Saturday, December 26, 2015

2016


Dear Parishioners,

Coming to the end of a calendar year and the beginning of a New Year makes me reflect on various past events and remembrances that I have.

I can recall reading George Orwell’s 1984 as a student and thinking about what would it be like when we actually reach that time period.  Then there was the song 1999 by Prince.  We were supposed to party it up like there’s no tomorrow.  Then we faced the Y2K potential threat focusing on what will happen when the computers have to change to the next calendar year, 2000.  In the end, it really didn’t live up to the hype.

I wasn’t born yet during major world events like World War I or II, or conflicts like Korea.  The adults I knew sometimes talked about them and I read about these difficult times in the history books.  I was a boy/teen during Viet Nam and remember some news stories from those tumultuous years (that included the sexual revolution, the drug culture, hippies and a regular questioning of all authority).  I later witnessed the collapse of Communism in Europe and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall.  Later, the Gulf War was substantially more real to me as we could watch it on TV with reporters embedded with the troops.  I actually was in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina when the Bosnian War (c. 1991-1992) broke out there.  I had to get a number of teens and young adults who were part of a youth pilgrimage to safety in London at that time.  It was pretty scary! 

However, what I think substantially changed things for me/us in America happened in the year 2001—September 11, 2001 to be precise.  I saw the 2nd plane hit the World Trade Center building on TV and later visited the ruins about a month or two afterwards.  Things in America, I fear, will never quite be the same again.

What will 2016 hold?  A presidential election is on the calendar.  We are also in the midst of a Jubilee Year of Mercy in our Catholic Church.  But what else will come?

As we approach the New Year, I customarily entrust and consecrate the parish wherever I am pastor to the care of the Blessed Virgin Mary on New Year’s Eve.  I give this parish and all of its parishioners over to the loving care of the Mother of God.  I invite you to join me at the 5 PM Mass (please note the time!) on New Year’s Eve—the Vigil Mass for the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.  I can think of no better way to start the New Year right.

Why not take the time to entrust your families to the Blessed Virgin Mary’s maternal care as well?  Even if you cannot make this particular Mass, parents, you can (and should) pray for your children and families at home.

My prayers and Masses are continually offered for your spiritual well-being.  Please remember me as well so that I have the graces necessary to live up to my responsibility as your pastor.

God’s blessings in the New Year!


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor


Friday, December 11, 2015

Peace on Earth



Dear Parishioners,

Perhaps you might receive a Christmas card with the inscription Peace on Earth. When Christ was born, there was period of relative peace known as the Pax Romana throughout the known world.  The power and might of the Roman Empire and its army allowed for a temporary period of peace.  However, where is the great Roman Empire now?  Its eventual collapse came from within as the moral fiber of the society eventually disintegrated.

Our world is in desperate need of peace.  Even our Holy Father said that we are experiencing a "piecemeal third world war" recently after the terrorist attacks in Paris.  How can we achieve a true and lasting peace?

We call Christ the Prince of Peace.  I suggest that His Gospel message needs to take deep root in our hearts.  We have heard much about radicalization in the news lately.  Jesus' message is one of love, forgiveness, mercy and peace.  Christians and all people of good will should know that war, violence, hatred, revenge, terrorism, and the murder of innocents is never the ultimate answer.

While there are those who find little time for prayer or may even mock it, I think prayer is the means by which we will find a solution to our world (as well as individual) problems.  A return to God and a more complete discipleship to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the only way we are going to have true and lasting peace.  Jesus did not die on the cross so that everything that He said and did would come to naught.  Every subsequent generation must heed His Gospel message, be converted, and allow the Gospel to be deeply rooted in the heart.  It is Jesus who will transform hatred into love and offer us true peace now as he did then.

My hope and prayer is for a better world in which we no longer live in fear.  No one likes to be barraged in the news with stories of an unstable world, hatred and violence.  I am not so idealistic or naive to think that we should not remain vigilant and prepared in this sometimes frightening world.  Yet, If we want to see things change for the better and not just let this be a bunch of rhetoric, then we will need Divine assistance and a determined commitment on our part to be faith-filled disciples of Jesus.

I am a firm believer that God's patience and mercy are directed toward our salvation.  God often works slowly and ever so subtlety.  In this Jubilee Year of  Mercy may we have the resolve to embrace the cross of Jesus, to accept His mercy, and to do our part to build up the Kingdom of God.

Then we will have peace.  

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Pastor


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Face of an Ever-Changing Church


Dear Parishioners,

Last month when I celebrated Mass on the memorial of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (Memorial: November 13), I read how she was responsible for establishing some sixty-seven Institutions—schools, hospitals and orphanages.  She also founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart.  When Pope Francis canonized St. Junipero Serra (Memorial: July 1) during his recent visit, he mentioned how Fr. Serra was responsible for the founding of twenty-one missions along the coast of California.  St. Katherine Drexel (Memorial: March 3) established a religious community (Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament) and some forty-nine foundations including Xavier University in New Orleans.  Six separate religious congregations trace their beginnings to the Sisters of Charity founded by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (Memorial: January 4).  I could go on with the accomplishments of these and other American saints.

My point in drawing your attention to these formidable accomplishments is to contrast how we live in very different times, especially in our part of the country.  Catholic Churches and schools are closing and merging.  Significantly more baptized Catholics don’t attend weekly Mass than those who actually do. Young people are questioning and abandoning their Catholic faith all too frequently.

As a pastor, I worry about the future.  I am concerned with the spiritual life and eternal salvation of all the parishioners—whether I encounter them or not each week.  From a practical perspective, I also try to figure out how to pay the ever-escalating bills and maintain our facilities by means of a hand to mouth method each week.  How could these past saints manage to do all that they did while I am having a difficult time with one medium-sized parish?  So much was established in the not-too-distant past (cathedrals and churches, schools, hospitals, orphanages, etc.) with the cooperation and meager offerings of the poor immigrants who valued their faith and their Church.  It gets frustrating today, more often than not.

I asked all of you, our parishioners, to help me plan for the future by participation in the feasibility study whose deadline recently passed.  I hope that you took the time to participate.  I will let you know the results of the study once I receive them (more than likely, after I figure out how to pay the bill for the completed study.)

When I was ordained, I envisioned things would be a bit different than I am experiencing now.  Rectories with multiple priests are getting fewer and far between.  I studied philosophy and theology (concentrating in Sacred Scripture) and I wind up running a small business.  I make myself available in the confessional each week with perhaps a half dozen people, at best, seeking the forgiveness and mercy of God regularly.  Weddings and funerals are increasingly occurring with no connection to the Church.  Some people even look at priests with disdain for various reasons.

Surprising to many people, if I had to do it all over again, I would—without a doubt.  I remain interiorly happy and at peace each day as a priest.  I want more people to share this joy and happiness.  I want people to know and love the Lord Jesus.  

What will eventually turn the tide in the other direction?  I am sure God knows.

However, I am currently clueless.


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor