A Happy and Grace-filled New Year to all of you and your loved ones. As we begin this New Year, we give thanks to God for all His blessings of the past year and pray that He will bless us all abundantly in this New Year. We pray for our family and friends that God will help us all grow in His love so that we can become more and more the people He has created us to be. We pray also for our country that we, as a nation that trusts in God, may make every effort to turn to Him and come to know His Love and mercy for us and all the world.
On this Feast of Mary, the Mother of God, we begin a New Year. Many years ago, the Church celebrated the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus on January 1, because it was the eighth day after His birth. Traditionally in the Jewish faith, the child would be given his name when he was circumcised. This would have been the day that Jesus was formally given His Name, the name that the angel told to Mary, the name of Jesus. So, with Jesus being given His Name we also acknowledge Mary as His Mother and since Jesus is God, Mary is the Mother of God.
The church was so very beautifully decorated this year. It never ceases to amaze me that it is more beautiful every year. I am very grateful to all those who helped to decorate the church for Christmas this year under the direction and planning of Amy and Tom Uhase. I am especially grateful to Amy who has headed up this project for several years. I am sure that God will bless her and all who helped this to enhance our prayer and worship of God this Christmas. Thanks to all our parish musicians and choirs, to our ushers, lectors, extra ordinary ministers of Holy Communion, altar servers, and our collection counters. The music and choir were outstanding and very beautiful adding so much to the prayerfulness of our worship. Special thanks to Eric Pandrea, Carol Mancini, and Andrew Bebesi, as well as our cantors, choirs, and instrumentalists. I am especially grateful to our pastoral staff, Parish Office staff, and maintenance staff (especially with all the cold and snowy weather) for their hard work and devotion to God and our parish community. There are always extra duties during the Christmas Season, and I know it demands more of many people; but I am very proud of our parish because so many of you are willing to help and that makes it a little easier for all of us. So, again, I thank all of you and may God bless you and your loved ones abundantly in the New Year.
Fr. Pat and I are also personally grateful to all of you who sent cards, Christmas cookies, candies, and gifts to us and to the parish staff. Your kindness and generosity are greatly appreciated. I am always impressed and inspired by the generosity of our parish, especially toward the poor. The Giving Tree this year supplied over 200 gifts to those who would have otherwise received nothing. Your generosity is a great witness to the love of God and His care for all His children. Again, our St. Vincent de Paul Society is to be commended for their service to our brothers and sisters in need. They did an outstanding job gathering your generous donations together and getting them to those who needed them. May God bless all of you for your kindness and generosity.
I know that many of you have been doing or have done The Bible in a Year podcasts with Fr. Mike Schmitz. I have found it to be very prayerful and inspiring and I hope you have too. Starting in January, Fr. Mike Schmitz will begin a new podcast called The Catechism in a Year. (www.ascensionpress.com/pages/catechisminayear) The format will be pretty much the same. Over the next year we will read the Catechism and Fr. Mike will then give a teaching on what has been read. It is a great way to learn more about our Catholic Faith. I hope that many will take advantage of this great opportunity. May the Holy Spirit guide your mind and heart as you seek to understand more deeply the richness of the teachings of the Church. Always keep in mind that the teachings of the Church are based on the Word of God which He has given to instruct us to all that is good and holy in our lives and in the world. This is how God helps us to live the life He created us to live here in this world and in the world to come.
SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, February 11, 2023, will be our annual World Marriage Day celebration in McMahon Hall. The dinner will follow the 5 PM Mass and the blessing for married couples. This is a time for all of us to pray for those couples living within the Sacrament of Marriage and to thank God for the gift of this sacrament on which we build our families and the Church itself. So, mark the day on your calendar and plan to be there. Information about the event and how to purchase tickets are found in today’s bulletin.