This week I begin my sixth year at Holy Family. For me these have been wonderful years and I thank each of you for your support, prayers and love during this time. I look forward to us having many more good years together. The assignment I received from Archbishop Brunett is until 2003 and in the normal course of events would be renewed for an additional six years. Of course no one can predict the future but I believe I will be pastor of Holy Family till 2009.
Besides sharing many joys we have also shared each others' sorrows. We have seen a number of our prominent parishioners die and as you know during these years my own parents have passed away (my dad in November of 1995 and my mom in January of this year). Last week we were stunned by the news of the death of Richard Bowe. Dick helped out as a volunteer in maintaining our parish facilities and he will be deeply missed, not only by the Holy Family staff, but by many others here in the parish. Our prayers and sympathy go to his widow, Shirley and to all in Dick's family.
During recent years we have also experienced God's grace in remarkable ways. This has come to us because of the persistent prayer of so many people. The most visible sign of that prayer is the numbers coming to the Ailbe House chapel for Eucharistic Adoration from Monday through Saturday morning. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed for seventy-one hours each week and I have noticed that often there will be five to fifteen folks praying before Jesus present in the Eucharist.
Because of that prayer we have seen an increase in the numbers of those receiving the sacraments at our parish. We have significantly more baptisms, confessions and marriages than five years ago. Also our weekend attendance at Mass has gone from about 1700 to 2500. Perhaps most significant are the four young men from Holy Family who are studying for the priesthood. Jesus instructed us to pray to the Lord of the Harvest for vocations.
At the same time we have been able to address some of our more urgent maintenance needs including the replacement of two boilers. And I cannot tell you what a great satisfaction it is for me that we are finally replacing our school porch. The work in removing the old one has revealed that it was indeed in very bad condition and would have had a difficult time sustaining even a minor seismic jolt. The earthquake study of a few years back indicated it was the most urgent part of our building structures to address. With the ongoing support of all of you we hope to be able to also be able to do the needed seismic retrofit of our school. As we enter a new fiscal year, I ask you to continue your financial support of Holy Family - and to those who are not yet receiving envelopes, please place a note in the collection basket (or call the rectory, 767-6220) so we can get you registered.
Appropriate saints for the physical and spiritual upbuilding of the Church are Saints Peter and Paul. They are the third represented in our upper West stain glass windows. Peter is shown lifting up a book in his left hand with the Greek letters Alpha and Omega. Being the first and last of the Greek alphabet they symbolize Jesus who is the beginning and end of all (Rev. 21:6). In his right hand Peter hold the keys given to him when Jesus made him head of the Church (Matt. 16:18-19). St. Paul hold in his right hand a sword which he has firmly planted in the ground like a walking stick. Its significance is indicated by words on the scroll: "Spiritus Gladius" - the sword of the Spirit. St. Paul preached "word of the cross" (I Cor. 1:18) which to the world was folly and weakness, but to those being saved, the power and wisdom of God.
Because St. Peter is standing on an outcropping of rocks, St. Paul barely comes to his shoulder. Both have beards and slightly receding hairlines which in that culture were signs of maturity and wisdom. St. Paul's beard is considerably longer and he has a more penetrating look which corresponds to the depth of theological vision. St. Peter seems weary, like a man carrying a burden, appropriate considering his duties as principal of the apostles and later bishop of Rome. St. Peter died in that city around 64 A.D. during the persecution of Nero. Legend says that he attempted to flee, but encountered Jesus going to Rome. He asked him, "Quo Vadis, Domine? Where are you going, Lord?" Jesus replied, "I am going to Rome to be crucified again." At that point Peter regained his courage, went back and was martyred by himself being crucified in what was called the Vatican Circus or theater. Paul was also martyred under the emperor Nero, perhaps a few years later. Being a Roman citizen he was not crucified, but beheaded by the sword.
On July 25, feast of St. James the Apostle, a one hundred and fiftieth anniversary Mass will be celebrated at our Cathedral. For those who missed the parish pilgrimage on April 8, I will once again be leading a walk from Holy Family to St. James Cathedral. We will leave at 9 a.m. in order to arrive for the 2 p.m. Mass that afternoon.
This July 6 is first Thursday of the month. I will be available for confessions from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. in reconciliation room at the Roxbury entrance of our church. You are encouraged to take advantage of this Holy Year opportunity. To receive the Holy Year Indulgence for yourself or for a loved one, the first requisite is individual reception of the Sacrament of Penance. If it has been a while since your last confession, just mention that when you come and I will be glad to help you in making a good confession.
Our parish Respect Life Committee will meet on Friday evening, July 28, 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the rectory. Also there will be a Mass for Life celebrated by Fr. Benedict Groeschel on August 5, 7:30 at Immaculate Conception Church in Everett followed by a prayer vigil at the Planned Parenthood on 3200 Hoyt.