Category Archives: Friar Reflections

A regular reflection from one of our Franciscan Friars on the day’s readings, the happenings around the parish, or discussing parochial outreach initiatives.

From the Desk of the Pastor | June 2023

Dear Parishioners,

As we enter the summer months, and reenter Ordinary Time, you would think the friars and staff would be collectively exhaling, following back-to-back liturgical seasons, the parish gala, and many recent outreach initiatives. While that may be true, and I do hope many of us, yourselves included, find some peace following a busy period in our year, we are also presented the opportunity to address planning, staffing, and long-range projects during this time, and I wish to update you on a few of these fronts.

I’ll start by mentioning that Angela Erb, our parish event coordinator, announced last month that she would be stepping down from her position in order to pursue other career opportunities. Angela has been a parishioner of Sacred Heart since childhood, and assures us that she “isn’t going anywhere,” offering to assist not only with the transition of the role, but also as a volunteer for events and more in the coming years. While there is no immediate timetable for this transition, we have begun a search for the position, with the new Event, Hospitality & Outreach Manager responsible for implementing, organizing, or assisting with the various experiences, meetings, outreach, and events conducted at Sacred Heart. This role will become a full-time position. We thank Angela for all of her hard work and dedication to the parish. The Fall Festival and Gala are just two of the very successful events that Angela organized.

A few weeks ago, the parish advisory board met to continue providing valuable input into the vision and mission of our parish, while also reviewing the results from the recent parish survey. The advisory board works alongside the finance, maintenance, and outreach committees to provide leadership for our parish. The board is comprised of eleven parishioners, including the chairs of the aforementioned committees, and the friars. Each of the current board members are parishioners who all who serve in one or more ministries. The board will meet again in June to establish a clear set of short and long-range plans for the parish following the recent years of transition. One of those goals will be with the North Campus, and how we can best reorganize previously arranged plans for development.

While the doors at the southern front entrance have been restored, work is still to be completed.

Our maintenance committee has also been busy with various projects. While I wish I had better news, we are still waiting for the restoration company to finish with the punch list for the first set of doors at the southern front entrance. It has also been difficult to find a company that will assist us in resetting the stained glass above that entrance. The maintenance committee is garnering additional quotes regarding the restoration of the remaining sets of doors. You can see especially the Twiggs St. (handicap) and central sets of doors are in desperate need of repairs. The first set of doors have ended up costing twice as much as originally anticipated. Additional upcoming maintenance will include a cleaning of the church exterior, and addressing several minor leaks. We will also be adding additional closet space in the sacristy.

The maintenance committee has been looking at other long-term projects at the North Campus as well. We are moving forward with a replacement of the roof on the main school building. A contractor has already been procured, with agreements now being finalized. After receiving several estimates regarding the renovation to the kitchen, the committee has established a sub-committee to work specifically on this endeavor.

New volunteer opportunities are also being developed this summer, through our Loving Heart’s Ministry and their Adopt-A-School program. The ministry is looking to provide mentors and tutors to students at St. Joseph School in West Tampa and St. Peter Claver School here in Downtown. It would require a background check, safe environment training, and a few hours of your time each week, but that pales to the impact your time can have on these student’s lives. If you would like to learn more about this opportunity please contact Loving Hearts via the information in their advertisement in this week’s bulletin.

Fr. Mike accompanied the new Bikes from the Heart ministry in delivering bikes to Tampa Hope on May 24.

Also on the ministry front, there is a new ministry in development, committed to repairing and restoring used bicycles so that they may be given to those in need. The new Bikes from the Heart ministry debuted at our Homeless Outreach event last month, assisting several clients with on-site repairs, and developing a list of those applying to be given the refurbished bicycles. Last week, I was able to accompany the ministry as they made their first delivery of eight bicycles to the Tampa Hope homeless shelter. We know transportation might mean the difference between landing a job or not being able to work. If you have an old or disused bike, or additional parts that are sitting around, please get in touch with our new ministry, as Bikes from the Heart will certainly put them to good use. You can learn more about Bikes from the Heart here.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Mike

