May 21, 2017
“With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it…” (Acts 8:5-6) There is an exercise that I offer to engaged couples and, of course, married couples are certainly encouraged to try this as well! The exercise is about active listening, and I explain to couples that the rules are simple: Repeat what your intended spouse said. Sounds easy – right?
I will tell you it is, or maybe that it “should be”. Of course this is when one is sitting quietly and the inevitable distractions like your cell phone, computer, or TV are not on. Yet, when someone is trying to talk and the “game” is on, or the oven is on the fritz, or the children are screaming, or “I know there is ‘something’ I was supposed to do, now what was it again?” keeps rattling around in your head —paying attention can be quite difficult.
So, what is the point of this? Following Christ is very similar to having numerous distractions in our lives. If I am following Christ I may have other things occupying my mind; yet, as we listen to the Lord we are reminded that we must entrust ourselves to the Lord and, through entrusting ourselves to God we become united fully with Him. My brothers and sisters this week I invite us all to take time and simply listen to the Lord speaking to us. (And ask for His help to remove the ever-present distractions so you can listen!) May the Voice of Christ instruct us fully and may His presence unite us more fully with the mission that has been entrusted to us all: Go forth and proclaim the Gospel to all people!
On Friday, May 19, Bishop Thomas ordained eight of our brothers as priests. Please pray for these newly ordained priests and, as they begin their new assignments on June 6, may they continue to “heed” the voice of Christ.
Speaking of “listening” to Christ. I will be on retreat beginning Monday, May 22 until Friday, May 26. I will be praying for you all and simply ask that you keep me in your prayers as I ask the Lord to inspire within me a heart that is conformed to Jesus’s Sacred Heart.
May the Lord Bless You and Keep You,
It that time again to sign up for OKTOBERFEST!!!
Use the link below to sign up for your shifts!!
Join us this year for vacation Bible School June 12th thru June 16, 2017
Registration and Medical Release forms are listed below.
Palm Sunday 2017
Father Kalista travels to Washington D.C. with parishioners to participate in the March For Life. Father concelebrated Mass this morning at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception with Cardinal Gregory Aymond. In the afternoon they joined with many on the mall and marched to Capital Hill in support of the unborn.
Parish Town Hall Meeting
January 25, 2017
Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul
Opening Prayer Let us Pray:
Glorious Saint Paul,
Most zealous apostle,
Martyr for the love of Christ,
Give us a deep faith,
A steadfast hope,
A burning love for our Lord,
So that we can proclaim with you,
“It is no longer I who live,
But Christ who lives in me.”
Help us to become apostles,
Serving the Church with a pure heart,
Witnesses to her truth and beauty
Amidst the darkness of our days.
With you we praise God our Father:
“To him be the glory, in the Church
And in Christ,
Now and forever.”
I want to welcome all of you, and in particular, I want to thank you all for coming to our second parish town hall meeting. I also want to thank you for the continued prayers, support, and encouragement you have given to me since coming to the parish as pastor. It is hard for me to believe that on July 15, 2015 I was named your pastor and, since coming here I have felt your prayers, your support, and of course your encouragement. I realize that being new, relatively young, and only ordained for 13 years, that my experience as pastor is limited; however, one thing that is not limited is my passion and desire to bring Christ to the whole parish and beyond. Today, the Church celebrates the Conversion of the Apostle St. Paul. If I may expound on this Feast day for a brief moment: Saul’s conversion actually encompassed three aspects:
The first was that Saul heard a voice. Obviously, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, the voice was the Lord Jesus Christ who called out to Saul and said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Yet, before that voice spoke to the apostle, there was another voice that Saul had heard: The voice of St. Stephen: “Father, forgive them for this sin…”(Cf. Acts 7:60) I believe that the voice of St. Stephen was resonating throughout the mind of Saul. Maybe Saul thought: “How could one so young be so mature in his faith as to ask for God’s mercy for the people who were stoning him? Perhaps if God was showing mercy to Stephen and to us, his accusers, could that mean that I, the righteous one am wrong?” In desperation Saul desired to escape the voice of his mind and thus he entered more deeply into his murderous quest—“Now Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.” (Acts 9:1-2)
This would help Saul on his second part of his conversion; namely, the journey! The journey that Saul made would take him about a week – one week, and due to the fact that he was a Pharisee he would make this journey on his own. Saul would then have to confront the voice as he neared his destination desiring to eliminate the men and women who belonged to the “Way.” The journey for Saul is one that would be transforming for him since he would, in fact, be continuing this journey throughout his life as he traveled the whole world proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ. Finally, Saul would have to endure suffering, suffering because he would bear the name of Jesus Christ and, throughout his life would also bear the “marks of Christ on his body.” (Cf. Galatians 6:17)
Now, what does this have to do with us today? I believe that each and every one of us has heard the voice of the Lord. Why else would we be here today? I am asking that as we begin this discussion of our parish and what we would like to do in the future, that you realize that being present is heeding the voice of God. Please make sure that each and every one of you understands that sitting here today is the first response to following the commands of the Lord – just like St. Paul.
