“Would you like to hold the baby?” While I, of course, do not have biological children, my life as a priest has been greatly enriched by contact with families as they welcome children into their lives and their homes. Over the past twenty-five years, I have witnessed many varying circumstances around the event of childbirth— “smooth deliveries”, emergency deliveries, very premature deliveries, and, oh so difficult... still deliveries. I marvel at the skill and dedication of neo-natal teams. I am moved by the love exhibited between husbands and wives. And, yes, I delight when the invitation is extended: “Would you like to hold the baby?”
In this Christmas time, whether or not we are the representatives of our respective households who literally place the figure of the Christ child in the manger, God very profoundly asks us: Will you hold my Son...in your heart? Will you give him the place of prominence not only as a cooing baby but as your Liberator who makes a compelling invitation to be Lord of your life?
We welcome— and welcome home— ALL who join us for Mass in this Christmas season! As I reflect on this calendar year, specifically with regard to the St. Mary Parish faith community making a difference in people’s lives beyond weekend worship, my heart leaps up at the work that has been made possible by God’s grace and providence and parishioners’ response to and cooperation with that grace. Here are but a few highlights:
* the framing of the Habitat ecumenical house in our parking lot, now completed on Nold avenue (below is a note from the residents, the Jackson family).
* continued engagement in small church groups, allowing parishioners to foster bonds of spiritual friendship and support in relationship with Jesus Christ though regular gatherings— typically in a home.
* Outreach to our brothers and sisters in crisis through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the Gabriel Project, providing not just material assistance but fostering the virtue of hope.
I hope that as we enter 2018, more and more of those who identify in some way with St. Mary will experience a sense of being drawn more deeply into our mission— through a spirit of invitation from those already substantially involved and a genuine confidence in how we are serving as stewards of God’s gifts.
Here is the text of a thank you note from the recipients of the Habitat house. Keep in mind that anyone who “receives” a house has demonstrated extensive investment of their time and energy to work on other projects, well before they, themselves, becomes candidates for residency:
Thank you to everyone who helped with the build of our new home. All of you are such great people to make another's dreams come true! The time has finally come and the building process we will forever cherish especially with the cutting of the boards in your parking lot!
We are excited to start this new journey and build new memories in our new home built by so many and with much love. Thank you again, The Jackson Family
On behalf of the entire staff of St. Mary, may you and your families experience a profound visitation of the power of the love of God, made manifest in the birth of His Son, Jesus!