“Faith illumines life and society” - Pope Francis
Through your support of the Catholic Ministries Appeal we are able to pass on the treasures of Faith to a new generation of Jesus’ disciples. Teaching religion and sharing the Faith with young people – this is Jesus’ message – to proclaim the word of God. We do that by living the message every day. There is something so rich in spreading our Faith – you want to go out and share it with other people. That’s the Apostolic message.”
Please consider donating to the Appeal and making a difference in the lives of our young people. Thank you!
2018 CMA Goal: $100,600. Pledges as of 2/20/18: $45,170. Donor Goal. 400 Donors. Donors as of 2/20/18: 98 Donors
Maggie Martin, Director of Religious Education. St. John of God, Central Islip.
Our Fund-a-Foot campaign is underway. These funds help cover the gap between what is covered by insurance and what we can do to improve our church building. You can donate right here and now by using our Paypal store below.
Dear Parish Family:
I don’t know about you but I am not too much of a phone person. I speak to one priest friend every night, usually, but that’s about it. If someone calls me I do my best to call them back in a timely manner (I try to do it in 24 hours but have come up short many times). Other than that, like many of you perhaps, I text, email, and now sometimes send a picture on some social media app. It’s a lot easier. I can be done with it in a few seconds and honestly, there’s no risk of getting “stuck” on the phone.
A member of the Pastoral Team pointed out to me that I probably rely too much on e-mail and those ways of communication. “What would it take to pick up the phone? We have all these extensions now. Why not use them?” they countered. They’re right. I’d rather keep moving than taking the time to talk to someone. It’s so busy I have convinced myself I have no time. It’s not true.
This Monday, February 26, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are “calling” on each one of us to pick up the phone and to flood the offices of local congressional leaders about doing something to support the “Dreamers” and comprehensive immigration reform. I’m sure, like you, I listen to the teachings of Pope Francis and the bishops when it comes to the formation of conscience. So when the Church tells me its teachings about abortion or marriage or euthanasia, I allow that to form my conscience and, I hope, those of others. So when the United States bishops, in line with the teaching of Pope Francis, call us to be advocates for immigrants and immigration reform, I had better listen up. (It’s easier to read the web page or see the flyer and then move on.)
In listening to the teaching of the Church on comprehensive immigration reform, I am challenged to move past some of my own insecurities and judgments — and even biases — to embrace the teaching of the Gospel especially when it comes to the vulnerable. The approximately 1.8 million dreamers—those who were brought here as CHILDREN by their parents who were seeking, in most cases, a better life for their families— were protected temporarily by the DACA program which will end on March 5 without some congressional intervention and presidential leadership. The USCCB encourages us to call “to protect Dreamers from deportation, to provide them a path to citizenship, and to avoid any damage to existing protections for families and unaccompanied minors in the process.” You can—and we all must— learn more at www.usccb.org.
Honestly, I can probably write a good e-mail or send off a good letter or even say a powerful prayer about this issue. Picking up the phone? That’s a little more personal. I may be rejected. I might have to defend my opinion. I cannot just take my “shot” and hit send. I might have to have an interaction that can be uncomfortable. Yes. I may. But I must. How can I not stand up for the dignity of families? How can I not risk discomfort on behalf of those human beings in my midst who may be forced back to countries of poverty and violence? What kind of disciple of Jesus would I be if I didn't pick up the phone?
Is that enough? No way! Is it a start? You bet. Some of my best encounters of friendship, ministry, service and compassion started with a phone call. So this Monday—pick up the phone!
Please pray for me.
Dear Parish Family:
Lent is only about four days old! How are you doing with your Lenten practices? Are you like me? I’m presuming, even though I’m writing this letter on Ash Wednesday, that I may have started coming up short and tried to figure out a way to justify getting around this act of almsgiving or fasting. It starts small, right? If I have chosen to give up a bad habit, say not eating dessert, or promised to take on a renewed effort at prayer or service, have I started to move away from it bit by bit? (I bet I have!)
I met a former student this week. He is married now with a family. He’s a great role model of faith and charity. In his 30s, he is involved in his parish, a good husband, a faithful father. As a student he had the privilege of having me as a classroom teacher in his freshman and senior years. He was very lucky :). I remember one of the first times I met him in ninth grade. He spoke to me about all of the things he would “never do”. He did so with a sense of immature arrogance not uncommon to many 14 year old freshmen. When I had him in class as a senior, he had done most of those things and more. I know because I was his counselor for all four years. We have spoken many times since. He’ll often say to me “I never thought that would be me” or “I’m not really sure how it turned so bad so fast.”
