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Growing our parish

How wonderful it is to be your pastor here at Sacred Heart of Jesus. For fifteen consecutive years we have worked together and changed leadership on our Pastoral Planning Team (PPT) and passed the baton onto younger members of the community. They take a seat at the table where decisions are made and move us forward into many areas that have brought us into the twenty-first century. Technology is something I have never understood, but we have many creative parishioners that do understand it and assist us in moving our communications forward and assists us in reaching more people that I could ever imagine.

It doesn’t stop at technology. At our past few monthly meetings we have been looking at how we can make efforts to reach out to those members of our community who are registered yet inactive. At Coffee And…for several weeks in a row members of the PPT have approached me and shared their desire to grow our parish and reach out to the inactive. There is a desire to make a concentrated effort to invite, welcome, visit and encourage others to walk together in support of each other as a community of faith.

Sometimes we lose our focus and turn inward; when we know clearly God is calling us to look outward. I am asking all members of our community to join in prayer for our parish as we prepare all of us to be welcoming and inviting to those who are absent from our community.

Here is the prayer we can share together as we prepare for this new endeavor:

Heavenly Father, we come to You in the name of Jesus to ask for Your guidance and clear direction in the choices that we have to make concerning Sacred Heart Parish. It is our desire that Your will be done at Sacred Heart and that we will not miss Your best purpose for us. You ask us to “Become and Make disciples; Welcoming all to follow Jesus Christ.” Help us to focus outwardly on your mission for us as found in the gospels.

Send the wisdom of your Holy Spirit into all the members of our Pastoral Planning Team and Parish Life Teams, that we may work together to invite and welcome those who are inactive, those who have turned away, those who feel unwelcome, those who feel no need to journey together as a community of faith; those whom we are quick to judge.

Send your wisdom to our parish ministries that we may all share the same vision, energy and enthusiasm for our parish mission. That Mission and Out Reach, Message Shapers, Operations and Weekend Experience may realize that we are all on this journey together as a people of faith, seeking to be faithful disciples of your Son and inviting others to join us in making our community the place you say it ought to be.

May we live godly in Christ Jesus, walk in a manner that is worthy of Him and live in spirit and truth – with our eyes focused on Christ and guided by Your Holy Spirit – we ask in Jesus name, Amen!

Fr. Bill

Lent’s Communal Journey

Lent is a communal journey of faith that is a time for more intense spiritual preparation, and an opportunity for interior reflection on our relationship with Jesus Christ and with one another. Our relationship with Christ starts in the waters of baptism. This Lenten season we are offering small groups and individuals to be enlightened by the grace of the Holy Spirit in understanding more deeply the grace of Baptism. To achieve this purpose, the Messages Shapers Ministry has found a wonderful resource to assist us this Lent.

Today many people speak of “drowning” in the many demands of their lives…schedules, priorities, demands, commitments, the current political situation in our country and world. We are inviting all to surface; “Up From The Waters” to find safe harbor and land on hallowed ground by making this journey of faith.

“Up From The Waters” is created by fellow Catholics in the Archdiocese of Brisbane, Australia and shared with all English speaking parishes and dioceses throughout the world. I am asking all our small groups to use this resource and inviting you to join the small group what fits conveniently into your schedule. The meetings will take 60 – 90 minutes of your time each week, a gift well worth devoting to your personal spiritual growth and development. Due to shipping from Australia the books are $8.00 each. These books will be available after all the weekend Masses beginning this weekend. They will be available in the new Information booth located in the vestibule (front entrance way) of the church.

You can sign up for a Lenten small group either after Mass or on our website under “Count Me In”. The groups start meeting the week of March 5th.

Tuesday at 7PM  (3 Jackson Way, Hopedale) – leaders Jana Loughlin & Jeff Cote
Wednesday at 7PM (Parish House) – leader Dee Russell
Wednesday at Noon (Parish House) – Lenten Lunch and Group with Fr. Bill
Thursday at 11AM (Church Parlor) – leader Pam Chaplin
Thursday at 7PM (Church Parlor) – leader Karen Barrett
Thursday at 7PM (2 Butler Rd, Mendon) – leader Karen Daige
Saturday at 9AM (Loft Library) – leader Matt Smith

Let the journey begin!
Fr. Bill

Mission Team Preps for Haiti

What a game, our prayers at each of the Masses were answered! I’ll leave it at that since it is the Monday after the game the excitement is still in the air as we prepare the Duck Boats for the parade tomorrow. I don’t think the weather will dampen any spirits!

