Bulletin (November 27, 2005)
At Thanksgiving time I counted some of my blessings: fifty-nine years of life, reasonably good health, my sister and five brothers and all that our parents gave to us, our nation, the call to priesthood, these years with you at Holy Family Parish and the grace and mercy received through Jesus. I could make a more detailed list, but I want to reiterate my gratefulness for the opportunity to be your pastor. I feel grateful in a particular way this year because of how you responded to our parish Stewardship Drive. So many people worked hard on the Stewardship effort his year, not just because our parish needs are great, but as a way of helping us all become better servants of the One True God and of one another.
This has happened in the same year in which we had a major Capital Campaign to address our parish debt and deferred maintenance needs (roofs, seismic retrofitting, renovation of school ground floor, repairs to Ailbe House & church, parking lot, etc.). The Campaign was very successful, but alone will not meet all these present and future necessities. We have received some help from the sale of the lots across the alley. The Parish Council is discussing the use of these funds. It seemed clear that we should use a major part to pay off current debts, thus saving the parish about two thousand dollars a month in interest payments. That will be a big help in balancing our parish budget, but I need to emphasize that the only real solution to our parish financial requirements is Stewardship. I am hoping that a part of the property sale can be guarded in an endowment fund to enable us to use the interest to give tuition assistance to needy families in our parish. However, as various council members prudently observed, we need to have a clearer idea of the overall response to Stewardship and the Capital Campaign before taking that step. For more information, see the Council Minutes posted on the vestibule bulletin board.
I want to thank you also for your good wishes and prayers last weekend as my family observed the tenth anniversary of our dad’s death. I appreciated the choir singing “The Old Rugged Cross,” which was one of my dad’s favorite hymns. Many people commented to me on the beauty of the music. My sister, my brothers and their spouses, as well as a niece, nephew-in-law and great nieces and nephews attended the 11am Mass. They were touched by the tribute.
When my dad died, I was just starting out at Holy Family Parish. Some of you came to the funeral up in Stanwood. It seems like these ten years have passed so quickly. I was comparing the last ten years with my first ten years as priest, which seemed like a long stretch of time, or even my seven years in Peru, which seemed longer than the last ten. I guess, as a person gets older, time goes by at an accelerating rate. No matter, I am grateful for having spent these years with you – and I pray that the good Lord will give us further good years together.
I want to thank you also for making a place in your Stewardship for the Mary Bloom Center. Named for my mom, the Mary Bloom Center is a small medical clinic and education center serving a largely indigenous population in Southern Peru.
This weekend we are asking your support in the two-bit collection for Birthright, which this year has established a satellite office in the two front rooms of the Ailbe House. Birthright is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to provide a center where any pregnant woman will find a loving, nonjudgmental environment that supports her decision to carry her child to term. Birthright’s positive support and advocacy strive to help the mother mobilize her own resources and those of the community to face the future and to plan constructively for herself and her child. The Birthright Charter: “It is the right of every pregnant woman to give birth and the right of every child to be born.”
This weekend is also the First Sunday of Advent. With Christmas falling on Sunday, this is the earliest possible date for the beginning of Advent. I love the Advent season with its magnificent Scripture readings from the prophet Isaiah and its focus on John the Baptist and then, the Blessed Virgin Mary in her final weeks of pregnancy. I particularly love the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which depicts the Virgin with the Child Jesus in her womb. The Advent Wreath, of course, helps us to keep our focus on the meaning of this season: preparation to celebrate the birth of the Savior and to receive Him in His Second Coming.
This Advent we are getting help from an unexpected source -- Hollywood. From all reports, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe promises to be an exceptional movie. Many of you are familiar with C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. You know that it is much more than a simple fantasy story for children. In some ways the Chronicles have an even greater appeal for adults. A friend gave me The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when I was about thirty. I read it in the course of a day and during the next two weeks devoured the other six stories. Since then, I have been a big C.S. Lewis fan, reading and re-reading not only the children’s stories, but also the Space Trilogy, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, as well as his lucid expositions of Christian teaching such as Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, Miracles and A Grief Observed. This Advent I am hoping to see The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with one of the classes from our parish school.
Speaking of Holy Family School, we had a wonderful wedding on November 19 of seventh grade teacher Katie McKeehan to Carl Hart. Our prayers go out to them and to all newly married couples, as well as couples preparing for that beautiful sacrament.
Advent confessions are available this Thursday, December 1, from 6pm to 8pm. Take advantage of this opportunity to prepare for the coming of Christ. And for those who would like to listen to my interview with Fr. Bob Camuso, there are a few CD’s in the vestibule. In the half hour conversation, he asked me questions about being pastor of Holy Family Parish, the experience in Peru, Catholic teaching on immigration, the prayer vigils at Planned Parenthood and my personal prayer life. On the same CD, is Fr. Bob’s conversation with Tauno Latvalo, director of the archdiocesan C.Y.O. program.
El tiempo de Thanksgiving, Acción de Gracias, es un buen momento para expresar mi agradecimiento a Vds. para todo su apoyo, especialmente la linda respuesta a Mayordomía. En la parte en inglés, mencioné unos de los desafíos y oportunidades que tenemos en relación a Mayordomía y la Campaña Capital. En las minutas de la última reunión del Consejo Parroquial, hay información sobre la venta de unos lotes y la discusión sobre el uso de estos fondos – la mayor parte se utilizará para pagar unas deudas, así ahorrándonos intereses de unos dos mil dólares por mes. Es una ayuda, pero la solución real para nuestras necesidades económicas es la Mayordomía de todos. Se encontrarán en el boletín una lista de las personas que han prometido su Mayordomía de Tiempo, Talento y Tesoro. Como les digo, estoy muy agradecido por su apoyo a la misión evangelizadora de nuestra parroquia.
También quisiera agradecerles por su apoyo al Centro Mary Bloom. Es un centro medico y educativo que sirve a los pobres en el sur del Perú. Este domingo habrá una segunda colecta para un grupo local llamado Birthright (Derecho de Nacer) que ya tiene su “satélite” en los primeros dos cuartos a la entrada de la Ailbe House. Birthright ofrece estos servicios:
• Pruebas de embarazo gratuitas • Ayuda completamente confidencial • Consejos sin emitir juicios. • Amistad y apoyo emocional • Información legal, médica, educacional, y derivaciones a especialistas • Información prenatal • Ropa de maternidad y de bebé • Derivaciones para: temas de vivienda y agencias sociales • Información sobre otros servicios comunitarios sociales y sobre adopción