Pastoral Letter for October 25, 2015

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Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, Oh My!

Our Second Reading from The Letter to the Hebrews gives occasion for considering ordained ministry and its place in the Church.  When The Catechism of the Catholic Church discusses the 7 Sacraments it calls 2, Sacraments at the Service of Communion: Marriage and Holy Orders.  To say that these Sacraments help serve ‘communion’ is speaking about more than the Communion we receive at Eucharist.  These two Sacraments build up the Church in the unity of a family founded on love and trust.  Let’s focus on Holy Orders for now.

There are 3 Holy Orders: bishop, priest, deacon.  Each of these Orders share in the vocation to be at the service of the People of God.  It’s not that bishops, priests, and deacons aren’t called to witness to the Gospel in the wider world, but that, in fact, will never be their forté.  It is not priests or deacons after all who are as involved in the affairs of the world.  We mostly don’t hold down positions in public or civic life, mostly we don’t raise children.  Our purpose is to help build up the family of the Church in the life of faith.  It’s important to remember a few things about us clergy that are very clear in our reading from Hebrews: 1) we’re human, 2) we’re sinners, but 3) God calls us to love you like our family.  That’s why it has become a tradition to call a priest, “Father”.

Deacons in a special way are drawn from a parish community by the Spirit to help lead that people in service.  Deacons are often married men who help show the bond between the secular world and the life of the Church.  They may hold down lay jobs, but when they become a deacon they receive a new call with their family to serve God’s People in a dedicated way.  Deacons cannot offer all of the Sacraments, but they are not less than priests.  For all clergy it is not as much about the things we do as the relationship we have with people.  It’s like family.  Specific jobs/services flow out of the foundational relationship.

While deacons help connect the People of God with the people in our world, priests help to keep all of us connected within Church.  We lead whole communities, celebrating with them the holy mysteries that connect and give meaning to our lives.  Deacons assist priests in their numerous tasks for encouraging God’s People, and the priests in turn are the helpers for the bishop.

Please pray for men of every age to listen to God’s call to ordained service, and for priests to respond to God’s call to service as a bishop.  There are, in fact, shortages in every one of the Orders.  Like my pastor growing up used to say, “Priests don’t grow in mystical cabbage patches, watered with holy water!  They grow in you!”  He would say this as he waved his hand out over all our families.  He’s right.  Family is the place where we learn how to love and serve, both in the world and the Church.  Please pray that all bishops, priests, and deacons will (as our Ordination says) “excel in every virtue: in love that is sincere, in concern for the sick and the poor, in unassuming authority, in self-discipline, and in holiness of life.”

Please do pray for vocations of bishops too.  That is a way that the People of God help our Pope in his ministry.  Pray for men to be chosen as bishop that you would trust as the head of our family of faith.  Write to Bishop Callahan and let him know about priests that you think would be a good bishop!  That’s how bishops are picked.  The Pope asks for the advice of bishops.  Let’s help with our feedback!  To close, here’s a poem by Lacordaire that I have always loved about priesthood:

To live in the midst of the world
without wishing its pleasures.
To be a member of each family,
yet belonging to none.
To share all suffering,
to penetrate all secrets,
to heal all wounds.
To go from men to God
and offer Him their prayers;
to return from God to men
to bring pardon and hope.
To have a heart of fire for Charity,
and a heart of bronze for Chastity.
To teach and to pardon,
console and bless always.
My God, what a life!
And it is yours,
O priest of Jesus Christ.

Sunday Bulletin for October 25, 2015

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Pastoral Letter for October 4, 2015

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Jesus provides in the gospel a strong teaching about marriage.  Drawing from this understanding, the Catholic Church has seen marriage as a covenant.  This sacred bond is to be treated with great seriousness.  The Church seeks to defend the sanctity of marriage.  From a positive perspective, we might applaud a Church which might conclude some situations are not marriage.  Should a home filled with domestic abuse be considered a witness to how God loves us?  A lack of maturity may have caused a rash decision about marriage; should the Church suggest that a sacramental marriage is possible if someone is “simply going through the motions?”  Jesus invites those who hear him to take a strong look at what God intended marriage to be and how human standards may not always reflect this understanding.

