Category Archives: Parish News

Our February Giving From the Heart Drive

In our continued effort to meet the growing needs of our community, Sacred Heart is holding its latest Giving from the Heart drive-through donation event on Saturday, February 10, at the North Campus from 10 a.m. to noon. Volunteers from our Loving Hearts ministry and Council of Catholic Women will be on hand for this special event aiding the Grow Into You Foundation and St. Joseph Catholic School.

Can’t make it to the North Campus on the day of the drive? Access our Amazon Wishlists, and have your donation shipped directly to the parish office or the beneficiaries!

The Grow Into You Foundation exists to provide coaching, mentoring, support, and resources to teens and young adults aging out of the foster care system, where little support is readily afforded or available. The foundation contends that there are not enough foster homes to care for all the children displaced from their families, with teens in this situation often falling victim to homelessness, human trafficking, hunger, drugs, or incarceration. GIYF’s mentoring aims to give these teens a fighting chance to pursue education, employment, and shelter. The foundation is currently renovating its “Magnolia House,” a home for aged-out girls, which is slated to open this year.

Click to View the G.I.Y.F. Needs List:
  • groceries and non-perishables, snacks
  • hygiene items including toothbrushes, tooth paste, feminine care products, bar soap
  • body wash, shampoos, conditioner
  • hair accessories for teenage girls (brushes and combs, blowers, curling irons)
  • electric or manual razors for teenage boys
  • household cleaning supplies
  • Gift cards ($10 and $25 increments preferred; Walmart, Target, Uber, Publix, fast food restaurants, gas stations, home improvement stores, etc.)

St. Joseph Catholic School works with every family to help make a Catholic education possible for all students, even those who need scholarships or other forms of assistance. Many families of the student body have needs beyond the education of their children, and St. Joseph’s attempts to meet those needs, which are varied. For example, because of the generous outpouring of support from last year’s Giving from the Heart drive benefitting the school, St. Joseph’s had enough gift cards to help a student receive a much needed pair of eye-glasses. 

Click to View the St. Joseph School Needs List
  • household cleaning items and paper products
  • personal hygiene items
  • non-perishable food for their food pantry
  • Gift cards ($10 and $25 increments preferred; Walmart, Target, Publix, Amazon)

Additional information and needs list updates will be available on this page as they are received. As always, the church appreciates your attentiveness and generosity for these drives.

Time of Fulfillment | Friar Reflections | Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

Saints of God, the Lord be with you!

With this Sunday we begin reading from the Gospel according to Mark (1:14-20). The shortest of the Gospels, it is also, according to most Biblical scholars, the first one written, probably in Rome to a predominantly Gentile audience and preserving the remembrances of Peter.

Two things strike me about this Gospel. The first is the proclamation of Jesus, “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.” The phrase “the Kingdom of God is at hand” is said by John the Baptist in Matthew (3:2) and for him it means “near,” “right now,” “available.” However, when said by Jesus it also means “able to be grasped.” I feel this added meaning is important, since the Kingdom of God really isn’t a place, but a person. The Kingdom of God is Jesus Himself: both divine and human and thus “able to be grasped.”

I often wonder if Jesus were standing in front of us, how we would alter our speech and actions. Would we use the same language that is often peppered with profanity? Would we tell off-color or disparaging jokes? Would we ignore, or belittle, or act violently toward others? I don’t think we would do any of these things if Jesus were standing in front of us. We need to remember that Baptism gives all of us the identity of Christ. In the words of St. Augustine, “Rejoice O Christian! For by your baptism, you are more than a Christian YOU are Christ Himself!” We are Christ to other Christ’s! If only we would remember that more often, I can only imagine how our world would be changed.

The second thing that strikes me about today’s Gospel is that Simon, Andrew, James and John, are changed only AFTER they encounter Jesus: “They abandon their nets…they left their father” and FOLLOWED HIM.”  This gives me great hope since Jesus never asks anyone to change before they come to Him. He never asks anyone to change before he works a miracle. People are changed because they encounter Him. At every Mass, Christ meets us where we are through the readings of the Scriptures and through our reception of the Eucharist. We changed by these encounters. If not, it’s not because Christ’s power is ineffective, but rather because we don’t allow this power (the Holy Spirit) to effect change within us.

As we begin Ordinary Time (the time when we simply count the Sundays), let us allow the Risen and Glorified Christ to change us so that we may truly be Christ for one another.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Steve

Come and See | Friar Reflections | Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

Our Gospel today has this very simple dialogue:

The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.

Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,

         “What are you looking for?”

They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher),

     “where are you staying?”

He said to them, “Come and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they staying with him that day.

When people begin the study of biblical Greek, the first text from the Bible they read is usually the Gospel of John. The sample printed above from today’s reading from John tells you why: the Fourth Gospel is written in very simple Greek. And the sentences are simple and straightforward in structure.

