July 14, 2019

I have been a priest for nine years, back in Hamilton for three years, yet this is still my first time serving our Lord as a pastor. I thank you for your patience as I learn. I prayer the Lord has been reminding me that pastor means shepherd. A shepherd feeds and protects the flock. It may mean teaching parishioners in the evening. A shepherd guides his flock to green pastures. That means heaven. Of greatest importance is getting closer to Jesus even now. In this life there are dangers to our salvation. God gives grace, help, through the Sacraments, and as a shepherd I have the joy and honor of making these graces present to those who seek Jesus with a sincere heart. Jesus is the head of the body, the Church. Through the Church we are united to Him.

This year I will be making a language immersion in Mexico. Learning more of the culture and language will enable me to better serve many parishioners at St. Julie Billiart. Today’s gospel is poignant in pointing out who our neighbor is. Fr. Mike has encouraged me to grow in my ministry to Latinos and is willing to serve as administrator in my absence to make this growth experience an opportunity for me. I plan to leave the last week of October and return the first week of March. Please be aware that I will be back with you to celebrate several Christmas Masses.

The Vacation Bible School at St. Peter’s that serves our pastoral region begins a week from Monday. Call the parish office for more information or to register.

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

July 7, 2019

Pray for the youth of our pastoral region who leave this Friday to attend the youth conference co-hosted by LifeTeen and Franciscan University.  I have been impressed when I have attended such retreats in the past, and I am excited for our youth who are going.

It is hard to believe that I have been in Hamilton for three years now, and pastor of St. Julie Billiart for two years already.  It is an exciting time for Hamilton.  This area of Ohio is seeing growth and new development.  I guess it is my way of saying, “The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few.”  It is only a kernel in my mind at present, but I begin to ask, “Will authentic spiritual development accompany the economic development?”  As people move in, will we be the Christians inviting them to draw closer to Jesus?  Bless Fr. Richmond; he asks it better: “Will we invite them into friendship with Jesus?”  The kind of friendship that challenges us to be our best self.  I look forward to working alongside you in the years ahead.

In today’s gospel Jesus sends out the seventy-two.  Sharing the Good News that Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins is not only for the priests.  Sharing the Good News that we can become part of God’s family and, with the help of grace, we can live as his sons and daughters is not only for the priests.  The first step is having a group of friends with whom you can talk about your spiritual walk.

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

June 30, 2019

St. Peter’s parish celebrates its patronal feast this weekend!  Saints Peter and Paul are often referred to as the pillars of the Church.  With good reason they are depicted in many Catholic churches.  We need to learn how to ignite the same courage and zeal that strengthened these two martyrs and apostles.  It is because they knew Jesus.  He was not an idea or a story book character.  He was real to them.  May St. Peter’s intercession and patronage support this parish of our pastoral region in the months and years ahead.

Thursday is Independence Day.  Mass will be celebrated at 8:30am at St. Julie’s.  Hamilton’s parade leaves from the fairgrounds at 10am.  Deacon Mike Mignery dreams of twelve “apostles” from each parish to march with the Right to Life group.  Independence Day is more than fireworks (I very much like the fireworks, though.  Be safe).  In shows very powerfully that ideas have consequences.  The idea of God-given rights, the idea of religious freedom, the idea of self-government (republic), took shape.  Such ideas swayed the hearts of the founding fathers to risk life and liberty.  It was the type of resolution shown by Elisha in today’s first reading.  I am thankful they did.  What I fear we have lost sight of today is that people must be able to govern their own passions and their own households before they are able to govern the larger community.  This is the freedom St. Paul speaks of in our second reading.

The examples of Elisha, Saints Peter and Paul, and the founding fathers invite us to ask if we are following Jesus with the same level of resolution.

I am away on vacation until July 11.  There will NOT be holy hour and confessions at St. Joseph on Tuesday, July 2.

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

June 16, 2019

Next week is the Vacation Bible School hosted at St. Joseph parish.  It runs from Monday through Friday from 5-7:30 pm each day.  It is a good opportunity for your kids to meet other kids and enjoy learning stories from the Bible.  Our pastoral region’s VBS at St. Peter’s will be July 15-19 and will take place in the morning.

This weekend is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.  It is a distinctly Christian belief.  While some religious truths can be known through use of reason, the Trinity is known to us only because God chose to reveal it.  God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  It reminds me of a stanza from Robert Frost’s poem, Revelation: “But so with all from babes at play / at hide and seek  to God afar / All who hide to well away / Must speak and tell us where they are.”

