The Roman Catholic Community of Waterbury, Waitsfield and Moretown Vermont HOME BULLETIN

Archive of Messages from Father Jerry

May 19, 2017

Message from Father Jerry

The Bishop’s Confirmation message is one of those occasions I like to share with parishioners. On Thursday, May 18th, Confirmation of our youth was celebrated at St. Augustine Church. At the beginning of mass, Bishop Coyne warmly welcomed everyone (it was in fact very hot), thanking parents, sponsors, catechists, musicians, Knights of Columbus, and he even suggested that the young men consider the call of the Lord to priesthood.

His homily was based on three Books leading to the central message that the Gifts of the Spirit are given but must be used. I will share just one of the Books of the three that he related in his message. It is a story about a book - the Bible. There was a wealthy man, righteous and devout, who had a nephew who was not devout and even an atheist. This nephew resisted his uncle’s piety and attempts at converting him, but put up with him because he was his uncle and he was rich. The nephew marries and the uncle gives him a gift of a beautiful Bible. On opening the gift the nephew is angered by the gift, never opens the Bible and the box eventually is placed in the attic. Years later, long after the uncle passes away, the nephew is cleaning out the attic, comes across the box, opens it again, opens the Bible and discovers that the uncle had inserted a $50 bill in every other page of the Bible. The story can be interpreted in different ways, but central is that Faith is a Gift, Gifts of the Spirit are valuable and even free, but one must accept and use them. Father Jerry

May 12, 2017

Message from Father Jerry

Mother's Day

May is very much the Month for Mothers: Mother's Day and in our Catholic tradition the Month of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. This year, May has special significance in that this is the 100th Anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima, encouraging her children, the Church, to pray for her motherly intercession and protection. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all mothers, receiving the thanksgiving of the Church and prayers for every blessing:

Loving God, through the intercession of Holy Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of all the Faithful, bless these our mothers. Strengthen their faith, let their love shine forth. Grant that we, their daughters and sons, may honor them always and pray for them in life and when they have gone to their reward. Grant this through Christ our Lord. AMEN

April 14, 2017

Message from Father Jerry

”Every year I share a reflection/summary of the Bishop's message given at the Chrism Mass. I think it is one of the important events in which our pastor speaks to his brother priests and the faithful. Bishop Coyne began his homily with the imagery of “Vision”, the reading from Revelation having just been read. While the Book of Revelation has always been perplexing, filled with visions and imagery used by St. John, the essence of the Scripture is the primacy of Jesus Christ “The Alpha and Omega, the one who is and was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev. 1:8). The Bishop then spoke of his brief time in the Diocese and how when meeting many of the faithful, they have asked what “plans,” “things,” or “vision” does he have in mind for the church in Vermont. Not to avoid or excuse himself, he has been saying he is still learning and listening. It was at this homily/address that the Bishop has now called for a Diocesan Synod. This will be the first Synod since 1963. It is time, the Bishop feels, to invite the priests, faithful and he to a deep, concentrated effort to listen and share “vision” for the Church. This announcement at the Chrism Mass was unexpected and far from the usual. The last Synod in Vermont was held at a time of great change during the 2nd Vatican Council. This Synod beginning some time next Spring no doubt comes at a time no less crucial in the life of the Catholic Church in Vermont. -Father Jerry

The Lord Is truly Risen, ALLELUIA - Happy Easter to All !!!!

March 10, 2017

Message from Father Jerry

In the recent “Vermont Catholic,” primarily focused on the Year of Creation, Bishop Coyne further elaborates on the call to the Diocese to study, unpack and live Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si, On Care for Our Common Home.” This initiative is a local church effort (Diocese of Burlington), to take seriously our moral obligation of faith to care for earth, God's gift. We can start by reading this special issue of the Vermont Catholic and following the various events proposed by the Diocese. To this end, our next Pastoral Council meeting (after Easter) will be devoted to the study of the Holy Father's encyclical and discussion on its impact to our local Catholic communities.

The other issue of concern in the Diocese is Liturgy. In recent times the Bishop re-instituted the Diocese Pastoral Council, which has not been functioning for many years. This Diocesan Committee is made up of Lay parishioners throughout the state, representing all our Deaneries. This Diocesan Pastoral Council has just recently started to meet. One of the Council's concerns was the need for renewal of preaching. This was acted upon by a couple of sessions /reflection days with the Bishop and priests. This is still a work in progress. However, another issue of concern is the renewal of the Liturgy/Music in parishes. The Bishop has appointed a director of Worship, Joshua Perry, and has called for an important Diocesan Conference on Music/Liturgy for all our Musicians on Saturday, May 20, 2017 at St. Michael's College, Colchester. This emphasis on Catholic worship/liturgy could also be a major topic for our own Pastoral Council. More to come on these issues. -Father Jerry

February 19, 2017

Message from Father Jerry

wPGsoz http://www.FyLitCl7Pf7ojQdDUOLQOuaxTXbj5iNG.com

February 10, 2017

Message from Father Jerry

In a recent article entitled: “It's Time to Fix 'the Sunday School' Culture” the point was made that Catholic School/Parish education needs to change to make education of children more effective. The faith and generosity of Catholic volunteers and teachers was gratefully acknowledged and praised, but it was noted that we are living in different times where “religious belief and self-identification [as Catholics] are not supported by social norms.” The basic issue implies that Catholic education must do more than hand on the basics of faith; it must also introduce children to the heart of our faith [Christ], who desires not only well-informed students but life-long disciples.” I would offer my personal view on this present day challenge. First of all, I stress always the dedication, faithfulness and generosity of our teachers, aides, staff and parents. I always point out that teaching religion class is like nothing else. It is always about teaching/informing AND forming/transforming, students and teachers alike. Teachers, their living example of faith, and their teaching, are inseparable. Secondly, we cannot have formation of the youth without imparting the basics of Scripture and Catholic tradition. My last point is especially important; sometimes as adults we wish to have the young arrive at a more developed faith before their time. Even as adults we are always growing in knowledge and maturity. Do we acknowledge that times have really changed? Do we wish we could all be better at imparting the faith in Jesus? Being “life-long disciples” (as the article calls) is not an easy matter and mysterious, like Christ's parable of the Sower and the Seeds indicates (Matt. 13). In any case, what would it take for parishes, schools, teachers, parents and pastors to improve faith education in our young?

February 3, 2017

Message from Father Jerry

We conclude Catholic school week, celebrating the tradition of Catholic education in schools and in our parish programs. In a recent article in the Catholic publication “America” an article entitled “It's Time to Fix the Sunday School Culture,” points to the challenge of the crisis of Catholic Education in our country: A public school with a dropout rate of 50% and 2/3 of local parents opting out would be considered failing ...and would likely close down.” It cites that, in a 2014 study, 68% of Catholic parents decide not to enroll their child in any form of religious education and more than half of millennials report going to Mass a few times a year or less. The article goes on to say that Catholic parish or school education presently conducted do not give young people a compelling reason to believe. This is the central point of the article and presents challenges “to fix” our Catholic faith education programs for the youth. (to be continued....)

January 20, 2017

Message from Father Jerry

Starting off the New Year, having completed the Jubilee Year of Mercy, I am anticipating calling our Parish Pastoral Council together in the near future. We have not met in some time. I was thinking about considering, evaluating and renewing our parishes' celebration of the Eucharist (celebration of Holy Mass). This would be quite an undertaking, considering we have four Sunday celebrations. However, in the meantime, Bishop Coyne has committed the Diocese to observe 2017 as the YEAR OF CREATION.” This proposal is inspired by the Holy Father's encyclical, “Laudato Si: On the Care for Our Common Home.” This initiative has been cited in the recent Inland See publication (January 7, '17). Perhaps this Pastoral Council meeting will focus on two issues: 2017 Year of Creation and the Parish Liturgy. - Father Jerry

December 21, 2016

Message from Father Jerry

“It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...” as I write this message. But Christmas is still 10 days away and New Year's Day is in 16 days, and by the way, winter is 6 days away. With the early snow this year (alleluia), the carols already being sung, various festivities bringing family and friends together, let us pray that all of our churches might fittingly celebrate with Joy and Reverence the Birth of Christ at Holy Mass. May we make a determined effort to make the worship of “Emmanuel” [God With Us] a priority throughout the whole year.

Merry Christmas Season and Blessings of Peace, Joy and Love in 2017! - Father Jerry

November 23, 2016

Message from Father Jerry

With the celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King, the Church has concluded this Jubilee Year of Mercy. It is fitting though, that as we bring to a close this Year of Mercy/Grace, we begin a New Year of the Church with the First Sunday of Advent. Rather than leaving Mercy behind (as it were), Advent celebrates and prepares us for the Incarnation of Mercy in Christ. Let us make this Advent a time to celebrate continued Mercy by experiencing the Forgiveness of Sin in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, showing mercy through our parish and individual projects in works of charity and sacrifice, and at the same time try to steal some time for a bit more prayer in the holy season of preparation that we call Advent. - Father Jerry

September 29, 2016

Message from Father Jerry

Presbyteral Days (continued)

Our recent priestly meeting with Bishop Coyne (Presbyteral Days) focused on preaching the Word of God. This will be a year-long project to discuss and highlight preaching in our churches. As far as “strategies” go, preaching needs to incorporate 4 elements: kerygma (praise and proclaiming “Good News”), Catechesis (teaching), and liturgical (preaching is connected with the particular Liturgy of the day/season/feast), Mystagogy (leading us to a deeper from the sacramental to divine mysteries). This is quite a tall order in a 10 minute homily. However, this is precisely the point: homilies are not isolated occasions of preaching. Liturgical preaching provides formation over time, is preached to believers, has continuity with the Mass, and is based on Scriptural texts. We were reminded of the four-fold foundations of preaching. Also, all present were given a copy of the document on “homiletic directory” from the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments” for study and reflection. - Father Jerry

September 16, 2016

Message from Father Jerry

Presbyteral Days

As is my custom, I would like to share a bit about our yearly gathering of Priests and our Bishop (September 6-8). The morning Mass on Wednesday presided and preached by Bishop Coyne set the agenda and the theme for this year's meeting. The Gospel was Luke's Beatitudes (Chapter 6). The Bishop spoke about the preaching of Jesus, how he was one with the people, knew them and was able to proclaim “Good News” and yet warn of the “Woes” to come for those who do not live or believe in the Kingdom. It was in his homily that the Bishop indicated what the topic would be for our 2-day meeting: PREACHING. You see, the Bishop recently initiated the Diocese Pastoral Council (like a regular Parish Council, but made up of the laity representing all the deaneries throughout the state - 25 members to be exact). In one of the early meetings the 25 representatives were divided into 5 groups discussing the successes, trials, challenges to the Church in Vermont. While there were many opinions and varied concerns among the groups, THE common and noticeable element in all the groups was the need for improved preaching. So this was an incentive for the Bishop to address this concern of the people for this Presbyteral Meeting. This year there was not a retreat director/speaker. Instead the Bishop and the priests of the Diocese addressed the topic of preaching in our parishes. (To be continued next week: The first thing to consider: What are our congregations; make-up, background? Who are our people?) - Father Jerry

July 29, 2016

Message from Father Jerry

Let's Talk about the New Evangelization!continued………….

-Do we need Catholic Evangelization? We think so!

-Do we ever wonder why more people do not make the practice of the faith part of their lives?

The new Diocesan Director of Evangelization will be conducting 1½ hour workshops in various churches throughout the state. See the bulletin-board advertisements! These free workshops are open to all but especially for parish staff, catechists, volunteers, DREs, pastors. It would be great to have a number of our parishioners attend. I will be going to the workshop on Monday, August 22nd at St. Jude Parish in Hinesburg. If anyone else is interested in attending, let me know. There are a variety of places and times for these workshops. -Father Jerry

July 22, 2016

Message from Father Jerry

Let's Talk about the New Evangelization!

What is the New Evangelization? Why is the Church Calling for it? How does it apply to Vermont? This FREE workshop is open to all, and especially beneficial to parish staff, volunteers, parish committee members, DREs, priests, pastors and interested lay people. There are many sites where these workshops are taking place during the month of August. Check the posters at the entrance of our churches for all the times and places. The two offered in our Deanery will be on Thursday August 25 at 10:00 AM at Our Lady of the Angels in Randolph and the other at 6:30 PM at St. Augustine in Montpelier. Please call the rectory to indicate your desire to attend any of these 1.5 hour sessions. I will be attending myself and it would be great to have a few of our interested parishioners come along. - Father Jerry

July 15, 2016

Message from Father Jerry

Summer Church

We certainly are in summer mode. However, we should make a conscious effort to renew ourselves in the “full, active and conscious participation in the sacred liturgy” [2nd Vatican Council]. With visitors among us, sometimes smaller attendance at Masses, and more limited music or lay ministers at Mass, it becomes very important to celebrate the Sacred Mass as best we can. While there is always the case where one arrives late or leaves early from Mass, please try to be on time or better yet arrive early and stay for the whole Eucharist. While there are occasions when we speak to one another before or during Mass, conversation/needless talking can be disrespectful to the Lord and distracting to those who are praying. Whenever I go to Mass, I make it a point to respond, sing and join in the celebration especially when there is a smaller congregation. We should be aware that our individual participation or lack thereof, does affect the quality of the Mass. Also, as an added point of concern for our practicing Catholics: at funerals, weddings or when there is a smaller congregation, please try to respond to the prayers and sing with extra strength so as to encourage participation by those who are less familiar with the Mass. Your strong responses and voice go a long way to enliven the Mass. That's all for now! Thank you! -Father Jerry

July 1, 2016

Message from Father Jerry

While we celebrate our national birthday and highest civic holiday, recalling the gift of freedom, accomplishments of the past, and many of us giving thanks to God for the gifts of our nation, we also know our “Freedom” (Independence) is still in the making, as is, our country. True freedom as we heard from St. Paul last Sunday in the Scriptures, is not doing “what we want” (license) for selfish purposes or for doing harm (which is the meaning of the phrase “living according to the flesh”). Freedom is not an ultimate goal or value. It is a condition where we are free from external or internal constraints in order to do what “we must do” or “to do good” which as human beings is what is most important. The Catholic Church is very mindful of this important truth. We have a liturgy, with a special Preface and prayers for our country, in thanksgiving to God, and petitions for the ever growing formation of our freedom and the growth of our nation.

June 24, 2016

Message from Father Jerry

As I write this note, today is the first full day of summer. It is a bright and beautiful day, but I am struck with fear. Come the 4th of July, summer will have to come to an end it seems, before we know it. It always happens. Where does the time go and all those projects that we planned for the nice weather? We are now in the summer mode. As Catholics, “church-going” does not take “Time-off” as most Christian churches do. As it is said “Time Doesn't Take Time-Off!!” Neither does Mass take Time-off.” Let us do the best we can to attend Mass when traveling or vacationing and certainly continue celebrating the Eucharist throughout the summer when we are home. Our parishes are in summer mode. We are not always sure if we will have scheduled servers, lectors, Eucharistic ministers or musicians or many people present, but the Mass will be celebrated.

Wishing parishioners and visitors a great summer, filled with blessings and graces from the Lord who never sleeps or takes “Time-off” or “Time-out”. -Father Jerry

June 17, 2016

Message from Father Jerry

What more can be said after yet another tragic act of violence in the Orlando massacre? Words, gestures of solidarity in grief, have come from near and far. Perhaps a moment of silence is most fitting, as has been the done in some places and circumstances. Is a moment of silence the socially correct manner of remembrance without committing ourselves to prayer? Our Catholic tradition is unique in that our prayers for the dead can aid in their eternal salvation and judgment. Certainly our Christian faith professes that our prayers for the living are effective for the encouragement, healing, comfort of the loved ones of those who have perished “before their time”. Let us pray! This weekend's Masses will include special prayers and prefaces for both the departed and those who mourn.

May 25, 2016

Message from Father Jerry

Memorial Day

This Monday is a national holiday, given so that this nation’s citizens may honor those who have gone before us. We remember the dead in a number of ways; visitation, prayers and adornment of cemeteries and gravesites. There are local traditions such as parades and here in the Waterbury area we have the “Ghost Walk”. The Catholic tradition is to celebrate Mass in our cemeteries or in our local parish church. The Mass on Monday, at the usual time - 8 AM - is the Votive Mass for the Faithful Departed, with special readings from Scripture; especially remembering those who have passed away since the last Memorial Day Mass, parishioners and those buried at our Catholic cemetery, Holy Cross.

Almighty God and Father, by the mystery of the cross, you have made us strong; by the sacrament of the resurrection you have sealed us as your own. Look kindly upon your servants now freed from the bonds of mortality, and count them among your saints in heaven. We ask this through Christ our Lord.Amen [Catholic Book of Blessings #1749]

May 13, 2016

Message from Father Jerry

Confirmation is one of those occasions when I usually like to give a brief summary of our Bishop's homily (although you may have heard some of it on his Facebook, Blog, etc.). It is one of the most important addresses he gives. This past Thursday, Bishop Coyne gave some biblical foundation of the number “40” (40 years in the desert and Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness, etc.). The reference pointed to the 40 days of Easter (the Feast of the Ascension), in which we were actually celebrating these confirmations. The Bishop was quite astute to notice that there were exactly 50 youth being confirmed, matching the 50 days of Easter, Pentecost. The main theme of the Bishop was that Confirmation was not a completion of religious training or a graduation, but rather a completion of the Initiation Sacraments (especially the fulfillment of the promises made by their parents at Baptism). Confirmation is rather a Beginning of a new, more mature, active life of faith lived in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit; these gifts being Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Right Judgment, Courage, Reverence, Holy Fear (“Awe”) in God's presence. [These are the historical, biblical, traditional gifts that God wishes to give to help us live life more fully and productively. The newly confirmed, as well as anyone already confirmed, can still pray and ask for any of these special gifts that have already been given.]

May 6, 2016

Message from Father Jerry

First Communion Celebrations

Last weekend, we celebrated First Holy Communion at St. Andrew and St. Patrick churches. With praise and thanksgiving to God, I wish to extend praise and thanksgiving to the teachers, who made this day possible. With the musicians and the children themselves, who were so involved and prepared to lead us in the Mass, thank you on behalf of all our parishioners for these joyful and holy celebrations. For those who prepared wonderful receptions afterward. Many thanks !!! - Father Jerry

April 1, 2016

Message from Father Jerry

Easter Thanks!

Many thanks to our musicians, singers, servers, and decorators of the churches, for the Holy celebrations of Easter. Also, we appreciate the many and generous memorial donations by our parishioners, making possible fitting adornment for the Lord at Easter. Many thanks also for a renewed participation in this year's Rice Bowl project especially directed by our young people. Alleluia!!!

March 25, 2016

Message from Father Jerry

Happy Easter!!! Alleluia, Christ IS Risen!!!

Lenten preparations have been completed and now we begin to celebrate that JESUS IS RISEN, not only that Christ has risen, as if it were a once-and-done happening. But because Christ is Risen, He is Alive forever, Risen and Lives in Glory. He is Alive in Glory with the Father, still bearing the Wounds of the Cross, but in Glory. He is Alive in our memory, in His Words and in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood, and where “two or three” are gathered in His Name. And because of His Cross and Resurrection we are truly Alive in Him.

March 18, 2016

Message from Father Jerry

Here we are at the beginning of Passion Week, with the celebration of Christ's Joyful entrance into Jerusalem concluding with the Narration of the Passion. How has our Lenten penance, prayer and acts of charity been? Well, if you are like me, I would say that (like usual), I just started to get into it in the last week or so. Meatless Fridays, not-eating between meals, intentions of reading, praying more, and watching less TV has had mixed results. Even with keeping Lenten resolutions, the keeping of these resolutions have been at times done as a chore, duty or as a point of prideful accomplishment. So, the Church knows our predicament, and gives us Palm Sunday and provides for us a preview of Good Friday with the Narration of the Passion. The Church knows that only a few will be able to attend the Holy Thursday Lord's Supper and the Good Friday Service, so this grand celebration of Joy, Suffering, Death of Christ offers the “masses of believers” a chance to catch up, steal some moments of reflection, “cram” for the Paschal Mystery, The Death and Resurrection of the Lord. This is Holy Week. Let us pray that in this, the Holiest of Weeks, we might take advantage of any circumstances to prepare ourselves for the Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord

January 29, 2016

Message from Father Jerry

This message is a departure from the normal (or I should say usual) message concerning church issues, parish activities, etc. Roger Haigh, long-time organist, both at St. Andrew and Our Lady of the Snows, has retired as our primary organist for our community of St. Andrew. I will say without hesitation, that I have never witnessed a musician so dedicated to the liturgy as Roger. He has such a love and reverence for the liturgy. He practices hours, plans the music far ahead of time and is so consistent in playing at our Masses. I hope he doesn't mind me telling this story. Many years ago at university and in graduate studies, Roger played organ for churches to provide funds for his education. He made a promise that in the future he would return the favor and play the organ for churches free of charge. For many years he has been true to his promise. On behalf of our churches and every church in which he has served, I thank Roger for his consistency, devotion, faith, and the exemplary dedication that he has set. [I guess this message has more relevance to church, God and Christian life than I had thought]. Best wishes Roger and prayers also for you, Nancy, your family and Abigail! -Father Jerry

January 22, 2016

Message from Father Jerry

One of my resolutions this year is to listen to more of the CDs that we have in our churches (Lighthouse Catholic Media). While driving or in some spare time I could review a number of these. So far, I have listened to three CDs: “Seven Deadly Sins, Seven Lively Virtues” by Fr. Robert Barron (author of “Catholicism”), “Unlocking the Book of Revelation” by Dr. Michael Barber, “Science, Faith and Evolution” by Fr. Spitzer, SJ. I chose these titles because of their relevance in these times in which we live.

In an age that tries to ignore sin, Fr. Barron gives a very good presentation on the “Deadly” sins, but gives an even better practical presentation on the virtues to help us live in grace.

Even among some Christians, the Book of Revelation has been poorly presented, has caused greater confusion and is even used to attack the Catholic Church. This CD “Unlocking the Book of Revelation is a very good Catholic explanation of the Book of Revelation.

Fr. Robert Spitzer's CD on “Science, Faith and Evolution” explains that there is no contradiction of true Faith and Science. He also gives a good explanation for the “Intelligent Design” theory of Creation.

I have restocked our CD collections in our churches. There are many more titles on a wide variety of topics, along with short pamphlets. We also have pamphlets from Abbey Press on spiritual helps in our various challenges in life.

January 15, 2016

Message from Father Jerry

“ Tis the Season...” has passed and now we are in the Season of Ordinary Time. As we might wish to regulate, separate and neatly arrange time and weather, we are humbled that nature has its own time and seasons. Recently we have seen and witnessed violent storms, tornadoes, floods and oddly enough droughts also. To quote Archbishop Joseph Kurtz on behalf of the U.S. Catholic Bishops “Unfortunately, the traditional storm seasons seem to have given way to much more unpredictable weather and natural disasters seem to be increasingly commonplace. In anticipation of more domestic disasters awaiting us this year, I ask that we make a special appeal for the ongoing domestic disasters which began in December, 2015 and for those to come in 2016. We join with our Holy Father who invited everyone to pray for the victims of the calamities which in these days have befallen the United States, Great Britain, and South America...

May the Lord give comfort to all these peoples and may fraternal solidarity aid them in their need…”

[Additional information on the U.S. Catholic community's response to this emergency and how U.S. Catholics can help can be found at www.catholiccharities.org ] There will be two separate collections on the weekend of January 16/17. The Second Collection will be for the Disaster Relief. The checks can be made out to your particular parish with a memo: Catholic Charities USA. Thank You!

January 8, 2016

Message from Father Jerry

The Grace of the Jubilee Year of Mercy is more than a personal acknowledgment of God's mercy towards us. No “Jubilee (Joyous) Year of Mercy” would be complete without our desire for and actual showing God's mercy to others. In our last bulletin, I spoke about the Scriptural tradition and Jesus' teaching on the Corporal Works of Mercy. These Works of Mercy are not far removed for us, and are perhaps being fulfilled in our life, even without our knowledge. I gave some examples of “Corporal Works”; now we shall consider the Spiritual Works of Mercy, also very attainable and realized in our life. These are: Counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offenses, bearing wrongs patiently, praying for the living and the dead. No doubt, some of these we practice in connection with the Eucharist, where we in fact pray for the Living and the Dead, pray for forgiveness and pray that we forgive others (through the Penitential Rite, the Prayer of the Faithful and the Lord Prayer). Do not parents, catechist, pastors, friends correct bad behavior or instruct children and adults in Christ-like attitudes and actions? Nevertheless, these Spiritual Works of Mercy run contrary to our “human nature” and culture, when we speak about “bearing wrong patiently” or “forgiving” or admonishing “sinners.” “Patience” is not a valued virtue in our culture, nor is “bearing wrong” (that is without vengeances or intent to “pay-back”). Although we are all sinners, where do we ever hear that there is “SIN” that needs to be called for what it is and pointed out when it is serious? The Spiritual Works of Mercy can be practiced and are attainable in ourselves, but they are not as readily appreciated by others as are the Corporal Works of Mercy. These “Spiritual Works” require a more mature and in-depth “spirituality”.

December 30, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

Many thanks to all parishioners for your dedication to our churches by your support of our communities; in the service of decorating the churches, providing for the various ministries and most of all by your celebrating the Holy Masses of the Christmas Season.

Every Christmas Season is unique in that we experience this Season of Grace according to our present circumstances of life (health, work, family) whether they be challenges or blessings, or a mixture of the two. However, this year is unique and special, because the Season began with the Dedication of the Year of Mercy on Advent Sunday, December 13th and will extend to the Solemnity of Christ the King on November 20, 2016.

In the next couple of issues of the bulletin, I will give some reflections on the Works of Mercy. The Grace of the Jubilee Year of Mercy is more than personal acknowledgment of God's mercy towards us. No Jubilee [Joyous] Year would be complete without our desire to show mercy to others. Catholic tradition, based on Jesus' teaching and Old Testament piety, teaches that there are Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. The Corporal Works of Mercy are ways which help our neighbors in their material-human needs: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and the imprisoned, bury the dead. In our modern world, these practices may take on different expressions. In ancient and former days, there were no social agencies and networks for helping people. No doubt that giving food or money to the local food shelf, giving to our several Catholic “special collections” in fact, does feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, cloth the naked. There are many homeless shelters (but not enough it seems), where volunteers give shelter to the homeless literally and those who support these shelters in fact give shelter to the homeless. Locally, our Waterbury Good Neighbor Fund and our Mad River Valley Interfaith Council provide emergency relief with the basics of food, shelter, heating and fulfill the dictates of these works of mercy. The corporal work of mercy “burying the dead” is one that seems to have little connection in our society now. However, in ancient times, this work was very important in a literal sense, as there were no funeral homes, directors, and the elaborate social customs that we have today. In our modern world and culture, we might think about fulfilling “burying the dead” in a non-literal but important way: attending a funeral service or Mass and praying for the dead, having a Mass celebrated for a deceased, going to a funeral home and giving consolation to mourners. The Corporal Works of Mercy are many but also varied in our practical and communal application of these “works”. [to be continued...]

December 18, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

Advent/Christmas 2015

As I write this message, there is yet a lot of time left to Advent. The Message of advent is always “Watch and Wait”. In these last days we might say “Hurry Up and Wait!” May we all catch a moment or two of God’s blessings of prayer, quiet moments of reflection, or unexpected graces of Jesus’ presence.

Merry Christmas Day and Joyous Christmas Season!

In advance, my gratitude to all who decorate, provide ministry of reading, serving, music and greeting for our Christmas liturgies. Father Jerry, Dec. 11, 2015

October 9, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

Bishop's Coyne's Address At the recent Presbyteral Days meeting, Bishop Coyne gave what could be called the State of the Diocese Address. First of all, he encouraged priests to attend a yearly retreat and to form priest support groups. He then proceeded to outline priorities for the diocese in the coming year, some of which include: renewal of lay apostolate program and diaconate program, hiring of a new director of youth ministry, appointing Fr. Jon Schnobrich as vocation director. He spoke at some length about this Jubilee Year of Mercy called by Pope Francis, beginning with a prayer service at the Cathedral, with representatives from each parish, on the 3rd Sunday of Advent. More information will be forthcoming on various activities in the Year of Mercy as well as more detailed information on the Holy Father's desire to streamline the process of Church annulments. The Bishop also asked that parishes continued to offer the Blessed Sacrament under both species as a greater sign of the Eucharistic meal. Each parish should have at least one weekend Mass where the chalice is offered. This will also provide an opportunity for communicants who are gluten sensitive to receive Holy Communion. Lastly, the Bishop explained that he would be away from the diocese in the weeks to come engaged as one of the bishops preparing for the Pope's visit to the States. (This report was given by Bishop Coyne September 9th.)

September 25, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

Pope’s Visit - Sunday, September 27 - Philadelphia

As Pope Francis celebrates Mass on the parkway in Philadelphia at the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families, let us all join him in the “World Meeting of Families Prayer”:

God and Father of us all, in Jesus, your Son and Our Savior, you have made us your sons and daughters in the family of the Church. May your grace and love help our families in every part of the world be united to one another in the fidelity of the Gospel. May the example of the Holy Family, with the aid of your Holy Spirit, guide all families, especially those most troubled, to be homes of communion and prayer and to always seek your truth and live in your love. Through Christ our Lord, Amen. Excerpts from The Roman Missal © 2010, ICEL. © 2015,U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

September 17, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

This year’s annual get-together with the priests of the Diocese and Bishop Coyne (called Presbyteral Days) was held September 8 - 10th. The speaker was Fr. Jack Rathschmidt, O.F.M. Cap. The conferences focused on being “merciful servants of the new Evangelization”. The “new evangelization,” popularized by Pope John Paul II, refers to the current situation in the church. In the past, evangelization was a matter of missionaries bringing to faith those ignorant of Jesus. The “new evangelization” impels us to be missionaries in our society, where faith has been either rejected or allowed to slip away, stagnate. Fr. Jack focused on the qualities of priests being first of all “thankful,” and “joyful”: (as Pope Francis often reminds us). We were led to consider “What would be the tools we need as individuals to become a more joyful servant of the new evangelism?” Have I become a missionary/pilgrim of the new evangelization? The focus of “Mercy” no doubt comes from Pope Francis' calling for a Jubilee Year of Mercy in the Church. This Year of Mercy will begin in Advent with participation of Catholics on the national, diocesan and parish level. Of course, any consideration of being “merciful servants of the ‘New Evangelization’ ” is not limited to priests, bishops and religious but rather to all practicing Catholics. Hopefully the coming year of pilgrimage of mercy will be a blessing for the Church. [Next week's bulletin will include a summary of our Bishop's State of the Diocese talk]

September 11, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

St. Andrew Parish Religious Ed Classes for our Youth begin this Sunday. Many thanks to our coordinator, Amanda Badeau, our teachers, and aides for this important ministry of service to our youth and the Church. Many thanks to all the parents who have assumed their promise, at their children's baptism, to educate them in the practice of the faith. I make a special plea to parishioners who are familiar with our program to encourage friends, neighbors, relatives who have not yet been involved in our program to consider enrolling their children. Our parish religious instruction can benefit children, our teachers, parents, families and our parish.

September 4, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

At our priest deanery meeting in June with Bishop Coyne, the subject of parish closures and mergers came up. The Bishop appreciated that several of our parishes throughout the Diocese were administered by priests from various countries around the world. He envisioned that visiting priests would receive preparation and formation here as a means to better acculturate and prepare them for ministry.

With regard to increased vocations, the Bishop expressed the need to have a full-time vocation director pro-actively encouraging local priestly vocations.

Bishop Coyne, then responded to concerns about closure/merging of parishes. While he had no specific plans or criteria for parishes, he did challenge parishes to be viable/vital not only financially but more importantly more dynamic spiritually. Parishes would need to be communities that offer more than places for weekend Masses. Parishes would need to be communities where faith is alive liturgically; having religious education, active R.I.C.A programs, reaching out to bring adults to greater faith, receive them into the church (evangelization), and celebrate the sacraments. [This latter point made by the Bishop, was to my mind, a challenge to all of us. It is a call to not only maintain our parish activities but focus on building up the community in spirit and in numbers. For example, our parishes have had adult religious education, RICA and Scripture classes at times responding to needs or interest. Perhaps we would seek to make these sessions on-going and permanent ministries in our communities…?]

This message was presented as a follow-up to a previous message on August 9th. As most parishioners know, the three-day meeting, -- Presbyteral Days -- is a meeting with the priests and the Bishop. This year's conference takes place Tuesday, September 8 – 10. I am looking forward to this year's gathering; especially as it will be the first such meeting with our new Bishop. As I normally do, there will be a brief report in our parish bulletin after our meeting. - Father Jerry

August 7, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

Bishop Coyne visited our deanery priest meeting not long ago. In the course of our meeting he spoke about his vision of the Catholic Diocese of Vermont. He compared the Diocesan church to a parish. As a parish would have different ministries and organizations to make up a vital community, so should the Diocesan church. While he mentioned the various organizations and ministries of the Diocese, he noted the lack of a Youth Coordinator and Liturgical Committee, as most parishes (especially those who have a parish council), would have. It made me think that perhaps this might be a direction our parishes could go. I am thinking that perhaps, not necessarily as incorporated in the Pastoral Council, but a functioning Liturgical Committee could be set up with interested parishioners. Youth groups and ministries are very difficult these days, even in parishes that are large. However, it might be beneficial to have, at the least, a youth member on the council or perhaps an adult member of the parish who specifically represents the youth in the plans and direction of the parish council. September is the month when our programs start up again and the parish returns to regular activities. Among these would be the resuming of the Parish Council. At that time we might consider these points about two important ministries in our parish. In next week's bulletin, I will conclude with a couple of other ideas and points made by the Bishop, that are important for our thought and consideration. - Father Jerry

June 26, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

As many are aware, there will be a World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia later this year. It has been said that the Family is the “Domestic Church”. It is the first church where children learn the faith and family members pray and practice the social and spiritual lessons of life. As the Family goes so goes the Church and the World. Along with the Pope, Bishops around the world, especially in the West, have expressed the need to address the challenges of family life in the contemporary world. Far from being a clergy (priests and bishops) undertaking, last year every diocese in the country made available to all parishioners a questionnaire concerning family and faith in preparation for the Synod on the Family. The next few issues of our parish bulletin will focus on some excerpts from various talks or writings on the Family. This concern for the family has been a theme echoed throughout the Holy Father's papacy. He has observed “that the family and marriage are undergoing a deep inner crisis in the countries of the Western world” and this reality makes the family “a new mission field for the Church.” (to be continued...)

June 19, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

Father's Day

Father's Day (as well as Thanksgiving and Mother's Day) are great American inventions. Are we not taught from our youngest years to say “Thank You”? In words and gifts made or given, there is a valuable lesson in teaching gratitude, even when for much of the time we “take for granted” blessings of every type even and especially parents. I would dare to say when “Father's Day” was envisioned, there was no thought of our present reality; single parents, step-parents, blended families, etc. Yet, in our present society, our knowledge of parents' limitations and our own recognition of weaknesses as children, acknowledging our gratitude is still necessary for our growth as human and spiritual beings. Growth in expressing gratitude is still a process that should continue from our youngest years to old age, even though we might “Feel” less thankful in later years. As we express our thanks on Father's Day, for those living and departed, we as Eucharist [“thankful”] people offer our prayers of thanks and petitions in the Mass. It is at every Mass that we also give thanks to God, the Heavenly Father, for not only the Blessings we have received but simply “thank God for being God” more Fatherly than any father on earth.

June 5, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ:

On the Solemnity of Pentecost, we were encouraged that “no one can say JESUS IS LORD, except by the Holy Spirit.” Last week, in the Solemnity of The Most Holy Trinity, the same Holy Spirit encourages us to intimacy in calling God “ABBA FATHER” as Jesus himself prayed. This Solemnity of Corpus Christi (The Body and Blood of Christ), assures us that the intimacy, that the Lord wishes for us to experience, is so strong that he gives himself to us as food “Eat my Body and drink my Blood”. As we enter Ordinary Time, we are given these Solemnities in succession to encourage, impel, and empower us to accept this great, mysterious, and awesome Love of God. There is nothing ordinary about this extraordinary love of God.

May 29, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

Trinity Sunday

After the long seasons of Lent and Easter, we aren't really ready to go back to Ordinary Time are we? We still celebrate the great Solemnities of The Holy Trinity and The Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

This week's Feast, The Holy Trinity, is less a celebration of a doctrine than it is a celebration of God's Revelation of Himself to us. The mysterious (Awesome) God, reveals Himself to us and wishes to be known intimately by His creatures as Moses says “Did anything so great ever happen before? Did a people ever hear God's voice and live? Did any god ever take a nation for himself?”

St. Paul reminds us, the Spirit deepens the intimacy of this ancient the Lord God. Where now we can call the Almighty God “ABBA” (“Daddy”), in the same way Jesus called the Father and invited us to do the same. It was Christ's Life, Death, Resurrection and the Sending of the Holy Spirit that enables us, as adopted children, to have a close and more familiar relationship with God.

