Pastoral Letter for November 16, 2014

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“Receive with gratitude, Give with Joy!”  This slogan has been our parish theme for several years.  Through bulletin articles and ongoing use of this slogan, the Stewardship Committee hopes that everyone has gained insight into what it means to be a good steward.  Our gospel today invites all of us to further grow in our understanding.  A few questions might help us to consider stewardship.

Are we a gifted people?  While the story has a variance on how many gifts each person received, is it noteworthy that the story does not include a person with “zero”?  While every person may not possess a multitude of gifts, every person has something to offer.  Even if it is only one gift, the Gospel invites us to use that gift often and well.  Connecting us to the story of creation, God looks upon each of us and sees that we are very good.  He smiles upon his creation and invites us to acknowledge and use our gifts.  Whatever the gift, it is meant to be used for our family, church, community and world.  Every gift has the ability to multiply its effects.  Hiding the gift is the only way in which it will cease to have any impact.  Today we are reminded that we are a gifted people – how are we using the gift that we have received?

As each person who has realized results with their gift comes to the master, do we recognize how much joy is present?  They are excited and ready to share how the gift has made a difference.  It has multiplied by its use.  Is not joy the result of doing good things?  In our church, do we find joy in recognizing the gifts received?  Think about the number of volunteers that are present in order for us to have liturgy, faith formation, committees, ministries for internal needs and communal needs, etc.  Are we awed that we have so many wonderful people willing to give of their time and talent so that we might have all these things?  Sometimes it is too easy to complain about what is happening; how can we be more mindful of the gift?

Take a moment today to give thanks (offer gratitude) for the talents that were entrusted to the members of this parish.  Take a moment to acknowledge with joy all that is being accomplished.  Today remember our theme – “Receive with gratitude, Give with Joy!”

Sharing news about the parish . . .

The Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service is scheduled for November 26, 7:00 p.m. at St. Anne Parish.  Come and join in prayer with our neighbors at First English Church!  We are celebrating the 30th year of shared service and giving thanks!

Diocesan Annual Appeal – our goal is $99,193.  Progress is $25,467 cash received.  Contributions have slowed.  We have much work to do to meet our total.  If we can meet our goal by April 1, our rebate will be increased; these monies help us to do extra maintenance projects within the parish.  Thank you in advance for your willingness to support this important work!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, St. Anne Parish!  HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!  Thanks for joining in our celebration to commemorate 65 years as a Catholic parish!

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

-Fr. Al

Sunday Bulletin for November 16, 2014

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Pastoral Letter for November 9, 2014

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November 9 is the celebration of the Dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica.  Why is this important?

St. John Lateran Basilica was built in the time of Constantine and dedicated by Pope Sylvester in 324 AD.  Its official name is Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour and Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist at the Lateran.  Essentially this church is the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome who is the Pope.  St. John Lateran served as the Papal home for the succession of Popes in the early years of the Church.  St. John Lateran (as it is now commonly called) is one of the first four Basilicas and the oldest in the West.  From this stems its primacy.  Within this church, Baptisms were performed and the growth of the church evolved.  As the church grew, we continued to understand how we remain connected through Baptism.  St. John Lateran is our church and the Church invites us to make this connection as we celebrate this feast day.

As we join in celebrating this special church, we might listen to our readings and contemplate Jesus throwing the vendors and money-changers out of the temple?  Why was he upset?  Jesus indicates that they are making the temple a marketplace rather than a temple.  A temple is a place where people come to encounter God, talk about this God and experience reverence and prayer.  Was their selling at all about God?  Was the conversation, the purpose, or the presence remotely connected to God?  Jesus was calling them back to the purpose of the temple and their relationship with God.

In such light, we are invited to contemplate our activities as we gather in our temple.  Our church is a place of reverence and prayer.  Do we pause to genuflect before the presence of Jesus in the tabernacle or bow before the altar where Jesus will be made present?  Is our conversation as we gather for prayer centered on God, our welcoming of each other into the presence of God or are we talking about the “marketplace”?  Does the noise of our church interfere with those who come to contemplate God in prayer and ready their hearts for celebrating the Eucharist?  Do we join in the pre-service music which invites us to become focused on the God who we will celebrate in the Mass?  How would Jesus respond to our activity?  Would he welcome our behavior or drive us out of the temple?