Knowledge of The Gifts | Pentecost Sunday | Friar Reflections

Dear Parishioners,

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit, bestowed upon us at Pentecost, are interconnected and interdependent, working together to empower and transform us as disciples of Christ. Each gift serves a unique purpose, yet they harmoniously blend to form a symphony of divine grace within us. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. While some Christians accept these as a definitive list of specific attributes, others understand them merely as examples of the Holy Spirit’s work through the faithful. It’s easy to contend that one gift cannot exist without the other. Piety could be considered a result of understanding and fear of the Lord, also referred to as “wonder and awe.” Knowledge can be seen as the gateway to wisdom and understanding.

If knowledge truly is a gateway to the other gifts, then I wonder just how much knowledge we all have for the events of Pentecost. What happened to the disciples the day the noise came from the sky and “filled the entire house in which they were?” Our first reading (Acts 2:1-11), and the rest of chapter two from Acts of the Apostles provides us the facts of Pentecost, so here are a few trivia questions for you, to test your gift of knowledge:

In the Book of Acts, how many days after he ascended into Heaven did the disciples celebrate Pentecost?

a. Ten
b. One
c. Five
d. Three

When everyone was gathered in a room celebrating the feast, what sound did they hear, as described in Acts?

a. Fire Crackling
b. Children Laughing
c. Water Gurgling
d. Rushing Wind

What is the description of what happened to the disciples when the Holy Spirit entered them?

a. Fell Into a Deep Sleep
b. Spoke Different Languages
c. They Ate Lamb
d. They Began to Cry

What did Peter say would happen to those that call upon the Lord?

a. They Will Be Saved
b. They Will Dream Dreams
c. They Will See Jesus
d. The Lord Will Remember Them

Which of Jesus’ disciples stood up and spoke to the crowds?

a. James
b. Peter
c. Matthew
d. Thomas

Who was Peter describing as sitting at the right hand of God?

a. David
b. Moses
c. Solomon
d. Jesus

While speaking, what does Peter say would happen to the old men in the city?

a. Dream
b. Pour Out their Spirit
c. Prophecy
d. See Visions

What liturgical celebration or holiday does the Solemnity of Pentecost follow?

a. Easter
b. New Year’s
c. Christmas
d. Memorial Day

In what city did the first Pentecost celebration described in Acts take place?

a. Bethlehem
b. Nazareth
c. Jerusalem
d. Canaan

In Acts 2, what did God tell David would happen to his enemies?

a. David Would Kill Them
b. They Would Become his Friends
c. His Enemies Would Burn
d. They Would Be his Footstools

As we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, let us open our hearts to receive these gifts anew, allowing them to guide our thoughts, words, and actions. May we humbly embrace the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord, and may these gifts propel us towards holiness and an ever-deepening relationship with God.

Dear Heavenly Father, on this day over 2000 years ago, you inaugurated the Church by having the Holy Spirit indwell in your believers. We rejoice that you have allowed us, men and women, Jew, and Gentile, to experience new life. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit, our comforter, our guide, and so many other things. And may we continue to celebrate this day until you return. Amen.

Peace and All Good,
Friar Henry

Answers: 1)Ten 2)Rushing Wind 3)They Spoke Different Languages 4)They Would Be Saved 5)Peter 6)Jesus 7)Dream 8)Easter 9)Jerusalem 10)Footstools

We Too Shall Be | Friar Reflections | The Solemnity of the Ascension

Dear Parishioners,

Saints of God, the Lord be with you!

Growing up I remember this great feast, or better referred to as the Solemnity of the Ascension, was celebrated on a Thursday, and to be honest, some dioceses still keep to that day of the week.  However, it makes sense to me to celebrate the Ascension of the Lord on a Sunday, since this is another way to describe the mystery of Easter.

On Easter Sunday, the church focuses on Jesus’ victory over death through bodily rising, albeit the body is now not merely physical, but somehow more. In theological parlance it is a glorified body, able to pass through doors and a bit unrecognizable to Jesus’ disciples. In the Creed, Jesus, “was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell (sheol, the place of the dead) on the third day he rose again from the dead.”

