Archive for May, 2008

May 31, 2008 – Happy Anniversary!

May 31, 2008

My blog entry is being composed a little later than usual this evening.  I attended the May Crowning ceremony at the 5:00PM Mass (see group photo above) and I came home, grabbed a bite to eat, and went to work placing the photos I shot on the web site.  You can go to the homepage at www.maryhoc.org to link to the photos, or you can go to the Youth Ministry page or the Photos page.  My personal thanks goes to our high school youth, to Alyse Vasquez who was the flower girl, and to Brenda Congiardo who organized the ceremony.  Also thanks to Nicole Search who “spear-headed” the effort of getting the group together.  Our young people have so much to offer, and we as adults need to remember to remind them of that.

This past Wednesday our Parish Council gathered as well as those who came to learn more about our Council and to consider serving a term on our Council.  We must not have scared anyone too badly because we filled all of our positions for the coming year.  Accepting 3-year terms were Lloyd Stern and Rose Dethrow, and accepting 1-year terms were Marsha Link and Veneta Kerkhover.  I have never been a part of a bad Council group, and judging by what I saw the other night, this will be another impressive group that will serve our parish well.  My personal thanks to Joe Tretter, Barb Hall, and Bill Heffernan who are stepping away from the Council.

Finally, I have to acknowledge an anniversary in my life and in the life of the parish.  On June 3 of last year, our church web site officially went “online”.  I can’t believe a year has already passed since I took my mouse and clicked on “publish” for the first time.  I wish I could take credit for coming up with the idea for the web site, but actually it came about during a conversation with Fr. Gene, in which he asked me “What do you know about web sites?”  And as they say, the rest is history.  I hope you have gotten some use from the web site, and as always I am open to suggestions for anything you would like to see changed or added.

I am so grateful to everyone who has shared their compliments with me about our web site.  In the entire year’s time I have received only one complaint – when I first began the web site I had a few pages that would play music when you logged on to them.  However, someone (anonymously) said that the music was annoying and woke up the rest of the house late at night.  So if you would like music playing as you browse, I guess you will have to pop a CD in (I cannot promise there will be no music at Christmas time, however).  I only share this because to have only one complaint in a year’s time I think is well, pretty much a miracle, and again I cannot thank all of you enough for your words of support during this process.

By no means am I a computer “expert”.  I haven’t had a computer class since college, which was @% years ago.  It has just become a hobby of mine to play around with things and hope that I don’t wipe anything out in the process.  If there is one thing I have learned in the past year is that web sites are always a “work in progress”.  Some people in order to go to sleep at night count sheep.  I go to sleep thinking “OK, what can I add or how can I design this differently.”  I’m not sure if this is an indicator of dedication or mental instability on my part!  We’ll find out in the coming year.

Thanks again for everything.  I leave you with another saying from my spiritual calendar – live so the preacher won’t have to lie at your funeral.

Peace.

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May 24, 2008 – A Weekend of Honor

May 24, 2008

Greetings again.  As I looked at the events on my calendar I had to ask myself – is this Memorial Day weekend or graduation weekend?  Despite the events and remembrances we will see for Memorial Day, chances are more of our time will be spent at graduation ceremonies and celebrations.  No matter where our time will be spent, we will be dedicating it to those worthy of being recognized and honored.

Congratulations to all of our graduates – from kindergarten, 8th grade, high school and college.  This time of year reminds me of my own graduations and the mixed emotions that I had with each one.  I felt a sense of accomplishment in having completed an important step in life’s journey and looking forward to moving on to hopefully bigger and better things.  However, I also felt a sense of uncertainty in leaving a place that I had gotten comfortable in and knew all of the people around me to now moving on to something totally new and unpredictable.  I’m sure most graduates feel the same way.  It is certainly a time of celebration and a time to savor their accomplishments but also a time to reassure them that the future is bright and that life has much more to offer. 

We also of course take time this weekend to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we can have our celebrations and the freedom to do what we choose – those in the military who gave their life for our country and its people.  There have been over 1.5 million men and women who have lost their lives while serving in the armed forces.  We also remember those wounded in the line of duty, those who are veterans, and those currently in service for their sacrifices.  In the midst of our parties, barbecues, etc., let us in some way remember those military men and women in prayer and thanksgiving.  We are especially asked as a country at 3:00PM on Monday to stop what we are doing for a moment of silence for our fallen heroes.  Here is a simple prayer that can be said at that time:

Dear God,

Thank you for the men and women who protect us and preserve Your gifts of life, country and freedom at home and abroad, even at the sacrifice of their own lives.  They and their families are true heroes among us.  Today we remember all those who have laid down their lives so that we can continue to enjoy the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Eternal rest grant unto them, Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  Please send out Your angels to protect all who serve our country, and keep us free from injustice and harm.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Have a safe weekend, and pray that the rain stays away!  Peace.

