Several years ago, Deacon Luke and his wife Susan, of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Grand Junction, CO started a parish tradition; serving a parish dinner on Thanksgiving Day, after the 10:00 AM Mass. The tradition began when Deacon Luke became aware of the many older couples of the parish who had no one to spend Thanksgiving with. For some their children had grown and moved away, or one spouse was ill or disabled, and some couples come and bring the whole family and their guests visiting for the holiday, just to be part of the gathering, and not to have to cook or fuss, just sit, relax, eat, and enjoy.
Deacon Luke and Susan start the preparation for the parish Thanksgiving dinner the day before by baking four to five turkeys, depending on the number of people who have signed up to attend. They are joined by volunteers who set up and decorate tables, wait tables, and clean up duty. Each person or family attending signs up to bring a dish to pass, which is placed on the long serving tables and served cafeteria style. All the traditional foods are served, stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables and of course lots of desserts.
This year seventy-two parishioners joined in the parish Thanksgiving dinner. Filling the hall with laughter, conversation, and sense of communal sharing and love. There is never a lack of food, conversation, or laughter. All remaining extra food is donated to the local food bank.
There is something special about sharing a dinner with family and friends. It is what Jesus did while he lived among us. He fed, ate with, and loved all those in his company. An example of what we his followers, and members of his Catholic Church are meant to do.
By Anne Petroff, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Grand Junction
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