September 2, 2011 – What I Have Seen And Heard

As I pound out my 150th blog, I’m taking a little bit of liberty this week.  During now Archbishop Wilton Gregory’s time here in the diocese, I always enjoyed reading his column “What I Have Seen And Heard.”  In fact, he has continued writing this column as Archbishop of Atlanta.  The link to see his columns is www.georgiabulletin.org/sh/.  I thought this week I would touch upon a few things that I had seen and heard that caught my attention.  I am writing this in the midst of a 4-day weekend away from work to celebrate Labor Day.  Is this a great country or what?

First I have to throw in another 2 cents worth on the Parish Planning process that we have begun in the Diocese.  If you read the newspapers this past week, you saw that they gave the impression that 20 parishes are going to close.  Could this happen?  Possibly.  Has this decision been made?  No.  Again I stress that no decisions have been made about any parish or school.  The point of the Parish Planning process is to collect as much data as we can in order to make informed decisions, and to have parishes examine themselves to see if they feel they are still viable.  This could result in consolidation of parishes, and could indeed mean closure of some parishes.  But again, these decisions have yet to be made, and any arbitrary number thrown out or any pre-conceived assumption about what will occur are premature.  This coming week we will begin meetings among parishioners to go through the process and to make evaluations about where we stand as a parish.  If you are invited to these meetings, I hope that you make every effort to attend, and I hope that you come with an open mind and with a fair, honest attitude as we evaluate our different ministries, functions, etc.

In the Messenger this week there was an article about Pope Benedict XVI gathering with a group of his former students (Pope Benedict at one time was a professor in Germany).  He delivered a message saying that “cradle” Catholics haven’t done enough to convince people of the existence of the one true God and the fulfillment that He can bring to our lives.  He went so far as to ask for forgiveness for older generations, who he believes took their faith for granted because they grew up during a time when the church was thriving, but now they see fewer and fewer attending Mass.  He also believes that today’s young Catholics are reluctant to give witness to their faith because they realize that they are in the minority among their peers.

I can see how Pope Benedict can come to these conclusions.  It is a difficult time for us Catholics to get our message heard in the midst of tons of negative press against the church and in our materialistic society.  However, the tools are there for us to evangelize.  We can of course pray for those who have left the church.  We can offer an invitation to those whom we haven’t seen in church for a while.  We of course can use the many means of communication that are available to us now.  Part of the reason that I began this website and the blog is to spread the good news of not only our parish, but of the Catholic faith in general.  It is an effective means of reaching a lot of people at once, and it does not cost the parish a dime.  If we are on Facebook, or one of the other social sites, we can let people know that we are Catholic and that we are proud of our faith.

Speaking of our website, www.maryhoc.org, I heard through the grapevine that the website was discussed at the Council of Catholic Women’s meeting this past week.  There were also some positive comments left on our Facebook page.  This led to a monster day on Wednesday this past week, when there were 110 pages viewed on the website!  That is the most in a long time.  Keep spreading the word and letting folks know how valuable our website can be.  I plan to add some more links, etc. to the website over the weekend.  Also, we are up to 48 members on our Facebook page.  Can we make 50?  Go to our homepage and click the Facebook tab and go from there.  Anyone can leave a comment there and I also post death notices and other random items there.

As you know the focus this coming week and especially next weekend will be on the 10th anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11.  I’ll talk more about it next week, but there are a couple of links I’d like to direct you to.  First of all, there will be a lot of television coverage next week.  Here is a link to some of the programming choices:

www.stltoday.com/entertainment/television/gail-pennington/article_20999174-ccc5-533d-9b71-aad143a1d8ab.html

Also, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website has put up a page dedicated to 9/11.  It includes prayers, reflections, and liturgical resources.  Here is the link:

www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/september-11/index.cfm

I’d like to give you a heads-up on something that I will be posting on our website this weekend.  One of our parishioners, Dolores Clendenin, will be celebrating her 100th birthday on September 14.  I will be posting an article about her life written by her family.  She currently resides at the Chester Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.  If you would like to send her a greeting, here is her address:

Chester Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, 770 State St., Room 124, Chester, IL  62233.

Finally, this sports fan has a much brighter outlook on things than he did a week ago.  The Cardinals swept the Brewers, and still have a slim chance to catch them for first place.  The Rams continue to look good in the pre-season, and college football starts this weekend!  Yes, life is good.

I hope you have a good Labor Day weekend.  We pray for those who work hard to provide for their families and for those looking for work that they can utilize their God-given talents.  Have a great week.  Peace.

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