July 6, 2012 – Tidbits of Past, Present and Future

Weather Update: HOT!  Moving on, there were a couple of items that I wanted to mention last week but did not get around to due to my lengthy synopsis on the issues related to the Fortnight for Freedom.

A week ago Friday I mentioned tongue in cheek on our Facebook page that I was going to fast in observance of the “Fortnight for Freedom”, and that I had hoped people would wish me luck in this endeavor.  Yesterday, I had someone ask if I made it through the day.  Yes, I did make it through, and it wasn’t bad at all.  I’m sure my doctor will inform me Monday when I have my check-up that I probably need about six months worth of fasting, but one step at a time.

Also, as those of you who live here in the area have noticed, work on the steeple and bell tower of our church has been going on in earnest.  We pray for the safety of the workers as they continue this tough task, especially in the record-breaking heat we have been having.  This needed work would not have been possible without the generosity of so many people who gave toward our capital campaign.  Thanks to you we collected enough money to pay fully for the steeple work, as well as for some other future needed work on our building such as window trim, interior work, etc.  As we have been reminded of the last few years with the numerous roofing jobs, school renovations, etc., our older buildings require a lot of upkeep, and it is through your generosity that we are able to maintain our beautiful church and other buildings.  Thank you again so much.

OK, with those leftover items taken care of, let’s move on to a present issue.  This past week in the Messenger was the listing of appointments and transfers for our clergy.  A couple of things stuck out at me going through the list.  First, I am grateful that our current pastor, Fr. Gene, will be sticking around for at least another year, which will be year #9, proving once again that there is no such thing as a short pastorate here at St. Mary’s.  We again continue to be blessed in that we have a pastor that we can call our very own, something which many parishes cannot claim.  There were again appointments that stated priests would be taking on administration of parishes in addition to the ones they already have.  So many of our clergy continue to be stretched more and more.  Also, this list was actually released via e-mail last week, and when it was shared with our Fanning the Flame group, the most common comment was “who are these guys?”  The face of our clergy has certainly changed over the last 10-15 years, as more and more of our clergy are not “homegrown” guys, but rather are priests who have come from other areas and have been ordained to serve here, or are priests on loan from other countries.  The makeup of our clergy will continue to change as it will be at least several years before there is another priesthood ordination in our diocese.  If it were not for the international priests that have been brought here and for the number of older clergy who continue in full-time ministry despite being eligible to retire, we would have a much greater crisis situation than we are in now.

International priests have helped to put a “band-aid” on the problem, but most of these men again are on loan to us from other dioceses, and are here to serve generally 3 to 5 years.  As was in the Messenger, 3 of the international priests who were ministering here are moving on to other assignments, and this cycle will continue.  There will be a lot of critical decisions to be made in the next year or two, as the changing face of our clergy and diocese will change in a more rapid and radical way.  We of course must continue to do what we can to pray for and foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

Now moving on to another future item.  We have just completed the “Fortnight for Freedom”, which by all accounts was a very successful endeavor led by our Bishops.  The unified voice of our Bishops has not only brought the issue of the erosion of our religious freedom to the forefront for us Catholics, but has also attracted the support of other faiths.  If you are reading this blog, chances are you know what the issues are and what is at stake for all Christians.  The challenge now is getting this message to people who still do not get it, Catholics and non-Catholics alike.  I read an excellent blog yesterday titled “Let’s Move Beyond Preaching to the Choir.”  The author offers 5 ways to reach out beyond our “comfort zone” and spread our message to those who have not been receptive to it up to this point.  They are: 1) Encourage the Faithful.  Rally Everyone Else.  We need to continue to encourage those who grasp this issue, but we also need to devote more time and energy toward those who do not have a handle on the threats to our religious freedom, 2) Pray Daily.  This is of course something we all can do, 3) Set a Good Example.  Part of our duty as a Christian is to be a good witness, and to make sure that when people observe us, they know that we practice what we preach, 4) Use the Right Arguments.  We need to make it clear to those who do not share our beliefs that this issue affects them also as this is an attack on our individual freedom that we have never seen before, and 5) Act Now for Future Generations.  Our children and grandchildren deserve to enjoy the same freedoms that we have, which is why this fight cannot wait for the future.  If you would like to read this full blog, here is the link:  www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2012/07/randy-hain-lets-move-beyond-preaching-to-the-choir/.  It is an excellent read.

It sounds like we may have a break in our heat wave.  Pray that everyone will receive a good dose of needed rain and that the cooler weather will be with us for a while.  Have a great week.  Peace.

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