Category Archives: Covid19

Thankful For Where We Are | Friar Reflections | The First Sunday of Advent

Dear Parishioners,

As I sit here in my office reflecting on the end of our liturgical year, the beginning of Advent, and our Thanksgiving celebration, I can’t help but think of gratefulness for where we are today, despite the challenges we have all collectively faced over recent months, and arguably, these last few years. That thought of gratefulness really jumps out when considering our experiences with two hurricanes affecting our area in the last two months, and even more so when you consider the difficulties we all endured during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s hard to believe that more than two years ago, life as we were accustomed to came to a screeching halt. All the things we ordinarily may say we take for granted, like our freedom to move, to travel, to dine-out, visit family or even to visit loved ones in healthcare facilities, it all stopped. I worry about forgetting what happened, the many souls that were lost to COVID, our health care system on the brink of collapse, the shortage of basic household goods, and so much more. I work to remember the isolation that many of us felt, day after day hoping and praying for a cure, or some remedy to aid our struggle. Eventually, we’ve seen some relief and continue to recover. I feel these hardships have had a sincere impact on us all, opening us up to be grateful for life’s simplest and most important necessities.

Our region counted its blessings after being spared the worst of Hurricane Ian, when its path took the storm away from a direct impact on Tampa Bay. Hearing and seeing the devastation of those affected to our south brought an immediate reality to what could have happened to us. I am grateful, not for us all being spared, but for the opportunity our region has had coming together to aid our neighbors. I am excited for our next opportunity to exemplify that gratefulness and togetherness, at next month’s Giving from the Heart drive, where we will support parishes in the Diocese of Venice that are actively aiding in the recovery efforts.

With our country divided on so many fronts, nations in strife and turmoil, and with greater numbers of Americans and people across the globe falling into poverty and despair, we must remember our connections, and remember to be grateful. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect upon all of God’s blessings in our lives. If we get caught up looking at the all the strife, turmoil, division, and despair, we will slowly lose hope. I am in constant admiration of the people of God who continually give of themselves while surrounded by trying or difficult circumstances.

Whether monetarily, or through their time and talents, aiding those hit by natural disasters, like the hurricanes we recently experienced, assisting in shelters and feeding the homeless. This gives me hope that no matter what any of us are experiencing in life, somehow, we find ways to pull ourselves back together. It is my hope and prayer that as Christians we do not lose our focus on Christ, but that we continue to give thanks from where He’s brought us. That’s reason enough to be thankful.

May we always be grateful to God for all our blessings, great and small. When we start grumbling and complaining about our circumstances, let’s remember to be thankful for those around us: our mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers.

Peace and All Good,
Friar Henry

Being a Parish

The weekly bulletin and this column are a good thing. I enjoy writing; I enjoy the process of thinking about what I want to write, starting to write, and then sometimes watching the column take on a new direction of thought. Now and again by inspiration or necessity, I might write a whole month of columns or more at a go. Late in the month of February, I had produced pastor columns for the first weekend in March (First Sunday in Lent) all the way through and including Easter Sunday. Check that off the “to-do list.” Then life changed as the world declared a pandemic, the churches closed, and the world found out it was a lot safer to be at home. Some columns did not need to be redone: Unmasking (March 15) and the two columns on “Habits of the Heart” (March 22 and 29). When I made the decision to stay with them and not rewrite them in the light of these pandemic days, I thought that they were still appropriate to the moment at hand. In looking at the columns again this morning, it was a good decision. Continue reading Being a Parish

Being Community & Ministry in the Time of a Pandemic

It is so wonderful to see our ministries working to continue to be prayerful and be there for each other during this time of being Safer At Home. See how some of our ministries are coming together and staying connected.

Our Rosary Devotional Group is a group of parishioners who enjoy opening themselves up to God by praying the Rosary. Each month, they meditate on one of the mysteries – Joyful, Sorrowful, Luminous, or Glorious, and members have the opportunity to make prayer requests on behalf of those in need. Last Saturday was their usual meeting date and they did not allow the Safer At Home rules to keep them from meeting. They all met on Zoom and those who didn’t have a computer, called in.

Our Knights of Columbus participate in many projects within our community and within our parish. Their latest project was to assist in collecting food for Hillsborough Hope. Last week, we shared with our parishioners how we are working with Catholic Charities to help feed those residing at Hillsborough Hope, a small city of tents for some of the homeless in our community. We asked for your help and as always, you went above and beyond our expectations in helping those less fortunate. You donated enough food for many weeks. Every Sunday, we will bring 110 bagged breakfasts for those living at Hillsborough Hope. This past Sunday our Knights of Columbus handled the collection and distribution to Hillsborough Hope but some of our other ministries will also be assisting in future weeks. For more information about Hillsborough Hope and some great photos, go here.

Our Open Doors ministry welcomes LGBTQ people of faith to explore their spirituality and share their experience, strength, and hope with one another. In addition to service projects, they gather once a month for prayer and reflection. Next Monday, April 13th, they will be having a virtual “zoom” meeting. Email for  information on how to join the meeting.