Jesus said “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). Many of you over this Christmas season followed suit. Our parish is very fortunate to have dedicated people willing to give of themselves for the sake of others. I want to thank all those who helped make this Christmas season a wonderful celebration of who we are at Sacred Heart Parish.
This Christmas, we commemorated the 800-year anniversary of St. Francis of Assisi’s rule and first crèche by handing out 800 nativity ornaments at various outreach events and through telling the story of Francis’ Christmastime tradition as part of the Children’s Program on Christmas Eve. The program is something parishioners and visitors alike enjoy watching, and all of the children did such a great job. Laureen Young directed the program, and the friars and I thank her for helping make this possible again this year.
With Christmas falling on a Monday, it meant celebrating 13 Masses in less than 48 hours. This feat was only possible through the many willing to help when and where it was needed. Each Mass and event turned out wonderfully and I would like to thank our Environmental Committee, altar servers, Eucharistic Ministers, readers, and ushers, many of whom assisted across multiple Masses. Also assisting were our Gift Store volunteers, collection counters, the docents of our Historical Society, the volunteers who clean the altar linens, and our staff, who were always willing to jump in and help.
Both on Christmas Eve and Christmas, I was approached by several of our local homeless who wanted to donate to the church. An older gentleman came to me saying he had received a generous gift, and wanted to give a portion to the church. I insisted that he needed to keep it, but he was adamant he wanted to give to Sacred Heart because of the good we do. A young woman on Christmas Day insisted on a donation to our church because she heard the church is in need of some expensive repairs and wanted to help. Throughout the weekend you could witness many of the homeless sharing among themselves. It is a reminder that they are also our parishioners and part of our community.
Over these next two months our parochial campaign as part of the 2024 Catholic Ministry Appeal (CMA) will be rolled out. The response in 2023 was incredible, as parishioner participation grew by more than 10% year over year, increasing from 13% in 2022, to more than 23%. This increase in participation lead us to collecting more than double the amount we had collected from the previous year, amounting to 88% of our goal. Our targets for 2024 remain focused on increasing our participation rate while reaching our goal. My mother always said many hands make light work. The friars have already been discussing our gift to the CMA and we plan on giving at the start of the appeal.
This weekend we celebrate the Epiphany. As the Magi journeyed to find the Christ Child, it reminds us of our own journey of faith. Our journey never ends, but leads us closer to God. The journey is never the same and we travel on different paths to find God. Some paths are easy to travel while others are fraught with hardship, however the end is the same: God’s love. Pope Francis is asking that 2024 be a year of prayer before the Jubilee year in 2025. May our prayers this year help us to find the right path that will lead us closer to God.
Peace and All Good,