Today, the church focuses on the fact that this glorified body that rose from the grave is now one with God. As we recite in the Creed, “He ascended into heaven, as is seated at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”

Think about this: where Jesus is, we too shall be!

Jesus, in the Gospel according to John states, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God, have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” Not only is there a place for us, but our bodies that will one day lie in death will also be raised and glorified. As the theologian N.T. Wright says, “there is life after life after death.”

Today’s solemnity is one of joyful hope. It gives us a glimpse of our destiny if we live, here on this earth, the faith we profess that Jesus is indeed “The Way, The Truth, and The Life.”

Easter is such a mysterious mystery that the solemnity of the Ascension is not the final word. There is at least one more feast to celebrate and describe the Easter event. If you know what it is, let me know. I’ll be at the door of the church.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Steve

The Joy of First Communion | Friar Reflections | The Fifth Sunday of Easter

Dear Parishioners,

This weekend, 30 of our parish youth are receiving their First Communion, with one other coming to the Table of the Lord later this month. It is a time of great joy for these children, their families, and for our parish. These children have been preparing for this moment for nearly two years. The Friars and I were able to join these youth during their final preparation, a retreat centered on their upcoming sacrament, which took place at the North Campus last weekend. There was a feeling of excitement and enthusiasm that was palpable. We must thank our Faith Formation Staff and Catechists for creating that atmosphere, because it is meant to be an exciting time in the faith journeys of these children.

Four years ago this weekend, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at Sacred Heart Church….in Rakovski, Bulgaria. Rakovski is a predominantly Catholic community in Southern Bulgaria, where their Sacred Heart, which is tied to a nunnery of Franciscan Sisters, is one of the largest churches in the Balkans. While he was there, Pope Francis celebrated the sacrament of First Communion for more than 250 children from around the country. I would like to share with you Pope Francis’s homily to the children from that occasion, as it provides a brilliant summary of the experience:

“Dear boys and girls, you have come here from every corner of this “Land of Roses” to take part in a wonderful celebration. I am sure you will never forget this day: your first encounter with Jesus in the sacrament of the Eucharist. One of you might ask me: How can we meet Jesus? He lived a long time ago, but then he died and was laid in the tomb! It is true: Jesus carried out an immense act of love to save human beings of all times. He remained in the tomb for three days, but we know – the Apostles and many other witnesses who saw him alive have assured us – that God, his Father and ours, raised him up. Now Jesus is alive and is here with us. That is why we can encounter him today in the Eucharist. We do not see him with our physical eyes, but we do see him with the eyes of faith.

I am looking at you, dressed in your white robes. What a meaningful and beautiful sign. You are dressed for a celebration! First Communion is, above all, a celebration. We celebrate Jesus, who wants to remain always by our side. He will always be with us. This celebration was made possible also thanks to our parents and grandparents, our families and our communities, who have helped us to grow in the faith.

You have travelled a long way to come here. Your priests and catechists, who have accompanied you in your preparation for this day, have also accompanied you on the road that today leads you to meet Jesus and to receive him in your hearts.

Today you have made it possible for us to relive that joy and to celebrate Jesus, present in the Bread of Life. Some miracles can only take place if we have a heart like yours: a heart capable of sharing, dreaming, feeling gratitude, trusting and respecting other people. Making your First Communion shows that you want to be closer to Jesus every day, to grow in friendship with him and to lead other people to share in the joy he wants us to feel. The Lord needs you because he wants to work the miracle of bringing his joy to many of your friends and family members.

Dear children, I am happy to share this great moment with you and help you meet Jesus. For you, this is a day to be celebrated in a spirit of friendship, joy, and fraternity. A day of communion among yourselves and with the whole Church, which, especially in the Eucharist, expresses the communion that makes all of us brothers and sisters. This is our identity card: God is our Father, Jesus is our brother, the Church is our family. All of us are brothers and sisters, and our law is love. I ask you always to pray with the same enthusiasm and joy that you feel today. Remember that this is the sacrament of your First Communion, not your last! Remember too, that Jesus is always there, waiting for you. I hope that today will be the beginning of many Communions, so that your hearts may always, like today, be festive, full of joy and, above all else, gratitude.”

