Stories of Stewards: Larry Emge
Stories of Stewards
As part of our ongoing engagement process, we have come to realize the importance of parishioners sharing their personal stories of how they have connected with Saint Clement as an important factor in their lives. As a feature twice a month, we share the stories and reflections of our engaged parishioners who are living a stewardship life of prayer, service, and giving. This week we hear from Larry Emge:
Having grown up in the church before the Second Vatican Council and spending 17 years in a religious community (Brothers of Holy Cross), I was attracted to a more informal liturgy. I found a dialogue homily/guitar Mass, but after several years the conservative pastor abruptly canceled it. Six people from that parish then discovered the chapel Mass at Saint Clement. Four of us are still here—40 years later.
The chapel community was just what I was looking for. There was full participation in the singing, the music group accompanied by guitars, and at times flutes, drums, castanets, bells, tambourines (and now a bass). The music is still great thanks to Pat Sinozich and the choir.
The parish was welcoming and accepting inspired by Fr. John Fahey. The homilies were good, sometimes dramatized, sometimes dancing was used, the liturgy joyful. Once one of the assistant priests skipped around the altar with a bunch of balloons! I looked forward to it and still do. To me, that is what makes Saint Clement unique—innovative, willing to change, and helping us grow spiritually as did Fr. Hickey’s series of discussions on the Gospels. We are also offered ways to help the homeless and others less fortunate, locally and in Central America. For me the easiest way to give financially is by the automatic pay system, a good way to make sure the good causes are always supported.
Early on, the chapel was attended mostly by young singles inspired by the hootnanny movement, but now has become a community of many young families, with the gamut of other ages still evident.
I had not thought of doing more than attend Mass until being asked to help usher. The term has since been upgraded to “Minister of Hospitality.” Doing this work was a perfect way to become more involved, and helped me become more outgoing and confident. And the parish has been a source of lasting friendships.
An innovation the parish has encouraged is having more young people help with hospitality. One of the first to start this trend at about age nine was Sammy Arenson who is still a part of the team. Now helpers are as young as six. Another Hospitality Minister, Jack McCarthy, is great with relating to and directing them. Hopefully their early participation will inspire continued service to the church in the future.
Even though I am a “chapel person,” helping with hospitality upstairs in August during chapel hiatus, and at other times when needed, has been a way to be of more service, and broaden my horizon beyond “downstairs.” The chapel liturgy is the highlight of my week.