Friday, Jun. 18, 2021
Courtesy photo/Tom Deveraux
The rose garden at St. Mary’s Catholic Church will be the site for the ‘Calm & Coffee’ prayer gathering.
WEST HAVEN – One morning while going to weekday Mass, Deacon Tom Deveraux was touched by the beauty and serenity of St. Mary’s Parish’s rose garden, located on the northwest side of the church.
“It just hit me: ‘What a beautiful, beautiful area and we don’t appreciate this,’ I thought to myself,” said the deacon, who was leading a Sunday evening Bible study called Gospel Chat, which was drawing to a close with the advent of summer.
Seeing the rose garden, “It struck me this is exactly where we needed to be in place of this Gospel Chat,” he said. “We needed to be outside, in the summer.”
Out of this thought came a monthly morning prayer gathering, which he is calling Calm & Coffee. The gathering will be held on the third Saturday of each month at 8:30 a.m. in the rose garden, beginning June 19, and will continue as long as the weather allows. The format is simple: Participants will say the Liturgy of the Hours together while being socially distanced. Afterwards, those who feel comfortable may visit together over a cup of coffee.
“As a church we’re called to be in community, and I thought after so many months of isolation what better way to get people to come back to at least the church building and to do it in a safe way outside and to begin to interact with people face to face?” Deacon Deveraux said. “Not only can we learn as a group to pray the Liturgy of the Hours out in this beautiful garden, but we can bring people back to the church, the physical building.”
His experience in the rose garden was an answer to prayer for Deacon Deveraux, who led the Gospel Chat by Zoom for several months. Gospel Chat was born last fall as many, including Deacon Deveraux, realized the pandemic was going to drag on much longer than originally anticipated. In the early days of the lockdown, Deacon Deveraux regularly posted homilies online, but as time went on he felt parishioners might benefit from something more interactive.
Reaction to Gospel Chat was very positive. Fourteen people, most of them St. Mary’s parishioners, regularly participated. However, with the arrival of summer and many parishioners engaged with outdoor activities on Sunday evenings, taking a break seemed appropriate, he said.
Calm & Coffee is not just for Catholics, Deacon Deveraux said. “It is for anyone wanting to pray together and possibly make new friends.”
The rose garden does have some stone benches, but Deacon Deveraux encourages those who would like to come to bring their own camp chairs, which he expects will be more comfortable and allow participants to determine social distancing. Masks are not required but participants are welcome to wear them if they choose. There will be a prayer box where participants can put their prayer intentions.
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