Although I have been out of the dating game for quite a while, I know that a first impression, though at times deceiving, is a crucial thing. With that in mind, here are a few of my first impressions of Holy Redeemer.
One of the most impressive things about this parish is that it is outward, it sees its place in the context of a larger world. At times, church can be very inward, insular and thus, narrow minded. Not HR. With its connection to Haiti and Sts. Peter and Paul, Holy Redeemer recognizes that the faith we proclaim has to be lived out, has to be shared, has to extend beyond borders. With its Stephen Ministry and St. Vincent de Paul Society, it recognizes the need to reach out to others, especially those who are wounded and hurting. I am sure that I am only scratching the surface here, because you do not need a committee to share your faith, but this mission orientated aspect of the parish is very exciting and, to my mind, vital.
Second, Webster Groves in general has a feel of a strong, proud community, and I would like to think that Holy Redeemer is near the center – geographically and spiritually – of that community. Because of prior plans, I missed the big parade on the Fourth, but that was emblematic of a community that takes pride in itself. Just walking around the neighborhood, seeing how people take care of their houses and gardens (we need to talk about that next week) and how no two houses look the same, yet they all seem to belong, speaks of a neighborhood that is both stable and strong. Coming from another strong community, Washington, MO, I was pleasantly surprised by the small town feel.
Finally, and this is not a criticism, I found it peculiar when people show up for Mass on the weekends. I would look out ten minutes, five minutes before Mass and the church would be empty. I would stand in the back ready to start and there would be a few more people, but it would still be sparse. I walk up the aisle, bow to the altar, turn around and, Voila! There you are! The flip side of this is how hardly anyone leaves early and a lot of you stick around to chat and visit. So I will take it.