Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

     One of the organizations that I have been involved with for about 17 years now is called “The Ezekiel Project”.  It’s an interfaith, interracial congregation-centered community organization that addresses social justice issues and works for systemic change in the Great Lakes Bay Region.  It’s led by a board of clergy and lay representatives from our member congregations.  We are a part of similar organizations all over the country.  It was formed by Bishop Ken Untener and area clergy nearly 30 years ago as a way to respond to racially motivated act of vandalism done to an area church.  The mission of Ezekiel is to empower people through organization, relationship building, skill development, education and a belief in transforming communities through advocacy and activism.  About two years ago, Vicariate 3 Catholic pastors decided to join Ezekiel as a group.  St. John Paul II parish has been a member since then.

I serve on the Executive Board and attend the Religious Leaders meetings as well.  Later this month, the Ezekiel Project will be having their annual Public Meeting where they report on what they have done in the past year and what they are currently working on.  That meeting will be held Thursday, October 24th from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at Christ the Good Shepherd Church (St. Helen Site).  I would like to invite you to attend so you can learn about the work this organization does and see if you would want to join in helping do that work.   Currently, there are five task forces:  Economic Justice, Environmental Justice, Educational Justice, Criminal Justice and Health Justice.   Please save the date and plan to join us.  You’ll be glad you did.

                                                                           Peace,

                                                                              Fr. Ron 

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s gospel reading, we hear the Apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith. Are we yearning for the same within our lives? To increase our faith, we must maintain a daily prayer life. To pray is to focus our heart on God, to have faith in God’s concern for us. Every prayer renews our trust in God, and whenever we turn to God in faith, we are praying. It is no more possible to have faith without prayer than to swim without water.

 

Next weekend during all Masses, we will celebrate the Anointing of the Sick. Thank you for your generous contributions to the Franciscan Missions last weekend.

 

Have a blessed week,

Fr. Matt

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

     We welcome Fr. Gregory Plata, OFM who is making a missionary appeal on behalf of the Franciscan Missions.  There is more information in this bulletin on the work the Franciscan Missionaries are doing around the world.  His appeal is a part of the Mission Co-op program of the Diocese.  We ask your generous support.

     As you can tell, work has begun on installing the handicap ramp in the sanctuary.  This will assist those who find it hard to do steps, but still want to serve the community as Lectors and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.  The project was delayed because the construction company was working on a number of school projects for the summer.  This company was the same one who installed the Baptismal Font.  

     We hope to complete the sanctuary in the near future.  We have some ideas we are working on and we will want to get your feedback and ideas before anything is done.   Please be patient with the process.  We want to make it something you’ll be proud of and find inspirational and that you’ll support financially.

                                                                      Peace,

                                                                         Fr. Ron

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s gospel reading, we hear about the fair and just use of money. Great personal wealth is rarely acquired without some sharp practice, and so Jesus regards money as somehow tainted. The laws and structures of society still seem to cater not so much to the common good but to the benefit of the wealthy and the privileged few. We need to keep in mind the words of Jesus, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the merciful, blessed are those who strive for justice.” This brings true fulfillment and the greatest reward of all, the friendship of God for all eternity.

 

Beginning Sunday afternoon through Wednesday, the priests from our Diocese will gather up north with Bishop Gruss for our biannual assembly. Please keep us in prayer. Because of this there will be no Mass on Tuesday evening here at St. John Paul II or on Wednesday morning at Christ the Good Shepherd.

 

Have a blessed week,

Fr. Matt

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

     This last month has been quite full with different functions and activities.  I love being your pastor. Usually it takes me a few months to feel at home in a parish, but I felt at home right away here.  I’m sure Fr. Matt has similar feelings.  It is a challenge to pastor two parishes, but your patience and kindness have made a difference.   Recently I met with the Parish Pastoral Council and I gave them an assignment to dream about the future of this parish as a way of coming up with a strategic plan.  I asked them to think about where they want the parish to be in five years from now.  I suggested one, that we grow so large we have to add a third mass.  I also would like to see St. John Paul II become a vicariate Youth Ministry Center similar to the way St. Dominic’s has become an area Faith Formation Center for elementary students.  Our parish has some great facilities here that could be used even more.

    I hope you had a great summer.  I wish the students and teachers well as we celebrate Catechetical Sunday this weekend.  We ask God’s blessings upon them and hope they do well in their studies.

                                                                 Peace,

                                                                    Fr. Ron Wagner

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s gospel reading, the crowds are asked if they are committed. The question for all of us is, how committed are we to Jesus Christ? We all know that Christ should be first within our lives. However, is this something that we say only in theory but not in practice? To be a disciple of the Lord means that we walk in his footsteps, follow a different way of life. Is Jesus at that level within our lives?

