Westport and Weston are communities blessed in many ways. Those who reside in these neighboring communities are gifted, well educated, kind, caring and sensitive.

What can often happen is that one can become so familiar with the local culture, one can innocently, without malice, take for granted the virtues that abound in the workplace, the business world, the school communities and faith communities.

The respect for diversity and the sharing of gifts caught my attention as I recently attended the annual Westport-Weston Interfaith Thanksgiving Service with my sister and brother clergy who make up the Westport-Weston Clergy Association, with members of the Westport-Weston Interfaith Council and with our wonderful faithful we serve.

The service, designed by a hard-working committee from various faith communities, provided readings from the Jewish, Muslim and Christian Scriptures, all echoing the Thanksgiving theme.

The music and prayers also helped create a peaceful and warm atmosphere of unity among the great diversity of people gathered together in one place.

I have been very inspired and impressed over the years with the spirit of cooperation, mutual respect and inclusiveness among the Clergy and Faithful.

As I have come to see it, we don't pretend there are "no differences" in our religious beliefs, practices and positions.

We respect these differences, honor them and find common ground to care for the poor, the hungry and homeless as well as other important concerns and needs near and far.

As I joined with all present in prayers of gratitude for God's love and blessings, I felt more than ever God's holy presence in every person.

The idealistic child in me pondered how nice it would be if what was happening in Westport and Weston this day could happen in the areas of our global village where religious differences cause such pain and heartache.

I know I am a better person because of the spirit of love that both the clergy and faithful in our two communities pray and work to establish and maintain. Back in the 1300s, Meister Eckhart remarked: "If the only prayer we ever say in our lives is `Thank you,' that will be enough."

To my colleagues in the clergy and their respective congregations, I am very grateful to you for the love of God revealed to me through your generous and grateful hearts.

ASSUMPTION ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

98 Riverside Avenue, Westport / 203-227-5161

www.assumption-westport.org

HISTORY: Founded in 1876

NUMBER OF PARISHIONERS: 1,400 families, 4,690 individual members

NEWS: New sanctuary configuration; tight economy temporarily halted renovations to the convent, opened in September 2009, the Roncalli House, and new Blessed Pope John XXII parish and religious education center

PROGRAMS: Religious education, youth ministry, adult education (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults), Mary's Mantle knitting and crocheting ministry, Knights of Columbus Council resumed in Spring 2010 after 17 years dormant

COMING EVENTS: Christmas Fair on Dec. 4 and 5 -- Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in McGrath Hall beneath the church.