The journey you have made to be here today is also worth noting. All of you have come here with different experiences of Church. Yet, you are here, and how grateful I am to have you with us as we discuss the exciting changes that our parish is experiencing.
Your suffering is that we all have to change in order to make this transformation and growth possible. So, as we come here today please know that as I make changes or add things, it is not to make one’s life a misery, but really to enhance the life and the growth of the parish.
Now, as we have listened to the introduction what will this meeting cover? My intention today is to focus on three key areas that I believe we need to be aware of in our parish; they are: Where we were? In this section I am going to briefly expound for you what our parish looked like 25 years ago. In this section it is not my intention to speak about the “good old days” rather, in this section it is my intention to point out the good news that, despite changes that have been happening – our parish is still vibrant today.
This of course will lead us to where we are today—in this section I am going to invite you, the parishioners to ask any question you want of what you have seen, heard, or would like to expound on of concern for me. Due to the length of time I may limit my response in order to ensure that everyone can have a chance to ask or share, but be assured that it is not my intention to ignore a comment or concern. The purpose of this section is simply to hear what you have been hearing or thinking. I would ask that, if you have a comment, concern, or question and are not able to ask me please fill out a slip of paper and leave it in the basket.
Finally, where we hope to be! In this final section of the meeting it is my purpose to review with you all the new activities that have been happening in the parish and the ways that you can get involved in the life of the parish.
WHERE WE WERE TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO
In actuality I can answer that question with insight since I was quite involved in this parish because of my friendship with one of the sons of the parish: Fr. Michael Gurnick. Meeting the seminarian. Mike Gurnick, he introduced me to the parish and, through his introduction invited me to get more involved. And, what I remember 25 years ago were the following:
1) A full school, and as far as I can remember, each class had a full-time teacher.
2) Two full-time parochial vicars and a pastor.
3) Three weekday masses M-F and five weekend masses—one Saturday Vigil and four Sunday Masses.
4) Church attendance was quite high, at least from what I can remember when I used to distribute Holy Communion.
5) Youth Group was vibrant and we had many students from Jr. High—through High School who would attend retreats and FOP’s on Sundays.
Obviously there are probably many more things that the parish had that I did not mention, but for now I believe that this is sufficient to re-cap where we were twenty-five years ago. Now, let’s view some things that have changed:
1) Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Immaculate Conception have a merged school.
2) I am the only priest in residence in the parish, with, thanks be to God, a weekend priest.
3) Weekday masses are now M-Th and a monthly First Friday Mass and, beginning on January 1, 2017 we now have 3 masses on the weekend.
4) Church attendance has been under 1,000 people per all weekend masses.
5) Youth group has been under reconstruction since 2009 with the decision to forgo the partnership with Lake Life Teen.
Now, some may feel that the picture looks gloomy; however, there is much excitement that I can report to you all of where we are today:
WHERE WE ARE TODAY
1) January, 2016 parish holds first ever Town Hall Meeting. The desire of the meeting is to share demographics of the parish, as well as, generate new ideas for the parish community.
2) September, 2016 parish introduces Parish Pastoral Plan—where the parish highlighted four areas to help grown the involvement of all parishioners; they were: Teaching, Worship, Hospitality, and Social Justice.
3) Following the Pastoral Plan the parish has introduced new opportunities for parishioners to grow in their faith and to learn their faith, such as: retreats, forty hours, guest speakers, collections for the McKinley Center, and of course, more opportunities for the celebration of confession.
