Monday, July 29, 2013

July 28, 2013

Last week I was able to move in the Residence on Virginia Road (Yay!).  One of the issues that I immediately had to deal with was the smell.  The house has carpet in the basement, is close to the water and has been closed up for the past few weeks—not a good combination.    In addition to the dehumidifiers, the windows were open to let in fresh air and then a good cleaning of the house took place.  There are still some issues that will need to be dealt with concerning the house and work to be done, but I am moved in and able to begin the tedious task of unpacking.

Isn’t this a good example of our lives as Christians?  There are times that we close up, to God, others and even ourselves. When we do so, we are in need of a good airing out and a good cleaning.  That is what the Sacrament of Reconciliation is all about, isn’t it?  It provides us the opportunity to remove the things that stink in our lives and to be refreshed and rejuvenated.

Like the house, even after the sacrament, there are still issues in our lives that we need to work on, but we are works in progress, loved by the Lord despite our weaknesses and failures.  That is why he forgives so readily and easily.  Pope Francis said it in such a simple and beautiful way: “God never tires of forgiving us, but we sometimes tire of asking Him to forgive us.”  

Let us never tire of asking the Lord to forgive us and let us never deny ourselves the peace and comfort that comes from receiving His forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Yes, most of us are uncomfortable about going to “confession”.  We may be embarrassed, anxious, or angry.  Yet, the priest has only one job as the presider of the sacrament: to make the Lord’s love, mercy and forgiveness known.

This past week the Holy Father gathered with youth and young adults from all over the world for World Youth Day.  It is encouraging to see so many gathered with the Pope to celebrate our faith. I have had the privilege as a priest of attending national conferences and working with national organizations.  It has allowed me to see just how alive our Church is.  We are all saddened because we know there should be more young people and young families joining us each Sunday.  While there are indeed lots of problems and issues that need to be addressed, there are signs of great hope.   

There are large sections of our country where the Church is growing by leaps and bounds.  Even in my work at a public university, there are great signs of hope, of renewed interest in faith.  I can tell you that there are no magic bullets.  One program, one idea will not lead to a turn around. In building up our family of faith, we cannot do so from a place of lament.  We do so from joy: a joy that comes from the knowledge of the Lord’s love, mercy and kindness for each of us.  When we take the time to share the joy that comes from our faith in God, we encourage others to find out more about the source of our joy.  

Fr. David

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Little Humor...

-From the Facebook page of  They included the comment: "Pope Francis does EVERYTHING himself!"

July 21, 2013

Dear Friends,

In our first reading today we see Abraham offering hospitality to strangers.  For his generosity and kindness, he is given a promise that brings him great joy.  The scriptures teach us that hospitality is of great importance.  It creates an atmosphere that respects others, puts people at ease and allows the Word of God to be heard.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that hospitality is an extension of the virtue of charity. (CCC#1971) This virtue comes from a life deeply rooted in the love of God. In order for faith to flourish, for communities to grow and be marked by charity, patience, hope and joy, they need to be communities that demonstrate hospitality. That is the type of community we wish to be here at St. John’s.  Let me share with you some of the things being done to help us become that type of Community:

According to Canon Law, when a new pastor is appointed, the parish’s pastoral council and finance council cease to be.  I am finding that many people in the parish were not aware that these two important groups existed.  I would like to publically thank those men and women who served on these groups with Fr. Medeiros.  

To assist me in assuming the duties as Pastor, a transition committee was formed in June.  We had our first meeting June 26.  This group is made up of a cross section of the parish: longtime parishioners, parents, young, old, male, female, etc.  They will serve as a temporary pastoral and finance council and will help me to create new councils in the Spring.

The work that needs to be done though must involve all of us.  

I am eager to hear from as many people as possible.  What are the hopes, dreams and expectations that you have for our parish?  There are two formal tools being implemented for collecting this input.  One is a survey that may be found at the doors of the Church or online.  The second is a parish meeting scheduled for Monday August 5 at 7PM in the Parish Center .  All of the information collected will help the transition committee and I create a five year plan for our parish.
Some committees are being formed to assist in the work of our parish.  The current committees are: Finance and Fundraising, Liturgy, Family Life, Hospitality, Social Teaching and Service, and Sustainability.  If you are interested in serving on one of these committees, I invite you to contact me about the possibilities.