In the midst of a strong teaching on marriage, the Church also desires to reflect mercy.  If a marriage is not based in covenant and a reflection of God’s love, then a process should be provided in order to identify the characteristics of a marriage and whether it meets the definition as posed by Jesus in the Gospel.  This process should be healing, not burdensome.  From this perspective, Pope Francis has initiated a review of the annulment process.

The decree, Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus, was issued by Pope Francis on August 15, 2015.  This decree implements some changes in the process of annulments.  Initial reviews suggest the need for a review by a second Tribunal will no longer be necessary and the process is to be shortened.  Time will help us understand these and other changes expected by Pope Francis.  The Marriage Tribunal of the Diocese of La Crosse is reviewing these instructions and how to adjust the process according to these new norms.  As this becomes available, St. Anne Parish will offer education for those who may wish to understand this revised opportunity.

Sharing news about the parish . . .

A wish of God’s peace is extended to the family and friends of Eleanor Fricke who was recently buried from St. Anne Parish.  May our prayers support and encourage those who mourn.  May she rest in peace!

Thank you to all who attended the concert during our Wednesday evening Faith Formation!  Hope everyone enjoyed the music!

A new project starting at St. Anne Parish is the collection of plastic bags which can be crocheted into sleeping mats for the homeless.  500-700 bags are needed to crochet one mat.  A container to collect bags will be placed at St. Anne Parish.  If you are willing to donate to this project, please bring your bags and deposit them in the container.  This project will be offered until October 31, 2015.  Depending on the donations, a decision will be made regarding continuing the project or concluding it.  For those who might be interested in crocheting the mats, please contact Catholic Charities (715-849-3311) to work out the details.

Diocesan Annual Appeal – Our new target for 2015-2016 is $106,152.  The Appeal will kick-off in October.  Please be ready to offer assistance as we work to meet this new target!

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

-Fr. Al

Sunday Bulletin for October 4, 2015

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Pastoral Letter for September 27, 2015

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What type of story might we equate with the Gospel of Mark?  How might we consider his use of hyperbole by which to make his point?

At the time of Mark, the early Christian Church is faced with persecution.  When confronted with being Christian, they might become a slave, used for sport in the Coliseum or mutilated.  Discipleship could bring them great harm.  The reality of harm could be a stumbling block to any Christian.  Doubts would evolve quickly.  Are we willing to take the chance of inviting great harm or would it be better to not embrace the faith?  To reject the faith caused scandal in the early Christian Church.  Mark is desiring to speak to this scandal.

The words of Jesus thus are expressing – for the faith, would you not cut off your hand?  For the faith, would you not pluck out your eye?  Using hyperbole, Jesus is using an extreme example to make the point that discipleship requires a person to profess their faith, even if faced with doubts.  Those who are willing to endure such hardship are the true heroes of faith.  They do not allow rejecting faith in Christ to become a scandal.  They accept the hardship for the sake of the kingdom.

In our time, the question becomes – what causes doubts about the faith today?  What are the stumbling blocks that might cause someone to turn away from or lose their faith?  In the midst of our doubts, how might we be strengthened in faith?  Coming to Mass each week is an opportunity to be strengthened in our belief, face our doubts and recommit ourselves in faith.  If our faith is strong, would we not be willing to “cut off our hand” in order to be part of the kingdom?  The threat of extreme harm should awaken in us the need to confront our moments of doubt, anxiousness or fear of persecution as disciples in Christ.  How ready are we to profess our faith as the early Christians did who faced death for their belief?

Sharing news about the parish . . .

 

A wish of God’s peace is extended to the families and friends of Marian Thomasgard and Roy Duranceau who were recently buried from St. Anne Parish.  May our prayers support and encourage those who mourn.  May they rest in peace!

 

A new project starting at St. Anne Parish is the collection of plastic bags which can be crocheted into sleeping mats for the homeless.  500-700 bags are needed to crochet one mat.  A container to collect bags will be placed at St. Anne Parish.  If you are willing to donate to this project, please bring your bags and deposit them in the container.  This project will be offered until October 31, 2015.  Depending on the donations, a decision will be made regarding continuing the project or concluding it.  For those who might be interested in crocheting the mats, please contact Catholic Charities (715-849-3311) to work out the details.

