Today we celebrate the great Solemnity of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, in which we call to mind the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the early Church! Pentecost brings the Easter Season to a close but it is by no means an end to reflecting on the Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus and the Sending of the Holy Spirit. We still live out the Paschal Mystery in our lives and in our Church to this very day. The Dying and Rising of Christ is made new through the power of the Holy Spirit every day of the year until the end of time. One of the challenges for Christians today is to not think of Pentecost as a “once and done” event. The Holy Spirit has been with the Church since the beginning and will be with us until the end of time. The Holy Spirit has guided the Church (sometimes through some very rough times!) and the Holy Spirit is leading us and guiding us still. Where is the Holy Spirit leading us in this third millennium of Christianity? We cannot know completely. I think the early Church would be surprised at where this billion-plus member Church is now! All we can do is be open to the Spirit in our lives and pray fervently and sincerely, “Come Holy Spirit, Come!”
May and Mothers go together! Today we celebrate Mother’s Day and we give thanks to God for the gift of our mothers. May we always be grateful for the women who carried us in their wombs and gave us life! There is great truth in the maxim, “the hand that rocks the cradle holds great power!” How our mothers (and fathers) form us in our character. The Church teaches us that the family is the “domus ecclesiae” or “the home of the Church”. It is the place where we learn how to be a Christian! It is from our mother’s laps that we learn our prayers; it is from our mothers that we learn how to be a Christian gentleman or gentlewoman; it is from our mothers that we learn the ways of love, compassion and forgiveness. May we eternally be grateful!
May is also the month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. From the May Crowning in church (I thank the First Holy Communicants for their help with this last week!) to shrines to Our Lady in the garden in home to an extra rosary during the month, during May we renew our devotion to the Blessed Mother of God! May our devotion be sincere, lively and heartfelt. Oh what a Mother we have in the Blessed Virgin Mary! “Pray for us, O holy Mother of God! That we may made worthy of the promises of Christ!”
This past week I met with the Finance Council of the parish and they wanted me to let you know that we are having another banner year. At the end of March we had a sizable surplus and it looks like by the end of the fiscal year we will have a similar surplus as last year ($180,000).
We are moving ahead with the Lenten Appeal and more parishioners have given to Lenten Appeal than in the past. We still have a way to go but we did have a sizable increase from last year. That is because we are doing well financially and because our parish is doing well, the diocese asks more of us. (I have no problem with a little healthy competition between parishes and I have to say that the parishes around us have already met their goal! I know we can do it!)
The amazing thing about our finances is that we have been doing a lot of things (new convent, new parish center, some renovations, etc.) and we are still in such a good place. I get the impression that there is misinformation out there that we are in financial difficulties and I can say without qualification that we are doing great! Keep up the good work and God bless you for your generosity!
A couple of updates on what’s happening in the parish:
1. We submitted our plans and drawings to the diocese this past week to gain permission to move ahead with our Centennial Project. The Diocesan Building Committee will meet on May 1st to review the plans and the College of Consultors (one of the bishop’s advisory councils, of which I am a member) will meet on May 17th. We should have our answers about when and how to proceed from there. The plans look good and I will be presenting them in the near future to the parish.
2. We have a few staff changes in the parish. Marcie Warner, our Co-Director of Religious Education will be leaving us at the end of June. She will continue to volunteer in our Religious Education Program but wants to take time for family at this time. We thank her for the great job she has done in REP! Earl Tropp, our other Co-Director, will become full time Director of Religious Education and will also take on the added position of Coordinator of our RCIA program. I know Earl will do a great job!
3. I have asked John Triscik, our Parish Youth Minister, to represent the parish on the Derry Township Ministerium. John will be the liaison with the other Christian communities in our area. Ecumenism is essential in our Church today as we pray with Jesus “that all may be one.” Thanks, John, for representing me and the parish!
4. I am looking for a part-time Coordinator of Parish Ministries here at St. Joan of Arc. This paid, part-time position (10 to 15 hours a week) will help us organize and coordinate our many organizations and ministries in the parish. If you are interested, please complete the online application or submit a resume to the parish office (or to me, Father Al).
Lots of good things going on in our active parish. Changes, yes, but change is good!
As you are by now aware, the Grand Jury report on clergy sexual abuse will be released soon. I myself do not know what is in the report but will be open with you when it is made available. The protection of our children should be our highest priority. Let us pray for all victims of sexual abuse.
Once again, to report the sexual abuse of a minor, call the following number: 1-800-626-1608
May we never be afraid of doing what is right no matter what the consequences!
