From the Pastor’s Desk

News from P.I.T. (Pastor in Training)

June 23 – Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reincarnation is the belief that people after death will be brought back into the world, but with a different body and a new life.  I’m so glad that as Catholics, who have the fullness of faith, we know this not to be true.  This isn’t an attack on those who believe in reincarnation, but as I like to point out when it comes to a tenant of our faith, what loving God would allow someone to go through middle school more than once? 

I have to say, growing up as a middle school student, I was definitely driven by emotions and struggled with things of the heart and mind. I believe that everyone has experienced this in some way or another.  Additionally, I believe most modern-day psychologists would call it healthy, and a time of self-discovery.  However, I would argue that one other step that is necessary in our self-discovery, but typically missed, is knowledge that we are grounded in our identity as a son or daughter of God and awareness of the Lord’s presence in our lives. 

I believe my greatest struggles in middle school, high school, and beyond would have subsided if I only extended my trust in the Lord and truly understood his care for me.  In our Gospel we hear that the disciples are in a boat with the Lord.  A huge storm comes while Christ is sleeping in the stern of the boat.  On a side note, the stern is usually the place where one steers the boat. The disciples are afraid and they wake up our Lord saying, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” The Lord wakes up and says to the wind and sea, “Quiet, Be Still!” (Mark :38-39) 

Even though the command is directed at the wind and the sea, I’d argue that we need to ask the Lord to give the same command to our head and heart: “Quiet! Be Still!”  How often we get caught up in the emotions of the heart, or in our heads, and it feels like everything is falling apart; we are terrified not knowing what is beyond the horizon. 

The Lord is a loving God; He desires for us to trust in him with faith, and rest in the knowledge that ultimately, he is in control and always in our midst. What a beautiful gift to have this confidence in our Lord Jesus Christ who continues to reveal himself to us, especially in the gift of the Eucharist.  May we walk away as the disciples did after he calmed the storms: with great awe. 

Father Michael

June 16 – Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

The World’s Greatest Father Happy Father’s Day to all fathers, grandfathers, stepfathers and spiritual fathers! Five weeks ago, we observed Mother’s Day and offered Mass for our moms. Today, on this Father’s Day, we are doing the same – offering our fathers, living or dead, on God, the Father’s altar, invoking our His blessings upon them.

Father’s Day is a special day to remember, acknowledge and appreciate the “World’s Greatest Father,” OUR HEAVENLY FATHER” (Rom. 8:15, Gal. 4:6) Who is Our Spiritual Daddy, actively involved in all areas of our lives. It is He on Whom we lean in times of pain and hurt; it is He on Whom we call in times of need; it is He Who provides for us in all ways — physical, emotional, and spiritual. Many of us pray the “Our Father” day after day, without paying attention to, or experiencing, the love and providence of God. Let us pray the ‘Our Father’ during the Holy Mass, today and every day, realizing the meaning of each clause and experiencing the love of our God for us. May all earthly fathers draw strength from God, the Father!

 God, the Father, gave up His Only Son, Jesus Christ, so that we might be saved through him. God provides the perfect example of the very vocation of fatherhood. Fathers are called to sacrifice their lives for their families. They do this by being the spiritual leader and guardian of their families; praying for and with their families; being a courageous witness to the Gospel; providing care, support and security for their families; serving as an example of goodness and truth; leading with courage and accountability; and laying down their lives for their families. May God, the Father, grow in each man a seed of faith, courage, and love to be fathers who can put forth large branches so that their families can dwell in its shade just as the birds do under the shade of a mustard tree as its recounted in today’s Gospel.

On this day, let us also remember to pray for all priests, our spiritual fathers, especially here with us, Fr. Michael and Fr. Frank – men who are called to be fathers of an immensely large parish family through the Sacrament of Holy Orders. We also pray for the souls of Fr. Hugh and Fr. Don. We thank God for all the fathers! Happy Father’s Day!

Topher Otieno

June 9 – Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

One summer, I was teaching first and second graders about salvation history. I was teaching them about how Mary is the New Eve because, as we can see on so many statues of Mary, she crushes the head of the serpent. As I was saying this, all the first and second graders spontaneously stood up and began stomping on imaginary serpents. In some way, they had gotten the message.

But the First Reading which says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” Doesn’t that mean that Jesus will crush the head of the serpent? Yes, but this passage traditionally reads (in the Latin Vulgate), “She will crush your head.” So which is it? As with many aspects of our faith, the answer is both. Mary crushes the head of the serpent in union with and through the victory of Jesus on the Cross.

