Giving for God's Greater Glory Stewardship Program - Homily
Dear brothers and sisters,
Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans encourages and instructs them from his own understanding about his Christian life as a disciple of the Lord with these words:
None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.
For if we live, we live for the Lord,
and if we die, we die for the Lord;
so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
For this is why Christ died and came to life,
that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living."
These are words that are very appropriate for this time that we are living under the dark shadow and uncertainty that of the Covid19 Pandemic has created for us. At the beginning of February when we began to feel a certain chaos, when apparently, we were losing control of our lives, the sudden change of routine activities, the forced and sudden suspension of religious and sacramental life, together with the different and confusing news in the media. In short, all of this has made us reflect on life and death. Questions like: Why do I live for? What makes me happy? I don't want to lose a loved one! How much I miss my schoolmates and sports? Perhaps at this time we would have wanted to be indifferent or absent from what was happening in the world, but no one could ignore that something is happening and that it would touch all of us. Then, I remembered many times today's Psalm: ¨The Lord is compassionate and merciful." So I prayed: Lord have mercy on all who are facing this time alone, without family, without homes. Let them come back to you because if we live, we live for you.
The weeks continued to pass and both in the office and through the prayer chain group many of you asked us to pray for family and friends affected not only by the Covid19 virus but also by other types of diseases or problems or finding a job. Parish employees and teachers at our school had to multiple meetings each week to plan and respond to the challenges of safety and security by the different guidelines presented to us every two weeks in order to provide good care of parishioners, as well as, to create distant learning classes for students. The various coordinators of ministries and social assistance programs called us and continue to call us to find out what can be done and what cannot be done. Others called or sent us emails expressing their frustrations, their opinions and also giving us words of encouragement for all that we were doing and for the ways in which we sought to continue offering them the sacraments, social assistance, and letting you gather in open spaces for prayer and Bible study.
Everything that I just mentioned describes not only challenges and concerns, but they are concrete signs of a parish full of life, and not just any life, but life in the Lord. With him we will live and with him we will die! This time of Covid19 has made us understand that. We cannot have life without the Lord, and we do not want to die without Him. - I am so proud to be the pastor here at St Catherine!
Some people may have thought that this pandemic will take us apart from God and worship. They were and are wrong. St Catherine was never closed. Yes, it is true that for a month we were not able to offer public Masses and other sacraments, but as soon as our Bishop Zarama gave us guidelines, we applied them in our parish. It required from the parish staff and faculty more work and a lot of extra meetings just to plan accordingly. But they were willing to offer more and more to satisfy the spiritual hunger of our parishioners and those in need. I am very proud of them and all those who constantly volunteer to help out. Knights of Columbus, St Camillus Ministry, Ushers, St Joseph Ministry, Legion of Mary, Adorers always calling and offering their hands. Even, the volunteers who clean the altar and the sacred linens never stopped. I say it again: I am very proud to be the pastor here at St Catherine and I am very happy to have the support of my brother priest Fr. Miller.
But I know I am not the only one happy here. In many ways all of you have had joyful occasions here at church during this time of pandemic. Let me mention some of them: having the opportunity to celebrate outdoor Masses, and we did them as reverently as we possibly could. Re-opening the Perpetual Adoration Chapel for committed adorers. Just between us, they feel very spoiled to have the Lord just for themselves for one hour; well, enjoy for now! Fr. Miller and I were still listening to confessions every Wednesday and Saturdays, first outside and now at the confessionary. Also, having four weekend Masses open to parishioners and catholic neighbors. Let me give you some more reasons to be joyful during this time: We were able to celebrate our Kinder Garden graduation in person on campus and celebrate the 8th grade graduation Mass and ceremony. I recall two grandparents who drove 8 hours as soon as they knew we were having a graduation Mass in person because they wanted to be there for a real thing, they said. Also, we were able to celebrate the First Communion for 81 children and 117 Confirmations, and baptisms and weddings. On top of that, we were able to celebrate here STMA High School Graduation-Prayer service. All of this during this most difficult time. When I sent flocknote emails asking for more donations for the Wake Forest Senior Center, CPO and other food drives, many of you responded quickly and generously. Thank you! I am happy that through the livestream Masses, we have been spirituality united with those at high risk, an average of 275 households connected in livestreaming every Sunday, and I tell those whore watching now that are our joy will be complete when you will be able to be here in person. Giving Last rights and anointing to parishioners has not been easy for Fr. Dave and I, but we do so with joy, as those parishioners who are suffering want to live in Christ and receive His mercy.
Perhaps, in the visionary thought of our former pastor Fr. Phil Tighe and all of you who were part of building this beautiful and big church 7 years ago, was the thinking that one day a difficult time like this may come, and we needed a house big enough that will not interfere with people's worship to God. And here we are, even though, with all the social distancing required, we are able to celebrate Mass with 476 people at a time and continue offering the sacraments and celebrate events that mark the journey of our faith and our human and spiritual progress. Thanks Fr. Tighe, and may you rest in peace.
The joys and reasons to celebrate are still at hand, but also, the economic challenges are still present. That is why, this week, we are launching for the first time, our fall stewardship program, entitled Giving for God's Greater Glory. Through Giving for God's Greater Glory, the parish is inviting each parish household to continue, and to increase, its financial support to St Catherine of Siena. Through Giving for God's Grater Glory, each parish household will have the opportunity to make a joyful, generous gift so that the parish may continue, and increase our commitment to offer the world to Christ and Christ to the world. As you know, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and sound system cost never decrease. So, I want to thank to all those who continue giving through the we share online program and to those who are mailing the contributions.
This week every registered parish household will receive in the mail a special Giving for God's Greater Glory brochure along with a Commitment Card so that you can commit to your financial support of the important ministries here at St Catherine of Siena. Next weekend will be our commitment Sunday, when we will hear from a parishioner witnessing to how our parish is making a difference. Your financial sacrifice does so much good - we care for those in need, we share the faith, we celebrate Mass and the Sacraments together in our spiritual home.
Your participation on Commitment Sunday next weekend is so vital to our success of our parish mission!
Once again, I thank you for all you have done during these difficult times to remain faithful to St Catherine of Siena and I look forward to your enthusiastic respond on Commitment Sunday!
I ask you to keep praying for a great year in our parochial school that joyfully re-opened three weeks ago with 186 students for in person classes and is going smoothly. Also, please continue praying for our parish life, and lastly, let us offer a special prayer for our former and beloved pastor Fr. Phil Tighe, as he gave us witness of how to live and die in Christ.
Hail Mary, full... Eternal rest grant on to him O lord. Let per... Amen.
Fr. Bill John
on Tuesday, September 15 at 11:12AM