Fifty years for St. Francis: Honoring our present — building our future
This is the third in a four-part series of feature stories leading up to the 50th anniversary mass scheduled this summer at St. Francis of Assist Church in Incline Village.
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — After 47 years as a priest, the current pastor of St. Francis of Assisi, Father Bill Nadeau, admits he has never been more convinced that each of us needs a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
“So many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light, and consolation of that friendship, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life,” he said.
In the 10 years he has been ministering here, he says, “each day this reali-ty manifests itself in striking ways. Our age is one of great philosophical poverty, and as a result we live in an age of tremendous moral and ethical confusion. The brokenness of our society makes this truth more relevant than ever.”
We face a fundamentally altered landscape compared to 50 years ago when St. Francis was established.
In those days, 2 in 10 marriages ended in divorce, but today, 5 out of 10 become a statistic. Abortion was illegal 50 years ago … now 2 out of 10 pregnancies end in a legalized termination.
Fewer than 300,000 Americans were incarcerated in the ‘60s, while cur-rently 1 in 31 American adults are in prison or on probation.
Over the last 50 years our society has witnessed what can arguably be called the most accelerated social change in history.
In the past, American values supported faith and church attendance. Not so today as we no longer have the cultural props and the social current has turned against many religious beliefs and customs.
When asked what he thought might be the solution to this concern, Father Bill responded, “We must return to what Jesus asked of all baptized people, to go make disciples.”
He believes that the real challenge is to bring the Church to the people, namely to reach out and meet people where they are in their need. It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but “by attraction.”
Amid such brokenness, Father Bill referenced Pope Francis’ analogy of the Church of the future as a “field hospital” where we respond to the God of love by seeing Him in those we meet in our day-to-day struggles.
Since the physical rebuilding of the Church, the parish has adopted a very practical vision, ”faith working through love” (Gal 5:6) that is focused on making new disciples every day.
Our pastor seeks to help believers to grow spiritually so that they can re-spond to God’s love ever more fully in their lives.
“This community is a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey,” says Father Bill. “Our church welcomes all and refuses no one. Our doors remain wide open, so that no one is excluded from the mercy of God.”
This sense of evangelization and forgiveness that Jesus Christ modeled and preached was the essential reason that St. Francis of Assisi was founded 50 years ago.
With regards to ecumenical activity we coordinate the Interfaith Thanksgiv-ing Service and St Francis is directly involved in the Inter Faith Action, which is a program for emergency housing, food and transportation in the North Lake area.
Additionally, many of our weddings are interfaith weddings in which minis-ters of other faiths and Rabbis participate.
If you have you attended a function at St. Francis such as Mass or a spe-cial event you know that this sense of love and commitment to the gospel is embodied in our pastor, Father Bill Nadeau.
He has a reputation for hospitality and a joyous spirit that never fails to de-liver a message at every Mass offering inspiration, guidance, humor and Jesus’ message to love others as us.
Father Bill has a spiritual sensitivity for reading God’s message in the events of everyday life of his parishioners and brings the light of God’s words into our human situations. His very presence gives life and mean-ing to the liturgy.
On July 1, Father Ariel Arias will be joining the parish as Parochial Vicar to assist Father Bill with the ever growing Hispanic population.
Father Arias is from Colombia, educated in the US, and ordained in Reno in 1985. He is coming to us from Yerington where he has been the pastor for the past three years.
This article was written by Bill Nadeau, and Ann Demolski and Charlotte Curtis, who are parishioners at St. Francis of Assisi. For more information, visit saintfrancisatincline.org/ or call 775-831-0490.
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