Author Archive: edlavalette

You are invited, you are called

Dear Parish Family:

Well, I guess turning 65 wasn’t so bad after all. There were several surprise celebrations throughout the week. The staff celebrated my birthday on Wednesday with an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen, plus bought my lunch! Yum! On Thursday, another surprise from the daily Mass folks and the thrift shop workers with a delicious carrot cake, double yum! Finally, a BIG surprise; a blessing from the parish community at the 4:00 Mass and a wonderful reception in the hall catered by the Pastoral Planning Team and the Hospitality Team! The food was great and what a surprise it was, including my brother John and his wife Mary!

Thank you to all for your cards and wishes for a Happy Birthday! With my Medicare, Part A card in my wallet I am ready to face a new stage in life! So, anyone who is dreading moving into this stage, fear not, there is life after 65!

Last week I asked you to pray for the work of our Pastoral Planning Team (PPT). They have been working hard to restructure our parish ministries to fit our current needs as a parish. Their work has generated a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm. What a dedicated team they are, listening to each other and willing to understand how important it is to open the doors to all parishioners to sit at the table were decisions are made. We are looking for eight people to share their wisdom and work on each of the five ministries: Formation, Worship, Operations, Stewardship and Community Engagement. That means 40 people will be involved in setting the objectives for our parish. You are invited, you are called: how will you be involved?

We are especially interested in making sure that people who are not involved in parish work feel welcome to the table and that young people 16-35 know that their wisdom is welcome and needed to move us forward in our work as a people of God. I ask all of you to prayerfully consider how you can be involved in making Sacred Heart Parish the dynamic parish God calls us to be.

In the bulletin, you will find the contact information for the members of the PPT; never hesitate to contact any member with your wisdom, questions, and desires to participate in a deeper level in the ministries we share. Much more to come!

Thank you again for celebrating my birthday! And let us move forward in ministry here at Sacred Heart!

Fr. Bill

Age: It’s just a number

Dear Parish Family:

Age is a funny thing; it’s only a number and it all depends on how you feel, and look. It’s nice to hear people say, “You don’t look your age!” or “You are pretty active for your age!” And I especially like to hear, “Wow, I would never have guessed you were that old!”

This week, July 22nd, I turn 65 and for some reason the US government, AARP, my health insurance company, and at least 10 other health and insurance providers, assisted living centers, hearing aid providers and more have brought this fact to my attention for at least the last 5 months. Age is relative and I am proud to have reached 65; especially being the youngest of 7. My 5 brothers throughout our childhood would always say, “How old are you?” “Seven” I would reply; response, “You’re not going to live to see eight!” This happened for many of our growing up years! So, I am happy (and lucky) I made it this far.

I do notice that I have trouble recalling things as quickly as I used to. Eventually the word, or thought comes to mind, but it causes me to wonder if I am starting to lose my mind. I am not as sharp as I used to be. Pam tells me this is good news. “If you know you are losing your mind that means you’re getting dementia and not Alzheimer’s!” as she laughs. I believe this is a case of elder abuse. I wonder if this is payback for all the times I have kidded the “elders” in my life. Now I am becoming one of them. I better hold my tongue.

Next year I will also celebrate a significant priesthood anniversary, 40 years! I remember when I was younger and thought, “Boy are those guys old!” Now I have a whole different take and perspective on anniversaries and the aging process.

I have my Medicare Card (Part A) in my wallet and will officially join the ranks of the elders of the community even though many “youngsters” thought I did that a long time ago. The good news: It’s just a number and all depends on how you feel and look! I feel great!

Fr. Bill

Sanctuary Memorial Candles

Dear Parish Family:

Our sanctuary (altar area) renovations are now complete with the arrival of the memorial candles beneath the statues of our Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph. Lighting a candle in memory of a loved one or for a special intention has long been part of our Catholic prayer tradition. Jesus tells us, “You are the light of the world, you must not hide your light under a bushel basket but set it on a lamp stand for all the world to see!” (Matthew 5:14-16)

The candle stands are placed in the sanctuary to encourage everyone to come into the sanctuary to pray before or after Mass; and throughout the day to make a visit. The kneelers at the tabernacle are there to encourage us to spend time with Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament. We intentionally made the sanctuary handicap accessible so that everyone would be able to come forward for prayer.

