October 1st begins Respect Life month. This year’s theme is: Moved by Mercy. The theme is taken from words of Pope Francis: “We are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown to us.” Each year the diocese celebrates a special Respect Life Mass on the first weekend of October. This Saturday, we welcome Bishop Cistone who will be celebrating the Respect Life Mass at Saint John Paul II Parish. We have the privilege of hosting this Episcopal Liturgy since the Cathedral is in the process of restoration and renovation. Today we also welcome Father Pat O’Connor (from the Office of Liturgy), Lori Becker (Respect Life Coordinator), and all those throughout the diocese who are joining us for this liturgical celebration.
The Respect Life Program is sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It began in 1972 and has been celebrated each October since then. As Catholic Christians, we are people who are pro-life. That means from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death (with all stages in between), we reverence and respect life in all its forms, and we choose life, not death as a solution to what might seem challenging or problematic to us. Throughout the month of October, information regarding some of the ways in which we highlight, support, and spiritually address life issues will be placed in the bulletin.
This weekend we celebrate the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. In today’s Gospel passage, the apostles say to Jesus, “Lord, increase our faith.” Jesus tells them that even if they have faith the size of a mustard seed, they can do great things. A faith-filled person takes what he or she has, little or great, trusts in God, and acts in the manner God invites him or her to do so. It is really Christ who acts through us if we make room for that to happen. He makes whatever faith we have become enough to accomplish his work in this world. If we are in communion with Christ, God works through us, sometimes in wondrous ways. As we reflect upon our own faith this week, let us ask ourselves: how does my trust and reliance upon God make a difference in my faith in God? How does my faith in God make a difference in the way I respond to his Word each day?
The annual Parish Report (2015-2016) was placed in the bulletin on September 18. Hopefully, you had a chance to look it over and to compare it with last year’s report (2014-2015) which was also included for the sake of comparison. I would like to call to your attention to the stewardship report: the collection has been extremely low the past few weeks and, because of that, it has been difficult to keep up with our bills. I asked Natalie to include some of our expenses for the past month in the bulletin along with the total Sunday collection for that month so you can see the difference between our income and our expenses. (Hopefully that will be in next week’s bulletin). As I mentioned before, we lowered our anticipated budgeted Sunday income from $7,300.00 (last year) to $6,700.00 (this year), not because that is all we need, but, based upon last year, it may be all that we may receive. I remind you again that in order to pay our Catholic Schools’ Assessment, we need to send a check of $7300.00 each month to SACS to keep up with the payment. When we don’t even get that on a weekly basis, it is tough to make payments along with all the rest of our bills. I ask those of you who are behind in your envelopes because of being away this summer to please catch up. I ask those of you who are not doing your fair share, to please pitch in because the parish is suffering as a result. There is much that needs to be done just on the main site of the parish: parking lots, church interior, the parish kitchen, to name a few things. If the money is not there and we have to rely upon fundraising for operating income, we will not be able to meet any of the requests for much needed improvements. All of us need to reassess our understanding of stewardship of time, talent, and treasure – especially treasure. If we are grateful to God for all that he has given us, in return we will give something back to God each week, each day, for that matter. God does not withhold his gifts from us; likewise, we should not withhold our gifts from God and the Church. I know that we can do much better than we are doing in terms of our stewardship of treasure. Please be generous as God has been generous to you!
Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