May 19, 2013
Today is known as the “Birthday of the Church”. Today is the day the apostles received the gift of the Advocate and busted out of the upper room. Prior to receiving the Holy Spirit, those who followed the “new way” of Jesus were fearful of ending up like Jesus, who suffered and died – persecuted by both members of his own religion and the secular Romans. The fear was real and well founded. It must have seemed overwhelming to the apostles to do what Jesus was asking of them. They were supposed to “go out” and teach and baptize in people in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But it was a very hostile environment and they had limited resources. The transformation was truly remarkable after the experience of Pentecost. The Lord’s promise was now fulfilled – he would send them the Advocate and Guide to remind them of everything and give them the boldness needed to proclaim the Gospel. Once they got started, there was no stopping them.
The Church is still empowered by the Holy Spirit and always will be! The breath of the Spirit gave birth to the Church and that breath remains in her lungs, giving life to all that is necessary for salvation. The Apostles trusted in the Holy Spirit and went about doing the work of building up God’s Kingdom. The mission of the Church is to continue the good work begun by our Lord and bring people the knowledge and experience of the Lord. Looking over the 2000 plus year history of the Catholic Church, the signs of the Holy Spirit are everywhere! Perhaps the most telling sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit is in the teaching authority given to Peter and extended to all his successors throughout the centuries. The teaching of Christ is known to us in so many ways and on so many topics that were never present during his own physical life on earth. We have certainty about the Lord’s “mind” on various issues because of the brilliant interpretation of the Church united in prayer and trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Church is the bearer of the Gospel to the world and what a glorious task it is! Full of peril, but glorious!
May God animate our parish with the same Holy Spirit given to the apostles at Pentecost. Our parish “Mission Statement” (printed at the top page of every weekend bulletin) reminds us that we are a faith anchor in a very diverse community. The work of the Spirit is to always create unity amidst our diversity and allow us to celebrate the fullness of gifts flowing from the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity. All our sacraments are celebrated in the power of the Holy Spirit. All our social events and fundraisers only succeed if they are rooted in the Holy Spirit. Any good works accomplished by the people of our parish are redemptive only if they glorify God in the Holy Spirit. We should always pray and work in the Spirit!
So, Happy Birthday to Us!!
God bless! Fr. Walsh
May 12, 2013
Happy Mother’s Day! We are blessed to come into this world through our mothers who said “Yes” to life. We are blessed to be sustained in life by mothers who nurture and educate us as we grow and mature. And we are blessed to be led to God by mothers who witness to the primacy of that relationship in their words and actions. Thank You Mom – may you be abundantly blessed in return!
I would like to write now about a special story unfolding at St. John’s. One of our parishioners, Joe Mahoney, will be speaking at the end of every mass this weekend (5/12). Joe has a remarkable and truly inspirational story that began over 40 years ago during the Vietnam War where he served as a Marine. I will leave the details of the story to Joe which he will present in the following ways: a brief reflection at mass; a DVD presentation and discussion after every mass for those who want to know more; the insert in the weekend bulletin, and a featured story in our diocesan Catholic newspaper. What I want to share is the angle of a pastor and the potential for our parish to add another chapter to this story.
In my experience as a pastor, I have known other priests who established a special relationship with a mission parish somewhere in the world. For example, Fr. McLaughlin and the parishioners at St. Luke’s in Stroudsburg support a church in El Salvador. They not only send money, but they even send parishioners on location from time to time. I have always admired this kind of outreach because it highlights the universality of our Church and it allows a very practical experience of solidarity with fellow Catholics of a different culture. Providentially, God put great zeal for the faith in the heart of Joe Mahoney and I could not resist the opportunity to partner with the mission he has come to know in the country of Vietnam. Joe speaks of a saintly bishop he once knew as a priest during the war, who has established a religious community and continues to guide many corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
I have already sought the input of our parish and finance councils and they unanimously approved our involvement with this special mission. Our goal will be to raise enough money over the course of several years to finance a clean water project in rural Vietnam. We will designate the second collection on the Feast of Pentecost (beginning next week 5/19 and continuing annually on Pentecost) and send the money to Vietnam. Joe will oversee the secure transfer of funds and supply updates on the progress of their work and ministry. This second collection, which would ordinarily help with our own parish expenses, is a free will offering by which we will ask God to help not only those who will benefit from the water project in Vietnam, but also us – “it is only when you give that you receive”. Let us all pray for this new dynamic of our parish to bear much fruit. We will be praying for them, and they will be praying for us. God is full of surprises, who knows – maybe some of our parishioners will be making a trip to Vietnam someday to see this work with their own eyes. Thank you Joe! You have helped St. John’s expand our borders of stewardship and prayer!
