May the Peace of the Lord be with you,
As we celebrate the 27th week in Ordinary Time, I remain excited by the wonderful Fall Festival we enjoyed two Sundays ago. It was a fantastic afternoon by all accounts. The turnout was great and all seemed to enjoy the fun activities and long overdue social time together. The support and assistance of so many folks was wonderful. Obviously, nothing like this happens by accident. It was a community effort which clearly showed.
You may have noticed that we began baptisms again during our Sunday Masses. These are always inspiring. It is awesome to see young children presented by their families to begin their life with God here in our community. As you know, the anointing with Sacred Chrism oil, the Christ Oil, is a critical part of the baptism ritual. This anointing is referenced in today’s second reading from 2 Timothy. We are reminded of God’s gift anointing each person with the Holy Spirit… “stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather the power of love and self-control.” 2 Tim 1:6-8
This is a reminder of God’s Grace within us. Hopefully, we can see opportunities to allow this extraordinary power to better the lives of others. We need this reminder to avoid being too soft in our lives of faith. Our culture does not want people of strong faith to upset complacency and false values. We are called to love as Christ loves and sometimes that can upset folks. Faith is often hard in the face of contradictory values and falsity. We are charged to guard the faith and trust the Spirit of God within us as He guides us to love no matter the cost to ourselves. As today’s scriptures remind us, we are blessed with much in order to engage in the battle we face.
As I consider the great blessings we possess, I want to let everyone know that we will soon begin the process of forming a collaborative with St. Eulalia’s parish. I have no other details on this project. The purpose is for both communities to become stronger and better prepared for the changing environment we face. We are experiencing great shifts in our communities and we need to act in order to strengthen ourselves and our parish to meet current and future challenges. Most importantly, I want to stress that this is not a move toward closing or merging parishes. Some parishes of this diocese have completed collaboration; each collaborative process and outcome is unique. Be assured St. Mary Parish is NOT closing or merging. The same is true for St. Eulalia Parish. I believe this effort will strengthen both communities.
On a final and positive note, I am excited we resumed our simple soup supper the first Friday of each month. Read the bulletin for details. What an excellent way to end the week — Benediction followed by daily Mass at 5:30 and a simple meal together.
I wish to mention the Book of Remembrance. Beginning on All Soul’s we will pray for those who died over the past year (from last All Souls’ Day on November 2, 2021, to the present). Continuing to love and pray for our deceased relatives and friends is critical. They need our prayers now more than ever! Please submit the names of those you want everyone to pray for. [Link to online submissions: https://www.stmary-winchester.org/book-remembrance]