I know as St Agnes we are grateful for Father Marc Bentley and Bishop John Stowe who gave us a great presentation on Appalachia. We had well over 100 participants which is so encouraging given that this is a region that we often feel people have forgotten or do not care about. This was a great evening for those of us who are from Appalachia and who claim this land as our home to reflect more deeply on what that means with a sense of pride for the land and the people. It was also wonderful opportunity for the many who are not from the region to understand Appalachia, not only its beauty but also its historical struggles. We all were encouraged to become more self-aware and commit ourselves to listen to the culture of Appalachia with open minds and hearts knowing that the people most affected in the region are the ones that have the best ability to set a vision forward.  We learned this from Bishop Stowe as he showed through the three beautiful pastoral letters, This Land is Home to Me, At Home In The Web Of Life, and The Telling takes us home, that the vision forward comes from listening to the stories of the land and the people. If you have not read these letters, I encourage you to read them. This is a great way to continue your education. They can be found here from the Catholic Committee of Appalachia:  https://www.ccappal.org/publications.

I would like to close with a beautiful prayer from our evening written by Eileen Dooley. It makes for good prayer and refection that calls us to solidary and action.

Living God, Loving God, you hear the cry of your people through the ages;

Jesus the Christ, your message of hope promises us a better way;

Holy Spirit, you brood over this fragile planet offering healing and peace;

Open our eyes and hearts –

To the hillfolk of the mountains,

To workers in urban centers and suburbs,

To family farmers and migrant workers,

To the poor and disenfranchised,

To all Your children

— And to your suffering creation.

Strengthen us for the work of transforming this world.

Give us the courage and creativity to build communities that sustain and nourish all of creation. Help us dream

Make us hearers and proclaimers of the Gospel –

This Gospel of life and justice.

For this we pray.

Amen