By Marion Webber
Originally published February 14, 2017
Where can you find a group of “Missionaries” that are the most giving and caring group you could ever meet? The answer is Memphis, Michigan. Here in this little town, there is a small parish called Holy Family Parish. It’s a town that hasn’t changed much over what seems like the last hundred years. Although we finally have a new gas station, Subway, and an Amish food store!
Here in this quaint little town, you will find a group of Missionaries. Laymen and women who have a heart to help people in every walk of life. The group meets for prayer on Tuesday nights. There is a special Holy Mass at 7:00 p.m., followed by different short events for the evening. It’s a time to pray for all the requests that come in daily from all walks of life. Many have never heard of us until they were in a dire situation and didn’t know where else to turn. They are given our number and know they will be covered in prayer. There is also someone available to spend time with those in need of prayer when they come into the center. When they find out about this group they feel secure in the fact that their prayer request is being prayed for. We also have a prayer chain, and if we get a request, we send it out immediately to the other members. In the Church there is a large prayer box. People stop by and write out their petitions and drop them inside. Petitions are also taken from the people we visit, and we bring them back and place them in the box for them. This is especially popular at Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center, another place we visit. Once a year we have a special event in the fall and burn the petitions! It is a beautiful evening and has become quite a tradition!
On Thursdays and Fridays the group gathers after Holy Mass for coffee and a light breakfast. It’s a time to discuss the special needs that may have come up during the week, and the people we need to visit. Our Missionaries and volunteers are then divided up into groups and we begin our visits. Some of the group go to Adult Foster Care Homes, some to private homes. Wherever we go we bring joy and a relief from their everyday routines. It is wonderful to see the joy on the faces of those we visit. For many we are their only visitors.
Each visit we bring ways to entertain our special friends. Usually it is our “guitar lady.” After singing songs and discussing how their week went and any needs they have, we take time to pray. It doesn’t matter what religion they are, and for some they have never had any religion, but it doesn’t matter. We all join together. It’s a time for them to share their needs with others in the group. This time is very important to each individual as it may be the only time someone will listen to what is on their heart. One lady remarked during the prayer time that she just wanted to be a better person and not complain when her things came up missing. In a place like that you don’t have many things, so to lose even one of them could be really upsetting. But this beautiful lady had a heart of gold, and just wanted to be “ok” with it. For those suffering from terminal cancer and most need of prayer we love to give them a cross that they can hold on to. It gives them great comfort in their time of need!
After our morning rounds we all return for a wonderful homemade lunch by some of the best cooks in the area! What a treat to return to the center to the fresh smell of homemade bread and soup! It’s a time to socialize with all our like-minded friends! It’s also a time to discuss any needs of those we visited. It may be an update on someone’s health, and sometimes, sad to say, the news that someone is no longer with us. This is a double edged sword. We are happy they are no longer suffering, but we all hurt when we lose any of our people we visit. We really do become attached to our new-found friends.
When we began our Missionary group we thought that our purpose was to be in the center and “wait” for people to come in for prayer. After a year of sitting and waiting for people to come to a place they never knew existed, something happened when our Pastor was at the nearby restaurant. Someone came up to him and asked if he knew of anyone in his parish who could come and visit a particular Adult Care Foster Home, because few if any ever visits this place. We were overjoyed at the thought that we could go out and visit people! We didn’t care who! We were really excited to have our “first” place to go. At that time we thought it would be the only place we would be going. We were very content in our new plan. Then one of the residents at that home got transferred to another location. We had to go find him! After finally figuring out where he was, we started visiting that location. Again and again people were transferred to different locations and we expanded more and more! With a limited amount of volunteers and more and more places to visit we thought we would have to cancel some of our homes. But every time we thought we would have to cancel visiting a place someone new would show up! Coincidence? I don’t think so.
When you see younger people in these lifelong situations it amazes me! Can you imagine being 20 or 30 years old and knowing this is the rest of your life? Young or old, it is just as difficult for anyone coming into the homes for the first time. At first, most of the time, people are not interested in knowing us. The common line we hear is “I won’t be here long, I will be going home soon.” It really breaks your heart because we know this is it for them. They may move to another home, but it will never be the “home” they once knew. The stories are endless of the people that we have met and lost. They are in our book of remembrance, but much more in our heart!
Our Center also has a Christian Gift Store called Holy Family Gift Shop. The profits are all used to support our mission and the needs of the center. We are open on Thursday or Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
As our demands grow, so does our need for volunteers. Please feel free to stop in and visit! The soup will be on and the fresh bread will be waiting!
For more information on The Divine Mercy Missionary Center: Please call (810) 392-2056 ext. 246
Prayer: Tuesday evening 6:30 p.m. Rosary and Mass
Holy Family Parish 79780 Main Street Memphis MI 48041
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