May 17, 2008 – More Random Thoughts

May 17, 2008

Greetings on this beautiful sunny day (finally!).  Days like today can certainly help lift one’s spirits and help us forget about things like $4.00 gas, politics, natural disasters (well, at least for a little while).  As I have done before, I don’t really have one subject to talk about, just a few random thoughts floating in my head:

– I did something yesterday I haven’t done for a while – I plopped down a few bucks on lottery tickets.  I’m not sure why the big jackpots make playing the lottery so much more alluring, as if my chances to win are any better than they otherwise would be.  Of course, I won a big $0.00 as usual.  I even promised God that I would give $10 million to the church if I won.  Oh well, maybe next time.

– I have been thinking about some ideas for changing/adding to our web site.  One thing I am thinking about is a “tribute” page to those in the military.  The page would certainly include something about those from our parish currently serving in the military.  It could also include something about those from our parish who have lost their lives in the line of duty, and those in our parish who are veterans.  Also, it could include those who may not be from our parish, but who may have ties to someone in our parish.  If you have any ideas about this, or have someone you would like included on this tribute page, e-mail me at webmaster@maryhoc.org.  I’m not sure when I will get this page going, but it is certainly on my agenda of summer projects.

– If you get a chance, check out the home page on www.maryhoc.org.  This month of May is devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary and I listed a few links that have devotions, prayers, and many other things related to Mary.

– Finally, I have a “feel good” story to share with you.  I won’t include names, but a parishioner of ours is a neighbor to someone who is a Catholic that hadn’t been to church for a while.  This parishioner was on her way to Sunday Mass and saw the neighbor walking along and said something to the effect of “you’re walking the wrong way,” meaning that the neighbor was walking the opposite direction of church.  Lo and behold, the neighbor thought about those words and attended Mass.  The neighbor told the parishioner that coming to Mass really felt good and uplifting, and now the neighbor is attending Mass regularly again!  Do you know of a neighbor or friend or family member who hasn’t been to Mass for a while?  Do you know someone who has mentioned wanting to learn more about the Catholic Church?  Have you invited them to come back to Mass or to come to RCIA?  As you see, sometimes a simple invitation can go a long way.

Enjoy the sunshine while it lasts!  Say a few prayers for the Cardinals (3 games behind the Cubs?!?!?!  The horror!!!!!).  Peace.

May 10, 2008 – We Know It’s May

May 10, 2008

I have shared before my fear that when I sit down to make a blog entry, that nothing will come out of my mind, and that I will simply end up staring at a blank page.  I didn’t have to worry about that this time.  As usually seems to be the case, especially during the month of May, there are many activities and celebrations going on that will keep everyone busy.

First of all, congratulations to our Kindergarten class who had their graduation ceremony at the 5:00PM Mass today.  I have always thought that this was one of the neat things we do as a parish, to recognize these young people who will be taking the big step into first grade and joining the “big kids” next year.  I am thrilled to see that the size of our kindergarten class continues to grow – I have heard that next year’s class may range somewhere between 14-16 students!  Thank you to their teacher Trisha Jany, our principal Janelle Robinson, and to all who continue to make our school a welcoming place for everyone!

Thanks to our early Easter, we also celebrate Pentecost on this second weekend of May.  It seems to most Catholics I talk to that the Holy Spirit still remains very much of a mystery, and that they are not really sure what role the Holy Spirit plays in their lives.  I am certainly not a scripture scholar (far, far from it), but now having prepared 5 Confirmation classes, this is what I have tried to pass on:  1) God is not more important than the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit IS God.  You know the song, “God in three persons, Blessed Trinity…”.  The Holy Spirit is God’s Advocate here on earth, so when we pray to God, we are certainly praying to the Holy Spirit as well, and 2) Confirmation is not the moment that we receive the Holy Spirit – we have always had the Holy Spirit with us.  At Confirmation, the candidates re-affirm their baptism, and are reminded that the Holy Spirit has and will always be there for them.  If then, they practice their faith and do good works, then the gifts of the Holy Spirit are theirs for a lifetime.  So on this Pentecost Sunday, let us pray to allow the Holy Spirit to be a bigger part of our life, and to act on our behalf.