Congratulations to all of our young children who are celebrating their first communion: Genevieve Allender, Autumn Arena, Maryn Buffa, Liam Cabrera, Louis Cabrera, Aaron Caire, Gabrielle Castano, Amelia Chaumont, Liam Cutro, Sam Ferrito, Noah Fundora, Lorenzo Gomez, Mia Hall, Sydney Hernandez, Taylor Hippleheuser, Nadia Joseph, Sean Lannan, Ellie Leuthauser, Maddox Matthews, Adalie Misdary, Ema Mittag, George Pasteur V, Francesca Pomarico, Reina Prince, Heidi Robyak, Ivan Rudic, Lara Rudic, Josephine Smith, Brian Stecker, Jade Swangnete, Patrick Thompson.

Peace and All Good,
– Fr. Mike

Advocating for His Flock | Staff Reflections | The Fourth Sunday of Easter

Dear Parishioners,

When I began reviewing the results of our recent parish survey, a common thread became apparent in the responses to the question of “If you were a member of Sacred Heart five, 10, or 15 years from now, what would you want the parish to be known for?”. When I say “became apparent,” I really mean something more like a cacophony of voices all exclaiming the same phrases as loudly as possible. It was a survey, after all. As I’m sure many of you could relate, if you’re given the chance to sound off anonymously regarding something you care about or are invested in, you do so emphatically. While many answers also created common threads, from ensuring a welcoming atmosphere, to our dedication to Catholic social teaching, our attentiveness to social justice issues, and the preservation and promotion of our church’s history, more than 40% of responses to this short answer question featured a desire for our parish to be synonymous with outreach to the homeless and vulnerable throughout our community.

Those near and far, veteran or new to our parish know that Sacred Heart has never been an example of ‘insular thinking,’ whether you take the literal or figurative representation of the concept. The parish does its best to be accepting and welcoming of all walks and situations, always aiding when it can. It’s an incredible sight to be met with such passion toward putting our faith into action as these responses suggest. It’s not even a suggestion, really. It is an active function of those who make up our church. James 2 has been a guiding light for my vocations, and it seems to be firmly in the mind of our parishioners.

We have an excellent opportunity in just a few weeks to put our faith into action and specifically assist the unhoused and vulnerable. On Wednesday, May 10, Sacred Heart will host its third Hillsborough Community Homeless Outreach event, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the North Campus. The event will connect those in need to social services and shelters like Tampa Hope, as well as address their more immediate necessities such as food, clothing, showers, and haircuts. We’ll need a fleet of volunteers to join the participating vendors in assisting our guests with these resources during the event. If you have not already considered volunteering from the ads in the bulletin or in the church, please take to heart this chance to embody what so many of you want our parish to be known for, and register your interest at

Our staff, clergy, and committees have a desire to host events like these more often, as they are a proven gateway to recovery for those who take part. In a recent article penned by 83Degrees Media, a guest from our January 2022 event recounted her own path to a new home from our outreach. Having been ruled medically unable to work in 2021, and later losing the apartment she shared with a loved one who passed on, the guest met with representatives from Catholic Charities and Tampa Hope at the North Campus, and was accepted to the shelter alongside 17 others that day. That guest had a permanent housing solution arise in December, and credits our event, as well as the staff, volunteers and resources at Tampa Hope with getting her back into a place of her own. You can read her story, and learn about Tampa Hope’s latest expansion at

While the upcoming event is in the middle of the week, and may limit some from volunteering, know that there are always opportunities to assist those in need through parish ministries like Hands of Hope and St. Vincent de Paul, and through our Giving From the Heart drives. Know, too, that we see your commitment and appreciate you for ‘loudly’ advocating for a parish community identified by its commitment to service.

