April 21, 2019

Let your hearts be filled with joy!  Some are experiencing sadness because a loved one had died.  Jesus opened the way to eternal life and the hope of seeing them again.  You won’t see them today, but rejoice in hope.  Some are experiencing sadness because of broken relationships between spouses, between parents or among siblings.  Pray and in other times mourn as part of your prayer.  But today, rejoice!  God who has reconciled us to himself in Christ, desires to reconcile you to one another.  Some are sad because they feel stuck.  All things are possible to God who raised Jesus from the dead.  Rejoice in hope.  With the Lord beside you and the Holy Spirit within you, take the first step in a new direction toward the person you want to be.  Jesus has broken the bonds of death.

Many people in our world have chosen a skeptical way of seeing things, which is not all bad.  Some have even fallen prey to materialistic view of the world that rejects our Christian belief in the spiritual soul, in the resurrection of the dead, and in the afterlife.  You probably know one or more such people.  To them I recommend (and you can recommend to them on my behalf) a program on FORMED called Happiness, Episode 4.

During the season of Easter, we have the joy of sharing with our young people who will receive Holy Communion for the first time.  Four neophytes received First Holy Communion at the Easter Vigil.  St. Joseph will have first Holy Communions at the 10:30 Mass next weekend.  St. Julie’s will have first Holy Communions at each of the Masses the following weekend, May 4-5.  St. Peter’s will have first Holy Communions at the 11am Mass on May 19.

Next Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday.  I encourage you to join Divine Mercy devotions at Queen of Peace from 2-4pm.  Participating is the services can grant a plenary indulgence.

Rejoice in the Risen Lord!

Fr. Rob

April 14, 2019

We begin Holy Week with Jesus entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of this weekend’s Mass and the reading of the Passion at the Gospel during Mass.  It is the mystery of our salvation: Jesus redeemed us by his death and opened eternal life to us by his Resurrection and Ascension into heaven.  The liturgies of this most holy time make present to us today the events of our redemption.  I invite you to see the next page for “Encountering the Mysteries of Holy Week.”  The Easter Triduum for our pastoral region will be celebrated at St. Joseph this year as indicated on the liturgical schedule on this page.

The long season of Lent and our Lenten penances draw to a close this week.  Next Sunday, God makes all things new.  I hope that you had a prayerful Lent.  I hope you and your families have a joyful Easter.  The Church is a wise and loving Mother, and with good reason the season of Easter (50 days) is longer than the season of Lent (40 days).

The first Sunday after Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday.  I invite you to join the Divine Mercy services at Queen of Peace at 2pm that afternoon.  I also encourage you to pray the novena of Divine Mercy beginning this week on Good Friday.

In the liturgies of this week, we are invited to share in Jesus’s Passion, death, and Resurrection.  We have been redeemed!

In Christ,

Fr. Rob

April 7, 2019

Saturday’s dance at the Fenmont was a laid-back conclusion to five weeks of lessons.  What will we learn next time?  Salsa?  Waltz?

Today we see Jesus come alongside the woman caught in adultery (except at Mass with the RCIA / scrutiny).  He challenges the crowd – and us – to acknowledge our own shortcomings.  He wants to show the same mercy toward us and strengthen us to “Go, and sin no more.”  As we continue through Lent, look for confession times.  I remind you that we have a Holy hour at St. Julie’s every Tuesday during Lent and the Stations of the Cross on Fridays at St. Julie’s and St. Joseph, on Wednesday at St. Peter’s.

Don’t miss the fish fry at St. Joseph this Friday! (I hope many will stay to pray the Way of the Cross.)

Given the tremendous need to receive again the announcement of the gospel and given the number of priests in our archdiocese, our effectiveness in sharing the gospel depends upon our ability to think of ourselves as part of a pastoral region.  On April 9, all three pastoral councils will meet separately, and then at 8pm have a conjoined meeting chaired by the pastoral region committee.  I hope this is a viable option for each month.  I want to remind you that April is the month to nomination yourself or another member to serve on pastoral council.  I am grateful to those already serving and representing your parish in this way.

As a pastoral region, we have one celebration of the Paschal Triduum.  I remind you that this year’s celebration of the Triduum will be at St. Joseph.  If you want a better appreciation of what the Triduum celebrates, join our youth group tonight at 6pm.

We encounter Christ in this season of repentance and mercy.

In Christ,

Fr. Rob

March 24, 2019

Please pray for our confirmation candidates.  The fire of the burning bush could be considered an image of the Holy Spirit.  Next weekend they will be confirmed by Archbishop Schnurr at the cathedral for our archdiocese!  This weekend they are invited to grow in faith at a one day retreat run by NET Ministries.  The young disciples of NET spend a year of their life sleeping in a different place almost every night in order to speak to high school and junior high students about the treasure they have found in Christ Jesus and the Catholic faith.  Pray for the retreat leaders as well as for our students.  I am thankful to the adults who are providing housing or meals for the NET ministers this year.

