This weekend we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Lent. With just two weeks remaining till Holy Week, this is a good time to take stock of our Lenten pilgrimage. I must first say how impressed and pleased I am that so many people have been participating in various Lenten devotions. Attendance at the English and Spanish Stations of the Cross has been good. Also our school children have been following Jesus' Way of the Cross on Wednesdays and have been attending weekday Mass during this holy season. Attendance at Sunday Mass has increased and many people have set aside an additional hour each week to spend before Jesus truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. Often ten or twenty people will be praying before Jesus in the Ailbe House chapel. Because of that response we have been able to have Eucharistic Adoration all night on Thursday as well as Saturday. Also thanks to the generosity of Fr. Ocaņa, Mass is now being celebrated each Saturday morning at 8 a.m.
All of this prayer has brought blessings to individuals, families and to our entire parish. One example is the generous response of so many people to Sacrificial Giving and to the building renovation program of the parish. Last week Tim McDonald announced the beautiful $100,000 pledge from Suzanne Burke, daughter of parish pioneers J.R. and Florence Burke. When I called to thank her, she mentioned the unusual circumstances which had brought her to the alumni gathering on March 18. It must have been the result of God answering a lot of people's prayers, I suggested. She wholeheartedly agreed. She and I also had a bit of a connection since her daughter had gone down to Peru with me a couple of years ago.
While we focus on the urgent needs of our parish, we have not forgotten the poor in our neighborhood and city. Our parish St. Vincent de Paul and Madre Teresa groups have been diligently working to help those who look to Holy Family for aid. Also through our two-bit collections we have been able to help other important charitable organizations. This Sunday we have a collection most worthy of our support: the American Bishops' Overseas Appeal. It supports Catholic Relief Services which is often the first agency to respond when some disaster like a floor or earthquake strikes. The ABOA also supports Migration and Refugee Services, Holy Father's Relief Fund and the USCC Department of Social Development and World Peace. I urge your generous response this Sunday. At the same time, I remind you to continue using the Rice Bowls in your family. Rice Bowl likewise supports Catholic Relief Services and diocesan hunger and poverty alleviation programs.
On a very personal note I want to thank Fr. Ocaņa and Deacon Ted Wiese for the extra work they have done this past month in Fr. Gallagher's absence. It is good to have him once again back with us.
Next Saturday (April 8, 6 a.m.) we will have our parish pilgrimage, walking from Holy Family to St. James Cathedral. Some one hundred people have indicated they will be participating in this event, so we should be quite a procession going down Delridge, then to Marginal Way and up Columbia St. to the Cathedral. As I mentioned, I am doing the pilgrimage myself to obtain a plenary indulgence for my mom. I am sorry that there are no more openings for the walk and the Mass (the Lady Chapel at the Cathedral holds a limited number) but you may join us for the Way of St. James after the 11 a.m. Mass. Please call the the rectory, 767-6220.
One final note: an important part of Lent is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Fr. Ocana and I will be in the church this Thursday, April 6, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. (or until all confessions are heard).