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
When I was first asked to become a pastor back in 1996, I was very hesitant to do so. I had been a priest for about 9 years and loved being a priest. But I was afraid that becoming a pastor – and taking on all the administrative and managerial tasks that are part of running a parish – would give me less time for more spiritual parts of the priesthood that I enjoyed so very much.
Bishop Edward Hughes, of blessed memory, gave me some very good advice. He told me that the best way to avoid that was to make sure I kept doing the things I loved about being a priest. I knew that he meant what he said, because even when he was our bishop, he used to teach 8th grade religion at the cathedral's parish school.READ MORE
Many people are surprised to learn that my favorite pope of recent times is the retired pope, Pope Benedict XVI. Having said that, let me say unequivocally that I do not think that popes should be the subject of popularity contests! But we all find different people more or less to our liking for any number of reasons.
My personal reasons for finding Pope Benedict so likeable has a lot to do with the many books he authored – especially his series "Jesus of Nazareth" in which he offered an almost line-by-line reflection on the Gospel. My sister, Christine, read one of these books and told me it did a great deal to deepen her faith. I also was deeply affected by the humility Pope Benedict showed when he retired, believing the Church needed a younger and healthier leader at the time.READ MORE
This weekend we finally bring the Christmas Season to a close as we remember the Baptism of Jesus. While many of us remember when Epiphany marked the end of this season, the Church – since Vatican II – has extended her celebration of Christmas to today's Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Ending the Christmas Season with this celebration reminds us that the same Jesus Who was born as a Child in the manger chose to be Baptized and to make Baptism one of His holy sacraments.
Last Saturday evening a whole lot of my family came to the 4:30 Mass at our Church. Afterward they visited with me and the other priests in the rectory. I've told you before that my family enjoys coming to Mass at our Church – and I thank each of you for making them feel welcome. Gathering with my family made me think of how, at our own Baptism, we became part of Christ's family – the Church. This is yet another aspect of today's Feast of the Baptism of our Lord.READ MORE
I hope everyone's Christmas was as nice as mine! It was wonderful to see so many people at Mass – especially on Christmas Eve. Celebrating the Solemn Mass at Midnight was the highlight of my Christmas – and I want to thank all those who filled the Church for it! The choir also deserves thanks for leading us in song and lending a great deal of solemnity to that Mass. It was a fitting celebration of our Savior's birth. I also want to make special mention of the Children's Nativity Pageant that preceded the packed Mass at 4 PM on Christmas Eve. They did a great job telling and acting out the story of Jesus' birth! Thanks also to all those grown-ups who worked behind the scenes to make the pageant so nice!READ MORE
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. I had to write this about a week before Christmas, so I can't tell you how mine went! Instead, I'll tell you a little bit about the Christmas Season.
As Catholics, we believe that some things are so wonderful that it takes a lot more than a day to celebrate them. Christmas is certainly one of those things! That's why, as Catholics, we celebrate Christmas for a season which began at Mass on Christmas Eve and will continue through the Feast of the Lord's Baptism on the Sunday after Epiphany (January 13). While the rest of the world – especially department stores – start taking down decorations the day after Christmas, we continue celebrating the birth of our Lord for nearly three weeks! Keeping your trees up and homes decorated is one way to celebrate this season of joy.READ MORE
I want to begin by thanking all those who took tags and brought gifts for the Giving Tree. Your generosity provided gifts for some 200 children – and many elderly parishioners, too. It is a testimony to your charity and faith!
Thanks also to the Boy Scouts, who kept moving the gifts to Mercy Hall for safekeeping all weekend. Their efforts ensured that the many gifts did not start blocking the aisles and become a hazard! It is also an example of how many groups and people work together to make good things happen here at St. Philip and St. James!
Last Friday I had a great time at our Parish School's Nativity Pageant. The students told the story of Christ's birth – with lots of beautiful singing. They also acted out scenes like the Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, and Epiphany – to name a few. It was a wonderful, joy-filled telling of the holy story of Christmas! Thanks to all who were involved!READ MORE
Today is the Third Sunday of Advent. In the "old" days, this Sunday was called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete basically means "be happy" or "rejoice". On the surface, we are rejoicing because Christmas is almost here.
On a deeper level, we are rejoicing because Jesus – Who came as our Savior long ago – is coming again to bring us to the fullness of His Kingdom. In spite of all the troubles in our world, we wait in joyful hope for the coming of Christ and His Eternal Kingdom of Peace and Justice.READ MORE
I want to thank all those who took tags from the Giving Tree and purchased gifts for poor children. My thanks extend also to those who took tags for senior citizens and those who made cash donations. Your generosity helps many local families! It also gives evidence of your faith in Jesus – Whom God generously sent to save us from our sins and lead us to Heaven!
After today's 1PM (Spanish) Mass there will be a special celebration in Mercy Hall. It is in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast is December 12. There will be food, music, and lots of fun. Everyone is welcome to join the fun in honor of our Blessed Mother. For those who wish, Fr. Leo will celebrate a special Mass in Spanish on Wednesday, December 12, at 7PM.READ MORE
I hope your Thanksgiving was as nice as mine. My sister had a really big crowd of family and friends, and it was a lot of fun. I was able to visit with some relatives I don't get to see very often, which was really very nice. The meal was great – of course – and my mom was happy to have so many of us there.
Today we begin the holy season of Advent. While it's easy to think of Advent as a time to prepare for Christmas, it's really much more than that. The word Advent means "coming" – and Advent is indeed a time to get ready for the coming of Christ.READ MORE