We Come to the Feast
Congratulations to the children in Second Grade, both in our Religious Education program and those enrolled in our Parish School, who received their First Holy Communion on Saturday. We celebrated two separate Masses for our 49 faith-filled children, their families and friends.
What a blessing for our children to share in the bread of life and the cup of joy. They now are able to receive Jesus in a special way as they share in the Eucharist. May they always hunger for this spiritual food that will feed their heart, mind and soul.
I thank their parents who have tended to their faith and guided our children along the way since their Baptism. The faith of a young child will only be as strong, vibrant and deep as their parents if they are willing to foster and model their faith for their children. Parents are truly the primary educators of their children when it comes to passing our Catholic faith onto them. They are the most influential.
I thank and our religion teachers and catechists: Sara Borden, Ellen Donahue, Mallory Malaney, Julie Garcia and Mary Kate Driscoll who worked hard all year preparing our children for this special day in their life. I am grateful for the leadership of Mary Beth May, the Director of our Religious Education Program; and Maria Hill and Katie Sullivan, our co-principals of our Parish School who have fostered the faith our children and their parents. Together, all have made this moment sacred, meaningful and memorable.
I am always impressed by how the children are so excited about coming to church and sharing in the Eucharist. For us as adults, there is much that we can learn from them, mainly not to lose our passion for being in the presence of Christ. They love to pray. They love to sing. Little inhibits them from expressing their love for the Lord. Their faith is simple but powerful. Is ours the same?
A Year of Mercy
Last month, Pope Francis at a vesper prayer service announced that a Holy Year of Mercy will take place in 2015-2016. The pope released a 9,300-word document, entitled “Misericordiae Vultus” (The Face of Mercy) officially proclaiming that the Year of Mercy will begin on December 8th, which is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council. Both dates are related to the Year of Mercy.
Mercy, he said, is “the bridge that connects God and us, opening our hearts to a hope of being loved forever despite our sins.” That bridge was made concrete when God chose Mary to be the mother of his son.”
The Year of Mercy, Pope Francis wrote, is also a way to keep the Second Vatican Council .“The walls which too long had made the church a kind of fortress were torn down and the time had come to proclaim the Gospel in a new way,” he said. The council recognized “a responsibility to be a living sign of the Father’s love in the world.”
In his homily at the vespers prayer service the pope said, he proclaimed a Year of Mercy because, “it is the favorable time to heal wounds, a time not to be weary of meeting those who are waiting to see and touch with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone the way of forgiveness and reconciliation.”
2015 Easter Collections
The graph below tracks the total amount of our Easter collections for the past five years for both parishes. Our recent 2015 Easter collection did not meet our budgeted goal. The Easter collection for Immaculate Conception parish was $39,283 -which is down $10,495 from the previous year. The 2015 St. Joseph Easter collection was $9,892 -which is down $581 from the previous year.
This decline could have been due to the fact that a significant number of families were away from the parish for the school’s Spring Break, or that other families were celebrating Easter at another parish with their relatives and friends.
Our Easter collection is a significant part of our income for the Operating Budget for the fiscal year. You still have the opportunity to submit an Easter offering if you have not done so for this year. Thank you for generosity and support to the mission and ministry of Jesus.
Since the middle of February, we have been in search of a new Music Director for our two parishes. So far about 20 persons have inquired about the position. A few have actually presented themselves as possible candidates that possess the knowledge, skill and ability to meet the needs of our community. It is hard to find a strong candidate who can sing well, play the organ and piano; direct a choir and come with a good knowledge of Catholic liturgies.
Our search continues. Meanwhile, keep praying that we find the right person. Keep singing during this time of transition. Don't let our liturgies go flat. We are grateful for the substitute musicians who have been filling in for us.
Having good music makes a parish vibrant and strong. It makes a huge difference in the life of the faithful, and can actually determine if someone will come and pray at Mass on a regular basis. People rarely return to a church that has bad music.
Our search requires the gift patience. This is not something we want to rush into, just to fill a slot, and then in a few months be filled with regret as we hold your hands over our ears.