Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
Mostly I just write the bulletin article in the office. Sometimes, it’s from a cool place like Jerusalem or Italy. Today it’s from the hospital.
As I had mentioned at Masses a couple weeks ago I had some surgery scheduled to fix some lingering effects from my semicolon procedure almost two years ago. I guess it may have been a little optimistic to think I’d actually be back to work in three days, but we gave it our best shot. I actually came home in four, but learned quickly that I had sleeping guts that just wouldn’t wake up and found myself back in the hospital the next day, last Saturday night. Since then all I can do is just wait it out. I’m still here…it has been painful and miserable but things seem to be finally waking up and I hope to be out by midweek and get on with life. I’m sorry to all who have been looking for me or needed something from me while I’ve been out of commission. We will gather it all up again soon and go back to work and get done what needs to be done. If anyone calls me “sleepy guts” I’ll call you back last!
It has been an interesting experience watching the parish remotely, as it were. You can learn things from other perspectives. For example, every once in a while I like to just attend Mass as a “normal” person. You learn new things about celebration styles (how others do it), you watch how people respond, or not, there is a lot to be learned.
As I’ve been watching our communications to you I realize that they are particularly heavy on the asking side this year. It is the season of giving, to be sure, and we receive a large number of solicitations each year for the parish to support just about every cause and project you could imagine. The churches have become easy solutions for people who need funds and lack creativity, and the expectation is often that we do their promotion and collection for them, as well. We try to help people help themselves when it comes to these solicitations, and you don’t hear about them officially from us.
Even with regard to things so vitally important to the life of the Diocese like Catholic Charities. This year it almost seems like a second Bishop’s Lenten Appeal. This is an indication that it is truly that important – and requires our attention. Professionals in this area say that today this is the only way we get anyone’s attention for a collection so necessary as this is. But something inside me mourns the fact of it.
So I ask your patience and earnest support for one further collection this year, our annual Special Christmas Charities Collection. We take the second collection and divide it three ways, traditionally: one third goes to a particular need of our Oblate Sisters of Saint Francis de Sales (worldwide), one third to a Bethlehem charity, and one third to an ongoing local social concern that involves many of our parishioners.
This year, we ask your second collection donation next weekend to support:
1. The needs of the Oblate Sisters’ Father Brisson Institute in Alausi, Ecuador. Following a flood, the roof of the school was so damaged that continued deterioration of the property has continued. They recently applied for and received a grant for a new roof and are rebuilding – much work on walls and ceilings will follow and our parish can make a significant contribution to this.
2. We will continue to give an annual donation to the Creche Orphanage in Bethlehem, Palestine (could there be a more perfect Christmas charity?). The 120 or so orphans who are cared for by the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul since 1884 are provided additional medical possibilities through donations such as ours.
3. Community Dinners in Fredericksburg have become one of the most successful and popular ministries among our many parishioners, and all churches in town. Our annual Christmas collection pays our parish’s three dinners a month which we prepare and serve.
God bless you.