Sunday, June 27, 2010

First Week in Eufala

Hey Ya'll,

After a week here in Eufala, it is clear that boredom will play no role in my summer here.

I tried to take some pictures this week that would give ya'll a glimpse of Eufala and some of the things going on.

First of all, let's get oriented---here is where Eufala is on the map:

It is not very clear on this picture, but like I said last week, Eufaula is located on a very big lake--Lake Eufala. This Lake is chock-full of big mouth bass. So much so, that as you drive past the city limits, you are welcomed by a big sign boasting, "Welcome to Eufala! Big Bass Capital of the World." Pretty impressive hunh? Father told me that within three days of that sign being put up, some locals had torn down the"B" in "Bass" showing the World that in addition to fish, Eufala is steeped in a rich tradition of humor. hahaha

Earlier this week Father David took me on the grand tour of Eufala. Here are some of the stops we made.

Not only is Lake Eufala filled with bass, but alligators too! Just on the edge of town rests a gas station which is famous for its alligator-viewing deck. Here I am below, risking my life to behold these famous Eufalan Gators.

Notice the fence that is shielding me from danger. This was only erected a few years ago. Before people could get even closer to the gators in their natural environment. Also, just about 50 ft beyond the sign is a wooden deck extending out over this swamp, with several picnic tables where families would come and enjoy a nice afternoon picnic while watching the gators. Now this deck is off-limits, as it is behind the fence. I am wondering if the gators started joining the families for their picnics.....

Wanting to really immerse myself in this experience, Father and I headed towards the deck to see if we could spot a gator. And sure enough...

Could it be???

It is hard to believe that I survived to tell about it! But here I am...and Father made it out alive too! hahahaha. Thank God for his protection....and for metal fences.

After seeing the gators, we headed to get a good look at Lake Eufala. We headed out to "Lake Point," a popular area framing the North side of town. Here I am in front of the Lake.

As you can see...Waterfowl Hunting is Prohibited in this particular area of the Lake. The small sign on the bottom right is probably too small for you to read. It let Father and I know, that some more gators were in the area...but we were not to harm them.

Here is me on the pier with the Lake behind me:

In the parking lot was another sight to behold---the majestic Chatahoochee Princess. This beautiful Riverboat has seen better days...and wetter days. I am not sure about the history of this riverboat...but it is obvious that she has many stories to tell. I hope to be able to share at least one with ya'll before the summer's end.

Although Eufala is humble in size, it is one of the richest sites in Alabama historically speaking. At least as early as 1730, Eufala was inhabited by three different tribes of Creek Indians. Thus, Eufala is believed to be a Creek Indian word meaning "high bluffs."

Later Eufala was settled in 1816 after General William Irwin, a hero of the War of 1814, was granted several thousand acres of land in the neighboring Henry County. Consequently the town was known as "Irwintown" for awhile until rediscovering it more traditional name several years later.

As you drive towards downtown, you encounter one of, if not THE, most classic Old South streets I have ever seen. Old trees hang over your head and antebellum houses gaze at you from either side. The most famous of these homes is the Shorter Mansion. This originally was the home of John Gill Shorter, the governor of Alabama during the Civil War. Here is a shot of his home.

Here is another one of the many historic homes in Eufala.

Every April, Eufala hosts a pilgrimage in which visitors can come and tour all of these historic homes for free.

So, there is a glimpse of Eufala. You really are just going to have to come and visit to understand all that Eufala has to offer. Here is the city's website, where you can find more info about this historic, Old South city--Eufala, AL.

Other than touring Eufala and trying to promote it to others...what have I been doing here?

At the heart of my every day is serving for Mass. Here is a picture of Father and I after Mass on the Feast Day of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher--two English saints martyred by Henry VIII.

The Mass is the most powerful and important prayer of the Catholic Church. The Second Vatican Council refers to it as the "Source and Summit" of our lives of faith as Catholics. In this ancient and sacred prayer (aka. "sacrament"), we believe that simple bread and wine are transformed into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. In the Mass, Jesus offers himself to his people fully through the sacrifice of the priest's life united with the faith and prayers of all the faithful. This is the heart of Catholic life...this is the heart of the naturally, this is the heart of my summer pastoral experience here in Eufala.

We have Mass every day at 8 AM. On Saturday, we travel about an hour North to another small town called Union Springs where we celebrate one Mass in English and another in Spanish. On Sundays, one English and one Spanish Mass is celebrated here in Eufala.

There are a handful of members here at Holy Redeemer in Eufala that are too sick to come to Mass. Some live in their homes and others are in nursing homes and hospitals. On Tuesday, Father and I visited all of our sick parishioners. We visited with them, caught up, prayed with them, and brought them the Eucharist. I will be visiting the sick of the parish on my own from now on, once a week as will Father Shoemaker. That way they get twice the normal visits. Hooray.

After Mass each Monday, the members of the Parish offer a food pantry starting about 9AM. They put together enough food for about 30 families. People begin to show up at the Church as early as 6 AM! I was so impressed by their organization and charity. The entire project is run by the parishioners and funded by their personal donations.

