Dear Parishioners, +JMJ
First of all, thank you so much for your prayers for the kickoff night and first couple weeks of our new high school YDisciple program. Five groups of young men and women met at various homes for the first couple of weeks. Initial feedback from both group leaders and high school students was very, very positive. I personally take this as a favor from the Blessed Virgin Mary, fulfilling a promise I felt She made to me. At our Antwerp campus, no women’s group met. But we do have a couple of leaders ready to go, should we encounter the need to start up a high school women’s group at the Antwerp campus. We will see how the year progresses. Please continue to keep our high school ministry efforts in prayer.
The junior high youth group is starting up as well. Contact Mari Ivan for complete details on what is planned for the year. Since my arrival at the parish I have gotten great feedback on the junior high group, and that is my experience from stepping in a couple of their meetings. Please also remember the junior high youth efforts in prayer!
Now that we have blessed the rosaries to pray for our students preparing for confirmation, please consider using one of the rosaries from the rosary stand at the entrance of our churches whenever you are there before Mass, or if you come in for a holy hour on your own at some point. Our confirmandi Will be taking a big step in the spring. We want to prepare this transition for them by coating it with our prayers. Please remember to return the rosaries to their racks after you use them each time.
Our parish RCIA program started this past week. RCIA stands for “Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults”. RCIA is the normal process by which an adult joins the church. Theresa Conley, our CRE, runs the program. (I will give a couple of talks throughout the year.) We are always collecting names of people we hear are interested in perhaps joining the church, and then automatically we send letters out to families we know who have non-Catholic members. Please keep the RCIA program in your prayers, asking that the Lord truly speak to each member of the program.
Also, there is a follow-up to the RCIA program, which is called mystagogia. The word “mystagogia” means something pretty close to “leading people into the mystery”, i.e., explaining the mysteries of the Faith. The sacraments themselves used to be referred to as “mysteries” in the early Church, since there is always “something revealed” and “something hidden” in a sacrament. So you can understand why “mystagogia” would be much teaching especially about the very sacraments the newly initiated members had received. In the beginning centuries of the Church, for instance, candidates for entry into the Church would not have actually experienced the Mass ahead of time, or really had it explained to them, until after they were initiated through Baptism. After experiencing the Sacraments of Initiation, the newly initiated members of the Church would experience a whole course which would explain to them what it is they had experienced. The mystagogia course is a great follow-up to the first year of RCIA, because even though in our modern times members can experience the Mass before actually getting baptized, there is still so much to learn about the Faith that simply could not be crammed into the short nine-month preparation most people experience before coming into the Church. John Collart runs that program.
We are a little closer to selling our pipe organ from the Antwerp location. I talked with a pastor from Indiana a couple weeks ago, and he said he would be “putting a check into the mail”. As of the writing of this letter, however, there has been no move made to remove the organ, and we have received no check. I hope this will happen soon. Then we can add more seating up in the loft, especially for holiday occasions, when we really feel the need.
This next weekend I will be out of town. It is the weekend that the Pope is coming to Philadelphia, and we originally had planned a parish pilgrimage to see the Pope in Philadelphia; but not enough people signed up to make the trip viable. Months ago, we arranged a mission priest to come in and speak about Cross Catholic Outreach, since I was to be in Philadelphia. Fr. Collins of Cross Catholic will still be coming. Cross Catholic is a charity I very much trust, especially because I worked with one of its founders – Jim Cavnar – during my years immediately following college. If you look up the homepage of Cross Catholic Outreach, you will see the many projects in which they are involved, helping people in Third World countries. Perhaps the Lord is calling you to support them? Since we had the mission priest scheduled, I decided it would be best for me to take some days of rest away from town.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,