The desert is an image of Lent.  This weekend’s readings call attention to water.  Jesus is the source of life-giving water.  The next three weekends we celebrate the scrutinies with the Elect – those who have been in RCIA and will be baptized at the Easter Vigil this year.  This weekend the scrutiny will take place at St. Julie’s during the 9:15am Mass.

The Paschal Triduum services (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil) will take place at St. Joseph this year.  St. Julie and St. Peter will have Masses on Easter Sunday, but the days before Easter are celebrated as one pastoral region taking place only at St. Joseph.  It is the holiest three days of the Christian calendar.  Through the Cross Jesus freed us from sin.  By his Resurrection he taught us to hope for eternal life.  On Holy Thursday he gave us the gifts of the Eucharist and the Priesthood so that he could be with us always.  Please consider praying with our Church these holy days.

Let us persevere with Jesus in the desert.

In Christ,

Fr. Rob

March 17, 2019

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  I want to give a shout out to the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.  Don’t settle for a superficial faith.  We have received a treasure.  St. Patrick endured hardships to share that treasure with the people of Ireland.

By now there have probably been a few days when your Lenten penance was difficult.  That means you are beginning to work your spiritual muscles.

This Friday is the Lenten meal at St. Julie’s and Stations of the Cross led by families in our PREP program.  It is not too late to RSVP; you still have Monday.  On Saturday St. Peter in Chains school will host a spaghetti dinner.  It is a second opportunity to share a meal with other members of our pastoral region.

Tuesday night is a great opportunity to receive grace and forgiveness through the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.  The Light is on for You.  All three parishes will be open for prayer and confession from 7-9pm.  I will begin hearing confessions at St. Julie’s at 6pm.  Confession is an important part of preparing our souls to receive God’s grace at Easter.

Next Sunday the Elect who are preparing for baptism will receive the first scrutiny during the 9:15 Mass at St. Julie Billiart.  Continue to pray for them as they prepare for baptism, confirmation, and Holy Communion.

Does anyone know why they chose March 21 (3/21) for Down Syndrome Awareness Day?  If you know someone with Down Syndrome, you probably recognize it as a lie from the devil when someone says persons with Downs will have a poor quality of life.  On the contrary, they teach us so much about what it means to love.

Let us persevere with Jesus in the desert.

In Christ,

Fr. Rob

March 10, 2019

Lent has come again: another invitation to be transformed in Christ.  It is a time to cut out some of the noise, or comforts, or distractions so as to better hear the still, small voice – the Word that gives life.  To assist you, I recommend participating in the Stations of the Cross and also the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The Stations of the Cross grew out of the practice of pilgrimages to the Holy Land.  The pilgrims would – as best they could discern – walk literally in the footsteps of Jesus.  During the Middle Ages pilgrimages were more dangerous because of Muslim control of the Holy Land and because of malnutrition and disease.  It was also difficult because of economic limitations.  Thus arose the practice of marking “stations” of Jesus journey in shrines or churches in Europe, and not only when visiting the Holy Land.

It can be a powerful and transforming devotion.  We learn compassion by walking alongside Jesus in his passion.  We confront the reality of evil as a possibility of human freedom; Jesus is completely innocent and this is how he was treated.  Yet we are strengthened and we are given hope because Jesus transforms his suffering through love and his apparent defeat into victory by the same love and by his resurrection.  If you are feeling abandoned, or mistreated, or weighted down, walk this road with Jesus.  He will teach you.

Many Saints have written meditations on the Stations, which testifies to the value of this prayer.  The See of Peter has granted indulgences for the devout meditation on the Stations.  It is a way of transformation.  Communal stations are prayed on Wednesday and Friday during Lent (see Lent calendar).  You may make them privately when the church is open – St. Julie’s during the day and St. Peter’s in the evening.

A Lenten calendar on purple paper was included in last week’s bulletin and is available at the entrances of the church for reference during this holy season.

Let us persevere with Jesus in the desert.

In Christ,

Fr. Rob

March 3, 2019

We have now had our second dance lesson (this past Thursday).  It is a workout!  It is also a joy to see.  It seems to me it helps partners to foster respect for each other because it is something that you cannot do without your partner.  Or if you were to dance without your partner it would be altogether different.  To dance well a couple has to be a team.  There will be a dance on Saturday, March 30.

Lent begins this week with Ash Wednesday; see inside for the Mass schedule.  Lent is a time to simplify…and a time to allow ourselves to be transformed.  I was raised to go to confession every year during Lent and during Advent.  All three parishes will be open for confession on Tuesday, March 19.  The penance service for our pastoral region is April 2.  Since many families will be out of town for spring break you may want to look at regular confession times or nearby penance services.