Wednesday night I attended the Youth Group meeting. It was great to get to know them. About half of the youth are Anglo and half are Hispanic. I was so pleased to see this! I told them that their friendships are such blessings for they are and will help the Church to become more fully ONE.

Another thing Father and I are working on in collaboration with the Youth Group is Vacation Bible School. It starts July 12 and runs through the 15th, so we are trying to get everything ready. Father David came up with the theme and everything. He is a creative person and seems to love this outlet to create, invent and prepare. One day this week, I helped him to make a couple videos which he will use for VBS.

Like I said last week, Father has invested in several different mascots for the parish and local community. Also he has invested in a green screen so that he can incorporate the mascots into special videos for the kids. I had the honor of dawning the Kangaroo suit! Check it out.

Just before completing the transformation...



As I told Father, that was my first "Mascot Experience." He assured me it would not be my last...hahaha. Nice!

Thursday, is Yard work day. Since the parish is so small, the budget does not allow for many paid services. Thus yard work, cooking, cleaning, etc. must all be done by Fr. Shoemaker and his flock. After two years in Rome, I found myself relishing a day under the hot Alabama sun wielding a weed-eater. There is something about accomplishing a task by the sweat of your brow that makes you feel human. There is another thing about it which makes you better appreciate those who do earn their living by the sweat of their brow day in and day out.

Friday is my day off. This Friday I went back to Montgomery to spend some time with my family and friends. Generously, Father is allowing me to spend the night at home and meet him on Saturday in Union Springs--located about half way in between Montgomery and Eufala.

On Saturday, once arriving in Union Springs, I went and visited Mrs. Ruth bring her Communion--an elderly lady who is not able to come to Mass. Then at around 1PM I headed to one of the nearby trailer parks where many of the Hispancis live. One of the trailers was donated by my home parish in Montgomery (Church of the Holy Spirit) and serves as the "Centro Catholico" for the community. I was asked to come each Saturday and offer classes for the kids in the area--helping them with English, grammar, Bible, math...basically anything they need help with.

When I arrived, however, only three of the kids were around--Rotillio, Rey Naldo, and Joli. These three siblgins proved to be my guardian angels. They suggested that we ride around the trailer park in my truck inviting all the kids to come. They knew where all of the Catholic kids lived. About 30 minutes later my truck was packed with kids ready for class! It really was a sight to see....I wish I had a picture to share...maybe next week.

The older kids helped me with the younger kids, and with the grace of God...somehow it all worked out...depsite me having no real idea what I was getting into or how to go about it. Yet another reminder---God is good.

At one point, the doorknob to the classroom fell off and we quickly realized we were trapped in the room!!! While I was trying to keep everyone from totally freaking out, one of the older girls Angeliz opened up the window and hollered at another kid to come into the trailer and open the door. Again, by the grace of God, he was able to get into the trailer and free us! hahaha. I am really looking forward to getting to know those kids this summer.

So, that is a little glimpse into what I have been up to this week...and what I will be up to over the summer.


Here are some great pictures taken at the Priestly Ordination in Mobile on June 12th.

Here are the latest and greatest shots of my nephew Connor
Some Videos of Con-Man: You will see breathtaking footage of Connor taking on Green Beans and of Connor taking on something called a "Shoo Fly"--it is a toy that my Grandad Ed (aka Toad) used when he was a kid. Quite the heirloom--from Great-Granddad to Great-Grandson.

I have been meaning to share this link for awhile now. It is a website designed by one of my closest friends in Rome--Rich Mastrogiacomo. Rich is studying for a diocese in New York called Rockville Center. Rich is from a classic Italian-American family...if you couldn't tell from his name. Before entering seminary, Rich was a professional drummer. Originally he trained as a jazz drummer, but can play just about anything. He was part of a band called "The Lift" for awhile which you can find on iTunes. While he was playing with them, they went on tour with a band called "Guster" which many of you have probably heard of. Also, one time at a large music-fest, Rich and his band opened for the Red Hot Chili Peppers! The diversity in seminary really is pretty mind-boggling.

Rich still loves music and loves playing. He also likes to compose music. This past year his has been writing and mix some music on his laptop. Some of the songs he has made available on this site. These songs are great for meditation and prayer. Take some time and check this out. You will hear more about Rich in future posts.

Someone sent me this link. Apparently a very witty nun in Arizona landed a TV regular evening spot. Her program is called "Late Night Catechism." She is a dynamic speaker, funny, and an effective teacher. Check it out.


Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter, first say,
'Peace to this household.'
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves his payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
'The kingdom of God is at hand for you.'
Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you,
go out into the streets and say,
'The dust of your town that clings to our feet,
even that we shake off against you.'
Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand.
I tell you,
it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town."

The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said,
"Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name."
Jesus said, "I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power to 'tread upon serpents' and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven."

Signing Off

Alright ya'll. Let's pray for one another. Know I will pray for all who read this post, in a special way each day at Mass. Let me know if there is anything specific I can pray for.

Peace, Love, Gators, and JOY.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your post on Eufala, It seams like a very nice Southern town. I would love to get there some day and see the Antebellum homes.