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Stewardship Update

Stewardship Renewal 2016-2017

” Count me IN! “



Packets Sent 577 New Ministers “IN!” 69 Budget FY17 $367,426.18
Cards Received 162 Pledges to date $181,085

Hope-filled Advent

Dear Parish Family,

What a challenge it is for me to fully enter this Advent Season. I feel like I am surrounded by commercialism everywhere. My evening walks bring me past those inflatable decorations that seem to make no Advent nor Christmas nor Christian sense to me. I’m not sure what is the meaning of a huge green dinosaur with a red bow; an inflatable train and other toys, nor the “Santa Stop Here” signs. What these have to do with the season of Advent and our four weeks of preparation to receive Christ anew in our hearts? It baffles me. They disturb my inner peace and take away from the whole reason we celebrate the birth of Christ.

Avoiding the commercialization of Christmas is a real challenge. My Advent wreath helps me to focus. As I reflect on the one lighted candle, I take comfort that as I journey this Advent season the lights of the wreath get brighter as we draw closer to Christmas. My prayer is focused on the promises of Universal peace as I listen to the words of the prophet Isaiah, turning swords into plowshares, spears into pruning hooks and preparing for war no more! Join me in taking the time to read the Advent Sunday scriptures that bring peace in the face of all the tugging that comes our way from Wall Street ringing in and cashing in on our desire for “stuff.” The real gift of Christmas is the gift we are to each other.

On Monday December 12th bring some food to share with each other at the parish house at 6:00 for the Advent Supper I will host. Then come over to the church at 7:00 and take the time for confession. Together as a community we will do a thorough examination of conscience. If it has been a while since your last confession, come and receive the joy that comes from being made friends again with God, self, others, and all creation. Come and receive of the wonderful gift of mercy and forgiveness. What a better way to prepare for the feast of Christmas.

I wish people a Merry Christmas, whenever someone says “Happy Holidays!” Often I get a thank you and a “Same to you!” I reply, “It’s ok to wish me a Merry Christmas, don’t be afraid!” Oh how I want to take back Advent and Christmas and allow the presence of Christ to permeate the places we encounter each other as we journey through life.

It is a challenge to enter fully into this Advent Season, but when I know I am not doing it alone, it sure makes it a heck of a lot easier! Won’t you join me in this effort to make Christ central to this wonderful season?

Hope-filled Advent to you all!

Fr. Bill

Clergy of the Hopedale Congregations

Dear Parish Family,

(At our last Hopedale Clergy meeting the pastoral letter below was prepared and is to be shared with our three faith communities. May we walk together in faith as a people of God; living in a world God says it ought to be.)

We, the clergy of the Hopedale congregations, write with a united pastoral voice speaking to all who live, work, and do business in our town, calling all of us to reject bigotry, hatred, and violence.

Since its founding, Hopedale has been a community dedicated to shared community life and the ideals of respect and peace among all. Even when labor and management did not always agree during the era of the Draper corporation, Hopedale retained a spirit of cooperation and community that was inclusive of all, regardless of their economic or political views. Since that time, Hopedale has continued to be a welcoming community.

The recent presidential campaign and election has subjected the nation to a constant barrage of inflammatory rhetoric. In its wake, there has been a rise in hateful speech and hurtful, and even violent behavior directed at immigrants and refugees, people of color, of different ethnicities, of different genders and sexual orientations, and political persuasions. Many of our friends and neighbors, even members of our families and our congregations are afraid for their safety because of who they are or what they look like, where they’re from or what religion they practice.

As faith leaders in this community we pledge to reject hatred and racism. Our various faith traditions call us to challenge and resist those who would harass, intimidate, or harm immigrants and refugees, people of color, our transgender and LGBQIA brothers and sisters, and our Muslim and Jewish siblings in faith. We pledge to rebuke and rebuff those who create discord by demeaning and attacking others. We promise to work together to protect and defend all who may be targeted because of who they are.