Temptation is a reality in our lives. Evil dwells in and around us and we would be quite foolish and naive to consider otherwise. People speak often of Pope Francis and his messages of joy and hope (and that smile!). Yet, if you read his homilies and talks there are very few that do not, in some way, come back to the reality of evil in our world. Evil is not in the form of a guy in a red outfit with horns. In some ways that would be a lot easier. Simply stay away from that guy.
Rather evil works in often more insidious and subtle ways. Sometimes we’re not even sure where it came from, right? We find ourselves doing things, saying things, feeling things. We stop resisting temptation. We get distracted. We fall. How did this become my sin? How did it go so bad so fast?
One of my favorite spiritual writers is Fr. William Barry, SJ. I have written and preached about him before. He writes, “The discernment of the spirits rests on the belief that the human heart is a battleground where God and the evil one struggle for mastery. Jesus of Nazareth himself believed this. In the desert he had been tempted by the evil one masquerading as an angel of light.”
We need to pay attention and maybe that is the best Lenten practice of all. To pay attention to the movement of the Spirit within us and the lack of that movement at times. To see the signs of temptation winning. To see where we are drowning from the onslaught of the waves of this life (see 1st reading). Lent is a good time to practice that discernment, to do that reflection. To see “how it got that bad” or “how I couldn't see it coming”.
As a social worker and even at times as a priest, I often meet people after it has gotten “that bad”. It’s a process to understand the journey and the path. Sometimes its clear. There was an event, an encounter, an incident. Often it’s not. It’s muddled. It’s hidden. It’s hard to see.
I’m not writing this as a social worker. I’m writing it as a Catholic priest. There is a huge difference in how we look at that journey. We can stay in the clinical and analytical. Or we can be humble and vulnerable enough to allow the Lord to help us to see. We can ask him to pull us out of the water and warm us with the rainbow of his love (Genesis 9:16). We can speak to him about the temptations in our own deserts. We can confess to him both in our private prayer and through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We can discern with his help to make the next right decision. If we’re open to it, we can count on his mercy and compassion to pull us through.
Please pray for me.
If you’re anything like me, right around this time of year you start thinking about something you can give up for Lent. While giving up stuff can be a healthy, spiritual practice for Lent, a lot of times we miss out on good things that we can take on and incorporate into our lives afterwards too.
Starting this Lent, St. John’s will be offering a new men’s prayer group in our parish. The Totus Tuus Men’s Prayer Group will seek to offer men a place to deepen their relationship with Christ and grow as Catholic brothers.
I know what you’re probably thinking right now…what the heck does “Totus Tuus” mean and why did Fr. Mike put a picture of some guy shaving in the bulletin? The guy that’s shaving is actually a young Karol Wojtyla, later Pope St. John Paul II, on one of his many camping trips with his friends. His motto as a bishop in Poland and later as Pope was “Totus Tuus” coming from a prayer by St. Louis de Montfort, which literally means totally yours. Totally whose? Mary’s.
Back in October, our parish was blessed with the awesome graces of so many here at St. John’s making the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. Remember that? It’s my hope that this new men’s prayer group will begin and grow as a fruit of that consecration. Didn’t make the consecration back in October, but kind of interested in this? No problem. Totus Tuus is looking to all of the men in our parish to join it’s ranks, young and old, single guys, new dads and grandpas. Taking the protection of Our Lady and St. John Paul II as our patron, we’re looking to offer guys a place of belonging, fraternity and strength to live our faith in the world today.
Every saintly man has also been a very real, normal man who has done normal things…even shaving.. Every saintly man has had to deal with real life and everything that it brings with it.. The truth is real life can be a lot sometimes and coming together is a great way of breaking out of isolation and experiencing the strength that comes from communion. Living out our baptismal calling to holiness doesn’t mean having to say long lists of prayers every day or start acting “weird”, but looking at my relationship with Christ, getting back to basics and having a place to belong.
Our first meeting will be held in the IHM Room in the Convent (the White House) at 9 a.m. on Saturday February 17th. Please contact me if you have any questions. You can reach me at 631.878.0009 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking forward to seeing you there!
