t revolve).

The temperature that day was 106 degrees F (41 C), and the airport clocked 81 mph (130 km) gusts that barreled through Roanoke within a 30 minute period. Many trees came down, and power stations were damaged resulting in thousands of people losing power, some for up to two weeks.

We were without it for five days, and each day the temperature was 102 degrees F (38.8 C.) or higher. The fans, of course, weren’t working, we had no way to get news, and by 8 p.m. each night, it was almost dark inside the house.

We had been told it could be a week or more before power was restored. So, two days after the power went off, we emptied our freezer and took its contents to the Rescue Mission (a homeless shelter), which had power.

A couple weeks later, we had two college students, who were interning for the summer at the Rescue Mission, over for supper. They told us that the day after the storm, all the staff there were asked to pray for food to come in donation. They feed hundreds daily, and they had only enough food for one or two more meals.

Our donation of meat was the answer to their prayers.

In July, we were one of many sites that participated in Catholic Heart Work Camp, a national organization that gathers teens from parishes and brings them to cities for week-long working retreats. Three hundred students from four or five different states stayed at Roanoke Catholic School.

From Monday to Friday, they were assigned to various places to paint, mow, clean, and help in whatever ways were needed. Some went to homes where the owners couldn’t afford to keep up with maintenance or were not physically able to do so. One group worked at the huge food bank, packaging and hauling food.

Sixteen or seventeen students and three adults were assigned to our house. They sanded and repainted our huge front porch, and painted three areas inside the house.

Their work day was punctuated by prayer and a reflection time together after lunch. In the evenings, the students had activities at the school including Mass and praise and worship with professional musicians. It is a very well organized and fruitful organization.

Marie Therese McLaughlin and I attended the closing evening at the school—waving our arms and singing along to deafening Christian rock music with 300 high voltage teens!

We have a steady flow of phone calls and visitors coming through our blue door. Many prayers are requested for employment, for marriage difficulties, and for and by people suffering with terminal cancer or emotional illness.

And for the past few months, there was the intensity in the air due to the upcoming presidential election.

So we continue to take the hand of Our Lady and to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. And we are looking forward to the fruits of this Year of Faith.

P.S. Seen on a sign in front of a local Pentecostal church:

"The essential vitamin for all Christians: B-1."


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