Bulletin (December 3, 2006)

This has been an historic week. Although the media did not give it the coverage it deserved, Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic visit to Turkey could mark a turning point. Most obviously, his visit to a mainly Moslem country could be a huge step in relations between Christians and those who profess Islam. Even more significant was the meeting between Pope Benedict and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Constantinople (now Istanbul) is considered the Second Rome, and its patriarch is honored as the "first among equals" in the Orthodox world. As an expression of that pre-eminence, the patron of Constantinople is the Apostle St. Andrew, who was martyred near the modern city. The pope and patriarch celebrated a sacred liturgy on November 30, the Feast of St. Andrew. St. Andrew, of course, is the brother of St. Peter, the Rock upon who Jesus built his Church. Since 1054 there has been a split between the successors of Peter and Andrew. Pope John Paul II ardently desired the re-union of Catholics and Orthodox, saying that “the Church must breathe with both lungs,” East and West. In 2004 Pope John Paul made a beautiful gesture by returning to Constantinople the relics of St. Gregory Nazianzen and St. John Chrysostom, both former patriarchs of Constantinople. Patriarch Bartholomew referred to that gesture in his homily. Here is part of what the Patriarch said:

“In liturgy, we are reminded of the need to reach unity in faith as well as in prayer. Therefore, we kneel in humility and repentance before the living God and our Lord Jesus Christ, whose precious Name we bear and yet at the same time whose seamless garment we have divided. We confess in sorrow that we are not yet able to celebrate the holy sacraments in unity. And we pray that the day may come when this sacramental unity will be realized in its fullness. And yet, Your Holiness and beloved brother in Christ, this con-celebration of heaven and earth, of history and time, brings us closer to each other today through the blessing of the presence, together with all the saints, of the predecessors of our Modesty, namely St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom. We are honored to venerate the relics of these two spiritual giants after the solemn restoration of their sacred relics in this holy church two years ago when they were graciously returned to us by the venerable Pope John Paul II. Just as, at that time, during our Thronal Feast, we welcomed and placed their saintly relics on the Patriarchal Throne, chanting "Behold your throne!", so today we gather in their living presence and eternal memory as we celebrate the Liturgy named in honor of St. John Chrysostom.”

Let us continue our prayers for the re-union of Catholics and Orthodox, as well as genuine dialogue between Christians and those who profess Islam.

Speaking of prayer, I appreciate your ongoing prayers for my sister, Melanie. She continues the recovery from the stroke she suffered last July, but it is a slow process. She can do many more things with her right arm, such as picking up smaller objects. Doing so, however, requires effort and concentration - even to lift a glass of water or to do household chores. Here is a picture of Melanie and her husband Alex, who prepared a nice dinner for us on Monday evening. Please continue to pray for Melanie – and, of course, for Alex as well.

Notwithstanding the limited use of her right arm, on Tuesday Melanie helped me put chains on my car in an effort to get up the icy hill up to West Camano Drive. Unfortunately, the 15" chains slipped off my 13" tires. It finally took the ingenuity and persistence of our brother Louis to make them work.

Melanie, Louis and Samwise at the top of Manaco Beach Road

I was glad to get back to the parish on Tuesday afternoon because I had two important funeral services on Wednesday. The first was for Maria Peltola at 11 a.m. In the evening we had a wonderful memorial Mass for long time parishioner, Dorothy Jensen. It was beautiful to see the participation of her children and her numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Dorothy was a magnificent woman of faith, so devoted to Holy Family Parish. She had great concern for the needy. As an expression of that concern, the family handed out envelopes inviting people to make a donation to the Mary Bloom Center in memory of Dorothy. Nineteen people gave donations totaling $358, which is a wonderful help for children and families in Peru.

This weekend we have a two-bit collection for Tuition Assistance. Teachers, students, and parents of Holy Family School will have special participation in the seven weekend Masses. Your contributions will help us balance our school and parish budget by enabling needy families to send their child(ren) to our parish school. Our per pupil cost is around four thousand dollars per year (this compares favorably with the per pupil cost in Seattle Public Schools - around nine thousand dollars per year). Besides formation in faith and morality, our students do well on comparative exams such as the WASL tests. We are a very diverse school with more or less equal portions of students from Asian, Hispanic and European backgrounds, as well as Native and African American and those who are beautiful combinations of the above. One of our major goals is to increase the enrollment of our parish school. Currently, we have around 230 students, but it would not cost anything more to have 300 students - and the increased enrollment would mean greater resources for programs and more equitable salaries for teachers and staff.

This Sunday we begin the holy season of Advent. You will find in the bulletin a flier with helpful information and suggestions for celebrating Advent in your home. I understand that Hollywood has put out a good movie called The Nativity. You might consider seeing it with your family. This coming Thursday is a great opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. During the day Fr. Ramon and I will be hearing the school children’s confessions - and from 6 to 8 p.m. will be available for other confessions. Friday, of course, is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Mass schedule can be found in another part of the bulletin. May God bless you as we begin this time of preparation for our Savior’s Birth - and his Second Coming in glory.

Muchos de ustedes han participado en la Peregrinación Espiritual con su Santidad el Papa Benedicto XVI en su visita pastoral a Turquía. Estoy agradecido a los Caballeros de Colon por proveer la linda oración. Su visita a ha sido un paso histórico en las relaciones entre cristianos y musulmanes. Tal vez más importante ha sido la liturgia que el Santo Padre celebró con el patriarca de Constantinopla. Su santo patrón es San Andrés, hermano del apóstol Pedro. Seguro que los dos hermanos están rezando por la reconciliación de las iglesias de oeste y este para que, como dijo el Santo Padre Juan Pablo II, la Iglesia respire con los dos pulmones.

Este fin de semana tuvimos una colecta para ayuda de colegiatura en nuestra escuela parroquial. Profesores, estudiantes y papás de la Escuela de Holy Family participaron en las siete misas dominicales. Su contribución ayudará a balancear el presupuesto de la escuela y la parroquia, haciendo posible que familias necesitadas envíen sus hijos a nuestra escuela. El costo por alumno es alrededor de cuatro mil dolares (comparado con unos nueve mil dolares en la Escuelas Publicas de Seattle). Ademas de formación en fe y moralidad, nuestros alumnos sobresalen en exámenes comparativos como WASAL. Nuestra escuela es bien diversa con mas o menos iguales números de los de ascendencia hispana, asiatica y europea, con afro-americanos e indígenas, y bellas combinaciones de estos raíces étnicos. Actualmente tenemos unos 230 estudiantes, pero no nos costaría nada mas en tener 300 - y el aumento significaría más recursos para los programas y sueldos mas equitativos para los profesores. Aquí una foto del director de la escuela, el Sr. Glen Lutz, en el Servicio de Thanksgiving.