RETIREMENT OF BECKY ARNOTT
At the end of May, Becky Arnott left her position as Director of Religious Education at St. Francis Parish. Church bookkeeper Claire Henke offers the following:
Becky was hired as an Office Assistant in September 2007. She became our Religious Education Leader in December 2009. Although she is leaving her job at St. Francis, she plans on remaining an active parishioner. She will continue to work with the St. Francis pilgrims heading to Rio for World Youth Day and plans to teach second grade CCD and also RCIA for children and teens next school year (the program that prepares them for baptism and confirmation at the Easter Vigil).
We wish her all the best in her next endeavor. May God grant her and her family many blessings.
And James Dutton wrote the following:
I don't know Becky all that well, but I do know that she will be missed. I came to St. Francis two years ago upon moving to Staunton. Having grown up in a Protestant church with its "Sunday school," I assumed that religious education for young people just happened somehow: the child arrived, often under duress; a teacher appeared, with snacks and picture books; Bible stories followed; then, if one couldn't get out of it, the main morning service took place, with a very long sermon. I once taught a Sunday school class for high school students and quickly learned that religious education did not just "happen" but required much hard work, often without many signs that one was actually reaching the students or making any difference whatever. I knew that at St. Francis there used to be those formidable sisters with their huge white starched wing-like hats and now there were lay people doing the work of religious education. After agreeing to revise the St. Francis website, I decided that an online history of the parish would make a useful addition to the site. I had Hampton Hairfield's very helpful history to use as a foundation, but that book ends with the parish sesquicentennial in 1995. After I learned that the records I would need to use for the update were the weekly bulletins, I made arrangements with the ever-patient and kind former parish secretary Joan Walsh to come to the office and read through the 17 years worth of bulletins to glean as much useful information as I could.
All this personal history is just a way of explaining how I came to know Becky Arnott better. As I sat in the conference room with volumes of bound bulletins spread out around me, with Becky just across the hall in her office, I could not help absorbing what was going on--and a great deal was going on. A whirlwind of activity, in constant motion, with door open to any and all who came by to discuss religious education or preparation of young people for first penance, first communion, confirmation, or the sacraments of initiation--this was Becky. Yet she always found time to help me with the website. When I said I would like photos of the Easter Vigil, she asked her daughter to take what turned out to be wonderful up-close images of the event. When I needed pictures of confirmation, she came up with those. When I sought an explanation of how the RCIA program works at St. Francis, she provided the information. When I took photos of Sunday CCD classes (but had no idea who the people were in the pictures), she sat down and gave me the names. And when I requested that she keep me up to date on news for the website regarding all aspects of religious education and the program for young people, she did that.
In addition to all of her religious education duties, Becky has a faith that "shows." As a fellow convert to Catholicism, I appreciated her straightforward explanation of how she came to be a Catholic (and especially how she informed her non-Catholic family of this decision). Former parish secretary Joan Walsh corroborated this impression when she told me how, when visitors came to the office, Becky used to take time to show them around and talk to them; as Joan emphasized, everyone interested in Catholicism should have someone like Becky as a first contact in the faith. Becky's faith also shows in how she lives: In a recent adult education presentation on foster care, she told of all the children she has taken into her home in foster care.
As I stated, I don't know Becky all that well. In a normal retirement situation, one would go on to say, "We will miss her very much," but of course in a church, the retiree does not really go away, but merely assumes a different role in the organization. I do know that Becky's work with--and dedication to--the formation of the young will be missed greatly at St. Francis.
THE EMPTY TOMB
Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish anointing the body of Jesus, which had been buried in haste because the Sabbath began on the evening of Good Friday, were the first to encounter the Risen One. Thus the women were the first messengers of Christ's Resurrection for the apostles themselves. They were the next to whom Jesus appears: first Peter, then the Twelve. Peter had been called to strengthen the faith of his brothers, and so sees the Risen One before them; it is on the basis of his testimony that the community exclaims: "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!"
Everything that happened during those Paschal days involves each of the apostles--and Peter in particular--in the building of the new era begun on Easter morning. As witnesses of the Risen One, they remain the foundation stones of his Church. The faith of the first community of believers is based on the witness of concrete men known to the Christians and for the most part still living among them. Peter and the Twelve are the primary "witnesses to his Resurrection," but they are not the only ones--Paul speaks clearly of more than five hundred persons to whom Jesus appeared on a single occasion and also of James and of all the apostles.
Given all these testimonies, Christ's Resurrection cannot be interpreted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an historical fact. It is clear from the facts that the disciples' faith was drastically put to the test by their master's Passion and death on the cross, which he had foretold. The shock provoked by the Passion was so great that at least some of the disciples did not at once believe in the news of the Resurrection. Far from showing us a community seized by a mystical exaltation, the Gospels present us with disciples demoralized ("looking sad") and frightened. For they had not believed the holy women returning from the tomb and had regarded their words as an "idle tale." When Jesus reveals himself to the Eleven on Easter evening, "he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen."
Even when faced with the reality of the risen Jesus the disciples are still doubtful, so impossible did the thing seem: they thought they were seeing a ghost. "In their joy they were still disbelieving and still wondering." Thomas will also experience the test of doubt and St. Matthew relates that during the risen Lord's last appearance in Galilee "some doubted." Therefore the hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles' faith (or credulity) will not hold up. On the contrary their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace, from their direct experience of the reality of the risen Jesus.
By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his passion. Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ’s humanity can no longer be confined to earth and belongs henceforth only to the Father's divine realm. For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith.
Christ's Resurrection was not a return to earthly life, as was the case with the raisings from the dead that he had performed before Easter: Jairus' daughter, the young man of Nain, Lazarus. These actions were miraculous events, but the persons miraculously raised returned by Jesus' power to ordinary earthly life. At some particular moment they would die again. Christ's Resurrection is essentially different. In his risen body he passes from the state of death to another life beyond time and space. At Jesus' Resurrection his body is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit: he shares the divine life in his glorious state, so that St. Paul can say that Christ is "the man of heaven."
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Trivia question from bulletin of June 15-16: What is the holiest part of the Mass? Answer: Consecration. The Consecration is when the priest repeats the words of Christ at the Last Supper. The bread and wine are substantially changed into the True Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.