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Generations Gathered

July 16th, 2013by Dan Thomas

Recently, the O’Hearn (my wife’s maiden name) clan gathered for a family reunion of the four generations of O’Hearns. Great Grandmother was there, her sons and daughters, their sons and daughters and the grand and great grandchildren. It was quite an experience to see all those people and all that history in one large room celebrating and talking together. Many memories were recalled and shared. It was wonderful to see so many O’Hearns enjoying one another’s company once again.

Nearly 40 people were there and as I observed and reflected on the joys and struggles that all of these family members have gone through I was struck by the impact of life’s happenings on them and me. The joys of many births came to the fore, as well as the recollections of several deaths; each of these with lessons and meanings built into life’s challenges, growths, and struggles.

There were friendships made, conflicts dealt with, stories shared and re-shared, some of them humorous, some painful, many just good memories of care and being cared for. Families can be difficult and the relationships are often not easy. The diversity of viewpoints and perspectives are vast and challenging. Yet there is something in the shared history and genes that binds us into a community of persons; something deeper and tighter than those things that divide us. There is a unity in diversity that pulls us towards rather than away from each other. There is a spirit (or maybe it’s a SPIRIT) than unites us even in our divisions.

Our Church and our parishes are similar to this family process for they too have the commonalities and the divisions that are in our families. While what divides us will always be there, what unites us can be much more powerful. God’s Spirit binds both families and churches into a Body that, if we allow it and choose it, brings us beyond ourselves into a community capable of glorious things.

Dan Thomas

Dan Thomas is a retired Director of Religious Education, living in Dayton Ohio. His education includes graduation from Chaminade HS and the University of Dayton (MA in Pastoral Ministry). He is married with two adult sons and is a parishioner at St. Helen, Dayton.