Fr. Bill’s Weekly Letter

Yearly Stewardship

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

This week our Stewardship Team mailed to all 550 registered families our Annual Stewardship renewal packet. The Stewardship team’s goal is to receive commitment cards from 50% of the 550 households currently registered at Sacred Heart or 275 Commitment Cards.

We are striving to add NEW STEWARDS to the ranks of our registered parishioners to continue and grow our ministries at Sacred Heart both within our walls and those efforts outside our walls and beyond. By your commitment, ongoing feeding programs, such as the Mustard Seed for Worcester’s needy and the Trinity Community Supper in Milford, feed approximately 250 in Worcester and about 100 people in Milford; comprised of homeless, senior citizens on fixed incomes and entire families that can’t make ends meet.

Those households and families who have been in the parish quite some time know the drill; we are asking members of all households to make their commitment of Time, Talent, and Treasure, so that we can continue to move forward as a vibrant community of faith counting on your willingness to share in these three areas of parish life.

These commitment cards are your way of showing that you VALUE our community and each other here at Sacred Heart and are willing to put in writing. It shows your willingness to journey in prayer, in service and financial support, as a member of your parish. I am asking that all families take the time to submit a card. The Stewardship Team and I want to be clear, if for some reason you are unwilling or unable to fill out a section of the card; fill out what you can and leave the rest blank. JUST SEND IN THE CARD! BE CLEAR and somewhat PUBLIC and COMMIT TO MEMBERSHIP HERE AT SACRED HEART.

If you have questions about how you can share your time, talent or treasure, members of the Stewardship Team are willing to meet with you and talk about small ways you can begin. Small steps from many people will put us on the move. We all make commitments to mortgage and car payments, getting our kids to school events, increasing demanding sports schedules and to doctors’ appointments. Are we willing to make a commitment to our parish community and walk with our fellow neighbors as a people committed to each other, as people alive in the Spirit of Stewardship? The Stewardship Team equates Stewardship to ownership, this is your time.

To the many of you who take our stewardship renewal to heart, The Stewardship team and I thank you so very much.

Fr. Bill

Voluntas Dei Day of Recollection

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

Over the years parishioners have asked about the I.V.Dei after my name. It stands for Institute Voluntas Dei (Latin for God’s Will); a secular institute made up of priests, married couples and single men and women who follow a specific spirituality called “The Three Fives.” The institute is world-wide and we have a group who meet here in Massachusetts called the Bay State Team. Each of the Teams meet monthly for formation into the Institute and spiritual growth and development.

I bring this to your attention because the Bay State Team is hosting a Voluntas Dei Day of Recollection. It is an opportunity for people here in the area to find out about the Institute; meet members of the Bay State Team; and join us for a day of spiritual growth and reflection.

The Day of Recollection will be held on Saturday November 4th here in The Fr. Reilly Center from 9:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. Our Presenter is Dr. Vincent Lynch from Boston College. Topic is: “Healing the hole, becoming Whole!” People are like Swiss cheese, with several holes (and the rest cheese). This day will help people look past the holes and focus on the cheese, and even help them strategize how to build bridges across the holes.

The cost for the day is $25.00 per individual and $45.00 per couple. You need to register with me by October 20th. This is a good chance to find out if the Institute and Voluntas spirituality may be for you and strengthen your journey of faith. You can get more details about the institute at our website: www.voluntasdeiusa.org Or if you prefer to talk with one of our local team members feel free to talk with Pam and Ernie Chaplin, Sue and Mike Conciatori, Karen and Kevin Barrett, Rob and Gina Russell; and me of course.

On another note, a sincere thanks to all who donated to Hurricane Harvey Relief; we received more than $5,000.00 to assist in this effort. This weekend September 30/October 1 we will hold a second collection for those needing assistance after Hurricane Irma.

Fr. Bill

St. Gerard’s Parish Twinning

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

We have been twinning with St. Gerard’s Parish in Lagaudray, Haiti for over 14 years now. We walked with the parishioners of its main parish church, St. Gerard’s, it’s three mission chapels and their first pastor, Fr. Claude Wilnes. You may remember that Fr. Claude came to visit us several years in the summer and shared with us that thanks to our financial assistance, St. Gerard’s was able to open schools at the main church and the three missions.

