A week has passed since the death of our Pastor, friend and boss. Fr. Pete was his name. His passing has left us with an avalanche of grief, shock and sadness.
As I reflect on Fr. Pete and his ministry, I smile when I think about “Wednesdays with Fr. Pete”. Fr. Pete would arrange meetings with his staff and parish members on Wednesdays. If your time to meet with him was from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm on Wednesday, your meeting time consisted of cooking with him in the kitchen. During the meeting time, there would be talking, planning and cooking simultaneously.
Looking back to my first meeting with Fr. Pete, it had consisted of two cans of soup. One was a clam chowder, and the other was tomato basil. He handed me the cans of soup and told me to be creative and create a masterpiece. He gave total control to the challenge of recreating the canned soup. He invited you to help yourself to anything from his pantry, garden and his herbs. Whenever asked for his suggestions, he would respond, “Surprise me.” As the cook was recreating the cans of soup, Fr. Pete would be mixing and kneading a fresh batch of bread. Once you thought you had recreated the canned soup into a masterpiece, you would quickly learn that there were eight to ten guests coming.
The task at hand was to increase your masterpiece.
I observed when others would come to cook with us, that you could learn about the person(s) in a non-intimidating and enduring way. This approach of ministry touched people deeply. In fact, the fruits I saw from this “canned soup ministry” were that once people were a part of it, they were on board to serve the church and even willing to go deeper in their faith. This type of ministering to people had moved mountains in our two Parishes.
A common thread from people who are mourning the loss of Fr. Pete, is that they had only met with him a couple of times and felt that they had lost their best friend. Fr. Pete was able to establish relationships with people so quickly. I believe it is because of a few reasons: He met you where you were at; He asked you to join him on the journey to seek Christ; He loved the Lord and sought Him in everything from outdoors, through activities and people; and He invited you to cook and eat with him.
Fr. Pete served as Pastor of our parishes for only eleven months before he died. The result of his “canned soup ministry” is that he created the perfect recipe for community and fellowship. The outcome was communal.
Fr. Pete, thank you for showing us how simple ministry can be!
Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.”