Gospel: "A sower went out to sow..." (MT 13, 1-9)
I would like to begin by publicly thanking your pastor and my friend, Fr. Roger Smith. I am grateful for the opportunity to be with you on behalf of our Archdiocesan Mission Coop Program which every two years we ask each parish to support a specific mission need. Like your pastor, Fr Roger Smith, I am a priest of the Archdiocese of Seattle, although I served seven years as a missionary in Peru. I am here this Sunday to ask your help for the work there which bears the name of my mom: The Mary Bloom Center.
Jesus tells us about the sower who went out to scatter seeds. Some seeds fell on the footpath, others among rocks, still more among thorns. But some fell on good ground and gave a wonderful harvest: thirty, sixty, one hundred fold.
This Sunday I ask you to follow the example of the sower. Invest your God given gifts: spiritual, social, intellectual, financial and count on God to give a rich harvest.
Now, I am sure you can think of ways to use these gifts in your family, your parish, your job, your community. I am going to ask you to invest some of what you have received where it will almost surely give an abundant harvest both for you and people in Peru. It is a marvelous project called the Mary Bloom Center.
The Mary Bloom Center is dedicated to helping young couples strengthen their marriages by appreciating their fertility. Many of you know science has made huge advances in the last decades in fertility awareness. A woman can observe her own bodily signs to confidently determine her times of fertility and infertility. A married couple can then plan their family accordingly.
When I was in Peru a Canadian lay missionary couple teamed up with a Peruvian obstetrician to teach this method. It involved a weekend course then monthly follow-ups for at least six months where the woman would bring in the chart of her menstrual cycle with various observations, especially cervical mucus.
During that time some 100 couples used this natural method with great success in avoiding or postponing pregnancy. And in one case spouses who thought they were infertile used the method to actually achieve a pregnancy. And marriages were strengthened because there was a deeper communication and respect between the husband and wife.
Not only married couples learned about fertility appreciation, but young singles as well, especially those who took the six month course to become promoters or instructors. As you can imagine the participants were mainly young women, but there were some young men as well. Of course they couldnít keep there own charts so what they did was ask their moms if they could do a chart for them. To our mild surprise the moms agreed. When the course was over I asked one on the boys what he had learned. He said to me, "Father, I learned respect for women."
Our culture treats women as pleasure objects, but natural family planning teaches a profound respect for woman. A footnote: the young man who said, "I learned respect for women" is now in the Holy Cross seminary in Lima.
Fertility appreciation has a tremendous power to transform. I ask you to support this work by making a generous donation to Mary Bloom Center in Peru.
The Center also helps families who are going through rocky times. I remember in 1989 when I was returning home after two years in Peru. A woman approached me carrying her baby on her back. She said, "Father I am in a terrible situation. My husband has abandoned me. I have three other children. I donít have money to buy the older girls notebooks, pens & shoes so they can go to school. We donít have decent food or enough blankets" (the parish was 12,500 feet above sea level so it got real cold at night). She continued, "One of my girls in sick and I canít buy her medicines. I am in a terrible situation." Then she took her baby from her back and said, "Father, I know you are going to the United States. Please, take my baby."
I held that baby in my arms, a beautiful baby boy. I said to her, "Yolanda, there are so many couples in my country who would do anything to have this baby. They would give him all he could ever want materially, but it is so much better that you keep him and we will try to find a way to help you."
Thanks to the generosity of people here we were able to aid Yolanda. When I left Peru to come back to the Archdiocese in November of 1984, Yolanda and her four children came to say goodbye. It was a feeling of satisfaction to have helped her send the girls to school (it took between $20 and $50 to equip a child with notebooks, and the proper clothes), also get some decent food and blankets and be able to start a small business buying and selling potatoes.
And Efrain, the baby she wanted to give away was now in elementary school. I picked him in my arm and told him I was going away. When I went to put him down, he grabbed my shoulder and said to me, "padre, no te vayas. Father, donít go." I explained I had to return to work w/ my own people and be close to my mom & dad. But I told him, "I will not forget you."
That is why I am here. On behalf of children like Efrain and their parents, I am asking your help. One of the most effective ways of doing that is by giving to the Mary Bloom Center. Thanks to our Archdiocesan Missions Office which supports this work, what you donate goes directly to help people in Peru.
I ask you to be generous. Perhaps there is someone here who can write a check for $1000. Maybe one of you cam give $500 or $100 or $50 or $20. If you do, simply make the check out to the parish, put Mary Bloom Center or Peru in the memo and Fr Smith will make sure gets there through our Missions Office. Whatever you can give will be deeply appreciated and I assure you, well used. Like the sower who went out to sow, your gift will bring an abundant harvest.
From Archives (for Fifteenth Ordinary Sunday, Year A):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies
Podcasts of homilies (website of my niece, Sara)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
my bulletin column
Parish Picture Album
Pictures from Peru
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru