Archive for September, 2008

September 27, 2008 – Walkin’ Down Memory Lane

September 27, 2008

I had one of those experiences this past week that I’m sure you have had.  There may have been an event or happening in your life that you hadn’t thought about in a while, and then suddenly someone says something or does something that jars your memory, and it brings that event back into the forefront of your mind.  The other night at our parish council meeting it was discussed that we have not had a parish mission for some time.  Do you remember when our last mission was?  Hint: it tok place right around this time of the year.  Give up?  Our last mission took place in September, 2001.  This mission was the beginning of the Renew 2000 process that our parish took part in at that time.  What was unique about this mission is that basically we did everything ourselves – no priest or other religious person was brought in from outside the parish as is typically done.

As we talked about holding a mission in the near future, I couldn’t believe how vivid my memories of our last mission continue to be.  I remember when the idea was first presented to us and thinking “there is absolutely no way we can do this on our own!”  Then I remember the panic I felt when it was suggested that I lead the mission committee!  UGH!  I remember thinking at that time that the only way we were going to pull this off is if I had 2 things on my side: the Holy Spirit and a very dedicated group of people on the committee with me.  Both came through with flying colors.  We spent literally the entire summer preparing and recruiting participants and we pulled it off.  Do you remember the four nights of the mission?  Night 1 was basically an introduction to the Renew process led by yours truly.  Cheryl Gross, Judy Crain and Carissa Cushman gave personal reflections.  Kelly Gardiner gave words from St. Augustine in full wardrobe.  Linda & Lloyd Stern and Linda Smith took part in a sort of “public” faith -sharing session to show folks how it was done.  When we asked the congregation to split into groups for a faith-sharing session, I was skeptical as to how it would fly, but everyone really seemed to get in to it.  However, it seems that what people remember most about that night was some of our young people going up and down the aisles of church with floating candles and ribbons while the song “I Hope You Dance” was played.  It was a really nice topper to the evening.  I think the first night cleared away any doubts that we could pull this off.

Night 2 focused on reconciliation.  Mike & Anita Bievenue led the evening.  Madona McCaslin gave a personal reflection about overcoming her serious illness.  We all then went to “confession,” in which we wrote our faults on a piece of paper, and then we approached either Fr. Dennis, Fr. Maes or Fr. Stout and they burned the paper and gave us an absolution.

Night 3 focused on the family.  Jan Crow, Paula Platt and Marla Cushman led the evening.  We heard two very personal reflections from Joe & Pam Tretter and Rob & Rhonda Wingerter about families that left some in tears.  An individual blessing was given to each family, and some of the school kids performed “Awesome God”.  I can remember Fr. Dennis saying at the end of the evening that “all of this is giving me goosebumps!”

Finally, Night 4 was the closing Mass.  Linda Stern, who led the evening, came out in a graduation cap and gown signifying the end of our mission journey, but just the first step in the Renew journey.  Fr. Dennis and Linda Smith gave reflections about life-changing events, and in St. Mary’s tradition, we had our wine and cheese reception following Mass.  I could keep rambling about my memories of that week.  If you were there, you probably have some memories of your own.  It stood out to me I believe because the mission occurred right after the 9/11 attacks, and it took place at the time when issues concerning the school had come to a head, and because so many people opened the doors of their personal experiences to everyone.  It was the right event at the right place at the right time.

We have a set of VCR tapes in the library at the Parish House of the mission.  Feel free to check them out sometime if you feel like a stroll down memory lane.  As fulfilling as the mission was, it was a tremendous amount of work by a lot of people.  Our next mission will be a more traditional mission, with a priest from outside our parish community leading it.  Hopefully if the stars align it will take place sometime during Lent.  Pray for us as the initial plans begin to be made.

We give a shout out this weekend to our teachers in school, the catechists in our PSR program, and the members of the RCIA team as they are comissioned at the 9:00AM Mass.  Religious education is so fundamentally important to the life of a Catholic, and we are very blessed to have such a dedicated gruop of educators in our parish.  God Bless all of them for their efforts.

There is a lot of new information on our website, www.maryhoc.org.  Be sure to check it out.  I am even beginning to get information from other parishes to put on our website!  You will see it on the homepage.

Peace. 

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September 20, 2008 – Fall Is Here!

September 20, 2008

Welcome to the last blog entry of the “summer”, as Monday is the first day of autumn.  It certainly doesn’t seem like the fall season yet.  In fact, much of the year has had kind of a “spring” feel to it, with lots of rain and everything continuing to stay green.  I’m sure our farmers right now would be happy to have a break from the rain so their crops can dry and they can get into the fields for the harvest.

If I had to choose a favorite season out of the year, I would pick autumn, with the cool temperatures and of course the beauty of the leaves turning.  And on a personal note, fall to me means football and lots of pumpkin flavored things (have you ever had the pumpkin donuts from Krispy Kreme?  KILLER!).  I have often wondered what it would be like to live someplace where the climate basically stays the same year-round, and where you wouldn’t have the opportunity to see the changing landscape of the different seasons.  I think I prefer the landscape of the good-old Midwest, where you can enjoy the re-birth of spring, the beauty of the fall, and the Kodak moment of a wet snowfall clinging to the trees.  There is no place that God is present more than in the awesomeness of his creations.

I want to send out a thank you to those who helped in any way with the K of C Tootsie Roll drive this weekend – to Mike and Danny for their time in organizing everything, those who collected money, and of course all of those who generously gave a few bucks.  I collected on Friday evening, and I thought with the state of our economy that many people would pass on by, but I was pleasantly surprised that many people still stopped and gave a donation.

It is extremely difficult to approach the subject of giving, particularly with our hard economic times we are facing.  Most folks are very generous and are doing all they can to contribute to various causes, including our parish.  However, the reality is that our parish suffers during these tough times as well.  We are continuing to explore ways to aid our financial situation, which include seeking higher rates of return on our investments, and continuing to encourage everyone to include the church in their wills and bequests.  I just received some information from the Diocese this past week that I will be posting on our website soon which will talk about planned giving and various ways you can help the church through your bequests and investments.  Know that your efforts in supporting our church through your stewardship, fundraising, etc. are always appreciated.

I received a pleasant surprise in the mail this past week – a memo from the Chancery that the Bishop wants to meet with the Diocesan Pastoral Council next month to discuss issues affecting our Diocese.  I hope that this is a step in improving our communications between the laity and our Bishop.  I will certainly report to you what we discussed and where things stand in our Diocese after we meet.

Well, us Cardinal fans can stick out our chests for at least one day – a 12 to 6 rout of the Cubbies yesterday!  With the way things have gone for us lately, we’ll take any thing we can get!

Enjoy the fall season.  Peace. 

September 13, 2008 – Prayers and More Prayers

September 13, 2008

As there always seems to be, we have much to pray for this coming week.  We of course pray for all of those affected by Hurricane Ike that the Lord keep them safe and that they receive what they need in the recovery effort.  When the storm started coming ashore last night it seems that all you saw on TV was those reporters hanging on to bushes, trees, poles, and whatever else was nearby so they didn’t get blown away by the wind and so they could report to you from the “eye of the storm.”  I’m not sure whether these people are really brave or just plain nuts.  Hopefully this will be the last major hurricane that we see for awhile, though there is still time in the hurricane season.

We also pray for the priests of our diocese this week as they will be gathering for their annual convocation in St. Louis.  This is always an important week for our priests as it gives them a chance to have time together that they normally wouldn’t be able to have.  Also, the focus of the convocation is to continue the process of what has been termed the “dialogue of renewal”.  This is the process that is being mediated by the Reid Group with the goal of hopefully bridging the gap of communication between the Bishop and the priests.  As I have stated before, much time and money is being invested into this process, and the only way that it will bring a positive outcome is if both sides are willing to be forthright and open to ideas – not just the clergy but the hierarchy of our Diocese as well.  It is a shame that we even refer to the term “the two sides” when we talk about the relationship between the clergy and Bishop.  I hope that as this process continues that we can once again become “one body, one spirit in Christ.”  Our Diocese has faced many challenges over the last 15 years and the only way that we will persevere and grow is as one family of faith.

I also ask for your prayers as our parish school of religion (PSR) program begins its new year this weekend.  Pray that our children will be receptive to the teachings that we bring forth and for our teachers that God bless them with strength and creativity.  Our enrollment in PSR has declined over the last few years, though this is not necessarily a bad thing.  More of our families are deciding to enroll their children in our parish school, which ultimately is the long-term goal.  However, circumstances are such that we will probably always need to provide some sort of a PSR program for our children.  Our teachers are all volunteers and have all put in many years of dedicated work into providing religious education for the children of our parish.

Finally, please pray for all in our parish who are sick, for Fr. Gene’s Mom and our other loved ones in need of our prayers, those who are shut-in and in the nursing homes, and all others in need of our prayers.  The old saying is that there are only two things in life that are certain – death and taxes.  I think we may have to add prayer intentions as a third one on the list.  Don’t forget that you can go to the prayer intentions page on our website, www.maryhoc.org, where you will find a list of things to pray for.  Also, there is a box on the page where you can submit your own intentions.  It goes straight to my e-mail and then I post it on the page where others can see it and pray for it.