Peace and All Good,
Rob Boelke

Our Walk to Emmaus | Friar Reflections | The Third Sunday of Easter

Dear Parishioners,

Once again, we have finished our Lenten observance of penance, and celebrated Palm Sunday and the Triduum, from the Last Supper to Jesus’ Death and Resurrection.

You may be asking yourself now that we are in the third week of the Easter Season, “what is next for me? Are we at an end, or a beginning?”

Asking yourself those questions would not be too dissimilar from how I’d imagine the pair of disciples at the center of this weekend’s Gospel were feeling as they left Jerusalem.

As we know, the disciples were on their way to Emmaus on the day of the Resurrection when they encountered an unnamed man who asked them about the happenings over the past few days. We know after their journey, the pair came to know it was Jesus who was walking with them.

The events of the Triduum lead me to my own Emmaus walk; to encounter Christ each day of my life, in my religious community, my faith community, and the least among us. It’s a way of beginning all over again, by examining all that has happened within my community of faith by seeing the Elect baptized, confirmed, and receive communion. The last few days have been exhausting, but also rejuvenating in my own faith and belief in a God who loves me and cares for all humanity.

As St. Francis would say, “I must begin again.” Begin again to listen and seek God’s will for myself, but also to listen and see the signs of God’s presence all around me. I should especially look to the Martha, or Mary, Lazarus, Peter, (Doubting) Thomas, or Judas I may encounter each day. I must begin again by bringing hope and life to those with whom I live and serve.

  • What effect has the Triduum made in your life?
  • Have you experienced the Pascual mystery in a new way?
  • Did it give you the strength to proclaim his Love, Mercy, and Healing to others?

Or were you left to your own feelings of despair, hopelessness, and sadness that you can’t feel God’s presence all round us? Remember the two who were walking on the road to Emmaus. Remember how they felt despair and hopelessness, but found in a stranger the words needed to uplift their spirits and give them new hope.

Peace and All Good,
Friar Henry

Showing Mercy | Friar Reflections | The Second Sunday of Easter

Dear Parishioners,

Saints of God, the Lord be with you!

There is a lot of mercy being shown in today’s Gospel according to John (20:19-31). Though locked in a room due to fear, Jesus mercifully appears to the disciples. Instead of scolding those who denied and abandoned Him, Jesus mercifully offers them Peace: the Shalom of God, which is Right Relationship. Instead of looking for others to carry on His message, Jesus mercifully chooses them. Instead of sending them forth unequipped, Jesus mercifully gifts them with the Holy Spirit.

What’s interesting to me is Thomas, who was not with the others during this appearance. I like to imagine that Thomas was out getting food for his friends. After all, Thomas was the one who earlier said, “Let us also go (with Jesus) so that we may die with him” (John 11:16). Rather than nick-naming him “Doubting Thomas”, I like to consider him “Courageous Thomas” who was not afraid to put his life on the line for the other disciples, nor was he afraid to express his doubts. “Unless I see the marks of the nails in His hands and put my fingers in the nail marks and put my finger into His side, I will not believe.” (also, see John 14:5).

I like to think that the condition for the possibility of  Jesus appearing again in the upper room to Thomas, was the mercy shown to him by the other disciples. Rather than chastising him, or excommunicating him, they continued to embrace him and support him in his doubt.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes find myself vacillating between faith and doubt. Sometimes I question my own vocation. Rather than being afraid of my doubt, I’ve come to see it as a call to deepen my prayer life, perhaps read a book of theology or study again the prayers of the Mass, all the while clinging to the faith community. Sometimes it’s the faith of the community, especially the community of my brothers with whom I live, that sees me through these times of doubt.

This Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday, in which we are called to pay forward to others the Mercy of God shown to us. Divine Mercy Sunday reminds us that every Sunday, and indeed every day of the week, should be a day in which mercy is received and given. The parish of Sacred Heart is a parish of mercy, not just today but every day. Let us continue to honor and glorify God by being merciful to all.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Steve

Rolling Away The Stone | Friar Reflections | The Resurrection of the Lord

Dear Parishioners,

A teacher decided that during the first three days of Holy Week, she would have her students put on a Passion play according to the Gospel of St. Matthew. The teacher wanted to involve as many students as possible, but Matthew’s version really doesn’t call for a lot of actors. So, the teacher got creative and cast every animate and inanimate reference in Matthew. She cast:

      • the tree from which Judas hung himself
      • the broken vase of perfume
      • five children simulating the earthquake
      • three children imitating the clattering of the thirty pieces of silver
      • …and all the bystanders.

