December 28, 2012 – Looking Back … and Ahead

I hope you had a good Christmas celebration.  Of course, as I was reminded of in one of the items that came across my Facebook feed, we Catholics will be celebrating the Christmas season until the Baptism of the Lord on January 13, so really we are just a brief time into our Christmas celebration.  It also seems that more and more families are not having their gathering on Christmas Day, but rather on the weekend before or after or even on New Year’s Day, which our family will be doing.  So anyway, whatever your celebration consisted of, we continue to rejoice in the coming of the Savior to earth.

Well as you probably guessed, with this being the final blog of the year its a fitting time to look back at the year past and to look ahead at what the coming year may bring.  On a national level for us Catholics, I would say that the fight against the HHS mandate which requires employers to cover contraception, sterilization and medically-induced abortions in their health care plans was the biggest story of the year.  As we know the fight against this continues in the courts in the form of numerous lawsuits, with mixed results thus far.  Though the fight continues, I was pleased at how the bishops of the United States came together to put up such a strong front against this, and all indications are that they will continue to voice their opposition in the coming year, with plans already being made for another “Fortnight for Freedom” as well as other strategies to promote life and religious freedom.

In October we saw the Synod of Bishops in Rome, which focused on the “New Evangelization” and how we can more effectively spread the good news the Catholic Church has to share.  October also marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, which provided an opportunity to re-visit what the Council was about, how the events of the Council unfolded, and what the conclusions of the Council were.  October also marked the opening of the Year of Faith as proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI, which will continue through November of next year.  The Year of Faith is an opportunity for Catholics to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him.  The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church.

Looking ahead to the coming year, in addition to the continuing focus on life and religious freedom issues, there will be a World Youth Day in July in Rio de Janeiro, which Pope Benedict will attend.  Also, On the feast of Corpus Christi, June 2, Pope Benedict will lead an hour of eucharistic adoration to be observed simultaneously around the world, highlighting a traditional devotion that fell largely out of use in the decades after the Second Vatican Council, but which has lately grown more popular with the pope’s personal encouragement. This promises to be one of the most visually impressive of many events scheduled for the Year of Faith, which ends Nov. 24.

Turning to our little corner of the world, there were several things that stood out to me in the past year.  First was the success of our participation in the “Fanning the Flame” program.  I think those who studied the adult Catechism, read the weekly reflections, and attended our weekly discussion group gained a new appreciation of their faith.  Secondly was the successful capital campaign to raise the funds to repair the steeple of the church.  The generosity shown by so many people was overwhelming.  Also, on a bit of a personal note, we saw our first occasion of not having a priest available for weekend Mass this past July, and yours truly stepping in for a Sunday Celebration in the Absence of a Priest.  I am still amazed at how well our parishioners accepted the situation, and I think we will do well in whatever the future holds for us with the continuing decline in the number of priests.  Finally, there was the saga of the incredible shrinking priest.  Our pastor still sounds like Fr. Gene, and has the sense of humor of Fr. Gene, but is it really Fr. Gene?  I’m kidding of course, and I hope you had the chance to read the profile of Fr. Gene in this past week’s Randolph County Herald Tribune.  It is a well-written piece and gives some great insight into our talented and personable pastor.

In looking ahead to what will be happening here at St. Mary’s in 2013, the main focus will be on the 150th anniversary of the founding of our parish school.  There will be special events throughout the year, which you will be hearing more about.  We also are in the initial stages of putting together a commemorative book for the occasion, which we hope will be available for Christmas next year.

So what does the Webmaster have in mind for the coming year?  Well there are a couple of things I HOPE to accomplish in the coming year.  It has been over 8 years since we have published a parish directory, so we are certainly due.  However, getting a directory together normally requires forming another committee, setting up appointments to take pictures and order photos, and then putting the book together.  There are now tools online in which folks can submit their own photos and a directory can be put together pretty easily.  So that’s one goal.  The other thing I am still determined to do is to set up a means for people to donate to the parish online.  As usual, a Webmaster’s work is never done (lol).

As I always do with the last blog of the year, I want to thank you for your continued support of our parish and our website.  It truly is a labor of love for me, and I am so appreciative of your compliments and your continued use of the information on our website.  Let us pray for a peace-filled 2013, and in particular let us pray for a year in which our public servants will find ways to work together for the good of all people, particularly those who are disadvantaged for whatever reason.

Have a great week and a great 2013.  Peace.

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