A Gift of Grace

Last night, a gift of grace!
"Merici" came to die
From nearby nursing home

Our doctors did their best
Her heart and lungs were spent
With ninety-four long years

Merici’s hour drew near
Without a single kin
No family / friend appeared

An echo from the past
“My God! My God! Oh, why
Have You forsaken me?!”

I whisper in hear ear
I stroke her clammy hand
My sacred space, beside her

Heart rate first read sixty
The monitor’s slow descent…
To forty…down…to…naught

Merici’s voyage to God
Unseen, unshared, unmourned
Except for privileged me

“Be kind, accepting, Lord!
Forgive her any fault!
Embrace her! Again! For me!”

I voice a hope-filled prayer:
Our middle name is “Weakness”
But Thine is truly “Mercy!”
Fr. Frank Keenan, C.P.

After more than sixty years of priesthood, forty-two spent at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois, Father Frank Keenan, C.P. retired from active ministry a couple of years ago and now resides in a local nursing home where he writes poetry and gladly shares stories of his life as a Passionist.

A Community Building Building Community

Every weekday sometime around 11:30 am I find my way over to Lakeview Presbyterian Church’s third space where I enjoy a better than home cooked meal prepared by First Slice and spend an hour or so in fellowship with friends. Up until April 22nd we had been temporarily meeting in the sanctuary, waiting for the completion and opening of third space which is the name for the old Parish House just west of the Church on the corner of Broadway and Addison in Chicago.

Pastor Joy Douglas Strome shares in the above video their community’s dreams for third space and explains how they arrived at the name as well as the secret, or maybe not so secret to community builders, to creating community in a 21st century modern city. If you are interested in building a community today, I believe this video will provide a good blueprint.

The house built in 1911 provided educational programs to a rapidly growing Lakeview Community. In 1870 2,000 residents, mainly celery farmers populated the area. By 1887 the population reached 45,000 residents, leading to the eventual incorporation into Chicago in 1889. (Wikipedia)

Over the years the space was used for teaching English to immigrant populations, providing sanctuary for Central American refugees, providing alternative education for at-risk youth, serving a hot lunch to neighborhood senior citizens are strong evidence of a church history that proclaims the gospel in actualized missions that serve both neighborhood and city.” (Church Website)

Thanks Pastor Joy and Lakeview Presbyterian Church Community for your continuing to make community thrive in a time when many of us believe real, honest-to-goodness community is something of the past. You’re proving us wrong.

Posted by Dan O’Donnell, a layman who has covenanted with the Chicago Community of Passionist Partners. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journe