Express Announcements ~ Feb. 2, 2014

  • This week we celebrated Catholic Schools Week and we thank God for the gift of our National Blue Ribbon School – Holy Cross Academy, our Sisters and Faculty and the gift of all our Religious Education Catechists who dedicate so much to the formation of our children.
    • If you want to learn more about our school, or just want to visit, please come to the Open House this Sunday, February 2 – 9:30am to 12noon in the Parish Life Center for Preschool, and 1 – 3pm at Holy Cross Academy. All are welcome!
  • Join us for our monthly Parish Family Dinner on Saturday, February 8 from 6-8:30pm in the Parish Life Center. See more information on page 9.
  • Our next Concert Series Event features Ephrem Brass Quintet performing a free concert with organist David Mathers. Friday, February 21 at 8pm.
  • SCRIP is on sale in the Parish Life Center after all Masses except Saturday 7pm and Sunday 2pm. Please use SCRIP, and a percentage of what you spend will be applied to our school.
  • Sunday Coffee Shop is open this weekend after the 7, 8:30 and 10am Masses.

From Our Pastor ~ Feb. 2, 2014

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

It’s Ordinary Time, I need to speak about an ordinary thing. I realize that I’m about to step out on thin ice. It is socially incorrect now to make any public criticism of anyone’s behavior – please know that this is not a public criticism. It is just a series of analytical, objective statements.

1. I regularly receive letters and emails from people demanding that I do something about the order and behavior of the congregation during Mass.

2. There is a growing trend for people to do things during Mass which seem new, two arise in particular: Talking on cell phones or texting during Mass; not taking any action when children are clearly melting down and disrupting the entire congregation.

3. There are times I am unable to concentrate on giving a homily because of these behaviors. Sometimes I have to stop and restart my thoughts several times after I have lost my train of thought.

We welcome families and small children to Mass. We also acknowledge that there must be a level of consideration for those in the church who are trying to listen, to pray, to participate in the Mass, to proclaim the Scripture or offer a homily. This is a personal responsibility that is held by each person in the sacred space of the church. And we agree that we share this responsibility.

The cry room in the back of the church serves a particular function. If there is no crying child in the church, it should be completely empty. It is a space where people must be able to go when a disruption occurs. Once it is past, people return to the congregation. It is the place that must be reserved for those who need it at particular times.

I have discovered that the cry room is being used as a play room, or even a place for overflow seating, sometimes by people who don’t want to deal with the large congregation in the church. I beg you not to do this. Some parents have told me they don’t want to go in the cry room because it is being used as a play room, and they don’t want their children to think there is a play room alternative to Mass. Bad behaviors apparently can be learned there.

All are welcome, but all must serve the purpose of why so many people share one space for Mass: we must be together to be the Body of Christ offered to the Father. But we also must be able to think and to pray, and focus.

I ask everyone to please consider the necessity of this request and honor my words. Like I said, it is not intended to single out anyone, and I say these words in all charity and pastoral sensitivity. Someone has to say them. As pastor, I guess that someone is me. Please don’t contact me and condemn me for this message. Let’s try to be considerate of one another in the way we join together and fulfill our roles in the celebration of the Mass.

There is one other item of housekeeping that now is probably a good time to mention. I apologize for as often as we have broken kneelers in the church. There seems to be a design flaw in the quality of the metal pieces on which the kneelers hinge. They break when kneelers are in the up position and people push on them with their feet; I guess they were not made to sustain such pressure – and the legs have probably the strongest muscles in the body. Often people don’t realize how strong legs can be. So I ask your patience as we continue to repair them, and your consideration to take care of them. For being relatively new, our pews have taken a beating and are often found with excessive scratches, writing, sometimes even carvings (which I really can’t understand). Please take care of these things.

God bless you.

Express Announcements ~ Jan. 26, 2014

Welcome Back to anyone who may be returning to our parish family this weekend. If you have any questions or would like to talk about it, please contact us.

New Family Welcome Meeting is TODAY, Sunday, January 26 at 11:30am in church. Please attend and meet parish leaders and members of our Welcome Committee.

