Fr. Joe's Letter

Fr. Joe’s Letter

Jul 20, 2022

Annual Missionary Appeal:  Next weekend we will welcome Fr. Allen Abalone who will preach the annual missionary appeal for our parish.  Fr. Allen will preach at all the Masses and a second collection will be taken for the benefit of the missions.  Fr. Allen works in the Diocese of Catarman in the Philippines.  It is one of the poorest diocese in the Philippines; the children live in abject poverty and people witness daily the violence that starvation and disease in remote areas of the diocese cause. This is the painful reality the church faces in the Diocese of Catarman.  Simple, yet curable diseases due to malnutrition and the annual natural calamities that nature unkindly inflicts on the people cause death at an early age.

Most of the villages are located in the hinterlands. Seventy-five percent of the population are farmers. Six out of one hundred children die before they reach the age of one. The area is also visited by typhoons, sometimes thirty-three times a year, which destroy the crops and houses made of nipa huts and bamboos. In November 2013, they were hit by the strongest typhoon ever wherein there were more than ten thousand people who died.  There is a wait of several years for the coconut crops to normalize, which is the only major source of living. The pandemic is still on-going with no vaccines available for everyone.

But the people learn to survive, to hope, to pray and to rely on God’s compassion in the midst of the life and death struggles of the poor.  By God’s grace there are lay leaders, religious sisters, and clergy who are dedicated to meeting the spiritual, material, and ecclesial needs of the people. God’s hope assures us that His grace also motivates those with a heart for the poor to lend their prayerful and financial support to these efforts.

Your assistance is crucial to make a difference in the survival of these people. They depend on your generosity to simply live.  Your generosity and your help will go to the relief needs of these impoverished children and their families, for the training and formation of lay leaders, and the clergy’s health & retirement assistance programs.  I know that you will be as generous as always to the needs of our brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Catarman.  May God bless our brothers and sisters in every way.  Please keep them all in your prayers especially those who work so hard to bring them the message of God’s love in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We would like to make our Eucharistic piety and devotion more accessible to everyone.  There are some people who would much prefer to receive Holy Communion while kneeling and I do not believe there is anything wrong with that, we have done it that way for hundreds of years.  Many believe it is more prayerful and reverent to receive Holy Communion while kneeling.  I can see that those who choose to kneel do so with some difficulty, but they do so anyway.  There may be more people in our parish family that would like to kneel for Holy Communion but would find it very difficult physically.  Too bad we took out all those communion rails in our churches.  There were many spiritual meanings for the communion rail, but there were also some practical and helpful reasons for it because it helps people to be able to kneel and get back up again with less effort.  I do not think many churches are ready to bring back the communion rail, but we are trying to come up with a way for people to be able to kneel for communion if they want to with not too much difficulty.

If we really want to revive our Eucharistic piety, we cannot just do it by knowing more about what the Eucharist really is; that it is indeed the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  We can and must deepen our love for Jesus truly present in the Blessed Sacrament by our gestures as well.  It is not just what we know it is also about what we do in church and outside of church.  We can learn to treat the Eucharist with the utmost reverence and respect when we come to Mass or anytime we come to the church, as well as how we treat one another in our daily lives.  The more time we spend in the presence of the Eucharist the more we will be able to see Jesus in our brothers and sisters especially those who are much in need.  This is one of the reasons Mother Teresa spent three hours a day in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.  Something to think about.

July 26 is the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus.  Last year Pope Francis declared the fourth Sunday of July to be a celebration of our grandparents in honor of Saints Joachim and Anne.  Grandparents are a wonderful gift from God in many ways, especially in the ways of our faith.  Many children learn much about our Catholic Faith from the words and example of grandparents.  Please pray for all grandparents as well as the older generation who have much experience to share with the young about life and about faith in God.  May God bless them so they can be good instruments of His love.

Fr. Joe Labak