Bulletin (October 10, 2004)

It is wonderful to see the work advancing on our church roof. As I mentioned to you before, we were able to obtain the loan from the Archdiocese in part because the final cost of the school roof and related seismic re-enforcement was considerably less than the original estimates. The Archbishop advanced us the money on the basis of the Feasibility Study we did last December and the upcoming Capital Campaign. Repairing the roof at this point will save us money in the long run – as is the case with our new school roof.

The picture below shows some of the initial work on the church roof. As you have noticed, it involves carefully removing the tiles and stacking them so the part underneath can be repaired and replaced. This will provide a long-term solution to the problem of leaks, which have caused damage to the interior of the church and have posed a hazard, especially in the area of the east entrance next to (and inside) the ladies restroom.

I cannot help admire the courage of the men working on the church roof. When I see them, I think of my own dad, who also had a dangerous job. He was an ironworker for many years, working on projects such as the Deception Pass Bridge, which connects Whidbey Island to Skagit County. In our family album we have a picture of him, taken from above, showing the swirling waters of Deception Pass a couple hundred feet below. It still makes me a bit dizzy if I look at the picture long enough. My dad’s career as an ironworker came to end when he was working on a project, which seemed relatively safe – putting up the frame for a school in Marysville. A beam knocked him off balance, and he fell about twenty-five feet striking his head on the concrete below. For forty-eight hours we did not know if he would live or die. I remember being in his hospital room when our pastor, Fr. Edward Boyle, administered the sacraments to him. That was back in the early sixties. My dad did survive and lived another thirty-five years. Although he enjoyed good health and desired to return to ironworking, the doctors did not allow it. I presume that those who work at heights have better means of security than was the case four decades ago, but still, we must salute the courage of the people who do that work.

The Washington state bishops (Bishop Sevilla of Yakima, Bishop Skylstad of Spokane and Archbishop Brunett) have issued a Study Guide for Election 2004. You will find it as an insert to this Sunday’s bulletin. Please read it carefully. We are hit with so much propaganda before the elections that we have a tendency to filter everything according to our own political preferences. I hope you will not do that with the bishops’ statement. They are speaking as shepherds concerned with conscience formation.

As your pastor, I am concerned that we not only acknowledge basic principles, but also reflect together on how they apply to crucial issues. A few weeks ago I spoke about the Holy Father’s statement regarding global terrorism and the war in Iraq. This Sunday I will be addressing another very serious matter: the use of public funds for embryonic stem cell research. The media has tried to frame this as an instance of “science vs. religion.” I hope to show that, on the contrary, it is a basic human issue that goes to the heart of who we are as persons and as a society. The current practice of using human embryos for scientific experiments poses a great challenge to us both as human beings and as followers of Jesus. He always stood with those who were weakest, most vulnerable. He did so as the Son of God, but also as part of the great Jewish tradition embodied in the Old Testament.

This Sunday we see Jesus’ care for the most defenseless in the way he approached lepers. The bishops, likewise, are calling us to care for the most vulnerable in our society: the poor, the immigrant, the terminally ill – and above all – the unborn child. As our bishops state in the Study Guide: “The right to life has pre-eminence among human rights because without this fundamental right no other human rights are possible. As a result, it is every Catholic’s obligation to protect human life from conception to natural death.”

This week I will be in Guadalajara for the Eucharistic Congress. I leave you with this reflection taken from the Basic Text for the Congress: “There is an eternal struggle of darkness seeking to extinguish the light. The Savior has already come and his presence in the Eucharist guarantees salvation for us and his history….As children of the light, we are called to give the world meaning, so that the rays of light are clearly evident.”

En el boletín hemos incluido un volante de los obispos del estado de Washington: Guía de Estudio – Elecciones de 2004. Favor de leerla con cuidado. Los obispos nos hablan como pastores en cuanto a la formación de consciencia. Nos llaman a proteger y defender a los más vulnerables: el pobre, el inmigrante, el anciano enfermo y sobre todo el niño no-nacido. Dicen: “El derecho a la vida tiene preeminencia entre todos los derechos porque sin este derecho fundamental los otros derechos humanos no son posibles. Como resultado es la obligación de cada católico proteger la vida humana desde la concepción hasta la muerte natural.”

Esta semana estaré en Guadalajara para el Congreso Eucarístico. Les dejo con esta reflexión tomada del Texto Básico para el Congreso: “Hay una lucha eterna de la oscuridad buscando extinguir la luz. El Salvador ya ha venido y su presencia en la Eucaristía garantiza salvación para nosotros y la historia...Como hijos de la luz, somos llamados a dar significado al mundo, para que los rayos de luz sean evidentes.”

P.D. La película Therese ha recibido suficiente apoyo que la van a extender hasta el 14 de octubre. No pierdan esta película linda.