Third Sunday of Easter

Today we celebrate the Third Sunday of Easter.  Throughout the Easter Season we have the opportunity to contemplate the Paschal Mystery, particularly in the person of the Risen Christ.  The first few Sundays of Easter, the Gospels relate stories of the Resurrection appearances of Jesus.   Today’s Gospel is one of my favorites.  I chose it for my final vow Mass in 1978.  The disciples are fishing all night and catch nothing.  At dawn, Jesus calls to them from shore, but they do not know that it is Jesus.  He asks if they have caught anything, and then he directs them to cast their nets over the right side of the boat.  They catch an abundance of fish and the net begins to give way.  Soon, the disciple whom Jesus loved recognizes the Lord.  As the disciples haul in a great amount of fish, Jesus has a charcoal fire going and cooks breakfast for them.  Then he takes Peter aside and three times asks him the question, “Do you love me?”  You know the familiar story.  Not only does this Gospel demonstrate that in our every-day lives, God’s grace abounds, but that when we listen to the words of Christ and follow his direction, our ministry and lives are enriched beyond what we might imagine.  This Gospel also reveals to us the compassionate heart of Christ as he gives Peter (who denied him) a second chance to profess his commitment to Christ.  Jesus ends by saying, “Follow me.”  Finally, this Gospel reveals to us that an intimate relationship with Christ is possible.  As we further reflect upon this week’s Gospel, let us remember the times when Christ has been the source of “great abundance” in our lives, when God has blessed us with overflowing grace, and when God has given us a “second chance.”   Let us also try to be very conscious of the presence of Christ in our midst each day.  Sometimes, like the disciples, we don’t recognize him or his voice.  It may take another person, like the disciple whom Jesus loved, to point it out to us: “It is the Lord!”  Alleluia!  Christ is Risen indeed!   

This is a joyful weekend for Saint John Paul II Parish.  We are celebrating the sacrament of Baptism at both the 4:00 PM and the 9:30 AM Masses.  This weekend we welcome the newest members of the Faith and the Church: Alexander James Haley (son of Patrick and Jenifer Haley, and grandson of Sue and Jim Haley), and Taylor Ann Felmlee (daughter of Nicholas and Ashley Felmlee).  We congratulate their parents, grandparents, and Godparents, and pledge our support and prayers as they raise Alexander and Taylor in the Catholic faith.

Last week I shared with you that Saint John Paul II Parish was involved in negotiations for the sale of Saint John the Baptist Church.  Bishop Maurice Hopgood of Newer Dimension Fellowship Ministries, presently located on Mapleridge Street, directly across the street from Saint John the Baptist Parish house, has agreed to the latest terms of the purchase contract presented to them by the diocese following the special meeting of Saint John Paul II Parish Pastoral and Finance Councils.  The next step in the process will take place this Tuesday when the Bishop meets with the Presbyteral Council and presents the signed purchase agreement to them.  Once they give their approval, another “decree” is issued stating the definitive date of the church’s change in status.  A final Mass is then celebrated at Saint John the Baptist Church.  All religious items (statues, altar, ambo, candles, tabernacle, etc.) are removed and the church may no longer be used for Catholic liturgy.  Once we depart the Church, no one other than the Pastoral Administrator will have access to the Church between the removal of Religious items and the “Closing” of the sale of the Church.  The final Mass will take place this Tuesday, April 12, at 6:30 PM.  You are most welcome to attend.   [Next week, I will give you some more specific details regarding the purchase agreement]. 

On Wednesday, April 20, Bishop Cistone will celebrate the Religious Jubilee Mass at 5:30 PM at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption.  Seven Religious who are celebrating 50th, 60th, and 70th year Anniversaries will be present at the Mass.  This year I am one of the Golden Jubilarians along with Sister Dianne Doughty, OSC (whom many of you know).  I would like to extend an invitation to all to attend the Mass on April 20 and celebrate with all of us.   It would be very special and meaningful to me to have some of Saint John Paul II parishioners present for the liturgy.  I have spent nearly 27 years of my ministry as a religious in the Diocese of Saginaw.  I have celebrated my 25th, 40th and now my 50th Anniversary with the diocese. 

Hopefully, those of you who wished to buy or sell Big Raffle tickets received them.  This is the last week (including next Sunday) to purchase or sell them.  All tickets need to be turned into the Parish Office on Monday, April 18.  Please refer to the article in today’s bulletin regarding the cost of tickets and the prizes.  Remember, 50% of the sale of tickets is returned to the parish.

A special thank you to all who have been so conscientious about returning your CSA pledge this year.  Thank you for your generosity.  I know that many are still discerning a contribution to the Catholic Services Appeal this Year.  As we continue to celebrate this Jubilee Year of Mercy, let us remember the CSA theme: Serving with the Heart of Christ.  How much are we willing to support the Works of Mercy we put into practice as a diocesan church? 

Blessings on your Easter Days!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