May 22, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

Pentecost Sunday

This Solemnity which concludes the Easter Season has a Vigil celebration which reminds us of the Easter Vigil, the beginning of the Easter Season. In the Vigil Mass the account of the Tower of Babel is read. This ancient story which illustrates humankind's efforts to be like God, causes the confusion of many languages and cultures, which we no doubt still experience in today's world as regrettable. However, the spiritual significance of Pentecost is that by the Holy Spirit we do not return to a pre-babel state of uniformity, but something much better. In the great diversity of human language and culture, people of many languages and cultures hear one Gospel. The Pentecost is the great Power of the Spirit creating Unity-In-Diversity, which is never possible by our own human efforts, because we are in fact threatened by diversity and differences. Pentecost reveals again God's marvelous plan that overcomes and transforms our human weakness of fearing differences and diversity in the world. We might reflect upon our own discomfort with people of different language, culture or creed. We might acknowledge some pessimism on our part concerning the events in the world. We might ask for the Spirit to make us open to God's action and presence in the midst of change and uncertainty of life.

May 15, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

Confirmation 2015

The Confirmation celebration recently celebrated at St. Augustine Church, Montpelier was particularly gratifying this year. As pastor of St. Andrew, Our Lady of the Snows/St. Patrick parishes, I enjoyed seeing that these young people were so familiar to me, involved as regulars at Mass through the years, and active in our religious education programs. Most of the sponsors were also known to me and I also could appreciate these choices of sponsors by the newly confirmed.

This was also the first of what might be many confirmations celebrated by Bishop Coyne. I enjoyed the style and manner of the Bishop's celebration of the sacrament. As you know there are occasions when I have over the years shared with you some of the Bishop's words (particularly Chrism Mass, annual Presbyteral Days, and Confirmations).

This past confirmation, Bishop Coyne spoke considerably about “Names”. At Baptism the priest asks the parents what name “have you given your child?” He spoke about the importance of names, with some anecdotes concerning names, and of course, the choosing of “Confirmation names” that has always been a tradition in our Catholic celebration here in the U.S. Then the Bishop went on to encourage the Confirmands to use the gifts/power that have been given to them by the Holy Spirit. I wish I could give a better account of the Bishop's address, but I had difficulty with the PA system at St. Augustine Church. The Bishop told a story about a young person who was angry and didn't want anything to do with faith. He receives a gift of a Bible, but puts it away not wanting to even open it. Many years pass, and on one occasion he opens it and finds a $50 bill in every other page. This is the gist of the story from what I could understand. The point being that we and the newly confirmed should not wait to appreciate, use, and benefit from the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I like the story because the giver of the gift placed the money in the real treasure which is the Word of God. I also liked the reference to the Gifts of the Spirit. I have always been of the opinion that each individual is unique with gifts, talents and challenges. This being so, I have always placed great emphasis on the confirmands praying for a particular gift to help them in life. This was certainly, I think, a major point in the bishop's homily. All in all, it was a joyous, solemn and meaningful celebration of the faith for our young people.

First Communion Celebrations

I must say that I very much enjoyed the First Communion celebrations at St. Andrew and Our Lady of the Snows. Much of the praise must go to the teachers of these children, the musicians and the children themselves who were so involved and prepared to participate as they did. Many thanks for the wonderful celebrations and the reception afterwards as well!!!

May 8, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

Mother's Day

On this Mother's Day, celebrating and honoring mothers on the second Sunday in May, we pray for mothers, invoking the Blessed Mother's intercession:

The Lord God Almighty, who through the earthly birth of his own Son through the Virgin Mary, has filled the whole world with joy. By the intercession of the Blessed Mother, may the Blessings of the Lord be poured out on our mothers, that they be strengthened as Christian mothers. Let the example of their faith and love shine forth. Grant that we, their sons and daughters, may honor them always with a spirit of profound respect. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. [Catholic Book of Blessings]

May 4, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

First Holy Communion this Sunday

This and every year the celebration of First Communion is a cause for joy and hope as children “come to share the banquet of Christ's sacrifice in the midst of the Church.” [Baptism Ritual] Congratulations and gratitude to you, the parents, for keeping the promise you made to God at baptism, to bring your children up in the practice of the faith. Their religious instruction, preparation and reception of the Eucharist are a good beginning. Continue to provide for their religious instruction, be good examples for them in the practice of faith, encourage prayer in your home such as a simple prayer before meals or at bedtime. The home is the “domestic church” so, do not let God be a stranger in your church. For Jesus himself said “My Father and I, we will make our dwelling place with them (Jn14:23).

Prayers of thanksgiving and our gratitude go out to our teachers who prepared the children for the sacrament; Maggie Grow, Laurie Flaherty (St. Andrew) and Susie Lowe (Our Lady/St. Patrick). Many thanks for the devotion and labor of love to all those who are providing for the wonderful receptions after the Mass.

April 24, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

Pastoral Council

Our recent Pastoral Council Meeting focused on renewing and reformulating the pastoral council for St. Andrew and Our Lady of the Snows/St. Patrick Parishes. We had the opportunity to discuss the accomplishments and challenges of parish activities and ministries. Regarding the make-up of the membership, we discussed/decided that there should be the following members on the council: Pastor, Parish Secretary, one representative from each of the following: Religious Education Program, each Finance Council, the Knights of Columbus; three members at large from St. Andrew Parish and two from Our Lady/St. Patrick Parish.

Selection process for nominating, voting, and/or asking for member volunteers was discussed.

Members discussed the success of the Parish Survey and the Ministry Fair conducted at St. Leo Hall. There was also discussion concerning the need to have a parish album/directory or a photo directory, especially to identify members who are involved in various ministries. The next meeting will take place in September and the first topic of discussion will be the selection process of new members to serve on the council. If you are interested in serving on this council as a member at large, or if you would like to nominate someone from your parish, please contact Father Jerry. Gratitude and Thanksgiving was echoed by the members for Roger Fraser, Rolland Lafayette and Al Gardner, for their long-standing devotion and participation in the Parish Council.

April 17, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

Third Sunday of Easter

This week's Gospel is from St. Luke . It relates some specifics of the Lord's appearance to the disciples “on that first day of the week”, that we heard from St. John's Gospel last week. Remember last week's scripture? That reading related how Jesus came to the disciples, offered his Peace and showed them his wounds of Crucifixion. This gospel fills out what Jesus said, that he ate with them, and reminded them of his words spoken before his death. This was not given in John's account that we heard last weekend. Even in last week's gospel John the Evangelist said “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book [gospel] but these are written that you may come to believe..” (Jn: 20:30-31). This indicates to us that the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) fill out, complete, reinforce each other concerning the mystery of Christ Jesus’ Life, Death and Resurrection. The details and strict chronological order are less important than the “theological” importance, and the “good news” of Jesus' Life, Death and Resurrection for the salvation of the human race.

April 10, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

Easter Thanks!!!

Many thanks to the various ministries and volunteers involved with the celebrations, especially beginning with Palm Sunday and continuing on to all the Easter celebrations. We are blessed with so many dedicated to the parishes: Church Decorators, Eucharistic Ministers, Servers, Lectors, Greeters, Singers and Musicians.

Second Sunday of Easter

This Second Sunday of Easter is the last day of the Easter Octave, (the 8 days of celebrating Christ’s Resurrection). The Hymns, Prayers, Preface, Baptismal Renewal are all the same as if it were Easter Day. The traditional gospel is Jesus’ appearance to the disciples with the special encounter with the apostle, Thomas. Although Jesus Risen, Glorified and Alive! is a cause of amazing and joyous Faith, the Risen Lord still and for all eternity bears the mark of His Crucifixion. The Resurrection does not annul or wipe away the Crucifixion. This is a cause for deep reflection, that Jesus’ Resurrection is always connected still to the Cross. This is significant to our life on this side of eternity. This means that our being lifted up (our resurrection) by the Lord is always connected to our crosses in life. Even with Christ’s Resurrection and Victory over sorrow and death; life, ourselves’ and others’, is not perfect (that is for Heaven).Father Jerry

April 3, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

Alleluia!!!

Happy Easter - Jesus Christ Is Risen Today!

The World has been given New Life; the Hope of Life and Love Eternal! The long weeks of Lenten preparation are over but more properly understood; our Lenten observance of Fasting, Prayer, and Almsgiving (Charity) is brought to Joyful Fruition. May the Joy of Christ Risen on Easter Day continue all through the Easter Season. Many thanks to all our lay ministers, servers, musicians, decorators in leading us to celebrate the Holy Days!!!!

March 27, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

Passion (Palm) Sunday

Today the Passion of Christ is related. All of us and everyone throughout the world take an active part in the “gospel” relating Jesus' rejection, suffering and death. There are numerous stories and individuals in this passion narrative. One way to enter more fully into these events is to imagine you are present at Christ's passion. Take in all the details and take the place of the individuals; the good, the bad, and the indifferent. After all, the Lord has taken on the Cross for all of us. What would have been going through your mind at the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, or on the Way of the Cross? Perhaps, by allowing yourself to enter more fully into the experience of the Passion, Easter Sunday will be even more joyfully celebrated.

Points to Ponder in this Holy Week: What part of the Passion touches you most? How can I set aside time to simply be in the presence of the Lord? How can I prepare spiritually in the midst of preparations for those Easter decorations and meals?

March 20, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

Fifth Sunday in Lent

As the Gospel opens, Jesus is well aware that his time is growing short and his death is near. He admits that he is “troubled!” but in faith he adds “Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” As upset as he is, Jesus still puts the Father’s will first. Let us consider that Jesus was “troubled” about what was going to happen to him. Are we troubled to hear that Jesus was troubled, anxious, upset? As we believe Jesus to be the Son of God, perhaps we do not give enough credence to the full humanity of Christ, his true anguish facing his death and leaving this world. These last weeks of Lent challenge us to enter into the very real human suffering of Christ.

Have you ever considered that Jesus might have been “troubled” about his impending death? How can the “way” he dealt with his anxiety help you deal with your own worries and fears?

March 13, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

Fourth Sunday in Lent

The people of the Gospel-time are not all that different from us. Nicodemus is interested and attracted to Jesus but doesn't want to be seen with Jesus or be known as a disciple. There are public figures who are afraid to practice their faith as it might harm their image or careers. Sometimes, we might hide our faith for fear of being made fun of or ridiculed. The time of Lent is a time of sacrifice.

Could it be a time to sacrifice [let go] of our fear of practicing the faith? Do people I work with, or go to school with, or people with whom I hang out with even know that I am a Catholic? Who could I name that is an encouragement to my Catholic faith? In what small or practical way could I more clearly be seen as a disciple of Jesus?

March 6, 2015

Message from Father Jerry

Third Sunday in Lent

The First Sunday in Lent recounted the promise (covenant ) to humankind that God wishes not to destroy his creation by flood. The rainbow was the Sign. The Second Sunday, the covenant (promise) was made to Abraham, that because of his Faith and Obedience he would have descendants that number the stars. The Gospel of this Third Sunday is Christ's Cleansing of the Temple. This is a new Promise (Covenant) that Jesus' Body is the Temple where perfect sacrifice is offered; the giving of his Body and Blood on the Cross. Still early in the Lenten Season, we might consider some points to ponder concerning our temple (church) and our own temple (our body and soul).

When I attend/celebrate Mass , am I fully aware that I am in the presence of God at this special time? As we enter the Third Week of Lent, what progress have I made spiritually? Do I need to make a “course correction” for the remaining weeks?

December 19, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

Advent/Christmas 2014

My message at the beginning of Advent was “Hurry and Wait” for the Lord’s coming! Although “Hurrying and Waiting” sounds strange, the point is that spiritual “waiting for the Lord” is a prayerful and reflective preparation for Christmas. We are pressured in our culture to “hurry and buy and be joyful.” Here we are in the Fourth Sunday of Advent and this, the last bulletin before Christmas. And so I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas Day, with my hopes that the Holy Mass that you celebrate here in one of our churches, or elsewhere, will bring you some measure of blessings of Peace, Hope, and Love! In advance, to all in our parishes who decorate, sing, play instruments, serve at the Word and Altar for the Christmas Day and Christmas Season celebrations, Thank you!!!

October 3, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

Respect Life Month has been observed in October since 1972. This year Respect Life Sunday falls on October 5th. Each of us is a MASTERPIECE of God's Creation. Imagine yourself in front of a design of great beauty. Your soul quiets and is filled with wonder and awe.

If art, created by man, can evoke such a response within us, how much more is the same wonder, reverence and respect due to each person we encounter, who was handcrafted by the very God who spoke the world into being?

Now think of an artist stepping back from a great work of art and admiring his or her creation.

When God created each of us, He did so with precision and purpose, and He looks on each of us with love that cannot be outdone in intensity or tenderness.

Moreover, the Lord invites each of us to behold ourselves and each other with the same wonder and awe.

No matter how the world might view us or others, let us treat each person as the masterpiece that he or she is. www.usccb.org/respectlife

“Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn, and the poor, are masterpieces of God's creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.” (Pope Francis' Day for Life Greeting 2013)

September 26, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

This is the final reflection on Msgr. Charles Pope's conference at our Diocesan Presbyteral Days (Sept 2-4). Msgr. concludes his presentation by saying that we are "living in the midst of a great drama." Behind the scene is a deadly enemy. Satan is active. We are living on the frontlines of a fierce spiritual battle. The "good news" and the "greatest story ever told," is that there is a Son who is born to us and we name him Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6)

In our modern culture we have lost a real sense of drama of every human life; that our choices determine our future and our eternal destiny. The loss of the sense of drama is what causes many to label "Christianity irrelevant today" and so who needs prayer, scripture, preaching, the sacraments!

The "good news" of faith only makes sense in light of the bad. Despite the obstacles we face and the dangerous times in which we live, the church is enduring; human but divine by the presence of Christ. The Church is the Body of Christ, teaching in his name, sanctifying with his grace and leading with his authority. The church does not exists to reflect the views of its members, per se, but to "articulate the teaching and truths” of its head and founder Jesus Christ. One cannot love Christ and not love his Body, the Church. Msgr. Pope appeals to a greater love and devotion for the Church in this great drama "spiritual war" with evil.

He calls for a paradigm shift for the Church in four ways: l) The church must move from maintenance to a movement (less maintaining of nonessential structures to evangelism) 2) being less a "clubhouse" (concern with membership) to "lighthouse" (being light to the world) 3) we seem to consider the Church more a “Widow” (mourning loss of Jesus the Spouse). We need to see the Church as “Bride” joyful at the presence of Christ the spouse. 4) Liturgy and the Sacraments must bring Transformation and not celebrate tedious rituals. For those interested in more of Msgr. Pope and his reflections: http.//blog.adw.org.

September 19, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

This week's message is a continuation of my report on Msgr. Charles Pope's conferences given at our recent Presbyteral Assembly (Sept.2-4). Msgr. Pope elaborated on some modern-day distortions in society that make it difficult to proclaim and practice the Catholic Faith. Secularism is a world-view that is human-centered and not God oriented. Materialism/Hedonism is the preoccupation with possessions, wealth, pleasure rather than having a priority of spiritual realities. Individualism is the self-centered concern with “me” and the rights that I should have because “I want to be me” to the detriment of any sense of community. Scientism is that current belief that the only true reality is that which is provable, measurable, and knowable by the sciences.

Msgr. stressed that these errors have been around in various forms throughout history, but now these distortions have become more intensively opposed to the Christian faith. We have to understand that we all have been affected by these trends. Msgr. called the pastors to: Prepare the faithful for judgment, Persist in preaching sound doctrine whether popular or not, Punish [not literal] but in the sense of correcting and admonishing people with charity, being aware that all of us have a common guilt before God, Proclaim the Word and be Patient and long-suffering in our teaching of sound doctrine. He then quotes Scripture describing the Age of Disbelief in which we live “They will not endure sound teaching but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Tim. 3:3-4).

Next week I will conclude my summary of the Msgr.'s more positive and “pro-active” agenda for being “Faithful Witnesses in Proclaiming the Gospel.”

September 12, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

Every year the priests of the Diocese join together in prayer and fraternity for the Presbyteral Days (always the Tuesday to Thursday after Labor Day, this year September 2-4). This year Msgr. Charles Pope, conducted the conferences. He is 25 years ordained [a young priest], serving in a primarily African-American parish outside Washington D.C. As you know I always like to share with you a summary of these conferences as well as other important priests-gatherings (like Bishop's addresses at Confirmations, Chrism Masses, and other special occasions). I think it is important to let the people know what we priests in the Diocese are being called to do in our pastoral ministry.

I will be giving this review in sections, to do justice to the Monseigneur's talks. For the first of these messages I will give a general overview of his four-part Conference entitled “Faithful Witnesses: Proclaiming the Gospel in an Age of Disbelief.” Msgr. Pope begins by pointing out in challenging ways that we live in an Age of Disbelief and down-right antagonism towards the Faith, the Church. There are many worldly distortions that have affected our culture and Church, among these secularism, materialism, hedonism, individualism, scientism, and reductionism. We have to clearly recognize these distortions and address them more than in a vague way [in my next message I will go through some of these; some that we might not have considered]. The Msgr.'s call to priests was to cast light on these dangers to our people, refute these errors, and teach the faith clearly and persistently. We need to pray that we may love our people and get “our people ready for judgment day.” [to be continued....]

Welcome Back to a New Year of Religious Ed!

As a new year of religious education begins in our parishes this weekend ,we call upon the Lord’s blessings as we celebrate and pray for our students, parents, teachers and the many volunteers who make our program possible. Catechetical Sunday will be celebrated nationwide next weekend, September .20, 21. - this year, let us all make a concerted effort to recommit ourselves to the education of faith in Jesus.

September 5, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

I was watching the Golf Channel recently and heard a professional tour player being interviewed. He was one of this year's top players. He talked about how he wanted to improve each day and took pride in seeing the evidence of his practice. I thought to myself “Why would he want to improve, he is plenty good as he is?” Then I started to think about our Faith-Life. Isn't it what we are about? We call it “Conversion.” Our faith is a gradual life-long effort to improve our relationship with God. If we don't set our goal of improving, maturing, growing in faith, we can easily fall back and lose this very gift of God's love.

While every year at this time we begin again the formal Religious Education of our young people, we might just see it as “another year”, “here we go again” parish CCD program. Let us think about “improving” our program. How can we improve? For parents this could mean regular attendance at Mass, taking in some classes with your child (we have always encouraged this), speaking with your child about their lessons, and being committed to the class schedule.

We have returning this year a wonderful, experienced and dedicated group of teachers and aides, along with coordinators Amanda Badeau (St.A) and Suzie Lowe (OLS/St.P), and clerical aide Dianne Bilodeau, so we are beginning strong. Let us try to make the best use of the classes and youth masses of this our 2014-1015 Religious Education Program!

August 29, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

With last Sunday’s Parish outside Mass/Barbecue and the civic holiday of Labor Day coming up this week, summer vacation time is drawing to a close. But hasn’t it been a great summer!? Many thanks to the Knights of Columbus for cooking/preparing/serving our parishioners and guests this past Sunday. Thanks to our ministers as well: Gena Callan and Mikki Nucci (Musicians), Molly Ferguson and Timothy Russo (Servers), Ann Johnson (Eucharistic Minister), and Keith Marino (Lector). Many thanks to the many who lent a hand to clean up and move tables and chairs.

As summer is fleeting, we should be thankful to God for the beauty of creation, the blessings that we have enjoyed this past summer with vacations, get-togethers with family and friends, and those special moments that were not planned. And we must remember that summer extends to September 23rd and there is still some nice weather and times to enjoy. Alleluia!

Labor Day Blessing

Lord, in commanding us to work, you entrust us with building up the world you have created; in entrusting to us the dignity of work, you make us your own co-workers in the world. Continue to inspire us to apply our talents and efforts to the progress of creation, through your Son, who was pleased to be known as the carpenter’s son and who lives and reigns forever and ever! (Book of Blessings #925 & 931)

August 22, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

The Gospel of this 21st Sunday is that passage where Jesus asked his disciples “Who do people say that the Son of Man is? ...BUT WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?” This Gospel is perhaps the central Scripture source for our belief in the primacy of the Holy Father, the Pope. After Peter boldly proclaims Jesus blesses Peter saying that his response was not the product of flesh and blood [ human power] but revealed by the power of God. So Jesus says “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” Although this and other passages are the strong foundation for the Unity, Strength, and Perseverance of the Church through the authority given to the Pope, let us remember an important fact. After Peter's inspired proclamation, he would struggle with the Lord's insistence of his rejection, suffering and death. Simon Peter would eventually deny even knowing this Son of the living God. I think our present Holy Father, Pope Francis, is leading the Church into the primacy of humility. Yes, we have been honored with the promise of the Unity and Durability of the Lord's Church. Perhaps some in the Church are uncomfortable with our Shepherd, Leader, and Holy Father, who wishes to witness to humility and less to the authority and power of the Papacy. I believe in the Primacy of the Shepherd of the Church given by the Lord, but the particular Charism [gift] of the Holy Father is his leading in the Primacy of Humility.

August 15, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

Last week's gospel is quite different in that this miracle of Jesus “walking on water” is not the customary response of the Lord to the needs, healing, or request of others. Nevertheless, it is important not only because it reveals Jesus' power over creation but also because of the link that is given to his most awesome giving of his Body and Blood in Eucharist.

This week's Gospel is quite remarkable as well, although the Lord does give his normal response to a request for healing. This miracle is most rare in that Christ is both matched in wit and impressed by the faith of the gentile woman. In an uncharacteristic harshness Jesus says “it is not right to take food of the children and feed it to the dogs.” (The children being the Jews; dogs being the Gentiles). The woman turns the metaphor around suggesting that the dogs are not the wild-kind but the “pet” household-kind, that are shown affection and given scraps from the table. I think many of us who have pets would relate to this. We cannot know the tone of voice, the manner of the conversation but most probably Jesus could see the woman's determination, strength and ability to “take” the bantering. The lesson for us might be - that the Lord knows us very well. He knows how to test us when we are strong enough, and to be gentle and comforting with us when we are weak and fragile.

Also, what may go unnoticed in this gospel is that Jesus responds to love. The woman loved her daughter and was asking as a mother. How could Christ not act with mercy as he comes to heal us all?

August 8, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

God “a tiny whispering sound.”

On this 19th Sunday in ordinary time, the reading from Kings relates a remarkable event. Elijah who is running for his life, is promised by the Lord that he will visit the prophet.. God is not revealed in a powerful wind, earthquake, or fire but rather in “a tiny whispering sound.” How unusual is this in the Old Testament? God, more often than not, is revealed as a God of hosts, power; a mighty warrior defending his people. This scripture passage of the “tiny whispering sound” is prefiguring Jesus as “that tiny whispering sound.” Christ comes not as the almighty, powerful, warrior king that the Jews expect but God who takes on lowly humanity, and eventually submits to rejection, suffering and death.

The Gospel relates that after the “Feeding of the Multitude” Jesus sends his disciples and the crowds away. Christ knows that by his feeding of the people from the Loaves and Fish, they would see him as the great king and messiah. He goes off by himself to pray. When he returns he walks upon the water.

The disciples are fearful, but Jesus says “It is I”. This more than saying “It is just me” as identifying himself. In Greek, the language of the times and Gospels, it would be rendered “It is I am”

Jesus uses this display of the miraculous to indicate his true identity:God-Made-Man. Jesus is that “tiny whispering sound of God” spoken to humanity telling us that the all-powerful, mighty and glorious God comes to humanity in a way not expected. And it appears that humanity is not so attuned to hearing this “tiny whispering sound.” that is Christ.

August 1, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

After having heard and reflected on Christ' s parables for the last few Sundays, on this rather Ordinary Sunday in summer, we have a rather extraordinary Gospel. This Gospel of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish is the only sign/miracle related by all four of the Evangelists! Why is this Gospel so important??? Let us read, re-read this gospel perhaps before Mass or after, and give an answer! There might be a multitude of answers and challenges to the “Feeding of the Multitude”.

July 25, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We continue to hear Christ teach about the mystery of the Kingdom of God. In the religious and true sense “Mystery” is a truth beyond human understanding, wonderfully so, that Jesus could only use parables to appeal to our imagination, soul and heart. The parables given this week are about elements of the Kingdom: Treasure, of greatest value, Joy in finding this treasure. The Kingdom is like a net cast to catch a vast number, so much that even the bad will be caught, but that Kingdom will be rejected by them. There is a curious parable-like saying of Jesus at the end, “the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from the storeroom both the new and the old.” The Kingdom includes the old and new. Jesus' message includes and fulfills the prophets and Law, and therefore is “Old” and tested truths. But Jesus' life, death, and resurrection brings a whole “New” power, majesty, glory to human life.

July 18, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This week we have another parable from Jesus - the parable of the “wheat and the weeds”. This parable is “a reality check” for all times and seasons. The reality is: the world is home for the good and the bad. Although God is master of might, “he judges with clemency and the Lord's mastery over all things makes him lenient to all”. (1st Reading, Wisdom 12:). The evil in the world is not God's intent nor of his making. Although God is almighty and eternal, is it not interesting that God has trust that the “Good” will persevere in “Goodness” and that even the “Bad” will be converted to “Goodness”? God must know something that we do not know or truly believe: While in the natural order weeds can never become wheat, in the moral, human order weeds can become wheat; evil can be converted to good. It is not only possible; God is counting on it. He is counting on you.

July 11, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

Many thanks to our parishioners for their response to the Bishop's Fund Appeal. We are ahead of last year's pace which is encouraging, since we do not have the bishop's messages and regional Masses this year and in general have not been publicizing as much support of the Bishop's Fund as in years past. It is a testament to the faith of the people, that the giving is strong even as we have no bishop as yet. The faithful know that the good works of the Church must go on and that the charitable needs of people are just as great now in Vermont.

Speaking of the absence of a Bishop, at a recent clergy meeting with our Apostolic Administrator, Msgr. John McDermott, there was no news concerning appointment of a bishop. It isn't the case that those in authority in the diocese or the clergy have some notion or privileged information. Most likely when news breaks concerning the bishop, we shall have learned it through the secular media. Let us continue to pray for our new bishop. We should be blessed with a really good shepherd if there are so many prayers going up to the Holy Spirit.

June 27, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

• Weekend of June 28, 29

Although we have been in “ordinary time” for two weeks, yet this third Sunday is NO “ordinary Sunday” either. Because the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul falls on a Sunday, this Solemnity takes precedence over the “regular Sunday” liturgy. There go our efforts to get back to the comfortable, known, predictable “ordinariness” of life!!! This unusual circumstance of this Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, might say to us that while we may want to get back to “normal,” God has other plans. While the ordinary might be comfortable and known to us, there is nothing ordinary about the love of God for us. Let us pray for the gift to be open to the grace of God that might be calling us to greater Faith through “different” or “unusual” events of life; whether they may be happy, wonderful, or trying, challenging “events.” The Lord might very well be leading us to greater spiritual awareness.

• Weekend of July 5

Summer is now officially here, the first full day of summer was on Sunday, June 22nd. Wishing everyone a pleasant, happy and safe summer season! I hope that all of us can benefit from the beauty of God's creation. May vacation activities and plans be enjoyable and may there be some unexpected blessings and surprises along the way! As Catholics, we still make it a priority to attend a weekend Mass, although when travelling or receiving visitors, this can be a challenge. While the summer liturgies will be more simplified, let us remember to make “prayer to the Lord” as much a part of our summer as it is the rest of the year. Besides the weekend Mass schedule at our churches, we will continue to have an 8 AM Mass at St. Andrew on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday (an option in the event that attending Mass on the weekend may not be possible). Also, this time of year provides longer daylight hours for St. Andrew Church to remain open every day (for personal prayer or reflection). And, we will continue to have our first Monday of the month Hour of Marian Prayer from 7:00 to 8:00 PM.

Blessings and Peace this Summer!!!

June 20, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

There are a few parish events that particularly remind us of who we are as Catholics - Eucharistic [“Thankful”] People. The Greek word “Eucharistia” means gratitude, thankfulness. The Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper, the First Communion Mass of our children, and this Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, are all occasions for the joyful celebration of the Holy Eucharist, which is the highest form of thanking God for the Greatest Gift of Jesus. We could also include here our national day of Thanksgiving, in which we as Catholics begin with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

All our expressions of “thanking” loved ones, friends, parents, teachers, and the many that help us throughout life are based on the primary “Thanksgiving” we give to God; for creating us, saving us, sanctifying us, through Jesus Christ. The Holy Eucharist, the Mass, is that Central Sacrament of Our Faith that is the supreme Thanksgiving to God for Life and Salvation, by that great Gift of Christ Himself, given as Food for the Journey to the Eternal Banquet in Heaven.

June 6, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

While Pentecost Sunday concludes the Easter Season and we celebrate the beginnings of the Church, we must remember that Pentecost is now. We have been living in the time of the Spirit, Pentecost, for a long time, since Christ's Ascension and sending of the Spirit guiding us into the Way, Mind and Truth of Christ. I have included a couple of short messages from the Holy Father, Pope Francis, concerning the Holy Spirit for our reflections:

“The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for Me” (Gal. 2:20).What is this Life? It is God's own life. And who brings us this life? It is the Holy Spirit, the Gift of the Risen Christ. The Spirit leads us into the divine life as true children of God, as sons and daughters in the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. [June 16, 2013, St. Peter's Square]

In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul wrote “You have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, 'Abba, Father' it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our own spirit that we are children of God.” It is the Spirit himself whom we have received in Baptism, who teaches us, who spurs us to say to God, “Father” or rather “ABBA” which means “Papa” or [‘Dad']. Our God is like this; he is a dad to us. The Holy Spirit creates within us this new condition as children of God. And this is the greatest gift we have received from the paschal mystery of Jesus. [General Audience, Vatican April 19, 2013]

May 30, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

On this Seventh Sunday of Easter, we have a curious liturgical/scriptural complexity. Since we have already celebrated Ascension Thursday, the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles follows up on Christ's Ascension, and relates that the Eleven gathered in the Upper Room and “devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus and his brothers.” However, the Gospel relates Jesus' Last Discourse [Farewell Discourse] in that same “Upper Room” the night of his Last Supper before His Death. It seems that the “Upper Room” has so much importance in the Before and After of Jesus' Death and Resurrection. We as Catholics have an abundance of significant names and descriptions of the Eucharist; “Breaking of the Bread”, “The Lord's Supper”, “the Body and Blood of Christ”, “the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass”, “Holy Communion”, to mention a few. We could also say that our gathering in our Church for Mass is the gathering of the faithful in the “Upper Room”. The “Upper Room” is that place and event of Christ gathered with his disciples in his physical presence, to teach, prepare and comfort them for what lay ahead. It is the place where the disciples gathered to remember Jesus' teachings and promises. As surely as Christ's presence was felt in the “Upper Room” before and after His Death and Resurrection, isn't the Mass today [every day] the “Upper Room” where Christ is made present, in Word and Sacrament??

May 16, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

As is my custom, I like to give a summary of the bishop's message to the young people at their Confirmation. Along with the Chrism Mass, the Bishop's address to priests on Presbyteral Days and some other occasions, these messages are worth the parishioners' attention. Although we do not have a Bishop at present, our Apostolic Vicar, Msgr. McDermott's message at the Confirmation Masses is very much worth our attention. Msgr. John began with a question: What is your Passion? [“Passion” is a word very much in vogue these days concerning one's focus. values, whether in sport, music, or work]. Implied in this question “What makes you get up in the morning and look forward to? What matters to you? What gives you joy? This is a good question for anyone, young or old!

Then Monseigneur McDermott spoke of the Faith. We should have a certain “passion” for our Faith. The Church does not need “mediocre” Catholics who “do the least they can” or “just get by”. What would you think of a team-mate who really doesn't practice or take training seriously? Would you want such a player? Then he gave four ways that would help us practice a more dynamic, “passionate” faith. The first is Prayer. This does not mean hours of prayer in your room or in church; rather, a brief time when one allows himself/herself to be in the presence of God. The second is Scripture. We all have Bibles in our homes (perhaps gathering some dust). Again, read just a few verses [I would suggest starting with some verses of your favorite Gospels]. Thirdly, Service. Try to think about doing good works in the community in some kind of service to others [there are so many ways, organizations, and worthwhile causes to support]. We can never be truly happy or content in life unless we give of ourselves for others. The fourth way Msgr. John advises is the Sacraments (Reconciliation/Eucharist). There is not one person who isn't a sinner. There is not one person anywhere who can say “I cannot be better” or who can say “I haven't sinned or done wrong”. The words “Your sins are forgiven, go in peace” come from God and are comforting. Of course, the Eucharist is the central Sacrament of our Faith in which Christ is truly present “Body and Blood”, Full Humanity and, Divinity. We receive strength in the Lord's presence and power of community [Incidentally, it is in the Eucharist that all four elements (Prayer, Scripture, Service, Reconciliation) are achieved]. I hope I have adequately summarized Monseigneur’s message to our Confirmation students.

April 25, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

Thank you to our many parishioners and friends who decorated our churches for the Easter Triduum celebrations, as well, as our musicians, singers, altar servers, lectors and Eucharistic ministers who always give of their time in ministry to our parishes for the Solemn Holy Days. THANK YOU!!! ALLELUIA!!!

April 18, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

From year to year the great Solemnities of the Church (Easter and Christmas most notably) seem much the same . What makes these celebrations different are those events of life; whether local, global or personal, that make these holy days unique and different. Last year the resignation of Pope Benedict XXVI and the election of Pope Francis were the special events that marked the Catholic community's Easter 2013. Aside from the very strange and different winter and perhaps a common feeling among most of us of longing for Spring, what would be the events of our life that make this Easter 2014 different? In our regional church, the Diocese of Burlington, this Easter we have not yet welcomed a new bishop, as pastor of the Church of Vermont. We continue to pray for the selection of a pastor “pleasing to the Lord, for his holiness and showing us watchful care.” Whatever the circumstances of our life, family, or work may be, let the Resurrection of the Lord be that never-changing, eternal sign of God's love that anchors our lives. To each and every one of our Parishioners and Visitors celebrating Easter,

Happy and Blessed Easter, Alleluia !!!!

April 11, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

This Passion Sunday begins are Holiest Week in the Church Year. We have been preparing for many weeks for this Solemnity of Faith; the Suffering, Crucifixion Resurrection of Christ. Jesus Christ has defeated the powers of evil and death itself, revealing that He Is the Resurrection and the Life. Almost always it seems that we have been slow in fulfilling our Lenten observances of fast, charity and penance. However, there is no greater way to prepare than making a very conscious, focused and deliberate use of our time left. Let us make our best effort to celebrate this Holy Week by attentive prayer and celebration of the Triduum.

April 4, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

In the Scriptures two weeks ago we heard from John's Gospel of the Samaritan woman at the well, that Jesus is the “Life-giving water.” Last week, again from John's Gospel, in the cure of the man-born-blind, we encounter Christ as the true “Light” who gives light to the blind, physically and spiritually. In this week’s Gospel, in the Raising of Lazarus, Jesus reveals himself as the Resurrection. In the gospel passages of these last few weeks Christ Jesus calls the Samaritans and us, the Blind-man and us, Martha/Mary and us, to believe. Our relationship with Christ is the answer to our THIRST, BLINDNESS, and the greatest need of them all, FEAR of MORTALITY. The Lenten journey of the Church is an invitation to accept our humanity but more so to place our hope in a more personal union with God. Jesus has revealed himself as Living-water, Light and Resurrection. We glory in the fact that we do not have a distant God but one who is One-With Us in being Tempted (1st Sunday), who “weeps” (Jn: 11;35) and who will die and rise. In whatever way we can, let us use the time remaining for drawing closer to the Lord. Any action of fasting, charity, or penance will be more than matched by God's grace.

March 28, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

In last week's gospel, we encountered Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman. This rather long gospel of John indicates that Christ goes to great lengths to reveal himself and to be known by him through conversation and conversion. This in fact is what the Lord invites us to in our “life of Faith.” This week we have an equally long and complex gospel in the encounter of Jesus and the blind man. We are in the Lenten Cycle A, where these gospel passages come from the Gospel of St. John. Even when we are in the (B) and (C) years and we have converts to the faith who will be received in the Church at Easter, these gospels of John are always proclaimed. This is significant because these gospel passages are great events in the revelation of who Jesus is: “life-giving water” and “Light from Light” who gives light to the blind. These gospel narratives are the great metaphors for cradle-Catholics and the newly baptized, of the need we have for continual conversion and conversation with Jesus Christ, which we would have throughout our whole life of faith.

March 14, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

We started Lent, of course, with Ash Wednesday, marked with the sign of repentance on our foreheads; also a reminder of placing our trust in God's mercy. On the First Sunday of Lent we celebrated Jesus going into the desert to be tempted by Satan. We have a Savior who sympathizes with us because He himself endured temptation. Jesus is our brother in temptation and suffering. We go out into the Desert of Testing with the Lord. He is with us most especially in our weaknesses and trials.

