Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Week of September 22

Dear Friends—

I just wanted to take a moment to thank the staff for all of their hard work over the summer.  Summers in the parish are generally a slow down for parish staff.  At St. John’s the staff were very busy helping getting the office up and running and working to put into place the programs and processes necessary to help make St. John’s a vibrant community of faith.  I am very grateful for their efforts.  I am also very grateful for all of you.  There has been a great spirit and enthusiasm in our parish.  

Just for you information, we are seeing great things in campus ministry throughout the diocese as well.  We started new programs at two colleges which have been enthusiastically received.  Our Sunday Mass numbers at UMass Dartmouth have been up consistently this year.  Good things happening in our local Church!
On Saturday September 28, there will be a day of recollection for all those who serve at our Liturgies.  It will be a time of prayer, reflection and meditation.  The day will begin at 9AM in the Parish Center and conclude at 1PM.  Lunch will also be served.  If you are interested, please contact the Parish Office to register.
There is a tradition in our Church of First Friday.  That is taking time for Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Starting in October, we will have a special First Friday Schedule here at St. John’s.  Mass will be offered at 5PM followed by Adoration until 8PM.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available from 5:30PM to 6:30PM.  At 7PM there will be a celebration of Evening Prayer that will conclude with Benediction. 
Our second reading this week continues where we left off last week.  We will jump a few chapters for next week’s reading.  The bulletin letter next week will cover a summary of the chapters missed. Just to let you know as well, each week and most days the homily is recorded and posted on line.  There is usually a link posted on our Facebook page when it is posted.  It can also be accessed at http://homily.libsyn.com.
As you know around the time I was appointed pastor of St. John’s, I was also appointed Diocesan Director of Campus Ministry.  It has been busy, but fortunately there is a good staff at both locations and with the help of technology and careful scheduling and planning things seem to be working ok.  I have petitioned the Bishop to have a deacon assigned to St. John’s to help with the overall pastoral care of the parish.  This will help greatly in some of the tasks that go on in a parish each week.
Sundays are a bit of an area of concern.  Currently I have been celebrating all of the parish masses myself in addition to the masses at UMD.  I have been working on getting coverage for some of the masses at the university.  In addition, I will be asking for help from some of the area retired priests for some mass coverage at St. John’s.  Let me be clear that this coverage will be occasional and not a weekly norm.  Presiding at the community’s celebration of the Eucharist is the most important function of a pastor and I take that responsibility very seriously.
There has been some inquiry about the devotion of the Divine Mercy.  If you are interested in being a part of a team to offer that devotion at St. John’s, please let me know.
Have a great week!
Fr. David

Monday, September 16, 2013

Week of September 15

Dear Friends,

I mentioned at most masses last weekend that starting this weekend and for the following six weeks, the second reading will come from St. Paul’s First and Second Letters to Timothy.  During those weeks, the homily will focus on the second reading, giving us the opportunity to hear a more comprehensive message than perhaps we have had the experience of before.  I invite you to bring in your bibles to Mass, a practice that I encourage even if we weren’t having this focus.  The Scriptures are the written Word of God and the Church reminds us that it is a Living Word, meaning that it still teaches us in our current day situation.  The Church over the last 50-75 years has been trying to encourage all of the faithful to make scripture reading part of our everyday practice and incorporate it more into our prayer.  Lectio Divina, a practice that is quite common in monasteries, is becoming quite popular for those outside of the monastery.  There are various versions of lectio.  The one I like to utilize is from the Sulpicians.  In reading a verse or chapter from scripture, you ask yourself three questions, taking time to sit in quiet reflecting on each question for a period of time before moving on to the next.  The three questions are:  1. Jesus before my eyes: What is the teaching found in the passage? 2. Jesus in my heart: what stirs within me when I hear this passage? Is it excitement, enthusiasm or anxiety? Is it speaking to a part of my heart I have been avoiding? 3. Jesus in my hands: what is it from this experience of prayer that I can implement in my life today?
In the beginning of First Timothy, in verses before today’s reading, St. Paul tells Timothy “I repeat the request I made of you when I was on my way to Macedonia, that you stay in Ephesus to instruct certain people not to teach false doctrines  or to concern themselves with myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the plan of God that is to be received by faith.
St. Paul would agree with many critics of religion today.  Often they characterize religion as superstition or the stuff of folklore or myth.  St. Paul is calling on us to avoid a religion of fluff, myth and crazy stories that arise in folklore or “religion without reason”. Christianity isn’t about any of this; it isn’t about magic or narrow thinking or about protecting human traditions. It is about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is about returning to God—living in wholeness, holiness, peace and joy.
Our faith is a response to the One who created the heavens and the earth. Our desire for God spurs on our search for truth, justice, beauty and love. God has placed the desire for Him deep in our hearts. The more we feed our desire to know, the more we discover who we are, what we are about and how this God is active in our world.

If we seek God in the fluff, mythology and legends, we will eventually find ourselves grasping at a notion of God or reject Him outright. In either case, we will be unable to satisfy a hunger that is found within us.
A special request: There is a lot that is happening in our parish and hopefully that will continue and even more will occur.  In many respects we are still adapting to having an office back in the parish and running the office with a largely part-time staff.  There will be some growing pains and we are hoping that we will be able to increase our first collection over time so that we may have more full time staff and be able to have the office open all week long.  Currently, Claudia is in the office on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday mornings.  Please refrain from calling St. Elizabeth Seton Parish on Tuesdays and Thursdays to reach Claudia.  This causes some confusion and disrupts the work going on there.
We have had couple of unexpected expenses arise over the last three months.  Prior to the Bishop’s decision to name a new Pastor for St. John’s, Fr. Arnie had ordered a statue of Our Lady of Fatima.  Our Lady (and her bill) arrived in July.  After spending some time hanging out with us, she has been moved to a temporary location in the Church.  I am hoping to create a more permanent home for her with some votive candles for those seeking her intercession. 

