Dear Parish Family:
As we move closer and closer to the feast of Pentecost, the Gospels draw our attention to the working of the Spirit. In today’s Gospel, Jesus assures us of the presence of the Advocate who will come and will never leave us as orphans (John 14). We seek and pray for the coming of the Spirit to not only comfort and console us but to inspire us to be advocates for one another.
This week, I want to share some good news about and for our parish family. After consultation with the Sister Ann, the Pastoral Team and the Finance Council, I am excited to announce that Alex Finta has been hired as the new Associate Director of Parish Social Ministry at SJE! This is indeed good news and, to take from today’s second reading, another reason “for our hope” at St. John’s (1 Peter 3:15). Alex has served here over the past year as a social work intern. Since his arrival in the parish and in the school, he has gently made an impact on the lives of many. Recognizing Alex’s talent and his deep desire to minister to the poor and vulnerable, as a parish we did not want to miss this opportunity for Alex and for St. John’s.
As the Associate Director of Parish Social Ministry, Alex will focus his work on the “peripheries”, the “going out” of the Gospel. A few years ago, Pope Francis said, “….we must open ourselves to the peripheries, also acknowledging that, at the margins too, even one who is cast aside and scorned by society is the object of God’s generosity. We are all called not to reduce the Kingdom of God to the confines of the “little church” — our “tiny little church” — but to enlarge the Church to the dimensions of the Kingdom of God.” This will be Alex’s focus in ministry. As he has done with our rapidly expanding Street Ministry, I expect Alex to carry this same vision and energy into some of our existing ministries and draw on his experience and wisdom to create more ways for you and me to bring the Gospel to those in need. This will be in many obvious and not so obvious ways as he tries to expand the ministerial dimensions of our parish.
We do an amazing job of ministering to those who come to our doors. For example, over the past two months, St. John’s served over 1200 individuals through our Outreach work, the Food Pantry and the Thrift Shop. We are indebted to Sister Ann and the hundreds of volunteers who make all of this happen. Alex has worked with Sister Ann pretty closely throughout his internship. With these existing ministries already in place, we hope to be able to do even more for the poor, vulnerable and marginalized in our parish community. Look for some new programs and ministries developing in this area as well as ways St. John’s will be more present in the local community, particularly to those on the peripheries.
It’s pretty clear why we are making this addition to our staff. How are we doing this? Well that part is because of you! Through your presence, generosity and financial support (particularly in the Sunday collection, the Parish Social Ministry Collection and the Poor Box) you demonstrate that caring for the poor and vulnerable is a priority for you and for our parish. This is another concrete action we are taking to care for those on the peripheries.
On a personal note, it has been a privilege to work and serve with Alex throughout this year. He is a man of great passion, witness and humility. Not only has he shared his many gifts with our parish community, but he has been open to the wonderful spirit that makes SJE the amazing parish that it is today. I am a better person because of his presence here. I am pretty sure you will be too!
With the help of the Advocate (John 14:16), I look forward to being an advocate with Alex and with all of you for those who are most in need.
Come Holy Spirit!
Dear Parish Family:
In my first months as a priest, I remember talking to a mother of two adult children. One of her adult sons was giving her a hard time. (We sons can be a handful!) She was getting a little upset and I said, “Oh, Mary, I’m so sorry you’re going through all of this. I hope everything will be OK.” Without missing a beat, she looked up at me and said, “Don’t worry about me, Fr. John. They make us mothers tough for a reason.” She’s right! They make mothers tough for a reason.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers of the Church today! While I cannot help but think of my own mom and the amazing woman she is, our thoughts and prayers, today, are with all of the mothers of our parish community. When I think of my own mom, particularly over this past year, I’m in awe of the selfless and humble sacrifices she has made for my dad and for our family. Not easy but no complaints. It is what mothers
For so many women, in the spirit of the Blessed Mother, they offer their gifts for the good of our parish in so many various ways. How blessedare we as we give thanks to God for mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, stepmothers, mothers to be, and all the women of our lives who make God’s presence known to us.I cannot help to also think of those who find this day difficult. I think of and pray for women who have struggled to have a child or faced the sickness and loss of a child. I think of and pray for women who have suffered through a miscarriage or have endured difficulty and challenge in raising their children. I think of the moms who pray and battle and struggle with their children battling addiction. I think of and pray for the mothers who have had to make the difficult decisions that love requires, even when it means putting in some boundaries and limits.
Indeed, they make mothers tough for a reason. And we are all better because of it! Let us give thanks to God this day and always, through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, for the gift of mothers in our lives and the life of the Church.
P.S. I want to thank you for your prompt and generous response to the Catholic Ministries Appeal. In our latest report, we have raised over $113,000 which is 114% of our diocesan goal. This is more than we raised in total last year. We reached the diocesan goal in about two months making one of the first twenty parishes to reach the goal. Last year, we were still trying to reach the goal in October. So thank you! I cannot tell you how happy and, honestly, how relieved I am that we have made our goal. While we are still short of our Challenge Goal of $130,000, this will be the last mention of the Catholic Ministries Appeal for this year. I will write to previous year’s donors who have not made a pledge and we will leave it at that. I have asked the diocese to no longer send letters to anyone and we will not include any additional envelopes in the Fall, as the practice has been in the past. If you haven’t made a pledge yet and planned to do so, can I ask you to please follow up as soon as you can? Again, I am so grateful for everyone’s support. It means a lot and makes a great difference.