A word of thanks and appreciation to your very generous support of the Youth Ministry bake sale for the 2 chapel and main church roofs at St. Gerard’s. Thanks to the bakers and your donations, we collected $668.00 to assist in this need. From the giving tree we received $270.00 toward the roofs for a total of $938.00 almost $1,000.00. Some people mentioned that they didn’t have any cash to assist in this effort and wanted to; so I am thinking, since this weekend is the last weekend before our Mission Team visits Haiti, I’ll put a basket in the middle aisle and as you come up for communion you can make a donation toward relief effort.

At the 10:30 Mass this weekend we will offer a special blessing for the parishioners going to Haiti February 17-25. Again accompanying me will be: Taylor Andolina, Belinda Lee, Elli and Carrie Maurais, Cathy Stickney, and Kendall Zonghi. Following Mass if anyone wants to assist us in packing the supplies we are taking please join us in the parish center.

I am pleased that Msgr. John Doran is available to replace me the two weekends we are gone. I know you are happy to have him here, and he is equally happy about seeing you all again. While away I will even try to keep you posted on our journey by Facebook!

Fr. Bill

February Visit to Haiti

I ask your prayers for those of us who are traveling from our parish to visit our twin parish St. Gerard’s in Haiti. Accompanying me will be: Taylor Andolina, Belinda Lee, Elli and Carrie Maurais, Cathy Stickney, and Kendall Zonghi. We will be traveling February 17th and returning from our visit February 25th.

In preparation for our trip we have been in communication with Fr. Tilus who has informed us that the roofs of the main church and two of the chapels we helped build were blown off by Hurricane Matthew and need to be replaced. We will be holding a bake sale this weekend to begin raising money for this purpose. If you would like to make a donation for this purpose, please do so at the bake sale table following each of the Masses.

Fr. Tilus has also mentioned the need for soccer equipment for the children. Many have lost their homes and belongings and the adults are encouraging the children to focus their energies on activities such as soccer rather than dwell on their losses. There is a box for soccer donations in the parish center.

Our journey to Haiti is to be in solidarity with our sister parish and to show our support for them as we have over the past 15 years. We want to listen to their hopes and dreams in rebuilding their lives and parish community and voice our support for all from our faith community here at Sacred Heart. Upon our return we will share what we have heard and invite us all to walk together with our brothers and sisters at St. Gerard’s through our prayers and financial assistance. All the skills needed to rebuild throughout Haiti are in the capable hands of its citizens; what is necessary is the materials needed to rebuild.

Please join us in prayer:

Out of the depths we cry to You, O God. We cry to You for our Haitian sisters and brothers. We thank You for upholding them in their suffering. Give them continuing strength and comfort. Give us love and courage to stand with them and work with them as they struggle for justice and freedom. Keep us committed to the truth and empower us with Your Spirit of love;

  • a love that always sees possibilities for peace founded on justice;
  • a love that seeks justice without vengeance and retaliation;
  • a love that reaches out to enemies, as Jesus taught us.

O Holy Spirit descend on us; we have a mission for Haiti. Amen.
Fr. Bill

Paying attention to our mission

Sometimes I can get lost and caught up in the day to day operations of parish life; the physical plant, the various ministries, hospital and nursing home visits, weekend/weekday Masses, funerals, baptisms, weddings (the few that we have), phone calls, e-mails etc. Getting caught up in the day to day happenings can prevent me from paying attention to our mission as a parish “Becoming and Making Disciples, Welcoming All to Follow Jesus Christ.”

I challenge each of our ministries to make sure that anything they are planning is filtered through our mission as a parish by asking, “How does this event, activity, program help us to become and make Disciples of Jesus Christ?” If it doesn’t, why are we wasting our time? We need to stay focused.

At the same time, I am conscious that we have many registered parishioners who are inactive. Throughout our lives, we may encounter friends, relatives, neighbors, and work associates who have drifted away from their faith community; people who no longer attend worship or participate in church activities. Reaching out to those who are no longer active weighs heavy on my heart. I know this is of concern for many who talk to me about family members whom you have raised in the faith who no longer are active in our faith community.

Central to our faith as Catholics is “communion” common-union with each other from which we get the word “Community.” Community support is central to who we are as a community of faith. We are called to support each other in and on the journey we make through life.

Our Mission and Outreach Ministry, overseen by Bill York and Ernie Chaplin has been grappling with the “How” of reaching out to the inactive. We realize that it is not the task of just a ministry team, but the task of our whole community to be welcoming and interested in the stories of those who feel alienated. We are currently looking at resources that will assist our community in reaching out and are open to suggestions from you. I am realizing that getting lost and caught up in the day to day is ministering to the “ninety-nine” and Jesus makes it clear that we are to seek out the lost. Hopefully in the near future we will have wisdom to share with the whole community and work together on seeking the lost.

Fr. Bill