What a grand “Prayer Blessing” for Mariposa Family Learning Center with some 55 folks present! The gray January 12th sky above SE Austin allowed a bit of sunlight to filter through, lending a spirit of divine blessing from above for this work and mission – over a year-and-a-half in the making.
Upon embarking on this project in the spring of 2019, Austin City Lutherans didn’t have a physical location or a building in which to carry out this mission. What the organization did have was some initial funding and a whole lot of faith. Our faith has been rewarded many times over in these past months – Mariposa FLC is now poised to serve children and their families!
I reminded the crowd that this new work continues upon the path forged by faith-based pioneers in Montopolis: since 1957, the United Methodist women who lead the Montopolis Friendship Community Center and offer a thrift store and a community center (and, previously, childcare); and, Dolores Catholic Church under the leadership of Father Fred Underwood in the 1960s and ’70s building the Montopolis Rec Center and organizing the community to bring bus service, affordable housing units, and social services for seniors and activities for youth. There would be no Mariposa FLC today without the pioneering work of these faith partners who have gone before us in the spirit of Christ-like commitment.
Neither would there be any Mariposa FLC without the buoyant spirit of service shown by numerous Austin City Lutheran volunteers since August 1st, the initial volunteer work day at MFLC. While I stood on the newly built ramp that served as our Sunday afternoon pulpit, I asked for those who volunteered – whether painting, cleaning, equipping, fixing, building, organizing, sorting, replacing, doing electrical or plumbing work – to raise their hands. More than half the crowd did so. Thank you all for your wonderful work!
Mariposa Director Sheila Pharis then addressed the gathered to let them know that she plans to open the center’s doors to children toward the end of the month. She said also that parents are filling out registration forms and that she is conducting interviews for staff hires.
Pastor Tom Grevlos, to close out the brief ceremony, gave the blessing prayer – a christening for the important work to be carried out in the significantly rehabbed building that sits on Austin Parks and Rec property, Civitan Park. Mariposa FLC will help children develop their God-given abilities, thus mitigating the “readiness gap” that typically exists for low-income family children when they start kindergarten.
Mariposa FLC’s goal is to strengthen families in SE Austin, which will make our entire Austin community stronger – whether we live west or east of Austin’s dividing line, I-35. Mariposa is a major part of Austin City Lutherans’ overall effort to create a “living bridge” that trends east. Thanks to all those who have helped make this faith-vision a reality.