 

Next weekend (September 14th/15th), there will be a second collection for the Knights of Columbus to purchase an ultrasound machine for the Beacon of Hope Pregnancy Center in Saginaw. All of the Saginaw area parishes are participating in this worthwhile cause and I hope that you consider making a donation as well.

 

Also, next Saturday, September 14th, join our linked parish, Christ the Good Shepherd for their annual Shepherd Fest after their 4:30 PM mass. A fun time is promised for everyone.

 

Have a blessed week,

Fr. Matt

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

     Happy Labor Day Weekend, the unofficial end to summer.  If you are looking for something to do, I would recommend the Mama Ruth Picnic in Ruth, Michigan in the thumb.  It’s an old fashioned parish picnic that they’ve been holding for over 80 years.  They feature an all-you-can-eat chicken dinner, a beer tent, polka music all afternoon, a car show, a craft sale, games and a petting zoo for kids, a cornhole tournament, raffles, blackjack games, and ice cream.  It’s a nice drive in the countryside. It’s about an hour east of Saginaw and then a half hour north.  I usually go on M-81, but you can also take M-46.  About 4,000 people come to Ruth that day.  I was pastor there for six years and I try to attend every year.

    In talking over the upcoming elementary Faith Formation program with Amy Dupuis and the predicted low number of students, I have made the decision for our children to attend the Faith Formation program at St. Dominic Parish at the St. Stephen site.  I think students are more motivated to learn about their faith when there are more of them in the classroom together.  About five parishes currently send their students there, including Christ the Good Shepherd and St. Thomas Aquinas, Holy Family, and St. Mary’s Cathedral.  This is a move that has be talked about for several years.  From my experience, the families have found it a good experience for their children.

     Speaking of Children, I hope the upcoming school year will go well for you.  May God bless your efforts to learn and develop your God-given talents.

                                                                  Peace,

                                                                     Fr. Ron 

       

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend in the Gospel we hear the question about how many will be saved? Jesus does not directly answer the question, and no one can answer that question for us. To live as a true son or daughter of God is within the reach of everyone. This can be difficult since all of us are free human beings capable of true love, capable of receiving God’s love and capable of rejecting God’s love. God is there to help us every step of the way and to see us through, even carry us on his shoulders, if we will just freely choose to let God do it.

 

The official start of school is quickly approaching for our young people. May each of you have a blessed academic year.

 

Have a blessed week,

Fr. Matt

 

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

     I heard everything went well for the Matthew Gembrowski’s Candidacy ceremony and Bishop Gruss’s visit last weekend.  It’s quite an honor for our parish to celebrate.  We ask God to continue to guide Matt as he begins his theology studies at Mundelein Seminary.  May God bring to completion the good work he has begun in him.  Thanks for all who helped with the Mass, especially Fr. Matt and our seminarians and for all who prepared and provided for the reception after. Also thanks to Drew Derosier from making the grounds look so good.  We gave a good first impression to the Bishop.  You all did great.   

     I’m making my re-entry at a steady pace.  I had a wonderful sabbatical at St. Meinrad’s which is the home of a Benedictine Archabbey and a School of Theology.  I went there for college seminary from 1970 to 1974.  The Institute for Priests and Presbyterates is based there and they have a variety of programs for priests throughout the year.  Their Mini-sabbatical program featured different classes on scripture, spirituality, health, the arts and a few day trips.  It also provided plenty of time to rest, read and reflect.  It was a good experience which I believe will bear good fruit.  Thanks for your prayers during my time away and I apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused.  I’m here for the duration now.

                                                                          Peace,

                                                                            Fr. Ron

 

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend in the Gospel we hear about the coming of the Lord. Sometimes I think we tend to forget that the Lord is always with us. He will not just appear one day and gone tomorrow. He is always with us, guiding us along the way.

 

We welcome Bishop Gruss to our Sunday mass as we celebrate the Rite of Candidacy for Matthew Gembrowski. This rite is one of the first public commitments that Matthew will make in his road to the priesthood. Please continue to keep Matthew in your prayers as he begins his studies next week at University of St. Mary of the Lake – Mundelein Seminary just outside of Chicago. Mundelein is one of the largest seminaries in the US (around 200 students) and has students from dioceses all over – from Alaska to New York. I am proud to have called Mundelein home for the six years that I spent there. Blessings upon you Matthew!

 

Recently, it has come to my attention that individuals have been taking it upon themselves in adjusting the thermostat in the Church. The thermostat has been programmed to automatically adjust when mass, the rosary, and other events are occurring in the Church. Please do not touch the thermostat unless Fr. Ron or I instruct you to do so. Thank you.

