Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I Believe in the Holy Spirit . . .

Dear Parishioners,

I think that we need to be reminded regularly about the presence of the Holy Spirit continually working among us.  Let me relate to you a quite remarkable and unforgettable instance from my past.
While I was in high school work, the theology department from Sacred Heart High School would annually bring the senior class to Maris Stella Church in Avalon, NJ for a Day of Recollection.  The day was known to the students as Senior Retreat.  While I would inevitably celebrate the Mass for the students, I was not usually the speaker chosen to present all the talks or reflections the entire day.  This one particular year, while I had some free time, I was given the duty to travel to the local convenience store to pick up lunch for all the chaperones.

As I was leaving the convenience store with the bag of sandwiches and other edibles in my arms, a young man approached me and asked if I were a Catholic Priest.  I was dressed in black clerical garb wearing my roman collar at the time.  After telling him “yes,” he asked if he could speak to me in private.

In the course of the conversation, he told me that it was his birthday that day and he had prayed to God specifically for the opportunity to go to confession.  He later sees me in the convenience store!  And he was given the answer to his prayer—to go to confession—for some unbelievable, mysterious reason!

I wonder what the odds were of meeting this particular person at this particular convenience store in this particular town at this particular time for this particular purpose?  Probably as great odds as hitting the Power Ball!
I believe it was the Holy Spirit mysteriously at work in a remarkable way!  This was not the first time—and I am pretty confident that it will not be the last time—when God’s Holy Spirit would mysteriously and inexplicably guide the course of things.  Some may call it “chance” or a “random occurrence.”  I, however, see it as God’s Holy Spirit at work in response to prayer.

On this Pentecost Sunday, try to become more attuned to the presence and working of God’s Holy Spirit in your daily lives.  Just as the apostles were guided, strengthened and enlightened by the Holy Spirit on that first Pentecost, trust that the same Holy Spirit is present today, willing to do the same for you!

Oh, by the way, a strange occurrence happened to me once again last week when I went on a sick call.  Intending to bring Holy Communion and the Anointing of the Sick to one particular person (as requested), I just “happened” to be temporarily delayed.  Later, when I finally went, I inexplicably crossed paths with someone else looking for a priest to do the same for an entirely different person!
Was this just another coincidence?

Or was it rather God’s Holy Spirit mysteriously guiding me once again to do His work?

If you ask me, I’ll simply tell you that I believe in the Holy Spirit.

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Man Does Not Live on Bread Alone . . . (and a Parish Needs Financial Support!)

Dear Parishioners,

I hate talking about money.  I always have.  I make no bones about it.  I would love to concentrate solely on the spiritual well-being of this parish.  Fat chance!  Like all of you I also have to pay bills and I am responsible, with others, for the operation and upkeep of our church, rectory, convent and regional school.

While observing trends during this first year of my pastorate, one thing I noted was the weekly amount I am told is necessary to operate the parish.  Sometimes we achieve this goal or occasionally surpass it.  Sometimes we are under the necessary amount, and at other times we have encountered some significant problems.  (For instance, a major difficulty occurred during a weekend last fall when the area was evacuated because of a potential hurricane.)

Falling short just $1000.00 for just 10 weeks during the year leaves us in the hole for $10,000.00.  This is no small amount.  Add to this two holy days this past year that fell on Sundays (Christmas and New Year’s—the Solemnity of Mary) in which there were no additional Sunday Masses or collections.  Moreover, we had a really bad weekend because of a potential hurricane.  Total all this up and we can unfortunately be behind a considerable sum of money by the end of the fiscal year.

It is also important to note that we have had a struggling economy for some time now and weekly Mass attendance is less than 25% of the registered parish population throughout the diocese.

I have brought the issue to the financial council who in turn brought it to the pastoral council.  Discussion and suggestions abounded.  What do we do?  The long range goal is certainly to have more parishioners at Mass each week (evangelization) and to have more parishioners contributing regularly to the parish (tithing or stewardship).

The finance council decided that a second collection be taken up weekly to defray costs such as heating and air conditioning expenses, repairs of buildings, maintenance of grounds, etc.

Unfortunately, all of the promises of when I hit the lottery” have never amounted to much so far!  In the end, we are still left with bills to pay and a considerably-sized parish to operate with no lottery money.

I make you aware of the current financial situation and its various trends since this is our parish—not just mine.  I love being here and helping in whatever way I can.  In the end, however, we need to grow as a parish and we require your financial support.
Unfortunately, bills are never paid by good intentions (or by potentially winning lottery tickets, for that matter!)

Fr. Ed Namiotka