This Advent, I plan to spend time each day praying for one parish (and her priest) from the state of Iowa. I no longer live in Iowa, but it is my childhood home. Since I cannot go to Iowa for Advent and Christmas, I will pray for special Iowa places from my Missouri home.
My second Iowa home was at Hoover, Iowa. Don't try to look it up on a map. You aren't likely to find it. And if you were to drive there, you would realize immediately that there is almost nothing to see, save a parsonage (where the pastor and family live), a small white country church and an adjacent cemetery. On the other side of the gravel road, there is a farm. The Hoover family lives there - they have for generations - and that is how the little church got its name. Hoover Wesleyan.
I learned to love God in this place - with all the devotion and full trust of early childhood. God was everything, when I was a child of four years.
Even though I had not received the grace of baptism, the Lord was calling me to come closer to His Sacred Heart.
It is fitting, then, that the nearest Catholic parish was named Sacred Heart. It was a few minutes away, in Walker, Iowa. When I was old enough to go to school. The bus would stop at the Hoover Church and pick my sister and me up. We would drive those back roads of Iowa, through the village of Troy Mills, and stop at the elementary school in Walker.
I never saw Sacred Heart parish. I only know it exists because I found it on the Internet.
But the parish is there. And so, I know, the Eucharist is there - giving light and life to the communities where I lived and played and learned so long ago.
On this, the second day of the first week of Advent, I pray for Fr. David Ambrosy and the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Walker, Iowa.
May those who are not Catholic - yet live near this parish - see the light of the Sacred Heart laity lived out in the community. And may the Holy Spirit bring about many conversions through their faithful witness, with that same divine breath that came upon a young Jewish girl in Nazareth.
Blessed second day of the first week.