 

God bless,

Fr. Matt

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend in the Gospel we hear about greed. Greed is prevalent in our culture today but how do we overcome it? Are we like the rich man who stores his bountiful harvest not sharing with others in need? Or do we share our surplus with others or perhaps give a little more than our surplus whether it be time or money? Greed will never cease to exist within our lives but all of us can do our best in trying to eliminate it as much as possible.

 Next Sunday, August 11th, Bishop Gruss will be presiding at the 9:30AM Mass and we will be celebrating Matthew Gembrowski’s (our parish seminarian) Rite of Candidacy. This rite is one of the first public commitments that Matthew will make in his road to the priesthood. During this rite, the Church will recognize Matthew as being worthy of being ordained. Please continue to keep Matthew in prayer as he takes this next step in his journey to the priesthood and as he begins his theology studies at University of St. Mary of the Lake - Mundelein Seminary just outside of Chicago.

 

God bless,

Fr. Matt

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We have a new Bishop! This past Friday, Bishop Robert Gruss was installed as the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Saginaw. This is an exciting time in our Diocese as we gain a new shepherd. Please continue to pray for Bishop Gruss as he gets settled in.

 

This weekend in the Gospel we hear one of the disciples ask Jesus how to pray. Do you ever ask yourself the same question? Our Church tradition has many devotional prayers such as the rosary, Our Father, Hail Mary etc. that many of us are familiar with however prayer can be as simple as having a conversation with God like you would with your best friend. We must always remember that God is always there for us, right beside us.

 

God bless,

Fr. Matt

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This upcoming Friday is a big event in our Diocese – the installation of Bishop Robert Gruss. Although the installation is a ticketed event, the event will be live streamed via the Diocesan website. On Thursday evening at 7 PM, you are welcome to attend Solemn Evening Prayer with Bishop Gruss at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Please continue to keep Bishop Gruss in prayer.

 

As I get acclimated here at St. John Paul II, I just want to thank everyone for the warm welcome. Please bear with me as I learn all of your names!

 

A special thank you to Fr. Bill Taylor and Fr. Steve Gavit who helped with masses this weekend.

 

God bless,

Fr. Matt

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend in the Gospel we hear one of the most important commandments to live by – “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Within our daily lives do we choose to do the same?

 As I get settled in here at St. John Paul II, I wanted to give a brief introduction of myself. I am the son of Larry and Marilyn Federico and have a younger brother, Ryan. I grew up at St. Stephen Parish (which is now St. Dominic’s) and am an alumnus of Nouvel Catholic Central High School. I have an undergraduate degree in accounting from SVSU and worked in the accounting industry for eight years prior to entering the seminary in the fall of 2013. I completed my seminary studies at Mundelein Seminary which is located just outside of Chicago.

 I am looking forward in to getting to know everyone at St. John Paul II and Christ the Good Shepherd. Besides being at both parishes, I will also be the chaplain at Nouvel High School. Please be sure to introduce yourself to me.

 Please keep Fr. Ron in your prayers while he is on sabbatical. Next weekend Fr. Bill Taylor will be celebrating mass with you as I will be at our linked parish, Christ the Good Shepherd.

 

God bless,
Fr. Matt

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

How can I serve you? I hope that will be my first and last question to you as I begin my service here at St. John Paul II Parish.I know you will be asking the same question of me.We are servants and disciples of the Lord and have been given the gifts needed for our parish to thrive and flourish by our loving God. I am grateful to build upon the foundation that so many others have laid before me.In particular, I am grateful for the ministry of Sr. Chris Gretka and Fr. Jim Bessert.I wish them God’s blessings in their new assignments.

      We are privileged to have Fr. Matt Federico as our Parochial Vicar.  He brings a desire to serve and a strong love of God to our parish as well.  He is very gifted and we have a lot to look forward to from his ministry.  We both need your prayers and we both will need your gift of patience as we learn your names and your stories.  Our main goal is to listen, listen and listen.

 

     I entitle my column, “Of Mind and Heart” because I hope to reveal what’s on my mind and in my heart.  I will use it as well to keep you up to date on things and share observations.

 

     This is kind of a different way for me to come into a parish this weekend.  I’m saying “Hello”, then saying, “See you later”.  I begin a “Mini-Sabbatical” on Monday at St. Meinrad Seminary’s Institute for Priests and Presbyterates in southern Indiana.  It’s entitled “Stoking the Fire” to help priests rest, reflect, and reinvigorate their spiritual life, update and expand their theological intellect, and renew their fire for pastoral ministry.  It’s goes from July 8th to August 3rd.   I put in for this Mini-Sabbatical last fall, long before I knew I would become your pastor.  I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.  Meanwhile, the weekend masses will be celebrated by Fr. Matt, Fr. Bill Taylor and Fr. Steve Blaxton.  I’ll see you when I get back. God bless.

 

                                        Peace,

                                           Fr. Ron