Pastoral Letter for September 21, 2014

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An old adage asks – “Is the cup half empty or half full?”  The question pushes us to consider the attitude with which we approach life and faith.  Is our attitude positive or negative regarding the events/circumstances with which we are involved?  This adage might be used for a summary of the readings for this weekend.  What is our attitude about our faith?

In the gospel, the landowner invites people to be involved in the work of his vineyard.  Throughout the day, more people are invited to be a part of the vineyard.  When the day ends, he pays everyone the same wage because they were involved in the work of the vineyard.  Those who worked longer begin to have a negative attitude; they worked longer so they expect to receive more pay.  Perhaps initially they were happy that they had a job; however in being paid less, they now think their work has been valued less.  As that attitude forms within them, they are less appreciative of the landowner.  They start to see the landowner as stingy versus generous.

Does this happen with our faith?  If God doesn’t seem to answer our prayers, do we think that God is less generous to us than others?  If God doesn’t provide for us in the same manner as we see others receive, do we think that God is less generous to us?  How often does a comparison with a co-worker or another volunteer lead us to think that we are doing more but paid or rewarded the same as the one who does less?  Has God gifted us or is God being stingy?  What is our attitude?

During the past couple of years, Stewardship Committee has asked us to reflect on a theme – “Receive with Gratitude, Give with Joy.”  The purpose of this theme is to spark what the landowner asks – Are we generous with what we have?  No matter how little we might think we have, can we be generous with what we have?  No one is unable to contribute.  Everyone can contribute to the extent that they are able.  Everyone can make a difference.  God has created us with an abundance; if our attitude is that we are lacking, what is possible?

So what might be true if the cup is half full?!?

Sharing news about the parish . . .

Thank you to all who have volunteered for our Faith Formation Program as catechists and aides.  With good response, we are filling the necessary positions.  We are still in need of those who are working with adults.  Would anyone be willing to help with Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults?

Diocesan Annual Appeal – our goal is $99,193.  Last weekend the DVD was shared so that we might understand the good work that is being accomplished with the monies given for this Appeal.  I hope everyone found something for which to contribute.  Please prayerfully consider what you are willing to support, fill out your pledge card and return it – your help will be much appreciated!

May the blessings of God be showered upon you this week!

-Fr. Al

Sunday Bulletin for September 21, 2014

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Pastoral Letter for September 14, 2014

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September 14 is the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.  Since this feast is connected to a date, we celebrate it every year, but only occasionally does it fall on a Sunday.  This weekend we are invited to consider how important the symbol of the cross is to us.

Do we see our salvation when we look upon the cross?  Jesus died for our sins.  The cross recognizes the capacity of humanity to sin; at the same time, it recognizes the desire of God to save us.  The cross is a sign that in the midst of our sinfulness, we are saved by the loving power of God.  Is this what we see when we look at a crucifix?  Does the impact of sin in our world lead us to seek the saving power of God?

Do we see ourselves on the cross?  Jesus had witnessed the burdens and sorrows as he traveled among the people of Israel.  He encountered the hurts and pains for which they asked his assistance to know healing or joy.  As he encountered people, he took upon himself the cross.  He carried what he already knew and the many unknown circumstances still in need of the power of God.  The cross is about the burdens of our lives.  Is the cross a symbol of healing and joy for us?  Does it remind us that our burdens are already carried by Jesus our Savior?

Do we believe?  The message of the cross expresses the kind of love God has for us.  In the midst of all that can be wrong, God desires to help make it right.  As we read the paper or listen to the news, do we have confidence that God is making all these things right?  Do we have the patience to carry the cross trusting that God is making it right?  Do we have the faith to endure the pains of the world because God has already established the plan of salvation?

The cross is heavy – who wants to bear its weight?  God sent his Son so that the weight of the cross might be lifted from humanity.  If we believe, then we too can carry the weight of our crosses knowing that God will love us; God promises that we will have eternal life.  How important is the symbol of the cross to us?  As we celebrate this symbol, do we believe in its message?