Sharing news about the parish . . .

Diocesan Annual Appeal – our goal is $99,193.  Progress is $24,952 cash received.  Every member is needed to offer a contribution on the road to meeting our goal.  Having received your pledge card, please prayerfully consider what you are willing to support, fill out your pledge card and return it.  If we can meet our goal by April 1, our rebate will be increased; these monies help us to do extra maintenance projects within the parish.  Thank you in advance for your willingness to support this important work!

The pilgrims have returned from their journey!  Many wonderful experiences unfolded in the countries of Portugal, Spain, and France.  Hope to share more of the story in the near future!

On November 16 St. Anne Parish will celebrate its 65th Anniversary as a parish.  To celebrate this event, parish members are invited to stop after Masses during that weekend to enjoy refreshments and share stories about St. Anne Parish.  Plan to join in the festivities as we give thanks to God for 65 years of growing in faith!

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

-Fr. Al

Sunday Bulletin for November 9, 2014

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Pastoral Letter for November 2, 2014

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November and All Souls’ Day

This weekend we begin our parish’s novena for All Souls’ Day.  It continues to next Sunday when we will have our Mass of Remembrance for all those who have died this year.  Praying for the dead is a long-standing Christian tradition.  We believe and celebrate our communion in the Church with the saints, all those who have died, and indeed with all the living and the dead.  This is really a part of our celebration of the Eucharist everyday:

“Therefore, Lord, remember now all for whom we offer this sacrifice: especially your servant Francis our Pope, William our Bishop, and the whole Order of Bishops, all the clergy, those who take part in this offering, those gathered here before you, your entire people, and all who seek you with a sincere heart.  Remember also those who have died in the peace of your Christ and all the dead, whose faith you alone have known (Eucharistic Prayer IV). ”

November is the special month in the Church where, in unison with the natural world, we remember that we are mortal and we pray for all those have died.  This is a wonderful time of year to visit the graves of your family and to pray that they may now “enter into the Lord’s rest (Heb 4:11).”  Our hope as Christians is that our prayers did indeed help those who have died at the time of their death, and that they do now assist the faithful departed as they journey to our Father’s house.  In Christ our love is taken up into the power of God’s own love which unites us all.  On All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, in a special way in this month of November, we pray with and for our beloved dead.  The dead are truly members of Christ’s Body the Church, and they intercede for us as we make our way through this life.

It is fitting finally at this time of the year, to remind everyone to plan for their own death with their family and loved ones.  Especially if you are unsure if your family will understand your wishes as a Catholic, let them know.  In our world today a lot of traditional practices around death are changing.  Amazingly many people under 30 years of age have not had much experience with the dying or dead.  Make clear to your loved ones that you would like a priest called when you are injured or ill, that upon your death, you want a funeral, either within or outside of Mass.  Another challenge for priests nowadays is getting information about who is sick or dying in the parish.  Medical privacy laws and the like mean that we can’t just call and find out who is at the hospital from our parish.  I am not a priest very long, but this seems to be a pretty pressing issue for parishes now.  I am speaking from my own experience of a serious illness too that just because you are Catholic doesn’t mean a priest will know to give you care.  In my instance I was unconscious and unable to communicate what I needed.  Our Diocese actually asks all her new priests to write up their funeral plans as well since in our time there is no longer one clear way to remember a person at the end of their life.  Sobering stuff indeed, but good for us to work out sooner rather than later.  After all, I would have never imagined getting so ill at 23 years of age!  We give thanks to God for His love though, which gives us confidence even when we consider the reality of death.  And so we pray, “Thy Kingdom come.”  “There we hope to enjoy forever the fullness of your glory, when you will wipe away every tear from our eyes.  For seeing you, our God, as you are, we shall be like you for all the ages, and praise you without end, through Christ our Lord, through whom you bestow on the world all that is good (Eucharistic Prayer III).”

-Fr. Matt

Sunday Bulletin for November 2, 2014

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Pastoral Letter for October 26, 2014

 

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“Bending the Rules”

I remember when I was a kid I pulled a Tom Sawyer on my little brother, Ty.  Mom and Dad only let us have one hour on the Super Nintendo, for your information, the greatest video game system ever made.  Ty and I would play through games together, like for instance The Legend of Zelda.  I would play for an hour and then he would play too with me helping him to understand the buttons and rules (since he was four years younger).