This Second Sunday of Lent is always celebrated with the Gospel of the Transfiguration of Christ. Jesus in the company of Peter, James and John, is Transfigured on the Mountain and for the Second time the Voice of the Father is heard “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

The first time this voice was heard was at Jesus' baptism just before he ''was driven into the desert by the Spirit” to be tempted. This time these words of affirmation are given because Jesus would shortly go to Jerusalem to be rejected, suffer, die and be raised. We have just begun our Lenten journey with the Lord. Before we look forward to Easter, let us look forward to the remainder of Lent. How have we responded to our Catholic tradition of Prayer, Fasting/ Abstinence, Charity (Almsgiving)? We can take courage from the fact that there is more time to improve or get started in this season of preparation.

Mass will be celebrated at 7:00 PM at St. Andrew Church on the Thursdays of Lent.

We will have three more Stations of the Cross at St. Andrew on the following Fridays at 7:00 PM:

*Friday March 21 “Everyone's Way of the Cross” will be prayed.

*Friday March 28, members of the Knights of Columbus will lead us with “Pope John Paul II's Way of the Cross” (In honor of his being canonized in April).

*Friday, April 4, youth from our parishes will lead the community with “The Children's Way of the Cross”

Friday, April 11 at 7:00 PM at St. Patrick Church in Moretown, there will be a special presentation by local musicians of STABAT MATER (the much loved and moving oratorio composed by Giovanni Battista Pergolese 1710-1736). (NOTE: There will be NO Stations of the Cross at St. Andrew on that Friday.)

Reconciliation: The Sacrament of Forgiveness (Penance, Confession or Reconciliation) is a time for individual celebration of God's forgiveness. Throughout the parishes in the Diocese, the Sacrament will be offered from 6:30 to 8:00 PM on WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16th. We will have a guest-confessor that evening hearing confessions at St. Andrew Church. Individual confessions will take place at scheduled times as well in this and other parishes. We will make known to you the dates and times of the usual Penance Services in the area (if there be any).

February 28, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

Lent 2014: While some of us might be looking forward to Spring and Easter, the Church reminds us to prepare first for the Joy and Hope of “New Life” by acts of spiritual renewal. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. While it is not an obligation of faith to attend Holy Mass, there will be three Masses on this day (see Mass schedule). We are required to prepare for Easter by Lenten observances of Fasting, Almsgiving (Charity), and Prayer,

Ash Wednesday (and Good Friday) are days of Fast and Abstinence. Fasting is required of people 18 years old to 59 (one full meal and two smaller meals and no eating between meals). Abstinence is fasting from eating meat as a form of penance. This is required from age 14 and up). All Fridays in Lent are days of Abstinence.

Almsgiving (Works of Charity for the needy) is a long tradition in the Church. Aside from our personal desires to be more loving and generous to those we meet, the Church has a special collection (previously called “Lenten Alms” collection, now called Catholic Relief Services), taken up on the 4th Sunday of Lent, which supports the poor in developing countries. As an alternate to this collection there is the RICE BOWL program. These Rice Bowl cartons are provided to families/individuals as a more personal form of collecting change/money throughout Lent. At the end of Lent, parishioners return these Rice Bowl offerings to the church and the donations collected are sent to Catholic Relief Services for distribution to those in need.

Prayer is the other tradition of Lent. Along with the regular daily Masses, there will be a 7:00 PM Mass at St. Andrew on Thursdays during Lent. During Fridays of Lent, Stations of the Cross will be offered at 7:00 PM at St. Andrew Parish, led by various ministries and groups of the parish. And as usual for our prayers for Forgiveness, the Sacrament of Reconciliation will be offered here and at area parishes – times and locations to be published soon.

February 21, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

Last week our parishes and parishes throughout the Diocese were required to begin background checks and safe environment training for all volunteers in our parishes, and we were asked to insert explanations in parish bulletins. This has caused some concern with more than a few clergy and volunteers in parishes. After a meeting with priests and our current Diocesan Administrator, Msgr. John McDermott, clarifications were given concerning this issue. The volunteers and those engaged in ministry who do not interact with the youth, will NOT be forced to terminate their ministry, if they refuse to go through the Screening and Training Procedures. Also, it has been left up to the discretion of the Pastor, based on his knowledge of the people, to determine which individuals should undergo screening and training sessions (unless they are already required to do so due to their direct involvement with children). At this point, we shall continue to proceed with screening and training for those required, and perhaps for an individual who is new to the community. We shall not be attempting to require total and extensive screening of all volunteers and ministries. We will continue to make the 1½ hour long live presentations available to parents and interested parishioners. Recognizing that Protecting the Young is the duty of all, we will continue to encourage parishioners' participation in these sessions so that more individuals might be aware of the challenges and means available to keep children safe.

February 14, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

Protecting God's Children - Follow-up on the topic of Protecting God's Children

As stated in last weekend’s bulletin, starting this month, the Diocese of Burlington is requiring background checks and training for all adults who represent the Church in a volunteer, employment capacity or ministry (such as Lector, Eucharistic ministry, etc.). Included in this week’s bulletin which will be handed out at each Mass is an insert entitled: “Volunteer and Employee Screening and Training Procedures Q & A provided by the Office of Safe Environment for distribution to all Parishioners (copies of this insert available in the entrance of the church). Some of our volunteers have already undergone a background check and safe environment training through their involvement with our Religious Education Program. During the next week we will be mailing out the required forms to those individuals who have not previously submitted the newly required paperwork. With regard to attending a training program, for those who prefer not to utilize the online training program (Shield the Vulnerable – see handout), we will be providing an in house training option in the near future. I sincerely appreciate your help and cooperation as we attempt to comply with these new Diocesan regulations. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

January 24, 2014

Message from Father Jerry

My current reading these days is a book called Pope Francis Speaks to Our Hearts. The book consists of excerpts from the Pope's homilies, addresses and audiences. I will be sharing some of “these words of Challenge and Hope” from the Holy Father on a weekly basis. Pope Francis has certainly captured the attention of the media and his words are quoted often in the secular press. But I thought it would be preferable to read first hand his reflections and pass these on to parishioners. The Pope's words speak to all like no other, and that is quite understandable. [This reflection comes from a General Audience, St. Peter's Square, on May 8, 2013]

“What does the Spirit Tell You? The Holy Spirit teaches us to see with the eyes of Christ, to live as Christ lived, to understand life as Christ understood it. That is why the living water, who is the Holy Spirit, quenches our lives, why he tells us that we are loved by God as children, that we can love God as his children, and that by his grace, we can live as children of God, like Jesus. And we, do we listen to the Holy Spirit? What does the Holy Spirit tell us? He says: God loves you. He tells us this: God loves you, God likes you.”

December 27, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

This Feast of the Holy Family (the 5th Day of Christmas) is a great occasion for giving Christmas thanks to all our parishioners and visitors who joined together as “A Family of Faith” to celebrate the Lord's Nativity. What family gatherings they were; our 5 celebrations of Christmas Masses at St. Andrew, Our Lady of the Snows, and St. Patrick! What a blessing it was to have people after Mass thank me for the celebrations. While I had my part to play, I responded that there were so many involved in making the celebrations possible. So, I now share with you these acknowledgments and thanks. Many, many thanks to our church decorators, musicians/singers, readers, servers, eucharistic ministers, pageant participants, and greeters, the young and the old, parishioners and family members, our holiday visitors and guests, for gathering as a Family of Faith to celebrate, praise and honor the Birth of Christ!

I give my personal thanks for the very kind and thoughtful Christmas wishes and gifts given me by parishioners. I feel very blessed to be with such good communities of faith.

May the Blessings of “God-With-Us”, Peace, Joy and Love, continue to radiate through the Christmas Season into the New Year and into infinity!!!

Continued Wishes for Christmas Blessings and Graces of the Lord!!!

December 20, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

Time Magazine has named Pope Francis, Person of the Year. His warmth, openness, down-to-earth style, call to a back-to-basics Catholicism, comfort in being with ordinary men, women, even prisoners and the homeless, has caught the attention of many. However, he certainly has been steady in the Catholic tradition of upholding the Sacredness of Life, opposition to our consumerism and materialistic mentality, re-affirming of traditional Catholic teaching, like priority for the poor and oppressed. It is still early, but the Holy Father's impact has already been felt in the world in a positive way.

With the Christmas Season upon us, the Birth of the Savior, Emmanuel, “God-With-Us” brings us Back-to-Basics and fills us with optimism as well. God wishes to enter our life and dwell with us, even “unto death” in Jesus (God Made Man). With the Joy and Peace of Christmas, we should try to celebrate our Faith through the Christmas Season throughout the Year, throughout our Life, because Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. Do we believe he is the Way, Truth and Life of the Human Race? To our Parishioners, Visitors, Relatives and Friends of Parishioners joining us in the Christmas Masses and those of our “regulars” who are away celebrating Christmas with Family, a A Merry and Blessed Christmas!

September 27, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

Happy Fall to Everyone!! I am accustomed to saying that with the beginning of our Religious Education programs we really begin a new Church year in the Parishes. (Please remember that our programs have just started, there is still time to register or contact the parish office concerning youth religious education.)

Also, now that we have entered a new autumn season, things really heat up (although we notice it's getting a little cooler). October is the Month of the Rosary; it is Respect Life Month in the Catholic Church throughout America; and Columbus Day (October 14th). Also, the Diocesan Middle School Rally takes place (6th, 7th & 8th graders) at Christ the King Parish in Burlington on October 27th; Divine Mercy Mission October 14-16 at Saints Cecilia-Frances Cabrini Parish in East Barre. Also Memorial Auditorium, Burlington presents the Vermont Christian “ROCK-TOBERFEST” (October 12th). Please check out the bulletin board announcements on all of these up-coming events. October really is a new season of exciting and great events.

And just around the corner, November 2nd is the date of the Vermont Catholic Conference at St. Monica Catholic Church in Barre. This year's theme: “REBUILD MY CHURCH” with Keynote speaker Sheila Liaugminas.

September 20, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

Last week I was away in Wallace, North Carolina, for a very important and wonderful family occasion, the wedding of my niece Amanda. I was honored to be the celebrant of this Sacrament of Marriage. I also was able to spend a couple of days visiting family and playing a couple of rounds of golf (less wonderful and glorious but the weather was great!) The Sunday after the ceremony I went to the local Catholic Church (Transfiguration Parish) where they celebrated Catechetical Sunday, calling the blessing of the Lord on the catechists, volunteers and on the religious education program. I was able to join in their prayers for the local community and also remember our own program here. I had to be very grateful for our Catholic faith. We do things in connection with the Catholic community at large. Throughout the whole nation Catechetical Sunday was celebrated last weekend, universally stating how important religious education is. Because of my absence, we commemorate Catechetical Sunday this week to begin the religious education program. With music we celebrate, pray for our students, parents, teachers, volunteers, aides and re-commit ourselves as church to “an important service of immense love”, the education of faith in Jesus.

August 30, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

:School has started and for children, parents, school staff and in fact all local communities, a return to "normal"; to that with which we are accustomed. School/learning is so central to life. The Children's Religious Education Programs will start soon in our parishes. Although religious education continues in all of us through the Holy Eucharist throughout our life, our parish programs are formed by the Church to fill out and expand the learning we receive through the Sunday Mass and reception of the sacraments. Soon we shall start our programs. We need your help. There are open positions for teachers and classroom aides. We need parents to follow up on last year's program, to again enroll your child in the next level of learning the faith. We need parishioners to encourage relatives or neighbors to enroll their children in the parish program. As we conclude the Year of Faith (Christ the King November 24th), may we be blessed with an active and vital program for the children, that will serve their Faith for years to come.

August 2, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

In this 18th Sunday in Ordinary time we depart from the Genesis readings of the past two weeks and are given the Scripture reading from Ecclesiastes. This short reading is the only time we hear of this Wisdom book, although we may be more familiar with the section “For everything there is a season...a time for every matter under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die …”and so on. Today's passage reminds us of the passing nature of all things. Whether one be rich or poor, hard-working or not, one must leave everything behind. It is no wonder the wisdom of this Scripture would not be used often in the liturgy! This sober and somewhat depressing message is preparing us to find in Christ something more, something better. Jesus' very Incarnation, life, teaching, his very Resurrection, teaches us “that what we are” is valued by God more than what have. Divine wisdom is revealed in Christ Jesus. We become valued to God the moment we are conceived and we remain his beloved in our life and through everlasting life. In response to God's gift we are accountable for the kind of person we become. Greed (one of the deadly sins) and immoderate concern for possessions is an obstacle to the life of Grace here on earth and to life eternal, where our life is no longer “hidden with Christ” but made fully glorious.

July 26, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

This weekend's Gospel features the “Our Father” [Lord's Prayer] from St. Luke. The version that we use at the Eucharist is taken from Matthew's Gospel. With the recent version of the Roman Missal, there is only one introduction to us praying the “Our Father”. The priest says “At the Savior's command and formed by divine teaching we dare to say...”. The “Our Father” is the Christian Prayer rendered by Jesus' teaching on how to pray. From the earliest times the Church's doctors, theologians, saints have made the Prayer a source of meditation and reflection. The 1990's publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], devotes articles 2759 to 2865 (88 pages) just to the Lord's Prayer. This Prayer is the Prayer of Jesus and formed by Divine Teaching over the centuries including all the forms of prayer within; Praise, Thanksgiving, Forgiveness, Petition. The Prayer which has become so automatic in our liturgical and private devotion is still the most radical, sublime and important revelation of God's desire on how to be prayed to and to be addressed.

July 19, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time:

In this “ordinary Sunday” we have a most extraordinary saying from St. Paul in his letter to the Colossians “in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church...” Of course, Christ's sufferings and afflictions were perfect and lacking in nothing, since the Incarnate God once-and-for-all accomplished the Salvation of the World by His Cross and Resurrection. What Paul means is that he [Paul] and missionaries like him, are preaching Salvation of the Cross to places and peoples that Jesus Christ himself did not have the opportunity to reach in His limited ministry on earth. Also, we must remember that the “Body of Christ” does not only mean Christ Jesus' Body on Earth, or His Glorious Body in Heaven or His presence in the Eucharist. It also means the Living Body of Christ on Earth, the Church. As we all know, the Body of the Church here on earth is united to Christ's sufferings in that members of the church here still suffer.

June 21, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

This weekend is our "In Pew" collection for the Bishop's Fund. This is a very important phase of this year's appeal. This provides an opportunity for our parishioners to give an offering, for those who have not received an appeal letter, or those who have not been on the appeal list. This "In-Pew" collection also encourages our visitors and seasonal parishes to contribute to the good works of the Diocesan church. It also provides people the opportunity to give cash offerings or anonymous gifts, by enclosing their donations in sealed security envelopes. The envelopes are then delivered personally by the pastor (not by mail) to the Bishop's Fund office at the beginning of the week. With my thankful prayers to God for such gracious and generous parishioners and visitors of our three churches!!

June 14, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

Over the past number of years, have we not all been inundated with appeals from all sorts of very good and worthwhile non-profit organizations? No doubt much of this has been due to the economic recession, cut-backs and funding no longer available to support many of these charities. I am very proud of and thankful for you, our regular and seasonal parishioners along with our visitors to our communities of St. Andrew, Our Lady and St. Patrick, for your generous gifts to the Bishop's Fund. Thanks to your generous response, we have in the past exceeded our goals. The 2013 Appeal has begun. Letters would have gone out to past donors by now. However, there are always some mistakes, “glitches” in an appeal of this size. There will be extra envelopes in our churches, for those who have not received mailings. Also, during the weekend of June 22-23, we shall be conducting the “In-Church” collection at our three churches. We are very fortunate to have visitors and seasonal friends who come to celebrate the Eucharist with us. They would normally not receive appeal letters from our bishop. They have been, however, very important in their giving to the Bishop's Fund and have helped us attain our goal to help fund very important ministries in our State. Many thanks to those who have responded so readily thus far; and to all past donors to the Bishop's Fund.

June 7, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

Finally, we are in Ordinary Time after the long Easter Season and the two great Solemnities of The Holy Trinity and The Body and Blood of Christ. We now celebrate the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. But in the Gospel Jesus raises the widow of Nain's only son. This is no ordinary event. For sure, Christ is the fulfillment of the great prophet Elijah's raising of the widow's son in Zarephath. But there is something more. Giving life, restoring life is what God intends for all of us. We can become complacent and comfortable with the ordinary, but God can and does often break through to save, strengthen, heal, forgive, challenge, teach, and comfort us. It is in the common day-to-day life, the ordinary, that God “brings us to life” and re-awakens us to be conscious of the wonderfully complex beauty of life.

May 31, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

With the celebration of Easter for 50 days concluding with the feasts of Ascension and Pentecost, we still continued to "celebrate" solemnities. Last week we celebrated The Holy Trinity and this week, The Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). There seems to be in the Catholic spirit the need to celebrate and recall important events. Just remember that in recent years, the Catholic Church celebrated the Year of the Eucharist, Year of the Priests (on the occasion of the 125th Anniversary of St. John Vianney), the Year of St. Paul, and this Year of Faith and other notable recent events. This Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ though, would have to be "the memorial of all memorials," since at every Eucharist we hear the words of Christ "Do this in memory of me!" Each and every day that the Mass is celebrated Christ becomes present. When we are conscious, attentive, thankful, or when we celebrate preoccupied, tired, semi-conscious, Christ comes nevertheless. We should come to the Eucharist as mindful as we can be. This summer's ordinary time might be a good time to "remind" ourselves of the call of Christ himself to "do this in memory of me," even when we might be on vacation, travelling, even and especially after we graduate, no longer being under the watchful eyes of parents.

May 24, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

In this , Catholics around the world celebrate this year commemorating the beginning of the Second Vatican Council 50 years ago. This Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, celebrated this weekend, most clearly proclaims what Our Faith is all about. The mystery of God, the Holy Trinity, has been revealed by God. God communicates (reveals) Himself as the One who lives in relationship of 3 persons ever communicating love. Being made in God's image (in itself a revelation), we, the faithful, are most complete in our being in union with God and relating to each other, the Church. It has been said, “you cannot be a Christian by yourself.” This is very true. A person can believe in Christ, but to be Christian requires the union with others; prayer, the Eucharist, belonging to a community. It is certainly appealing to be a solitary Christian not having to deal with others, but this is not what God intends or has revealed. Being part of the Church can be messy work at times, but it is what we have been called to be. In community is what we are as Catholics. To paraphrase Pope Paul VI in another context, being a member of the Church is “a splendid burden.”

Happy 250th Anniversary!!!

Three of our local communities are celebrating anniversaries: Duxbury, Moretown, and Waterbury. We might think of our local church communities as being old (or even 2,000 years old in a way), but our towns are really older still. The founding of these communities reminds us that the church communities always live in the midst of civil townships and municipalities. We are people of the Kingdom living on earth in civil communities. Therefore, Catholics pray for our civil governments and local communities at every Eucharist. We, as members of the Church, should celebrate these milestone-anniversaries with our gratitude to the founders; and with pride recall our beginnings and history in the places we call home. Happy Anniversary!!

May 17, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

Between the Vigil Mass of Pentecost and the Mass of Pentecost Day, there are thirteen readings of Scripture offered for our benefit. All these options plus the Sequence (Poem read or sung before the Gospel) on the Sunday Masses suggest to us that this is NO ordinary liturgy. The only other Feast (Solemnity) requiring a Sequence is Easter and the Sequence of The Body of Christ (Corpus Christi) is optional. Even though we are still in the Easter Season, with the liturgical color being White/Gold, Red is the color of Pentecost: bright Red, the flame of love, the power of the Spirit, tongues of fire.

It is as if the Holy Spirit (in a way the forgotten person of the Trinity), is given extra attention. For the times the Church and the world has not noticed, appreciated or trusted the power of the Spirit, we in our token liturgies give high praises and reliance on the Holy Spirit.

Granted that our world is in great need, and crises abound, still, we cannot exhaust the work of the Spirit. The Spirit is present in Creation, throughout history, inspiration of wisdom, comforter of the weak, power of love and charity throughout history through peoples of every age, but given in an extraordinary way as the promise of Christ's Resurrection and Ascension. St. Paul tries to express the ineffable mystery of God's spirit (Gal.5:22-25): "the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness and purity... Since we live by the Spirit, let us follow the spirit's lead."

May 10, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

This being the Seventh Sunday of Easter reminds us that Easter Day was celebrated some time ago. Yet the Church extends the Season of Easter for 50 days, concluding with Pentecost Sunday. We are given all this time to respond to the invitation to rejoice! The primary way we decide to rejoice is through the liturgies of the season, hearing the Scriptures (mostly from the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of St. John), and celebrating the Holy Eucharist in Easter glory. But we also take advantage of the signs of new life all around us (flowers, mild weather, spring-time) and relate this in a spiritual way in how new life and hope have been given to us through Christ.

This Seventh Sunday happens to fall on Mother's Day. This is another occasion to celebrate and give thanks to all our mothers for life, love and nurturing. We ask God's blessings upon them in a very special way this Sunday because mothers are in a unique way co-creators of life along with the Lord God, creator of all life.

Also, May in most Catholic traditions is also the Month of Mary. We have an opportunity to rejoice that the Blessed Mother of Christ is our spiritual mother. Through our prayers and devotion we enjoy the benefits of a Mother's love and protection.

April 5, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

Easter Thanks !!!

This Season of Life and Resurrection is the greatest time to express thankfulness to the many who worked so devotedly and well for the Holy Days of Easter. To our Musicians/Singers, Lectors, Servers, Eucharistic Ministers, Decorators of church, who give of their time and talents throughout the whole year, we thank you because you give life and beauty to our community of Faith, for the Glory of God!

March 29, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

Easter 2013

This year's Easter is marked by two exceptional events; one planned; the other unexpected. The one expected and planned event is the Year of Faith, having begun on October 11, 2012 and continuing until the Feast of Christ the King in November, 2013. This Year of faith commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.

The other, unexpected event was the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of Francis as Holy Father.

Both events remind us of life and the need for our faith to be strong in guiding us through the ordinary and expected events and the unpredictable circumstances of life.

May our faith in God Alive help us to be more faithful to Christ and His Church, more generous in our love for others, and more courageous to live Christian lives through the extraordinary, ordinary, unexpected, and usual moments in Life. Christ Is Risen, has conquered death and darkness, and guides us to a new and fuller Life here and an eternal Life in Heaven.

Wishing all of you a Joyous Easter Season!!!

March 22, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

The Holiest Week

With the celebration of Passion Sunday (often called Palm Sunday), we begin “Holy Week”, the final week leading to the Solemnity of the Resurrection of Christ. Palm Sunday begins with the joyous entrance of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem but quickly turns to betrayal, rejection, suffering and death. Since there is only one service in each parish on Good Friday and many faithful cannot attend, the Passion of Christ is re-enacted on this Passion (Palm) Sunday.

In the event we have been inconsistent or lax in our Lenten observances, this Holy Week provides an opportunity to more than make-up for weakness of Lenten resolutions.

The Easter Triduum begins with theMass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday (with the Washing of the Feet and the Eucharistic Procession), then Good Friday Service (Passion and Veneration of the Cross), followed by The Easter Vigil on Saturday or Easter Mass on Easter Morning. These celebrations are the most Solemn in the Church year, but interestingly are not obligatory (except for assistance at Mass for either the Easter Vigil OR Easter morning Mass). It is as if the Church is saying you should participate in these special celebrations with your heartfelt desire not by force.

As a reminder, the last day of Abstinence (from meat) and a Day of Fasting (one full meal with two lesser meals and no eating between meals), is Good Friday, the universal day of Penance and Recollection of the Lord's Suffering and Death.

March 14, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

Year of Faith:

With the recent election of our new Pope Francis, this Year of Faith certainly has taken on an added dimension that no one would have imagined when it began on October 11, 2012. If we recall, this date marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. For those who remember the Council, there is a similar atmosphere in the church today. The election of Pope Francis, an unexpected choice and a man of humble simplicity, brings a certain needed optimism in this time of great challenge in the Church. This feels somewhat similar to the times and situation of Pope John XXIII and the calling of the Council.

As a part of our local Parish we have undertaken to celebrate the Year of Faith, with two activities:

Firstly, we presented the 10 part series on Catholicism by Father Robert Barron.

Secondly, the Pastoral Council formulated and conducted a Parish Survey, which we are using to aid us in building up the various ministries and future activities of the parishes.

A third element of the Year of Faith will be Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelley. Matthew Kelley, internationally known motivational speaker and devoted Catholic, has written this book with the hope of inspiring a renewed pride and optimism in being Catholic. I think many of us would agree that this is very much needed. Our two parishes, along with thousands across the country, have made these books available at no cost to parishioners. Please take a book home, at least one for each household, or more if you wish (we have plenty). Even if you are a visitor or a seasonal parishioner, please take one. Read it and pass it on to someone else. If you cannot read it (because the print is too small or you cannot “get into it”), pass it on. This will be our last effort to both celebrate and renew our faith in this Year of Faith.

March 8, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

His Holiness, The Pope-Vicar of Christ

The resignation of his Holiness Benedict XVI certainly was a surprise to many of the faithful and clergy throughout the world. In this unprecedented situation (at least since 600 years), we are asked to pray for our Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and especially for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in electing our new Pope. The secular media and in fact the whole world is captivated by the intrigue of the electing of a new Pope. To the world, is this only a selection of a new leader of the Catholic Church or might there be more involved? At the very least, there is the recognition that the Holy Father has a prominent voice for Christianity in the world.

We Catholics believe that the Pope, the Holy Father, is the Vicar of Christ on earth. We are encouraged not only in our communal prayers, but also in our personal prayers, to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in selecting the next Pope. Last week, we published portions of the letter of our Bishop concerning Pope Benedict's resignation. There are full copies of his letter available in our three churches.

You will notice that in the Mass there is no reference to Benedict XVI in the Eucharistic Prayer (only our Bishop is mentioned). This is the protocol. Already and throughout the conclave we will pray for the election of the next Holy Father. In any communal prayer, we do not mention Benedict XVI as Pope although we can pray for him and we should pray for the selection of his successor.

The local pastor may celebrate the Votive Mass for the Election of a Pope especially during the conclave. The following prayer may be prayed at any time:

“O God, Eternal Shepherd, who govern your flock with unfailing care, grant in your boundless Fatherly love a pastor for your Church who will please you by his holiness and to us show watchful care. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.” AMEN

February 15, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

Lent 2013(...continued).

We have started the Lenten Season with the Imposition of Ashes on Wednesday, one of the two days in the Lenten Season that is a day of Fast and Abstinence. The other day is Good Friday. On these days as a common penance, we fast by not eating in-between-meals and eating only one full meal in the day. Abstinence refers to not eating meat. Days of Abstinence are also all the Fridays in Lent. The Church law on fasting binds the faithful 18 to 59 years of age. The discipline of Abstinence is required for people ages 14 and up. Of course, individuals often choose other penance practices, sacrifices, or positive spiritual devotion as well, like Mass attendance, prayer, Stations of the Cross etc.

A very important time-honored tradition is receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We shall publish all the Penance Services that are normally offered in our Deanery when we get word of the schedule. But for those who are interested in going to Confession we have included the Penance schedule of near-by parishes: • St. Augustine Parish, Montpelier: Saturdays 3:00-3:45 PM and Wednesdays 6:00-6:45PM
• Blessed Sacrament, Parish, Stowe: Saturdays 3:45-4:15 PM and Tuesdays 6:00-7:00PM
• Holy Rosary Parish, Richmond: Saturdays 3:15 -3:45 PM and Tuesdays 6:00 -7:00PM

Also, Father Jerry will be available before each of our weekend masses during Lent:

• Saturdays: St. Andrew 3:15- 3:45 PM; Our Lady of the Snows 5:30 PM
• Sundays: St. Andrew 8:30 AM; St. Patrick 10:30 AM

The Catholic Community in the U.S. has as our primary charitable action the traditional Lenten Alms collection. This collection takes two forms: Catholic Relief Services taken this year on March 9/10, the Fourth Sunday in Lent. The other form of giving to CRS is the Rice Bowl Offering. There are Rice Bowl boxes available in our churches to collection your donations during Lent. The filled boxes are returned to the churches the Sunday after Easter.

February 8, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

Lent 2013

The Lenten Season begin February 13th, Ash Wednesday. Please refer to our Mass Schedule herein for a list of Masses available that day. This time honored Catholic tradition is a holy time of penance and preparation for the celebration of Easter. We have communal practices to help us prepare for Easter and to be in solidarity with those being brought into the Church at Easter: Fridays of Lent are days of Abstinence (not eating meat – ages 14 and up). There are two days of Fasting/Abstinence (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday). Fasting – not eating between meals with one major meal and two lessor meals (ages 18 to 59). It would be helpful if parents and teachers explain the importance of penance, fasting, sacrificing in Lent as a remedy for our weaknesses and sin, to improve our compassion for those who hunger, and to strengthen our resolve to do good.

In the next bulletin we will provide scheduled times for the Sacrament of Penance (Reconciliation) in our local parishes along with the extra times for the Sacrament of Penance at St. Andrew and Our lady of the Snows/St. Patrick.

January 11, 2013

Message from Father Jerry

Statement of Our Catholic Diocese of Burlington

On January 9, 2013 the Roman Catholic Church of Burlington settled the remaining lawsuits of clerical sexual abuse against minors dating back several decades. “After consideration of all the facts and of legal counsel, it was decided the prudent course of action for all parties concerned was to settle the cases.” Thomas McCormick, one of the attorneys for the Diocese, stated.

In arriving at this settlement, the Diocese wishes to assure the faithful that all monies raised for charitable purposes, including the annual Bishop's Fund Appeal, have not been used to meet the financial responsibility incurred from this and previous settlements.

“The Diocese once again reiterates its deepest regrets for the hurt the plaintiffs experienced, and offers prayers for the plaintiffs, and for all victims of sexual abuse, hopeful that they will bless the Church once again with their presence with the Church community. [from the Bishop's Office January 9. 2013]

Again we are reminded, with the most recent news, that our Catholic community in Vermont is still paying the price for the few clergy misconducts and sins dating back many years. The greatest price being paid is the humiliation, guilt and horror experienced by so many of the faithful. With these new allegations and settlements comes the realization that the process of closure and healing will be on-going. I am calling for our churches' prayers for healing of victims, and forgiveness of the accused and our church. What must be said as well is that the Church's commitment to protecting God's Children (through the Virtus program, screening of staff and people working with children in our parishes, and creation of the Office of Safe Environment in the Diocese which is ongoing), is the most aggressive of any institution to protect children. Father Jerry

December 21, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

Sometimes “words” just seem to fall short. “Merry Christmas,” “Blessed Christmas”, and “Happy Holidays” have already been said to friends, relatives, and parishioners too! And so, as I do wish “Merry Christmas” to parishioners, our very important visitors, and our seasonal parishioners, I would like to add a short reflection on THE WORD.

In the beginning was the Word, the Word was in God's presence and the Word was God, He was present to God in the beginning. Through him all things came into being, and apart from him nothing came to be. Whatever came to be in him, found life, life for the light of mankind. The light shines on in the darkness, a darkness that did not overcome it.

This scripture passage from the Gospel of St. John is used only once in the liturgical year, for the Mass of Christmas During the Day, which is rarely celebrated. I thought that this poem, ode, passage to Jesus. “THE WORD” could be a source of praise and reflection! Merry Christmas!!! Father Jerry

November 5, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

In this year of Faith, commemorating the beginning of the Second Vatican Council (October 11, 1962), we who lived through this period, might consider the ways the Catholic church changed. For those who had not experienced the Council, there will be opportunities to learn about the importance of this council in the coming year. I will, from time to time, make references to the Council documents on various topics. The 1st document is called “Lumen Gentium” and the dogmatic constitution on “The Church”. Chapter IV of the document is on the “Laity” (those of the faithful not ordained or consecrated to religious life). However, rather than saying what the “laity is not” this chapter gives great importance to what the Laity is in very positive ways. By Baptism the laity carry out the mission of the Church in ordinary circumstances in life, temporal affairs, and “being led by the spirit of the gospel make Christ known to others, especially by the testimony of life in faith, hope, and charity.”[Art.31]. At the end of this chapter there is a call to pastors to give dignity to the faithful and recognize their importance; “Let them [pastors] make use of the layman's prudent advice. Let them confidently assign duties to the laity in service of the Church, allowing freedom and room for action. Further, let [pastors] encourage the layman so that the layman undertakes tasks at his own initiative... Each individual must stand before the world as a witness to the resurrection and life of the Lord Jesus and as a sign that God lives.” [Art. 37-38]. Although the documents of Vatican Council did not use inclusive language yet, the “layman” refers to both genders.

The Pastoral Council of St. Andrew-Our Lady of the Snows/St. Patrick has proposed to celebrate the Year of Faith, by conducting a survey of our parishioners. The very act of having a survey and eliciting participation in the various works in our churches demonstrates this very important role given to the faithful by the Vatican Council. We all have the opportunity to use our unique gifts and service for others.

The Parish Council has proposed this weekend of November 3rd and 4th as the time to conduct this survey. The homily will focus on the essential role of the laity, the need to put our gifts and ministries in service to the community, and encourage suggestions from the people concerning our church communities. Copies of the survey are available in each church.

October 5, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

October is not only a change of month, a change of season's temperature; it is significant in other ways. Along with the tradition of the Month of the Rosary and Respect Life Month, this year is the beginning of The Year of Faith, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. In less than a month, we will be holding local, state, and national elections. It would seem that October, although not marking a beginning of a new year, is certainly pivotal. As Catholics and communities of faith, let us be re-committed to prayer (certainly to the Eucharist and perhaps to the Rosary). Being members of the church and people of prayer does not exclude us from using our God-given gifts of judgment, conscience, and exercise of action. What it does do, however, is to ground us in a greater reality of the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom concerns us with the ultimate realities of Faith, Hope, and Charity, which is beyond our solely human efforts to achieve Peace, Justice, Security. And ultimately this Kingdom is concerned with Life Eternal, with which purely human life does not concern itself. So, let us as the saying goes “Work as if all depended on ourselves, but pray as if all depended on God.”

September 21, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

The “Year of Faith” begins October 11th, commemorating the beginning of the Second Vatican Council fifty years ago. Our parishes are planning special activities during this year. One of these will be the presentation of the much acclaimed DVD Series called “Catholicism” by Father Robert Barron. The first 5 of 10 sessions will begin on Wednesday, November 7, and continue on the following Wednesdays: November 14, 28, December 5 and 12. All sessions will begin at 7:00 PM and conclude by 8:30 PM. All sessions will be held in St. Leo’s Hall. All are welcome and parishioners are encouraged to invite friends who might be interested in the faith. This series will fulfill the requirements of RCIA (preparation for reception in the church for adults), as well as fulfilling requirements for Catechetical certification for our teachers.

September 7, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

This past week, the priests of the Diocese attended our annual 3 Day Presbyteral Days with our Bishop. Not having gone last year, I did come away from this retreat/fraternal get-together benefitting greatly from the conferences, socializing, praying with fellow brothers in Christ, going to Confession (Reconciliation). I really did not go enthusiastically since I had “better things to do.” I was just thinking that my original reluctance was largely due to my not going last year [I didn't seem to miss anything the last time]. But I now know that I did miss the occasion for the spiritual-fraternal connection. The celebration of the Eucharist and our youth Religious Education Program [soon to begin] might be considered in a similar way. Missing a Mass here or a class there might not seem even noticeable at the time. . However, it may be that there is a slippery slope where our absence affects our well-being, happiness, and spiritual life.

August 31, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

Presbyteral Days:

Each year Bishop Matano and the priests of the Diocese meet from the Tuesday after Labor Day to Thursday morning. The purpose is mainly fraternal; to get-together as priests, as the occasions to do so are rare these days. The Bishop gives “a State of the Diocese” as it were. There is a report of the Priests Benefit Fund and a guest-speaker (a Bishop/priest) giving conferences on a current topic. Two years ago the conference was given by a Monseigneur about the Roman Missal, with which we, no doubt, are now more comfortable. A few of us priests affected by “Irene” were given a dispensation from attending last year. So, I don't know what the talks were about. This year's conference will be given by Bishop John Barnes of Allentown, PA on the “Priestly Character and Identity in a Pluralistic Society” -- this will be a fitting subject as the Catholic Church embarks on the year-long commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the inauguration of the Second Vatican Council in October. The “Presbyteral Days” is a combination mini-retreat, social and educational event for our bishop and priests. Note: there will not be a Mass on Wednesday, September 5th.

June 8, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

With the celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi (The Holy Body and Blood of Christ), the Church finally gets back to Ordinary Time (if there could ever be ordinary/normal time). After concluding the long season of Easter, we celebrate the great feasts of the Holy Trinity (last week) and the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. So these great feasts extended the solemn and glorious character of Easter. Now we are, indeed, in Ordinary time. But for most of us, this Ordinary time, is what we have been looking forward to: summer, vacation time, gardening, travelling, golfing, etc. Have a great summer; safe, pleasant, enjoyable! Of course, we Catholics (unlike many Christian churches), do not go into a summer schedule. We still make Sunday Mass mandatory. I suppose we take Jesus' command seriously ("Do this in memory of Me!"). We also know there is no vacation time for God, and no such Ordinary time (since we always should be mindful of God's Extra-Ordinary Love for us in Jesus.) Let us do the best we can to continue celebrating the Eucharist, whether here or in our travels away!

