Today we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday. In the Gospel passage from John, we hear one of the many “I am” statements of Jesus: I am the Good Shepherd. We pause and reflect upon the One who lays down his life for his sheep in contrast with the hired hand whose sheep are not his own and who runs away when his sheep are in danger. What struck me about today’s Gospel is that Jesus refers to the “other sheep that do not belong” to the fold. And he goes on to say that he must lead them and that they will hear his voice, “and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” Jesus is speaking about unity. As we reflect upon his last statement in today’s Gospel, let us ask ourselves: What are we doing to promote unity within the Church and within the parish? How do our words, actions, commitment to stewardship, and willingness to do our part contribute to unity within our parish community, our neighborhoods, and our world? We need to follow the example of the Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for his sheep. We, his sheep, his disciples, are called to live lives devoted to unity and the spiritual well being of all.
This weekend, we congratulate Hailey Behe and her family (Greg, Vicki, and sister, Hannah)! Hailey is celebrating First Eucharist at the 4:00 PM Mass Saturday. Hailey, we pray that Jesus will always have a special place in your heart and your home.
Next Sunday, May 3, we begin our annual Catholic Services Appeal at Saint John Paul II Parish. Parishes throughout the diocese are given several options of weekends (that best suit their schedule) on which to initiate the appeal. The theme of CSA this year is: Making a Difference – Together. Some of you may have already received a mailing from the diocese these past couple of days, including a letter from me, a letter from Bishop Cistone, and a pledge envelope. If you have not yet received it, please watch for it in the mail this coming week. Our assessment this year is: $64,659.00. I know that together we can meet this goal. I ask you to prayerfully consider what you are able to donate to CSA this year. I thank you in advance for your prayerful discernment and generosity. [If you already received a pledge card as a member of a different parish, before registering here, simply turn in your envelope to us, and make any checks payable to Saint John Paul II Parish. Natalie will make sure your pledge gets credited to our parish]. I will write a bit more about CSA in next week’s bulletin as we officially begin our appeal.
Please notice a new insert that will appear periodically in our bulletin entitled “Good News to Share.” It is the result of some conversations that have been taking place at Commission levels concerning various ways we can come to know and appreciate one another more, foster a sense of community, and become aware of various activities going on at all age levels within the parish. If you (or another parish member) have a special birthday, an anniversary, an expression of thanks, or a noteworthy experience you would like to share with the community, please let us know at the parish office, so that we may share your joy with the parish community. If you have a picture, we may at times be able to incorporate it as well.
I am most pleased to announce to you on this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Matthew Gembrowski has been accepted into the seminary. He will officially be a seminarian for the Diocese of Saginaw this Fall. This is such a blessing for Matthew and his family as well as for our parish community. I asked Matthew to share a short testimonial with all of us this weekend. So, please be sure to read it.
Blessings on your Easter Days!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ
My name is Matthew Gembrowski and I am a senior at Nouvel Catholic Central. You may see me at 9:30 Mass on Sundays; my family has been part of the parish community for about 8 years. Next year I will be entering the St. John Vianney minor seminary as a first year seminarian for our diocese. The seminary is located in St. Paul MN, and is on the campus of the University of St. Thomas. Over the four years I plan to spend there, I will earn a bachelor's degree in philosophy. Should I move on in my studies for the diocese, I will then attend Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and earn a Master's degree in theology.
While I have felt for a long time that God has been calling me to the seminary, there has never been a specific moment or event that has caused me to completely devote myself to this vocation. Rather, over time I have become increasingly attracted to the priesthood. I cannot recall when the idea of priesthood first entered my mind, but I believe I was in the 8th grade when I first gave it serious consideration. As the years have gone on, and as my faith has grown deeper, my love for Christ and intense desire to serve Him have steadily increased.
I sincerely love my God, and I wish to spend my life serving Him and others. I am aware that I could do this in any vocation or occupation, but the priesthood stands out as particularly attractive. To truly be able to give all of oneself for the Church is not only a path of service, but the most fulfilling way of life I can imagine.
In reality, I am not sure if the Lord is calling me to be a priest. The seminary is a time of discernment. While there I plan to grow in a deeper relationship with Christ and further discern what path He has prepared for me. Christ tells us that the one who wishes to save his life will lose it, and the one who loses his life will save it. Instead of worrying whether I will choose the right vocation or not, I feel I am called to simply trust in God and give Him my best in every circumstance.
Please pray for me as I begin this journey through the seminary.