Due to insurance policies, all unattended wax candles were eliminated from our churches as fire hazards. Our new memorial candles are electronic, therefore safe for use in our church. There is a red button in front of each candle that can be pushed to light a candle in memory of a loved one, or for a special intention for which you are seeking wisdom and light. These candles “burn” for 12 hours; the suggested donation is $1.00 that can be placed in the slot in the center of each stand.

I am sharing this information with you because several people have asked, “Is it alright for us to go over to light a candle, or do we ask someone to do it for us?” “Is it safe to have these candles in the church with no one around?” “How long do these candles stay lit?” My feeling is, if one or two have these questions others have them too.

My hope is that whether or not you light a candle, I would love to see more people come into the sanctuary to pray around the tabernacle. Take the time to be present to the Lord in prayer!

Fr. Bill

Retreat Forward!

Dear Fellow Parishioners,
As priests, we are expected to attend an annual retreat; taking time to stop and check in with the Lord. It is a time of focused spiritual growth and reflection. It is not simply beneficial for priests to do so, but for all of us to take the time to listen attentively to the Lord.

The Office for Continuing Education of the Clergy offers an Annual Priests’ Retreat; or we can arrange to make our annual retreat at a center of our own choosing, any time throughout the year. When I was the Director of the Office for Youth Ministry, I attended the annual Priests’ Retreat. Little did I know it would be like working in the office. Priests had questions about programs we were doing, bringing in forms and applications for events, wanting to set up appointments for me to speak to their parish council and more. That week, I knew the annual retreat was not for me, at least while I was working in a diocesan office.
Since being out of the office I have ventured back to the Annual Priests’ Retreat, and this year I realized more than ever how very important it is. Most of us are assigned to parishes where we are the only priest. The expectations on all of us is high, and few of us know how to say no to the many requests that come our way. This takes its toll on time to gather with brother priests to discuss “business,” “challenges,” “personal difficulties,” and more.

This past week, I realized; “How good it is to be here!” How great it is to laugh together, pray together, celebrate Mass together, confess our sins, support each other, tell our stories, and be encouraged to minister to the People of God in our various assignments. The theme of our retreat; “Retreat Forward!” was a call to support each other in the work we do and invite others to follow Christ in the world we live in today. Many of the older men who are retired were so happy to be with us “younger guys.” How happy I was to see them and be encouraged by them. What a grace-filled time it was indeed.

I am not sure when it happened, but sometime during the week, I realized that this is the retreat I need to make annually, never mind scheduling a time more convenient for me. It’s a commitment that we each need to consider. How important we are one to another, even in our journey of faith here at Sacred Heart Parish!

God’s Peace to you all,
Fr. Bill

Faith Formation Teams

Dear Parish Family:

Last week, I was very sad to hear about the closing of Milford Catholic Elementary School. That school holds a very dear place in my heart as it was my elementary school and the school where my mom taught reading and math for 17 years. It makes one wonder, why did Catholic schools and parishes once thrive when people were actually poorer than they are today; when people didn’t have smart TVS or cell phones we carried everywhere, and our lives were much simpler?

A Pew study found that over 30% of Americans who were raised Catholic no longer consider themselves Catholic and less than 10% of baptized Catholics attend Mass on Sundays. The inference is clear: Most people do not see any compelling reason to live as Catholics.

So, what is the way forward for local Catholic schools and parishes like us? Communities like Sacred Heart must take ownership our parishes and have honest discussions of who we are as Catholics and what can each of us can do to make a more compelling case for Catholicism locally. Faith spreads, person to person, so each of us has a duty to spread it to his or her own circle of influence and friends. We cannot wait until our schools or parishes are in trouble.

The Pastoral Planning and the Faith Formation Teams are paying attention to the trends affecting faith communities in and around Hopedale. We know that families are stretched and stressed because of work demands, busy schedules, and individual activities. We are sadly aware of the decline in family religious practice at home and participation in the life of the parish. Busy schedules often push religious activities off the calendar. We are working to create faith formation formats that are fun, and flexible and most importantly equips our young people to live as disciples of Jesus.

To provide these different types of faith formation experiences, we will be asking for your help. Everyone has a gift to share! Please be open to sharing your gifts so that you can help spread our faith locally and beyond.