The Beauty of Rural Life in West TN, by Amy Hall

Memphis Tn,  July 28 — A pair of our rural parishes were delighted by a visit this weekend from Bishop Talley.  Bishop David was the celebrant for Mass at St. Matthew parish in Milan where Rev. Fr. Mauricio Abeldaño is pastor of both St. Matthew as well as Sacred Heard parish in Humboldt.

Our diocese in West TN is so blessed to have these parishes that embody such a strong sense of connection to their parish family.  This is a place where neighbors know each other well and reach out to help no matter the need. The families are close-knit and always here for each other.

There is almost a  necessary spirit of cooperation out here that without fail brings everyone together while deepening the relationships of the faithful which are already full of love and respect.

Rural life, whether in town or in the country, can put us in touch with our Lord and offers a quiet space for prayer that we all could use. I hope our rural communities and parishes will continue to flourish, and that our rural brothers and sisters will continue to share the wisdom and richness of their way of life with our entire diocesan family.  

We all could learn a lot from spending some time away from the hustle and bustle of our wonderful city of Memphis, and for those that take the opportunity to visit these parishes you will find strong ties that bind the families and neighbors together which often is lacking in our larger community inside the 240 loop.  

Across the US the rural population is aging and shrinking, and fewer people are expected to do more to keep things going. The pressures and challenges of our rural parishes are heavy and complex and it would be a fantasy to pretend that all is ideal and cheerful in our communities which seem so far away.  But even with the challenges these parishes have such a unique grace and blessedness for those who live here.  

Make some time to stop at at St Matthew or Sacred Heart.  Take a look around and appreciate their humble beginnings, their architecture and upkeep.  Maybe find a quiet place to sit, reflect and think about the people who gave as much as they could and then some to make these parishes what was, what it is and what it will be.

And even tho it may be empty when you stop and certainly won’t be as beautiful without the people who fill the pews each Sunday with praise and music. It certainly won’t be hard to remember that it’s not the building that makes these parishes — it’s the people from all walks of life.

Of course the beauty of these two parishes will be found in its walls and in its music but the true beauty will be found around a table enjoying a potluck, in a quiet weekly Bible study, at choir practice on a weeknight or in a classroom where RCIA is taught bringing others into the Church.

I hope and dream of a rural revival, which includes growth in these parishes which lie far from us who live in the city.  Thank you St. Matthew and Sacred Heart for sharing your talents, time and gifts that add such beauty to this diocese and to the whole Church.  We are so blessed.

To see the photos from the time Bishop Talley spent at St. Matthew and Sacred Heart, click HERE.

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