PASTOR'S COLUMN, Sunday, JANUARY 21, 2018

Submitted by St. Mary on Sun, 01/21/2018 - 10:45am

Dear Parishioners:

   Let us all practice the Gift of Hospitality!

      In recent months, as a community of faith we have been in a position to extend “welcome” to multiple new faces among the clergy.  With Fr. Joe’s transition to the parishes in Bedford, back in June, we welcomed Fr. Strebler.  Now, in light of Fr. Strebler becoming a Pastor in Avon Lake, we welcome the priests of Holy Family Parish in Stowe as weekend celebrants: Fr. Paul Rosing, Fr. Mike Ausperk, and Fr. Kevin Klonowski.  We are grateful for their generosity in extending priestly ministry on our behalf.

   Yes, circumstances have given us definite opportunities in this area of Christian life, but they are hardly the exception.  Are we not called, as Catholic disciples of Christ, to be vividly alert to the multiple occasions we encounter, on a regular— even daily— basis, to be welcoming?  For example, it is all-but-guaranteed that every time we come to weekend Mass, there are visitors or newcomers among us in the assembly.  While I believe we do well in extending the spirit of hospitality, there is always room for growth.

   Citing another instance in the present, we have a group of men and women journeying in the R.C.I.A.  Yes, they will be officially welcomed to the sacramental life of the Church at Easter.  However, why would we wait until then to be on the watch to encounter them?  Why would we leave it only to the official members of the R.C.I.A. team to carry out the ministry of hospitality?

   At the beginning of our St. Mary Day School year and again as the second term has begun, the school community has welcomed new students and families.  What we expect of the veteran students and our teachers is a work in which all of us are meant to be engaged: to embrace these newcomers and assist them in becoming more at home.

   It is a good and gracious God who provides us with this holy and virtuous task.  I believe that to the extent that we practice it at this very local level, the more readily we will understand how to carry it out at the larger level.  It will inform our hearts as we hear the ongoing debates related to immigrants and refugees.  It will add a layer of credibility to our message as proponents of the Gospel of life: that we must welcome each and every child into this world as a creation of God and work to ensure that no vulnerable human being is hastened toward death under the fallacious guise of “mercy killing.”

   Recently, we have heard discussion on policy related to persons from El Salvador.  I believe it is important to recall that even as our country has opened its doors to persons from that country, El Salvador has welcomed members of the Church in the U.S. to work among them.  For over fifty years, laypeople, vowed religious and clergy have served the Church in El Salvador!  What a mark of commitment!

   Next week, we will take up the Collection for the Church in Latin America. For many in Latin America and Caribbean, rural terrain and a lack of ministers are obstacles to practicing their faith. Your support to the collection provides lay leadership training, catechesis, priestly and religious formation, as well as other programs to help share our faith with those who long to hear the Good News of Christ. To learn more, please visit www.usccb.org/latin-america.

Peace,

Fr. Stephen