We pledge to work together to keep Hopedale a place of peace where everyone is welcomed, accepted, and respected. We promise to affirm the differences that some would use to divided us. We call on you, all the people of Hopedale, to join us in our promises to reject discrimination and violence of thought, word and deed. We call on you to join us in affirming the dignity and worth of all people as equal children of God.

Yours in faith,

Rev. Sarah Hubbell, Pastor Union Evangelical Parish
Rev. William C. Konicki, Pastor Sacred Heart of Jesus
Rev. Anthony Lorenzen, Pastor Hopedale Unitarian Parish

Feast of Christ the King

Dear Parish Family,

Happy Feast of Christ the King! This brings to an end the liturgical year, and also an end of The Holy Year of Mercy. How often we pray the words from Psalm 123:3 “Have mercy Oh Lord, Have mercy on us!” This year we have come to realize that we are dispensers of God’s mercy. Just as God’s wonderful gift of mercy is bestowed upon us; we in turn must spread the mercy of God into the world.

While on the Priest’s retreat in Rome, Pope Francis reminded us that the purpose of this Holy Year of Mercy was to assist all the faithful in understanding the many facets of mercy in order that we would be equipped to begin a new era of spreading the mercy of God throughout the world. During the year, we examined the Spiritual and Corporal Acts/Works of Mercy. I was thinking on this Feast of Christ the King of having a quiz and seeing how much we remember from our journey through this year of Mercy. However, I realize that it is not at all enough to know the Spiritual and Corporal Acts of Mercy; what is important is that we LIVE them out in our lives.

Jesus came to teach us how to live. They will know we are Christians and faithful Disciples of Jesus Christ by the way we show mercy. Do we feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick, instruct those who do not know, give counsel to those in doubt, forgive willingly? Do we who call upon God for mercy; shower others with the mercy we have received?

As I entered the Holy Doors in each of the Major Basilicas in Italy, France and Spain, I was reminded of the many doors throughout Europe that opened wide their arms to refugees fleeing war torn countries and prayed that Christians everywhere would open their hearts to receive those looking for safe havens in the storms of their lives. Each time I stood in line at the Holy Doors I wondered what those before me and after me were praying for. I personally raised up all of the people of Sacred Heart, Hopedale, that we would be found by God and others to be a mercy-filled people. I often asked what people were praying for and was moved to tears at their answers. One man ahead of me was walking through the Holy Doors, praying that his paralytic son would someday be able to walk through the Holy Doors himself! Oh the loads that so many people of faith carried.

I believe Pope Francis is so right on: This Jubilee Year of Mercy is preparing us for an era when mercy is so very necessary in our world. May we carry the lessons of mercy into the world today!

Happy Feast of Christ the King!

Fr. Bill

Election Day Thoughts

Dear Parish Family,

I am writing this on Election Day with the hopes that we know who our president-elect is so that we can focus our attention on all the wonderful up-coming events that are part of our journey as faith-filled people on our journey of faith. Many events happen one after another, and sometimes we forget to rejoice in all that comes our way:

  • This week we will have a special blessing for all Veterans in thanksgiving for their service to our country. If you know a Veteran, please thank them personally for their willingness to serve our country.
  • The Christmas Fair is coming on Saturday November 19th. It is a major source of income for our parish, and at the same time an opportunity for all of us to contribute the needed items so that we are all part of its success. Please see this week’s insert to help with the fair.
  • Christmas Raffle-don’t forget to get your tickets back to the Parish Office. Due to a mistake with the tickets by the printer we were late in getting them to you. So rather than holding the raffle at the Fair we will pull the winners on Sunday, November 27th after the 10:30 Mass. You need not be present to win, however you do need to buy a ticket to win!
  • The Feast of Christ the King! We close our celebration of the Year of Mercy on Sunday, November 20th. Pope Francis has made it clear that his hope for all Catholics who made this Holy Year journey will be present in the world to make this next era, the Era of Mercy. May we take what we have learned and put it into practice.

