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.
As so often happens, our family moved yet again so that my father could take a new pastorate, this time in Manning, Iowa. I only lived there one year, my senior year of high school. The Sacred Heart Parish, like Mother Church, did not hit my radar. It's not that I was a solid Presbyterian. It had more to do with being a confused high school senior and the new student in a new town. I was too busy with everything . . . making all of those decisions in early life that send us on a crash course to broken hearts and broken dreams. And yet, when it all fell apart, I was left with the kind of heart that is ready to learn, ready to hear a new thing, ready to try something other than my own whims.
On this, the seventh day of the first week of Advent, I pray for Fr. Robert Gralapp and Sacred Heart Parish. 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 seventh day of the first week.