I think I'm starting to like this place. Today marked my second day working as an intern for InnerCHANGE in Oakland, and it was a hectic, at times tedious, and yet satisfying day.
We started off the day with mass, going to the beautiful parish of St. Elizabeth. We had the opportunity to listen to a passionate preacher, Father Martin. His message of forgiveness as an important aspect in working toward justice with the poor was not only touching, but fitting to my experience.
I introduced myself to Fr. Martin, telling him my involvement with a missionary order for the summer, and that I was looking for a parish and for some ministry opportunities. He welcomed me warmly, and instructed me to come back to the parish office for more instructions.
After mass, our little group of three (my leader, her fiancee and me) went to one of the leader's house for morning prayer. After prayer and lunch we went grocery shopping and found ourselves burdened with unforgiving loads of bags, walking for one mile to get home.
We walked approximately 5 miles in our little adventure.
Arriving at the house, we didn't even bother with putting the groceries inside the fridge, but we were automatically led to the couch, where the three of us crashed simultaneously.
Minutes later we awoke from our improvised nap and headed out to the parish office. We had a meeting with Fr. Martin where we shared our work with InnerCHANGE and our desire to connect in some way or another with the parish.
We talked about gangs. He shared how the parish High School is unfortunately known as a Chilli Peppers gang (not actual name of the gang, of course). He told us of the multiple ministries opportunities available in the parish, and that if we wanted to work on something specific he is open to listen about it.
He also told us of the charismatic nature of the parish (yay!) and of the two youth groups available at church.
We went out from our meeting rejoicing for the door God was clearly opening for us. "It's a Chilli Peppers High School!" I absurdly said with joy to the group. As I did this I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit stirring in me. I feel this is a great ministry opportunity and I'm excited to see how God will develop it.
It is unfortunate that these streets are filled with violence and tragedy. The stains of poverty are clearly seen in the colorful garments that these streets wear. The poignant faces of frustration and struggle are looking at us from every corner.
But there is also great joy in these streets. Openness and friendship meets our gazing eyes almost everywhere. There is the hope of an open field, where the seed of the gospel is being planted by many. Its fruits are clearly seen with the eyes of faith.
Photo Credit: jdnx.
Photo Credit: jdnx.