Visits from saints highlight a Conway parish campout

CONWAY — About 100 members of St. James parish gathered in the field behind the church on the evening of Oct. 25. A large tent was put up and a great bonfire illuminated the darkness. The people were of all ages, and spoke English and Spanish, according to a press release from the church.

Father ‘Rick LaBrecque, pastor, welcomed everyone and blessed the food on the grill. As the meal wound down, two strangers approached the nearby bonfire, and Father LaBrecque urged all to gather around and welcome them.

The men were dressed in typical clothing from biblical times. They were St. Paul, portrayed by Deacon Jeff Mevissen, and St. Barnabas, played by Herman Benstorff. After a welcome, the saints congratulated the community on their gathering and shared stories of their travels for the Gospel, a timely message for renewed conversion and evangelization.

St. Paul, a skilled tentmaker, as the Acts of the Apostles pointed out, admired the tent and fire. The setting may have been similar to what he would have seen when he arrived on the outskirts of a new city to preach the Gospel.

Later, the confirmation candidates presented a play on the life of St. Paul, which was written by Mike Donellan, youth director.

The evening continued with music, games for children, and toasting marshmallows. Some families pitched tents and spent the night.

Other events at St. James Church for the Year of St. Paul included an adult education series focused on Pauline themes; a planned pilgrimage to Charleston; and a “Question of the Week” in the bulletin based on the saint’s writings.