St. Peter Claver

09-13-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

I want to begin by congratulating all the children who will be receiving their First Holy Communion in our Church over the next couple of weeks. Some of them received this past Saturday and some will receive on an upcoming Saturday morning. Still others will receive at one of the regular Sunday Masses this or next weekend.

They are all part of ‘last years’ First Communion class. Like so much else, their preparation for this Most Blessed Sacrament was interrupted by the virus. I am so happy that most of them will finally have the joy of receiving Jesus in Holy Communion for the first time.

I am also happy to announce that Deacon Enock will be restarting the Prayer Group meetings on Wednesday evenings at 7 PM. They will meet in the Church for prayer and praise – being sure to observe all the necessary protocols (masks, distancing, etc.). Deacon Enock will preach a reflection each week on the readings for the upcoming Sunday – to help people prepare prayerfully for next Sunday’s Mass.

Another piece of good news – we are ready to expand adoration a little bit more. It will now begin immediately after the 12:10 PM Mass and continue until 4 PM. This will add another hour and half to the current schedule. I am thankful to Deacon Enock and the adorers who are making this possible.

If you can stop by and make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, please do so. Adoration is a powerhouse of prayer for our parish. People have told me of the graces and blessings they are receiving from God through Adoration – and the peace, insight, and guidance they find in that time spent with our Blessed Lord.

I also know that many people have good reason to be careful about coming out to Church, and assure each of you of my continued prayers. Please keep me in your prayers at home until we can all be together again.

Our new priest and seminarian have been added to our parish website. You can find little biographies/statements from them at spsj.org. Go to About and then Staff, and that should do it!

I want to thank everyone who has been bringing food or otherwise supporting the Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen during this time. It is a great act of charity, and one that is very much appreciated by those in need. What we do for them, we do for our Lord, and He is never outdone in generosity!

Speaking of doing for others, this past Wednesday, September 9th, was the feast of St. Peter Claver. His is a saint with a powerful message for our times. St. Peter Claver was a Spanish Jesuit priest who ministered to slaves.

When a slave ship would arrive in port, he would head aboard and begin caring for the people chained inside. He would bring food, water, lemons, and even brandy to relieve their hunger and other ailments. St. Peter would bath and tend to their wounds, assisted by a team of laypersons and Jesuit brothers he assembled.

Translators would help him converse with the slaves so that he could pray with them, instruct them, and Baptize them. Over the years he Baptized over 300,000 slaves! He even kept after them when they were sold, prevailing upon masters to treat them humanely.

St. Peter became known as the ‘Conscience of Cartagena’ – which was then at the heart of the African slave trade. Not content to teach only by example, this good priest preached on street corners about the evils of slavery and racism. Loved by some, he was scorned by others, which is often the lot of true saints!

He expanded his audience by accepting invitations from parish priests to preach in their Churches. That souls were touched is evident by the many confessions he would hear at such times. When he died in 1654 the whole city turned out for his funeral. Many people even tried to take strands of his hair or pieces of his clothing for relics–knowing he was a saint.

May St. Peter Claver teach us to do our best to love people of every nation, race, and background, and to promote true justice in our world.

Please keep me in your prayers this week– at least one Hail Mary a day. Please also pray for Fr. Gilbert, our seminarian and deacons, and all of our parish. Let’s also pray for peace!

Have a great week!

Fr. John

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