I remember one day getting the not so bright idea that I could perhaps bend the hour rule with a little deception.  I knew Ty got frustrated when he couldn’t play as well as his big brother, and so one day when he was stuck on a particularly tough “boss” (the bad guy at the end of a level), I offered to play it through for him so he could advance.  He took the bait and before long I was playing half of Ty’s time too.

I think we all look for loopholes in different places in our life though, long into our adult years.  But the Lord Jesus wants to teach us a different way.  He is showing us every Sunday that faith is not just a bunch of rules, but a way of life; faith is not a series of duties to accomplish, but a relationship to enjoy.  At our best, we know this.  We might be in a really difficult situation with someone we love, but we think: “No, I’ll get through this, I love her.  It’s worth it.”

It still sticks with me, a phrase my dad used when I was a boy: “Love is a decision.”  How true.  In the life of Jesus we see the decision that God our Father has made about us.  He loves us, we’re worth it.  From the Cross each Sunday Jesus invites us to reach out in faith to the Father too, and He promises in His Resurrection that we won’t be disappointed.

This week as we set forth from the altar of the church to the altars of our daily life, remember why we do what we do.  Or rather, let Jesus remind you why you do what you do.  If you relationship with God or others is growing ho-hum, allow Jesus to share His Spirit.  That is the Spirit which cries out from our hearts, urging us to stay connected with God and one another.  Forget about the rules and regs of church; look in faith and love to the persons behind those rules: our God, your neighbor, your co-worker, your daughter, your friend.  Our Father was concerned about how I took Ty’s time on the Nintendo not because of some arbitrary hour rule.  God’s concern lay in how I treated my only brother.  God’s concerns about our daily life are the same.

The Lord has prepared a veritable feast of life and love for us daily.  He doesn’t want us to miss out!

Sunday Bulletin for October 26, 2014

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Pastoral Letter for October 19, 2014

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What belongs to God?  Jesus says “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”  What would I say in my life belongs to God?

If we think about a list of “belongings,” we might consider a home, car, computer, phone, tablet, books, furniture, keepsakes, souvenirs, clothing, memories etc.  Whatever we possess, we might say belongs to us.  So in this manner, what do we “own” that belongs to God?

Might it be possible for us to recognize that everything belongs to God?  If I did not have my life, what would I be able to do or own?  If I did not have a talent by which to earn money, what would I be able to do or own?  If I did not have health and ability, what would I be able to do or own?  What do I possess that is not a gift from God?

Stewardship is the willingness to recognize that everything I have is a gift from God.  Stewardship is the willingness to share what I have from this belief; what God has given me belongs to him and is meant to assist to do the work of his mission.  The language of this understanding is espoused in our logo – “Receive with gratitude, give with joy.”  Grateful that we have been given so much and knowing that it belongs to God, with joy, we share that gift so that others might have it too.

What belongs to God?  How are we giving to God what belongs to Him?

Sharing news about the parish . . .

November 1 is the Feast of All Saints.  When a holy day of obligation falls on a Saturday or Monday, the Bishops may choose to lift the obligation.  The day remains a holy day; Catholics are released from the obligation to attend Mass.  Since November 1 falls on Saturday and the Bishops have lifted the obligation, one Mass is scheduled for the Feast of All Saints:  November 1, 8:30 a.m.  Please plan to attend and celebrate the heroes of our Church!

Diocesan Annual Appeal – our goal is $99,193.  Progress is $11,758 cash received.  Every member is needed to offer a contribution on the road to meeting our goal.  Having received your pledge card, please prayerfully consider what you are willing to support, fill out your pledge card and return it.  If we can meet our goal by April 1, our rebate will be increased; these monies help us to do extra maintenance projects within the parish.  Thank you in advance for your willingness to support this important work!

The pilgrims are on their journey!  We are connected by our prayer during Eucharist and the intentions that we remember as we pray.  See everyone upon our return!

On November 16 St. Anne Parish will celebrate its 65th Anniversary as a parish.  To celebrate this event, parish members are invited to stop after Masses during that weekend to enjoy refreshments and share stories about St. Anne Parish.  Plan to join in the festivities as we give thanks to God for 65 years of growing in faith!

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

-Fr. Al

Sunday Bulletin for October 19, 2014

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