Dear Parishioners, +JMJ
First of all I would like to thank all those who made our Christmas season Masses so beautiful: the decorators, the cantors and musicians, the servers, ushers, lectors and all others who served in any way. Of course, the main and most beautiful service is that of our worship in the Mass, which involves all of us. I think the Lord was glorified in that at our parish this Christmas.
I am also grateful for all who organized and participated in the Angel Tree effort to provide Christmas gifts for poor families. I think it is a great outreach to the community, making it clear that Catholics in Paulding County are indeed very concerned for the well-being of the society around us.
Next, I am pleased to announce that we have hired Jessica Schuster as our new teacher for Divine Mercy’s 1st-2nd grade class. Jessica comes to us directly from her completion of a bachelor’s degree at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, a top-notch Catholic university that is very well-known in the United States and beyond. Jessica tripled-majored in Catechetics (where she had a couple pedagogy courses), Theology and Music. She excelled in all of her majors. Our musicians who attended the Adam Bartlett workshop last Spring will remember Jessica’s presence, and her beautiful voice as she cantored for our Mass at the end of the workshop. I know Jessica’s family from my last assignment. I know she brings many gifts, and fine character, to the position. Because Jessica is straight out of college, we are asking Judy Mumma to mentor her, being very present in the classroom for the first few months. I am grateful to Judy for her willingness to help us.
Finally, we had our first pastoral council meeting of the semester. (The meeting in October had to be cancelled.) This meeting included plenty of feedback for me on the various endeavors that we have experienced in the last months: the Jubilee Year of Mercy observation, including the homilies on the divorced-and-remarried, those affected by abortion, and those affected by same-sex attraction; the Marian consecration, using the 33 Days to Morning Glory program; the visit of the national Virgin Mary of Fatima statue; the start of Spanish Masses on Thursday evenings; the Grief Share Program that has been through two sessions at our Antwerp campus. We also discussed the Alpha program again (and it seems we are going to get one up and running on our Antwerp campus). This is a great program for inviting both non-believers and those of other Christian denominations. Couples could even run a small Alpha program out of their homes quite easily. Alpha aims at bringing people to a more vibrant Christian faith, by means of conversations on the very basics of life and Christianity: Who is God?, Who am I?, who is Jesus Christ?, Who is the Holy Spirit?, What is the Church?, etc. We watched a sample video of the Alpha program for youth that we are using as the core content for our junior high youth group meetings each month. Then we looked a bit more at the Amazing Parish program, and explained how this request for our attendance at an Amazing Parish conference in the Spring coincides with the process we have already begun to organize our volunteer life at all the campuses. We also talked about having a one-line reminder in the bulletin to help people remember the parish and the school endowment when they are doing estate planning. This idea came up in our school endowment meeting, and we are considering it at the pastoral council, and we will talk about it at the next finance council meeting. Next, we received an e-mail update from Mari Ivan, head of the volunteer life committee, that “surveys will be prepared for mailing to the heads of the committees after the holidays. The data should be compiled for review by the end of February for presentation to the Council.” These are surveys that will allow us first to diagram all the great volunteer service that is presently happening. Then we will study what is happening and consider how to support that and how better to organize a system of communication that will help support our volunteers and build up a structure that brings in volunteers where we have more need.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,