June 1, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

Congratulations to all our Graduates; elementary, high school, and college, as you begin a very important stage and development in your lives. Forget not our best wishes, prayers and thanksgiving for your presence in our church, the love of your parents, and the dedication of your teachers. Forget not to pray for guidance and remember God, who created you and loves you beyond any human love!

May 18, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

Getting back to the new translation of the Roman Missal, everyone could have or does have opinions about "the pros and cons" of the English translation for the Mass. One very positive and insightful change, that I like very much, occurs in the Nicene Creed. In the former translation it stated "We look for the resurrection of the dead." In the new translation we say "AND I LOOK FORWARD TO the resurrection of the dead." Although it may be a small change, it is important. We LOOK FORWARD to our resurrection. In this time of Easter, it is worth remembering that Life here is a gift from God and how we live it is "our gift to God," it is nevertheless incomplete. A priest friend of mine was fond of saying "My true home is heaven, but I'm not home-sick yet." The Easter season is long, to be completed soon with the Solemnity of Pentecost. Perhaps we need this extended period of celebrating Christ's Resurrection, in order to reinforce, to pray, and to celebrate that we are TO LOOK FORWARD TO OUR RESURRECTION. We do this in a spiritual way: living a full life here is important, necessary, and valuable as the means of enjoying fully the Life Jesus promised.

May 11, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed October 11, 2012 to November 2013 as the Year of Faith. October 11 marks the 50th Anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council (1962). November 24 is the Solemnity of Christ the King. The Church throughout the world in this year will celebrate the occasion of this extra-ordinary Council. Hopefully, it will be an opportunity in our local parishes to renew the Catholic faith in our communities. Our Pastoral Council (St. Andrew's/Our Lady/St. Patrick) soon to meet, will consider this Year of Faith, as a major point of consideration. How will we use this time period: enhance liturgies, youth/adult faith education, outreach to inactive Catholics, or special projects?

One would have to be old enough to remember the Second Vatican Council, to realize how profound the Church changed. Some have never known the church other than what it is now. To some the Second Vatican Council is ancient history. To many, the most glaring change in the Church was the liturgical change (Mass in the vernacular as opposed to Latin). However, there were many very important developments in the Church, such as: Catholics encouraged to read the Bible, recognizing the similarities of Christian churches rather than their differences, the laity are called to active participation in ministry, a more open view of the church toward the world, social action, just to name a few. It is well to remember that we are still the Church of the Second Vatican Council. We are still implementing the decrees and vision of this Council. The last Ecumenical Council (in this case Vatican II) is always the most authoritative body we have in the Church. The Vatican II Council is not dead and gone. We are still the Church of Vatican II and there is more work to do in building on the documents and the vision of this great council.

May 4, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

As you know we have implemented the use of the New Translation of the Roman Missal at Mass. It is still a work in progress; especially for us priests, although for the parishioners there may not appear to be so many changes involving the congregation. What you may not realize is that with all the new prayers, prefaces, Eucharistic Prayers; there is an extensive instruction on the norms, rubrics, rules governing the Celebration of the Eucharist. As my Homework and Easy-Reading (sometimes not that easy), I have been re-reading The General Instruction of the Roman Missal. This past week I read an interesting section on the role of Silence (Article 43): “Sacred Silence, also is a part of the celebration, is to be observed at the designated times. Its nature, however, depends on the moment when it occurs in the different parts of the celebration.” Then, it goes on to say that those moments of silence are called for, such as at the Penitential Rite, after the readings and the homily, and after the reception of the Lord at Communion so that we “may praise God in our hearts and pray to him.” However, in the instructions it talks about silence before Mass even begins “Even before the celebration itself, it is a praiseworthy practice for silence to be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room and adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred celebration in a devout and fitting manner”. One of the reasons for the New Translation was to give added reverence in the Mass using language more suited to the Holy Mass. However, not only the words but our actions and even respectful silence before Mass will help give the Eucharist a more reverent and prayerful appeal.

April 30, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

Congratulations to our young people being confirmed on Friday May 4, at 7:00 PM at St. Augustine's in Montpelier.

While these last two years in your preparation may seem like the ending of your formal religious training in the parish, your life of faith is in a way just beginning. Choices will be made in the next couple of years that will affect your lives; future education, careers, places to live, even marriage plans; all in the not so distant future.(Although your parents might not want to think about that, time does fly by very fast, doesn't it?). The Gifts of the Spirit: Knowledge, Understanding, Courage, Wisdom, Right Judgment, Reverence, Awe in God's Presence, are the Gifts needed in Life. They are given to be used. They are nourished in the Ultimate School of Learning: the Eucharist. One simple and perhaps over-used recommendation: Practice the Faith! Continue to pray in the Community of the Church! Go to Mass! Do not practice the Faith because we are asking you to; but rather trust that maybe we (older people) have experienced the help in Life that comes from attending Mass and being part of the Church. Do practice the Faith because of your Reverence and Respect for Christ!

Many thanks to your current teacher, Kevin Nadzam, and classroom, aide Priscilla Grout, for helping to prepare you for Confirmation.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our entire teaching staff, at both St. Andrew and Our Lady of the Snows/St. Patrick Parishes; coordinators, teachers, classroom aides, parent volunteers and parishioners, past and present, who have helped in any way to educate our youth in Faith.

April 20, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

It is most appropriate that Child Abuse Prevention Month be held during the Easter Season. There is no better time than Easter to celebrate the protection of our most valuable gift from God: our children. Along with special prayers at our Liturgies, parishioners are encouraged to take some of the pamphlets available on the various aspects of protecting God's children.

Child Abuse Prevention Blessing

Dear Lord,

We ask You to bless these Your holy people who have participated in the Church’s efforts to help stop child sexual abuse. Open their hearts to Your call to be the “ears, eyes and voice of children and young people” everywhere. Give them the vision and grace needed to fulfill the special commitments that each of them has made to making their homes, churches, schools, communities and world a safer place for all God’s Children. Amen

April 6, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

After the long Lenten Season, with our Church's call to fast, pray and commit to charitable works, Easter might seem to be an end or a relief. The Resurrection of the Lord, though, is not an end but a beginning. While Easter is the most Solemn of the Church's celebrations, the apex, the summit of the liturgical year, it is more so a new beginning and a fresh start. With Easter morning the Season is just beginning. As the sign of this, the Church celebrates the Risen Lord for Fifty Days [not the 40 Days of Lent]. During this entire Easter Season, We join the adults being welcomed to the faith:

The First Communicants:

St. Andrew Parish – Jack Birmingham, Tobias Callan, Anna Liston, Nicholas Lord, Luc Provencher, and Jack Talbert

Our Lady of the Snows/St. Patrick Parish: Eloise Harris and Ella Cook

The Confirmation Youth:

Ben Crowne, Alicia Evans, Britney Evans, Carigan Evans, Madison Evans, Noah Evans, Matthew Fischer, Victoria Keene, Julie LaFlamme, Cheyanne Martin-Evans, MacKenzie Ramsdell, Ellie Ramsey, and Alice Woodruff

The Initiation Sacraments (Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation) are rightly called the Easter Sacraments. Let us get ready in our journey of the Joy in Christ's Resurrection with the celebrations to come: Divine Mercy Sunday, the Sundays of Easter, First Communion, Confirmation, the Ascension, Pentecost and any Sunday where we come together and celebrate that which brings us together: Christ Is Alive!

HAPPY EASTER SEASON TO ALL!

March 30, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

Our Holiest Week begins with the Passion (Palm) Sunday celebration. The Holy Mass begins with the joyful entrance of Christ into the Holy City of Jerusalem in the midst of the people's expectation of the Messiah. Everything changes quickly with his arrest, trial, and crucifixion as the Liturgy focuses on the Passion of the Lord. At the conclusion of the Eucharist the tone is set for the week: solemn, penitential, reflective. If we have been lax in our attempts at our Lenten practices, we have an opportunity to use well this week to keep up or intensify our Lenten resolutions [a reminder! Good Friday is not only a day of abstinence from meat but also fasting].

With the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, Lent comes to an end and we start the Triduum [the Three-Day Celebration of the Paschal Mystery; the Death and Resurrection of the Lord]. The priest does not dismiss the faithful at the end of this Mass, indicating the second part will be celebrated the following day, on Good Friday. The Holy Thursday Mass ends with the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament, Stripping of the Altar and Sanctuary, with time for silence.

Good Friday (Day 2) celebrates the Passion and Death of the Lord with the Passion Narrative, Veneration of the Cross, Solemn Intercessions, Communion. This part of the Triduum concludes in silence (there is no dismissal, since the last part, either the Vigil or the Easter Morning Mass, has yet to be celebrated in all the glory and joy of Christ Risen!

The Triduum is the greatest Feast in the Church Year! Except for the usual Church law to celebrate the Eucharist on Sundays (or the Vigil), the Church wishes those who participate in the Triduum, to enter into it freely and with devotion. Although our communities do not have the good fortune as we did last year to welcome new members to the Church (remember David, Heidi, Nick?), we nevertheless join all those throughout the world being welcomed to the Catholic Church. The Three-Day Holy Triduum, is always celebrated in solidarity with those adults, new to the Faith, celebrating Easter for the first time and for years to come!

March 23, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

Lent seems to be so long and needing some time to get into, and then at a certain point seems to come so quickly. We are already in the fifth week, next week being Passion (Palm) Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. The time is here when Easter is coming soon! In the Fifth Sunday Reading from St. John's Gospel in this Cycle B, time is coming quickly for Christ's final Passover. This particular Gospel is not one of the most memorable scripture passages in the Fifth Sunday of Lent. It does, however, express the nearness of Jesus' Glorifying the name of the Father [by his being lifted up on the Cross and in Resurrection]. In this Gospel passage, Jesus also draws us into His experience of obedience and self-sacrifice when he says “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this life will preserve it for eternal life.” In the Rabbinal way of teaching “Hating one's life” means “placing one's primary concern for eternal life over natural life” and “loving one's life” expresses “one has only concern for this world and earthly desires.” This is a common theme in Scripture, but in Lent and close to Holy Week this theme becomes paramount.

March 16, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

Fourth Sunday of Lent

“Laetare Sunday” is the traditional name we call this pivotal Sunday in the Lenten Season. The entrance antiphon begins the Mass “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad because of her.” “Laetare” is the Latin for “REJOICE”. The Fourth Sunday is also referred to as “Rose Sunday” or “Refreshment Sunday.” The Priest will wear rose colored vestments (if the Church has them [most do not anymore since “Rose” or “Pink” vestments would only be used this day and on Gaudete Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Advent]). This Sunday is the half-way point in Lent: encouraging us to renew our Lenten practices or start them if we have not done so. The Joy is already anticipated and the Solemnity of Christ's Resurrection is the reason for the Joy to be experienced.

March 9, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

Lent; Third, Fourth, Fifth Sundays

We notice from the missalette that there are options for the Scripture readings for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent. We should remember that Lent is the season of preparation for those adults to be baptized, confirmed, and to receive the Eucharist. When a parish community has these adults preparing for reception in the Church, the Cycle A readings are used; the reason being that the Cycle A readings present St. John's Gospel and the great encounters of Christ with the Woman of Samaria, the Blind man, and the Rising of Lazarus. In particular, on these three Sundays, the catechumens (those to be baptized) experience what is called the scrutinies; blessings and special prayers at Mass as they are close to the Easter Vigil and the celebration of the Easter sacraments. Like the Woman at the Well, the Blind Man, Lazarus; faith is like being forgiven from a former way of life, given “new sight”, like being “raised from the dead”. This Lenten Season is always a reminder to us, who have always been in the Church [“cradle Catholics” some call us], to appreciate the faith as we witness adults making that decision and we join in prayer for their success.

February 24, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

Lent 2012 (continued)

It might seem a little strange but the Church calls Lent “the joyful season” and the Orthodox liturgy refers to Lent as the time of “bright sadness.” It is a time for us to acknowledge “our mortality” and “our being creatures” of God. While we come to terms with our limits, weakness and sin; our fasting (sacrifices), almsgiving (charity), and prayer, if undertaken in the right way, bring us close to God and to one another. This better relationship is the cause of our joy. Having undertaken these traditional forms of Lenten piety increases within us the joy of celebrating the Solemnity of Christ's Resurrection as well. We also are given “joy” and “hope” as we witness adults entering the Church at Easter through Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation. The Faith that many of us practice and often take “for granted” should instill a certain “pride” and “joy” for those adults actively seeking “Faith” and “a relationship with God” through the Church.

Almsgiving is the biblical/traditional term for acts of Charity. It may include giving money to the poor or doing something for someone else (visiting, saying encouraging words, being helpful, etc.). The principle communal almsgiving to the poor in our Catholic community is the Lenten Alms. It is referred to as the “Catholic Relief Services” collection taken up at Mass on the 4th or 5th Sunday of Lent. Another form of giving to this “Lenten Offering” is the Rice Bowl Collection. Our churches make available “Rice Bowl Containers”. Those who wish to give in this manner, take these “Rice Bowl” containers home, and during Lent deposit coins, or monies saved by eating more modestly. At the end of Lent and up to the 1st week of Easter, the faithful bring these rice bowls full of change, Catholic Relief Services for distribution to the poor throughout the world. Since 1975, Operation Rice Bowl has raised (in the U.S.) nearly $167 million for development projects in poor nations and hunger relief in local dioceses!

January 27, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

Ordinary Time

Ordinary Time? What might “ordinary” mean in these times, given the past year, the very odd winter this year, the economy and many people wishing to a return to “ordinary” or “normal”. But in a spiritual way in the Church, we find ourselves in this ordinary time “for a while anyway” in the Liturgy and cycle of Scripture readings. In this week's Gospel (Fourth Week in Ordinary Time), we go back to the beginning; the Lord's beginning of public ministry (Mark's Gospel Chapter I). Jesus enters Capernaum on the Sabbath and teaches. People are astonished at his authority. What is more, Jesus rebukes the unclean spirit in a man and expels the demon, but before, the “unclean spirit” recognizes Jesus as the Holy One of God. The people are amazed and say “What is this. A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” What is dramatic about this encounter is that the unclean forces of evil recognize the power of the Holy One of God, long before the people or the disciples do. In the presence of the Holy One, evil forces are revealed and expelled (the unclean spirits cannot but be forced away: they obey). As followers of Christ, we should obey because of our willing it as our response of faith, love and hope in Him.

January 20, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

Jonah and The Ninevites

This week's Old Testament reading was written at a time of Jewish elitism and a sense of superiority over pagan cultures. Jonah was given charge by God to go to Nineveh (the ancient capitol of paganism) to preach repentance. He does not want to go. He feels they are not worth saving and that it is useless. He runs away (and of course the whale comes into play). He finally does go to Nineveh, expecting his preaching to fail and therefore calling upon God to destroy them all. However, the Ninevites do repent and God reveals his mercy to them.

As we conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we certainly can relate to the feelings of Jonah. As Catholics in particular and Christians in general, we might have some of the same views as Jonah. It is one thing to take pride in our faith, but not to the extent that we debase other faiths. The great Ecumenical Council of Vatican II stressed the common ground of Christians, and less on differences. We can celebrate the essence of Christian religion and respect different tradition practices. One of the marks of our Roman Catholic faith is universal (open to all nations, cultures, races). But this universal/catholic mark is based less on one being a card-holding, member of the institution, community or people but in our adherence to God who loves all his creatures, no matter what their faith, culture, race, or gender. There might be a very important lesson in the ancient story of Jonah for our own times!

January 6, 2012

Message from Father Jerry

Christmas Thanks! Because Christmas fell on Sunday this year, the Christmas Season is shorter than usual. The Feast of the Holy Family (normally on the Sunday after Christmas) was celebrated on Friday, December 30th. Epiphany is celebrated on Sunday January 8 and the Baptism of the Lord (normally the Sunday after Epiphany) will be celebrated on Monday January 9 (thus concluding the Christmas Season). After the Mass on Monday we will be re-decorating the Church at St. Andrew Church. After the weekend Masses on January 7th and 8th at St. Patrick and Our Lady, parishioners are welcome to take the flowers that had been donated to the churches for Christmas. The Season of Christmas is not too short though to give my thanks to those who gave of their time to decorate our churches, provide music, and assist with their ministries to help us celebrate the Season.

Many thanks for the generosity of parishioners, who sent greetings, baked goods, and donations my way at Christmas. My personal thanks to the always generous and friendly people we live in the Waterbury, Moretown, Waitsfield area. This area and its people are really special and unique, as has been witnessed by their generosity, strength and community-spirit through the storm and its aftermath. I feel blessed to have been stationed here.

December 23, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

The trouble with being pastor as long as I have been, is “What can I say that hasn't been said already?” So here goes! It is worth mentioning that the Church calls Christmas NOT the Birthday of the Lord but the Birth of The Lord (Nativity of the Lord). Small differences are significant [Small is good! after all “God is- made-small” for us in the Incarnation.]. A Birthday indicates an event in the past; a date or a day. It looks back. Birth is a present reality. While we celebrate the historical birth of Jesus, Christmas is a present event where new life (birth) is given to us and to the world.

Christmas holds expectations for us perhaps because of past Christmases, traditions, experiences. But every Christmas has to be unique because our particular situations and circumstances change. Routine is good in some ways or at least comfortable. If we have learned from the Scritpures, and especially the Nativity accounts, we learned that God “breaks-through” the ordinary and the comfortable in surprising ways. We have been hearing in Advent of the surprising prophecies of the King to be born, the promise made to Zechariah of the Birth of John the Baptist, Gabriel's announcement to Mary. And there will be much more of “God breaking-through the ordinary” in the rest of the season to come. How can we avoid calling to mind [yet again] how Irene has really “broken through” and changed life for so many. Try as we might to get back to the ordinary/normal, it is not easy. Still, this Christmas is different because of it. But have we not seen and experienced great giving, sharing, kindness and community? Hasn't this been, in many ways, “new life” and future hope of “re-birth”?

While I wish all of you a Merry Christmas meaning “best wishes for you and yours of Peace, Health, and Joy”, I also wish and pray at the Christmas Masses for a Blessed Birth of Christ in us all!

May the Birth of Christ and His gifts of Peace, Love, Joy continue to grow in us and through us!

December 9, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

The Third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called “Gaudete Sunday”. The Latin “gaudete” means “rejoice”. It derives its name from the entrance antiphon [which is not used because now we sing a hymn] “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Indeed the Lord is near.” The theme of rejoicing because of the nearness of the Lord is signified by the rose (pink) candle of the wreath instead of the purple or violet candle. John the Baptist is again this Sunday the central character (John's Gospel); last week it was the Gospel of Mark. The religious leaders wanted to know who John was [since he was baptizing and many were coming to him]. He tells them that he is not the Christ. The Gospel indicates John was popular but he refused this celebrity status. Instead, of trying to be the “Light” he witnessed to the Light which is Christ. The First Christmas celebration took place on December 25 in 352AD. No one knows the exact date when, or in what year Jesus was born. Early Christians often celebrated the Birth of Jesus on January 6. It was Pope Julius I who specified December 25 as the official date of the Birth of Jesus- to replace the Roman holiday celebrating the birth of the Sun-God, and the return of longer days of sunlight. Christ we profess to be the Son of God, true light of the World.

November 22, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

Thanksgiving Message from Father Jerry

Each year there is a different and unique reason to celebrate our national holiday [holy day] of Thanksgiving. Someone the other day told me “Father, there will be a silver lining in all of this! Perhaps Thanksgiving is that opportunity right in front of us. As difficult as 2011 has been in different ways and in a very singular way [Do I mention “Irene” again?], being thankful might be exactly what we all need. Haven’t we witnessed great generosity from so many throughout our communities, state and nation in the donations and volunteering by neighbors, groups and organizations? Especially, I am thankful for the perseverance and resilience of people who have suffered loss. I haven’t heard much complaining or self-pity. I have heard and seen courage, strength and determination. Still, there is a long road to recovery. But “thanksgiving” will certainly make the road easier. Mass will be at the regular time on Thanksgiving Day (9 AM). Let us remember to help support our local food shelves especially in Duxbury and in the Valley, where supplies are low and the need is especially great this year.

Advent 2011

With this First Sunday of Advent we begin a new church year and a new cycle for Sunday readings (Cycle B). It is not primarily a season of penance (as Lent is), although confessing of sins is a part of our joyous preparation for Christ's Birth. As Mark Searles says (in “The Spirit of Advent”), “Advent is a season of Hope.” He says:

“Human beings cannot live without hope. Unlike animals, we are blessed-or cursed-with the ability to think about the future and or fear our actions to shaping it. We can find all sorts of things to live for and we can hope for almost anything; for some measure of success or security or realization of some of our more or less modest ambitions: for our children, that they might be saved from our mistakes and sufferings and find a better life than we have known; for a better world, throwing ourselves into politics or medicine or technology, so that future generations might be better off. Not all forms of hope are selfish; indeed, they have given dignity and purpose to the lives of countless generations. But above all hopes is the coming of Jesus in history, because Jesus has revealed to us that God is not far off, but is already in our midst. Hence the importance of John the Baptist and Mary; because they recognized the new situation. They serve as models for the Church in discerning the presence of our Savior in the world.”

May the Advent season be an occasion to recognize Christ Jesus in our midst and in one another.

November 18, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

Each year there is a different and unique reason to celebrate our national holiday [holy day] of Thanksgiving. Someone the other day told me “Father, there will be a silver lining in all of this! Perhaps Thanksgiving is that opportunity right in front of us. As difficult as 2011 has been in different ways and in a very singular way [Do I mention “Irene” again?], being thankful might be exactly what we all need. Haven’t we witnessed great generosity from so many throughout our communities, state and nation in the donations and volunteering by neighbors, groups and organizations? Especially, I am thankful for the perseverance and resilience of people who have suffered loss. I haven’t heard much complaining or self-pity. I have heard and seen courage, strength and determination. Still, there is a long road to recovery. But “thanksgiving” will certainly make the road easier. Mass will be at the regular time on Thanksgiving Day (9 AM). Let us remember to help support our local food shelves especially in Duxbury and in the Valley, where supplies are low and the need is especially great this year.

November 11, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

The Scriptures this Sunday speak of “Fearing the Lord”. From the Book of Wisdom we hear “the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” The Psalm sings of the “Blessed who fear the Lord.” The “fear” that is spoken about is properly called “Awe and Wonder” that the Confirmation students have been taught for many years now. Still, for many more years the church has chosen to translate “this awesome wonder of God as “fear of the Lord”. How different is the wicked servant who truly is afraid of his master, that he goes and buries the one talent (“so out of fear I went and buried your talent in the ground.”) In what way do I fear the Lord?

November 4, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wisdom is the theme of the liturgy this week. The Old Testament reading comes from the Book of Wisdom. Wisdom is personalized “She is readily perceived by those who love her and found by those who seek her.”{Wis. 6:12) Jesus' parable follows with the parable of the Ten Wise/Foolish Virgins. Wisdom is not a matter of being intelligent, educated, or smart. It is something different which anyone can have. And it is associated with “Living”. Many years ago I was working for a landscaper who had gone to college and ran his own landscaping company. We were talking and he said “Wisdom is knowing what makes you happy.” I thought that was pretty good. He obviously found what made him content in life (landscaping).At the time I was still struggling with wisdom and direction. However, it isn't quite so simple; otherwise, a lot more people would be wise and content. The Gospels and the teachings of Christ often tell us of the obstacles to happiness and wisdom. For example: a self-centered, selfish, materialistic life will not ultimately be wise or happy. Ultimately, full contentment/happiness is not possible in this life. A part of our being, soul, life, must be given over to God. Love of God and others, friendship with God and others gives one ultimate meaning and greater happiness.

October 28, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus' on-going dispute with the Pharisees and Scribes reaches a critical point. He tells the crowd to do and observe what they say, “but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.” This Gospel instills within the clergy of today and the churchgoer a sense of humility or even fear. Who truly practices what he/she preaches, except the God/man? Who really deserves to be called a Christian except the Christ himself? But at the end of this Gospel Jesus says “You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.” Jesus himself is Rabbi, Teacher, Master and what he has come to teach is that we all are brothers and sisters. That lesson in humility is a hard lesson to learn.

October 21, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

For some time we have been hearing the Gospels from St. Matthew at weekend Masses. No other Gospels give us as much of Jesus' parables as does Matthew. Many times we do not recognize the parables because some are so short (i.e., the man with two sons of whom he asks to work in the vineyard). This Sunday the question is put to Christ “Which is the greatest commandment?” There is no parable here, but rather a prayer. Jesus responds with a traditional Jewish prayer: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” Sound impossible? Too much to ask? St. Francis de Sales says “our hearts are too small to ever give enough love to God. The best we can do is to love as much as we can.” It is really a continual effort to expand our hearts in a process of conversion.

October 17, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

It may seem like a long time ago that Irene visited, came and went suddenly. Communities, individuals and institutions have been variously affected. No doubt there is much work still to be done, as we try to return to some kind of order. I would just like to take this opportunity to thank the many parishioners who gave their time and energies to help neighbors, local communities and our churches in the time of crisis. To paraphrase scripture “Where hardships bound, even more does grace prevail.” (St. Paul)

St. Patrick’s recently had a new furnace installed (thanks to Gillespie Fuels) as well as new windows in the basement. Work continues: flooring, pews, sheetrock, etc. Perhaps by Thanksgiving St. Patrick’s will be in use. Again, thanks to all who helped either in the early stages and those who continue to work to restore our church.

On a lesser note, the new Roman Missal will start to be used in our churches on the first Sunday in Advent (November 27th). In the next few weeks there will be some inserts in the bulletins for parishioners’ reading. Parishioners are encouraged to prepare for the changes by reading these inserts.

September 23, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

The Scriptures

Last Sunday the theme of “God’s ways and thoughts are far above our ways and thoughts” is reinforced by Christ’s parable of the late comers receiving the same pay as the all-day laborers. This “good news!” is continued in the short parable of the two sons: one who originally says “yes” to the father and does not go into the vineyard to work and the other who first refuses but then changes his mind and goes. Unlike the nature of objects and animals, human nature is open to change: for better or worse, obedience to God’s will or not! It is never too late to change from wickedness. And if a virtuous person has made a point of goodness all of their life, then that one is not likely to change “to wickedness” (Ez 18:25-28). Every single human has been given what is necessary for his/her salvation.

September 16, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

This past Sunday, September 11, our Bishop Salvatore Matano celebrated the 9 AM Mass at St. Andrew's Parish. It was a bright, beautiful and sunny morning giving no indication of the flooding that had taken place and the destruction witnessed in our area and throughout the State. The Bishop had been in Wilmington (Our Lady of Fatima) the day before. He had been and continues to be present in our Catholic communities affected by the destruction of Irene. For me his presence, especially in celebrating the Eucharist, was a symbol of our Catholic identity. As leader and shepherd of the Diocese, which includes the entire State of Vermont, the Bishop's presence reminds us of our being brothers and sisters of the Lord not only in a local sense but throughout the state. His presence reminds us that we are not alone in this crisis and that others as well are still in the stage of recovery.

Being the anniversary of 911, in his homily he mentioned that in New York on September 11, 2001, it was a bright and sunny day. There was no indication of the destruction to come. The Bishop mentioned that we do not know the time or the hour of our leaving this earthly life. As the experiences of many in Washington, Pennsylvania, and New York, both of victims and loved ones, calls were made expressing love in their final hours. We may not live each day as if it were our last. However, we can try to choose our words better, live in greater appreciation of each other, practice charity to a greater extent. The Mass that we celebrate is that very reminder each week of this need to live life and practice faith daily because of the great reality of the Life eternal that we are promised.

September 9, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

What can I say that hasn't been said already? With the destructive power of Irene much has been said through news reports, TV, radio, photos, and the sharing of our personal stories and experiences. As strong as the devastation in our local communities, the state and in the Northeast has been, we have witnessed strong signs of support and generosity of so many. How long will it take for some type of normalcy? The full range of emotions has been or will be tested. Let us pray for patience, strength, perseverance, courage, charity. Let us pray for thanksgiving for the many volunteers, civic leaders, and emergency personnel who have responded so generously. While we know that in these trying times, our Catholic faith is the constant. It is the solid basis in the midst of our fatigue, stress, sadness, anger, joy, of all our emotions. I am sure that in the Eucharist of Christ which we will celebrate, our prayers both of thanksgiving and petitions will be more heartfelt than ever.

September 3, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

What can I say that hasn't been said already? With the destructive power of Irene much has been said through news reports, TV, radio, photos, and the sharing of our personal stories and experiences. As strong as the devastation in our local communities, the state and in the Northeast has been, we have witnessed strong signs of support and generosity of so many. How long will it take for some type of normalcy? The full range of emotions has been or will be tested. Let us pray for patience, strength, perseverance, courage, charity. Let us pray for thanksgiving for the many volunteers, civic leaders, and emergency personnel who have responded so generously. While we know that in these trying times, our Catholic faith is the constant. It is the solid basis in the midst of our fatigue, stress, sadness, anger, joy, of all our emotions. I am sure that in the Eucharist of Christ which we will celebrate, our prayers both of thanksgiving and petitions will be more heartfelt than ever.

August 26, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

Last Sunday, we heard how Jesus praised Peter, who confessed that Jesus “was the Christ, Son of the Living God!” Jesus promised the “keys of the kingdom” to him and his future successors; “Blessed are you Simon Peter...and so I say you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”

The Gospel continues Jesus' proclamation of this kingdom, when He speaks about his rejection, suffering and death. At this point Peter refuses to think of this possibility as Jesus rebukes him “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Is it not like life? One moment we are praised and blessed then we are rebuked and put down. It may not always be by people that we are exalted or humbled; sometimes circumstances do that. What is more important in this gospel though, is a central point of the spiritual life. Growth in faith is ''thinking more like God, seeing how God sees!'' It is a conversion process that requires sacrifice (the cross you might say) in giving up our preconceptions, beliefs we have had for some time, to be open to the vision of God and taking whatever means to help bring that kingdom about.

April 22, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA!

We have not heard, said or sung the word of Praise and Joy for sometime. In this our Greatest Feast, I wish you and your family a Happy Easter and the Gifts of Jesus Risen and Alive - LIGHT, JOY, HOPE,- that our preparation of Lent and celebrations of Holy Week/Easter might help us extend Easter Hope well into the season and forever. ALLELUIA!!

March 25, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

Reconciliation, Repentance, and Mercy are the hallmarks of the Lenten Season. We are encouraged to celebrate God's merciful love in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As soon as we finalize the Lenten Penitential Services in our local churches (Deanery), we will publish dates and places. However, besides the normal Confession time (Saturdays 3:15 to 3:45 PM at St. Andrew), I will be available before all the weekend Masses for those who wish to celebrate the sacrament.

February 25, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

We have been hearing in the last few weeks of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. The teachings have been quite challenging indeed. As we continue to hear Jesus this Sunday as he comes to the end of his sermon, he says “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [material greed].” Christ goes on to say “don't worry about you life: what to eat, or to drink or what to wear but seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be given you besides.” It sounds simple and perhaps it was simpler in the days of his earthly life. But in our much more complex life and world, the message is the same: our first priority is the kingdom of God, living life in some connection to God, in friendship with the Lord. In every age, with the advantages and challenges peculiar to that time, the challenge is to make the spiritual life the priority of life. This challenge is not reserved for the priest, religious sister or bishops but for everyone. One common and basic means is the attendance at weekday Mass and reception of Christ's Body and Blood. That is why the Church puts such a strong insistence on Catholic participation at weekly Mass.

February 18, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

Christ continues with his Sermon on the Mount, with his saying “you have heard it said... but I say to you....” You have heard it said “An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” Jesus says something quite different. Granted, that Jesus “On the Mount” is calling for a new and difficult teaching to follow. There is at stake a really very old concept to which Jesus has to be faithful. It was expressed in the Book of Leviticus, where God says “Be Holy as I am holy.” Whatever God is, it is expressed as “Holy”. Being made in his image, we are to be “like” him. We are commanded to even go “beyond justice” to “Love”. Loving your enemy, praying for persecutors, going the extra mile, are really what God is all about. God wishes for human beings to be saved, to know his love. Jesus Christ, God-made-man, has in himself gone beyond justice limits in his rejection, suffering, death and resurrection for us all.

February 11, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

A few weeks ago we heard from Matthew's Gospel. Christ “went up the mountain” and taught the people. This is very significant as the crowds would have seen Jesus as the “new” Moses. Whereas Moses gave the Ten Commandments from the mountain, Christ gives a new teaching: the “Sermon on the Mount” of which the first section is the “Beatitudes”. Christ's new and radical teaching does not make void the Ten Commandments, but completes and surpasses the commandments. This is spelled out in the gospel of the Sixth Sunday “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish but to fulfill.” The gospel of this week indicates that His teaching fulfills the law (commandments), when he relates particular commandments and that His commandments call us to go deeper. For example, the commandments tell us not to kill, but Jesus says we are to conquer our anger towards a brother or sister. And so, the teaching of Jesus challenges us to a deeper conversion, and an inner disposition/attitude towards the law.

February 4, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

Last week, the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, we heard Christ in what is commonly referred as the Beatitudes (the Blessings). However, Jesus' new teaching on the Beatitudes is just the beginning of the “Sermon on the Mount.” The continuation of the Sermon takes place for the next three weeks. The “Beatitudes” is the overture, of what Jesus will teach in the rest of the sermon and what he teaches in the rest of his earthly life. This Sunday Christ proclaims that his disciples are to be “salt of the earth and light of the world.” Considering that Jesus is the only true Light of the World, Christ’s call to be “light of the world” is very high praise indeed. Not unlike the Beatitudes, this saying of Christ is puzzling. The Beatitudes call for humility, poverty, and lowliness. Today's Gospel indicates a kind of glorification of the disciple/follower. I guess the answer lies not in our accomplishments but rather in Christ being the source of our good actions. Our light and being like salt comes from Christ and this is not for our glorification and happiness but for the salvation of others to give glory to God.

January 28, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

At first glance, the Old Testament reading of the prophet Zephaniah, speaks of the “remnant of Israel”. This small in number and humble people “will do no wrong, speak no lies, who shall take refuge in the name of the Lord.” Some priests and a few laity have spoken that the Catholic Church may be experiencing this “remnant” reality with the decrease in attendance at Mass and in the general decline in believers. This view might give some comfort in these days of church decline but let's pay attention to what the remnant do: “do no wrong and speak no lies; nor shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue.” It would seem that there has been and always will be a remnant. Good thing that we take refuge in the Lord Jesus who perfectly fulfills the dictates of the remnant: “humble, speaks no lies, does no wrong and pastures the flock.” Christ himself fulfills the definition of “remnant”, that which is left-over, of little value or importance, as He was rejected, suffered and crucified.

January 7, 2011

Message from Father Jerry

With Christmas season coming to an end with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, I wish to express my appreciation to the many in our three communities who decorated, sang, played music, prayed , served, read, gave communion, cleaned the church, provided flowers and very much more, to make our Christmas celebrations bright, beautiful and pleasing. I very much enjoyed the celebrations in the three communities, although the timing of Christmas and related feasts was a challenge this year. I do believe I know what day it is today. For a while there it was a challenge just to figure out what day it was!

My personal thanks are extended to parishioners for your kind, generous Christmas wishes, gifts and food, that will be enjoyed long into the new year; especially the food and baked goods!!! God Bless You for your kindnesses!

December 31, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

Many thanks to all of you - parishioners of St. Andrew, Our Lady of the Snows and St. Patrick - who through so many ministries and service, made our Christmas celebrations possible.

I thank and praise God for your community spirit. Faith, Hope and Love become “incarnate” (made flesh and real) in your actions of devotion and love for our churches, communities, and for those in need. May the Blessings of Christmas continue into the season and well into the New Year!

December 17, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

This year the celebration of Christmas is a challenge being on a Saturday. While my mind is relatively clear, I would like to take this time to wish all parishioners and our visitors a Merry Christmas Season. We are now in the Fourth Week of Advent and Christmas (the first day of the Christmas Season) is still almost a full week away. Whether you tried to be more charitable, supported the food shelf or Good Neighbor Fund, helped a neighbor, visited the sick, went to daily Eucharist or received the sacrament of Reconciliation, or just tried to be more attentive and prayerful at Mass, may you be blessed for the efforts you have made to prepare for Jesus Christ’s Birthday!

Wishing you and your families the Blessings of Peace, Joy and Hope that the Birth of “God-With-Us” brings!

November 24, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

Advent begins our yearly preparation for Christmas. We have already begun ahead of time in this preparation with the holiday(holyday) of Thanksgiving, recalling in the midst of our busy lives to “thank God'' for life and the blessings of life. This is, I believe, the key to Advent preparation. It is not like Lenten preparation. Advent is a time of joyful preparation for Christmas. There will be time for Reconciliation. But here too, the accent on the sacrament is on the joy of being forgiven and receiving a new start (perhaps the reason first penance is celebrated for our children at this time). There will be opportunities in this Advent season to share with those in need, to experience Christ's blessings usually in small and unexpected ways. But we need to work at being alert to see the opportunities of God's presence in our day-to-day lives and in the events in which we might be thankful.

