Archive for June, 2008

June 28, 2008 – Website Thoughts

June 28, 2008

Well we certainly got a taste of summertime this past week.  It is really ironic that there continues to be all kinds of problems with flooding just to our north, yet in our little neck of the woods some rain would actually be welcome.  Mother Nature gives us the guarantee of one thing – that nothing is guaranteed!  All we can do is accept what comes and make the best of the situation.

Again, not a lot of news to give my thoughts about this week.  I have been doing a little more thinking about our church website and what we can do to continue to improve it and make it more useful.  I again express my appreciation to you who continue to log on to www.maryhoc.org and look at all of the features.  I just looked at the numbers as far as visitors, and this month of June has been the busiest this year in terms of website traffic, with almost 1000 pages viewed.  This is not the amount of people who have logged on, but the number of actual pages viewed.  Still, this is a very nice number.  Today, for example, I figured well, its Saturday, people are doing other things, probably no one logged on today.  However, there were already 32 pages viewed as of 2:00PM.  So again, thank you.

A couple of things I am thinking about for our website: I am hoping over the next few weeks to introduce a newly-designed home page.  I have a lot of information on the home page currently, and I fear that it may be getting a little “cluttered.”  So I hope to work on a more user-friendly design, and to perhaps shift some of the information that is there now to different places. For example, I may put the “bulletin board” as a seperate page to allow for more information and advertising.

Also, I was graced this past week to receive my $600 stimulus check from the good ole’ U.S. Government.  With part of this “windfall” I purchased a camcorder that uses an SD card to record video on.  It also has a feature that allows you to upload video to You Tube.  So I am hoping after some head scratching and keyboard pounding that we may be able to link video to our website of parish events.  Again, these projects are in the future, but something to look forward to.

One thing I encourage you and others to do is to submit the names and a little information for those who are currently serving in the military or who are veterans in our parish to have placed on our military tribute page.  I have gotten just a few entries so far, and certainly have room for plenty more.  Go to the homepage of our website to find out more about how you can have someone included on our page.

With next weekend being a holiday weekend, I plan to take a holiday as well from the blog, unless something dramatic takes place that is worth discussion.  As we approach the 4th of July, we thank God for the freedoms we enjoy and for the opportunity to live in the greatest country in the world.  Current times are certainly tough, and we are bombarded with bad news on a daily basis, but we continue to be a blessed people.  Have a happy and safe holiday weekend.

Peace.

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June 21, 2008 – Slow Can Be Good

June 21, 2008

Hi again.  This week was pretty uneventful on my end.  Summertime usually is a little slower time for me – fewer meetings, no religion classes to teach.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it is a boring time, because there is always something I can find to keep myself busy (a webmaster’s work is never done, you know – ha,ha), but a little slower pace is welcome at times.  Some people I know seem to enjoy keeping life going at 100 miles per hour and always staying on the go, but I like to savor and enjoy the “slower” times.  Life seems to go so fast as it is, and I think we owe it to ourselves to take a moment at least on occasion and let life go at its own pace.

Last week we were on edge about the potential flooding that may occur in our area.  Thankfully, it appears that we have dodged this bullet, at least for now.  Unfortunately, this has come at the expense of folks to the north where many of the levees have not held or were not sufficient.  We know what this experience is like, and we owe our prayers and support to those who have lost their homes, possessions, crops, etc.

As of today we will have another parishioner who will become a fully trained lay leader of prayer.  Mr. Larry Gross has completed all of the requirements for this and is now qualified to lead a Sunday Celebration in the Absence of a Priest.  He is the fourth individual in our parish to be trained for this, the others being Linda Smith, Neil Birchler and myself.  We have talked for a couple years now about the process of what would happen in an emergency situation when a priest can not be found to have weekend Mass, but this still may need some clarification:

If a situation arises where no priest is available for Mass, one of the trained lay leaders of prayer would come out at the time Mass is supposed to begin and make an announcement that the priest is unable to say Mass.  The leader would then give the congregation two options: to attend Mass at another church in the area (locations and times would be given), or to stay and participate in a Sunday Celebration in the Absence of a Priest led by the trained leader.  This celebration is NOT a Mass, and does not include many of the rites said within the Mass, but it does fulfill your obligation to attend church on the Sabbath.  We are obligated to do three things to honor the Sabbath: attend Mass, pray together, and rest.  So if the first one is not possible, we still have the means to come together as a family of faith in prayer.

Again, we have been very fortunate not to have been in this situation as of yet, but many parishes have.  Those I have talked to who have led one of these services said they get remarks like “I didn’t know what was going on during the service” or “I liked this Mass better than Father’s because it was shorter!”.  So obviously some education still is needed about this process.  If you have any questions about it, I or one of the other trained leaders of prayer would be more than happy to answer them.

Finally, can anyone on the Cardinals stay healthy?  I remember Whitey Herzog saying one time that players need to eat more red meat and drink more beer and they wouldn’t have so many pulled muscles, etc.  Far from me to argue with this.  Hopefully we can keep our head above water until some of our guys get back.  The Cubs fans have rejoiced enough for one year!

Peace.

June 14, 2008 – Speaking of Fathers – And Fathers

June 14, 2008

First of all I owe an apology to those of you who are regular readers of the blog (all 2 or 3 of you, ha ha).    I encountered some problems this past week with the server and some folks had difficulty accessing the blog.  I was told that they are in the process of switching all of the blogs they host over to a different format and that there may be some glitches as this takes place.  Hopefully the problem will be corrected shortly.  What I found is that if the blog does not come up the first time, that you can hit the “refresh” button on your browser a time or two and eventually it does come up.  Fortunately none of the other pages on the website were affected.  I have heard some nightmare stories in the past about how unreliable some of the servers are, so we are fortunate that this the only glitch we have run into so far.