This year, due to the change in the Mass schedule, our Parish Pastoral Planning Team has been working on a new program entitled “In Between the Pews”. In this program we are inviting all parishioners to come to St. Joseph Hall following the Sunday Masses in Lent to gather for fellowship and some good old fashioned faith sharing. The purpose is to give parishioners an opportunity to learn, grow, and re-discover the beauty of our Catholic faith. A time frame and schedule is still being worked on, but one thing that I am asking you all to do is: to come.
Your presence is most important as we continue with these new ideas; your presence is valued because it helps us to know that people are desiring and wanting to grow in their faith; your presence is appreciated because you are letting us know that what we are doing makes a difference in the life of the parish. My friends I need you to help make “Between the Pews” a reality and a resounding success, and for that to happen – we need you to come. Those of you who may say, “But I have ‘no’ time” need to realize that time is just an illusion. Time is what we make of it and how we choose to use it. We are not its servant, it is ours. We need to take advantage of some of the great opportunities that we are trying in order to help our parish to grow and advance. Please make this program a success by attending and sharing yourself with others.
Now, without going on another tangent, I am desiring to hear from all of you. So, let me ask you: What are some of the questions, comments, or things you have been thinking, or hearing, or would like to let me know about? Remember that if you have a comment that you would like to make and cannot ask me due to limited time, please use the paper at the tables and we will answer them as we are able with the assistance of Parish Council.
WHERE WE HOPE TO BE
I do not want us to leave this meeting and wonder—well those are all nice comments, but what are we going with all of this? The answer to that question lies with each one of you. You, my brothers and sisters, are the ones who need to answer that question and through answering that question you need to let me know what you are willing to do. I need your help, as I have said before, but more than that I need your assistance to help me to foster the activities that our parish is striving to do this upcoming year. So, what I would like to do now is to review with you all of the ministries that we currently have in the parish. I am asking, unless you already belong to one of these ministries, that you would consider signing up for one of the ministries that we are reviewing. Please understand that signing up for a ministry:
1) Does not mean you are committed for life—and your only “release” is death.
2) Does not mean you are automatically going to be the chairperson and you will have to attend numerous meetings.
3) Does not mean you are expected to leave family, loved ones, and life as you know it, to spend all your time committed to this ministry.
Rather, we are asking you to get involved in the life of the Church. This, my brothers and sisters, is where we hope to be in the future. Getting parishioners of all ages to get re-involved, to re-engage in the life of the parish. My brothers and sisters, this is the only way that we can continue to keep our parish vibrant and moving forward into the future. With that being said let me share with you the opportunities that you have as we enter this next section.
This parish town hall meeting would not have been possible if it were not for the help of many people, all of whom I am deeply indebted to.
The first is the pastoral staff. Each and every one of these men and women aid and help me in my role as pastor and how incredibly grateful I am for their guidance, support, and assistance.
The second is the pastoral planning team. These men and women took up my invitation after their terms on parish council were concluded. They have been working with me as I have been working to implement the parish pastoral plan since we introduced it to the parish in September last year.
The third is the parish pastoral council and the finance council, all of whom I cannot thank enough for the guidance and support that is so often provided on a timely basis.
Finally, I want to thank you all for your support. As I have shared with you before I cannot even comprehend this job without the regular guidance and assistance of so many people. For all of you I say thank you and be assured of my prayers for all you have and continue to do for me.
As we conclude let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to intercede for us as we pray, Hail Mary…
May the Lord Bless You and Keep You,
SEE THE PASTORAL PLAN 2016 IN PARISH DOCUMENTS OR CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW
Parish Council Meeting Notes will be provided to the Parish.
Please click on the Date of the meeting below for Meeting Notes
The Thomas Merton Prayer
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Are you struggling to pay your bills and need some things taken care of around your house?
Are you having a hard time getting things done around your house, maybe do to older age, injury or illness?
If so your local Immaculate Conception Church Knights of Columbus are willing to help you with odd jobs around your house.
Jobs consisting of; yard cleanup, small repairs, moving things etc.
Please contact Daryl Blatnick at 440-220-2213.
Yard clean up for a parishioner/veteran on April 22, 2017