Fr. Claude was followed these past six years by Fr. Wilnes Tilus who also visited us here at Sacred Heart. Under the leadership of Fr. Tilus we helped supply the financial assistance to build the parish house, the foundation of the parish hall, and the chapels in two of the missions. This past year our assistance not only supplied the salaries for the teachers, but also assisted in hurricane relief to help rebuild the roofs on some 200 homes. This is very valuable assistance that would never happen without the generosity of our parish donors and the wonderful work of our Haiti Ministry.

This September, a new pastor at St. Gerard’s takes the helm; Fr. Claude Renel Elysee. I assured Fr. Renel that the twinning relationship between the faithful of Sacred Heart Parish of Hopedale and the faithful of St. Gerard’s parish in Lagaudray will continue in the years ahead; not to worry.

This weekend after the Sunday morning masses, our Haiti Ministry is holding a Haitian Spaghetti Breakfast (no charge). At this breakfast, we are inviting anyone interested in knowing more about our parish work with St. Gerard’s to ask questions. We are hoping more of you will make a monthly commitment to St. Gerard’s along with those who are already giving a monthly pledge. In the pews, this weekend there are flyers for this purpose. Giving $5, $10, $20 per month is a great help for people who have nothing. Come find out how our assistance helps so many.

Fr. Bill

It takes a parish!

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

What happens when the pastor gets sick? This question popped into my mind when I woke up Saturday morning with little strength, a fever and body aches. On top of everything, we had a full schedule; returning to the regular 3-Mass schedule on the weekend, covenant Sunday for Faith Formation at each of the Masses, anointing of a dear parishioner at the 4:00 Mass; anointing of the sick following the 10:30 Mass and Marriage preparation at noon! How can I find a priest to fill in on short notice? When weeks and months of preparation went into these events and continue with homily series: “This is us!” All right, I will rest till I have to come in and do the best I can without infecting the rest of the community. Besides, this too will pass.

As I struggled through the weekend, I like many of us when we get sick wonder where we picked up the germs that take us down? Was it at the hospital on Wednesday? Was it visiting the nursing home? Was it anointing someone in their home this week? Well, what difference does it make? We all need to live the gospel and so I moved on from there.

Then I thought of when I was a newly ordained priest at St. Joan of Arc. We were four priests serving the parish with 11 weekend Masses. A regular weekend was 4 Masses. When the pastor got sick, there were three of us there to kick in and we all knew what was happening that weekend in the parish so no big deal. Well, things have changed, haven’t they? The church looks quite different now. This is the church of the Laity, not the church of the clergy and the sisters that took care of everything.

How important it is for all of us to rise to the occasion and take responsibility for our parish. Taking leadership roles in our parish ministries is essential. If everyone does their part, all will work together for the good. Don’t think, “Let someone else do it.” Step up to the plate and work together. There used to be three priests here at Sacred Heart, now there is me. We want to continue to be a vibrant faith community. To do so takes all of us sharing our time, talent and treasure with the larger community.

I am writing this from home as I try to regain my health. I slept 4 hours Sunday afternoon, and thought, “How am I going to sleep tonight? I’ll be up all night!” Well I went to bed at nine and woke up more than 12 hours later! Guess I needed the rest. I hate to admit it, but I am not getting any younger, and may have other sick days in the weeks, months and years ahead. Hopefully we can all take responsibility for who we are as a parish and work at this together. Even though I was sick this past weekend, did you notice all those around who made sure everything happened without a hitch?! It takes a parish fully involved to keep us on track!

Fr. Bill

Proud to be Catholic

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

I believe you know that I am proud to be Catholic! I know for example during Hurricane Harvey that the Catholic Charities Office in each of the 194 Catholic Dioceses in the US were immediately at work assisting on the ground with aide relief in Texas and seeking how they could further assist those in need. When there is a disaster in any country Catholic Relief Services (CRS) established throughout the world is on the ground to assist in relief efforts. Our education system is worldwide as is our health care systems. All these are in response to the gospel; feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, instructing the ignorant, being the hands of Christ. Are we perfect? Far from it, we are a church of sinners not Saints, but constantly growing in our ability to show the lover and mercy of God. It is with this pride, that I encourage others to join us in our Catholic Faith.

Each year at this time we begin inviting those who are looking to celebrate sacraments after the age of seven years of age to join the Right of Christian Initiation of Adults, referred to by the acronym RCIA. If you are older than 7 and would like to be baptized, or were baptized in another faith tradition and would like to be Catholic, or have graduated from high school and would like to be confirmed, then RCIA is for you.

I know there are several adults who faithfully attend Mass with their spouse and come forward for a blessing. I am pleased that they are here and wordship with us. I would encourage them to join us fully in our Catholic faith.