Of a far more major concern right now is the flooding situation along many of our rivers.  Some folks I have spoken to are fearing a repeat of the 1993 flood.  Let us pray that this is not the case and that the our weather pattern improves.  We are facing enough challenges at the moment with our economy, etc. and another devastating flood would be disasterous.

OK, let’s move on to something more positive – Happy Father’s Day to all of our fathers, grandfathers, godfathers, and all other father figures this weekend.  Over Mother’s Day I researched the origin of how that day came about, and I did the same for Father’s Day.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a woman named Sonora Dodd of Spokane, WA was listening to a sermon in 1909 about Mother’s Day, and thought that her father, William Smart, deserved a special day in his honor.  Mr. Smart was a widowed Civil War veteran who was left to raise six children on his own.  The mayor of Spokane proclaimed the date of June 19, 1910 as a day to honor Mr. Smart and all fathers.  A day in June was chosen because this was the month of Mr. Smart’s birthday.  President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed the first nationwide observance of Father’s Day in 1966, and in 1972 Richard Nixon signed a permanent law declaring the 3rd Sunday in June as Father’s Day.

As with all others, the role of many fathers has changed over the years.  32% of fathers work in the evening or at night and then take care of the pre-school children while the mother works, and there are over 2 million single fathers in the U.S.  So thank you to all of or fathers for the important role(s) that they fill in our lives.

Finally, I wanted to speak about our other “fathers”, our clergy.  If you read The Messenger this past week you saw that Bishop Braxton has made his official pastoral assignments for the coming year.  Once again, our cluster was spared of losing any clergy.  We have been very, very fortunate that since our cluster was formed in 2003, that our clergy structure has remained in tact.  We have a resident pastor, Ellis Grove retains a deacon as Parish Life Coordinator, Evansville and Walsh retain a pastor, and Sparta retains a religious order priest as administrator.  It would be naive to think that this structure will hold in place for many more years.  We were projected to lose a priest out of the cluster by this time, so again, we have been very fortunate to this point.

Our parish, especially, has been blessed with great pastoral leadership for many, many years.  Fr. Gene is just our 6th pastor since 1892.  Let’s see how sharp my church history is here: Fr. Eckert served from 1892-1925 (killed in car accident), Fr. Lehmen served from 1926-1963 (died in 1963), Msgr. McCormick served from 1963-1970, Fr. Kribs served from 1970-1986, Msgr. Dennis served from 1986-2004, and of course Fr. Gene from 2004-present.  So from 1892-2004, we had 5 pastors who served an average of over 22years, which means Fr. Gene has 18years to go (ha, ha) .  Seriously, we have been greatly blessed with fine, dedicated men who have served our parish well for so many years.

Cardinals fans, hang in there – it can’t get worse than the 20-2 beating last night, can it?

Peace.

June 7, 2008 – My 2 Cents Worth

June 7, 2008

Hi again,

When I began this blog a few months back, I wasn’t sure what form it would take or what I would end up talking about, but one thing I have tried to be careful of is not to get too “opinionated”, or to not take a stand on something without respecting the view of the other side.  This being said, there have been some events in the past week that are leading me to vent my opinion, so please bear with me.

You may have seen an article in the Belleville News Democrat a couple of days ago that talked about the bishop and the executive committee of the Presbyteral (Priest) Council agreeing to bring in an outside mediating firm called the Reid Group to help improve communications between the priests of the Diocese and the Bishop.  Bishop Braxton sent a letter to the priests of the Diocese stating that these meetings will be meant to explore ways to work toward “better communication among priests and between the Bishop and the priests in order to move beyond the current situation.”

On the surface this appears to be a positive step.  The Reid Group works strictly with Catholic organizations and has had many successful mediations and consultations in the past.  It also appears encouraging that the Bishop is acknowledging that there is a problem, and is taking a pro-active step to find a solution.  However, my optimism is tempered.  In order for this process to work, it is going to take the full committment of both sides, and I do not know if this is a possibility.

This morning I was supposed to be at a meeting in Belleville with our Bishop as part of the Diocesan Pastoral Council.  This council is supposed to act much like a pastoral council in a parish – it is an advisory group that the Bishop can seek opinions from.  Likewise, we have the freedom to tell the Bishop of issues in the diocese we feel need to be addressed.  A few days ago, we received an e-mail stating that the Bishop did not wish to meet with us at the present time – no explanation given.  All that we were told is that as this process with the Reid Group begins, this may give us a reason to meet in July or August.

It is certainly not unusual for a Bishop to have to postpone a meeting when things arise in his schedule, etc.  But to simply say that no meeting is necessary leaves the impression that our opinions are not valued or welcomed.  This is not a new occurrence.  There have been other advisory groups who have had the same experience.  So this is why I am somewhat skeptical of this step.  I’m sure there is expense involved in bringing in a consultation group, and people are going to be asked to re-arrange their schedules in order to accomodate these meetings with the mediator.  If the Bishop is truly committed to this, then the effort may certainly be worth it.  But if the attitude of the hierarchy does not change, then my fear is that this will be time and resources wasted.

My sincere prayer is that this process does bring positive results, and if I am asked to have any small part in it, know that I will be first in line.  Again, I hope this didn’t sound too much like an editorial, but I wanted to give you a little of my own insight into how we reached this point, and what the future may hold.  I still am, and will always remain a proud member of the Catholic faith, despite of what differences we have.  As I have said before, the church is built on the message of Jesus, and that will always rise above anything else.

It will be interesting to see what unfolds in the next few months.  If you have a comment on the situation, please leave it below.  God’s blessings be with our Bishop, our priests, and all of us as this process unfolds.

Peace.