Sharing news about the parish . . .

Volunteers are vital to programs of education.  The programs of Faith Formation and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults will begin soon.  These programs still have vacancies waiting to be filled.  Call John Schmitt or Deacon Erv Burkhardt if you are willing to help fill the vacancies!

Diocesan Annual Appeal – our goal is $99,193.  St. Anne Parish will have opportunity to view the DVD about the good work of this Appeal.  Following this, we are inviting parish members to offer support to help us reach our goal.  Please prayerfully consider what you are willing to support – your help will be much appreciated.

May the blessings of God be showered upon you this week!

-Fr. Al

Sunday Bulletin for September 14, 2014

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Pastoral Letter for September 7, 2014

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How important do we think is the need for joining as a community to pray?  This weekend Jesus suggests to us that “if two of you on earth agree about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted them by my heavenly Father.”  It would seem that while individual prayer is important, the need for communal prayer is held in a higher esteem.  What might we contemplate in this light?

Jesus suggests the need for agreement.  In different words, we might say a “shared vision.”  If two or more people are not in agreement, accomplishments are not readily achieved.  Consider for a moment any issue within our present world.  Does anyone agree on what the solution is?  With differing ideas, does anyone have the motivation to work at making something happen?  How many issues remain in limbo because no one is willing to agree on one plan?  Jesus is inviting prayer as the means to find that shared vision.  God grants us the wisdom to see more clearly what is needed.  From our prayer, we can be motivated into action.  We come to hear the Word of God so that we might be sent to put into action what we have come to believe.  If prayer is the means to the shared vision, then the need to gather as a community is essential, not optional.

In this light, we might question how important is it to attend church on weekends?  How important is it to attend daily Mass?  Should we have times to gather and pray apart from Mass?  Should we have multiple ways that we as a church gather to pray?  Are the world’s problems solved because we gather in prayer?  Or is this a wishful, silly notion?  Would we say that the problems of the world are growing in proportion to the decrease in numbers of people attending church?  Jesus promises that our heavenly Father will grant whatever we ask when we are in agreement.  Faith is the invitation to say that we gather to grow in agreement so that we might receive the grace offered by God due to our prayer.  Will we take Jesus’ words seriously and what might happen if we do?

Sharing news about the parish . . .

On behalf of Fr. Matt and myself, I want to thank all the servers and their families for the help provided this summer.  We appreciate the sacrifice and willingness to be present at the early daily Mass – THANK YOU!

Volunteers are vital to programs of education.  Faith Formation and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults need active, excited St. Anne’s members who are willing to share the faith with those who come to learn about our Catholic tradition.  St. Anne Parish is awaiting volunteers to help us this year meet the needs of our children and adults who want to learn the faith.  Are you willing to offer your insight?  Please contact John Schmitt for Faith Formation or Deacon Erv Burkhardt for Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.  We continue to have need and response is weak – isn’t someone willing to step forward and help?

Diocesan Annual Appeal – our goal is $99,193.  In September, the DVD will be shared which explains the many good works accomplished by this Appeal.  Following this weekend, the request for donations to help with this Appeal happens.  Please prayerfully consider what you are willing to support – your help will be much appreciated.

Hope the start of the school year is going well for all!  May the blessings of God be showered upon you this week!

-Fr. Al

Sunday Bulletin for September 7, 2014

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Pastoral Letter for August 31, 2014

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Fire in our Bones!

