On Sunday, December 6, 2015 hundreds gathered at St. Mary of the Angels Church in Bucktown on the seventh evening of the Novena of Masses leading up to the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. The gathering was for a Mass of Thanksgiving for 50 Years of Midtown Educational Foundation's service to Chicago families.
The MEF community prayed in thanksgiving for being given the opportunity to serve tens of thousands of students and parents over the last 50 years, and asked that God grant us many more years of fruitful service to Chicago!
Fr. Derrick Esclanda, one of Metro's chaplains for the opt-in Christian Education classes, preached the homily. In it, he encouraged and commended the MEF volunteers and staff members who share the suffering--sometimes small, and sometimes heavy--of their neighbors when they serve MEF kids and their families. A core part of the character lessons for everyone at MEF focuses on growing as a friend. Whether it is a volunteer supporting their student, a student supporting another student or parents supporting their family and community, MEF develops compassionate leaders who accept and help alleviate the suffering of others.
Fr. Derrick read two rich passages from Pope Benedict Emeritus that reflect on suffering:
“Bernard of Clairvaux coined the marvellous expression: Impassibilis est Deus, sed non incompassibilis—God cannot suffer, but he can suffer with. Man is worth so much to God that he himself became man in order to suffer with man in an utterly real way—in flesh and blood—as is revealed to us in the account of Jesus's Passion. Hence in all human suffering we are joined by one who experiences and carries that suffering with us; hence con-solatio is present in all suffering, the consolation of God's compassionate love—and so the star of hope rises.” (Spe salvi, 39)
Midtown & Metro students and volunteers assisted with different parts of the Mass; Erin Aldrich, Metro Center Director, led the rosary before Mass; Brian Parker, Midtown MAP Program Manager, read the first reading; Molly Strenk, Metro volunteer, read the second reading and Metro One-on-One students read the prayers of the faithful. The Neito family, who have students in both Midtown & Metro brought up the gifts. The Mass of Thanksgiving was the final 50th Anniversary Event of the calendar year. Click here to review the 50th Anniversary celebrations.