Let us have a good Advent season!

November 18, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

November has settled in upon us by now, the foliage beauty has passed, the clocks changed. While November is the month of the greatest cloudiness (except with the recent and glorious days of sun and blue skies), there is a certain blessing of beauty in this month. The change of pace of this month of weather, darkness, and cold prepares us for Thanksgiving and soon to follow Advent, a time of a new beginning and joyful preparation. This year, as an Advent preparation, we will have a Bible Study at St. Leo’s Hall. In order to have four sessions on the Infancy Narratives of Mark’s and Matthew’s gospels, the first class/session will take place on Monday November 22nd from 7 to 8:30 PM. The other three sessions will follow in the Advent Season: Mondays, November 29, December 6, and December 13. Last year’s Lenten Bible Study, I gather, was an enjoyable and worthwhile preparation for Easter. I am looking forward to our Advent Bible Study to be equally enlightening and enjoyable. All are welcome! Bring your favorite Bible for any or all of the sessions.

November 12, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

“Diocesan Guidelines for the Pastoral Council” (continued).

This will be the last of the commentaries on the Pastoral Council, until sometime in the new year when we begin to implement Pastoral Council formation.

This last section deals with the officers and their duties: The Officers of the Council are the Coordinator, Assistant Coordinator, and Secretary (The Executive Committee). These officers are elected by the lay members of the parish council for a one year term. The Executive Committee duties include; setting of agenda, publicizing topic beforehand, announcing to the parish actions taken by the Council and approved by the Pastor.

The COORDINATOR, at the direction of the Pastor, “assigns responsibilities to the members, mindful of the words of the Lord 'He who will be first among you shall be the servant of all' (Mt.20:27).”

The ASSISTANT COORDINATOR “carries out the duties of the Coordinator in her/his absence, and assists both the Coordinator and Secretary, as needed.”

The SECRETARY “notifies the members of time and place of meetings, keeps minutes, makes minutes available for council members, prepares for the pastor's signature the roster of Council Members for the Chancery office and to the deanery of the area each year and makes notes of the changes as they may occur during the year.”

The next section deals with those proposed sub-committees of the Council (Worship, Religious Education, Social Action, and Stewardship). We will not elaborate on this section. This would be for our Council to determine which sub-committees we feel necessary to implement (considering our size and unique parish communities).

The very last section deals with the meeting itself: The Council meets at least quarterly, a quorum is achieved when a majority (of voting members) is present, Robert's Rules regulates all meetings, all parishioners are invited to attend Parish Council meetings, with the exception of Executive Meetings. Parishioners have the right to speak when recognized, but have no vote.

These revised Guidelines were approved on October 7, 2010.

November 5, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

(Continued from last week):

The Guidelines on the Parish Council give a general organizational plan for all Parish Councils, and mentions that specific plans may vary according to size or other circumstances that affect a given parish.

The Pastor, as the spiritual leader of the parish is the President of the council. The Laity are to predominate in the Council [not a concern in our parishes, but a factor in larger parishes where there are religious sisters, multiple priests and/or deacons].

The members of the Council are appointed by the Pastor with consultation with the faithful [This is a departure from the previous Guidelines calling for elections of members]. There can be a youth of the parish aged 16-18 to serve on the council with parental consent. A person older than 18 is considered to be an adult member. Appointed members are to have a term of three years and may be re-appointed. The make-up of the Council should be arranged so that one-third of the membership will be rotating each year.

In the event of resignation, change of address or death of a member, the members of the Council recommend to the Pastor a successor to serve the remainder of the term of office.

Nominations are requested annually by the pastor from among the parishioners.

(To be continued next week: Pastor and Officers of the Council and their duties)

October 29, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

Recently, Bishop Matano, proposed to the priest members of the Diocesan Presbyteral Council a revision of the Parish Council Guidelines. These Guidelines were proposed, discussed and refined for acceptance and use in our parishes. I think most of us are aware that in the past few years in the Catholic communities in the Diocese, the Parish Pastoral Council has taken a secondary importance or was put on the '' back burner''. Our own combined Pastoral Council of St. Andrew, Our Lady of the Snows/St. Patrick is one of many, I suspect, that fell in disuse with all the initiatives coming from the Diocese (Parish Charitable Trust, Finance Council regulations, “Protecting God's Children”, Parish Soft, Virtus Program, CCD teacher certification, centralized bookkeeping, the Parish Administrative Manual, to name a few.)

In the next few issues of our church bulletin, I will be writing a summary and commentary on the Guidelines for the Parish Pastoral Council. Now that much of the administrative initiatives/changes have been put into place, it is time to focus on restoring the Pastoral Council's role as an important and permanent feature of our church communities. In the new year, this will be our project. By Baptism we all share in a common dignity of Jesus' priesthood, kingship and prophecy. We are His brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of God the Father. So let us begin.

The Parish Council is a “consultative board which works together with the pastor to promote the spiritual welfare of all persons within the parish in the spirit... of fostering pastoral activity.” (Art. I, 1) The parish [the religious community] “should give attention to sacred worship, religious education, works of mercy and stewardship” [I would include also fellowship, or those activities that promote community life]. (Next issue will take in the Organization and Membership of the Council.)

October 1, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

To continue our reflection on the new translation of the Catholic Roman Missal (effective Advent 2011), we turn our attention to music. The responses of the faithful and their adaptation to changes are minor compared to the music that will be changed. Since the translation of the Ordinary (“Lord Have Mercy”, “Gloria”, “Holy, Holy, Holy”, Eucharistic Acclamation), will be different, almost all music settings that we have been accustomed to will change. This will require musicians to learn new music settings and use in some cases older familiar ones in Latin. Msgr. Schreck in his conference at our Presbyteral Days mentioned that sometimes bishops did allow publishers too much freedom to make variations to the wording of the Ordinary parts of the Mass. For example, many ordinary music settings use refrains or repetitions of words that should not be there. This makes it more difficult for people to sing along. Both bishops and priests will be more vigilant to approve music that will be used at Mass. Music is no small matter when it comes to liturgy. Music settings involve both the translation used and the learning of music by all the faithful. Perhaps the biggest change in the new translation will be the music, not so much of hymns, but the ordinary parts of the Mass. Many of the familiar Mass settings will no longer be used.

September 24, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

To continue our discussion on the new English translation of the Catholic Missal (effective Advent 2011), we now consider what this means for the person in the pew. People are probably wondering “What are the changes that affect me?” The most obvious change will be the people's response to the priest's greeting “The Lord Be with You!” The congregation will respond “And with your spirit”. The change is minor, but since it is used quite often during the Mass (and any time it is used at any prayer, benediction or blessing), it is important. The “Confiteor” (I Confess to almighty God...) will change somewhat, as will the wording of “The Gloria”, “The Creed”; the “The Holy, Holy, Holy” will only change slightly: “God of power and might” will change to “God of hosts”. The “Our Father” will remain the same. There will be some other minor changes in the Mass, not necessary to mention now.

Perhaps some of us are wondering, why translation change now? There are certainly more pressing issues in the church and world. It does seem that a lot of effort, expense, time has been and will be used in this change. The only answer I can give is to say that the change was started some years ago. The change is already 5 years or so delayed. The translation changes have been in the works for some years. It is not a recent development. I wonder if “the powers that be” had known how long it would take, whether the changes would have been initiated?

The more important point though, is the very nature of our Catholic liturgy. The Mass or Liturgy (“Work of the People”) is not an individual action. It is a community action requiring a certain order and level of cooperation among celebrant and congregation. The liturgy does not belong to any priest, bishop, or pope. The Liturgies “are not private functions but are celebrations of the Church 'which is the sacrament of unity' ” (CCC#1140). We may and usually do have personal preferences when it comes to liturgy. There is something more important than personal preferences, “even the Church may not arbitrarily modify or manipulate liturgical ritual but only in obedience of faith and with religious respect” (#1125). The Church authority does take modification and change seriously and therefore she takes her time to do so. Why? Because we see in liturgies/sacraments the very presence of Christ and, “above all the Eucharist, is the mystery of communion with God who is love.”(#1118).

(...to be continued: The changes that will affect music)

September 17, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

The annual meeting of our Bishop and the priests in our diocese (September 7-9) featured conferences by Msgr. Christopher Schreck. He is a Catholic priest from London, a leading liturgical expert on the new translation of the Catholic Missal. As many of you already know, the Roman Missal will be printed and in use by Advent of 2011. It has been years in the making with many delays. I will use this bulletin to relate some of the reflections shared at the conference. First of all, the changes at Mass will be of translation NOT ritual. The changes of Vatican II (for those of us who remember), were much more extensive involving introduction of vernacular and ritual (like priest facing the people etc.). Although the changes are not nearly as pronounced, the church has learned that proper preparation is essential. This message is a beginning - to prepare for the new translation at Mass. We have over a year to prepare by various means (bulletin announcements, videos, pamphlets that will be made available). It must be remembered that our present translation of the Mass is 40 years old. It was a very new undertaking after centuries of Latin-based liturgy. The new translation is more than change in English words. It is a change in our manner of worshipping God which is sacred and fitting for the Lord.

(To be continued: “What are the changes that will affect the congregation?” and “the translation changes that will change music, especially the ordinary such as Gloria?”)

September 10, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

Religious education is like no other education. Faith, which we say is a gift from God, as such cannot be taught. However, the subject matter which is the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Church can be the fertile ground for faith to grow. This is where Faith Education is different. The mind can be enlightened to the subject matter, but there is the heart, will and soul that make for living faith. Pope Paul VI in his great encyclical on evangelization said “if people are influenced by teachers, it is because teachers are first of all witnesses.” Our religious education programs of our parish youth will begin soon. I wish to thank our coordinators, teachers, classroom aides and other volunteers in our parish programs for their efforts to teach our youth. I am thankful to the Lord for their witness to their faith, which to my mind is even greater.

To parents who have or will enroll children in our programs, I praise you for keeping your promise made at your children's baptism, to educate your children in “the ways of faith.” Join me in being appreciative of our CCD staff. Try to encourage your child, take seriously the few numbers of classes we have during the year, and above all practice the faith by attendance at Mass. It is at the Eucharist, that Jesus left us, and to which we have been commanded, that faith grows. The Mass is where Christ is the Teacher and Jesus is made present in Body and Blood.

September 3, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

I always think of early September as being the beginning of the year. With the end of summer in sight and the beginning of school, this time of year does begin the “pastoral year.” Of course, the parish church; the daily and weekend Eucharist, baptisms, funerals, weddings continue in a never ending cycle. But with the beginning of school the parish communities become whole again. Our Masses will see more children and families present, our religious programs start again as well as all their related activities. The parish community becomes whole again because a central element “of what we do and what we are” is re-vitalized: EDUCATION OF FAITH. Granted that the celebration of the Eucharist (Mass) is the primary means of Faith Education through the liturgy, religious education (both Youth and Adult programs) formally teach Faith Education. Many thanks to our teachers in our public schools, and Catholic schools and in the many religious education programs in our parishes; with our prayers and blessings in this most important ministry of service to society and the Church!

August 20, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

Another year, another summer, another Parish Picnic. While we would not want to hurry summer along, or think of starting school again, our annual parish picnic does come at the end of summer. Even so, it is a celebration of summer, parish communities, and “breaking-bread” (a la Bar-B-Q). Many thanks to our Knights of Columbus and to all who helped in the organization, setting up, food preparation, children’s activities, and to our musicians. I will reserve my “thanks” later to the ones responsible for praying for good weather.

As we have neglected to notify parishioners to bring non-perishable food items for the food shelves, the Knights will undertake a 50/50 ticket draw, the proceeds going to the local food shelves.

All are welcome to the Picnic and thanks to all for their participation in this community event!

July 9, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

The scholar of the law in this week's Gospel tries to test Jesus. He asks a current and perennial question concerning eternal life and one meriting it: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus’ response [typically for Christ] is a question: “What is written in the law?” The answer from the scribe is one that anyone would know [and we ourselves also]: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself”. Jesus approves of the answer that the scribe himself provided. The scribe, being an able lawyer, tries then to find a loophole: “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus then responds with the much loved and moving parable of “The Good Samaritan.” A neighbor is simply another person in need and whom we help. Christ crosses the bounds of traditional definitions of ethnic, national and religious notions of neighbor/friendship. The scribe is not too different from people today; wishing to find loopholes or trying to find the bare minimum to “get to heaven.” Christ, however, appeals to our largeness of heart and generosity of spirit. Why? Because God has made us in His own image. An element of that image is to be inclusive, generous and expanding in “who is the neighbor/friend”. The Gospel is as relevant today as in the day of Jesus. The question is not so much who is my neighbor? [a limit imposed by nationality, physical nearness, or even language] but the unlimited possibility of our will “to whom can I be a neighbor ?” The Gospel encourages us to go beyond the minimum and extend friendship as far as possible.

July 2, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

This year our national Birthday and Holiday falls on a Sunday. It is an opportunity and blessing to offer the Eucharist in thanksgiving to God for the blessings given to our nation over time and to celebrate the Mass for future strength, security and peace. Of course, on every Independence Day, the Catholic Community celebrates the Eucharist in a special way with the Mass of the Progress of the People. There is a special Preface, specific intentions and prayers. This year all Catholics who celebrate the Lord's Supper, have a great need to pray for our nation's leaders, our military personnel, but most of all to pray for the Journey of this nation towards a fuller life of liberty, pursuit of happiness and justice for all which began over 220 years ago (I guess this year would be our 224th birthday).

Happy Independence Day to All!

June 18, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

The second reading (Galatians) at Mass this weekend is absolutely imprinted on the mind/heart of any pastor, “Brothers and sisters, through faith you are all children of God in Jesus Christ. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” This reading has been read time and time again at baptism. “You were baptized into Jesus,” states that baptism is not something “done to us”, but rather someone in whom we have been immersed. We are plunged (that’s why baptism of immersion is so powerful), and deeply given to the Lord. It is so true that St. Paul’s words last week are a basic description of Christian life “yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me!” Whether we are conscious very often or mindful at all, Christ loves us into being, lives in us, sustains us, through all of our weaknesses and sins, and loves us into everlastingness. Jesus’ question “But who do you say I am?” to us is an on-going discovery of the spiritual reality, not readily appreciated: “we live not as we ourselves only, but Christ lives in us.”

June 11, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

Finally, Ordinary Time! After a long Easter Season, with the solemnities of Pentecost, Holy Trinity, and Corpus Christi, we are now in Ordinary Time in the Church's Year. There is a certain comfort and ease about ordinariness of life. It fits very well with summertime! There is nothing particularly intense or impressive. Our days are more relaxed and casual befitting summertime. However, ordinary time can be a challenge. Times of both intense joy or crisis, humans can deal with. However, ordinary times, which occupy most of our life's journey, can be a challenge! We seek the impressive, powerful, awesome experiences. But, as humans, we cannot sustain the awesome and the powerful emotions. What is left is the rather ordinary day -to-day existence! This is not bad. The “ordinary” is what life is mostly about, but it is a challenge.

An ancient saying goes “Time doesn't take time off”. Neither does God take time off. May this summer be a time to notice the ever-present Lord of Creation and Grace. The Church doesn't take time off either, recalling to us our need for recreation [from the word meaning Re-Create, renew ourselves]. We are to renew ourselves through the Sunday as the Lord's Day. Let us try to maintain Sunday observance by relaxation, enjoyment, family time, and the time to give fitting glory to God by the Eucharist as best we can and wherever we may be.

June 4, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

The Feast of The Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), gives us the Multiplication of the Loaves as the Gospel Reading this year. This miracle is the only “miracle” recorded in all four Gospels. It is for a reason. With Jesus “looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them broke them and gave them to his disciples” this scripture prefigures what Jesus would do at the Last Supper. Beyond the great multitude being fed, the Multiplication signifies Eucharist. The Bread -Come- Down- From- Heaven [Christ], gives Himself as Bread in the Eucharist. Even more amazing, and to an even greater degree than the Multiplication, Eucharist feeds. Wherever the disciples are gathered in every place on earth to celebrate the Eucharist, Christ is given and received and we are fed in ways beyond the physical. A couple of weeks ago on the Solemnity of Pentecost, we heard that “no one can say JESUS IS LORD, except by the Holy Spirit” (I Cor.3b). It is the same Spirit that goes further to proclaim in us that this Jesus is present in the element of Bread and Wine. And that same Spirit says that those who receive Jesus' Body, themselves become the Body of Christ on earth (the Church). St. Augustine said that when we say “yes” [Amen] to the Body of Christ at communion, we say “yes” [Amen] to who we are, The Body of Christ. Jesus spent much time in preparing his followers to accept His presence in the Eucharist. One of these occasions was the multiplication of the Loaves and Fish. The Holy Spirit has [and is] busy helping in our understanding and proclamation of this mystery.

May 28, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

We have just completed the Easter Season with the great Solemnity of Pentecost. As we return to Ordinary Time, right away we have yet another glorious Solemnity. We celebrate the Most Holy Trinity. It is The Feast of God! Aside from LOVE as being the definition of God, the Holy Trinity is the most complete theological proclamation of who God is. It is a glorious mystery of faith beyond our ability to understand, but nevertheless, a wonderful celebration of faith. The church has been trying for centuries to express, grow and reflect on this mystery of Three in One. Rather than trying to do the impossible math (3 Persons in 1), my reflection is on Person.

The Old Testament reading from the Mass (Proverbs) speaks about the creator - God ''before the mountains were settled...while as yet the earth and fields were not made...I found delight in the human race.'' With all the advances in science and knowledge of the universe, it may be very easy and tempting to believe that all was created by chance and by an impersonal cosmic process. However, the tradition of Faith maintains that GOD is a PERSON, or a community of Persons. Personhood RELATES, SHARES, COMMUNICATES, LOVES!!! This is what we know of God. This is what has been revealed by God in Scripture and Tradition. God is a Personal God. And since we are made in God's image (and God says so, Gen.1, 26), we are made to Relate, Share, Communicate, Love.

However imperfectly, we are challenged to continue to find our Reason for Being in communion with God and with one another. Being Church, being a member of the Church is the constant reminder of being a person in Relationship with one another and with the Lord.

May 21, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

Pentecost concludes the Season of Easter. It is the recollection of the Church's beginnings; a sort of Birthday of the Church. But more importantly it is the Era in which we live. The Holy Spirit is like the “middle- child” of the Trinity or the forgotten person. Except for at the Confirmation Mass or Pentecost Sunday, the only celebrations when “Come, Holy Ghost” is sung, the Holy Spirit is pretty much unheralded. But with Christ's Resurrection and Ascension, we have been living in the time of the Holy Spirit b<[Pentecost]> for a very long time. It is the Spirit that empowers us to believe and proclaim “Jesus Christ is Lord!”[ I Cor. 12:3] It is the Spirit, promised by Christ, who reminds us of Jesus' teaching and instructs [JN. 14: 26, 16:13] us of truth in an ever-changing world much different than the world of Jesus. The Most Holy Trinity is a community, a family unlike any other relational community we have experienced. There is no dissension or pulling rank. To know the Father is to know the Son, is to know the Spirit. Christ even defers glory to the Father, calling Him greater than all, and is obedient to the Father. Christ says that the Spirit will accomplish even more than he Himself has done on earth [JN.5:20, 14:12]. This community of God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is a unity of love and Oneness “When the Paraclete comes, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father and whom I myself will send from the Father - he will bear witness on my behalf.” We, the believers, the church, are in fact living the Pentecost by bearing witness as well. [Jn 16: 26-27]

May 7, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

With the recent celebration of Confirmation and last week's First Holy Communion, the completion/fulfillment of our parish religious education is realized. All religious education is directed to full initiation by the sacraments and on-going incorporation into the Body of Christ, the Church community.

Many thanks to this year's CCD teachers and aides especially Kevin Nadzam and Linda Chadwick [Confirmation], Maggie Grow, Carmel Kelley, Grace Callan [First Communion].

Our gratitude is extended to Sile and Sergio Torres and Gena Callan for the music at our First Communion celebration; to the St. Andrew Rosary Group for the beautiful handmade Rosaries given to each of the students; to the Knights of Columbus, Altar Society, Youth Group and parish volunteers for the breakfast afterward; and to Dianne Bilodeau, CCD director and indispensable coordinator of these important parish activities.

Many thanks to Susie Lowe, CCD director at St. Patrick's/Our Lady of the Snows, and to the parents of children in that program. The parents have taken seriously the Church's challenge “that the parents are the first teachers of the faith to their children.” This year our Valley religious education program consisted only of a home-school program. Next year's program and interest is undecided at this point. But we must stress that all the parents of the home-school programs are appreciated for their desire to teach their children in the faith.

Mother’s Day –

Through the loving intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ and our Mother (see Jn 19:26-27), may all mothers be blessed this Mother’s Day with God’s love and the affection and gratitude of their families.

April 30, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

This past April 18th was the 40th anniversary of EARTH DAY. On this Green-Up weekend in Vermont, it seems appropriate enough to speak a bit about our physical world and our stewardship. Back in the early days of Earth Day and even Green-Up, there were perhaps only a minority who really understood the importance of taking care of our environment. Now, however, the crisis of global warming, clean water, air pollution, greenhouse gases, etc. is almost universally accepted. I remember back in the early to mid-seventies getting involved in green-up at my work. It was new but the emphasis was more on the aesthetics and PR in keeping the “green” in the Green Mountain State. The first Earth Days barely received public notice.

How things have changed! Now our stewardship/care of the planet is understood as a moral issue. What difference do all the “other” moral issues matter, if the planet dies? The Church is not exempt from responsibility either, not having addressed this primary issue sooner. Pope Benedict focused his 2010 World Day of Peace (January 1) on the care of God’s Creation. He challenged leaders to respond to “the great ecological challenge” presented in the climate crisis. He even expressed disappointment of the “political resistance to combating the degradation of the environment”. He was particularly concerned about the impact of climate change on the poor and vulnerable, and “the very future of some nations”.

Clearly climate change/ecology is a moral imperative. The U.S. Catholic Bishops also declared “at its care, global climate change…is about the future of God’s creation and the ONE human family. It is about protecting both ‘the human environment’ and the natural environment.”

God our Father, you are holy indeed, and all creation rightly gives you praise. All life comes from you…. We acknowledge your greatness. You formed mankind in your own likeness and set us over the whole world to serve you, our creator, and to rule over all creatures [govern and care for creation]. AMEN (Eucharistic Prayer III/IV)

April 23, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

We are now in the Fourth Sunday of Easter, about half-way through the season (29 days to be exact). Remembering that Easter Season is longer than the season of preparation [Lent], we must still progress in Easter Joy! While there are natural elements [spring, sunlight, flowers, warmth etc.], that help us experience a physical and human optimism, spiritual Joy is something different. The Joy of Christ Risen is rooted in the reality of God's love for us that is eternal! The words of Jesus in the Gospel [fewest of any Gospel in the entire year] “My sheep hear my voice. I give them eternal life. They shall not perish. No one can take them out of my hands.” The Easter Joy is based on this reality of Faith; that we are loved and belong to God. However, this faith and hope is both a reality and a work in progress for us. The Eucharist, sacraments, prayer, and love for one another build up this Christian Joy. Joy, in the world view, depends upon good experiences that happen to us [happiness happens]. But spiritual happiness is something that is ever-present no matter what happens and it isn't too difficult to notice the many difficulties and problems that are out there. It is as if the world so struggles for happiness but generally has not witnessed the Risen Lord. So, let us be witnesses to God alive and really work at it; at these Easter Masses and in life-situations after Mass by charity, kindness and love.

April 16, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

Recently, our Bishop Matano asked a question concerning the Eucharist. This question was asked at two very important Masses, once at the Holy Chrism Mass at St. Joseph's Co-cathedral in Holy Week and the other occasion was at our Deanery Confirmation Mass at St. Augustine's on April 9.

The question was this: If we really believe that we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus at every Mass, why would we not have more people at Mass??? A follow-up to this question was; if we truly receive the Body of Christ, why would there not be a more marked influence in our society/world? The Bishop's question was a statement of absolute amazement rather than an effort to give reasons. Perhaps it was a question that was put forth to the congregation for their reflection. As so, I offer to those who were not present at either celebration to reflect upon the question. This is the time of year that we might think about this very important question. We have celebrated Easter and welcomed through Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation adults who chose to be members of Christ's Body. Recently, our young people confirmed their faith with the Sacrament of Confirmation. Shortly, in Catholic parishes around the globe, First Holy Communion will be celebrated. On June 10th, Catholics will celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. These are the times when we consider the question in one form or another.

I would point out that if faith were meant to be easy, Jesus would have made the Eucharist more eventful, powerful, miraculous (like experiencing a great flood of emotion every time one receives the Lord or witnessing more Eucharistic miracles). But faith is not easy and never has been easy. We have Jesus Christ's word “Do this in memory of Me”. We have the tradition of centuries of the Holy Eucharist. But Faith is required. Perhaps the miracle is right there in front of us; Christ makes himself present whether we deserve Him or not, are conscious, mindful or believing for that matter. However, there are many other points for your insight and contemplation on this question.

This season and time in the Liturgical year is an appropriate time to consider the Eucharist and the Holy Mass.

(The Holy Eucharist is a topic that the Bishop has made central in his ministry. We have in our churches many copies of his Pastoral Letter written a couple of years ago, for those who might wish to read it. Being the 5th Anniversary of the Bishop's Episcopal Ordination [April19], it seems fitting to mention the Holy Eucharist, a topic close to the Bishop's heart, at this time.)

April 9, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

A Happy and Blessed Easter Season to all Parishioners!!

Many thanks to all ministers of liturgy: lectors, musicians/singers, servers, Eucharistic ministers, church decorators, in helping us celebrate the beautiful Easter Triduum and the Easter Season yet to come. Oftentimes in the Easter season we hear at the Masses references to the Easter sacraments. Easter is a time of re-birth and new beginnings because of the new members being added to the church by Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation. These are the Easter sacraments of Initiation.

And so congratulations to our young people receiving Confirmation! You are now considered full members of the church. Put into practice what you have learned from your confirmation teachers and your years of formation in CCD. May you be blessed by an active life of faith.

Next month even younger children will receive Holy Eucharist for the first time, fulfilling their parents’ promise at Baptism that “one day their child would come to the Lord’s table”.

This Season of Easter is, in fact, full of life. Although our religious education program this year is coming to a close, the essential part of the church community has been accomplished; the educating of the young members in the way of faith through the sacraments. Many thanks to all our teachers of religion. The parish has no life, no future without religious education. And so, on behalf of all parishioners and parents, thank you to all our religion teachers and support staff for your indispensable ministry for the Church.

March 31, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

Where does time go? It seems for most of Lent time moves very slowly, and when we actually get into the spirit of penance, sacrifice and prayer, it is almost over. Passion (Palm) Sunday begins Holy Week. Palms are blessed, Jesus’ glorious entrance into Jerusalem is recounted, the Passion of the Lord is enacted by all of us (this year, Luke’s gospel). And the cycle continues. These now green palms will be used to make the Ashes that will mark us for next year’s Lent.

On Tuesday, March 30th at 11 AM Bishop Matano celebrated Chrism Mass with the priests of the Diocese at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Burlington. This Eucharist unites the local Diocesan clergy celebrating the gift and ministry of Christ’s priesthood. It is also the celebration in which the Holy Oils for Baptism, Confirmation, Priesthood are consecrated as well as the Oils for the Anointing of the Sick.

On Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus’ Last Supper is commemorated, the Washing of the Feet (recalling the Eucharistic people to service) is enacted, and the Holy Eucharist is reverenced in procession. This year’s Holy Thursday celebration will be unique. Normally in this celebration, the offering of the Body and Blood of Christ under the two species is a profound symbol of Christ’s supper with His friends. This year, with the flu-epidemic restriction still in force, the chalice will not be offered. Of course, the Church teaches that Holy Communion under either species of Bread or Wine contains both Jesus’ Body and Blood, therefore, nothing of Christ will be lacking.

Good Friday Services on April 2nd; one at 3 PM (traditional hour of Jesus’ Death) and the other at 7 PM, are the celebrations of Christ’s Passion (always St. John’s Gospel), with the Solemn Intercessions, Veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion.

Holy Saturday Vigil, April 3rd at 8 PM (must begin in darkness) with the Blessing of the Fire, Easter Proclamation, Liturgy of the Word, Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist when there are new members being brought into the Church, is the highest celebration of the year. Remember, that this Mass is the Primary Easter Mass and indeed the fulfillment of Sunday Obligation.

Easter Sunday is the Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord. He who once was Dead is Risen! We are Saved, Restored, Forgiven and Given Hope of Eternal Glory!!!

All are welcome to these Masses/Services - they are unique and special once-a-year celebrations!

March 26, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

Where does time go? It is already Palm Sunday! It seems for most of Lent time moves very slowly, and when we actually get into the spirit of penance, sacrifice and prayer, it is almost over. With Passion (Palm) Sunday we begin Holy Week. Palms are blessed, Jesus’ glorious entrance into Jerusalem is recounted, the Passion of the Lord is enacted by all of us (this year, Luke’s gospel). And the cycle continues. These now green palms will be used to make the Ashes that will mark us for next year’s Lent.

Tuesday, March 30th at 11 AM our Bishop will celebrate Chrism Mass with the priests of the Diocese at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Burlington. This Eucharist unites the local Diocesan clergy celebrating the gift and ministry of Christ’s priesthood. It is also the celebration in which the Holy Oils for Baptism, Confirmation, Priesthood are consecrated as well as the Oils for the Anointing of the Sick. Primarily a special celebration for Bishop and Priests (note the time of day), the faithful who are able to attend are most welcome and encouraged to participate.

On Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus’ Last Supper is commemorated, the Washing of the Feet (recalling the Eucharistic people to service) is enacted, and the Holy Eucharist is reverenced in procession. This year’s Holy Thursday celebration will be unique. Normally in this celebration, the offering of the Body and Blood of Christ under the two species is a profound symbol of Christ’s supper with His friends. This year, with the flu-epidemic restriction still in force, the chalice will not be offered. Of course, the Church teaches that Holy Communion under either species of Bread or Wine contains both Jesus’ Body and Blood, therefore, nothing of Christ will be lacking.

Good Friday Services on April 2nd; one at 3 PM (traditional hour of Jesus’ Death) and the other at 7 PM, are the celebrations of Christ’s Passion (always St. John’s Gospel), with the Solemn Intercessions, Veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion.

Holy Saturday Vigil, April 3rd at 8 PM (must begin in darkness) with the Blessing of the Fire, Easter Proclamation, Liturgy of the Word, Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist when there are new members being brought into the Church, is the highest celebration of the year. Remember, that this Mass is the Primary Easter Mass and indeed the fulfillment of Sunday Obligation.

Easter Sunday is the Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord. He who once was Dead is Risen! We are Saved, Restored, Forgiven and Given Hope of Eternal Glory!!!

All are welcome to these Masses/Services, especially if you have never been before. They are unique and special once-a-year celebrations!

March 19, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

This year has been designated as the Year of the Priest by the Holy Father. Throughout the world parishes and dioceses have commemorated this “Holy Year” in various ways. Our diocese has celebrated regional masses, asking God’s blessings on our priests and also praying for priestly vocations.

In our parishes, especially during weekday Masses, we have prayed for a particular priest listed in the diocesan prayer list for priests. As well, we have prayed for priests whose anniversary of death falls on days that we celebrate the Eucharist.

The Knights of Columbus have long been strong in support of priests, as well as supporting seminarians, family life, pro-life events and the local parish community. This Saturday the Knights of Columbus throughout the state have undertaken to conduct hour prayer services in our churches. Our local Council Fr. Galligan #2250 has scheduled a holy hour of prayer for priests on Saturday, March 20th from 5 to 6 PM in St. Andrew Church (immediately following the 4PM Mass). Parishioners are invited to join the Knights in this special hour of prayer.

March 12, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

In this Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare “Rejoice”), we turn the corner of Lent towards Easter. The Church's centuries-old tradition of Lent has gone through many changes and adaptations. However, the most ancient tradition has been the preparation of those adults being admitted to the Church through Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist. So the prayers and intercessions in our churches, whether we have adults received in the church or not, are for these new members to the Body of Christ. As well as for these new members, we also pray for children receiving Baptism, or First Eucharist, and/or Confirmation in the Easter Season. But for most of us the Lenten Season is a time of preparation (Retreat) for Easter and the Renewal of our Vows of faith. Along with the prescribed fasting and abstinence as well as encouragement to prayer and charity, an important part of preparation is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Along with our regular Confession times, we have scheduled in our churches Penance Services with Individual Confession:

• Sunday, March 14- 3:00PM St. Monica's, Barre
• Sunday, March 21- 3:00PM Holy Name of Jesus, Morrisville
• Sunday, March 21- 7:00PM St. Augustine's, Montpelier

This year we might consider making the Sacrament of Reconciliation a part of our Lenten or Easter season.

February 12, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

Groundhog Day (a/k/a Woodchuck Day) has come and gone. We are now in the mid-February season, “over the hump” of winter, although not much of a winter.

Lent begins Ash Wednesday, and the spiritual journey begins towards Easter. Getting into shape spiritually, getting down to basics and finding our truest selves is the order of Lenten preparation.

Ash Wednesday (as well as Good Friday) is a day of Fast and Abstinence. We abstain from eating meat and fast (one major meal and no eating between meals). Abstinence applies to the faithful beginning at age 14. Fasting applies to persons 18 to 59 years of age. Every Friday in Lent is a day of penance and abstinence from meat.

The Tuesdays in Lent will provide interested parishioners an opportunity to read/study Scripture. The Passion Narratives will be our source of study. The sessions will begin at 7 PM and conclude at 8:30 PM in St. Leo’s Hall. The first session on Tuesday, February 23rd will begin with Mark’s Gospel. I will give a brief explanation of a couple of key points about Gospel formation that will help us understand

some of the differences and subtleties in the four Gospels. Bring your favorite Bible.

Let us have a great Lent preparing us for a joyful Easter!

February 5, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

Lent! Already! Easter this year is relatively early and therefore, Lent begins on February 17th, Ash Wednesday. Although Ash Wednesday is NOT a Holy Day of Obligation, it is one of those significant and meaningful celebrations of the year. To provide as much opportunity as possible for people to attend Ash Wednesday Services on February 17th, Masses will be celebrated as follows:

• St. Andrew Church at 5:30 PM
• Our Lady of the Snows at 7:00 PM

Also, throughout the Lenten Season the Masses on Wednesdays and Fridays will be held at 5:30 PM rather than in the morning.

I will offer Bible Study on Tuesdays during Lent from 7 to 8:30 PM in St. Leo’s Hall, beginning Tuesday, February 23rd and ending March 30th. The Bible Study will focus on the Passion Narratives of all four Gospels. The first session on February 23rd will be on Mark’s Gospel. Bring your favorite Bible. There will be a short break mid-way through our study/sharing.

In addition to these scheduled activities for Lenten preparation, there will also be made available to all our parishioners a meditation booklet entitled “Five Minutes with the Word”. And, as usual, the Penitential Services will be published concerning times and places in our Deanery for Reconciliation services.

January 28, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

Today at Mass, we heard Psalm 96 “The Lord has made the world firm, not to be moved.” This reflects a world-view at the time that the earth was flat and solid, with no idea of continental shelves and the earth as a sphere. The earth is not so firm and the universe that God has created is not perfect (just as humanity is not perfect).

Isn’t it interesting that natural disasters (earthquakes, tornadoes, etc.) are called “acts of God”, but we are slow to acknowledge God when all goes well as it should or when human spirit triumphs over crises?

The tragedy in Haiti is a natural disaster (evil) in the nature order and it does challenge our human confidence that we are in control. Even with all the good will and the multitudes wishing to help, the pace of support and relief seems too slow for many reasons.

While natural disasters are tragedies of the created, imperfect world, the human response of aid points to the perfect order of grace and love, in heaven.

Many thanks to all who gave so generously to the Church’s call for the Haitian people in crisis. We continue to pray and hope in God’s grace to triumph over difficulties of life.

January 15, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

There is a saying “Attend Mass weekly, not weakly.”After the hectic and long holiday season, we are in glorious ordinary time. This is a good time to participate in the Eucharist with better focus and enthusiasm. We could try to be on time, be aware that this is our sacred duty (“a splendid burden” as Pope Paul IV said), be prepared to stay for the entire celebration, and participate when we are here. And, when was the last time we invited someone else to join us in the Mass?

January 8, 2010

Message from Father Jerry

You have probably heard T.G.I.F. (Thank God It’s Friday). I would say “Thank God It’s Ordinary-Time”. Advent – Christmas-New Year’s is a wonderful, hectic, and important time. However, for a while there, we might have forgotten what day it was. With the Baptism of the Lord, the Spiritual Journey (Season) of Christmas concludes. Concluding the Christmas Season would not be complete without some last words of thanksgiving.

