Pastoral Letter for February 22, 2015

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Jesus went off to the desert for 40 days.  With no cell phone, computer, tablet, friends, what did he do with all that time?  With no distractions, Jesus had time to give thoughtful observation to his life and its direction.  Once he had spent time in contemplation, he began his ministry of preaching – “The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe in the gospel.”

The choice of 40 days for Lent is deliberate.  The Church provides us with this time of contemplation.  Having taken a moment at Ash Wednesday to review our lives, we hopefully have discovered an aspect of our lives that needs our thoughtful observation.  What do we like?  What do we not like?  What direction are we going?  Is it a good direction?  Does it need some revision?  Would a whole overhaul be needed?

The purpose of 40 days is to avoid any hasty conclusions.  With contemplation, we might be able to determine what we believe is truth versus simply our perception of what is happening.  When Jesus left the desert, he wasn’t unclear about the direction or message.  He spoke it boldly and without apology.  Lent should lead us to the clarity by which we can begin to live the message that is revealed through our contemplation.

So are we ready for this time of Lent?  Has the contemplation begun?  Much should spin and revolve in our mind as we stir the waters of our lives!  What will this time reveal?  Will we have the clarity from which to move forward?

Sharing news about the parish . . .

As a parish, we pray for those who have died.  A wish of God’s peace is extended to the family and friends of George Hrdina.  We celebrate his entrance into eternal life.  May our prayers support and encourage those who mourn.  May he rest in peace!

How are you celebrating the journey for Lent?  Hope you are involved in our “Living the Eucharist” program!

The Stations of the Cross are scheduled for Lent.  Enjoy a fish fry and plan to join the praying of the Stations of the Cross on February 20, March 6 and March 20 at 6:15 p.m.!

Speaking of Stations, some people have asked why 16?  The first station, not often included in booklets for the Stations of the Cross, is Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane; if included, it might be an Opening Prayer.  Typical to Stations of the Cross is 14 stations; the next fourteen stations follow most booklets.  The sixteenth station is the resurrection.  Booklets will include The Resurrection of Jesus and call it a closing prayer.  Thanks for asking about the unique set owned by St. Anne Parish!

Diocesan Annual Appeal – Steady progress is inching our way to our Appeal target.  We have $49,866 in cash, pledges of $61,591.  To reach our target, we still need over $37,000.  April 1 is coming quickly and we need many more families who are willing to donate.  Who is willing to respond to our need?

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

Sunday Bulletin for February 22, 2015

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Pastoral Letter for February 15, 2015

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What does God will for us?  When the leper comes to Jesus, he says “if you wish, you can make me clean.”  Desiring to be clean, yet not wanting to ask and have nothing happen, the leper seems to have hope and doubt about God’s will.  Might we have the same difficulty?

We gather each week to pray.  We remember the needs of our world, community, family and anything else upon our minds and hearts.  What do we expect from God?  The key to this gospel story seems to be the willingness to accept God’s answer; this means that we don’t have an answer.  We might have a preference as did the leper – we can presume that he wanted to be healed.  Yet, in his request, he didn’t demand that answer.  He conveyed a humility that God was the one who needed to decide and he would accept any answer.  He may have been surprised when Jesus said “I do will it.  Be made clean.”  Would he have been upset if Jesus said “No”?  If the truth lies in God’s will, not his own, then we need to presume that he could accept a different answer.  In this light, are we open to the various answers that God may give to us?

The second reading seems to connect with this thought – “Do everything for the glory of God.”  If we are understanding this statement, we need to consider that we endure our suffering for the glory of God and we celebrate our joys for the glory of God.  We accept when He gives us what we want and we accept when He seems to say “No.”  How might Lent help us to trust and believe in what God wishes for us?

Lent is an opportunity to put our life in the hands of God.  Jesus will do this in accepting the cross as the will of his Father.  To ready ourselves for the Lenten journey, what activity of Lent will help us to accept God’s will – prayer, fasting or charity?

Sharing news about the parish . . .

As a parish, we pray for our members who have died in the last month.  A wish of God’s peace is extended to the family and friends of Arthur Guralski, Beverly Steckbauer, Florence Kapinski, Ethel MacDonald, Allan Hilgemann, Patricia Drewek, Nan Voeltzke, and Leon Thomas.  We celebrate their entrance into eternal life.  May our prayers support and encourage those who mourn.  May they rest in peace!

Ash Wednesday, February 18, is the start of Lent.  Review the schedule – what Mass will initiate the journey for Lent?

The Stations of the Cross are scheduled for Lent.  Enjoy a fish fry and plan to join the praying of the Stations of the Cross on February 20, March 6 and March 20 at 6:15 p.m.!

Diocesan Annual Appeal – We are inching our way to meet our Appeal target.  We have $48,891 in cash, pledges of $60,991.  To reach our target, we still need over $38,000.  April 1 is coming quickly and we need many more families who are willing to donate.  Who is willing to respond to our need?