Jesus says, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” Even though Satan’s kingdom may not be divided, he delights in sowing division in others. Through the doubt that he has planted in the hearts of Adam and Eve, Satan has successfully divided them from God, from each other, from nature, and internally. They are unable to stand, and because of this, God promises them the woman and her offspring who will crush the head of the serpent, namely Mary and Jesus.

This is what we see in the Gospel. Jesus gains a reputation for driving out demons, even saying that He has tied up the strong man, Satan, to plunder his house. He clearly demonstrates His coming victory over Satan. In the midst of this conversation, Mary and Jesus’ relatives arrive. At first glance, it might seem like Jesus is dismissing them, but we need to look carefully at what He says: “For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Mary is Jesus’ mother not only in virtue of giving birth to Him but also because she does the will of God better than any other human person. We see this most clearly at the Annunciation when she says, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done unto me according to your word,” but her entire life is a “yes” to God. In doing this, she also crushes the head of the serpent in union with Christ.

This union of Jesus and Mary through doing the will of God undoes the division sown by Satan, and shows us that we also can crush the head of the serpent. If anyone who does the will of God is Jesus’ brother and sister and mother, then all we need to do is imitate Mary in staying in union with Jesus Who has already won the victory. When we do this, like my first and second graders, we can also stomp on the head of the serpent.

Father Frank

June 2 – Corpus Christi

In every Mass there are entrance and exit processions with priest, deacons, and servers! Have you ever wondered why? What does this simple gesture of walking in and out of Mass mean? The reason is simple: in this world, we are on a journey. It can be clearly seen in our daily lives. We are constantly on the go, going between point A and point B.  This is seen in our careers, our vocations, but more importantly in our spiritual lives. We are on a journey from this world to the next!

However, like any journey, our spiritual life is filled with many obstacles, crosses, and trials.  And if it isn’t apparent to you by now, let me be the first to tell you: the spiritual journey was never meant to be traveled alone, nor are we un-equipped to make that journey! 

This Sunday we celebrate Corpus Christi – the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ.  It is an old tradition of the Church to have a longer procession with the Eucharist after Mass, which we will do on the parish grounds after the noon Mass. Some churches will carry the Eucharist throughout their entire town. What does this symbolize? Why go out into the world with the Eucharist in a Monstrance (that gold frame in which we carry our Lord)? This procession reveals to those around us, and even to ourselves, that we are on a journey with the Lord; and that our Lord has given us food for that journey.  He has equipped us with His Body and Blood, to feed, nourish, and to give us strength for the road ahead.

On this day of Corpus Christi, let us give praise with joy and gratitude to the Lord our God who gives us His very Body and Blood, and who travels with us in our journey of life!

Father Michael

May 26 – The Holy Trinity

It is with great sadness, that I must say my goodbye to Our Lady of Mercy. I have been at OLM for two years, and this experience has been beautiful. I shared my sentiments at some of the Masses last week, but not fully at all of them. This was because during the first two times I said goodbye at Mass I was extremely emotional. I could hardly say anything at the 4pm Mass on Saturday.

What I truly wanted to share was that when I first came to the parish I had completed four years of college seminary. I completed these first four years in Minnesota at St. John Vianney Seminary. I am extremely grateful for this time because I grew tremendously. However, absent from the experience in Minnesota was a connection to the diocese that I was studying for and preparing myself to serve. During my time of discernment, one of the things that filled my heart as I considered the priesthood was my desire for parish life. Thus, leaving the parish to study for four years in Minnesota was extremely tough for me! Although it was, in my opinion, a necessary step for me. Many of you may have heard the phrase, “healed people heal people”. When I entered seminary, I didn’t think that the Lord needed to do any healing in my life. However, during my time there The Lord pointed out places where he invited me to experience greater joy, peace, and love, even if I didn’t realize it at first because I was not bleeding out or suffering excruciatingly. In many ways, he used my time in Minnesota to prepare me to be sent out into parish life.

Thus, getting the opportunity to serve you at the parish and share in your times of joy, suffering, and grief has been a privilege. Know that during my time here you have been loved, and know that during my time here I have felt loved. I will keep you in my prayers, especially during the upcoming summer program that I am doing in Mexico City. If the Lord allows it and if you are able, it would be a wonderful thing to see you all at my deaconate and priesthood ordinations.

Please keep me in your prayers and don’t be a stranger if you ever see me around!

Jonathan Hernandez

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