She also cast the rock sealing the entrance of the tomb Jesus laid in. For the part, the teacher chose a boy who had, as his own mother put it, “sprouted early”, being one of the tallest boys in the class. The teacher explained to the boy that he would indeed be the rock blocking the opening of the tomb, not to be confused with St. Peter. For the Angel of the Lord, who pushes the rock aside, the teacher chose the smallest child in the class, and was well pleased with the contrast between the boy and girl she chose.

Their first performance was in front of the school’s third grade class. The play was moving along nicely, and it was soon time for the Angel of the Lord to appear. With her pinky finger outstretched, the little girl gently nudged the boy acting as the rock. Suddenly, with a burst of energy, the boy somersaulted away from the entrance of the tomb. Then, the petite Angel of the Lord sat on the “large rock.” The third grade audience went wild. They cheered, and chanted, showing how impressed they were with the rock’s performance, with the scene quickly became the crowd favorite.

The teacher was noticeably concerned about the boy playing the rock getting too much attention. She suggested that the boy allow another student play the part of the rock in the next performance. But the student replied that he liked being the rock and didn’t want another role. So the teacher asked him, “Why do you like being the rock?”

The young boy replied, “I like letting Jesus out of the tomb.” The teacher reminded him, the rock isn’t rolled back so Christ can get out. “He is already gone,” she told the boy. “The rock is rolled back so that the women can see in.” 

The boy’s face twisted in bemusement. “Well”, he said, “how did Jesus get out if the rock was still stuck in front of the tomb?” The teacher pondered for a second, but before she could say anything, the boy playing the rock blurted out, “Well, I guess that a huge rock is no big thing for God!”

And thus did “the rock” roll back the “boulder” from his own mind and see the Easter revelation more clearly! The teacher was amazed at the boy’s words, and allowed him to continue in the role since he knew the part so well.

And so “the rock” needs to be rolled away for us as well. We need to remove what ever obstacles stand in our way of believing in God’s gracious love for us. We need to allow the light of the Resurrection enter into our lives. God longs for us to trust Him, and to ask that we be set free from whatever holds us back from being true disciples of Christ.

With the flick of a finger, God has given us life eternal. Nothing holds back the love God has for us all. Jesus has been set free and has risen for all.

Amen! Alleluia!

Happy Easter,
Fr. Zack


A Holy Week Reflection I Turn To | Friar Reflections | Palm Sunday

Dear Parishioners,

About three weeks before her passing in March, 1990, Sister Thea Bowman, a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, wrote a meditation for Holy Week as part of a Mississippi Catholic Lenten series. This was likely her last public writing and was published posthumously ahead of Palm Sunday that year. In place of my own words this Palm Sunday, I wish to share with you the words I’ve returned to as part of my own Holy Week meditation each year since the late 90’s, as Sister Thea describes for us how we can make Holy Week holy:

“Let us resolve to make this week holy by claiming Christ’s redemptive grace and by living holy lives. The Word became flesh and redeemed us by his holy life and holy death. This week especially, let us accept redemption by living grateful, faithful, prayerful, generous, just and holy lives. Let us resolve to make this week holy by reading and meditating holy scriptures.

So often, we get caught up in the hurry of daily living. As individuals and as families, reserve prime-time to be with Jesus, to hear the cries of the children waving palm branches, to see the Son of Man riding on an ass’ colt, to feel the press of the crowd, to be caught up in the “Hosannas” and to realize how the cries of acclamation will yield to the garden of suffering, to be there and watch as Jesus is sentenced by Pilate to Calvary, to see him rejected, mocked, spat upon, beaten and forced to carry a heavy cross, to hear the echo of the hammer, to feel the agony of torn flesh and strained muscles, to know Mary’s anguish as he hung three hours before he died.