If you are interested in the Sacramental life of the church, please see me for more detail as Jeff Cote and his team prepare for this journey of faith! You will be proud you did!

Fr. Bill

The summer of 2017 is coming to a close

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

Well, it has finally happened, the Summer of 2017 is coming to a close with Labor Day weekend here. Even if we aren’t going back to school there is a sadness in our hearts as we let go of summer and head into fall; which for us in New England is a beautiful time of year!

If you are looking for something to do this weekend we are all welcome to Holy Family Church, 35 Hamilton Street in Worcester as Bishop McManus and Cardinal Langlois from the Diocese of Les Cayes, Haiti renew the covenant relationship between our two Dioceses. We are all invited after the Mass for a wonderful Haitian Dinner in the Parish Hall of St. Stephen’s parish across the street. This takes place this Sunday September 3nd at 2:00 P.M. Several of us are planning on attending. It would be wonderful to have you attend.

Next weekend we welcome our young people and their families to formally begin their dedication to Faith Formation. At each of the Masses we as a community agree as a faith community through signing of a Faith Formation Covenant to walk together, encouraging growth in our understanding of our faith in Jesus Christ. We need to remember that faith is “caught” not “taught” and is the responsibility of our total community (it takes a village) to raise a faithful Disciple of Jesus Christ. Faith begins in the home, and is supported by the larger faith community through our Faith Formation offerings.

Perhaps your family has been busy enjoying these summer months and have yet to register for Faith Formation. Please take this as a reminder to get registered and give the wonderful gift of deepening faith to the youth in your family. Under Tara Corcoran’s wonderful leadership and the work of the Formation Ministry Team, we have exciting ways to catch the Spirit of Discipleship and grow deeper in our understanding and living our Catholic Faith.

Don’t forget, starting next weekend we also let go of the summer Mass schedule. Starting September 9 and 10 Mass will be at 4:00 P.M. on Saturdays and on Sundays 8:30 and 10:30 A.M. Welcome back to all those who have been traveling this summer and spending time in second homes. It’s great to be back in full swing!

Fr. Bill

Parish Life Teams

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

When you come to church this weekend look for the flyer at the end of each pew describing Parish Life Teams. It describes the plan for each one of ministries that the Pastoral Planning Team (PPT) has been preparing for the last several months at our monthly meetings. I am extremely pleased with the work that has been accomplished not only through dialogue and meeting, but also prayer and reflection.

I am asking you to prayerfully consider how you can contribute your enthusiasm, wisdom and energy in one of the areas of ministry in service to our parish. We have 5 areas of ministry: Community Engagement, Faith formation, Operations, Stewardship and Worship. Where does your heart lie? We are looking for eight people to serve on each of these ministry teams. The leasers of each ministry are in the flyer along with their contact information. Feel free to contact them and meet with them to find out more about the direction each ministry will take in the future.

Please take a flyer home with you and reflect on how you can contribute to the future direction of our parish ministries. Each ministry team will meet on the second Monday of each month in the parish center. A room will be designated for each ministry. Individual meetings will be from 7:00 P.M. to 8:40 P.M. after which we will gather in the hall to pray, hear reports from each ministry and share wisdom and insights with the group at large.

All this work opens the circle of involvement for all in the parish to pool gifts, skills and talents so that our ministry becomes the “work of the people” Pope Francis expresses as he calls be witnesses to our faith in Jesus Christ. Our work together will also empower us to be witnesses to our parish mission “Becoming and making disciples; welcoming all to follow Jesus Christ.”

Through well-formed ministry teams we will empower our whole community to reach out to those who for some reason have distanced themselves from faith and our faith community. We have our work cut out for us; but together all things are possible.

Fr. Bill

Going through the Dark Night to reach the light of Christ

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

The events of Charlottesville, Virginia are on my mind as I am sure on the minds of many of us. The situation in North Korea also is in the balance and I have been walking on egg shells; trying to get the message out to you and not offend anyone’s political stance regarding these situations. I have used tactful expressions to speak to you this weekend and many weekends to share where our Christian and Catholic teachings address these issues in the hopes that we hear God speak to our hearts. “God is found in the whisper and the calm; not in fire and fury!” In the prayers, I wrote: “For our nation, that we may recognize God is present in the whispering winds and calm waters; not in fire, fury or weapons!” Tact is not one of my strengths; I have other gifts and I hate walking on eggshells.

