Weekly Message

Renovation Updates 7.9

Dear Parish Family,

How lucky we are to have the wonderful guidance of Larry Bonetti leading our Buildings and Grounds Team. It is a pleasure to work hand in hand with Larry as we move through the many phases of our renovations here at Sacred Heart. We are also working with an excellent contractor Larry Boyd and his crew of workers who take pride in the work they do making sure we can take pride in the finished product. Paula Cadoret and our architect Joe McPhee have been working so well together in choosing colors and materials that will enhance the appearance of our worship space and truly “Making God’s House a Home.”

The work in the new family room and chapel is almost complete and we will now begin to work in the Sanctuary (altar area). I need all the patience I can muster during this phase of the work because this is “my office space”. (In the seminary they always said “the altar is your desk.”) I know this will be messy, dusty work and I ask your patience and understanding while this work is being done. It will look messy for quite a while and hopefully can be cleaned up when funerals need to be celebrated. Doing all this work without closing the church is a challenge, but well worth the effort so that we can still worship and celebrate funerals in our own worship space.

Two questions have been frequently asked: when will we have to close the church? And where are you traveling this summer. First answer: We will have to close the church to remove all the asbestos tiles under the pews, which will require removing the pews. While they are out we will paint the church, install the new flooring and install the pews at an angle. We will probably do this next summer. At that time we will worship in the parish center, and if the weather is right even consider having Mass outside.

Second answer: due to the work we are doing in the sanctuary, I want to be around to answer any questions that may occur regarding this portion of our project, so I traveled in April to Texas to visit three presidential libraries. So I will be around while all this work is happening.

Joe McPhee has diagramed what the church will look like when we are finished with phase two of the renovations. These diagrams are on the bulletin board in the corridor when you come into the glass entry way. Be sure to take a look at what is happening.
In the meantime I want to thank all of you for your generous donations to these projects and promise we will use our resources wisely.

Fr. Bill

Young Disciples 7.2

Dear Parish Family,

This week I would like to keep you up to date on 2 issues that affect the youth of our parish. We as church leaders, as well as many parents, have become very concerned about the faith of their children, especially those born between 1984 and 2002. Recent research (www.barna.org) shows that nearly 59% of these young people who grew up in Christian churches end up walking away. Right here in our parish, many who receive Confirmation never return after they receive the sacrament. To address this trend, the Diocese of Worcester is partnering with parishes in a strategic process titled, Vital 3.0, from Frank Mercadante’s Cultivation Ministries. Why? Because it takes the entire parish to effectively develop life-long young disciples.

The Vital 3.0 Initiative will train lay leaders how to develop teen disciples who are excited about their faith and want to continue to practice. Training began with an orientation on June 13th and continues over the course of two years. The training will gather parishes together to network, brainstorm, and pray. We will learn how to reach millennials, recruit volunteers, engage teens and their parents, integrate youth into the life of the whole parish, effectively leading groups of teens on retreats and service trips and much more. If you are interested in becoming part of this parish team, please let me know.

This past year, we started using Decision Point, by Dynamic Catholic for our Confirmation Preparation Program. We have found that this program is indeed dynamic and not only teaches young people about the sacrament of Confirmation, but goes much deeper. It inspires them to think about how to respond in faith in all areas of their daily lives, long after their Confirmation prep has ended. This program assumes that participants have a solid knowledge-base about our Catholic faith-a problem for those who have skipped years of faith formation and return for Confirmation.
Because we believe that Decision Point is the best way to help form our young people as mature Catholics, Confirmation preparation will:

  1. Continue to be a 2 year process
  2. Begin in the 9th grade and conclude with Confirmation in the 10th grade.
  3. Require an additional year for those who have skipped several years of faith formation to catch up on the basics of our faith. These students will then start confirmation preparation in the 10th grade and be confirmed in the 11th grade.

Forming young disciples, does take the entire parish. I ask all of you to consider assisting in this process.

Fr. Bill

Behind The Scenes… 6.24

Dear Parish Family,

There are so many things happening here at Sacred Heart and trying to keep on top of them is a real challenge so for the next few weeks I am going to update you of things that are going on “behind the scenes.”

Three years ago we held our capital campaign asking people to pledge to “Our Family…Our Faith…Our Future.”  I wish to thank all those who are honoring their pledge.  We are counting on each and every one of our parishioners to honor their commitment to our parish so that we can complete all the necessary work.

Because of your contributions we have been able to complete phases one of our renovations.  We have replaced the roofs and gutters of the parish center and the church and have added insulation. The total cost of these improvements was $171,000.00.  These improvements have already proven to be more energy efficient.

Phase two of our project is coming along.  Additional storage space has been created in the choir loft which has been re-purposed as a parish library and conference room.  The new audio/visual system has been installed in the church along with a new “cry room” on the tabernacle side of the church where the former confessionals and storage room were located.  The day chapel is almost done; shortly all the new flooring will be installed in those areas.

This summer we will begin work in the altar area (sanctuary) reshaping the altar, moving the organ and Tabernacle and enlarging the space for music ministry.  As you may know we have made a commitment not to finance a loan for the work we are doing but will upgrade and renovate as campaign pledges are honored.