Dear Parish Family:
This week, I’ll speak at all of the Masses about two areas where we are in need of your help and assistance. To be honest, I’m uncomfortable about the first topic because it is a bit of risk to talk about, particularly with all that we are journeying through as a parish family. I’m uncomfortable because we have been asked to do a lot as a parish over the past months and it seems almost unreasonable to ask more. I know this.
Yet, you and I know that our work as the parish of St. John the Evangelist is never, can never, should never be about us as individuals, families or even a parish. It must always be about building up the larger Church here in the Diocese of Rockville Centre and throughout the world.
It’s in that spirit that I announce that the work for the 2018 Catholic Ministries Appeal is beginning this weekend in parishes throughout the diocese.
The theme this year is “Hands of Mercy” aware of the many ways the Church on Long Island is called to bring the mercy of God through formation programs (we can testify to this with Paul Clores and Fr. Michael in our midst), the work of Catholic Charities and so many other works of the larger church. This involves administration of the diocese and the numerous offices and works of the diocesan church.
Last year, we made our goal in about a month and a half. This year, I know it may be harder. After all, we have together supported the Summer Appeal and recently nearly 1,000 individuals, families and corporations have supported the Fund a Foot campaign. How can I come to you again?
I do so because each one of us knows our responsibility to support and strengthen the larger church on Long Island under the leadership of Bishop Barres. We know of his great support for us in prayer—after the destruction of the church building and at Thanksgiving, specifically, and in many other ways generally. We are linked with and support the larger church when things are going exceptionally well within our local parish and when things are challenging as they are in these days here at SJE.
As a parish we have a set goal of $100,600. This is set by the diocesan office of advancement. (I wrote in November 2017 to have the goal reduced and am awaiting a response). Even if our official goal is reduced I hope that we can still reach it. Here’s why...it’s helps us! Last year we earned nearly $30,000 for St. John the Evangelist from the Catholic Ministries Appeal. This was a huge help to us in many, many ways! I would like us to hit (and exceed) goal if possible this year again.
Can I make a one request? We are really good with feet here! Did you know that because of the nearly 1,000 contributors to the Fund a Foot Restoration campaign as well as others who made donations to the work of the Church, we raised just under $200,000 (and monies are still coming in).
I am hoping we can be good with our hands in this “Hands of Mercy” campaign. Last year, approximately 350 parishioners or families supported the Catholic Ministries Appeal. This year, I would like to see if we can increase this to 400 or even 450 individuals and families! So if you have never participated in the Catholic Ministries Appeal would you be able to help us out this year? In a real way, become a “hand of mercy”, support the larger church on Long Island and help our own parish in the midst of what has been an overwhelming year!
Here’s my second hope! I would like us to be finished with the appeal (i.e. reaching our goal) as quickly as possible. We have so many other things to work and focus on—see the pages of this bulletin for a start– that I want our focus on those things. So can I ask you to get your “hands moving” and become a hand of mercy via check, online donation, envelopes, whatever works to help us reach our goal and bring the CMA to conclusion?
Thank you for reading this letter and for listening today at Masses. I’m grateful for your understanding and openness. You make a tough job and talk a lot easier. Please pray for me.
P.S. Now what’s that second things with eyes and mind? You’ll find out at mass this weekend!
Dear Parish Family:
It’s late on Wednesday evening and the bulletin deadline is about an hour away. Part of the reason I am writing this letter at so late a time is because I have spent a good time of my day connected to our parish’s regional school, Our Lady Queen of Apostles—The Catholic School in Center Moriches. What a gift! As I think about today and my experiences there today—and this is just one day—I am filled with gratitude to be part of a loving community.
It began at 7:43 a.m. A parent called to speak to me about some concerns with their child’s behavior in school. The parent wanted to speak to me and the principal about some important issues in their family. Within two hours, they were meeting with both of us for nearly an hour. Together, we tried to come up with solutions and brainstormed ideas about ways to address some difficult issues. I do not know too many other schools where parents are supported and responded to in such a personal way. OLQA’s small size and individual attention make this outreach possible.
