There are many groups and events that our Catholic community supports in various and sundry ways throughout Walla Walla. It is not uncommon for us to receive thank you notes following some of these events. I wish to share one example that I received from Walla Walla Chief of Police, Scott Bieber:
“I just returned to my office from the ‘Blue Mass’ celebrated by our three local Catholic Parishes. Wow, every year it is a fantastic event. I am so pleased and honored that the local Catholic Parishes are making this an annual tradition.
Please communicate to everyone involved how appreciative I am of the efforts taken to make the first responders feel respected, valued, and special. Although I am not a Catholic myself, you should take a great deal of pride in how welcome I feel every year at the Catholic Church. Your parishioners should take great pride in how honored all of the first responders feel having your faith community bless us and pray for us.
I must admit though, as much as I enjoyed Mass and the food, my favorite part was going through the food line and eating with three young school boys who sang in the choir. The joy and happiness in their faces, smiles and words left me rejuvenated. Sometimes we all get caught up in our day-to-day lives with work issues and forget how truly wonderful our lives really are. Kids always seem to remind me.
Thank you for what again was a truly meaningful event for me and all of the other first responders who were able to attend. I am definitely blessed in my life to be in such a wonderful community.”
For my part, I, too, want to express my own gratitude to our entire Catholic community who helped make the Blue Mass a success. As you know, three generations of my family were first responders and civil servants, so this is near and dear to my own heart.
It may seem funny, but writing thank you cards was actually a part of our formation in seminary. Though as seminarians we were always grateful for the generous support we received to discern our vocation, not all of us had the habit of expressing it in concrete ways. Therefore we were actively encouraged and mentored in doing that. Even after years of formation, I still need to grow in my expressions of gratitude for the kindness others have shown me.
This need to grow in concrete gratitude, I suspect, is not limited to seminarians and priests, but is true for all of us Christians. Today might be a good opportunity to consider the last time we did something to express our gratitude to our parents, siblings, children, friends, coworkers or acquaintances who have shown kindness to us. As St. Ambrose once said: “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.”
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!