February 3, 2002

On January 24 we had a very productive “Listening Session.” Since last September Tom Weber, Stephen Morissette and Abel Magana have been working with parishioners and archdiocese consultants to set up the Listening Session and the subsequent process for forming a strategic pastoral plan for Holy Family. Stephen Hueffed who is the Archbishop’s Delegate for Parishes and Faith Communities, conducted the meeting. Leigh Stringfellow assisted him in guiding through a discernment process.

Although I had hoped for greater participation, I was pleased that around sixty people came, representing a cross section of our parish. After giving an introduction, Steve Hueffed asked those present to break into smaller groups to discuss three topics: the strengths of Holy Family, weakness (challenges) we face and priorities for the parish council.

Among the various strengths of the parish, people mentioned our diverse (multi-ethnic and multi-lingual) community, our fine parish school, Eucharistic Adoration and the fact that our buildings are paid for and we are not saddled with any huge debt. Challenges and priorities for the parish council included moving forward with the seismic upgrades of the school, repairs of leaks in church and Ailbe House, parking lot congestion, working together better as one parish family, getting Fr. Bloom a hair transplant. (Just kidding on the last one.)

The Office of Parishes and Faith Communities will be sending us a more detailed report on the Listening Session. I will be reviewing it with our parish staff and taking it to the parish council to help discern immediate and long-range needs. Also in coming weeks I hope to share more of it with you through the Sunday bulletin.

Although our collections have increased over the past five years (thanks be God and thanks to each of you) we are far from having enough income to address our overall parish needs, especially facilities. The previous parish council focused on that priority and as a result a Building Discernment Committee was formed. Originally we hope to tackle the facilities question in two phases. The first would involve the seismic upgrade to make our school more secure. In light of the original estimates, it seemed possible to do the seismic repairs (porch, elevator and inner seismic retrofit) without a capital campaign. The campaign would then have been inaugurated to achieve a multi-purpose facility. However, the cost of a new porch proved to be almost as much as the initial estimates for the entire seismic upgrade. Thanks to hard work of some highly committed parishioners, as well as numerous two-bit collections, food sales, parish picnic, etc., the funds were put together to replace the old porch. In light of last year’s Ash Wednesday earthquake, the new porch proved to be worth every penny. But still we face the need to complete phase one, to address need for more meeting and class space, particularly for Sunday Religious Education which now has some four hundred students. And our church and Ailbe House have developed some new leaks which cannt be ignored too much longer.

In the coming months the parish council will be advising me regarding priorities for facilities and other immediate, as well as long range needs of Holy Family. I ask your prayers for our Council, staff and myself as we sort through these different needs and priorities. Speaking of parish income, the snow last Sunday had a negative effect. Don’t get me wrong: I love snow, but I just hate to see it on Sunday morning. As you can see our collection was down. If you were unable to attend Mass last Sunday, I ask you to not forget that the financial needs of the parish are ongoing.

Sometimes people find themselves in circumstances where they are unable to attend Sunday Mass and they ask me what they should do. While nothing can replace attendance at Sunday Mass, a person prevented from attending should try to devote an hour to prayer as an individual or family. Televised Mass is available on EWTN. It is also broadcast on Sacred Heart Radio (AM 1050) every Sunday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. with an encore presentation at 9 p.m. Watching the Mass or listening to it does not fulfill Sunday obligation, but it may be the best one can do if ill or snowbound. Of course, it is beautiful to listen to a radio mass in addition to attendance in ones parish. The EWTN Mass does not have a lot of “fireworks.” Perhaps for that very reason many find it a peaceful, meditative experience. One other suggestion: If you are prevented from attending Sunday Mass, please consider attending a weekday Mass. As you know, we have Mass each morning at 8:30, except Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 8 a.m.

I was happy that, during our Listening Session, so many noted that Holy Family School is one of the great strengths of our parish. We have an excellent principal and staff which has been quite stable the past few years, a fact for which I am grateful since it takes time for students and parents to get used to teachers and administration. I was pleased by the wonderful turnout on Wednesday (Jan 30) for the Family Lunch Day. Between two and three hundred parents and grandparents (not to mention uncles, aunts and other assorted relatives) attended the lunch. It required two sessions to seat everyone. I am impressed by parent’s commitment to their children and our parish school. This Sunday Mr. Stephen Morissette, principal of Holy Family School, will be speaking at all Masses.

Another parish strength noted during the Listening Session was Eucharistic Adoration. Unfortunately, on account of the snow last Sunday, many did not get the opportunity to sign up. You can still do so this Sunday but filling out one of the cards available in the pews or at the church entrances.

Also cards are still available to subscribe to the Catholic Northwest Progress. It costs less than 50 cents an issue to subscribe to our Archdiocesan weekly. The Progress is one of the principal means Archbishop Brunett uses to communicate with the faithful in the Archdiocese. It also contains world, national and local news that you need to know. I encourage you to take one of the cards, fill it out and place it in the mail.

As you know, I am convinced of the importance of reading Catholic literature. St. Paul tells us to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. (Romans 12:1) If all we expose ourselves to is the secular media, our minds will become secularized, that is, focused on this world alone. Moreover, newspapers, television, magazines, etc. tend to often attack the faith in subtle or overt ways. Young people and children are especially vulnerable to this kind of manipulation from the media. One way to counteract the constant distortion of Christian history and doctrine is by having Catholic literature available in ones home.

Our parish bookrack has some new pamphlets regarding the Catholic faith. They cover issues such as evolution, infant baptism, devotion to Mary and the saints, purgatory, the real presence, “rapture,” papacy, church structure, what one must do to be saved, etc. A booklet which addresses these kinds of questions in a very concise and readable manner is Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth, You can take a copy from the pamphlet rack – although I ask you to please place one dollar in a collection box to cover its cost. Pillar of Fire is published by Catholic Answers which also has a wonderful website (http://catholic.com) dealing with almost all the major questions regarding Catholic belief and practice.

This Thursday (Feb. 6) is First Thursday of February. Although Fr. Ramon Velasco will be involved in the pre-pastors training program of the Archdiocese, Fr. Adrian and I will be available for confession from 4 to 8 p.m. Please take advantage of this pre-Lenten opportunity.

Also St. Mark’s Parish in Shoreline is featuring An Evening With Rebecca Kiessling February 9th, 7:00p.m.Rebecca Kiessling is a semi-retired Christian attorney who now focuses all her legal efforts in the fight against abortion. She has litigated numerous high-profile cases, fighting for women’s rights as well as the rights of the unborn children. She has been interviewed on international, national and local television and radio programs, including appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN’s Talk Back Live and CBS News. Rebecca’s heart for and connection with unborn children is born out of her own life experiences. Adopted and raised by a Jewish family, Rebecca learned at age eighteen that she was the unwanted child of a serial rapist and one of his victims. When Rebecca first met her birth mother, she was confronted with the horrible news that had abortions been legal at the time of her conception, she would have been aborted. Please join us and hear more about Rebecca’s incredible story. You will have the opportunity to meet the “exception” to abortion that so many individuals are willing to accept. During her poignant talk, Rebecca will address the question…Did I deserve to die? Rebecca's incredible story has been featured on the nationally-syndicated news program, Extra and in Glamour's "My Father Was a Rapist" (Aug, 1999).

Final note: a great way of supporting Holy Family School and parish is by purchasing SCRIP. Please use the SCRIP order form in this Sunday’s bulletin. As you can see, it costs you no more and a percentage of your purchases will benefit Holy Family.