Also, when I arrived, one of the amplifiers in the Organ died.  Originally built with four amplifiers, we are now down to one working unit.  This has a negative effect on the quality of the sound from the instrument and putting such a strain on the remaining amplifier that it is predicted it will also shut down within the year.  The options: by a new organ, replace the amplifiers.  We are replacing the amplifiers.  I have had some organists come to St. John’s and look over the organ and tell me it is an excellent instrument and well built.  The new amplifiers will allow it to be used in a manner it was built for.  

If anyone wishes to help with the financial aspects of these two improvements, either as a gift of a memorial gift, please give me a call in the office or sent me an email.

Fr. David

Monday, September 9, 2013

September 8 2013

Dear Friends,

Well, we are back into the swing of things! This past week our students moved back in at UMass Dartmouth and classes began.  The first week of classes is one of the busiest for us at Campus Ministry and seemed all the more busier bouncing back and forth between the parish and UMD.  Rest assured, this will not be the case for the rest of the semester.  I will be at UMD Sunday and Thursday afternoons and evenings and Monday early evening.  On Wednesdays, I will be at Bristol Community College a few hours midday.  

In the busy-ness of the last couple of weeks, I found a poem that you may have heard before.  It is an important reminder to anyone who describes their life as one that is busy (I received the author’s permission a couple of years ago to share this with anyone I wanted):

I got up early one morning
And rushed right into the day!
I had so much to accomplish
That I didn’t have time to pray.
Problems just tumbled about me,
And heavier came each task.
“Why doesn’t God help me?” I wondered.
He answered, “You didn’t ask!”
I tried to come into God’s presence;
I used all my keys at the lock.
God gently and lovingly chided,
“Why, child, you didn’t knock!”
I wanted to see joy and beauty,
But the day toiled on, gray and bleak.
I wondered why God didn’t show me.
He said, “But you didn’t seek.”
I woke up early this morning,
And paused before entering the day.
I had so much to accomplish
That I had to take time to pray!
—Grace L. Naessens

It may seem strange that it is difficult to find time as a priest to pray! Yet, it is a very real issue.  Also very real is how ineffective a priest is without prayer.  That is also the case with anyone who seeks to live as a child of God.  Any relationship will not be a meaningful relationship or continue to grow and be strong if there isn’t communication and time spent with one another.  That goes for our human relationships, that goes with God. Take some time each day to touch base with him, it will make all the difference!
Each year the Propogation of the Faith asks parishes to conduct a collection to support the Missions.  We are a universal Church and as a family this is one of the ways we care for our brothers and sisters in the poorest sections of the world.  This year, St. John’s has been asked to support the Church In Africa, specifically  in the Diocese of ___________________.  Our collection next week will be to meet that obligation.  If you wish to write a check, make it out to St. John’s and write “Missions” in the Memo.  We will send one check from the parish.
We have had inquiries about the Annual Collection.  We haven’t forgotten it.  It had been our original hope to kick it off the end of August.  However, in the transition and setting up the office, there were some issues that had to be dealt with before we could do so.  The result is that start of the Annual will be the end of September.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September 1, 2013

Dear Friends,

Can you believe that summer is almost over?  Our students in Bourne and in Catholic schools all returned to school this past week, as have many of our college students.  Everyone else begins this week.  It is also a time when parish programs traditionally start up again.  We have had a very busy summer here at St. John’s.  Even for Cape parishes, summer time marks a slowdown.  The staff have been hard at work all summer and I appreciate all they have accomplished .

Certainly the most important thing that we do as a parish family is gather at the altar for the celebration of the Eucharist.  Over the summer months I have met with those involved with all aspects of the celebration of the Mass to discuss ways we can improve our liturgy.  There have been some minor procedural changes that have occurred.  A request that came from each group I met with was some type of formation for those involved in the liturgy.  On Saturday September 28 there will be a day of reflection offered for those who serve the community as lectors, extraordinary ministers of holy communion, ushers or musicians.  It will take place in the Parish Hall from 9AM to 1PM. Lunch will be provided.  There will be information soon on how to register.

I also met with the musicians from the parish.  They have been involved in the music ministry here to over 40 years and I want to publically thank them for their service.  They brought to my attention a number of concerns that we are working on addressing.  There are a couple of things though that I wanted to bring to your attention concerning the music ministry here at St. John’s.  First, we are a pretty diverse parish community.  This is reflected in the “personality” of each of the masses celebrated. One of the greatest challenges in a parish is providing a worthy and reverent celebration that feeds the people of all spiritual preferences.  To better help meet this challenge, the music at the 11AM Mass will be changing.  Brian Sardinha, a young man who lives here in Pocasset and is one of the music ministers at UMass Dartmouth Catholic Campus Ministry will begin playing the 11AM Mass starting September 8.  We are looking for others instrumentalists to join him (as well as singers!).

Second, to help provide the ongoing formation needed to be an effective ministry and to help integrate music into other prayers and services offered in the parish, we are beginning the process of hiring a music director.  There are a number of things that have to be done before we can post the position and it may take a while to get to that point.

I will be sure to keep you in the loop as things continue to develop.

Fr. David