And, there’s something else going on this weekend, hmmmm, don’t quite remember what …. oh, of course, MOTHER”S DAY!  Happy Mother’s Day to all of our Moms.  I’m sure most of us claim our Mom as being the best, and I am certainly no exception.  My mom has always been more than just the one who washes the clothes and makes the beds and cooks the food – she is also a true inspiration.  When my folks moved to the farm in 1956, she became more than the housekeeper – she was the gardener, farmhand, truck driver, and anything else that needed to be done.  Even now, at 78 years old, she is still up at the crack of dawn (or sooner) tending to the housework and her flowers and whatever else she can do.  And the inspirational part – she does all of this while being legally blind.  Thank you for all you do, Mom.

I was curious just how Mother’s Day began, and to the best I can find out, this is the story:  Appalled at the brutality of the then ongoing Franco-Prussian War, Julia Ward Howe of Boston, who was the lyricist of “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, made an “appeal to womanhood” in 1870 to protest war.  She wrote a proclamation that same year, had it translated into many languages, and distributed it internationally.  This powerful plea is considered to be the original Mother’s Day proclamation.  The tradition of American Presidents giving a Mother’s Day Proclamation began with Woodrow Wilson on May 9, 1914, and continues to this day with each president annually proclaiming the Second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Finally, I came across a prayer for mothers that I think really fits the day:

God our Creator, we pray: for new mothers, coming to terms with new responsibility;  for expectant mothers as they wonder and wait;  for mothers who are tired, stresesed or depressed;  for mothers who struggle to balance the tasks of work and family;  for mothers who struggle to keep their children fed due to poverty;  for mothers whose children have physical, mental, or emotional disabilities;  for mothers who raise children on their own;  for mothers who have lost a child;  for mothers who care for the children of others;  for mothers whose children have left home;  and for those whose desire to be a mother has not been fulfilled.  Bless all of our mothers, that their love may be deep and tender, and that they may lead their children to know and do what is good, living not for themselves alone, but for God and others.  AMEN.

Peace.

May 3, 2008 – It’s a Hit!

May 4, 2008

Whew!  2 blogs in one week!  I keep thinking to myself that one of these days my mind is just going to go completely blank, and I will have nothing to say in these blogs, but usually every Saturday or when the creative juices decide to flow, somehow a few words come out.  I certainly didn’t think that when I began this blog, that anyone would bother reading it, but it seems more folks are taking a peek at it.  My reasoning for this: high gas prices – bad economy – need cheap entertainment.

I certainly thank everyone who has checked out the blog and said that they enjoyed it.  I also thank those of you who have checked out our website, www.maryhoc.org, and said that you got some use out of it.  It takes some time to keep things updated, but is has been fun, too.  I received a nice e-mail from our former pastor, Msgr. Dennis, who said he has been checking out the website to keep up on the happenings here at St. Mary’s.  That was one of my hopes when we began this, that folks who have ties to our parish who now live out of the area could log on and read the bulletin and keep up with other things going on in our parish.  So if you know someone out of town who may be interested in what is going on in our neck of the woods, please pass along our address to them.  THANK YOU.

The other day I went to Centralia, IL for work and I saw a sight that we haven’t seen much of so far this spring – tractors buzzing in the fields.  It has been a tough spring thus far for our farmers, as they have not been able to get into the fields as they normally would because of all the rain we have had.  Hopefully our weather pattern will change and they can get their crops out.  I have talked in the past about “unsung heroes”, and our farmers certainly fall into that category.  If you are a farmer – whether it be a full time farmer or a part time farmer who has another job besides, you are a hard worker – that is a given.  Farming is also one of the most dangerous occupations there is.  Despite all of the hard work, however, their efforts can still go awry if the weather does not cooperate, or if other things go wrong.  Farmers are some of the biggest gamblers in the world!  They deserve our praise and prayers.

I knew early in life that farming was not going to be my occupation.  Just didn’t have the talent for it.  But I am fortunate to still have the opportunity to live in the country and to enjoy the pleasures and quietness of country living.  I say THANK YOU to the stewards of the land who provide our nourishment.

Finally, you may have noticed on our calendar that our May Crowning will not take place until May 31 at the 5:00PM Mass, which is basically the last possible day.  Why so late?  You can thank our early Easter.  All of the Sundays in May are Feast days – the Ascension, Pentecost, Most Holy Trinity, and Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.  These feasts would fall later in the year if Easter were later.  Because these feasts all fall in May, they must stand by themselves, and no other celebrations can take place.  Thus, the only possible date left was May 31.  So keep this date open on your calendar and support our young people as they continue this tradition in our parish.

Until next time,

Peace.