We recoil before the atrocities of war, gang crime, domestic violence and catastrophic illness. Unless we personally and immediately are touched by suffering, it is easy to read scripture and to walk away without contacting the redemptive suffering that makes us holy. The reality of the Word falls on deaf ears.

Let us take time this week to be present to someone who suffers. Sharing the pain of a fellow human will enliven scripture and help us enter into the holy mystery of the redemptive suffering of Christ.

Let us resolve to make this week holy by participating in the preparing, by studying the reading, entering into the spirit, offering our services as ministers of the Word or Eucharist, decorating the church or preparing the environment for worship. Let us sing, “Lord, have mercy,” and “Hosanna.”

“Let us resolve to make this week holy by sharing holy peace and joy within our families, sharing family prayer on a regular basis, making every meal a holy meal where loving conversations bond family members in unity, sharing family work without grumbling, making love not war, asking forgiveness for past hurts and forgiving one another from the heart, seeking to go all the way for love as Jesus went all the way for love.

Let us resolve to make this week holy by sharing holy peace and joy with the needy, the alienated, the lonely, the sick and afflicted, the untouchable. Let us unite our sufferings, inconveniences and annoyances with the suffering of Jesus. Let us stretch ourselves, going beyond our comfort zones to unite ourselves with Christ’s redemptive work.

We unite ourselves with Christ’s redemptive work when we reconcile, when we make peace, when we share the good news that God is in our lives, when we reflect to our brothers and sisters God’s healing, God’s forgiveness, God’s unconditional love.”

As we prepare for the Holy Week, I invite all of you to take some quiet time, focusing on the Passion, and how you might enter into it. I also invite you to participate with us during the Triduum celebrations.

Wishing you a holy Holy Week
– Fr. Mike

Let Us Begin Again | Friar Reflections | The Fifth Sunday of Lent

Dear Parishioners,

In my recent travels, last week, as part of a road-trip to the provincial headquarters in New York, I had the opportunity to reconnect with friends in Stafford, Dumfries, and Manassas, Virginia. As I was getting close Stafford, I called ahead to my friends Michael and Danielle, to give them my estimated time of arrival. This was to be a quick afternoon visit, because I was expected at another friend’s home for a dinner at 6:30 p.m., and they were preparing my favorite meal of plantains, blood sausages, and fried fish. Michael and Danielle gave me a warm welcome and asked what I wanted to drink when I arrived. During our conversation, Danielle mentioned the two of them were on the seven-day cleanse diet. They had just started the diet within the last 36 hours, but Michael had already made the decision to break the diet, because of my visit.

We are just passed the halfway mark in our Lenten practice of sacrificing something to help us draw closer to God. Maybe you are like my friends, who found it very hard to stay focused and dedicated to their seven-day cleanse, let alone the 40-days Lent represents for us. Maybe it was the influence of a friend, or something that happened at work, or simply fatigue that led you to temporarily set aside your self imposed sacrifice. Remember, even Jesus was tempted in the desert, both with food and worldly power. We are not all as determined as Jesus was during his time in the desert. He knows how much we can bare. It is not the end of the world if you haven’t kept your Lenten promise. What matters is how you get back up and start over again. In 2 Timothy 4:7, the apostle Paul divulges his struggles in preaching the gospel of Christ, and describes his victory over those struggles. Paul speaks about fighting the fight, finishing the race, keeping the faith. Lent is that time for us to prepare ourselves and focus on what is needed for us to have that close relationship with God and others.

Have I fallen short of my Lenten promises of attending weekday mass, and giving up coffee, candy, gossiping, cheating, or lying?

How do I start over?

Does this mean I’m a failure?

We are human, and we fail, but God gives us the graces to begin again each day. Remember that God desires steadfast love, not sacrifice; the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings. Lent is a wonderful time to reflect on God’s wonderous love and mercy, and to allow His forgiveness to take hold of our lives.

Peace and All Good, 
– Friar Henry