Lord Teach Us To Pray

By Deacon Jerry Connery

When I was getting near the end of my time in Deacon formation, I suddenly realized “Hey! They might actually ordain me” and I had some concerns of what I would be doing as a Deacon. Father Mike Volkmer and Fr. Bill Miller were co-Pastors at the time so I went and talked to them. I told them I did not want to visit people in Nursing Homes and I did not want to do funerals. They both assured me that there was plenty of other things I could do. Jayne & I were still very involved in music and they wanted us to continue with it. About a week or so after my Ordination, Fr. Bill called me asked me to go to a nursing home to do a Communion Service. I reminded him about our little talk, and he said he could not go there and there was no one else. Jayne and I went. It started a 20 some year ministry with nursing homes and shut-ins, taking them communion and visiting. It was very fruitful and rewarding.

Shortly after my first visit to the nursing home, he asked me to do a funeral in Cole Camp, again he said there was no one else that could go. He played me like a fiddle! And I thought I was the musician!

One of the times we visited a nursing home, a lady we were supposed to see was not doing well and the nurse said she probably would not wake up for us. I said OK, but I would like to pray for her and bless her –Jayne and I went into the room and stood over her bed and started with the sign of the Cross, then the Our Father. She came back from wherever she was and prayed with us. I asked if she wanted to receive Communion and she said yes. I gave her a small piece of the host and Jayne gave her some water to drink. I said another prayer and blessed her and she went back to wherever she was when we came in. She passed a little while later. This has happened to us more than once that when we prayed the Our Father, the people were there with us and when we finished, they were gone again.

Let us fast-forward 25 plus years. A couple of Saturdays ago, I had a burial at Memorial Park cemetery. The lady was over 98 when she died, and lived out of town for several years with her daughter and family. None of the family lived in Sedalia. The family brought her back to be buried next to her husband. They belong to St. Patrick Church. When I started the service with the sign of the cross and nobody did it and I said “Peace be with you” and only Jayne answered, I thought okay, not Catholic. I did the service and toward the end I said “Let us pray using the words Jesus gave us.” When I started the Our Father, everyone joined in and I used the Protestant ending. It brought us all together. The Our Father is an ancient prayer. It is said in hundreds of languages and in thousands of places. It’s a prayer that, yes, connects us with God but it also connects us with one another. It brings us together as one. I would invite you the next time you are at Mass to look around when you say the Our Father, and listen and see who is praying with you; who is expressing their faith; using the same words that Jesus gave us. It should give you a feeling of NOT being alone. We are part of something very special. We have been given a very awesome gift, a gift that unites us both with God but also with one another. Lord, teach us to pray.