Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
First, a great thank you to all of you who responded to the Unbound Ministry priests who visited two weekends ago while I was away. I’ve heard from several people who had comments about the homilies and presiders; never the less it seems that they did their work and you did yours, too. I had mentioned at the few Masses I had this past weekend that our parish responded with a record 100+ adoptions for any parish they had ever visited. Later I learned that the real number was 205! I am very glad you were so generous. Unbound is one of the few (apparently) charitable “adoption” agencies with an A++ rating, which means that nearly all of the money they receive goes to the charity for which they serve. So, again, thank you!
I hope you got a chance to see the photos which were printed in the bulletin last week of our visits to the Oblate Sisters’ missions in South Africa and Namibia. If not, you can always go to our website—and see the photos as they really are!— in the bulletin archives. At the Masses for which I presided here last weekend I spoke a bit more about how our parish is going to make sure every child has a pillow and a pillowcase as a starter for our relationship with the Mission of Saint Joseph School in Gabis (Karasburg), Namibia. Many of you have already responded hoping to participate in this project, as well as another project I hope to start, that of constructing bathrooms for the children. The boys’ bathroom (for 85 boys) has two commodes and they are not functioning well. I hope to investigate the possibility of building sustainable, waterless (as much as possible, as water is precious in the desert) bathrooms which will accommodate more children, larger bathrooms for both the girls and the boys. We will be sensitive to make sure that local people are employed and local businesses get the contracts as much as possible, and that we don’t upset the balance of these girls and boys in staying true to the simplicity of their lives, introducing a dissatisfaction for what they have. They have so little, and are so joyful because they don’t have the complications of our lives, and we don’t intend to introduce anything unnecessary for their well-being.
Already it is August, and we leave on our annual parish trip to Ireland tonight (Sunday). It seems like there has been too much travel this summer. We originally were going to have our Buddhist – Catholic Dialogue here in the States, but the Holy Father asked that we have our first meeting in Rome, so that was unexpected. Then the dedication in Pella was originally thought to be the week following Easter Sunday when the Sisters could be away without missing too much school, but it moved to this summer in getting the convent finished. So the one trip to Ireland, which has been planned for a year, is starting this week. We will pray for (and toast) all of you while we are visiting the other Holy Land.
As we have nearly completed all the materials for our Stewardship / Discipleship plan for the coming year, I thought I would include some excerpts from Pope Francis’ Misericordiae Vultus, the Bull of Indiction announcing the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, in this week’s bulletin.
Our theme for the coming year is “People of Thankfulness Sowing Seeds of Mercy,” and we have chosen this theme because it is for God’s mercy that we are most thankful. The life of faith can only grow in the soil of gratitude, when we realize what we have received from God and are filled with gratitude for his goodness. Then, and only then, are we able to be merciful to others as God is merciful to us, to be forgiven as we forgive, to love with the love that is familiar to us because God has loved us first.
I hope you enjoy this text. We will be studying and praying about growing in gratitude throughout the coming year as our parish fine tunes our ability to respond to Jesus’ call as good disciples. Some major dates to keep in mind are:
- 13 September—Parish Ice Cream Social, cakewalk and Dance;
- 19-20 September—Parish Life Weekend with tents and ministry reps available after all Masses;
- 26-27 September—Commitment Sunday;
- 9-10 October—Called and Gifted Workshop: Join the 500+ parishioners who have dug deeper in the spiritual life discovering gifts received in Baptism and how to unlock them serving God. I ask all who have completed the Workshop to encourage several people to consider taking it and reserving the time in their calendars;
Before we know it, it will be Christmas!
God bless you.