God bless!! Fr. Walsh
May 5, 2013
Greetings! The Easter Season is quickly coming to an end. There are only two more weeks until Pentecost and please do not forget that Thursday (5/9) is a Holy Day of Obligation (Ascension Thursday – see bulletin for mass times). The Feast of the Ascension marks the 40th day after the Resurrection and Pentecost marks the 50th day! Here are a few excerpts from the Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding the Ascension of our Lord:
#659 – So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys. But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity. Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand…
# 668 – Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Christ’s Ascension into heaven signifies his participation, in his humanity, in God’s power and authority. Jesus Christ is Lord: he possesses all power in heaven and on earth. He is far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, for the Father has put all things under his feet. Christ is Lord of the cosmos and of history. In him human history and indeed all creation are set forth and transcendently fulfilled.
#670 – Since the Ascension God’s plan has entered into its fulfillment. We are already at “the last hour.” Already the final age of the world is with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real but imperfect.
#673 – Since the Ascension Christ’s coming in glory has been imminent, even though it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. This eschatological coming could be accomplished at any moment, even if both it and the final trial that will precede it are delayed.
In addition to the Ascension, our parish will celebrate First Holy Communion next week (Saturday 5/11) at 10am. All are welcome to celebrate this special mass where our children receive the Blessed Sacrament for the first time. It is always a great joy to be part of this moment. The children are all dressed up and mom’s and dad’s and grandma’s and grandpa’s are beaming with pride. Congratulations to all these families and may God keep the celebration of the Holy Eucharist at the center of Catholic family life!
God bless! Fr. Walsh
April 28, 2013
Greetings! I want to thank the St. John’s Seniors for my ticket to Sight and Sound Theater last Wednesday (4/24) to see “Noah”. I am grateful for the presence of the Seniors in our parish for all the good they do and the fun they have doing it. Thanks also to all those who attended our own little “St. John’s Dinner Theater” over the past 10 weeks to view and discuss Father Robert Barron’s DVD series entitled “Catholicism”. During Lent, Andy Zaso made soup and during the past four weeks of Easter, Andy picked up pizza from Pizzaro’s. Fr. Barron did an amazing job of presenting our Catholic faith in all its richness! We had the opportunity to discuss topics such as Revelation, Original Sin, Saints, Eucharist, Prayer, Trinity, and the Last Things. Our faith is an ongoing process of formation and information. This DVD series will be a great tool of evangelization for many years to come and I would encourage our parishioners to view it when possible.
As we head into the month of May, the Church reminds us to renew our devotion to Mary! Our First Communion children will crown Mary and she will occupy a special place in the sanctuary for our May liturgies. There are other special occasions, both religious and secular, to look forward to in May, such as the feast of the Ascension (5/9), Mother’s Day (5/12), Pentecost (5/19) and Memorial Day (5/27). As you know, as a member of Board of Directors for the Monroe County Catholic Social Services, I have been promoting the May 5 Spring Concert fundraiser at Notre Dame High School auditorium. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. A Christian band “Full Armor” is featured on stage for an inspirational evening of music. Doors open at 5:30 and the concert starts at 6pm. I will join our staff at St. John’s in the V.I.P. seating (aren’t we special!) and hope many other members of our parish will join us for the show. Please contact me or the office for tickets. Please don’t forget about the Multicultural Mass and Food Festival on May 18. We combine the English and Spanish mass for the Feast of Pentecost (so there is only one Saturday mass at 4:00pm). We celebrate the unity the Spirit creates from our diversity of languages, cultures and culinary tastes. The dinner is $12 for adults and $5 for children.
Lastly, let me get in a plug for our choir who will be singing the National Anthem at the June 18 RailRiders baseball game (N.Y. Yankee’s triple A team) in Moosic, Pa. If you arrive early to the 11am mass, you have been hearing the choir practice this very difficult song. Knowing the quality of St. John’s choir under the leadership of Erik Sparks, I have no doubt that they will knock the socks off everyone in attendance at the game! Come and support the choir and enjoy a great family night at the ballpark. We plan to fill a charter bus with 55 rabid fans of St. John’s choir (and the Yankee’s). The cost of a ticket for the game plus the bus ride will be $28 dollars. It promises to be a fun night and a source of pride for our parish which will be acknowledged by name during the game. It’s great to put on a pair of shorts and a tee shirt and head to a summer evening (7:05 start) ball game.
Take care and God bless! Fr. Walsh