 

Diocesan Annual Appeal – Our new target for 2015-2016 is $106,152.  The Appeal will kick-off in October.  Please be ready to offer assistance as we work to meet this new target!

 

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

-Fr. Al

Sunday Bulletin for September 27, 2015

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Pastoral Letter for September 20, 2015

The reading from James this weekend invites a reflection from each of us.  If we read it carefully, how does its message bring opportunity to clarify how things are in good order or disorder in our lives?  How might it help us adjust our thoughts, perceptions or actions?  Take some time this week to read and reflect on these words of James:

“Beloved:  Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice.  But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity.  And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.  Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?  Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?  You covet but do not possess.  You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war.  You do not possess because you do not ask.  You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”

Sharing news about the parish . . .

 

A new project staring at St. Anne Parish is the collection of plastic bags which can be crocheted into sleeping mats for the homeless.  500-700 bags are needed to crochet one mat.  A container to collect bags will be placed at St. Anne Parish.  If you are willing to donate to this project, please bring your bags and deposit them in the container.  This project will be offered until October 31, 2015.  Depending on the donations, a decision will be made regarding continuing the project or concluding it.  For those who might be interested in crocheting the mats, please contact Catholic Charities (715-849-3311) to work out the details.

 

Men of the Cross is a conference sponsored by the Diocese of La Crosse and occurring at Viterbo on October 24.  Plans are underway to organize buses to assist men in attending this conference.  Is anyone from St. Anne Parish willing to help be liaison for this Men of the Cross Conference?  Contact Fr. Al if you are interested.

 

Diocesan Annual Appeal – Our new target for 2015-2016 is $106,152.  The Appeal will kick-off in October.  Please be ready to offer assistance as we work to meet this new target!

 

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

-Fr. Al

Sunday Bulletin for September 20, 2015

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Pastoral Letter for September 13, 2015

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For the sake of the gospel.  Jesus indicates that anyone who loses their life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.  What does it mean to exhibit the gospel?  Perhaps taking basic question words, we might take a look at what this means.

WHO – For whom do we lose our life?  Is it family?  Friends?  Fellow citizens?  Poor?  Sick?  Imprisoned?  For whom would we set aside other things in our life in order to bring the gospel?  The list could be lengthy.  Do we know who will receive our service?

WHAT – are we willing to lose?  Is it our time?  Talent?  Treasure?  Pride?  Envy?  Hatred?  Jealousy?  What needs to be removed for the sake of the gospel?

WHERE – For the sake of gospel happens – at church? At home?  In our Community?  In the world?  Wherever we happen to be?

WHEN – will we lose for the gospel?  Is it something we are already doing?  Something we are waiting till a future time?  Will we be ready?  Will we miss the opportunity?  For the sake of the gospel – do we have an urgent need to fulfill this quest?

HOW – will we lose for the gospel?  Will we be cheerful in our work?  Will we do so grudgingly?  Will we be generous?  Will we hold back?  How invested in this work are we willing to be?

Depending on how each of us answers these questions, the ability to fulfill Jesus’ words depends on our awareness of these answers.  The work of the gospel happens when we lose our life for Jesus and his gospel.  Take some time this week to evaluate if the loss is occurring well.

Sharing news about the parish . . .

 

Mentors for FOCCUS – Thank you to those couples who have accepted the invitation to become mentors!  The response has been great and we have added new couples to assist!  I am grateful for their willingness to work with those couples who are planning for marriage in the Catholic Church!

 

Men of the Cross is a conference sponsored by the Diocese of La Crosse and occurring at Viterbo on October 24.  Plans are underway to organize buses to assist men in attending this conference.  Is anyone from St. Anne Parish willing to help be liaison for this Men of the Cross Conference?  Contact Fr. Al if you are interested.

 

Diocesan Annual Appeal – With the assistance of Lee Jojade (Financial Supervisor), I relooked at our Annual Report and raised questions regarding our Diocesan Appeal target.  I recently received notice that after review, our target has been adjusted – a reduction of approximately $1,000.  Our target for 2015-2016 is $106,152.  Please be ready to offer assistance as we work to meet this new target!

 

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

-Fr. Al

Sunday Bulletin for September 13, 2015

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