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Rite of Baptism

Dear Parish Family,

Many interesting conversations take place at the front doors of the church after each of the Masses. I can tell when someone hangs back and waits till the line is gone that they want to speak to me. Topics range from questions regarding my homily, or parish happenings or information on how to join and more.

After a recent baptism I had a wonderful conversation about the signs and symbols of the Rite of Baptism that we have in the Catholic Church. It began by the person telling me how lucky we are as a parish to have Baptisms at weekend Masses. When I shared that all Sacraments of initiation are to be done in the presence of the faith community; the realization further deepened why they were so touched by the Rite and how it deepened their faith.

“I needed to be reminded that all my senses are dedicated to the Lord.” That is the purpose of sacraments being held in the presence of the faith community. We all need to be reminded of how we are called to use our whole being as faithful Disciples of Jesus Christ. How important it is to be reminded that we are called to “no longer walk in the darkness of sin, but walk in the marvelous light of Christ.” What a wonderful reminder, when we are overwhelmed by the bad news to “see the goodness of the Lord, smell the fragrance of His earth; hear God’s word echo in our ears; use our lips to speak God’s praises, use our hands to help others, and to walk the earth spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.”

Each and every time I hear and speak these words I am reminded of how we are called to make the world the place God says it ought to be. Every day in the news we are constantly bombarded with the ways people walk the earth spreading fear. We need to be reminded that we are called to walk the earth spreading faith.

Yes, many interesting conversations take place at the front doors of the church, at coffee and, and from what I hear, many good and wonderful conversations take place about our faith on the ride home and at the brunch and dinner tables after we have gathered in worship here at Sacred Heart. That is why we as a faith community gather to keep Holy the Lord’s Day. May the seeds of faith planted at the table of the Word, and the table of the Bread continue to grow!

Fr. Bill

Catholic Adults

Dear Parish Family,

It is wonderful to receive a call out of the blue from someone wanting to become Catholic. That happened last week and it so happens that as Faith Formation begins I annually invite any non-Catholics that are attending Mass regularly with their Catholic spouse to consider becoming Catholic.

There are also some baptized Catholic Adults who have not received their First Communion and/or their Confirmation. I am inviting these people to come forward to complete their Sacraments of Initiation this year as we begin another Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) with Jeff Cote who is always eager to walk with people on their journey into fullness of our Catholic Faith.

The three Sacraments of Initiation are annually celebrated with adults throughout the universal Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. The Easter Vigil will be on Saturday April 16, 2017 and sessions with Jeff will begin in November. This gives us all a two-month period of time to approach those we would like to invite to our Catholic Faith to talk with me about getting involved. Those Catholics that need to complete their Sacraments of Initiation should also talk with me.

Some couples in our parish may have been married civilly and may not realize that they can easily get their Marriage validated (blessed) in the Church. Also some divorced and re-married may be able to obtain an annulment for their first marriage in order to have their marriage blessed in the church. I would encourage you to take the time to meet with me and see what is involved and drink in the sacramental graces available to you.

I wish I knew everyone’s sacramental situations personally, but I don’t. However, you may know family members, neighbors or other parishioners that need a personal invitation to deepen their relationship with Christ and the church. Please open the door for them and encourage them to speak to me. Or, let me know who they are, and I will be happy to speak to them personally.

Our mission as a parish is “becoming and making disciples, welcoming all to follow Jesus Christ.” Let’s work together in doing just that!

Fr. Bill

Acceleration of Faith Formation

Dear Parish Family,

This weekend we accelerate our ministry of Faith Formation. The reason I use the expression “accelerate” is that faith formation is always happening here at Sacred Heart. There is never a vacation from our vocation of “Making and Becoming Disciples of Jesus Christ.” Each and every one of us is in the process of forming faith by our very actions. Our relationship to our faith community, our parish, our participation in ministry; our keeping Holy the Sabbath Day; prayer before meals; all the ways we “wear” our faith forms the faith of our family and our community.

Each time we come to weekend Mass our understanding of our faith is formed by the actions and presence of the community assembled, the reverence of the liturgical ministers, the preaching of the word, the welcome of the assembled; all together we form the “body of Christ” and our the real “church” of Hopedale, not our building.

Our Faith Formation Ministry is to assist everyone from womb to tomb to deepen their role as Disciples of Jesus Christ. Faith is “caught” not taught. The way we live and express our faith when we are off Sacred Heart Campus is where our attitudes of faith and expressions of our faith are fully formed. Children learn more about what it means to be a practicing Catholic in their homes than here in Church. Parents are the first teachers in the ways of the faith; at baptism we pray that they will not only be the first, but the best teachers of faith, not by words but by their very actions in practicing their faith.

This weekend as we accelerate our ministry of Faith Formation, we will build on the faith foundation that is present in each and every home; what we call “the domestic Church.” As we bless the efforts of our Faith Formation leaders and participants, my prayer is that each and every home has a foundation built on solid rock; that it will withstand the storms of life and the winds of change and the challenges that come our way. Having God and community as the center of our lives makes us faithful disciples of Jesus Christ!