Advent 2016-We begin a new liturgical year on Sunday November 27th as we begin our Advent season with our new homily series, “Find Your Happy”. I invite all to come to the sacrament of Reconciliation during Advent. We will have a communal candlelight Advent Reconciliation service on Monday, December 12th. Come and support each other in becoming friends again with God, ourselves, each other and all God’s creation.

Yes, this campaign season in all over and we can finally focus our attention on things that make us more and more Disciples of Jesus Christ!

Fr. Bill

Third stage renovations update

Dear Parish Family,

First a disclaimer: Those of you attending Mass Sunday October 30th found a flyer on your car windshield. No one asked or received permission to post flyers on cars parked in our private parking lot. Over the years there have been many requests from businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and political campaigns to place fliers on cars during Mass. I have always said “no”. As church we need to remain neutral regarding any and all organizations. Besides, coming to church should be a “safe place” free from promoting products and services. Again, no one has permission to target our cars on private church property.

Update on renovations: Some of you noticed the Sacred Heart symbol above the tabernacle. I didn’t mention it with the hope that some of you, as you did, let me know that you saw it and asked how long it has been there. It was placed there Tuesday evening October 25th and was given by the Claro family in Memory of Francisco “Chico” Claro. We will have a formal dedication in the days ahead.

We are still waiting for the new windows for the new reconciliation room and parlor (old reconciliation room) and the information booth doors to come in. They are on order. As soon as they do arrive they will be installed and those three rooms completed. We are still waiting for prices on the front doors and the side door entry way.

We have accepted the bid for the updated fire alarm system. An advanced addressable fire alarm panel, pull stations, heat detectors, horns and strobes are all on order and will be installed as soon as everything arrives. The contract has been awarded to North East Fire and Safety of Bellingham.

We seem so close to finishing this third stage of renovations. No one wants to see it complete more that the buildings and grounds team and me. Patience is required from all of us. It is wonderful to feel and hear the pride of the community as our church is transformed. More surprises to come as we wait for the finishing touches.

Fr. Bill

P.S. The results of the survey are in: Masses on Christmas Eve will be at 4PM and 7PM!

Stewardship Renewal Thoughts

Dear Parish Family,

Many of you have been sharing your thoughts with me regarding the Stewardship Renewal, Haiti, this election cycle, and personal happenings in life. It is good to talk with each other, share our concerns and to support each other on the journey of life.

The Stewardship Renewal is in full swing. It is not too late to return your commitment card! We need everyone to share their time, talent and treasure to ensure that Sacred Heart continues to be a vibrant parish. Remember, many hands make the work light. No gift of time, talent or treasure is too small.

Someone shared, “How lucky I am, I can increase my donation of time, talent, and treasure to Sacred Heart this stewardship season; and I can also help with Hurricane relief in Haiti; I am truly blessed!” Another, “I squawked at being asked to increase my giving by 15%, then my wife quickly reminded me that the cable bill went up more than that, and I didn’t say a word. I shut my mouth and increased my gift!” Several people leaving the 10:30 Mass shared that they had already passed in their stewardship renewal card the week they got it; “Father I am already in – you can always count on me!”

It certainly is awful to live in abject poverty and to need assistance from people from another country to send your children to school. How horrifying it is when six of these children in the Adopt-A-Student program of the Haitian Apostolate need assistance in laying them to rest. No one should have to bury a child. For many of these families the loss is compounded because they have also lost their homes; their safety net.

In speaking to Sr. Judith and with Fr. Tilus through e-mail, our parish visit to Haiti will occur February 17-25, 2017. We will be staying at Saint Paul House (Kay Sin Pol in Kreyol). If you are interested in joining us let me know; the cost is $1,800.00 per person. You must have a passport. I will have orientation meetings for all those going.

I am voting early; and several of you have stated the same. Like many of you, I can’t wait until the results are in on November 8th and we get away from the mudslinging and the talking heads. I am listening to classical music, and doing what I can to quiet my heart and be at peace.

This is the last weekend we will have the basket in the aisle for donations for Haiti Relief. Of course you can always assist St. Gerard’s through our own Haiti Ministry.

Fr. Bill