Each month we gather in the dining room at Fr. Alfred Center to celebrate and honor the latest graduates of our 12 month, residential drug and alcohol recovery program. At our November graduation Al, who will soon be graduating himself, stood up and addressed Joe, one of the graduates, saying: “When I came into this program, I was broke. My pockets were empty. I had lost everything. I didn’t even have a decent pair of shoes. But when you saw me, you took off the shoes you were wearing and gave them to me. Man, I will never forget that. I love you.” Joe’s gift inspired deep gratitude. Love was born out of his compassionate and generous gesture and, through this, fellowship, such a powerful force in our recovery program, was strengthened.
The first Thanksgiving was not only a celebration of an abundant harvest, but also of fellowship between the English settlers and the local Native Americans, who, when they first heard shots fired, thought that perhaps a war had started. Concerned, their leader, Massasoit, visited the English settlement and learned that the settlers were preparing for a harvest feast. Massasoit then sent some of his own men to hunt deer for the celebration. For three days the English settlers and Native men, women and children shared roasted deer and other meats, shellfish and corn together. They sang and danced and feasted!
We live in a culture that often seems to promote the idea that what we receive enriches us, but the true gifts are gratitude and fellowship. These gifts deepen our faith and trust that there is enough for all if we share, and that an enduring fellowship is born of this sacred exchange. Both giver and receiver are enriched as they become gifts for one another.
Thanksgiving Day, the men of Fr. Alfred Center helped to serve thousands of meals to our guests. A year ago some of them were in the Dining Room as guests themselves. The food was wonderful, the atmosphere festive and once again we affirmed that together we create a fellowship of care, concern and love for one another.
Written by Gail Priestley, the Director of Programs at St. Anthony’s