Register now and join Bishop Loverde and Bishop DiLorenzo in Richmond for Catholic Advocacy Day Thursday, January 30, from 8am to 1:30pm. More details are on page 10. Please plan to join us!

This week we celebrate Catholic Schools Week and we thank God for the gift of our National Blue Ribbon School – Holy Cross Academy, our Sisters and Faculty and the gift of all our Religious Education Catechists who dedicate so much to the formation of our children.

  • Catechists and Teachers join us for a special Catechist/ Teacher Appreciation Reception Saturday, February 1st at 6:30pm.
  • If you want to learn more about our school, or just want to visit, please come to the Open House next Sunday, February 2 – 9:30am to 12:00 Noon in the Parish Life Center for Preschool, and 1 – 3pm at Holy Cross Academy.!! All are welcome!

Our next Concert Series Event event features Ephrem Brass Quintet performing a free concert with organist David Mathers. Friday, February 21 at 8pm.

SCRIP is on sale in the Parish Life Center after all Masses except Saturday 7pm and Sunday 2pm. Please use SCRIP, and a percentage of what you spend will be applied to our school.

Sunday Coffee Shop is open this weekend after the 7, 8:30 and 10am Masses.

From Our Pastor ~ Jan. 26, 2014

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

Happy Winter. Finally it came. When I was a kid “They” always used to say in Kansas that you needed a good cold snap in order for all the flu bugs to die for the coming year. For years I pictured it in my mind like a swarm of gnats. May it be so. Our offices and school are closed two days this week on top of a holiday; I hope you got some rest out of all this, too. There was one parent who sent out an email for the school: “I hope everyone is enjoying the snow and the kids at home. I know I am. If only I could be off work!…” Amen. ‘Cause when the staff is off, guess who does the bulletin! I’m just focusing on all the flu we are beating come April.

You should be receiving your statements for 2013 giving this week in the mail. As I look through them and sign each one I am filled with gratitude for so many of you who really do support the life of the parish in a significant way. The percentages are small — you can see the analysis on page 9 of the bulletin today — the majority of support in every group, church or association in the world is always through the generosity of the minority, what they call the 80/20 rule. We are not really the exception. Although 46% of our families (2,231) have used envelopes at least once during the past year, those who give $20 or more each week to the first collection (20% of the parish, or 997 families) represent 88% of our total donations.

I’m going to study these results in more depth with more time, but a few quick observations are interesting. The level of giving in an otherwise, relatively consistent pattern of giving, indicates that Holy Days of Obligation are largely overlooked. One of the things I’ve been wanting to talk about is the importance of these Holy Days. Not for the collection, either — they are days that are precious to our life of faith and require of us a particular level of attention. All of them are, on a deep level, intimately tied to our identity and responsibility as Christians and days of particular thanks due to God. They are like the birthday party or anniversary of a close family member that you would not dare miss. Something like that annual family event that you might even go to great lengths with travel and expense to attend. In a post-Christian era like ours it is hard for many people to believe that something like one day (24 hours) might be holier than another. Also, the changes about which years they count as days of obligation and which years they don’t have people confused, I think. More about that later.

2014-01-26At any rate, I am so very grateful for your contributions. We have a lot to do here, a lot of work yet to develop and a debt to pay off, and I thank you for keeping it going. Please continue to help the parish as we move forward in our mission of grow together in holiness and witness to the love of God in our world, where it so badly needs to be known. These are uncertain times for so many — which makes your gifts more meaningful, as well as more necessary as we reach out to as many people as we can in charity and compassion.

Finally, let’s remember all our Sisters, our teachers and faculty, our school children and their parents and families this week as we celebrate the wonderful presence of Catholic Education in our parish this week. Catholic Schools Week is a time to reflect on the blessing of Catholic formation and what is for the Church, I believe, one of the most important (if not the most important) apostolate given us by God: to form and educate, nurture and protect these young people and help them find their place in God’s creation. May they go forth from us and bring about God’s new creation in peace and justice, and goodness and truth.

God bless you.

 

Fr. Don