Third, an aspect of hospitality is making sure that people feel welcome when they gather with us at the Altar.  I am thankful to those who serve as ushers/greeters at St. John’s and am aware that we need to add to their numbers.  If you would be willing to serve our community in this very important service, please let me know.

Finally, the most important responsibility of the pastor is to daily offer prayers for his parishioners.  This is a responsibility I take very seriously.  You are all remembered in my prayers at Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours and quiet meditation.  If you have special intentions or requests for me to pray for, send me an email or give me a call.  I also ask that you please pray for me as well.

Fr. David

Monday, July 15, 2013

Taking time for God

Dear Friends,

 It has certainly been a busy few weeks for me! Transitioning into a new assignment, moving and putting the processes into place that will allow me to serve not only as your pastor, but also as the Director for Campus Ministry in the Diocese.

 I’m sure it has been busy for you as well. The many responsibilities of career and family, the kids transitioning from school to summer vacation, the recent holiday and it’s festivities. Even our social time and time for “relaxation” can sometimes be more work than work! 

In the chaos of our lives, it is difficult to find time to slow down, to “stop and smell the roses”. Even if we do find some time here and there, it is very difficult for us to be in silence or not be doing something. Pope Benedict, when he was Josef Ratzinger, wrote a book about 45 years ago called Introduction to Christianity. In the beginning of that book he spends some time on the tensions between science and theology. His point is that they both need each other to remain true to their service to humanity. Science without theology, he stated, eventually leads to a loss of the sense of being, and the motivation to seek to know.

The same can be said when we lose the balance between being on the go and true relaxing. We need to spend some time in the quiet and with God otherwise we lose a sense of who we are and why we do what we do. Sacrifice without meaning is just annoying.

“If only you would heed the voice of the Lord…” Moses calls out to us this week. Take five minutes, look at a work of art, read a psalm, survey the ocean scene, or just spend five minutes sitting in the comfy chair. It’s not wasting time, in fact it will lead to a more efficient use of time.

 If we don’t take the time to slow down, God becomes some philosophical principle and not the source and goal of our lives. It is not possible to be true to ourselves as beings made in His image and likeness and the peace and happiness we desire becomes elusive.

 Take 5 minutes, each day. It will make all the difference.

Fr. David

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July 7

Dear Friends, In the First Letter of Peter, the Apostle challenges us with these words: “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve on another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1Pt. 4:10). I am humbled when I reflect on just how many of our brothers and sisters here at St. John’s live these words. Our St. Vincent de Paul Society that assists those less fortunate in our community who are in acute need; the great generosity shown by our parish in this year’s Catholic Charities Appeal, the dedicated men and women who serve as catechists in our faith formation program for our children and youth; all those who serve us as musicians, cantors, altar servers, lectors, extraordinary ministers of holy communion, ushers, visitors to the homebound, bingo, the list goes on. This doesn’t even include those examples of faith in action that is lived in our families, at work and school, and in the community at large. Christian is more than just a statement about what we believe, it is how we live. I have chosen this quote from 1Peter to serve as a theme for our parish for the next year. Our different ministries and organizations will be challenged in the coming months to incorporate this theme somehow in what they do. I challenge all of us to seek to make this theme part of our lives as well. To truly be stewards of God’s grace and to serve others in Christ’s name, it is necessary to know who Christ is and how he makes his graces known. Christian is also a lifelong commitment to conversion: continually turning our hearts and minds to Christ and living in love with Him. That is why faith formation is not something that is just for our children, it is supposed to be a part of all of our lives: seeking ways to grow in our understanding of who God is and how he works through the Church and in our lives. Since our parish is no longer in a twinned situation, our Confirmation program will also no longer be twinned. Crystal Medeiros, formerly the Associate Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, has joined our staff here at St. John’s. She will not only coordinate our Confirmation program, but will also be responsible for youth and young adult ministry here as well. Also, we will be working to provide more faith formation opportunities for our parishioners of all ages. Teaching and sharing the faith is the most important thing we do as a parish besides our worship of God. These opportunities will be delivered through online offerings, workshops, lectures, book clubs, parish missions, faith sharing, scripture studies, etc. Since faith formation is such an important part of being stewards of God’s graces and serving others, our second collection during the months of July, August and September that are not already reserved for national collections, will be directed to funding these efforts. Thank you for all you do in being stewards of God’s grace. Peace, Fr. David