Passing on the faith in Belleville, Kan.

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By Margaret Nacke, CSJ

(Published June 27, 2008) Sister Mary Savoie and I moved to Belleville in 2004. We came from Kansas City where we had worked for many years. Contrasts between city and rural area are not as drastic as one would think for the simple reason that folks are folks, albeit challenged by different circumstances.

We have experienced the strength of faith of the people (reflected in the number of vocations that have come from this area) and their willingness to participate in church activities. We are overjoyed to see young families educating their children in the faith. It takes only one visit to see the children’s’ Christmas program at St. Edward to realize that there are many children and young parents who do a remarkable job as teachers. The faith is indeed being passed to a new generation!

In the small communities of Belleville, Cuba and Munden, the people have found that working together on projects is more the rule and creates much better bonding within the faith communities. The isolation by church affiliation seen in bigger cities is seldom an option.

Shortly after moving to Belleville, Sister Mary joined the Republic County Ministerial Association as a representative of the three parishes and became its treasurer, a position not lightly taken since she writes the checks to help persons in need who come through Belleville for food, gas, and overnight accommodations. As a member of this Association, Sister Mary initiated a change in location of the Food Bank, which she supervises, giving users better availability to services. She also reestablished a Job Bank with an office in St. Edward rectory.

I focus more on parish activities. With committees from the three parishes, we planned a Mission, Food and Faith series, Seder Passover Meal and are working on a forthcoming Parish Enrichment Weekend for Advent, 2008.

Although rural life has changed dramatically over the years, altering the look of towns as well as its churches, the folks of the small faith Catholic communities in Cuba, Belleville, and Munden remain actively involved. These churches on the Plains will continue to transition over time, looking different with each generation, as all experience the sieve of time.