This weekend we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Easter. It is sometimes called “Good Shepherd” Sunday because in each of the three cycles of the Scripture Readings of the Liturgical Year, the Gospel speaks of the Good Shepherd. In today’s Gospel, taken from John, we hear Jesus say: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” The questions we might ask ourselves this week as we reflect upon the Gospel are: 1) When have we recently heard the voice of Christ Jesus? 2) Through whom have we heard the voice of the Good Shepherd? If we listen closely, we hear the voice of Christ each day. However, sometimes it is difficult to decipher his voice in the midst of the many voices and conflicting messages we receive in our culture and society today (including the media, the internet and modern technology). A good way in which we can discern the Lord’s voice is to ask: is what I am hearing in accord with the Gospels and Gospel living?
Last Friday I received my letter of appointment from Bishop Cistone and I have included it in today’s bulletin. I was very happy to be reassigned to Saint John Paul II Parish. In conversations with the bishop, we did discuss some other possibilities. I told him that I would be willing to do whatever he thought was best. As the bishop shared with me his preference and reasons for having me be reassigned here, he was very pleased that I was willing to do so. I look forward to my ministry as we move into the future together and continue to become a vibrant community of faith in our diocese. I thank all who have been so supportive of me and my ministry. And I am most grateful to all who have prayed for me and continue to pray for me.
Thank you to all who attended the Final Liturgy at Saint John the Baptist Church this past Tuesday and supported us in prayer as we took part in our Departure Ritual. It was a very moving and meaningful Eucharist. Many expressed to me how happy they were to have participated in that liturgy and how much it meant to take time to give thanks to God for all the history, prayer and sacramental experiences that were connected with that church building. At the end of Mass, all present left that sacred space in procession together as a pilgrim church, singing “We are a pilgrim people, we are the Church of God…” Soon, the photos of that Mass that were taken by some of our parishioners will be posted on the church bulletin boards.
The latest update on the sale of Saint John the Baptist Church follows. Last Tuesday Bishop Cistone met with the Presbyteral Council in the final part of the process of the sale of our church building. The Presbyteral Council approved the purchase agreement presented to them by our bishop (which reflected the discussion and recommendation of the Parish Pastoral and Finance Councils). The purchase agreement was made between Newer Dimension Fellowship Ministries, in the name of Bishop Maurice Hopgood and the Diocese of Saginaw, in the name of Bishop Joseph Cistone. The terms of the purchase agreement were: $140,000.00 on a land contract, to be paid over a period of 10 years. Soon we should be receiving a written communication from Bishop Cistone stating the actual date the decree “relegating Saint John the Baptist Church to profane status” would take effect. A survey is being taken to establish a property line between the church and the parish house. When that is completed, the closing on the church will take place and Newer Dimension Fellowship Ministries will take possession of the building. Once we receive the final decree from Bishop Cistone, we may remove all religious items from the church building, many of which we are storing or keeping. I will explain more about those religious items (e.g. altar, ambo, Stations of the Cross, statue of Mary, etc.) in next week’s bulletin. Any former parishioner who would like a hymnal as a remembrance from the church may have one. They will be available at the main church site.
Thanks to all who have made a pledge to CSA thus far. There are extra CSA pledge envelopes in the pews for those who have misplaced their pledge cards or for those who did not receive one in the mail. If you have not yet made a pledge, please prayerfully consider how you are able to support the diocese and the wider church this year, Serving with the heart of Christ.
Just a reminder: the Religious Jubilee Mass, with Bishop Cistone presiding, will take place this Wednesday, April 20, at 5:30 PM at the Cathedral. Seven of us are celebrating jubilees, including Sister Dianne Doughty, OSC and myself, who are celebrating 50 years of Religious Life. I do hope to see some of you there to celebrate with us.
Blessings on your Easter Days!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