I want to express my gratitude to parishioners for your generous and thoughtful Christmas greetings and gifts. And again, there were so many involved in the celebrations of the Christmas Season, all the way to this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Thank you!

The Lord’s Baptism is that bridge with Christmas and Ordinary-time. It is the transformation of Christ’s Birth, infancy, and silent years to that time in which he does what he was born to do; proclaim the Kingdom, teach, heal, Die and Rise Again. Ordinary-time is not so ordinary after all.

December 30, 2009

Message from Father Jerry

As I write this reflection we have yet to celebrate Christmas. So, I’m being bold and presumptuous to say “thank you” to all who helped in our Christmas celebrations. I feel able to give an anticipated “thank you” because in this my fourth Christmas at St. Andrew, Our Lady of the Snows and St. Patrick, I have only experienced the dedication, community spirit and cooperation of so many to make our Christmas beautiful and fitting for our Savior’s Birth.

So, with my sincere appreciation, I send a loud “THANK YOU” to the decorators of our churches, inside and out; our various liturgical ministers, musicians, singers and players of all ages, pageant participants; our parishioners and friends who have supported our Christmas “Food Shelf” boxes and “Good Neighbor” projects, as well as the many sponsors of our Midnight Mass broadcast.

Christmas Season begins with Christmas Day but continues on until the Lord’s Baptism on January 10th. As we celebrate “God-With-Us”, may we discover many more reasons to give God thanks and praise.

December 23, 2009

Message from Father Jerry

As I write this reflection we have yet to celebrate Christmas. So, I’m being bold and presumptuous to say “thank you” to all who helped in our Christmas celebrations. I feel able to give an anticipated “thank you” because in this my fourth Christmas at St. Andrew, Our Lady of the Snows and St. Patrick, I have only experienced the dedication, community spirit and cooperation of so many to make our Christmas beautiful and fitting for our Savior’s Birth.

So, with my sincere appreciation, I send a loud “THANK YOU” to the decorators of our churches, inside and out; our various liturgical ministers, musicians, singers and players of all ages, pageant participants; our parishioners and friends who have supported our Christmas “Food Shelf” boxes and “Good Neighbor” projects, as well as the many sponsors of our Midnight Mass broadcast.

Christmas Season begins with Christmas Day but continues on until the Lord’s Baptism on January 10th. As we celebrate “God-With-Us”, may we discover many more reasons to give God thanks and praise.

December 18, 2009

Message from Father Jerry

We are now in our last week/days of Advent and preparation for the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Lord. May you be blessed in the efforts you have undertaken to prepare for Christ’s Birth. Whether it was in the form of charity to family, the food shelf, or those in need, or more attention to prayer/the mass or efforts to be more patient, thoughtful or doing works of penance, may you be blessed for your efforts and receive the benefits of grace at Christmas and during the entire Season. Let us remember that there is still time! Christmas is not here yet and when it does arrive, the Season continues for weeks. Wishing you the blessings of Peace, Joy, Hope in the Happy Season of Advent, and a Merry Christmas Season.

November 25, 2009

Message from Father Jerry

Advent begins a new season in the Church year. It is a penitential season of sorts. To experience greater Joy at Christ's Birth, we prepare ourselves by the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Penance, charity to those in need, and greater attention and devotion to the Holy Eucharist.

The Deanery Penance/Reconciliation Services are:

• Sunday, December 6, at 7:00 PM at St. Augustine Parish, Montpelier
• Sunday, December 13, at 3:00 PM at St. Monica Parish, Barre
• Sunday, December 13, at 7 :00 PM at Holy Name of Jesus, Morrisville.

In our communities, there will be added times for the Sacrament of Forgiveness besides the usual Saturday confession time at St. Andrew Parish (3:15 to Mass times):

• Saturdays in Advent at Our Lady of the Snows from 5:30 PM to Mass time
• Sundays in Advent at St. Andrew from 8:30 AM to Mass time
• Sundays in Advent at St. Patrick from 10:30 AM to Mass time

At the very least, we can be prepared for Mass by perhaps coming a little early to pray or perhaps meditating on the readings, and if possible attending a weekday Mass.

November 6, 2009

Message from Father Jerry

The most current news in the Church these days is the flu epidemic and the changes and precautions that have affected the celebration of the Eucharist. Even the secular media has noted the various steps which the Church has undertaken to protect the spread of the H1N1 virus, no doubt recognizing that the Church is very sacramental, hands-on, physical: eating, drinking from the common cup, hand-shaking, /embracing/kissing, hand-holding at prayer, etc. Even when I was attending Mass at various churches while on vacation, I noticed various disciplines used. In one Catholic Church, the holy water fonts were left empty, to the displeasure of many parishioners. Most recently, the Bishop has re-instituted the previous precautions and made them obligatory. The holy water fonts are drained and cleaned regularly. Chalice is not given. The practice of holding hands at prayer is to cease. The Sign of Peace can be eliminated. Greeters at the door (and I guess Pastors also) should avoid shaking hands when there is a danger of transmitting the influenza. Because the Catholic Faith has a long tradition of making attendance at Sunday Mass obligatory, many Catholics when sick have gone to Mass out of fear when they should have stayed home. The bishop states what we already know, when sick there is no obligation to attend Mass [as well as some other reasons]. What I find interesting is that according to news reports, many companies, hospitals, schools, organizations are ill-equipped and have not planned well for possible massive absenteeism caused by sickness/flu. The church has no guidelines about cancelling weekend Masses, no guidelines about prayer by the faithful at the churches (where a priest cannot or should not celebrate Mass), but certainly as has been the case , as the reality of the flu increases in severity, so will the measures to prevent its increase. The church is “par excellence” a Body [of Christ], in that we need one another and we affect one another in the moral and faith order. The flu this year especially, strongly indicates in a physical way how interdependent we are, vulnerable, and socially responsible we need to be.

October 30, 2009

Message from Father Jerry

With the change of time this weekend, the turn of another month, and the weather turning colder, my reflection is on heat and more importantly on the Mass. Sometimes, people would suggest that weekday Eucharist should meet in a sacristy or a smaller, more efficient space (like the hall or rectory). I know many parishes do change their winter arrangements for weekday Masses to conserve on heating. My view is that if the Eucharist is so central to our community, the only proper place is Sacred Space. I believe weekday Eucharist should always be in the church (or sacristy) except for some extraordinary circumstance. This does not mean we avoid conserving heating fuel, which we have done with programmable thermostats, lower heat settings, etc.

This brings me to another topic: the weekday Mass. We are fortunate to have the daily Mass schedule we have at St. Andrew and the loyal few who attend. This is just a reminder that we have daily Masses at 8:00 AM, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. While the Mass times are inconvenient or impossible for the vast majority, think of participating in the Mass even if it is occasional or infrequent. Perhaps, the issue is not so much the heating of the church but the numbers who come and pray at the Mass. Perhaps, we can think about having a weekday Mass in the evening (5:30, 6:30, 7:00), earlier masses in the morning or whatever). Or perhaps in certain seasons (Advent, Christmas or Lent), we could have a regular Eucharist schedule so that more could benefit. In any event, I am open for opinions or suggestions. What do you think?

October 9, 2009

Message from Father Jerry

On the weekend of November 7-8 we welcome the Christian organization “Food for the Poor.” It was founded on the basis of the Gospel of Matthew. “As often as you did it to one of the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.” (25:40).

“We seek out the poorest of the poor in 16 different countries, aiding some of the most destitute. In each face we see the living Christ, who is hungry, thirsty, a stranger and naked. Our ministry focuses on the greatest needs of the destitute. Just as the Lord served those society ignored, we are there: feeding the hungry, building water wells for thirsty villages, building houses for the homeless, aiding impoverished elderly, raising orphans in a loving atmosphere of Christian principles, healing the sick or overcoming illiteracy by supporting schools.” (from the Mission Statement of Food for the Poor, Inc.)

World Mission Sunday is celebrated in all our parishes on October 17-18, recalling to all of us that the essential character of the Church is missionary; responding to the most basic needs of people, thereby preaching the love of Christ in action. It is a privilege and responsibility of our Catholic faith to support missionary activity and also be encouraged by the many groups, institutes, and missionaries that work for those in need. Since being pastor, we have been visited by Christian Foundation for Children and Aged (CFCA) and Cross International, along with our once-in-three-year missionary visitor. In the financial times in which we live, the ones that are the hardest hit are the already poor. Let us be proud and encouraged that the power of Jesus'love is manifested in so many ways.

September 4, 2009

Message from Father Jerry

Although summer ends on September 21st, the weather has already spoken. From hot and humid weather not long ago, we have experienced cooler autumn temperatures. Schools have opened, Labor Day is close and the pastoral year really begins. Schooling, education and learning are so central to life; life of families, in the community, and in the parish. With September we begin a new year. The life of the church, religious education, and all related activities, spring into action. However, as much as it may appear, these activities do not just automatically happen. Parents, students, teachers, pastors, ministers, servers, and parishioners must decide to begin again. In the beginning of this year we decide what we need to do and then what we can do, in our faith and for the community. The Eucharist/Sunday celebration, religious education, and the Sacraments are all interconnected to living a healthy life of faith.

August 28, 2009

Message from Father Jerry

Interestingly enough, this year is the Year of the Priest, where the Church prays for the sanctification of priests, vocations, and supports priestly formation. This year’s Parish Picnic and celebration of my 30th priestly anniversary was such an experience of affirmation from such thoughtful and kind parishioners. Anniversaries are occasions for remembering past blessings, but more importantly, about the future. Your best wishes, prayers, coming together in Christian community, are a source of encouragement for me to grow in service of God and His people.

Special thanks to those who started this event and, through whatever means, discovered and researched that this was a significant anniversary. For the Eucharist, mass intention, planners, musicians, ministers, servers – words of thanks seem so inadequate.

To the Knights of Columbus (and notably their wives and helpers), and members of the Altar Society and parishioners who supplied baked goods, your usual hard work and dedication is most appreciated.

For your cards, gracious words, prayers, and generous gifts, I am thankful and praise God for you!

The most beautiful parish photo album is and will continue to be a great souvenir of the parishes.

The cake was great too! I have enough frozen to last for my 50th, or at least this coming weekend.

The Yankees jacket will only be worn indoors, or for the benefit of my family.

“I should continually thank my God for you because of the favor he has bestowed on you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Cor.1:4)

August 21, 2009

Message from Father Jerry

I wish to thank all of our parishioners for their generous support of Father Aloysius’ appeal last weekend on behalf of the Missionary Society of St. Paul. Father enjoyed his visit very much (although he declined a re-visit in winter time). I, too, enjoyed his company at the rectory, his sharing about the church in Nigeria, and his humor.

Our three parishes raised a grand total of $2991 for the Missionary Society of St. Paul. Again, many thanks for your generous giving and welcoming spirit.

August 7, 2009

Message from Father Jerry

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Lady (August 15) falls on a Saturday this year. Therefore, it is not a Holy Day of Obligation (it is not required attendance as Sunday is). The only Eucharist celebrated for this Feast will take place as a Vigil at 5:30 PM on Friday, August 14th at St. Andrew Church. It will be celebrated like a regular weekday Mass (without music or solemn procession, a very brief homily, etc.)

This brings me to the topic of Holy Days of Obligation – those solemnities in which the faithful are required to participate. In our Catholic faith there are normally only six such solemnities during the year. There used to be more. In past centuries and generations when the culture was more openly religious and agricultural, holy days were also holidays making it easier for people to attend Mass. Those days and years are a distant memory. Today solemnities are no longer days off except for Christmas, making it more difficult for the faithful to participate in the Eucharist. The question remains though for the individual “How much effort have I made to attend somewhere, some church on these special religious days?”

As parish priest, I cannot answer that question for you. But sometimes it does appear that there could be better participation on these holy days. In the future, our Mass schedule will be much different, in making the churches more accessible. There will be more masses at different times (early morning, noon, early evening). Also, the very simple celebration (low mass) format will be used. The emphasis will be on providing more options, shorter Masses, fewer elaborate celebrations for the Holy Days.

Actually, the next Holy Day (not on a Sunday) will be December 8th - the Immaculate Conception. With the upcoming Solemnity of the Assumption, I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts about the Holy Days of Obligation which I have been considering for some time.

July 3, 2009

Message from Father Jerry

Prayer for Independence Day

Gracious and loving God, we come to you in humble prayer for the United Sates of America.

Make us, O Lord, aware of our responsibility as citizens to uphold the principles of life, liberty, justice and equality.

Send your Holy Spirit upon our beloved country. Make us people of faith in time of uncertainty. Make us people of hope in times of trouble. Make us people of compassion with those who are less fortunate. Make us people of peace in our homes, our communities, our country, and our world.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Amen

June 22, 2009

Message from Father Jerry

The first day of summer is Sunday, June 21st. Summer for most of us has been a dream and a long wait. However, as we know, not every day in summer in these parts is summer-like. The dream is not the reality. Roger Hill has an interesting “pick-of-the-week” in his weather forecast. For one, it is based on reality. Weather is not always ideal. Some days are better than others. Secondly, the “pick-of-the-week” allows us to plan accordingly: planting, mowing, recreation, etc. We also can look forward to the best day of the week.

As Catholics, the “pick-of-the-week” is always Sunday, not because of the weather but because of the presence of Christ in Word and Sacrament in our midst at Mass.

This Sunday is not only the beginning of summer, but also Father’s Day. What an appropriate day it is to remember our fathers, living and departed, by celebrating the Eucharist. In celebrating the Eternal Father’s love and adoption of us through Jesus, we give God thanks for fathers and ask His blessings for them.

May 22, 2009

Please join us as we gather in faith to place our “Trust in the Lord, Forever”, and to pray for the success of the 2009 Bishop’s Fund. Bishop Salvatore R. Matano will be celebrating mass at Our Lady of the Angels Church in Randolph on Monday, June 1st at 7 PM. All are welcome to attend. Light refreshments will be served.

Please begin to prayerfully consider how you and your family will participate in supporting our Church and the needs of the faithful Vermonters this year. We will kick off our parish campaign on June 6th and 7th with the “In-Church Collection” in our three churches - a very important start to a successful Bishop’s Fund Campaign.

May 15, 2009

This year’s theme for the Bishop’s Fund is “Trust in the Lord forever” (Is 26.4).

Please join Bishop Salvatore Matano in celebrating Mass to express our “Trust in the Lord” and to invoke God’s blessing upon the 2009 Bishop’s Fund. Mass in our Deanery area will be celebrated at Our Lady of the Angels in Randolph on Monday, June 1st at 7 PM. All are welcome to attend. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, visit the Bishop’s Fund website at www.vermontcatholic.org.

May 7, 2009

Although there have been no outbreaks of the Swine Influenza in Vermont, Bishop Matano has issued protocols for the celebration of the Eucharist:

1) Parishioners are reminded that “holding hands” at the Our Father is not indicated in the Instruction of the Roman Missal.

2) The Holy Eucharist will be given only under one species (bread) and not under wine, mindful that receiving from one species alone, a person receives fully the Body and Blood of the Lord. [Receiving from the two species gives one greater symbolism of the Sacred Meal but not greater grace].

3) If a “sign of peace” is given, a slight bow or saying “Peace be with you” will be appropriate. However, the celebrant [Presider] may refrain from instructing the congregation “Let us offer each other the sign of Peace”.

4) Priests, deacons, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are reminded to practice good hygiene such as thoroughly washing hands before Holy Eucharist. Also helpful would be the use of minimal numbers of ministers of Communion.

5) Following Mass and purification of the vessels, these vessels are to be cleansed with hot water and soap.

6) Greeters [and I assume priests] should avoid shaking hands with parishioners.

Although the instructions seem to indicate “No Touching” or “Hands Off”, the Bishop concludes “during this time, our people should be encouraged to thank God, by faithful attendance at Holy Mass, that we have been spared thus far from this influenza and to pray for those afflicted by this illness and for all public health officials as they guide us in eradicating this threat. Be assured that all are remembered in my prayers, asking the Lord to heal His People and make us strong in His name.”

May 1, 2009

I am pleased to announce that the following students from St. Andrew, St. Patrick and Our Lady of the Snows Churches are members of this year’s Confirmation Class: Cyrus Ackel, Connor Brown, Veronica Brynga, Grace Callan, Isaiah Callan, Joseph Callan, Joseph DuCharme, Thacher Evans, Kasey Flynn, Michael Flynn, Molly Flynn, Connor Goss, Christopher Mehuron, Tyler Miles, Christine Milne, Jesse Perrault, Ashlyn Raymond, Megan Raymond, Michael Riccardi and Jessica Sweeney.

Special thanks to their teacher Kevin Nadzam and classroom aide Linda Chadwick for helping to prepare these students for this important milestone in their lives!

All parishioners are welcome to attend the Confirmation ceremony at St. Augustine Church on Friday, May 8th at 7 PM.

April 21, 2009

The Scriptures proclaims the Easter Joy that Jesus once dead is Risen! The Church throughout the Easter Season will hear how Christ will appear in various ways and places to His disciples. No doubt this gave them new life, courage, to live differently and act more boldly. We must remember that seeing Jesus Risen must have given the disciples the conviction that the Kingdom would come soon. The point is that the disciples then and the faithful now can sustain joyful charity and loving actions in the short term. It is more difficult to be loving, considerate, faithful in the long run. Mindful that while we know that as humans we cannot sustain the emotional high of joy, we can sustain simple acts of faith, hope and love. We can pray a prayer each day to start the day (for ourselves and family members). We can give an hour to worship God on Sunday. We can make a short visit or give a brief call to someone we love. And although the Lord may not come in the final Kingdom soon, He certainly can be made present through our actions!

April 17, 2009

“Exsultet Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels! Exult all creation around God’s throne! Jesus Christ, our King is Risen. . .”

While this year’s Lenten fasting, suffering, want, were for many all too real with the financial and political crises, Easter “Rejoicing” might require some work on our part.

The call to “rejoice” is a spiritual work, in finding our hope, our joy, and meaning in Jesus’ Resurrection, even/especially in the midst of earthly life. Spring, green, flowers, sunlight, etc. are nice reminders of nature’s return to life. But “Exsultet” (Rejoice!) urges us to believe in Christ Resurrected and Alive within the community. What better place is there to experience Jesus alive than at the Eucharist and in our relationships where charity and love prevail.

Happy Easter Season to you and your families!

Exsultet, Rejoice!

Many thanks to the many members of our communities for decorating our churches, and to all our ministers of music, greeters, servers, lectors, and Eucharistic ministers, for helping us to rejoice and celebrate the beginning of Easter.

April 10, 2009

The word “Exsultet” begins the long but beautiful Easter Proclamation at the Easter Vigil. In darkness with only the Paschal Candle and the congregation’s tapers light, the hymn is sung

“Exsultet Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels! Exult all creation around God’s throne! Jesus Christ, our King is Risen. . .”

While this year’s Lenten fasting, suffering, want, were for many all too real with the financial and political crises, Easter “Rejoicing” might require some work on our part.

The call to “rejoice” is a spiritual work, in finding our hope, our joy, and meaning in Jesus’ Resurrection, even/especially in the midst of earthly life. Spring, green, flowers, sunlight, etc. are nice reminders of nature’s return to life. But “Exsultet” (Rejoice!) urges us to believe in Christ Resurrected and Alive within the community. What better place is there to experience Jesus alive than at the Eucharist and in our relationships where charity and love prevail.

Happy Easter Season to you and your families!

Exsultet, Rejoice!

April 3, 2009

As a community of faith, we support as our Lenten Alms (charity) Catholic Relief Services. CRS supports programs that enable people throughout the world to have the basics of life: water, food, shelter, education. On the weekend of March 21, 22 a special collection was taken for CRS. “Operation Rice Bowl” is an alternate means of support. Those of us who use the Rice Bowl system, are able to join our fasting with our donation. Our contribution of loose change, monies saved through a simpler diet and lifestyle, add a personal meaning to the support of the poor.

The offertory boxes “Rice Bowl” can be brought to the Holy Thursday Mass, giving concrete meaning to the Lord’s mandate of the “washing of the feet” (charity/service). The large Rice Bowl displays for Rice Bowl offerings will remain in our churches up to the Sunday after Easter. Thank you for your support.

March 27, 2009

The traditional Holy Week celebration of the Chrism Mass takes place on Tuesday, April 7th at 11 AM at St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral in Burlington. At this Eucharist, the Bishop and the priest of the Diocese celebrate the Lord’s institution of the Eucharist and Priesthood. At this Mass, the Bishop blesses the oils that will be used in the parishes throughout the coming year. The Sacred Chrism is the oil used for Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders. The oil of Catechumens is used for Baptism (primarily for Adults). The oil for the Sick, is used for our sick brothers and sisters for strength and healing. These three Holy Oils will then be brought in at the Offertory procession at the Holy Thursday Mass at St. Andrew Church on April 9th.

The Chrism Mass is open to and encouraged for all parishioners. If there are any parishioners wanting to attend, please notify me. I have seating for four in my car. If we have more people wanting to go, we can arrange car-pooling. We will depart from the St. Andrew Church parking lot at 9:45 AM. The Celebration (although at an inconvenient time on a weekday) is a great experience. It is a valuable link to the diocese and other parishes. Also, it is a good preparation for celebrating the Holy Days in our local churches.

March 20, 2009

We are about half-way through Lent or better yet half-way to Easter. While we are to consider and reflect on our efforts to “control our desires, master our sinfulness, and show to those in need God’s goodness to ourselves” (Lenten Preface III), we might have struggled or failed in our practices of Lent. However, failure can be a good thing. In this case, it recalls for us that our penance practices are not performed for their own sake as if as a contest. In our struggles and even failures, we might turn more to the Lord’s mercy on which we must rely. We might have more compassion toward others’ weaknesses. And above all, we might remember that it is all about love of God and neighbor. We might remember that we are preparing for the Joys of Christ Jesus Risen. Wishing you a good Lenten season yet to come!

March 13, 2009

Our traditional Lenten Penance Services in our Capitol Deanery are scheduled as follows:

• Sunday, March 29 at 3:00 PM at HOLY NAME OF JESUS (Holy Cross), Morrisville
• Sunday, March 29 at 7:00 PM at ST. AUGUSTINE, Montpelier
• Sunday, April 5 at 3:00 PM ST. MONICA, Barre

Penance Services will begin with a hymn followed by Scripture readings, communal examination of conscience, with introduction of priests confessors, and the individual Sacrament of Reconciliation. Also, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is available in our parishes at the regular times. And of course, Father Jerry is most willing to celebrate the sacrament of forgiveness at the request of parishioners (for example, before or after weekday Masses or at other convenient times).

March 6, 2009

Although Easter may seem a long way off, with this weekend’s change to Daylight Savings Time, perhaps we can indulge in a little hope and joy of Easter. Perhaps it is a good time to mark your calendars and to look forward to what all the preparation is about – the Holy Days:

Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper, April 9 at 7 PM at St. Andrew Church

Good Friday Service, Passion and Veneration of the Cross, April 10:

• 3 PM at St. Patrick Church
• 7 PM at St. Andrew Church

Vigil of the Solemnity of Easter, April 11 at 8 PM at St. Andrew Church

Easter Morning, Solemnity of Christ’s Resurrection, April 12:

• 8:00 AM at St. Andrew Church
• 9:30 AM at Our Lady of the Snows Church
• 11:00 AM at St. Patrick Church

Next week’s bulletin will provide a list of the special penance services to be held in our deanery.

February 27, 2009

Lent: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving:

The season of Lent is a season of grace. The long tradition in the Church of prayer, fasting and almsgiving helps us get back to basics.

We are God's creatures, not gods. We, being mortal, however, have been given immortal life through Jesus Christ's Death and Resurrection. We prepare to renew our vows of Baptism at Easter and do penance for our sins of failing in our Baptism's call to Faith, Hope and Love.

We PRAY, trusting in the Father's care for us. Even more, God hears our prayers for others, especially those in any need.

We FAST, trying to abstain from what we do not really need. We also can fast from bitterness, laziness, self-centeredness etc.; those things which we do not need in our lives.

We give ALMS (Charity), trying to respond according to our ability to the needs of others.

As life is busy, each one of us still can determine what is possible and helpful in each of these disciplines.

May the Lord bless our communities in this time of grace!

February 20, 2009

Ash Wednesday, February 25 begins the Season of Lent. Normally, Lent is a time of sacrifice, penance, fasting, and prayer, preparing ourselves for the Easter Joy of Christ's Resurrection. While this still holds true, this Lent may be a different time. With a severely struggling economy, penance, sacrifice, fasting might be all too real for many. Along with the economy and all those circumstances associated with it; unemployment, failed businesses, mortgages and so on, we have already been humbled. We can take the opportunity of the season to trust in the Lord's mercy and forgiveness. We can use this time for reconciliation with God and therefore with one another. There will be opportunities for Fasting, Reconciliation (Confessions), Mass attendance, Holy Week services, almsgiving through the Rice Bowl project, and any individual resolutions we undertake. Rather than trying to do more, we ought to consider and pray about what each one needs to do and do it well. We all are in need. Let us return to basics and work on our relationship with the Lord. This cannot help but restore our priorities and bring peace.

January 23, 2009

No message this week.

January 16, 2009

This year I will be offering adult religious education classes at St. Andrew Parish. The eight (8) sessions will cover: Creed, Sacraments, Commandments and Beatitudes, Christian Prayer/“Our Father”, Scripture, Liturgy, Morality, Social Justice. All are welcome to attend all or any of these sessions. The make-up of these topics coincide with the diocesan requirements for Catechists certification. So, the course is intended for our catechists who have not yet been certified. The sessions are also available for:

• Adult Catholics who have not been confirmed and would like to be prepared for the sacrament
• Non-Catholics who would be interested to know more about the faith
• Catholics who simply wish to gain more knowledge about the faith.

Classes will be held on Tuesdays from 7:00 to 8:30 PM as follows:

• February 3 - Creed
• February 17 - Sacraments
• February 24 - Commandments/Beatitudes
• March 3 - Christian Prayer
• March 10 - Scripture
• March 17 - Liturgy
• March 24 - Morality
• March 31 - Social Justice

Since most of the sessions fall within the Lenten season, perhaps participation in these faith education classes might be for some a good Lenten project.

January 9, 2009

With the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we conclude the Christmas Season. For when the Lord goes down into the Jordan, rises out of the water, the Spirit confers Jesus with power to proclaim the kingdom, Christ’s infancy, private life comes to a completion. We too leave behind Christmas, renewed in hope to live what we have been called to do – live out our baptismal vows. Because the holidays can be hectic with many of us busy and traveling, I take this last opportunity of the season to thank parishioners of our three communities for your generous time and support in planning, arranging and celebrating Christmas. I give my thanks for your personal best wishes, generous gifts and encouragement.

December 31, 2008

“Thank you” to all who helped in our Christmas celebrations. This my third Christmas at St. Andrew, Our Lady of the Snows and St. Patrick, and each year I have experienced the dedication, community spirit and cooperation of so many to make our Christmas beautiful and fitting for our Savior’s Birth. So, with my sincere appreciation, I send a loud “Thank You” to decorators of church, inside and out; liturgical ministers; young and older musicians, singers and players; pageant directors and children actors; parishioners and friends supporting Christmas “food shelf” boxes and “good neighbor” projects.

And also, my personal “thank-you” for parishioners’ kind and generous Christmas wishes and gifts.

Christmas Season begins with Christmas Day but continues on for days and days. We continue to celebrate until the Lord’s Baptism (January 11). As we continue to celebrate “God-With-Us”, may there be many more reasons we discover to give God thanks and praise.

December 19, 2008

On Saturday, December 13th there was an interesting cartoon in the editorial section. It read: “THIS SEASON WALL STREET PUTS CHRIST! BACK IN CHRISTMAS”. A man looking at his 401K account exclaims “CHRIST”. The piece caught my attention on two accounts; the first being that in recent years there has been in our society a deliberate attempt to secularize Christmas to the extent of wishing people Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas and so on. But at the same time there has been a reaction to this by many to express the religious nature of Christmas, “putting Christ back into Christmas”. The writer is certainly aware of this. The other factor is that in these days of financial stress, unemployment, and general insecurity, “putting Christ back into Christmas” will be a challenge. These times will test our resolve to be Christian “Christ-like” beyond wishing people “Merry Christmas”, but becoming tolerant, respectful, charitable and kind. St. Francis (inventor of the “Creche” or Manger) was noted for saying “Preach always, use words if you have to” (and we are very fond of repeating this saying). The remainder of Advent and with the Christmas Season upon us, we should use the Masses we attend, as sources of strength and encouragement to help us share Christ with others. Let us try to be as attentive and focused on these Holy Liturgies as much as we can. And, may our active participation in the Eucharist help us be light and encouragement in the world outside our church walls.

December 12, 2008

To help us in our Advent preparation, daily meditation booklets “Five Minutes with the Word” have been provided for our parishioners. If you haven’t already taken one home, please feel free to pick one up this weekend after Mass.

Also, Penance services in our deanery churches have been scheduled as follows:

• Sunday, December 14, at 3 PM, Holy Name of Jesus (Holy Cross), Morrisville
• Sunday, December 21, at 3 PM, St. Monica, Barre

In addition, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is available before the weekend Masses during Advent as follows:

• 3:15 - 3:45 PM on Saturdays at St. Andrew
• 5:30 – 5:45 PM on Saturdays at Our Lady of the Snows
• 10:30 – 10:45 AM on Sundays at St. Patrick

December 5, 2008

To help us in our Advent preparation, daily meditation booklets “Five Minutes with the Word” have been provided for our parishioners. If you haven’t already taken one home, please feel free to pick one up this weekend after Mass.

Also, Penance services in our deanery churches have been scheduled as follows:

• Sunday, December 7, at 7 PM, St. Augustine, Montpelier
• Sunday, December 14, at 3 PM, Holy Name of Jesus (Holy Cross), Morrisville
• Sunday, December 21, at 3 PM, St. Monica, Barre

In addition, I will be available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the usual time – 3:15 to 3:45 PM on Saturdays at St. Andrew, and during the weekends of Advent, before the Saturday Masses at Our Lady of the Snows at 5:30 PM, the Sunday Masses at St. Andrew from 8:15 – 8:45 AM, and the Sunday Masses at St. Patrick at 10:30 AM.

November 26, 2008

We begin a new church year with our Advent preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ Nativity, the beginning of our salvation.

To help us in our preparation, daily meditation booklets “Five Minutes with the Word” have been provided for our parishioners. Please take as many as needed (we have ordered plenty).

Also, Penance services in our deanery churches have been scheduled as follows:

• Sunday, December 7, at 7 PM, St. Augustine, Montpelier
• Sunday, December 14, at 3 PM, Holy Name of Jesus (Holy Cross), Morrisville
• Sunday, December 21, at 3 PM, St. Monica, Barre

November 21, 2008

No Message this week.

November 14, 2008

One of our Bishop’s priorities has been (like that of most pastors), to increase attendance at weekend Masses. In a recent article in the Vermont Catholic Tribune Bishop Matano outlined various initiatives to address this challenge. Among these initiatives were: the redistribution of his pastoral letter, formation of an active Diocesan committee, maintaining a well cared environment for Mass, etc. One particular suggestion was that parishes have renewal training for the various liturgical ministries. Since our communities have some new liturgical ministers and some interested in becoming ministers, we will be calling for some training sessions. Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year and a time of preparation for the Holy Season. So it seems appropriate to have these renewal sessions for the liturgical ministries take place during the Advent season. Please stay turned for a schedule of these brief and informative meetings.

November 7, 2008

We continue to reflect on the ministries of the parish. Let us now consider music ministry, perhaps the most unique among church ministries. Most ministries do not require particular talent or expertise. Generally, one can be trained in a particular ministry. However, singing and playing an instrument for Mass involves musical talent that has been practiced for years. Also, liturgical music requires some knowledge of liturgy – what is required for church setting.

The Mass is a celebration of faith and ever since the Vatican II documents on sacred liturgy, church music and the faithful’s participation have been not only encouraged, but have been given prominent roles in that celebration. No weekend Mass should be without music/singing. It is a right and duty to provide liturgical music.

Considering that musicians/singers (cantors) are in such short supply for the liturgy, it is interesting that parishioners can often be so demanding. Some have actually changed alliance to other parishes because of music or lack of it!

We should remember that the faithful attending Mass are themselves the first ministers of music. They have the responsibility to “actively, consciously, fully participate in the liturgy” which includes singing. Now, God has given a very few wonderful singing voices, and a very few atrocious voices, but in His infinite wisdom He has given the majority ability that is OK. All together, there isn’t any reason not to expect a pleasant sound.

St. Augustine said “When you sing, you pray twice.” I have still to figure that one out. However, I like the quote (and it is probably appropriate that it is anonymous) “if God has given you a good voice – sing out and give Him praise and if God has given you a poor voice – sing out and get even!” Thank God that there are enough good voices to cover the poor ones! Music ministry’s primary service is to encourage and to lead us all to participate in the liturgy.

October 31, 2008

We continue to reflect on the ministries of the parish. We now consider a ministry with which very few are familiar, even those who give themselves to this service. For several years now this service has been called “Liturgical Environment”. However, this is not a new ministry. This service has always been around. There have always been parishioners who care for the “sacred space” of the church. These people clean the vessels, vestments, linens, water the plants, arrange flowers; all to insure that the community has an environment suitable for the celebration of the sacred sacraments.

Perhaps there is no ministry quite so “invisible” as this one. All other ministries are public and noticeable while fulfilling their service (lectors, catechists, servers, etc.). But ministers of liturgical environment go about their work quietly in between our communal celebrations. These ministers work with the pastor, who is the primary liturgist of the parish. They have a sense of art, beauty and an interest in the liturgy. What makes this ministry somewhat tricky is that the church atmosphere (space or environment) serves the liturgy. There are certain principles of Catholic worship that one must safeguard. An example of this would be Lent. The Church calls for a simple atmosphere in the church building during this season. Ministers of environment are mindful to decorate/furnish the church simply so as to call parishioners’ attention to the fact that this season is very different and hugely important.

Preferably, those who serve consult with one another, with the pastor, with parishioner feed-back, to make the sacred place appealing and conducive to prayer (liturgy). I hope this little article has shed some light on this rather “invisible” service, even to those who have been ministers of liturgical environment without knowing it. I hope not to burden them with yet another ministry, but extend all of our thanks to these servants who are caregivers to our sacred place.

Our next ministry to consider will be music.

October 17, 2008

No message this week.

October 10, 2008

Continuing our reflection on the ministries, we take up the ministry of altar servers. In most parishes altar servers can begin serving at the altar in fourth grade (giving them a full year participating at the Holy Mass with the Congregation). At weekday Mass and sometimes weekend Masses, adults serve as well (usually Eucharistic Ministers as part of their duties). Serving at the altar of Christ is an honor as well as entailing responsibilities. The altar server assists the priest. The server becomes a highly visible sign that the Eucharist is for everyone (especially in the case of a young server, a place for the youth). The server ministers to God out of love for Jesus’ sacrifice. The altar server serves the parishioners by his/her reverence, participation in reciting the responses (prayers) and by singing (when possible). The Vatican II documents call the faithful to “active, conscious, full participation in the Eucharist”. The server can be a sign and help towards the congregation’s participation.

Like any ministry, a young person should be encouraged to serve but never forced. We were four boys in our family and three were altar servers. I was the one who did not want to serve. I do not recall my parents forcing me or pressuring me. However, the Lord had other plans for my serving. God does have a sense of humor and his own plans.

September 26, 2008

No message this week.

September 19, 2008

My weekly message concerning church ministry began several weeks ago. It was precipitated by Bishop Matano’s request that all current terms of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion be terminated by December 31, 2009 and that new candidates be trained. As I continued to write on the various ministries besides the Eucharistic ministry, a few points have become clear.

First, there are many ministries/services that parishioners have undertaken and continue to provide without consciously considering them as being ministries.

Second, our churches will need to continually call the faithful to service. There is a lot to be done.

Third, there is no ministry that is infinite as our bishop has suggested by his plan to introduce a new corps of ministers of Holy Communion.

Fourth, there are many who have the ability, faith and love to serve the church, our brothers and sisters (the living Body of Christ).

I will continue my reflection on the ministries. Next week we will consider altar servers (both the young and adults).

September 12, 2008

Continuing on my reflection on the ministries, this week I share with you some thoughts on the Catechist. First of all, all parents are teachers, because at the baptism of their child the parents were blessed as the “first teacher of their child in the way of faith”. Although not in a formal sense, parents teach by word and example.

Parish Catechists (most of whom are parents), go beyond and teach religion for parishioners’ children. Some Catechists have taught or teach in public or catholic schools as well. Therefore, some are three-fold teachers; home (parents), school, and faith (Catechist). However, one does not need to have a background in teaching to be a Catechist. Religion is not like any other subject matter. What may be more important than teaching material is the example of faith that the teacher imparts. How many of us remember favorite teachers not as much for what we learned but the kind of persons they were?