Some people who made pledges have moved and others are unable to honor their pledges due to changes in their financial picture.  At this point the loss of that anticipated revenue adds up to $87,000.00 – a large amount, almost 10% of our pledged income.  This will impact the outcome of our project.

If there are people who are in a better position at this time to pledge or are new to the parish and would like to make a commitment, please let me know.  We need assistance from everyone to complete the work we are doing.

Once again, thank you for your support.  None of the work that we have done would be possible without you.  And a Happy Fathers Day week to all our dads!

Fr. Bill

Hazy, Hot and Humid 6.22

Dear Parish Family,

Hazy, hot, and humid; welcome to summer in New England. It has finally warmed up and the gardens are soaking in the heat as everything ripens and we enjoy the fruits of our labors. Some have complained about the weather, my response, “at least we don’t have to shovel it!”

Some may think, because it is summer, things slow down as far as parish life is concerned. Don’t let the summer Mass schedule fool you. This time of year is when all the planning for faith formation, budgeting, closing out the fiscal year, inviting and training new leaders for all our programs and fitting everything into place with names and faces happens.

All the members of our Pastoral Planning team are working in each of their four areas to put into place the mandates that are part of our functioning as a parish. Sometimes we think things just happen not realizing all the efforts of many people bring everything into reality.

  • The Message Shapers has worked on the homily themes right through to Advent in December.
  • Weekend Experience Ministry is working hard on our welcome packet for newly registered parishioners, along with an orientation session for all who come to our parish. I have often heard it said that we are the most welcoming parish in the area!
  • The Operations Ministry is working on budgeting, the website and all the technology that we are now using at Mass. I have only heard praise for our use of the visuals at Mass, and I must say the participation at Mass has certainly been enhanced. I can’t begin to describe all the work being done to make sure all the renovations take place. Believe me it is more than you could ever imagine.
  • Mission and Outreach Ministry is working on the many ways we can put the Gospel into practice and also reach out to those who are inactive in the parish.

All this exciting ministry takes place through the efforts of many dedicated parishioners who want to see Sacred Heart be the parish God wants us to be. I invite you to jump in and join us in this work as we gather for Parish Life Night the second Monday of each month. Next meeting is August 10th. If you want to be a part of the planning process then nominate yourself or someone you know that really loves our parish for the adult at-large position; or the two youth positions for the Pastoral Planning team. The slips are in the vestibule of the church.

Summer time and the living is easy! At the same time there is no vacation from our vocation in being faithful disciples of Jesus Christ and leaders of our parish ministries. A wonderful thank you to all who journey together in ministry.

Fr. Bill

Healing Mass 6.11

Dear Parish Family…

Next Saturday June 20th I am inviting all those who are senior citizens and those who are in need of healing to come to a “Healing Mass” at 11:00 A.M.  Following Mass there will be a light luncheon (You must RSVP by June 15th).   I want to offer everyone an opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Healing twice a year.  Remember, Anointing of the Sick is a Sacrament of Healing – our prayers are for healing and not for “dying.”

Every now and then I hear some talk about “last rites,” which is not at all a particularly useful phrase because it opens the door to much misunderstanding.  Many Catholics presume it refers to the Anointing of the Sick, but there is nothing “last” about this Sacrament.  The Church teaches that anointing is to be celebrated early on in an illness for healing in body, mind and spirit, and not as a last measure.

It is my hope that we will offer the Anointing of the Sick twice a year for those who are unable to join us following the last Mass on the Second Sunday of each month.  It is my hope that we schedule these services once during the Advent and Lenten Seasons.

So again I extend the invitation especially to our seniors to join us on Saturday June 20th at this “Healing Mass” and invite you to join us for the luncheon following the Mass.

Fr. Bill

Recalculating in the Parish 6.5

Dear Parish Family…

Our homily series for the next eight weeks in entitled “Recalculating.” It is something we need to do as individuals, as a parish and the Catholic Church in general.

As our closing ritual of Pentecost Sunday dramatized (carrying the lighted Pascal Candle out to the world) and our Gospel on Trinity Sunday “go out at make disciples” commanded us; we need to take the great commission of Jesus seriously and reach out to those who have chosen to disengage with our Catholic Faith.

We have been making efforts on our campus to make God’s house a home, by introducing new technology in weekend worship, moving the family room from the back of the church to the front so that the altar can be seen throughout Mass, rather than looking at people’s backsides as we were told; by reshaping and sharpening our faith formation, and continuing to be a welcoming community. All these efforts are attempts on our part to be “user friendly.”

No one registers in the parish with the intention of disengaging down the road. I know that many grandparents and parents are saddened when they have done everything “right” to introduce their children and grandchildren to our Catholic faith, and they become inactive. We tend to point fingers and blame those who drop out, but instead of finger-pointing we need to listen to the hurts and pain that some are experiencing.

Those of you who attended the 9:30 Mass last week for the graduating high school seniors knows how wonderful it is to come to Mass when there is a church full. What a celebration it is, and how uplifting it is. Wouldn’t it be great if the community could gather and celebrate that way at every Mass every weekend!