On to the lighter side of things: it was a rough week for this St. Louis sports fan.  Someone must not have bothered to tell the Rams that they were going to Philadelphia for a football game, because they sure weren’t prepared to play a game. If they do not look better this week, I’m going to have to seriously question how much of my time on a Sunday afternoon is spent watching this stuff (meanwhile, Kurt Warner won his start last week).  And it appears that all hope is lost for our Cardinals this year, though they gave us some exciting moments this year (along with some frustrating ones).  Hopefully they will add a few players in the off-season (they have the money to do it) and will contend in ’09.

Finally, I heard a cute little joke to share.  It involves Catholics and food (my kind of joke).  A monestary in England held an annual fish and chips supper to raisde money for their order.  A lady who ate there for the first time thought it was the best fish she had ever eaten.  So she went over to where the food was being prepared to offer her compliments.  She approached one of the gentleman and asked him “Excuse me, would you happen to be the fish fryer?”  “No Miss,”, he replied, “I’m the chip monk.”

Peace. 

September 5, 2008 – Happy Popeye ….

September 5, 2008

I’m bucking my usual tradition and posting my blog on a late Friday afternoon.  With the Popeye Picnic and surrounding events going on this weekend, I wasn’t sure where I was going to be at and at what time, so I thought it best to go ahead and type my entry while I had the chance.  I wish everyone a “Happy Popeye Weekend”, or “Happy Popeye Picnic”, or “Happy Popeye Picnic Weekend”; I’m not sure what the proper etiquette is.  Anyway, have fun and stay safe, and if you are able, check out the events that support our parish and school, including the Smorgasboard at the K of C on Sunday from 11:00 – 2:00, the sacred concert in church on Sunday from 2:00-3:00 (dedicated to the memory of Sue Reiman), and the hidden talent show in the school gym at 3:30 on Sunday.

I hope everyone had a good Labor Day weekend.  It was a good change of pace weekend for me.  I took a couple of extra days off of work and made a long weekend out of it.  I became spoiled not having to get up at 5:15 in the morning to head off to work, but it’s nice to get out of the usual routine now and then.  Just because I didn’t post a blog last weekend doesn’t mean that I gave my computer a rest. In fact, we were able to add a couple of new, neat features to our website.  The first is a page dedicated to Fr. Allen Maes, OMI.  Fr. Allen, as you know, is a native of our parish, and his mother and sister are active members of our parish to this day.  Fr. Allen is celebrating his 40th jubilee of ordination, and so Fr. Gene and I put together a web page with some old and current photos, as well as some other information about Fr. Allen.  To check it out, you can click on this link:

www.maryhoc.org/FrMaes

Also, I promised a little while back that on September 1, I would have a web page up dedicated to the rich history of our parish.  Well, it was late in the day on September 1, but nonetheless I was able to get this page up.  It includes some of the historical dates of our parish, a page dedicated to our pastors (past and present), and and a page of some photos of the past from the church and school.  You can click on this link to see this page:

www.maryhoc.org/history

The history page will continue to be a work in progress as I try to find out more about our history.  If you have any dates you would like to see included, or if you have some old parish photos you can share, e-mail me at webmaster@maryhoc.org, or drop them off at the parsh office.  I have a scanner that will copy the photos and I guarantee they will be returned to you.

Our parish council met on August 27.  As usual we discussed many issues impacting our parish and the church as a whole.  We also elected officers for the coming year.  It was decided to retain the same slate of officers from the previous year – myself as President, Tom Sauer as Vice President, and Janet Vasquez as Secretary.  I joked to the Council that if I serve another year or two as President, that they will have to start calling me FDR.  In all seriousness, it is an honor to know that our group continues to have the confidence in me to stay in this position.  I have never been a part of a bad group – every one has been a joy to work with and very cooperative, and I am pleased to inform you that this year’s group appears to be no different.  This group is your representative – if there is something that you feel we need to address as a parish, please let myself or one of the council members know and we will add it to our agenda.  You can keep up with our group and read the minutes from our meetings by clicking here:

www.maryhoc.org/parishcouncil

I had the opportunity to watch most of our presidential and vice-presidential candidates deliver their speeches to their respective party conventions.  I thought all of the speeches were well-crafted and delivered well.  But frankly, as I have stated in the past, I came away not really knowing much more about where these people stand on the issues, and particularly what policies they plan to implement if they get into office.  My hope is that the upcoming debates will shed some light on this.  I will also have to do some more research on my own.  Frankly I have not decided yet who I am voting for, and I have a feeling it will be a decision that will come late in the game.

Well, I think I have rambled enough for one day.  I was grateful for a couple of things this past week: that Hurricane Gustav didn’t do the damage that many had feared that it would, and that it is now FOOTBALL season!  I am a football junkie, and only a football junkie can appreciate the low that you feel when the Super Bowl is over, and the high that you feel when the new season finally arrives.  And along with the football season we’ve also gotten football weather.  Temperatures in the 50’s?  Maybe an early fall this year?  We’ll see.

Peace.