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

-Fr. Al

Sunday Bulletin for February 15, 2015

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Pastoral Letter for February 8, 2015

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Jesus, Others, You

Mother Teresa had a very simple acronym to describe how one finds true joy in life: Jesus, Others, You.  This is not the kind of ordering for life that we human beings necessarily like to see or that we, in fact, generally keep all the time.  It is the order none the less that the Lord Jesus and His saints reveal as the true path to the joy of the Kingdom.  It is a part of our readings this weekend.  Job’s whole book shows a man coming face to face with his humanity and limitedness, and the peace that follows from turning over one’s life to God.  In the Gospel we see Jesus generously sharing of His life and love, and Paul the same in his letter to the church in Corinth.  It’s a good exercise for us spiritually to question for ourselves, or rather to ask the Lord, what the priorities in our life are.  In our American culture, individual freedom is highly prized, and it is indeed a very good thing.  St. Paul, after all, in another place reminds us that God wants children not slaves.  We are meant to be free, to be ourselves.  But freedom is not an absolute value.  Not to a disciple of Jesus Christ.  No, in a seemingly paradoxical manner it is when we hand over our lives to the Lord that we truly find freedom.  It is when we empty ourselves in service to others that we find ourselves filled up.  Hey!  We’ve seen someone do that before, the Lord Jesus, Who “though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather, He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave (Phil 2: 6-7).”  Amen.  That’s the truth, that’s how this world really works.  How wonderfully I am reminded now of the Prayer of St. Francis.  He surely understood the hidden pearl of this Gospel vision: “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.  For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”  Amen.

-Fr. Matt Marshall

Sunday Bulletin for February 8, 2015

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Pastoral Letter for February 1, 2015

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Jesus speaks with authority – the people recognize that he has wisdom and are awed by his presence.  Who is the authority in our lives?  Is it a parent?  A grandparent?  A leader with whom we are connected?  It is God?

The process of listening is twofold:  listening because we appreciate the one who is saying it and listening because we feel the words are helping us to organize our perspective and thoughts such that life is improved.  If we have little respect for someone, odds are that we will ignore them.  Much like looking at the caller ID – a suspected telemarketer would not elicit our answering the call!  If we don’t think that the person has something to offer, we turn them off; be it a talk show or the news, we can decide whether or not the information is worth our time.

We can do the same with God.  Scripture is only important if we think it has a life lesson to share with us.  Has it the ability to speak to greater things?  Is it of God?  A novel is nice to read, but often once is sufficient.  Only when something seems to have deeper insight might we indicate that one reading does not glean all that is included in those words.  Scripture is miraculous in that for more than 2000 years, the words can speak to the human experience and draw us deeper into an understanding of that experience.  Thus Scripture is worth “another” read!

The gospel says that Jesus’ fame grew.  Given the insight, people flocked to hear him.  Nothing seemed to get in the way of interacting with Jesus.  How might this be our intention for Lent?  While other opportunities exist, will we take time to learn how to live the Eucharist?  Whether in a small group or through the weekend celebration, how might we be in the presence of Jesus?  How will we hear his authority and marvel at His words?

Sharing news about the parish . . .

Ash Wednesday, February 18, is the start of Lent.  Review the schedule – what Mass will initiate the journey for our Lent?

The Stations of the Cross have been installed in the church.  Special lighting is complete.  Plan to attend the offerings of praying the Stations of the Cross this Lent.

A tradition of Lent is St. Anne Famous Fish Fry.  This opportunity requires many volunteers in order to continue the tradition.  Be willing to assist; see the bright pink bulletin insert – hope to see you there!

Diocesan Annual Appeal – We are inching our way to meet our Appeal target.  We have $42,751 in cash, pledges of $57,561.  To reach our target, we still need over $41,000.  April 1 is coming quickly and we need many more families who are willing to donate.  Who is willing to respond to our need?

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

-Fr. Al

Sunday Bulletin for February 1, 2015

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Pastoral Letter for January 25, 2015

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“Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed.”  To listen to these words, two words come to mind – Death Sentence.  The words carry an ominous feel.  Life might be shattered if we thought this would be our fate.  Yet the story is more about the mercy of God.  When hearing the sentence, the people of Nineveh rise up and turn to God to ask His mercy.  They hoped that God would relent and save them.

The opportunity of Lent is not simply about sin and death.  We are invited to prepare for God’s mercy.  The ability to pray, give to charity, fast and be reconciled from our sin is to seek God’s mercy.  If we trust in His love, then the things that startle or bring out our fears should be the very things which we carry to our God.  Thus the Lenten journey begins by looking at our lives and asking – what would be our “death sentence”?  What in our lives is not what we want it to be?  How can we seek the mercy and love of God to help us look at it, determine how to change it and allow God’s grace and mercy to strengthen us?  In this way we might know life, not death.  We remember that the Gospel can transform us.  The Gospel can be light in the midst of our darkness.

In the words of Ash Wednesday, “turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”  Do we believe that God saves?  Do we believe that the cross has a message for our lives?  How will Lent lead us to see that we have been released from our death sentence – God’s mercy is greater and we are made joyful by His mercy!

Sharing news about the parish . . .

Ash Wednesday, February 18, is the start of Lent.  Begin to think about your Lenten plans.  How will you use this special spiritual time?

The Stations of the Cross have been installed in the church.  Special lighting is being installed.  Watch for opportunities to pray the Stations of the Cross during Lent.

Lenten Fish Fry plans are unfolding.  Many hands are needed to make this happen as well as patrons to enjoy the menu offerings!  Plan to be involved – every week during Lent would be awesome!

Diocesan Annual Appeal – We are inching our way to meet our Appeal target.  We have $42,537 in cash, pledges of $57,463.  To reach our target, we still need over $42,000.  April 1 is coming quickly and we need many more families who are willing to donate.  Who is willing to respond to our need?

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

-Fr. Al

Sunday Bulletin for January 25, 2015

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