As chaplain at Newman Catholic Middle School and High School I am very excited to see to see the new school year drawing nigh.  Excited, nervous, I feel like I do when I play tennis, on the balls of my feet ready to move.  I think that not just for students or teachers (or for this chaplain) every new school year brings a lot of energy and excitement.  We are filled with expectation, joy, and powerful memories as we watch the young people from our lives march off to school, their hearts full of questions and hope.  Yes sir, the start of a school year is a marvelous thing to see, indeed.  I think its right we should feel this way too.  We have a deep yearning for our children to find real meaning and joy in their life, “to find their way”.  We know how pivotal are these first years of our lives.  The Church shares that same hope for young people.  Whether they are in a parish Faith Formation program or at a Catholic school the Church hopes that children truly meet the God revealed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Church has found true happiness and wants to share it.  In the Lord Jesus we have found something worth more than the whole world (Mt 16).  God shares our hopes.  He has put that “fire in our bones” which Jeremiah prophesied about this weekend.  He has put an unquenchable thirst in our spirits for Himself.  And in the Lord Jesus we see that God thirsts for us to.  On the Cross Jesus said: “I thirst.”  The Savior wanted more than a glass of water!  He wants to “transform us by the renewal of our minds” (Rom 12) and lead us to eternal life.  As this new school year begins may we all invite the Lord to renew us, teach us.  And may we help lead our children to the God who loved them before the world was made (Eph 1, Jn 17, 1 Pt 1).  This is the mission we have as Church.  “Go therefore, and make disciples of all peoples!” (Mt 28).  At home or at work, in Faith Formation or in a Catholic school, please God make us your disciples.  Help us to lead all peoples to you.

Fr. Matt

Sunday Bulletin for August 31, 2014

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Pastoral Letter for August 24, 2014

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Key – a word that holds several meanings.  A key is known as an instrument to unlock; we have keys to our homes, cars, lock boxes, and a variety of other possibilities.  Without the key, we cannot unlock and enjoy whatever is kept inside.  A key can also be an adjective to denote the importance or pivotal nature of something.  Reflecting on this understanding of key, how might we use this to relook at the first reading and gospel of this weekend?

The first reading indicates that the key of the House of David will be placed on Eliakim’s shoulder.  Jesus says to Peter that he will give him the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.  The key in both cases comes from God.  Faith is a gift from God.  If we are to unlock the mysteries of life, then we must use the key (revelation) given to us by God.  This key is important and pivotal for without this key, we cannot understand the mysteries of life.  The key is able to help us unlock; yet if we choose to not use it well, we will keep things locked.  Salvation is from God and to open the door to salvation, we need to use the keys entrusted to us by God.  In both readings, Eliakim and Peter are being asked to share the keys – “the faith” – so that the gift of faith is unlocked.  Discipleship is receiving the keys of faith, using them to understand God’s presence in our lives, and allowing the message of faith to be shared so that the keys are passed on to other people in need.

As people called to be disciples, are we aware of the keys that we possess?  What are the gifts of faith that we have received from God?  Are we using them to open our hearts and minds to the wisdom of God?  Are we using these keys to help others to recognize faith?  Like the keys to our homes, cars, and other items, we want to keep the keys of our faith in our pockets.  We want to know where they are and be ready to use them at any moment.  If we lose them, we might panic or be frantic as to how we will accomplish our tasks of the day.  God calls us to use the keys of our faith so that we might know peace.  If we are Peter today, Jesus entrusts us with the keys of the kingdom of heaven; what will happen because we have the keys?  How well are we using the keys entrusted to us?

Sharing news about the parish . . .

A wish of God’s peace is extended to the family and friends of Deserae Faith Landowski.  Her funeral was on Thursday, August 14.  May our prayers support and encourage those who mourn.  May she rest in peace!

We remember in prayer all those involved in a serious car accident and their families during this month of August.  We join together as a community to ask God to help us share the keys of hope, healing and resurrection to new life.

Volunteers are vital to programs of education.  Faith Formation and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults need active, excited St. Anne’s members who are willing to share the faith with those who come to learn about our Catholic tradition.  St. Anne Parish is awaiting volunteers to help us this year meet the needs of our children and adults who want to learn the faith.  Are you willing to offer your insight?  Please contact John Schmitt for Faith Formation or Deacon Erv Burkhardt for Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.  These programs start in September and your response determines our ability to offer quality programs.  Don’t delay – call now!

Diocesan Annual Appeal – our goal is $99,193.  Begin to think about how you can help St. Anne Parish reach this goal.

May the blessings of God be showered upon you this week!

-Fr. Al

Sunday Bulletin for August 24, 2014

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