BY FATHER TOM FLANAGAN
ST. JOSEPH CATHOLIC CHURCH
Here we are in the middle of July and many of us will be lamenting that summer is already more than half gone! The Lakes Region will still be home to many visitors and tourists if only for a few weeks at a time. We are happy to be able to welcome all those who come to our area.
I first came to this area in 2009; before that I had been living in Germany and working as a missionary from there to countries in Africa, India and the Philippines.
Not many people went to church in Germany at that time. Some reports said that less than 8 percent of the people attend their church regularly, with "regular" meaning once or twice a month. Those statistics have apparently gotten even worse in more recent years. You can imagine my surprise when I came here that summer and discovered how many people attend the church of their choice on Sundays, whether that be at a boat-in service, a drive-in service on the green, or within a church building. I was not used to that at all from my previous experience. I also thought that, since this is summer and people are on vacation, they might just think they can take a vacation from God, too. But that did not seem to be the case.
I am happy to encourage all of us, whether residents of this area or visitors to the Lakes, to attend the church of your choice on Sunday. Keeping in touch with your church and its people will give you a sense of security when things become difficult in life. Perhaps a little story will illustrate the point:
"When a female pastor was about seven, her best friend got lost one day. The little girl ran up and down the streets of the big town where they lived, but she couldn't find a single landmark. She was very frightened. Finally, a policeman stopped to help her. He put her in the passenger seat of his car, and they drove around until she finally saw her church. She pointed it out to the policemen, and then she told him firmly, 'You could let me out now. This is my church, and I can always find my way home from here.' And that is why I have stayed so close to mine -- because no matter how bad I am feeling, how lost or lonely or frightened, when I see the faces of the people at my church, and hear their tawny voices, I can always find my way home." (Story taken from the book, Riding the Dragon by Robert J. Wicks; Sorin Books, Notre Dame, IN. 2003. p. 86).