Fr. Andy O’Neil with the Missionaries of the Precious Blood will be at the 4pm, 8am, and 10:30am Masses this weekend.  During his homily he will describe the work of his religious community, and a second collection at those Masses will support their ministry.

Fr. Ryan Ruiz will be with us this Thursday to give us a deeper understanding the gift of Holy Communion – St. Peter’s church at 7pm.  You see lay ministers at Mass.  Lay ministers are especially valuable in bringing Holy Communion to nursing homes, to the hospital, and to the homebound.  There is a real need for lay faithful to undertake this corporal work of mercy: visit the sick.

An Ecumenical group of Hamilton Christian communities will hold the Unity Picnic at Booker T. Washington next Saturday from 1-5pm.  The picnic includes lunch.  Entertainment usually includes singing from various church choirs.  If you go, you are sure to meet someone new.

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

June 9, 2019

Congratulations to the ten members of St. Julie Billiart parish who receive the sacrament of Confirmation this weekend!  Confirmation gives strength in the Holy Spirit to bear witness to our faith.

In last Sunday’s gospel Jesus says to his disciples, “Stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”  Then he ascended into heaven.  In today’s feast of Pentecost we celebrate the coming of that power from on high.  The Holy Spirit gives us gifts and charisms.  In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul makes it clear that the gifts and charisms are given for building up the body of Christ.  The Body of Christ, which is the Church, is strongest when each of its members are using the gifts given by the Holy Spirit.

Men of our pastoral region, have you considered attending the men’s conference next Saturday?  It is at St. Maximilian Kolbe church on Hamilton-Mason Road, very near to us.  I do not know if they were intentional in choosing Father’s Day weekend, but likely they were.  Matt Birk, center for the Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl team will be one of the speakers.

Fr. Ryan Ruiz will speak on the Eucharist and the role of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion just before we celebrate the feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus.  All members within the pastoral region are invited to attend.  He will speak at St. Peter’s church at 7pm on Thursday, June 20.

The Mission office of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati arranges for missionaries to visit local parishes each year.  Our three parishes will hear from priests with the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.

Thank you to those who have helped with donations toward the tornado relief either through last week’s second collection or through other organizations.

June 2, 2019

This weekend we commemorate Jesus’s ascension into heaven.  For forty days after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples before they saw him taken up into heaven.  We hear in today’s gospel that “repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”  We are called to be missionary disciples who continue to make Jesus’s name known in our town, in our country.

Next weekend is Pentecost.  We receive power through the Holy Spirit!  The feast reminds me of the Mass of thanksgiving I celebrated in Coldwater the day after my ordination; nine years ago now.  It was the feast of Pentecost.  The fire alarm went off.  Lights flashed – not quite tongues of fire, but red and startling.  No sound of driving wind, but the alarm blared.  It was a beautiful day all the same.  This year’s Pentecost is a momentous day for our pastoral region.  Over a dozen people will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation at the 11:45am Mass.

A beautiful feast shortly after Pentecost is Corpus Christi (The Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus).  Traditionally, it is celebrated on a Thursday, since Jesus instituted the Eucharist on a Thursday.  In the United States, we celebrate this feast on a Sunday.  That Sunday (June 23), we will again have a Eucharistic procession after the 9:15 Mass.  While we do not celebrate Corpus Christi on Thursday at Mass, I have invited Fr. Ryan Ruiz who teaches at our seminary to speak about the Eucharist for members of our pastoral region.  He will be at St. Peter in Chains church on Thursday, June 20 at 7pm.  I am asking all who are trained to serve as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to attend if they are able.  All are encouraged to attend.

May 26, 2019

This weekend our nation observes Memorial Day.  We honor and remember the soldiers who have died in all the wars and conflicts of our young nation’s history.  However, Abraham Lincoln said well of the battlefield at Gettysburg: “But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.”  Please celebrate courage and remember with your family the values our nation has fought to preserve – values that are especially challenged by the circumstances and more than a few misguided ideas of our time.  To the deceased soldiers, you have our gratitude and our prayers.  The columbarium under construction at St. Stephen’s cemetery will feature an altar.  In future years we might celebrate Mass there on Memorial Day.

I also want to take this opportunity to express gratitude to the Knights of Columbus who help with Honor and Remember events in our area throughout the year.  Patriotism is the fourth mark for the Knights of Columbus – after charity, unity, and fraternity.

Wednesday will be the second time our pastoral councils meet conjointly.  We will begin with items that affect the region as a whole.  Afterward the parish pastoral councils will meet individually.  Regional collaboration continues to be a work in progress.  In the long run, I think this model can serve us well.  I meant to receive nominations for pastoral council members in April, but we are still receiving nominations for each of the three parishes.

