This weekend we celebrate the Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Gospel passage from Mark is the familiar story of Jesus asking his disciples the question: “Who do people say that I am?” They give various answers, and then he asks them: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answers: “You are the Christ!” Peter appears to answer the question correctly, but he really does not have a true understanding of the meaning behind those words. After Peter gives his response, Jesus warns the disciples not to tell anyone. Then he goes on to explain to them what it means to be “the Christ.” He must suffer greatly; he will be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and scribes. He will be killed and rise after three days. What Jesus has to say makes no sense to Peter (and the others gathered) based upon the common notion at the time that the Messiah would be a great king who would overthrow the Romans and restore the powerful Israel of old. Peter rebukes Jesus for telling them something contrary to that understanding. Jesus didn’t ask the disciples the question in order to deepen his own sense of his personal identity. Jesus was very aware of his identity and his mission. He wanted to teach the disciples what it truly meant to be followers and disciples of Christ: Whoever wishes to follow me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. Jesus concludes by telling them: Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it. As we continue to reflect upon this Sunday’s Gospel, let us think about our understanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Do we freely embrace the cross as it comes into our lives? Have we experienced “losing our lives” for Christ and the Gospel, and then realizing that we have gained so much more life?
Congratulations to the Pastoral Council Members who are being commissioned this weekend for the coming year! Thank you, Diana Bismack, Sharon DeLong, Greg Klenk, Rita Kontur, Wes Lamont, Virginia Miklosovic, Ed Popielarz, Angela Roesner, and Cathy Stine, for sharing your gifts with our parish community! The first meeting of the new Pastoral Council will take place on Tuesday, September 22. They will gather together with the Finance Council, the Worship Commission, the Education Commission, representatives of the Implementation team, representatives from Christian Service Commission, youth representatives and the Parish Staff, to take part in an evening of goal setting and strategic planning which will be facilitated by Tom Conklin.
Congratulations to four of our Lay Ministers who will be recommissioned by Bishop Cistone at 2:30 PM Mass at the Cathedral this Sunday afternoon! Tina Cook, Juanita Hadley, Deb and Ed Popielarz, may God continue to bless your ministry among us. We are indeed blessed by your presence!
Liturgy of the Word with Children will begin next Sunday, September 20 at the 9:30 AM Mass. All children between the ages of 4 and 10 are welcome to take part. Children are dismissed after the Opening Prayer and return after the Prayer of the Faithful. Led by a Catechist, they listen to the Gospel (and sometimes another of the readings as well) from the Lectionary for Masses with Children, a translation which is pastorally tailored for their age level. Then, the Catechist “breaks open the word” for them. They pray the Creed and the Intercessions together. Children who are preparing for sacraments are highly encouraged to attend, and children entering the Catechumenate are expected to attend each week.
Next Sunday is Catechetical Sunday. A Blessing and Commissioning of Catechists will take place next weekend. This includes Catechists who teach in the faith formation program and youth ministry, those who lead Sunday Liturgy of the Word with Children, those who participate in RCIA and sacramental preparation.
Please save the date of Tuesday, September 29. That evening, beginning with 6:30 PM Mass at the Saint Matthew Church site, Saint John Paul II Parish will celebrate Father Jim’s 35th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood. (The actual date of his anniversary is September 27, but he will not be present with us that Sunday). I will be giving you more details next weekend.
I wish to extend a special thank you to all who have made a pledge to this year’s Catholic Services Appeal (as pledges continue to come in). You will notice that 307 households have responded, representing approximately 77% of our parish. We have reached the $43,000+ mark (67% of this year’s assessment). Together we can make a difference! Thank you for your generosity. For those who have not yet made a pledge, please prayerfully discern how you are able to help out this year. 100% participation would be a blessing!
Thank you to all who had your photo taken by Lifetouch for our parish Pictorial Directory. And thank you to those who are submitting photographs. In the weeks ahead, pictures will be taken of the various parish groups, activities, and commissions. Thus far, group pictures of the Pastoral and Finance Councils and the Education Commission have been taken. Some have been notified and some have yet to be notified of their picture time. Please watch the bulletin for further details. Just a reminder: we are still waiting for pictures of Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, Marriage that have taken place since we became Saint John Paul II Parish on July 1, 2014. So, please, if you can provide us pictures ASAP, preferably digital copies, and if not, photos, we would greatly appreciate it.
As you know, Pope Francis will soon be vising the United States. He will be visiting Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia. While in Washington, D.C, the Pope will canonize Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan friar. While in Philadelphia, he will be attending the World Synod on the Family. (Some members of our diocese, including Father Jim, will be traveling to Philadelphia for that event). As members of the Church, we welcome the Pope’s presence among us. We pray that, as leader of the Church, he will awaken in our minds and hearts the importance of our faith in today’s society. Check out the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website for further information regarding the Pope’s visit (usccb.org) and look for articles in next week’s bulletin for more details.
Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