Bulletin (March 17, 2002)

I know many of you were surprised last Sunday by our temporary change of priests. It happened quite quickly and caught me off guard as well. For the past year Fr. Ramon Velasco had been in the process of applying for his U.S. visa through his sister, Rosa, who is a U.S. citizen. She has been a member of Holy Family for a number of years. It became evident that that avenue was not advancing as it should, perhaps partly because of all the confusion and increased security measures as a result of September 11. Whatever the difficulties, the archdiocesan lawyer advised Fr. Ramon that, instead of applying through his sister, he should apply for a religious visa. That meant he had to return to the Philippines by March 8. A flight was arranged for that date and this week Fr. Ramon is beginning that application process at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. He has the full backing of the Archdiocese of Seattle, but we do not know how long all this will take. Please pray that it all goes quickly. Fr. Ramon is very needed here in Holy Family.

Meanwhile, the Archdiocese has provided us with a very fine priest for the interim. His name is Fr. Tim McKenna and he describes himself as a “911 priest.” Fr. McKenna has served for 10 and a half years as an Air Force chaplain. As he mentioned last Sunday, Archbishop Brunett called him back to serve here in the Archdiocese and this July he will become pastor a parish in the Archdiocese. He is a very talented priest. Last Sunday you noticed what a beautiful singing voice he has. We are blessed to have Fr. Tim with us. Since he does not speak Spanish, he will be concentrating on the English Masses and other services. I will be taking the Spanish Masses until Fr. Ramon returns. I appreciate your prayers for me, Fr. Tim and Fr. Ramon during this time. And also for Deacon Ted – and other members of the staff – who are carrying an additional burden during Fr. Ramon’s absence.

My guests from Peru arrived here on Monday. They were not able to make the connecting flight in Dallas, so they had to wait there for one which took off a couple hours later. Other than that everything went well. Luz said that the customs people in Dallas treated her and Melani very kindly – and that many people were helpful to them. Hearing that made me feel good about American friendliness and hospitality.

A doctor here in Holy Family arranged for Luz and Melani to have a series of medical tests. As I write this, they have not received back all the results. Luz saw a specialist on Tuesday who have her a fairly extensive treatment program, but the positive news is that he does not think she will not have to undergo another operation (she had three in Peru). Melani had a number of X-Rays taken of her back, hips, legs and feet. We awaiting those results to find out what kind of treatment she will need. Luz and Melani will be here until the morning of March 24 when they return to Peru.

Some of you asked about the “abuelito” (elderly gentleman) who was dropped off at the Mary Bloom Center before Christmas. Luz arranged for him to be placed in a state nursing home and even though Luz visits him each week with coca leaves and some food items, he is most unhappy and wants Luz to take him back. She is hoping to be able to do that, but of course it depends on her own health if she will be able to care for him. Both Luz and Melani have become attached to him.

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. I encourage you to participate fully in the beautiful liturgies of this most sacred week of the entire year. The full schedule is in the bulletin. I remind you there will be some people directing traffic between the morning Masses. Your cooperation and patience are deeply appreciated.

I ask your prayers for our Parish Council and Finance Council who are meeting this week. We are in the final stages of setting up the 2002-2003 (fiscal year) budget for Holy Family. The Councils are helping me address in a prayerful way the various challenges we face together as a parish family. I appreciate your prayers and continued support during this time.

We received a one thousand dollar donation in memory of Helen Bazik, a Holy Family parishioner who passed away last year. I asked her husband, John, if I could mention it in this Sunday’s bulletin in order to encourage others to remember their loved ones with a memorial offering to Holy Family. This kind of donation is obviously a great help to us, especially as we face our various economic challenges in the parish. Helen was a beautiful parishioner and as we pray for her eternal rest, we are confident that as a part of the Communion of Saints, she remembers us.