Father Bill

Happy Labor Day

Dear Parish Family,

Happy Labor Day Weekend to all! As you know, Labor Day weekend is the unofficial end of summer and we all celebrate it in the United States whether we are part of the labor force or not. During my elementary and secondary school days, school always started the Wednesday after Labor Day and we all tried to get all the “fun” we could out of that weekend. We would load up the “beach wagon” and head to Rocky Point Park for food and the amusement park rides. The music played at the park: “Roll out those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy days of Summer,” “Ramblin’ Rose,” “Itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny, yellow polka dot bikini!” And we would ride home singing all those songs and many more. Strange how we loved to sing along with the adults following along with us crazy kids.

This Labor Day weekend is also the official end of our Summer Mass schedule. I know many of you love being together at the 9:30 Mass and enjoy the long Coffee And sessions after the one Mass, but it wouldn’t be special if we did it all year long. So beginning next week we will have the usual Saturday vigil Mass at 4:00 P.M. and starting Sunday, September 11th Masses will be at 8:30 and 10:30 A.M. Those that love getting up earlier for Mass will be thrilled, and those that like to sleep in an hour longer will be getting their wish. I often wonder what it would be like in the congregations that only have one Sunday Service.

Faith Formation kicks off next weekend with a special Mass at 10:30AM as we continue to help support families in raising their children in our Catholic Faith. Classes begin the following Sunday, September 17th. It is important to remember that our efforts in faith formation only supplement the formation that is done at home. Parents are the first and primary teachers in the ways of our Catholic Faith; what happens in the home and how a family practices their faith is primary to passing on our belief in God and participation in our community of faith. Just as we sang along in the beach wagon, we sang along in the pews at church; it all fit together as a family of faith.

Even though Labor Day unofficially ends “summer” there are many opportunities for us to enjoy the days ahead as we continue to support each other as a community of faith and deepen our commitment as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Enjoy the long weekend!

Fr. Bill

St. Gerard 2017 Trip

Dear Parish Family,

We have been twinning with our sister parish in Haiti, St. Gerard’s for 14 years now and it has been sometime since we have been there to visit. It has also been some time since Fr. Tilus has had an opportunity to visit us. There is a Haitian proverb that translates “What the eye doesn’t see, doesn’t move the heart.” Some of you have shown interest in visiting St. Gerard’s and the four chapels that we have been supporting and so I am inviting anyone who would like to visit our twin to let me know now as I nail down arrangements for a pastoral visit to Haiti.

Our journey will take place Monday February 20th and we will return Sunday February 26th 2017. Fr. Tilus is ready to welcome us during that time. We will not only visit St. Gerard and its chapels but also visit the city of Les Cayes and have an opportunity for a third world immersion experience. I am trying to keep the cost down as much as I can, but air fares and ground transport all depend on the price of fuel. Right now I am expecting our trip to cost around $1,200.00 US. Right now four of us are going, we have space for eight. If you are interested in making this journey, please let me know no later than September 18th.

The Pastoral Planning Team is in the process of calling forth new leadership for our four parish ministries. I am hoping that if you are approached to fill a leadership position you will see what a great opportunity it is to use your gifts to enhance parish life here at Sacred Heart. Our transition will be over the next year as new ministry leaders take a seat at the table where decisions are made. If you feel called to serve, please let your intentions be known as we continue to work as partners in ministry in our parish.

As we call forth God’s blessings on all those returning to school campuses this fall, we all experience the sadness of saying goodbye to another summer. Even many of us who do not attend school have a lump in our throats and a knot in our stomachs as we see summer coming to an end. A blessed school year to all!

Fr. Bill

Dwell in unity

Dear Parish Family,

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell in unity!” These words of Psalm 133 come to mind as I review and reflect on the events of this past week and the summer of 2016 (which is not over yet!). Fr. Fortunatus came to visit us and as the days for his arrival approached, “the cheese kept moving” and we needed to shift gears. It was wonderful to be able to call Bill Parent and have him so very willing pick up Father Fort at the airport on such short notice, since his original plans were canceled due to weather. I did not want him to stay alone in the parish house, even though the house is beautiful thanks to so many of you who worked together to transform it. At the same time, I have a student from Haiti staying in my guest room and had no space for him to stay with me. Fortunately, Paul and Marie Rogers were gracious enough to welcome Fr. Fort into their home and were happy to host him for the weekend.

On Sunday Ken and Joyce Konicki and I were going to Tanglewood, and there is always room for one more in the circle. Fr. Fort had a great time and shared that this is the most welcoming parish experience he has ever had. How good is that, to be told how welcoming we are as a community.

People coming into church this weekend were so impressed with the new flooring. At the 4:00 Mass as I was praying the breavery before Mass many who came in were exclaiming how beautiful the church looks with the new flooring. On the way out at both weekend Masses people were pleased with the work we are doing. Again, this is all possible due to the pledges made 4 years ago to our capital campaign. We still have more work to do; the new doors and windows are being fabricated and will be installed as soon as they are delivered. Then work on Handicap bathrooms in front of the church, and the side across from the sacristy.

Again, how true it is “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell in unity!” We certainly are working together in so very many ways. How proud I am of who we are as a community of faith! Let’s keep moving forward as a powerful presence of faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.

Fr. Bill