I had an absolutely wonderful Easter – and hope that you did, too. First and foremost, I was happy to celebrate Easter Mass with so many of you. The Easter Vigil and my Mass on Easter morning were the very heart of my Easter celebration. Concelebrating with Fr. Leo – who offered such a beautiful Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday – was another highlight of this Holy Week.
For many years, I have had a special place in my heart for the Solemn Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion at 3 PM on Good Friday. This year – as always – I was deeply moved during that Liturgy. Watching so many people come forward to venerate the Cross was truly inspiring. I especially enjoyed watching so many parents, grandparents, and even big brothers and sisters showing little ones how to kiss the Cross. This is how we pass on our Faith – and I’m glad that so many of you do so!READ MORE
I want to begin by wishing each and every one of you a blessed and happy Easter. The Resurrection of Jesus stands at the very heart of everything we believe as Catholics. It is my favorite day of the year, and I am always happy to celebrate it with you.
Easter is so important to us that we celebrate it not just for a day – but for a season of fifty days. The Easter Season is longer than Lent because the joy of the Resurrection is greater than penance of Lent. As part of our celebration of this joyful season, our Church will be decorated throughout the Easter Season. The new Paschal (Easter) Candle will stand near the pulpit, rising high into the air as a symbol of Christ's glorious Resurrection.
The Rite of Sprinkling with Holy Water will replace the Penitential Rite at most Sunday Masses during the Easter Season. This is to remind us that the New Life Christ gave us in Baptism has as its goal our Resurrection and Eternal Life in Heaven. Additionally, the Gloria will be sung as a joyful hymn. May these beautiful ceremonies fill us with the joy that the first disciples felt when they saw the Risen Lord on the first Easter Sunday.READ MORE
Last Saturday evening I had the real pleasure of attending the parish Faith and Service Dinner at Flynn's. This dinner is held annually to celebrate our school, its alumni, and people who have made significant contributions to our parish and school community. This year's honorees were Mrs. Jo-Ann Scott, our long-time Religious Education Director, and Frank Stettner, a lifelong member of our parish and graduate of our parish school. I was especially moved to hear both of them speak about the role their family, parish, and community plays in their lives. A special thank you is owed to everyone who made this event such a good time and a success.
As we begin Holy Week, I want to encourage everyone to make a real effort to come to Church on both Holy Thursday (7 PM) and Good Friday (3 PM). Our church really should be filled on those most holy days. They are the days on which Jesus gave us His greatest gift – His Body and Blood, offered on the Cross to take away our sins so we can have eternal life in Heaven! Our presence in church on Holy Thursday and Good Friday are a token of our appreciation of all that He did.READ MORE
It was nice to see so many people take time to be with Jesus during last week's 24 Hours for the Lord. I made a holy hour between midnight and 1 AM – and counted about 15 other people who remained in the Church for that hour. Even more came in and out for brief visits with our precious Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Spending quiet time like that with Jesus is such a beautiful thing to do!
Believe it or not, next Sunday is Palm Sunday – which means that Lent is almost over! If you have not yet been to Confession this Lent, please do so this Saturday. Fr. Leo and I will be in the Confessionals this Saturday from 9:00-9:30 AM and 3:15 – 4:15 PM. If those times don't work, you can call one of us for an appointment.
Right now, I'd like to share some answers that Pope Francis gave to people who asked him questions about Confession.READ MORE
It was wonderful to see so many people at the Evening of Spiritual Awakening! Many people commented not only on the good crowd, but also on the evening itself. It was a prayerful and inspiring experience – and a good thing to do for Lent.
I want to thank the choir members and music ministers who provided such inspiring music for the evening. It really helped to set a prayerful tone. Thanks also to all the people who took time out of their normal schedule to spend extra time in prayer.
Remember that we will have our parish Lenten Penance Service this Monday, April 1, at 7 PM in Church. Many priests will be on hand to hear Confessions and help you experience God's loving mercy. While a lot of people went to Confession at the Evening of Awakening, I know that a lot more still need to make a good Confession this Lent. Coming to the Penance Service is another good thing to do for Lent.READ MORE
This Friday our parish will host 24 Hours for the Lord. The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed in our Church (rather than the chapel) from 9 AM Friday until 9 AM Saturday. People are invited to come and spend some quiet time with our Lord that day and night. You may come and stay for as long or as little as you like. It would be great if you could spend at least an hour with Jesus.
There will be some special prayer services during this time. A special Holy Hour at 9 PM Friday evening, and prayers at 8:30 AM Saturday morning. Confessions will be heard after Stations of the Cross Friday evening and at 9 AM Saturday morning. Stations of the Cross will be prayed in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament at 3 and 7 PM Friday, and the Daily Masses will be offered as usual.READ MORE
Last Sunday I had the pleasure of attending the Rite of Election at St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral. It was a special prayer service in which our Bishop prayed with the catechumens and candidates of our diocese. Catechumens are unbaptized persons who are preparing for Baptism. Candidates may be baptized non-Catholics or Catholics who were Baptized, but never received First Communion or Confirmation.
