This weekend we celebrate the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Gospel passage today contains some very strong words from Jesus. He is asked: Will only a few people be saved? He begins his response by saying: Strive to enter through the narrow gate. Then he tells us that some will not be strong enough to enter, and that there will be some whom he does not even recognize. He will tell them to depart from him. The Gospel passage ends with the words: For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last. There is much contained in this Scripture Reading that can lead us into deep reflection and soul searching. A few questions we might ask ourselves are: Does our prayer and the spiritual practices of our faith lead us into a deeper relationship with Christ? Do they cause us to become more and more Christ-like? Will the Lord Jesus be inclined to recognize us, or will he say I do not know where you are from? Do others recognize Christ in our words and in our actions? What must we let go of in order to enter through the narrow gate? Do we count ourselves among the last or do we always have to be the first no matter what it takes? How is it that the last are the first in the eyes of Christ? What do we have to change in ourselves to be judged the first by Christ?
I have good news to share. This past Tuesday, August 16, “Closing” took place on the former Saint John the Baptist Church. The church has been officially sold to Newer Dimensions Fellowship Ministries whose pastor is Bishop Maurice Hopgood. As many of you may know, the church building has undergone considerable renovation this past Spring by that Church to make it ready for their services and ministries. They have been worshipping in the building since May and, at that time, Saint John Paul II Parish ceased paying any utilities or service contracts connected with that building; the utilities were all placed in the name of Newer Dimension Faith Ministries. With the official Closing, a formal purchase agreement, prepared by the diocesan attorney, was signed and Saint John Paul II Parish received a check for $5,000.00. As of September 1, our parish will be receiving monthly payments of $1500.00 for the next ten years (unless the church is paid off sooner). The Parish Finance Council has recommended and designated that the $5000.00 upon Closing, along with the monthly income generated from the sale of the church building, be used to pay down our past two years’ deficit in our assessment for Saginaw Area Catholic Schools. When you receive the annual financial report, you will notice that our SACS deficit over the past two years (2014/2015 and 2015/2016) amounts to $126,440.00. I will explain in more detail next week how assessments were determined and the reason our deficit is such a large amount.
I have one more item of good news. Saint Christopher Parish in Caro has been looking for a tabernacle for their parish church (Sacred Heart Church). Father Pat O’Connor, from the Office of Liturgy, referred them to our parish after he looked at three of the four extra tabernacles we have and are not presently being used. His suggestion was that, considering the architecture and other appointments in the Caro parish, the tabernacle that was originally in Saint John the Baptist Parish Chapel might serve them best. Pictures were prepared and sent to them. A week ago they saw the actual tabernacle, really liked it, and decided they would like to have it placed in their worship space. The diocese delivered it to them. Soon we should be receiving a check for $2,000.00 for the tabernacle. At its next meeting, Finance Council will offer some suggestions as to how we might use that money for the parish. There are a couple of other negotiations in the works. When they are worked out, I will share them with you. They have to do with land and rental of space in our buildings.
Please remember that our missionary appeal takes place next weekend. Sister Marge Eilerman will be speaking at both Masses. Please come prepared for the special collection that will be taken up for the missions her community serves.
I enjoyed a week of vacation, 3 days with my mom and family and 4 days at Nazareth. I shared pictures of my jubilee celebrations with my family, and took time to bask in the joy of the jubilee days.
Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