Friday’s Mass will be at St. Peter in Chains instead of at St. Joseph, as it is the last day of school for the students at St. Peter’s.

Rejoice in the Risen Christ.  He lives!

Fr. Rob

May 19, 2019

Next week all three pastoral councils will meet on Wednesday evening.  The pastoral councils will review the budgets recommended by the finance committee and approved by the pastor.  It is only the second time all three councils will meet on the same night, so I am still seeing what works well and what could be better in this format.

I will meet with the finance committee from St. Julie and from St. Peter at different times on Tuesday of this week.

It is near the end of the school year.  I am certain the teachers and the students are ready for summer to be here.  This is the last week of class at St. Joseph.  Next week is the last week of class for St. Peter’s.  I am sure some students will be attending sports camps.  In addition to sports camps, Badin High School does a great job of organizing service opportunities and mission trips for some of the high school students of our pastoral region.

Randi Hom, our youth minister, will be taking twelve kids to Steubenville’s youth conference in Atlanta in July.  I have been impressed when I had chaperoned such trips in the past.  Each parish has a board with envelopes for those who want to financially support the kids making the trip and to set our regional youth ministry up for success next year.

We strive to grow as disciples.  In today’s gospel Jesus commands us to love one another as he has loved us.  An important part of that is coming to a deeper understanding of how he has loved us.  With that in mind, I congratulate the children and families from St. Peter’s who began receiving Jesus’s love in the Eucharist this weekend.  I also congratulate those who celebrated earlier in this Easter season.

Jesus is risen!  He lives!

In Christ,

Fr. Rob

May 12, 2019

Happy Mothers’ Day!  The venerable Fulton J. Sheen once wrote: “When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”  Thank you, mothers.

On Monday through Wednesday of this week I will be at a conference with three team members – one from each parish – to establish a leadership team.  It is hosted by Amazing Parish, which was founded by a well-established business consultant and leadership coach, Patrick Lencioni.  Archbishop Schnurr and several priests have recommended it as introducing a model to better serve the people of our parishes.  It envisions parishes built around three principles: reliance on prayer and the sacraments, commitment to a healthy organization, and a passion for evangelization and discipleship.  Pray for us.

It is the end of another school year.  Our schools are bustling with preparations for graduation and one last EPIC/PTO get-together.  The year presented challenges, but there is much to be thankful for.  I hope to have a second night of adoration, praise, and worship (the first was Feb. 6) in June to offer thanksgiving to God.

At the end of March, Open to God in Spirit offered a marriage retreat weekend.  Members of our Hispanic community who have made an Encuentro Matrimonial weekend will have a one-day retreat next Sunday.  They give witness that marriage is worth the investment.

Next Saturday, the Butler Philharmonic performs in Middletown.  I will not be singing with them, but you might find me in the crowd (7:30pm, so I have time to get there after the 5:15 Mass).

Rejoice in the Risen Lord!

In Christ,

Fr. Rob

May 5, 2019

Those of you who were at St. Julie’s saw our children receive First Holy Communion this weekend.  What an example to us of dressing for Mass in a way that honors the Lord!  If you were at St. Peter’s or St. Joseph you may have seen an unfamiliar (but friendly) face this weekend.  Fr. Dan Schmitmeyer is the director of vocations for our Archdiocese.  He helps young men discern a call to the priesthood.  He can also help direct young men and women to religious communities to discern God’s call.  I will resume using the archbishop’s prayer for vocations to conclude petitions at Mass.

Each year the priests of the archdiocese are invited to an anniversary dinner.  On Monday night Fr. Timothy Bunch, previous pastor of St. Peter’s, and Fr. Marc Sherlock, who grew up at St. Peter’s will be recognized for 40 years of priestly service.  Our esteemed bishop, Joe Binzer, has been a priest for 25 years.

This Tuesday is the first Tuesday of the month.  St. Joseph church will be open for confessions and Eucharistic exposition from 7-8pm.

On Thursday of this week Pathway to Hope, the crisis pregnancy center here in Hamilton, will have their annual banquet.  I am excited that they have newly renovated space on Front Street to continue the important work they do.  As I think about their mission, I am reminded of the movie Unplanned, which I saw three weeks ago.  I am glad we have a loving, supportive pregnancy center in Hamilton at Pathway to Hope.

In our gospel we hear Peter and John say, “We must obey God rather than men.”  There is a lot of talk about rights today – which is a good thing.  It leads to the question: “Do rights come from the government or do they come from God?”  It is the same dynamic that the apostles faced.

Rejoice in the Risen Lord!

In Christ,

Fr. Rob