St. John of the Cross wrote a poem “The Dark Night of the Soul” and I am feeling our nation is now experiencing this Dark Night. This is a good thing, it is about the necessity of purging the things that keep us from union with God so that we can draw closer to communion with God. The events of Charlottesville bring to our attention the moral issues that are facing our nation and need to be brought to the surface so that we can speak to the anger, hatred and bigotry that is present in some areas of our country and many areas of our lives. The Dark Night invites us to be still and address the hurt and the pain that some are experiencing. Trying to understand the experience of others is often a painful part of our faith journey. We cannot turn our backs on where people are at.

The good news is that we go through the Dark Night to reach the light of Christ. Certainly, the Civil War was a Dark Night for our country and led to freedom for many who were oppressed. We need to trust that God has not abandoned us and will assist us in growing through this time of uncertainty and help us to become the people God calls us to be.

Together let us listen to the ways God speaks to us as we gather on the weekends, and know that the Word of God speaks directly to the events and situations that are happening in our lives today if only we take the time to listen. It is easy to give in to anger, hatred and violence; it takes more energy to be still and listen to God who speaks in the whisper and the calm of the storms of life. Let’s listen together!

Fr. Bill

A caring community

Dear Parish Family:

I always want to make sure that our parish is a place of welcome and healing for all who enter, not matter who they are or how comfortable they feel being in a church setting. Some people are away from church for various reasons and it is up to us as a parish community not to sit in judgment, but take as our example the “Prodigal Father” and welcome back with open arms those who choose to enter the doors of Sacred Heart Church.

We have had several funerals these past few weeks and for me these are significant times in the lives of families. These are times to welcome and assist in healing as people struggle to accept the loss of a loved one. We try to make people during this difficult time of mourning as comfortable as possible.
Our visual equipment and projecting the Mass parts, music and a picture of the deceased make it as easy as possible for those who have not been to a Catholic service to fully and actively participate in our prayers for loved ones and friends. A special blessing for those not receiving communion or non-Catholic brings comfort and healing for those who come to grieve the loss of their friend or family member. The pleasant invitation to each participant to come forward to read or bring up the gifts assists all in feeling comfortable as they contribute to the memory of their loved one.

Whenever there is a funeral I invite the parish community to attend the funeral to support families in their time of need. How important it is for others to know we are a caring community. In the weekend prayers, I make it clear when funerals are being held so that everyone can pray for those families who have lost a family member. It is wonderful for me to have someone leaving the church ask, “What time is the funeral tomorrow? I’m going to try to make it!”

We are on this faith journey together and it is important for us to know and give the gift of our presence in times of need. It is my prayer that our parish will always be a place of welcome and healing; what a wonderful reputation to have; wouldn’t you say? As we gather for weekend worship make the effort to extend a hand of welcome to all who come to journey with us in faith!

Fr. Bill

The five ministries

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

I want to thank Msgr. John Doran for celebrating the 4:00 P.M. Mass this Saturday so that I can attend the annual Voluntas Dei Congress at Daylesford Abby in Paoli, PA August 3-5. I will be here for Sunday Mass August 6th. Please pray for us as we gather, that the Holy Spirit will assist us in the decisions we make.

I want to continue to inform you regarding the five ministries that will direct the work of our parish: Formation, Worship, Operations, Stewardship and Community Engagement. All the teams will gather at Parish Life Night on the second Monday of each month from 7:30 to 9:30 in the parish center to ensure that we have good communication among all the ministries. Following the individual ministry meetings everyone will gather together in the main hall at 8:45 for prayer and reports. The reporting time is crucial for good communication and working relationships among all the ministries. This time together gives everyone an opportunity to share wisdom, ask clarifying questions and encourage each ministry to grow in deeper service to our parish. The time commitment for people serving in these ministries will be two hours per month.

Each ministry will be consist of 8 people. I am especially encouraging parishioners who do not presently serve in any ministries to prayerfully discern where your gift, skill and talent lies. I am also encouraging parishioners of all ages; high school students, young adults, empty nesters and retirees to consider serving on a ministry team. We must cast the net long and far so that as many people as possible may be involved in parish direction and decision making.
5+40=1. With God all things are possible! 5 ministries, the wisdom 40 leaders makes us 1 parish eager to work together to fulfill our mission here at Sacred heart: “Making and becoming faithful disciples; inviting all to follow Jesus Christ!”

As we prepare for our revised structure, pray about where it is that you fit in!
Fr. Bill