All members of the community hurt from inactivity. Who is willing to take the risk and gently and respectfully invite someone who has drifted away to come home? I am hoping that as a community, we will be willing to take the risk together.

Fr. Bill

Mother’s Day 5.8

Dear Parish Family…

Happy Mother’s Day WEEK to all of our Mothers as we honor them and our Mother Mary during the month of Mary.  May we celebrate the gift of nurturing that we receive from all who affirm and encourage us on our journey through life.

This week many of you received a letter from me requesting your generosity to the Annual Partner’s in Charity Appeal.  Our parish goal is $45,000.00 and I wish to thank those of you that have donated $37,659.50 so far toward our goal.

It takes all of us pooling our resources together to collect our portion of the 5 million dollars that is needed from all parishes in the diocese to continue the ministry, education and Charitable works of the Diocese of Worcester to all who are in need in Worcester County.  Our diocese helps both Catholics and non-Catholics alike.  I am proud of the work we do in the name of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church.

Many of our donors that helped us make our goal in the past have passed on, and new donors need are needed to meet the many needs here in our diocese.  If you have not made a pledge, can we please count on you to help?  If you did not receive a pledge envelope there are envelopes at each of the doors of the church; please take the time to share your blessings with those who are in need.

At the same time I would be remiss if I did not thank all who not only pledge to Partners in Charity, but the many who have made a five-year pledge to our Capital Campaign.  As you look to the tabernacle side of the Church you can see the progress made in the new family room and the day chapel.  We are inviting all to donate a book to the “Dwight Page Memorial Library” in the former choir loft, by joining us Monday Evening May 11th at 7pm for wine and cheese and wisdom sharing at Parish Life Night at 7:30pm.  Bring a spiritual book that you have read as a gift to the parish and those looking for inspiration.

Fr. Bill

How can we pray for one another?

Dear Parish Family…

How can we pray for one another? We all remember the words of Jesus, “Where two or more of you are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18:20) We know the importance of the power of prayer and need from time to time to be aware of the ways we can let our prayer intentions be known to the community.

If a family member is ill, in the hospital or homebound and you would like their name included in the bulletin prayers, please call the parish office during business hours (Monday-Thursday 9:30-4:30PM). We are closed on Friday, but please leave a message in my voicemail and I will pick up that message early Saturday morning. Names will be included in the bulletin for one month. In the Prayers of the Faithful we place the names of each parishioner that is in Milford Hospital visited the Wednesday prior to our weekend gathering. The names of the deceased are prayed for prior to their funeral and after their burial. If a family member not from our parish has died and you would like prayers please call the parish office. Remember too that memorial Masses and the Sanctuary Lamp can be scheduled through the parish office.

In the rear of the church is our prayer request book. Prior to Mass feel free to write your requests for particular intentions in the intention book that is brought forward during the offertory and placed at the foot of the cross.

Look for our new website that will be launching soon! Included will also be a tab, “How can we pray for you?” ~ feel free to let your intention be known and let us know if your prayer request is private, or can be published in the bulletin and placed in the Prayers of the Faithful.

I am wondering if anyone would be interested in being part of a “prayer circle?” These are people who would be willing to pray for the people whose names are published in the bulletin, and pray for them by name each day that week. When a special prayer request is submitted to the office, one person would be called and each person would be contacted in the prayer circle to raise up that petition in prayer. If you are interested in joining this ministry please contact the office.

Yes, “Where two or more of you are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18:20) May we deepen our commitment to pray for each other as a community of faith.

Speaking of prayer, I am making my annual retreat this week, May 3-8th and would ask that you remember me in prayer. I’ll be back for the weekend Masses.

Fr. Bill

Happy Easter

Dear Parish Family…

Happy Easter everyone!  What a wonderful Holy Week journey we had!  All our liturgical ministers worked together to make our worship a truly meaningful experience for everyone who gathered in prayer.  So much organization, many rehearsals, and thoughtful planning goes on behind the scenes that truly makes our entrance into the mystery of our faith a beautiful faith-filled experience.  Thank you to all who contribute in so very many ways.

Before First Communions and Confirmation and especially before it gets too hot in Texas, I am going to leave Monday to visit three more Presidential Museums and Libraries.  The first stop on my journey will be in Dallas to visit The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.  This is the building from which Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy on November 22, 1963.  Then I will visit the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas at Universal City.  Both of these stops will take me a day each, since I don’t want to miss anything about the history they exhibit.

Next is a one day visit to College Station, Texas where the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum is located.  After visiting that museum I drive to Austin, Texas for a few days to see the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum; the Texas State Capitol, and the Bullock Texas State History Museum.  Then I drive back to Dallas to get on a flight to Mexico City for a few days to visit the Teotihuacan Pyramids, the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Coyoacan and Frida Kahlo Museum and Xochimilco and National University.  I then fly back to Dallas for my return flight to Boston on the 23rd.  I am looking forward to a very educational vacation with lots of homily material to boot!

The weekend I am away Fr. Tom Landry will be celebrating the Masses and filling in as needed.  I am sure that you will give him a warm Sacred Heart welcome.

Fr. Bill