A few years ago I had the privilege to lead a pilgrimage to Poland. One of the highlights of the journey was to be at the Divine Mercy Shrine outside of Krakow. There, in a very modern-style church, was the painting of Christ as Divine Mercy which was revealed to Saint Faustina. We had a lively talk from one of the sisters at the shrine in which she spoke to us of the unconditional love and mercy of Christ for us poor sinners. We are all sinners in need of God’s mercy and Jesus is the face of Mercy itself! The phrase at the bottom of the Image of Divine Mercy is “Jesus I trust in you!” What a perfect prayer! And act of faith! Put all your trust in Jesus. He wants only for you to turn to him and accept his love, receive his forgiveness and be his friend. And he wants to be with you forever in heaven! Enjoy this Easter Season and draw close to Jesus, our Risen Lord!
With all the priests in the rectory and on behalf of the Sisters in the convent and our Parish Staff, I want to wish you all a Happy Easter! This winter has been a tough one with the unremitting cold and days and days of darkened skies. Perhaps a winter of darkness and cold is just what we need to really celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord at Eastertime. The fact is, Spring is coming! (It really is!) New life will be all around us in nature. After the seeming death of the natural world, the next few months will remind us that winter does indeed turn to spring and summer! The natural world reminds us that even in the darkness and cold of death, things are not what they seem. Deep down there is new life! How true that is in our own lives as Christians. When everything seems dark and dead, Christ enters our lives as Light and Life! Even when at the end of life in this world we die, our faith reminds us that we will live forever. Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord, wants nothing more than to dispel the darkness in this life and to bring us to new life in the world to come. Easter reminds us of this truth. May we never forget it! May you experience the Risen Lord in your life and may you, at the moment of your death, see the Risen Lord face to face! Again, Happy Easter!
With the celebration of Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, we enter into the great events of Holy Week. The Church, of course, recalls the historical events surrounding the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord this coming week but it is much more than a remembrance of things past. It is walking with the Lord in our individual lives, and entering into the Paschal Mystery on a much deeper level than just in our memories. When we were baptized, we were baptized into the death of Christ and rose with him to new life. In a very real way, our lives as Christians is a participation in the Paschal Mystery. The liturgies of Holy Week remind us of our dying and rising with Christ in our everyday lives. It makes us question things like: How do I deal with suffering in my life? How do I carry my cross? What do I do when I am abandoned or betrayed or denied? How do I face my impending death? Jesus Christ is our role model in how we are called to live our lives. We are called to be servants to others; to make a sacrificial gift of our lives; to commend our complete selves into the loving arms of our Father in heaven. Let us walk with Jesus on the road to Calvary and may we rise with him in glory when our days on this earth are ended. In a powerful way, how we experience Holy Week will give us the grace to live out the Paschal Mystery each day of the year! Make good use of the week ahead!
Here below are three Acts of Contrition to be used in our daily prayer or during confession.
What matters most is not the words we say but the sorrow we have in our hearts!
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you,
and I detest all my sins, because of Your just
punishments, but most of all because they offend You,
my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no
more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.
My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good,
I have sinned against you whom I should love
above all things. I firmly intend, with your help,
to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever
leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and
died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God,
have mercy on me a sinner!
Cut this out and tuck it into your wallet! This is a beautiful prayer we should all know!
*A printable version of these Acts of Contrition can be found here
Our Lenten Parish Penance Service will be celebrated next Sunday night, March 18, at 7:00 pm. Lent is a time for us to acknowledge our sins and to turn back to the Lord. For us Catholics, we are privileged to have this wonderful Sacrament of Reconciliation. For those who go frequently, you understand what a grace this Sacrament truly is. For those who have not been there for a while, may you return to this beautiful Sacrament without fear or trepidation. You are meeting the merciful Lord in confession and he is always “slow to anger and rich in compassion.” It is good to make an examination of conscience before you go in to confess your sins. The priest will help you if it has been a long time. Tell the priest how long it has been since your last confession and confess your sins. Give an idea of how many times you have committed your sins. It also helps if you tell the priest what your state in life is (single, married, widowed, religious, etc.) Listen carefully to the priest’s advice and the penance he gives you. Make an Act of Contrition (the one you learned as a child is fine or you can pray it from the heart). Hear the words of absolution and truly believe that your sins are forgiven. Make use of this Sacrament as often as you can (and you need!) You will not regret it!
P.S. I am happy to share that a name has been selected for the meeting space in the old parish offices and Meeting Room C. This space will now be known as the “Holy Family Center”.
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