A parish Catechist is so essential to the life of the parish. Without Catechists there would be no preparation and therefore no celebrations of Reconciliation, First Communion, Confirmation. Without our CCD program, class Masses, Children’s Liturgies and activities, our parishes miss out on the presence of our youth and our youthful future.

September 5, 2008

Not long ago our Bishop stressed his concern for the drop in Mass attendance by Catholics. He wanted to establish initiatives to promote Catholic participation at Sunday Mass. We will hear about some of these in a short time. As we begin another religious education year, all of us need to take an active part in our weekend celebrations. If we have regularly attended, let us try to be joyful and enthusiastic. If we have not been too regular, let us recommit to regular participation. If we have been half-hearted, let us try to put more heart in our celebration. I will try also to be prepared and look forward to celebrating the Eucharist. All religious education is directed to making our young people “full, active, conscious” members of the church. This is realized in the Mass. While the religious education program in many ways begins a new pastoral year, it does not happen automatically. We all need to do our best to help, be good examples, cooperate and mostly attend Mass and participate actively.

Many thanks to our coordinators, teachers, helpers, for your dedication. And to parents, God bless you in your role as “first teachers of the faith for your children” by your love of them, good example and your active practice of the faith.

August 20, 2008

Lay ministers of the Eucharist are called Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. However, the word “extraordinary” must not frighten away candidates from this ministry of service. One does not have to be a “super saint” or extraordinary human being. The word “extraordinary” refers to a lay person who is not the ordinary minister of Holy Communion. The “ordinary ministers” are priests, deacons, instituted acolytes (seminarians). However, a candidate for ministry should have a “deep regard for the Eucharist, and enjoy the respect of the parish community”. (Diocesan Guidelines, Sacraments, p.53). Other qualifications include being 18 years of age and the candidate (if married) must be validly married in the Church. The guidelines note that daily communicants are usually excellent candidates. After preparation and recommendation by the pastor, Extraordinary Ministers are commissioned for a three-year term for their parish and are not to exercise the ministry outside their parish. Next week, I will speak more about the procedure and the process for commissioning Extraordinary Ministers.

What is the process of becoming an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion? After approval from the bishop as to the number of ministers sufficient for the parish community, the pastor begins teaching sessions on the Eucharist. This Diocese requires the reading of “An Important Office of Immense Love”. This is a 166 page book on all aspects of Eucharistic ministry. There are 3 – 4 teaching sessions led by the pastor for the group of candidates. There is one session of “practicum” (practice) in ministering the Eucharist and the Chalice. In the process, each candidate is required to write a short essay on the personal importance of being a minister of Holy Communion. After all the preparation the candidates are introduced to the community and commissioned at a Sunday Mass. . . .(to be continued)

August 15, 2008

Lay ministers of the Eucharist are called Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. However, the word “extraordinary” must not frighten away candidates from this ministry of service. One does not have to be a “super saint” or extraordinary human being. The word “extraordinary” refers to a lay person who is not the ordinary minister of Holy Communion. The “ordinary ministers” are priests, deacons, instituted acolytes (seminarians). However, a candidate for ministry should have a “deep regard for the Eucharist, and enjoy the respect of the parish community”. (Diocesan Guidelines, Sacraments, p.53). Other qualifications include being 18 years of age and the candidate (if married) must be validly married in the Church. The guidelines note that daily communicants are usually excellent candidates. After preparation and recommendation by the pastor, Extraordinary Ministers are commissioned for a three-year term for their parish and are not to exercise the ministry outside their parish. Next week, I will speak more about the procedure and the process for commissioning Extraordinary Ministers.

August 8, 2008

About a year ago, Bishop Matano expressed his wish that pastors begin the process of initiating new candidates for the ministry of Holy Communion. His concern was that our long-serving ministers of Holy Communion might give the impression that only a few are qualified for the ministry and that the ministry could be viewed as a permanent duty/privilege.

Recently, the Bishop has notified all pastors that all terms of the office of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion will conclude on December 31, 2009. So that we can provide a smooth transition, there will be a meeting in autumn to discuss procedure, duties, and qualifications for future ministers of Holy Communion. This meeting for St. Andrew, Our Lady of the Snows and St. Patrick, will be open to any parishioners interested in the ministry and current extraordinary ministers as well.

The Bishop clearly wishes to emphasize that there are many more of the faithful capable and deserving to become ministers of communion.

At this time it might be fitting to remind ourselves that there are no indefinite/infinite terms for the ministries in the church. We are always in need of altar servers, musicians, lectors, CCD teachers, greeters, ushers, liturgical decorators, pastoral and finance council members, etc. Let us consider how we might be called to serve the Lord and our communities.

June 23, 2008

No Message this week.

June 13, 2008

Happy Father’s Day!

As our nation celebrates Fatherhood and the gratitude we should demonstrate to our fathers, the Church offers a prayer of blessing and the remembrance at Mass for our departed fathers and grandfathers:

God our Father,

In your wisdom and love you made all things. Bless our fathers that they be strengthened as Christian fathers. Let the example of their faith and love shine forth. Grant that we, their sons and daughters, may honor them always with the spirit of respect.

June 6, 2008

Last weekend we began our 2008 Bishop’s Fund Appeal with the in-church collection/pledge drive. Many thanks to all those who responded to this appeal. The goals this year are $19,500 for St. Andrew’s and $15,000 for Our Lady/St. Patrick’s. As soon as the initial results are forwarded to us, we will publish them and continue to keep you updated until the completion of the Bishop’s Fund Campaign.

In our churches there are pledge envelopes and brochures, for those who would like to donate but who have not received mailings, or were not present last weekend.

Thank you for your contributions to this appeal. As always, every dollar donated to the Bishop’s Fund is used solely for the many programs it supports.

May 30, 2008

“Know that I am with you always”. (Mt.28:20).

This weekend begins the annual Bishop’s appeal now in its 50th year. Although it is called the Bishop’s Fund, it could equally be called “our church appeal”. The Bishop’s Fund supports the ministries of our diocesan church, but the fruits of these ministries are experienced by the people throughout the state and in each parish. The appeal supports Catholic Charities; counseling services to anyone in need, education/formation to seminarians/deacons who will serve in our parishes, lay ministers, 3 local Catholic schools in our own area, 4 senior residences, Vermont Catholic Tribune and televised Masses/productions that anyone can benefit from and much more.

Please prayerfully consider making a generous gift/pledge and remember that your gift supports people in our area.

Last year’s diocesan appeal reached and exceeded the goal, which attests to parishioners’ generosity. Last year’s donors gave an average gift of $182. Also remember, the donations given to the Bishop’s Fund are used solely for the many programs and ministries of the church. You can read up on them in more detail in the brochures.

My thanks for your help.

May 23, 2008

No Message this week.

May 16, 2008

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Bishop’s Fund for the Diocese of Burlington. Over the years The Bishop’s Fund has supported Catholic Charities and the many in need, Ministerial/Seminary Formation, televised Masses/Catholic Communications and so much more.

In gratitude for parishioners’ generosity over the years, Bishop Matano will be celebrating Mass at St. Andrew Church on Thursday, May 22nd at 7 PM. All Parishioners from St. Andrew, Our Lady of the Snows and St. Patrick Churches are invited to attend this special Mass which will be concelebrated with our Deanery priests. There will be a reception in St. Leo’s Hall afterward, giving us all the opportunity to meet in Christian friendship along with our Bishop. Hope to see you there!!

(If you would like to provide a plate of sandwiches or a baked good for the reception, please call Adele Yandow at 244-7722.)

May 9, 2008

With Pentecost Sunday we conclude Easter as far as liturgy goes. However, as with Easter, Pentecost is N:not primarily a past event but a lived reality. We are living in the time of Pentecost. As St. Paul wrote “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit”. It is only by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we gather in Eucharist, proclaim Jesus Christ is Lord and God, that He is alive, that He is alive through His Body, the Church and so much more besides.

In the very early Church, both St. Cyril and St. Basil likened the Holy Spirit to the sun, that is one, yet shedding the same rays on everyone. However, that one Spirit produces many effects, virtues, talents in many different individuals. Also each individual, because of the brightness (or lack of it) of his/her soul, will reflect that Holy Spirit differently. We do live in the age of Pentecost, but we as church and individuals should prepare ourselves to reflect the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit – wisdom, love, peace, kindness, understanding, patience, faithfulness, self control, knowledge, reverence, awe in God’s presence, piety (prayer).

May 1, 2008

The following Students from our parishes will be making their First Communion this Sunday:

St. Andrew Parish

• Amaris Callan
• Katie Ferguson
• Brendan Gildea,
• Taylor Griffin
• Liam Hale
• Keara Hallam
• Liam Harper
• Ian Horsman
• Courtney Morgan

Our Lady of the Snows/St. Patrick Parish

• Daniel Bevacqui
• Katie Delaney
• Mary Harris
• Morgan Howes
• Mason Kasper
• Wes Lowe,
• Anthony Palmerio
• Tyler Skroski.

On the day of our Baptism, a prayer was offered by the priest over each one of us. The gathering was around the altar concluding the baptism ceremony “. . . in holy communion this child will share the banquet of Christ’s sacrifice calling God her/his Father in the midst of the Church”. Baptism welcomed us into the community of faith but looked forward to full membership that would come from Holy Communion.

Congratulations to our young people receiving First Holy Communion. Congratulations to their parents for keeping their promise to educate their children in faith. Gratitude is extended to all our religion teachers who make possible the conferring of sacraments by faith education.

First Holy Communion is one of the most important celebrations we have in the Church; new members are added to the Living Body of Christ, and we who have been part of that Body of Christ, are reminded/renewed in our desire for the Bread Come Down From Heaven – Jesus!

April 25, 2008

April 18, 2008

As we complete one of the most important activities we do as church – our youth religious education programs, let us be thankful for our coordinators, Dianne Bilodeau and Suzie Lowe, our teachers, classroom aides and volunteers who have helped with special programs, projects and activities this year.

Not only is faith education provided, but young people are brought into the full community by the sacraments, children’s liturgies, and youth activities.

Many thanks for all those involved with our religious education programs!

April 4, 2008

March 28, 2008

Our Lenten preparation of penance and sacrifice lasts 40 days. Easter lasts 50 days (until Pentecost Sunday). Easter Joy should last longer than the preparation for it. Now that we have celebrated Easter Sunday, let us grow in Hope and work at Easter Joy. Joy in the natural order is an emotion we experience that may come and go according to circumstances. Supernatural Joy or the “fruit of the Spirit” is something else. It resides in the soul. Let us reflect on the “fruit” or “gift of the Holy Spirit”, which wishes to stay with us through changing circumstances. That Joy is the hopeful, peaceful assurance of God’s love for us. As we work for Easter Joy, a good start is celebrating the Holy Days. We continue to celebrate his presence in the Eucharist and certainly there can be no true Joy unless we love and seek the needs of others above our own.

Many thanks to God and to those who expressed generous Easter blessings to me by best wishes, cards and gifts!

Alleluia!

March 21, 2008

Less than two months ago we celebrated Christmas, and here we are at Easter. Aside from the fact that there is skiing now, as there was at Christmas, both Solemnities are about Light. Christmas and the beginnings of the turn to more daylight is about the birth of the Light of the World; Jesus. Easter commemorates Jesus’ return to the Light of Day from the darkness of the tomb. He is the source of our re-birth.

Wishing you and your family a Happy Easter season! Not only do we believe in the event of Jesus’ Resurrection, but we can live it. Since we know we can live forever with the Lord, we can sacrifice for others, live courageously and lovingly now.

March 7, 2008

February 29, 2008

As I write this reflection it is now the 18th day of Lent! Is that all? We are not even half finished? There are still 22 days left? Our 40 day journey is not given only because of Moses’ 45 days on the mountain, the Israelites’ 40 years in the desert, and Jesus’ 40 days on the mountain of temptation, but it affords us plenty of time. If we have become a bit slack in our original promises, it is a time of renewal. If we have not really done much in demonstrating greater love of God or neighbor, there is still time remaining. Let us remember it is not so much the “things” we do but that we undertake the “things” because of our love of the Lord and one another. Perhaps all we have to do is be more aware, conscious, open to the moment in our prayer, Mass attendance, relationships at home and in our work place. There is a saying “no pain, no gain”. Perhaps this is a good saying for Lent; the “gain” being a blessed, hopeful, life-giving Easter.

February 8, 2008

Lent traditionally has been the period of prayer, fasting, service (almsgiving) for those adults received in the Church at Easter. However, for most of the faithful this Lenten time prepares us for the most Solemn Feast of Easter by our renewal of Baptismal Vows.

Each individual is asked to consider the most meaningful ways to prepare for Easter Joy in the area of prayer, fasting and works of charity. As Catholics we do have communal expressions of these disciplines:

Prayer: Daily Mass, Stations of the Cross, Lenten Missions (offered at Holy Cross Church, Colchester, Holy Family-St. Lawrence in Essex, and St. Michael the Archangel, Winooski), Penitential Services.

Fasting: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of Fast and Abstinence from meat. Fasting applies for Catholics 18 to 59 years. One major meal with no eating in between meals, but liquids allowed. All Fridays in Lent are days of abstinence from meat and apply for those 14 years and up.

Works of Charity (Almsgiving): Our major Catholic tradition is a collection taken for the poor. This is done in two ways: the Catholic Relief Services collection later in Lent or through the Rice Bowl Collection. Both collections through CRS support programs for the poor in the Third World. Included in our bulletins will be a Rice Bowl and a Home Calendar. For those who wish to use this method, the change you collect in your Rice Bowl during Lent may be brought to our churches during the period from Holy Thursday and up to the Second Sunday of Easter.

I am certain that if we each make a conscious choice to pray, fast, or give to the poor, our Easter Joy in the Lord will be increased many times over.

February 1, 2008

Lent begins early this year, February 6th, with Easter being on March 23rd, the earliest date possible, and a mere two days after Spring begins. Lent traditionally has been the period of prayer, fasting, service (almsgiving) for those adults received in the Church at Easter. However, for most of the faithful this Lenten time prepares us for the most Solemn Feast of Easter by our renewal of Baptismal Vows.

Each individual is asked to consider the most meaningful ways to prepare for Easter Joy in the area of prayer, fasting and works of charity. As Catholics we do have communal expressions of these disciplines:

Prayer: Ash Wednesday Mass, Penitential Services, Daily Mass

Fasting: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of Fast and Abstinence from meat. Fasting applies for Catholics 18 to 59 years. One major meal with no eating in between meals, but liquids allowed. All Fridays in Lent are days of abstinence from meat and apply for those 14 years and up.

Works of Charity (Almsgiving): Our major Catholic tradition is a collection taken for the poor. This is done in two ways: the Catholic Relief Services collection later in Lent or through the Rice Bowl Collection. Both collections through CRS support programs for the poor in the Third World. Included in our bulletins will be a Rice Bowl and a Home Calendar. For those who wish to use this method, the change you collect in your Rice Bowl during Lent may be brought to our churches during the period from Holy Thursday and up to the Second Sunday of Easter.

I am certain that if we each make a conscious choice to pray, fast, or give to the poor, our Easter Joy in the Lord will be increased many times over.

January 11, 2008

No message this week.

January 4, 2008

“Epiphany” is the traditional Twelfth Day of Christmas and proclaims the universal gift of Jesus’ birth in the adoration of the Magi. Yes, we are still in the season of Christmas, and that is good for me. I have the final opportunity to express by appreciation to the parishioners of St. Andrew, Our Lady of the Snows and St. Patrick. Many thanks to the many for the preparation and celebrations for the Christmas Masses: liturgical ministries, lectors, servers, communion ministers, greeters, choir/musicians, decorators and those who donated flowers through our Christmas memorial offering.

My personal thanks for your many Christmas wishes expressed through gifts, cards and holiday treats. Although not being at my best physically this year, your kindness really did make this Christmas blessed and joyful!

December 21, 2007

On this 4th Sunday of Advent, let our English word “Christmas” be a source of reflection for us. Unlike the French word “Noel” (meaning “carol” or “song”) and Nanidad (Spanish for “Birth”), our word Christmas comes from the Old English “Cristes Messe” (Christ’s Mass). In centuries gone by and when the culture was wholly Christian, the primary celebration of Christmas was the Holy Mass. And so, while the Birth of Jesus is the Reason for the Season, the Reason for His Birth is the Life, Death, and Resurrection of the Lord for our salvation, recalled at all Masses. The celebration of the Eucharist is the most significant, profound, meaningful means of celebrating Christmas Day, among all the various family and cultural traditions we have. Let us pray not only for the worthy celebration of Christ’s Mass in our own communities but those in all our parishes. Let us have a Merry and Blessed Christ’s Mass on His Birthday and throughout the season.

December 14, 2007

Last year at this time we were all surprised by an anonymous donor who deposited a valuable and rare coin in a local Salvation Army Christmas kettle. What was thought to be a one-time generous donation has been repeated. A different but valuable coin has again been donated this year. This surprise event can serve as a source of reflection on God’s generosity. God gives to us and comes to us not once but again and again in different ways, if we can see it. Advent is a time to be aware, awake, atune to God’s coming. It takes some reflection, prayer, preparation to see God’s presence in our lives. Perhaps we ourselves can be a source of God’s presence by our acts of kindness and charity.

November 30, 2007

No message this week.

November 21, 2007

On November 15th I happened to turn on the car radio and hit on a station playing Christmas music. Traditionally, our major national feast of Thanksgiving has been the “kick-off” to the Christmas season. While it is easy to moan or complain about the secular encroachment on the season of Advent, it is what it is! It may be a losing battle to fight against the prevailing “spirit”, but we can make decisions. There is no one who likes Christmas music more than me. However, I will not turn in or play Christmas music at least December 8 (Why this date. . . ?). In Advent (beginning December 2), we can make a point to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance). If one is able, going to a daily mass could be a good preparation. What is easily done is coming to weekend Mass a little early or perhaps reading the scripture readings before hand. And, there will be opportunities to share food (food shelves) and doing loving actions for others. Charity is the best preparation for the coming of Christ.

November 16, 2007

No Message this week.

November 9, 2007

This will be the final installment of the review of the Diocesan Guidelines on the sacraments. This last section is not concerning a sacrament as such, but relating to the Catholic Funeral Rites. Because of the variety of modern day funeral practices (cremation, non-Eucharistic liturgies, eulogies, no wake services etc.), it has become a priority to better explain the theology of the Catholic funeral and therefore the regulations concerning our practices.

The Guidelines explain that (like marriage) funerals are “not entirely family events”. The rituals do not belong to the individuals (or the family). They belong to the Church. In recent times, peoples’ experience of personalized rituals in other faiths have led them to expect the same in the Catholic community. The guidelines rightly state that at the time of death, the priest must be patient and charitable to the family in grief but use this teachable moment to guide the family toward a fitting celebration of the Catholic Funeral Liturgy.

A Catholic funeral mass can be very spiritually fulfilling and emotionally satisfying without “over-personalization”. We should remember that the funeral liturgy has been formed over hundreds of years of Faith-practice. We can trust the church's guidance in these matters and “even find true joy in our celebrations”.

The Guidelines go on to state when and which days funeral masses are permitted; that they are adapted to the particular seasons. There are recommendations for the Vigil service, use of flowers etc.

Eulogies are more appropriate at the Vigil Service (at the funeral home the night before the Funeral). This is the time for a personal reflection on the life of the deceased. If there is to be a eulogy at the funeral mass, one person may deliver a eulogy of 5 minutes, written down that the priest pre-views before hand. The eulogy should include something about the person's Christian virtue.

As far as music/songs are concerned, secular music, national or ethnic songs are not permitted.

There are many recommendations, insights, and concerns with the Funeral Liturgy (which includes 3 parts; Vigil Prayer, Funeral Mass/or Service, and Burial), that are discussed, indicating that the Catholic funeral has a long history and tradition. When understood, properly planned and celebrated, the Catholic Funeral Liturgy does fulfill the spiritual needs of those who grieve because the Liturgy focuses primarily on Jesus Christ and His victory over death, and His victory is our great hope.

November 2, 2007

The Sacrament of Matrimony is one of the two Sacraments at the Service of Communion (the other being Holy Orders). This rather new concept, explained in the Catechism, demonstrates the dignity and high ideal of marriage. Sacramental marriage is more than a ceremony performed in a church building. According to the teaching of the Church, the couple themselves are the co-ministers of the sacrament. It is the only sacrament where the people receiving the grace of the sacrament are also the ministers of the sacrament. By their exchange of vows the couple is married. The officiant (priest/deacon) receives the vows and blesses their union. Although the couple effects the sacrament, the Church has the responsibility to safe-guard all sacraments.

The Diocesan Guidelines set out to insure the proper preparation and celebration of marriage “made holy in Christ.” Among the more important requirements are:

1) FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study). This inventory is a valuable tool for the couple to assist them in communicating, and understanding their strengths and challenges. This is done at the first meeting with the priest/deacon.

2) Marriage Preparation Program (which can be the Pre-Cana Course or Engaged Encounter or Mentor Couple program).

3) Meeting(s) with the couple and clergy to follow up on Marriage Programs and plan the ceremony.

The Guidelines then run through the proper use of music and hymn/songs which can be used in the ceremony, of which secular songs are not allowed. Other details of planning the ceremony are mentioned. To conclude, the Catholic Church upholds the sacred nature of marriage. To be married in the church is “to be married in the holy assembly of God's people and that a man and woman are joined together in a lasting bond of love, to live the sacrament all their days.

October 26, 2007

The Guidelines for the Sacraments make a point concerning instruction on the second Sacrament of Healing; Anointing of the Sick. Although it has been many years since the renewal of the Sacrament of Anointing, many of the faithful still call the sacrament Extreme Unction or the Last Rites, to be received at the hour of death. However, the true Sacrament of the dying is Holy Eucharist and it is called Viaticum (“along the way” or for the journey). Anointing of the Sick (not only of the dying) can be received by a baptized person (not only Catholics), when there is serious illness as a result of sickness, accident, old age (and we could include also anointing before surgery and because of some chronic condition).The Sacrament can be repeated when there is a relapse or worsening condition.

A few weeks ago when I was visiting my brother in Arkansas, we went to Mass at his home parish on Sunday. It happened that there was within the Eucharist celebration of Anointing. After some previous preparation and explanation, parishioners came forward to be anointed. This “communal celebration” is encouraged by the Guidelines for use in our churches and is provided for in the Revised Rite of the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. This communal celebration demonstrates that our brothers and sisters who are sick “share in Jesus' own suffering and passion” are members of the Body of Christ (The Church), needing our prayers and support.

The basis of the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is the power of Jesus' healing and ministry to the sick and suffering. From the earliest times Anointing was administered as we hear from the Letter of St. James “Is there anyone sick among you? He should ask for the presbyters [priests] of the Church. They in turn are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Name [of the Lord]. This prayer uttered in faith will reclaim the one who is ill, and the Lord will restore him to health. If he has committed any sins, forgiveness will be his.” (James 5:14-16).

October 19, 2007

When the Catechism of the Catholic Church was published in the 90’s there were two sacraments classified as sacraments of healing; Penance (Reconciliation) and Anointing of the Sick. When we think about it, Penance would be available to all the faithful from the age of reason (1st Penance) throughout life, where Anointing would be received by only some of the faithful because of serious illness. This is significant because Penance effects healing in may ways: forgiveness, calming of fears, reconciliation with the community of faith wounded by sin, strength against guilt, and so forth.

With this background we now summarize the guidelines on the Sacrament of Penance (Confession, Reconciliation). In this Sacrament the faithful confess their sins, obtain forgiveness from God and are reconciled with the church, which they have wounded by sin.

The Sacrament is not a human invention but the Lord Jesus, physician of souls and bodies, has willed that the church continue in the power of the Holy Spirit his work of healing and salvation.

Guideline (#301) states that the Rite of Penance gives a person the option for face to face or anonymous confession. Churches should all be equipped for providing for that option for the faithful.

Each parish is to have a regular time for confessions and regular communal penance services each year (especially Lent and Advent) where a number of priests are brought together to assist in the celebration of the sacrament.

The Guidelines then go on to address First Penance; that it should be taught and celebrated before First Communion, that children develop a positive attitude of the sacrament, that both parents and children receive formation on the meaning of Reconciliation. And, lastly, the Guidelines state (#306) what we all know; “after having reached the age of discretion, each member of the faithful is obliged to confess faithfully his or her grave sins at least once a year.”

(Next week we will review the second Sacrament of Healing: Anointing of the Sick.)

October 12, 2007

As we continue to review the Diocesan Guidelines for the Sacraments, this week we will discuss the Holy Eucharist. The Vatican II documents refer to the Holy Eucharist as the “summit and source of Christian Life”. The Eucharist both promotes Christian life and is the most visible sign of the church. The Holy Eucharist is the most central sacrament of our faith. It is the last of the Initiation Sacraments (in certain places Confirmation is received last). The importance of the Eucharist cannot be over-stated. We are Baptized and Confirmed in order to be brought into full communion at the Table of the Lord. We now turn our attention to the Diocesan Guidelines on The Most Holy Eucharist. Although the Church does not say missing Mass is a mortal sin it does say “the faithful have a serious obligation to participate in the celebration of the Mass on all Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation” (The Catechism of the Catholic Church). Everyone who approaches the Eucharist should have the proper disposition “fostered by recollection at least a few moments before the beginning of liturgy, fasting for at least an hour, and when necessary, sacramental confession (Reconciliation).”

The “Eucharistic fast” refers to abstaining from food or drink one hour before receiving Holy Communion (water and medicine are allowed). The elderly, the infirmed, and those who care for them can receive the Eucharist even if they have eaten something within the preceding hour.

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are presented by the local pastor to the Bishop. They are appointed to renewable terms of three years.

With regard to the Latin Mass, the diocese will continue “to monitor and evaluate requests for the celebration of the Holy Mass according to the extraordinary form”. However, the guidelines note that “due to a severe shortage of priests, the first duty of the Bishop and pastors is to make the Eucharistic Sacrifice available to as many people as possible, using the rite that is understood by the majority of faithful in attendance”.

With regard to First Holy Communion, the guidelines say “it is primarily the duty of parents and those who take the place of parents, as well as the duty of pastors, to take care that children who have reached the use of reason are prepared properly and, after they have made sacramental confession, are refreshed with the divine food as soon as possible. It is for the pastor to exercise vigilance so that children who have not attained the use of reason or whom he judges are not sufficiently disposed do not approach Holy Communion”. Family liturgies are to be integrated with the Eucharistic preparation, so that children are gradually and meaningfully introduced to Christian Worship. It is recommended that reception of First Eucharist takes place within a family context within one of the Lord’s Day celebrations of the Mass.”

(Next week we will consider the First Sacrament of Healing – Reconciliation.)

October 5, 2007

Continuing our summary of the Diocesan Guidelines for the Administration of the Sacraments, we now consider Confirmation. In the Diocese of Burlington, the preparation is a two-year preparation. Ninth graders begin the first year, followed by a more immediate preparation in the tenth year of high school. Since Confirmation brings “to fullness that life of the Holy Spirit into which we were first initiated at Baptism, preparation necessitates serious teacher-formation, clergy participation, parental involvement, and the prayerful support of the total community”(#250). The program includes study, service, one day retreat(s), and liturgy. But the heart of the program is the regular attendance at Holy Mass. The confirmation program includes topics such as; Christian Personhood and Community, the Old Testament, the Life of Christ, the Early Church, the Pentecost Event, and the Most Holy Eucharist. An important topic for confirmation is that of sponsor. The candidate and parents should be instructed on the role and responsibility of sponsor. The conditions for the sponsor of confirmation is the same as that of a god-parent for baptism. Also the guidelines suggest an interview with each candidate by the religious staff and/or parish priest. This (these) interview(s) help all parties to know each other and reflect upon the candidate's self-understanding of faith and the desire to seek confirmation. Considering these important guidelines, confirmation can be seen as a very important step in the initiation as a Catholic, as the candidate takes much more responsibility, and works toward being a more mature person of faith. (Next week continues with the Eucharist)

September 28, 2007

To begin the review of the Diocesan Guidelines for the Sacraments we begin with Baptism. Baptism is the first of the Initiation Sacraments (Confirmation and Eucharist are the other two).

"Through baptism the recipient is incorporated into the church", the living Body of Christ. Baptism is not a private celebration of a child and family, although most baptisms are celebrated at the church with family participation only. It is the duty of the priest to prepare families for baptism and help them in the task of Christian formation. The preparation at our parishes is a meeting with pastor and parents. However, the guidelines (#208) suggest that godparents be included in the preparation.

The guidelines emphasize the responsibility and conditions of godparents. It is an honor to be chosen as a godparent but there are duties.

A godparent is a Catholic, sixteen years and older, confirmed, "who leads a life of faith" (the godparent is there for an example of faith, practicing, and has the task of helping the parents raise the child in faith). There can be one godparent but if there are two, one must be male and one female. A Christian, non-Catholic can be a witness but not the true godparent. In this case the guideline seems to stress that the one Catholic be a "person of faith" (practicing).

Because of the importance of Baptism, and the obligations of parents and godparents, it is recommended that parents contact the parish before the birth of the child (even 3 months before). The first consideration [for baptism] is the spiritual welfare of the child but "when parents are not prepared to profess the faith or to accept the duty of Christian up-bringing, it is for the parish priest to determine the time for baptism of infants. Baptism is deferred, not refused." (to be continued)

September 21, 2007

At our yearly "presbyteral days" we have a guest speaker giving our bishop/priests substance for reflection/action (last week's message). Also Bishop Matano delivers his message to his priests concerning the sate of the Diocese. Among other issues, the Bishop presented to his priests "Guidelines for Administration of the Sacraments". The Guidelines for the Diocese of Burlington are a compilation of universal church regulations (canon law) as well as instruction from the Missal, Catechism of the Catholic Church, and particular practice of our diocese. Much of what is stated is already known and practiced. Some of the guidelines may be new and others may be promoted in some parishes more than others.

When we hear the word "church" we may think of our building of worship or perhaps our most concrete experience - the parish. Maybe we think of the universal church as represented by the Pope, or perhaps our Catholic community in Vermont. The "church" is all of these and more. Our reflection on the "Guidelines" will help us, I hope, to see that the church is universal, national (Catholic Conference), regional (Diocese) and local (parish). I hope that in reviewing these guidelines we will experience that we are not a church alone (parish) but are united with many other Catholics in the attempt to grow in faith, hope and charity. In reviewing this document, we might advance in faith education and be encouraged by ideas to better prepare and celebrate the sacraments. Next week we will consider the Sacrament of Baptism. Peace and Love of Christ!

September 14, 2007

We just concluded our annual presbyteral (priest) meeting with our Bishop (September 4-6). Along with informal gathering of priests in our diocese, Bishop Matano's address to his pastors, we usually have a guest speaker giving us three conferences. This year's speaker was Father Scott Newman from the Diocese of Charleston, S.C. His presentation was on Catholic Evangelization. Although not a liturgist, his focus was on evangelization through renewal of our Catholic Mass. His success and reputation in revitalizing and building up Catholic parishes are considerable but his program is not without controversy. Some of his proposals which he has undertaken: central position of the tabernacle, celebrant faces ambo (sanctuary) not the congregation, no girl altar servers, sacred music (much of the music used is really not sacred), sing all verses to our hymns, very proper, high quality vestments and church furnishings, strict silence in the church before the Eucharist begins, more plainchant, Latin and sung parts by the priest. You might imagine Father Newman's presentation (of which I have only given a very brief summary) certainly enlivened reflection and debate. However, one segment of his conference dealt with "measure of health of a parish". It is worth asking how one would measure the spiritual health of a parish. Would it be lay participation in ministries, charity, social action, financial viability? Interestingly, the first response he suggested was the number of people receiving the sacrament of reconciliation. But when it comes to determining the health of the community and holiness of parishioners, how would a community begin to determine the "state of the health of a parish"? It will be one of the issues we will discuss at our next inter-parish council meeting.

September 7, 2007

Not long ago there was an article in the newspaper about a Christian church that opened for one evening a month for one hour. The article went on to muse about the prayers, reflections, quiet that the people who started to attend experienced. I was thinking how our Catholic churches regularly open our doors for the same purpose. St. Andrew's is open from morning to nightfall. My previous churches in North Troy and Troy were opened 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. St. Augustine's in Montpelier and various churches in our diocese have Perpetual Adoration, where people commit themselves to hours of Adoration, day-in, day-out, every week, every month throughout the year. This is amazing! And what is amazing also is the fact that our parishes still continue to celebrate daily mass and people come with faith, perseverance and devotion to the Lord.

The mentioned article of a Methodist church in Grand Isle providing a very unique one hour of quiet, made me think of a rather common Catholic practice of our churches being open for much more than an hour for quiet, prayer, reflection and just sitting (or kneeling) with the Lord.

*Next week I will be writing a message about our annual Presbyteral Meeting with the Bishop.

• Next week I will be writing a message about our annual Presbyteral Meeting with the Bishop.

August 31, 2007

Some years ago I realized that I was getting older when the winters were getting longer and longer. Now, summers are getting shorter and shorter. Where has summer gone? Soon with school beginning, vacation time ending, and all the rest, the Church really begins the pastoral year in September. With school starting, parish programs, meetings starting up again, let us be thankful to those active in all our church ministries. Let us ask the Lord, model of service, to give renewed strength to those in our many ministries. May the Lord inspire new people to come forward to build up the Body of Christ, the Church.

July 27, 2007

No message this week.

July 19, 2007

This will be the last of my messages concerning the Liturgy. Before I go on further, I wish to clarify a point. I do not wish to leave the impression that I am disappointed or critical of our communities' celebration of the Sunday Eucharist. However, because we are a ritualistic faith and the Mass is a highly regimented celebration, we may take it for granted and become somewhat unconscious in our participation as clergy and faithful. It may not take very much to improve our "full, conscious, active participation in the Eucharist". I offered some rather simple suggestions to improve our celebrations. We are not asked to introduce new elements or gadgets to the Mass. Often, it is not the adding to the Liturgy that will make it better but simply the better celebration of what we already have. Be reminded, that our Sunday celebrations include 4 weekend Masses and 3 unique communities. Some of the challenges to better liturgies and their remedies vary from particular celebrations and particular communities.

In the meantime, having wished to make the Eucharist/Celebration a priority, the Holy Father has out-staged me so to speak. Recently, as you may know, he has proposed a more widespread use of the Latin Mass (revised 1962 Roman Missal). At this point we are all reading the document and related documents. Right now we would not expect to see much change in our celebrations in our parishes since this Latin Mass would be the extraordinary form of the Eucharist. It would seem that "full, conscious, active participation by the faithful" in the Liturgy is a challenge in our own language let alone in the Latin Mass. Let us see where this will lead us.

July 13, 2007

Liturgy continued. . .

The Vatican Council called for "the faithful's full, active participation in the Eucharistic worship". The principle change (for those of us who remember) was the use of the common language (Vernacular) replacing Latin at mass. Putting aside for now the recent restoration of the Latin Mass, the use of the faithful's common language was the single most important change that made participation in the Eucharist more meaningful.

When I am at Mass at a church in with the congregation, I have to remind myself to respond to the celebrant's invitation, sing, and answer "Amen" and not let everyone else do the participating.

If everyone simply would respond at the people's parts, sing (even if you do not sing loudly or well), and respond "Amen" when it is time, the celebration would be a more active community event.

Sometimes people will say that I don't speak loud enough at Mass and I am not heard. My response to that is "I don't hear you will enough either!"

P.S. An important part of the Eucharist is at communion when people receiving the Lord say "Amen" when the Priest/Eucharistic Minister says "the Body of Christ". It would be good to respond because the Priest or Eucharistic Minister is allowed to give the Eucharist only because of a person's assent of faith, meaning "AMEN". (. . .to be continued)

July 6, 2007

To continue discussion on the Eucharist/Liturgy, the Vatican II documents spoke much about the faithful's duty and right to "full, active participation" in the Mass. During the next few weeks I will be speaking about this very important aspect of the celebration of the Mass. But before I do, we should be reminded of some basic church etiquette.

Late/Early? Coming to Mass late and leaving early is disruptive and does not give good example of "full, active participation". There are times when it is unavoidable to arrive late or leave early. However, the number of times that it happens indicates that people are not conscientious enough. As a celebrant, I really do not notice the individuals who come late or leave early. It is more bothersome to see people leave before the end of the Eucharist. Maybe it is because I know there was one person who left the Last Supper early. His name started with "J" and ended with "S" and it was not Jesus.

Quiet time The Catholic tradition (unlike the Protestant) values preparation for the celebration by prayer and reflection. Because of Christ's presence in the tabernacle, on entering the church, we genuflect or bow and then pray and reflect before Mass begins. There are times when we have to communicate with someone next to us. We must not have extended conversations and needless talking before Mass (or during Mass).

Chewing gum is okay for a ballgame but not in church and especially not during Mass.

Dress - What is appropriate dress? Wear what you would not feel embarrassed or uncomfortable wearing if you had to be seen standing in front of the congregation (let's say if you were to read or give communion). The expression "Sunday best" may now be archaic and meaningless but dressing appropriately is ultimately showing reverence to God - the one you have come to see and praise, the one of whom you wish to be seen, known and heard.