Several catechumens and candidates from our parish took part in the Rite of Election. They are preparing to be received into Full Communion with our Holy Catholic Church this Easter. Please keep them in your prayers as that day draws near.READ MORE
Today is the First Sunday of Lent. My favorite analogy for Lent is Spring Training. Just as baseball players get in shape during Spring Training, Catholics use Lent to get in better "spiritual shape". The traditional ways to do this are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We are encouraged to do a little more praying, fast as a penance for our sins, and be generous to the poor. What follows are some suggestions for doing this.
Try to get to Daily Mass during Lent. If you can't get there every day, at least try to get to Daily Mass at least once a week. The Mass is the most powerful prayer we have, and we do well to make good use of it. Another good way to pray this Lent would be to attend the Parish Lenten Mission on Wednesday evenings at 7 PM. Each evening will include time for prayer, as well as a Lenten homily, followed by Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. I would especially encourage families to come to these evenings – at least once this Lent – just to expose your children to the beautiful practice of Benediction.READ MORE
Believe it or not, this Wednesday is Ash Wednesday – the beginning of the Holy Season of Lent. Masses will be offered in our Church that day at 6:45 and 8:00 AM and at 12:10, 5:00, and 7:00 PM. Ashes will be blessed and distributed at all those Masses.
There are several ways of looking at Lent. Some people see it simply as a time of penance. We give up treats we like to show that we are sorry for our sins and want to do better in the future. This is a good way of looking at Lent.
Other people look at Lent as a time to do something extra for God. They go to Daily Mass or practice extra charity as a way of going the extra mile for God during this holy season. This is also a good way of looking at Lent.READ MORE
This is one of those times when I had to write my article earlier than I like, due to the President's Day holiday. I hope you had a good one!
By the time you read this, about 75 young men and women – mostly eighth graders – will have received the Sacrament of Confirmation. Since I had to write this before the ceremony, I can't tell you much about it. But I can tell you how much I have enjoyed working with these candidates as they prepared for this great day.
I especially enjoyed giving their Confirmation Retreat, and seeing them grow in their understanding of what it means to be a witness for Jesus Christ. Teaching some make-up classes for those in CCD was a pleasure, as was teaching the 8th graders in our school each week. Reading what they admired about the saints whose names they chose for Confirmation was very inspiring – as many of the young people clearly put a lot of thought into their choices.READ MORE
Our parish honored several religious sisters at last Sunday's 11 AM Mass. Their good work is a blessing to many people in our community. Sister Clare, SJH, teaches a "make up" class in our CCD program – where she gets children who did not receive First Communion at the usual time ready for that Blessed Sacrament. Sr. Ellen, SJH, and Sr. Megan, SJH, both teach religion in our parish school. Sr. Michaelita, RSM -- who once was principal of our parish elementary school, now runs the local Catholic Charities, and helps many local families by her work.
Students from our parish school and CCD program presented the sisters with flowers, as the assembly at Mass gave them a grateful ovation. It was especially inspiring to me to see so many of our people stop to say a word of thanks to the sisters after Mass that day.READ MORE
Last Monday I had the honor of celebrating a Funeral Mass for Sr. Helen Rado, MPF, who passed away after 77 years of religious life. She had been the Religious Education Director in my previous parish, and was a wonderful example of a person who did an awful lot for God in her life. While her 77 years as a religious sister are her most obvious gift to God, Sr. Helen never rested on that. She was a teacher, principal, Director of Religious Education, RCIA Director, and parish visitor of the sick who also made a life-long effort to grow in prayer and good works every day of her life.
Her service to God over the years made me think of the ways that we can serve God. All of us are called to serve God by living our faith and growing in holiness each day. Like Sr. Helen, we do this by making the effort to grow in prayer and good works each day. But we also do it by finding things we can do for God.READ MORE
My column in this week's bulletin is going to consist of a mish-mash of news about things that are happening in our parish. Today (Sunday), is ordinarily the Feast of St. Blaise – a bishop who lived in Armenia and was martyred for his faith. Because a boy – who was choking to death from something caught in his windpipe – was suddenly healed when Bishop Blaise blessed him, Catholics traditionally have their throats blessed on his Feast Day. This blessing of St. Blaise is an act of faith in God's power over illness, and a prayer for protection against illness and evil. Everyone is invited to remain after Mass today to have their throat blessed.
This Sunday is Boy Scout Sunday in our parish. For this reason, some of the Boy and Cub Scouts from our area will attend the 9 AM Mass together. A number of them will be recognized for earning their Catholic Religious Awards – and I want to offer each of them my sincere congratulations.READ MORE