Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
Happy Easter, today. I hope that the joy of Easter and our many beautiful celebrations remain with you, with us, well into the coming year. There are so many people to thank… all artists, decorators, musicians, liturgical ministers, priests, deacons, our Sisters and staff, our seminarian Joseph, our volunteers. The Expo Center effort is, every year, a project that involves workers and volunteers for several days leading up to Easter, as well as packing up and moving everything back to the church on Easter Sunday afternoon. I am always so grateful for all of you who stay with us to the end!
We also decorate the altar at school for Masses there, and of course our church, too.
This year was one of the most powerful and remarkable experiences of faith that I have had in my life, and I am grateful that you were here to celebrate it with. Such lively participation, I get the sense we are doing something right! We are an amazing parish family. I can only imagine how pleased God is, with children like you. May the Cross be our faith and Risen Life be our hope as we live in the love of God’s family. Please pray for one another.
I got a beautiful email during Holy Week this year and wanted to share it with you. (You see, we get really good emails, too—actually, many more good than bad!). Here is the text, I have removed her name to respect her privacy:
Hello Father Rooney,
I hope this email finds you well. No doubt, you’re extremely busy with Easter just around the corner. I hope I do not take too much of your time. A little over a year ago I was living in Fredericksburg. Things were not turning out the way I planned during my time there. During last year’s Lenten season, I was at the lowest point of my life and felt completely alone. One Saturday, for an unknown reason, I decided to attend 5:00 o’clock mass at your parish. When I walked in I was stunned to see the church so packed! I just figured everyone in the South was Baptist and Catholics were few and far between. I certainly was wrong when I saw everyone at St. Mary’s! I began searching for a seat and wasn’t having much luck. Just when I was about to give up and stand in back by myself, I heard one of your parishioners, a woman, say to me “There is a seat here for you.”
Father Rooney, this woman and her act of kindness she extended to me while I was in your church completely changed my life. In that moment, I finally felt at peace and felt hope for the future for the first time in months. Shortly after this experience, I made the decision to move home to Chicago and to join RCIA at my local parish. I am so pleased to inform you that I am about to fulfill my sacraments this Saturday at my church’s Easter Vigil. I am so thrilled to be taking this next step in what I know will be my lifelong faith journey.
Because of this woman whose name I will never know and because of your church, I am becoming Catholic. Because of your church and your parishioner, my life and soul have been changed forever.
Thank you and may God bless you, the entire St. Mary parish and all those you hold dear.
Look at what is happening—often we may not even be aware of what impact we are having on the lives of others. An act of kindness, a kind word, a simple prayer for another has an unlimited echo that carries into the lives of others.
There is a different, stronger light in the sky, a new fragrance, a gentle, sustaining spirit to our world because Jesus is risen. There are so many things that don’t make sense to our limited sight that can be confusing and frustrating, but the new life of Jesus helps us to see that there is always more than only what we can see or touch. In his name we can offer that new life to one another and change the world.
God bless you.