I will continue to speak about the liturgy but improvements of "full, active participation" can begin with basic points of etiquette. (. . . to be continued)

June 29, 2007

This week makes one year since having been appointed pastor of St. Andrew and Our Lady/St. Patrick. This one year anniversary is an appropriate occasion to express my thanks to all staff, ministries, workers and parishioners in general for your welcoming spirit and your dedication to our communities. A one-year anniversary is an important occasion also because I have experienced all the liturgical seasons, the entire CCD program and the sacramental programs. After a year's experience, I can better judge what should be priorities and changes for the upcoming year.

As I look to the coming year a priority of our parishes will be the Eucharist - the Sunday celebration. Under this general topic we will work on the following: (1) Mass participation, (2) Ministries, (3) Music. Considering that we have two parishes with three different communities and four different Eucharistic celebrations, the implementations of changes or procedures might be different from church to church. Next bulletin, I will discuss the first element of the church Sunday celebration; Mass participation.

June 22, 2007

Recently we were asked to submit a "mission statement" for St. Andrew Parish. I have always thought that "mission statements" for churches were unnecessary, useless, if not ridiculous. What would be the mission statement for the Church?

• To know, love and serve God in this life and to live forever with him in the next.
• "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Live on in my love" (Jn 15:9)
• Following the command of Christ, we celebrate the sacraments, educate in faith, form community, outreach to those in need, in order to build up the gifts of God: Faith, Hope and Love.

However, each parish is unique. In our area we have two parishes (St. Andrew and Our Lady/St. Patrick) but really three different communities.

What would be the distinctive mission statement that both reflects the particular community and points to the goal for that community? How would you form a "mission statement" for the community to which you belong? Perhaps this could be a project of our Parish Pastoral Council, when we begin to meet again this September? Maybe, a "mission statement" isn't that ridiculous after all. Perhaps the process in forming one could be quite beneficial!

June 15, 2007

Summer begins Thursday, June 21st and with summer: vacation time, school is out, traveling, family gatherings, etc. Our area is normally frequented by visitors, but summer brings many more visitors passing through and our own people going to other places. During summertime, more so than at other times, after Mass, people will tell where they come from. I am reminded of another unique Catholic trait. Unlike other faith traditions, we Catholics will find a Catholic church to attend while on the road and worship God as part of our faith obligation. Far from being a burden, it seems that visitors coming to our churches and our parishioners going elsewhere, is a sign of our Catholicism. We are members of One Church, celebrating in many locations the sacred mysteries.

Have a great summer wherever you are and wherever you go. (Located in our churches are the new pamphlets for Catholic Masses in our Diocese.)

Father's Day Blessing

God our father, in your wisdom and love you made all things. Bless our fathers, that they may be strengthened as Christian fathers. Let their example of their faith and love shine forth. Grant that we, their sons and daughters, may honor them always with a spirit of profound respect. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen. (Catholic Book of Blessings)

June 8, 2007

On Sunday, June 17th at St. Andrew's 9:00 AM Mass, the Eastern Youth Chorale will be leading the music and sharing their talent. The group of youth from Trinidad and Tabago, under the direction of John Michael Thomas, began at Santa Rosa Catholic Church in August of 2005. Since then, they have performed in many festivals and concerts. They will be performing at the Vermont International Choir Festival in Stowe from June 14-17, and we have the opportunity to have them sing and perform at the Mass in praise of God.

The main objective of the Chorale is to enable youth to realize their full musical potential, establish a solid foundation for professional performers, and awaken to the community sensitivity to the arts. All are welcome.

May 25, 2007

No message this week.

May 18, 2007

No message this week.

May 11, 2007

Weekly Prayer Intention - A new feature of our bulletin will be weekly prayer intentions. Sometimes it is difficult to include all the intentions we would like to have at the weekend "Prayer of the Faithful". Liturgically, we are required to include prayers for the Pope (Church), the world (Peace - World Leaders), Prayers for the sick or those in need, prayers for the deceased, as well as any local needs. Sometimes people wonder why prayers are not offered regularly for, let's say, our military, vocations, prayers for life. The "Prayer of the Faithful" would be quite long. So we will include in our bulletin "Weekly Prayer Intentions" reminding us of some intentions for our prayerful attention.

This Week's Prayer Intentions:

• Repose of the soul of Charles O. Ashley and the consolation of his family
• For all students completing their academic year, that they use their knowledge for the good of God's people.
• For the sick, long suffering and those going through cancer treatment.
• The Pope's intention of the Month: That through the example of the Virgin Mary, Christians be attentive to the signs of the Lord in their lives.

May 4, 2007

The Sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation are soon to be celebrated for the children and young people of our communities representing milestones on both ends of our religious education program; second grade children and second year high school students.

The following students will be confirmed on Friday, May 4th: Samantha Ashley, Elena Bilodeau, Kenneth Bourneuf, Brendan Callan, Michael Chadwick-Smith, Sonia Evans, Brittany Ferris, Amy Fischer, Stephen LaRock, Jordi Raymond and Ashley Sweet from St. Andrew Parish; Janice Guion, Grace Kirpan and Ryan Young from Our Lady of the Snows St. Patrick Parish.

The following students will be making their First Communion at St. Andrew Parish on Sunday, May 6th: Kassidy Abair, Luke Bisceglio, Justin Cantwell, Lily Clark, Peyton Cleary, Jenna Companion, Emma Cosgrove, Sawyer Cunningham, Mary Fick, Liam Flaherty, Marissa Hoffman, Taber Merchant, Tanner Merrill, Molly Potter, Gregory Raymond, Sarah Russo, and Madeline Strasser.

The following students will be making their First Communion at St. Patrick Church next Sunday, May 13th: Bergen Allison, Cole Fekert, Reid Tynan, Kristen Humphry, Leigha Humphry, Maura Riley, Jascha Sheinfeld, and Anna White.

My thanks and appreciation is extended to the teachers of both sacramental preparation programs. As our religious education comes to an end, please join me in thanking our coordinators, Dianne Bilodeau, Suzie Lowe and all our Catechism teachers and their aides for their hard work, dedication to our Church, faith in the Lord and love for our children.

April 27, 2007

The Sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation are soon to be celebrated for the children and young people of our communities representing milestones on both ends of our religious education program; second grade children and second year high school students.

The following students will be confirmed on Friday, May 4th: Samantha Ashley, Elena Bilodeau, Kenneth Bourneuf, Brendan Callan, Michael Chadwick-Smith, Sonia Evans, Brittany Ferris, Amy Fischer, Stephen LaRock, Jordi Raymond and Ashley Sweet from St. Andrew Parish; Janice Guion, Grace Kirpan and Ryan Young from Our Lady of the Snows St. Patrick Parish.

The following students will be making their First Communion at St. Andrew Parish on Sunday, May 6th: Kassidy Abair, Luke Bisceglio, Justin Cantwell, Lily Clark, Peyton Cleary, Jenna Companion, Emma Cosgrove, Sawyer Cunningham, Mary Fick, Liam Flaherty, Marissa Hoffman, Taber Merchant, Tanner Merrill, Molly Potter, Gregory Raymond, Sarah Russo, and Madeline Strasser.

In addition to the above, 8 students from Our Lady of the Snows/St. Patrick Parish will be making their First Communion at St. Patrick Church on Sunday, May 13th. Their names will be included in next week's bulletin.

My thanks and appreciation is extended to the teachers of both sacramental preparation programs. As our religious education comes to an end, please join me in thanking our coordinators, Dianne Bilodeau, Suzie Lowe and all our Catechism teachers and their aides for their hard work, dedication to our Church, faith in the Lord and love for our children.

April 20, 2007

No Message this week.

April 13, 2007

Many thanks to our liturgical ministries; servers, ushers, cantors, musicians, lectors, ministers of Communion, church decorators, as they helped us celebrate the Holy Days of Easter.

Next, I thank the Lord, for these first Easter celebrations as pastor in our communities. I am so grateful again to witness many parishioners who in ordinary service have dedicated themselves extraordinarily to the Church. A source of particular thanksgiving is the members that have been received in the Church by Baptism and Confirmation; Tasha, Kristen, Leigha Humphreys and Alex Sowa. We celebrated the sacraments with them at the Vigil. But the Lord was active in them, through their family members and through our own church members to bring them to faith.

Many thanks for parishioners' kindness, generosity and best wishes at Easter.

As we continue to celebrate Easter up to Pentecost, your prayers, support, encouragement are requested for our First Communicants and for our young people receiving Confirmation. These two celebrations within Easter are very important to the life of our communities.

Continued wishes for blessings of Easter to all; Joy, Hope, Grace, because Christ is Risen and Alive!

April 6, 2007

Where has the time gone? Not all that long ago, we began our Lenten journey that has lasted over six weeks. The forty days plus the Sundays of Lent seem long enough to prepare for Easter, the highest solemnity of the Church. But, how fast these days have gone by! How have we done in our Lenten observances? Have our Lenten practices brought us a renewed sense of God's mercy and love? Whatever the case, Easter, the Resurrection of Christ, is here!

However, Easter is not a day. It is a Season. One might say it is eternal! We are given a mission by Jesus' Victory over Death to be Easter people, hope filled and joyous, throughout the years.

I have always been perplexed and uncomfortable about the faith. We get very engaged with Lent, Holy Week and Easter day, but so quickly the Easter spirit wears thin. The liturgical point is made that the Lenten season lasts 40 days but the Easter season is extended 50 days. Penance, sorrow for sin, is surely important but not as important as Easter Joy, Hope and Life.

As we celebrate Easter, Jesus Christ Risen, let us try to be Cheerful, Hopeful, Positive with our Catholic faith and eternally grateful to God for Life.

Happy Easter and may Jesus Risen grace you and your families with Joy, Hope, Love.

March 30, 2007

Baptism is central to the Lenten/Easter Season. Lent is like a retreat period before the Easter Vigil, when new members are received in the Church by Baptism. For the vast majority of Catholics, Lent is our

preparation to renew our baptismal promises at Easter. Since Baptism is key to this season, I would like to make some important comments concerning Baptism.

Since an infant cannot make a choice in being baptized, the Church has allowed infant baptisms because parents have given assurances that the child will be raised Catholic; teaching basic prayers when the child is old enough, brought to CCD or sent to Catholic school when the time comes and taught the importance of Sunday Mass. Parents who do not practice the faith give little assurance that when the time comes, they will actually teach the faith to their child.

If a pastor cannot be assured that parents will raise their child in the faith, the godparents become very important in baptism. Far from being just an honor, godparents have a responsibility in doing what they can to bring their godchild to faith.

There are qualifications for being a godparent that will be discussed at the baptismal meeting with parents and pastors. Parents must not ask individuals before hand to be godparents before they know what those qualifications are. Many pastors also require a letter from a godparent-to-be's parish indicating that they are members of a Catholic Community.

Lent/Easter is the reason of Baptism. Baptism is more than a ceremony. It is a sacrament of being incorporated into the "living Body of Christ" - the Church. Baptism is communal in nature - expressing that we do not "do it alone" - live in relationship with God, but we live faith in relation with others. The Lenten/Easter season calls us to re-dedicate ourselves to the importance of Baptism ("gateway to life" ccc 1213) as pastors, parents and godparents.

March 9, 2007

I have been privileged to be associated with Cursillo for many years. I had made the weekend in the summer of 1979 before ordination. It was from 1985 to 2000 that my appreciation of Cursillo really grew. In those years I was a spiritual director on four weekends and for a time was Spiritual Advisor to the Montreal Cursillo Movement. There will be a Men's weekend at Killington from April 19-22 (of which I will be one of the Spiritual Directors) and a Women's weekend April 26-29.

Cursillo pronounced "Kur-see-yo" actually means "small course" in Spanish. The weekend is a "short course" in the essentials of the Catholic faith. There is daily Mass, talks given by lay people and priest/deacon on: faith, sacraments, obstacles to grace, life of faith etc. Much can be said of the Cursillo weekend: re-vitalizing one's faith, great experience, encountering Christ, helping one grow in knowledge of faith. But perhaps the greatest fruit of the weekend is that one is graced with a strong and moving experience of Christian community and friendship in Christ. In a short time, Christian Community and enthusiasm of faith is formed.

Please check out pamphlets posted in our churches for more information. Also, I would be glad to speak to anyone wishing more information.

March 2, 2007

No message this week.

February 16, 2007

Traditionally Lent was a period of preparation for those adults receiving the Easter sacraments at the Easter Vigil. Over time Lent became a retreat (40 days) for all the faithful to renew our commitment as baptized Catholics. As a community of faith, we practice certain time-tested practices of prayer, fasting, almsgiving.

Ash Wednesday (February 21) begins Lent. It is not a holy day of obligation but it is a day of fast and abstinence (no eating of meat, one major meal with no eating between meals; from age 14 years for abstinence. For fasting, age 18 to age 59, (unless for reasons of heath one should not fast). Good Friday is also a day of Fast and Abstinence. All Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat.

Prayer: Weekday Masses (as much as possible) are occasions for the faithful to deepen prayer life with the most perfect prayer of the community - The Holy Mass. This year during Lent the Stations of the Cross will be offered on Fridays at 7 PM at St. Andrew Church. The Stations is a traditional prayer/meditation on Christ's suffering and death. The Way of the Cross is both prayer and form of penance. Parishioners are also encouraged to take advantage of our regular Reconciliation times or our deanery Penance Services.

Almsgiving, or service to those in need. In our prayer and fasting we become more sensitive to other's hunger and need. Charity (almsgiving) is expressed in our daily acts of kindness to those around us, our giving assistance to the poor, our collection for Catholic Relief Services (4th Sunday of Lent).

Our experience of the Joy and Hope that is Easter can be proportional to our heart-felt attempts to be close to the Lord and our brothers and sisters through our communal practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

January 26, 2007

No message this week.

January 19, 2007

It doesn't take long for a "New Year" to become an "old year" or at least a "ho-hum" year. Do we remember what were our resolutions/goals for this year 2007? Already forgotten? What about our personal resolutions/goals for 2006? I did finally recall my 4 goals for 2006 as 2007 started to creep forward, so I could fix personal goals for the new year. And do you know? 3 of the 4 are the same. I guess the point is that goals are not easy. And because they are not easy, we may have the same goals for some years consecutively. It doesn't mean we have failed if we can see some progress!

What about our parish communities? Do parishes establish priorities/goals in the four main area of pastoral life; (1) sacramental life, (2) faith education (adult and youth), (3) social action (clarity), and (4) fraternity (community life)? One of the purposes of a pastoral council is "to be concerned with the total needs of the parish dedicated to the worship of God and the service of all God's people" (Diocesan guidelines).

How have we done in the past year? What would be our goal for the coming year? Our joint Pastoral Council (St. Andrew/St. Patrick/Our Lady of the Snows) will meet on Monday, January 22nd to take up these questions.

January 12, 2007

No message this week.

January 2, 2007

Christmas is a Season, not solely a day. However, the Christmas Masses are the high-points of the Church's celebration of Christ's Birth. The Holy Mass is the most fitting gift we make to God - to praise Him for the beginning of salvation through Jesus. I thank the Lord for all the faithful for participating in the Christmas liturgies. It was a pleasure to witness the cooperation and dedication of so many; liturgical ministries, ushers, servers, Eucharistic ministers, musicians, choir members, all the children who participated in the Christmas Eve Children's Mass, and decorators; making our Churches and celebrations fitting praise to our Lord.

My personal gratitude is extended to parishioners for your Christmas wishes, cards, gifts and baked goodies. Your welcoming of me at the communities has been much appreciated from the start, but our Christmas celebrations have been a great source of encouragement.

Happy and Blessed New Year to all!

(the blessing of Aaron)

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May he look upon you with kindness, and give you his peace.

December 22, 2006

As I write this message just a couple of days before Christmas, I am aware of the dedication of so many parishioners in preparing to celebrate Christmas: choirs, musicians, liturgical ministers, servers, ushers, decorators (both inside and outside the church) and those helping with the annual Food Shelf Christmas Food/Gift Box project. For all of these and the many more, who in the own way, are sharing and helping others in need, I extend my gratitude and ask God's blessings upon you all for your service, support, and kindness.

Happy and Blessed New Year to all!

(the blessing of Aaron)

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May he look upon you with kindness, and give you his peace.

December 15, 2006

No message this week.

December 8, 2006

During Advent, we prepare to welcome the Lord and we are watchful for opportunities to love the Lord and our neighbor, especially those in need. One traditional way for preparing ourselves is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There will be two Deanery services: Sunday, December 10th at St. Augustine Parish in Montpelier at 7 PM and at St. Monica in Barre on Sunday, December 17 at 3 PM. Of course, the regular times of confession are available as well as other times, like after Mass, or arrangements made with a priest. But the seasonal celebrations of reconciliation are wonderful communal expressions of our need for forgiveness and celebrating God's mercy. Let us take advantage of these communal celebrations of Reconciliation to prepare for a truly Blessed Season of Advent and Christmas.

December 1, 2006

With the coming of Advent, we prepare to welcome the Lord and we are watchful for opportunities to love the Lord and our neighbor, especially those in need. One traditional way for preparing ourselves is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There will be two Deanery services: Sunday, December 10th at St. Augustine Parish in Montpelier at 7 PM and at St. Monica in Barre on Sunday, December 17 at 3 PM. Of course, the regular times of confession are available as well as other times, like after Mass, or arrangements made with a priest. But the seasonal celebrations of reconciliation are wonderful communal expressions of our need for forgiveness and celebrating God's mercy. Let us take advantage of these communal celebrations of Reconciliation to prepare for a truly Blessed Season of Advent and Christmas.

Since Advent is a season of new beginning, this is a good time to extend liturgical practice. At communion time, all ministers (lectors, servers, and ministers of communion) will be offered the chalice. The Church encourages us to give a greater sign of the Eucharistic Meal by this practice. There will be more opportunities for this practice at masses throughout the year for all the people. But in the meantime at all our Sunday Masses, all ministers will be encouraged to receive. We must remember the church's teaching on this point, however. When one receives the Sacrament under the bread, one receives both the Body and Blood of Christ. When one receives the chalice, one receives the Body and Blood of Christ. The faithful are not deprived of anything of the Lord by receiving only one species. The difference is only that there is a fuller sign of the Eucharist as the sacred meal. The reception from the chalice is always an option.

November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving Day is much more than a national holiday. The days before and after Thanksgiving are the busiest travel days. Family members traverse great distances to come together, not only for a meal, but to give "Thanks" to God for blessings received as a nation and as individuals. It is particularly American and specifically Catholic to give thanks and celebrate Thanksgiving Day. We as Eucharist ("Thanksgiving") people express our gratitude to God each and every time the Mass is celebrated.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

"Give thanks to Him; bless His name, for He is good." (Ps 100)

Advent

The readings at Mass in the next few weeks focus on the end of time, the need to be ready, the end of days. In our faith, we are courageous enough to face every year the sobering reality that we are given a limited time on earth. If November isn't already dark enough, the end of the Church year and also a couple of weeks in Advent remind us to be prepared; not in fear but in trust in God's power of love and grace begun firstly by Jesus' Birth and fulfilled in His Death and Resurrection.

Advent begins on Sunday, December 3rd. Although not as penitential as Lent, Advent is a time to reflect, pray and prepare for Christ to come into our lives, as we celebrate Christmas. What are some of the signs that a new season is upon us and that there is something different? Purple, the Advent wreath, NO Gloria, Penance Services, O Come, O Come Emmanuel!!!, call to serve those in need, Christmas baskets, and the excitement of the Christmas Season to come that makes Love come alive. But before we skip over the preparedness of Advent and jump into Christmas, let us do what we can in Advent in the way of being more loving, helping someone in need, perhaps receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or making a visit to the church, going to daily Mass, or praying the Rosary more often. Whatever we decide to do, let us have faith, that we will in some way find Jesus coming again.

November 17, 2006

Thanksgiving Day is much more than a national holiday. The days before and after Thanksgiving are the busiest travel days. Family members traverse great distances to come together, not only for a meal, but to give "Thanks" to God for blessings received as a nation and as individuals. It is particularly American and specifically Catholic to give thanks and celebrate Thanksgiving Day. We as Eucharist ("Thanksgiving") people express our gratitude to God each and every time the Mass is celebrated.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

"Give thanks to Him; bless His name, for He is good." (Ps 100)

November 10, 2006

REMEMBRANCE!! November is the month of Remembrance "par excellence" beginning with the church's celebrations of All Our Saints and All The Souls. On November 11 the nation pays its respect and gratitude to our veterans, with special gratitude to those who have given their lives in service to country (in Canada, November 11 is called Remembrance Day).

Having experienced the Holy Land recently, brings to mind how deeply our Catholic understanding of Remembrance is based on the Jewish faith (and therefore on Jesus).When you are standing on the one of countless sites, preserved and honored (whether it be the caves of Bethlehem, Gethsemane, or the Mount of Transfiguration), you can appreciate more readily - Remembrance. Jesus at the Last Supper recalled the Passover. But in Jewish thought it was not just a remembering the past. In remembering the past, all the power, blessing, hope of the first Passover (Exodus from Egypt) is made real as if for the first time. When Jesus left us the Eucharist, he performed a very Jewish ritual. The Holy Meal, celebrated from then on would be a memorial of His Life-Giving Death and Resurrection. His very Body and Blood given up on the Cross and Risen is given to us as food. It is the same Lord. All the grace, love, saving power of God is made presence-real through the Eucharist. This is a Great Mystery. In this Month of November, let us be mindful of the great power of Remembrance in the Eucharist as we remember our beloved dead: our family, parishioners, friends, military personnel.

We should also ask the Lord to help restore our confidence in the power of the Eucharist. In recent years, there has been neglect of having funeral Masses celebrated for deceased family members, even when the departed were practicing Catholics for years.

Even if perhaps the younger generation might not have the same devotion, care should be given to have the Funeral Mass celebrated for every Catholic. Also, we should remember that there is no greater help and love for a soul than to have the Holy Mass celebrated for our beloved dead. “Take this....eat and drink. Do this in memory of me.”

November 3, 2006

I can't begin to put into words my experience of the recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I can say it was one of the most profound experiences of my life! I feel blessed by God to have had the opportunity to visit the Land of Jesus and in particular to have shared it with nine fellow pilgrims. The last few days on returning home have been times of reflection. There have been too many places and experiences to share. But one of the most impressive characteristics of Israel is that antiquity and modernity live side by side. Like the Church itself, the Holy Land is both ancient and new. Tel Aviv is a modern city only a short distance from ancient Jerusalem, the holy city for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. In Christ's day Israel was an occupied people (by the Romans), and even before struggled among world powers. Today there are still so many who threaten their very existence. Jericho (mentioned in last week's Gospel) is the oldest city in the world. Excavations still continuing have counted 20 levels of development over the 4,000 years of existence. The landscape is so varied and looking over the sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea, Mount Tabor, you could feel as if you were back in ancient times. You very easily feel the antiquity. A visit to Yad Vashem (“a place and a name”) moves you to modern times. This new and powerful Holocaust memorial, vividly reminds us of efforts to exterminate not so many generations ago.

My experience of pilgrimage to the Holy Land has made me appreciate the Jewish faith, Israel's plight (ancient and new) to survive, and a greater understanding that in knowing history one better understands the present.

I would recommend to anyone a visit to the Holy Land not only to walk in the FOOTSTEPS OF JESUS “as it were” but to understand the present reality of Israel and the Middle East. Unfortunately, world media over-emphasizes the dangers there. I never felt threatened or intimidated (except by vendors or store keepers at some of the Holy Sites- just kidding!!).The only place I always wanted to visit is the Holy Land. Now I am not sure once will be enough. I already was asked by the President of the tour company if I would like to lead a group. I said that would be a possibility in a couple of years but I had first to recover from this one.

Our three communities were in my prayers. I celebrated Mass for Parishioners of Our Lady of the Snows at Bethlehem in the Church of the Shepherds' Field. Mass for St. Patrick's Parishioners was celebrated at Bethany, the Church of St. Lazarus. The Mass for St. Andrew Parishioners was celebrated at Mount Tabor (Mountain of the Transfiguration) in Galilee.

October 27, 2006

Father Jerry has been away on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Watch for his message next week.

October 20, 2006

Father Jerry is away on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He will return on October 27th.

October 13, 2006

Message from Father Jerry: In 1988, I had the opportunity to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. However, because of circumstances, the plans fell through and I thought "There will be other chances to go." Some 18 years later the opportunity presented itself. Father John Torrance (South Shore, Montreal) will be leading a tour to Israel from October 14-26. Along with 10 other pilgrims we will be "on the footsteps of Jesus". A pilgrimage is not primarily a vacation. It is an experience begun in prayer, sustained by our common prayer and the Eucharist; the goal being - expectation of receiving grace from the Lord. Part of the experience of pilgrimage is that the one undertaking this journey is making himself/herself a true journeyer. One who undertakes this journey, despite planning, is open to the unexpected, some inconveniences, meeting and experiencing people and places that are very different. Pilgrimage is not unlike life itself. Pilgrimages are deep in the centuries old tradition of the church of traveling to revered and holy places. The Holy Land occupies a special place among pilgrimages; tracing our roots back to Christ and even to the patriarchs of the Old Testament. One of the interests I would have, through conversations I have had with visitors to Israel, is the expectation of the Scriptures coming alive through the visits to the holy sites. This is one hope I have. Another hope would be to have some special prayers answered as I bring them to the Lord's land. But then again, what experiences God grants the pilgrims is open-ended. The best we can do is to prepare and be open to the grace of God. Certainly, my prayers, Masses, journeying, will be undertaken with our three communities in mind.

Visiting Priests: Father Peter Routhier will be celebrating the weekend Masses October 14 and 15. I thank him for his generous help.

Father Phil Ley will be celebrating Masses on October 21 and 22. It is very appropriate that on this World Mission Sunday we will welcome a visitor witnessing to Mission work, through Cross International. (In this regard, there will be no collection for World Mission Sunday on the 21st - 22nd. That collection will be taken on November 11, 12.)

Rosary/Communion Services: In Father Jerome's absence, on the week days that we would usually have the Eucharist, we will have the praying of the Rosary and Communion Services. It is important that we continue to pray together, especially in this month of the Rosary and for respecting life. All are welcome to this very traditional, simple prayer to our Lady and receiving the Holy Communion of her Son.

October 6, 2006

October is the month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary (Our Lady of the Rosary, October 7th) and the month also where the Catholic community raises awareness to Respect Life. It is no accident that Mary, the Mother of Christ, becomes our intercessor in the cause of supporting life in all of its stages. Mary, the mother of Life itself - Christ - the eternal Word-made-Flesh, to whom we pray as "poor banished children of Eve "is a great source of hope in times of need and trial.

On Sunday, October 8th our regular Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament will take place at St. Patrick Church. After the 11 AM Mass, and to begin Adoration, we will pray the Rosary for Life. There will be quiet prayer before the Blessed Sacrament until 5 PM concluding with Solemn Benediction. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is available from 4 - 5 PM. Join us in whatever way you can in any part of this afternoon of Adoration/Prayer.

In relation to this month of the Rosary, the image of Our Lady of Lourdes, is making a tour in many of our Catholic churches. The image will be at St. Andrew Church on November 4 and 5, for our reverence and prayer.

September 22, 2006

With the arrival of autumn a couple of days ago, we are reminded of time passing and we question "Where did summer go?" St. Augustine is attributed with the saying "Time doesn't take time off." One need not be an Einstein to know that an hour will always be an hour, a minute will always be a minute, but time is really relative. To the very young time moves so slowly, to the youthful time will last forever, and to the old, time moves too quickly. Then there are the emotional states we go through; joy, anticipation, fear, sickness, well-being, etc. that affect how we experience time. The change of the seasons is an appropriate "time" to consider our spiritual life, re-evaluate our priorities, consider perhaps the need for Reconciliation, more quiet time, better health practices, etc. Although "time never takes time off" and the seasons will change, time does not automatically promote progress, we do not necessarily gain wisdom with age, nor does the passage of time assure success towards our goals. The Lord does give us will and exercise of choice to make decisions to progress in wisdom and grace.

"Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart. . . May the favor God be ours. Prosper the work of our hands." (Ps 90)

September 15, 2006

Every year the priests of the diocese gather together for 3 days of discussion, prayer, conferences, fraternity with our bishop. This year's priest assembly was held September 5 - 7 with Bishop John Nienstedt of the Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota giving the conference. Along with the conferences given on particular issues of importance such as pastoral planning, vocations, charter for protection of children, etc., our own bishop gives an address ("state of the church" as it were). Bishop Matano in his address said something to the effect that he was committed to the diocese. He did not seek peace or happiness, but if they came it would be a blessing from God. But above all, he mentioned that he is committed whole-heartedly to the faithful and his priests. Perhaps in our modern world we may expect too much from life. Perhaps we seek fulfillment, happiness, peace in this life, which can only be experienced with God. Not to be morose, but to put things in perspective, commitment, faith and perseverance need to be practiced in our religion. It is a sign of maturity where commitment to the truth of Jesus Christ, seeks the future welfare of others rather than the immediate feeling of contentment or personal fulfillment. In these trying circumstances of our church, we might do well to progress in commitment, perseverance and steadfastness to Christ and to his church, which in fact many of the faithful are doing.

September 8, 2006

With the passing of summer and the beginning of September, the pastoral season really begins for the parish community. School begins and so life resumes for all of us; school staff, parents, pastors and parishioners. A very important part of our faith community resumes; the religious education program (CCD). And with our religious education program, all related activities/sacraments come to life. Many thanks to our CCD teachers, coordinators, for time given and energies spent to bring to life religious education in our children. Appreciation of the Church is extended to parents for keeping your promise of "teaching your children in the ways of faith (Ritual of Baptism),"by providing for their religious training in our program.

September 1, 2006

Last week I mentioned that the Eucharist is both a meal and sacrifice. The meal focuses on the communal nature of Eucharist. Christ's last supper was celebrated with his friends/disciples. And so the Eucharist today is celebrated as a communal meal (Church) receiving Jesus' own Body and Blood. The Eucharist is also the Sacrifice. Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is that memorial of His giving His Body and Blood on the cross for the forgiveness of sin. The Bishop's Pastoral Letter on the Most Holy Eucharist is centered on the theme of the Mass as sacrifice. He wishes that we all join together "to assure that reverence due to Christ present in the Sacrament be manifested clearly in our churches". Since the belief in the Eucharistic presence of Christ is ultimately serious, given for our salvation, we must approach the Holy Eucharist properly disposed. Bishop Matano stresses to all the faithful the teaching of the church concerning the Sacrament of penance. To receive the Lord in the Eucharist, one must have received the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance). And everyone who receives the Lord at Mass must be willing to examine his/her conscience and progress in virtue and conquer sin. ("The examination of conscience before the worthy reception of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist is a serious obligation for all Catholics." [CCC#1454]) This would be a good place to remember that Catholics are required to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a year, and whenever serious sin is committed, before receiving the Eucharist. While it is admirable that so many who come to the Mass also receive Jesus, the practice of confession to a priest is a wonderful sign of faith, and a sacrament that brings peace and celebrates God's love and mercy.

August 25, 2006

Our Bishop, Salvatore Matano, wrote a pastoral letter to all the faithful entitled "Gift of Life, Gift Eternal: The Most Holy Eucharist and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass". His hope is that his words might be an occasion for a "renewed love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament".

The Bishop stresses several themes concerning the Eucharist: the grave obligation of Catholics to attend Sunday mass weekly, the Church's recent renewal of the liturgical norms in the Mass, strengthening of belief in the "real presence" of Christ in the sacrament.

The Bishop's major emphasis is placed on the need to restore, recapture the "transcendent and awesome" nature of the Most Holy Eucharist. So, while the Eucharist/Mass is a meal of the community celebrating our reconciliation/friend- ship with the Lord and one another, it is also a sacrifice. The meal that is the Eucharist makes present the sacrifice of Jesus giving his body and blood on the cross.

The Church has always stressed the two-fold nature of the Eucharist; meal and sacrifice. When the "meal" aspect is stressed, the more informal nature, celebration, community focus of the Mass prevails. When the "sacrifice" predominates the more transcendent, formal, God-centered (horizontal) dimension of the Mass prevails. The Bishop stresses the more horizontal "sacrifice" dimension of the Eucharist in restoring church attendance and renewal of the Eucharist.

At our three communities, I have witnessed a good balance in the celebration of the Eucharist. There is a balance of traditional hymns with the new, communal spirit with reverence to Christ's presence in the Eucharist, observance of the norms but not overly rigid either, community friendly but reverential to the Lord, good participation by the faithful but with quiet places for prayer and silence.

I will continue my reflection on the Bishop's letter in future bulletins.

In his letter the Bishop has re-instituted the common practice in most dioceses of the United States (which was not uniform in our diocese). The congregation will now kneel at "This is the Lamb of God" (immediately after singing "Lamb of God").

August 21, 2006

No message this week.

August 11, 2006

The reading from Ephesians pleads "be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ."(Ep 4:32). On the internet, search engines will reveal 13 million sites on "Forgiveness". Obviously, "forgiveness" is important, sought after, and needed. However, it is most needed for "others" and not necessarily for "me".

What is forgiveness? Rev. Martin Luther King said something to the effect that forgiveness is not letting past offenses be a barrier to reconciliation. Here, there is not mention of sentimentality, love, or "nice warm" feeling. It is a matter of decision that makes peace and justice possible. Forgiveness is needed in our world, personally and globally. In the Middle East, the "cradle of civilization" is on pace to be the "death-bed" of humanity because past hatred and offenses are held onto as impregnable barriers among peoples/nations.

Hatred/unforgiveness is past oriented (backward looking) and forgiveness is future-seeing. St. Paul makes the case that each one of us needs to forgive because we each have been forgiven in Christ's suffering and death.

July 28, 2006

A recent communication from the Holy Father requested the pastor and faithful of the Church to pray for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon.

So, I ask all of us to include in our private and communal prayers, prayers for peace not only in Lebanon/Israel but in all of the Middle East.

In our wounded human nature and with our feeble attempts to effect peace and justice, we may resign ourselves to war and conflict as inevitable; "the way the world works". However, it is not what the Lord wishes for mankind. Let us be committed to pray for Peace in our community, in our personal prayers, as a constant sign of our faith, hope and love.

"In the midst of conflict and division, we know it is you [Lord] who turn our minds to thoughts of peace." Preface; Reconciliation II

July 14, 2006

On this feast of St. Benedict (July 11), I recall Fr. Hensall, a Benedictine monk who directed a retreat entitled "Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark". I attended this retreat along with 11 other priests (an odd number. .?) from May 22-26. The gospel was never a favorite. My interest was to make a pleasant retreat at a pleasant site (Enders Island, Connecticut). There was little prospect of learning anything new or in being inspired by Mark's gospel. However, through the reading of the gospel along with Fr. Hensall's direction, I was surprised by a new appreciation for this least read and appreciated of the four gospels.

The reason I mention this firstly, is that this is the year (Year B) where Mark's gospel is read at Sunday Mass. Secondly, we probably come to appreciate that which we take the time to learn (I hope this is true about computers). So it is with Scriptures and the Lord too! Any little study or learning we can do can bring us to a greater appreciation and love. Even such a simple action as reading the Sunday readings before Mass time can be a great help in knowing Scripture and the Lord. What do I do to learn more about the faith or Christ? What do I read, listen to, watch?

July 7, 2006

The World Cup of Soccer is near completion. While I have little interest in soccer (too little scoring, too many players, too big a playing field, too much running), I admit that soccer (or football) is the one and only international sport. What makes the World Cup so interesting is the patriotism displayed by the teams, not unlike the Olympics. Teams play more than a game. They sing their anthems and play for their countries.

While we have just celebrated our Independence Day, our day "par excellence" of patriotism; this year with the attention of the World Cup, we recognize that patriotism and national pride is a universal experience. People of all nations love their country and know it to be great.

Using the example of sports, we play our part as members of the Church - the living Body of Christ on earth. We are not living our lives as individuals in our local churches. We are "playing" our roles in something bigger than ourselves. We are not only representing the Love of Christ, we are His Body. Christ will be judged, and the Church as well, by the members that we are. For good or bad we affect the Body of Christ. We are playing, praying, living for more than just ourselves!

June 30, 2006

Many thanks to the parishioners of St. Andrew, St. Patrick and Our Lady of the Snows for your warm and friendly welcoming of me this past weekend (June 24, 25). I enjoyed the Masses (although a little nervous), the singing, and music, the participation, the numbers of people and the young. I was overjoyed to have made it at the Masses at the right time and at the correct churches (I am used to celebrating four Masses on the weekend for three communities but all three were right off Route 100 and easy to find).

God Bless you for your kindness. May the Lord bless us in our common gifts of Baptism, Faith, Hope and Love, to greater extend His kingdom of Unity, Peace and Joy!

The Roman Catholic Community of Waterbury, Waitsfield and Moretown Vermont HOME BULLETIN