The Sacrament of Confession puts into effect the things that Jesus calls us to in today’s gospel.  We live in a very polarized society right now; it is easy to see problems as the result of those who do not think the way we do.  Yet in our gospel Jesus says, “Remove the wooden beam from your eye first.”  The one person we have the most influence over is ourselves.  Strive for holiness!  In a polarized setting the one who can remove his own beam, then humbly and gently point to the speck in his neighbor’s eye, will be the peacemaker.

During Lent there will be a noon Mass at St. Julie’s on every Friday (not just first Friday).  There will be a holy hour every Tuesday (not just the first and third Tuesday).  However, the Sacrament of Reconciliation might only be available the first and third Tuesday.

What a joy to know, love, and serve the good God.

February 24, 2019

In our Gospel we are reminded that as children of the Most High we are to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful.

Fr. Richmond and I continue visiting with families of St. Peter’s this week and through the month of March.  It is a joy for us.  We look to visit members of other parishes of the region in the fall.

The second grade students of our pastoral region are beginning in earnest their preparation for Holy Communion with Jesus, the lover of our souls.  Next Saturday students from St. Julie’s will have the Jesus day retreat with their parents from 1-4pm.  The following Saturday the students of St. Peter in Chains parish will have the Jesus Day retreat with their parents.  All of the Sacraments are encounters with Jesus.  Part of our preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation is an all-day retreat led by NET ministries.  The NET ministers are young adults who give a year of their life to leading retreats for high school and junior high youth.  They will be with our confirmation candidates on March 24.  I will host the young men at the rectory.  We need volunteers to provide floor space (or bed), a hot shower and two breakfast and two dinners for 2-5 young ladies for two nights March 24 & March 25.    Help these young apostles help our young people prepare for the sacrament.

Pope Francis and bishops from various countries have just concluded their meeting on addressing the sex abuse crisis.  I thank you for your prayers.  I will make a summary and timeline of Church responses available on the parish webpages later this week.  There are many good priests and lay volunteers who are committed to protecting our precious children.

Next Saturday in the evening is St. Peter in Chains school’s Night at the Races at Badin High School.

What a joy to know, love, and serve the good God.

February 17, 2019

On Tuesday I will attend an addiction workshop with several members of our pastoral region’s outreach team. It is difficult to calculate the cost of this epidemic – in missed work, in stolen possessions (often from family members), in the heartache of loved ones who feel helpless. This workshop is a collaboration between Catholic parishes in our archdiocese and Lutheran churches. I am certain that the Church has an important role to play in reducing the incidence of addiction. The Church at its best provides hope and provides community.

Paul’s insistence on the reality of the resurrection of Jesus in our second reading is also a message of hope. If Jesus can conquer death, he can conquer anything! How often do we consider this truth of faith to be more than just words? A man was dead – for three days – and then was not dead. A miracle! And a great cause for hope! It gives a powerful answer to the question: What (if anything) comes after this life? Jesus is risen from the dead! There is life after this life. That is GOOD NEWS.

The pastoral council for St Peter’s will meet on Tuesday this week, and pastoral region committee will meet next week. Also on Tuesday of this week is the Holy Hour for Vocations at St. Julie Billiart. Remember to pray for the bishops gathered in Rome this week, February 21-24, to begin addressing the various sexual scandals in the Church. There is a need for many within the Church to purify our hearts. Please pray with and for those who are working to bring this about.

What a joy to know, love, and serve the good God.

In Christ,

Fr. Rob

February 3, 2019

On Tuesday of this week there will be holy hour with confessions at St. Joseph from 7-8pm.  On Wednesday of this week there will be an evening of praise music, prayer and adoration at St. Peter’s from 6:30-8pm.  Come to either or both.  On Thursday of this week some students from our region will be receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation at Sacred Heart in Fairfield.  I am excited for them as well as for the many students who will be confirmed at the cathedral at the end of March.

It is my hope that we are done with snow storms on the weekends…but one snow day for teachers and students would be delightful.  During February Fr. Richmond and I would like to spend one evening each week to pray and break bread with members of St. Peter’s (another parish in the fall).  See St. Peter’s page for more details.  Also, during February and March are plans for dance lessons at the Fenmont on Thursday nights.  Please register with fees to St. Julie’s before February 8.  I would be saddened if we had to cancel due to little interest.

We can be more loving.  In our second reading we hear St. Paul’s often repeated words: “Love is patient, love is kind…”  Give a careful reading of 1 Corinthians 13 and identify one quality of love that you want to do better for the next week.

On Saturday I leave to spend just a week in Mexico.  It is not nearly long enough to become fluent, but I will make introductions for a future visit.  I do not have many apprehensions because I know that God and his angels will accompany me.  It should be a beautiful opportunity to encounter people from another culture and to greet brothers and sisters in the Lord.

What a joy to know, love, and serve the good God.