After that phone call and before that meeting, I had the chance to speak to a class of seventh graders about my own journey to priesthood. Organized by Ms. Tess Austin, our campus minister and middle school religion teacher, I had the chance to talk about my own journey of faith and of responding to God’s call. The kids had great questions and weren’t afraid to talk about their own faith journey. A recognition of God’s call in the midst of the school day is a regular occurrence at OLQA. Today was no exception.
Following that I met with Mrs. Waller’s third grade class in the Church. We prayed and talked about what happened to the Church last May. Then they took some time to walk around the Church and signed their names while recalling significant moments. One student wrote, “I sat near here for my First Holy Communion”. Another wrote a prayer for his “Pop-pop” who passed away a few years ago. We gathered again to pray together and then had time for questions. They had some pretty awesome questions.
The day concluded with a meeting of our newly reformed and refocused school board. Both Mr. Erlanger and myself are committed to having a board that is empowered to lead our school in the years ahead. Already they are working on developing a new mission statement, taking the next steps in the creation of a middle school and examining ways to better engage our parents. This kind of commitment and dedication comes from a strong belief in Catholic school and OLQA particularly.
What was the center of the day? Celebrating the eucharist at noon in Seton Chapel. On Wednesdays our seventh and eighth graders attend mass. What a privilege to pray with them. Attending mass each week is part of the life of OLQA. Here they not only come to know the Church’s prayer but the power of the Eucharist to transform them forever. Again, not sure there are too many other places this is happening.
As we celebrate this 'Catholic Schools Week', I hope you will come to know more about OLQA and all it has to offer your child and your family. Catholic schools are simply different and their difference is something to celebrate. I hope in the days ahead—especially this Catholic Schools Week—you’ll come to know that difference at Our Lady Queen of Apostles, the Catholic School in Center Moriches. I have come to know that difference and am better for it! May the same be true for you and your family.
Sanctity: The headline of this column is part of the mission statement of the group home where I volunteer each week. The ministry reaches out to the addicted, the homeless, single mothers, victims of domestic vio-lence, prisoners seeking to reconnect to the larger society and more. I think of this as I write today as hundreds of thousands will participate in the March for Life and even more pray for the sanctity of all human life in the days ahead. The Church is adamant in its support of human life, beginning with life in the womb. While we seek judicial and legislative changes to address these issues, including abortion, we also know that will never be enough. It’s about a conversion of heart. It requires that we speak the truth, yes! It requires we speak that truth in love, absolutely!
While the teaching of the Church about the unborn is unwavering, it is also a good time to remember that the Church does not hate people or want to disown people who have had abortions or been a part of obtaining an abortion. The Church and its ministers – especially this one – want to be present to you, to support you, to help you find whatever healing and consolation you may need. Please let us be present to you, to walk with you, to serve you.
Signing: Today we take another step in our own healing and restoration as we are invited to sign the studs of the Church building. While the building itself is an instrument to give praise and honor to God, it is also a sign of the People of God coming together as community. I hope our signing and place of prayer cards might be a statement not to the restoration of a building but to ongoing conversion, transformation and renewal of the community of faith here at SJE. May our signing show that each one of us is unique in God’s eyes. Together, with all our uniqueness, we form a community of faith - the parish of St. John the Evangelist.
Stained Glass: I want to write about something I had briefly addressed at the time of the Annual Report and in the bulletin over the summer. I have proposed to the Pastoral Team and to members of the Pastoral Council and the Finance Council that we add four new stained glass windows to the Church building, marking not only the events of May 19th but our great devotion and confidence in God’s healing presence. The four windows – images of which you will be able to see in the Church building today - are:
Repair + Restore + Rebuild: taken from the words of the Old Testament, this window will incorporate Isaiah 58:11-12, a passage we have been referring to throughout these months. It will serve as a reminder of how God has worked through each one of us in these days.
In presenting to the Pastoral Staff and members of the Pastoral Council and Finance Council, it is my desire that these windows not be individually memorialized but come from the funds raised from the “Fund a Foot” campaign. (Of course, if you’d like to make an additional donation to the Fund a Foot campaign that would be most welcome. Each window will cost approximately $5,000). The windows will go on either side of the ambry and either side of the statue of St. Teresa. The color of the molding around these four windows will be a slightly different color to highlight their connection and this time in our parish’s history.
Whether we are marching, signing or seeing through, these three seemingly unrelated actions speak to us about the uniqueness of each human person and our call to give praise, honor and reverence for all the gifts God has given us.