“What are you looking for?”
“Where are you staying?”
“Come and see.”

The exchange is so simple and apparently ordinary, you may wonder why John included it—especially when these words are the first we hear Jesus speak in this Gospel.

Well, I’d ask that you read the exchange once again, slowly.

What sounds at first like a person annoyed by apparent stalkers, followed with a request for a street address, and then a surprising, but matter-of-fact invitation is really a quite the profound exchange. This usually escapes us the first time we read it, but once you’ve read the full Gospel, you come to realize John’s simple language is much deeper than it appears at first glance.

“What are you looking for?” is actually one of the deepest questions one person can ask another. To paraphrase, “What—really, down deep—are you seeking as your life your life?” Power? Pleasure? Wealth? Relief from loneliness? Relief from pain or hunger? Knowledge? Truth? Love? How do you answer this question right now?

“Where are you staying?”—when asked by persons who are curious about or seeking Jesus, this is a question that is really asking “Where do you come from, Master?” What is the source of your life? Who—really, down deep—are you?” For the word translated “stay,” μένειν or menein, means something deeper than what is your address. In the Gospel of John, this word refers to a person’s source of being and ultimate purpose.

And Jesus’ response–“Come and see” –really, when you know the whole story, means, “Follow me as a committed disciple and you will come to really see (understand and believe) in a whole new way.”

Jesus asks Andrew and the other disciple, “What are you looking for?” This is a telling question, and one that we might often ask of ourselves. John the Baptist testified to Jesus’ identity, the Lamb of God, using the framework of the Old Testament. Andrew, Simon, and the other first disciples were looking for the Messiah, whom they also came to know as the Son of God.

Reflecting on today’s readings, we receive a message that discipleship is far more than an acceptance or adherence to Jesus. It means becoming part of God’s family and requires an abandonment of the past along with a willingness to “see” and “stay.”  Jesus dwells with God, and we are invited to make our home there as well. Like Samuel, we are constantly being called into a deeper more meaningful relationship with God. What do we look for and what do we find in Jesus?

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Zack

The Start of a New Year | From the Desk of the Pastor | The Epiphany of the Lord

Dear Parishioners,

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,
Fr. Mike

Start With “Yes.” | Deacon Reflections | Fourth Sunday of Advent & Christmas

Dear Friends,

On this busy Fourth Sunday of Advent, we hear the story of the Annunciation. I’ll sum it up briefly — The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and tells her she’s going to be the Mother of God. She is deeply troubled and wonders how this can even be, as she’s never been with a man. Gabriel reassures her that she has found favor with God, and the Holy Spirit will come upon her and she will conceive and bear a son and name him Jesus. Gabriel then tells Mary of her elderly barren cousin Elizabeth who has also conceived and assures her that nothing is impossible for God.

And Mary’s response?

“Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) This was Mary’s yes to God.

What does our yes to God look like?

Mary made her choice freely, but not without some trepidation. She was troubled and questioned how this could possibly come to be. Gabriel responds, “Do not be afraid be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God.” As disciples of Christ and spiritual children of Mary, we are called to take these words to heart in our own lives. Like Mary, being faithful to God’s call could very likely lead us to places of discomfort, hardship, and even fear.

Perhaps you’ve heard me share this before, but I feel it’s worth repeating, especially in light of today’s Gospel. When I received my calling from God to become a deacon, I was warned during formation about several things that may happen to me throughout formation, ordination, and living my life as a deacon.  I was told some so-called friends might change their involvement in my life, and to recognize that if it happened, they really were not my friends. While that may make sense, it still hurts. I was told Satan would begin to challenge me in my faith, my family life, my job, so on and so forth. At that point in my life, I knew what God wanted me to do, and I wasn’t turning back. By echoing Mary’s words of courage and trust, “Be it done to me according to your word,” I had to place myself right alongside her and not be afraid.

Her words are a reminder that during even the darkest of times, we are not alone. That same Holy Spirit that came upon Mary has been promised to each of us; that we are always overshadowed by the Most High. God is with us as we wait for his return in glory.  We are seen, we are known, we are loved. Emmanuel, God is with us!

Mary’s testimony and her response hopefully inspires us to also see ourselves in favor with God. Mary empathizes with our pain and suffering; she knows what it’s like to suffer. She asks similar questions like we do. Ultimately, the young woman from Nazareth trusted in God’s almighty power. She believed that indeed nothing is impossible for God. She believed God would lift up the lowly and bring the holiest of holies to life within her womb. In Mary’s reliance and trust in God’s word, the Kingdom takes root, just as it wishes to take root in each of us. 

On this last day of Advent, let us spend some time in prayer with Mary, our Mother, asking her to increase our faith and trust in her Son, and to continue saying “yes,” especially as we celebrate His birth, and during this Holy Season of Christmas.

Peace of Christ and Merry Christmas,
Deacon Ray

Rejoicing in Humility | Friar Reflections | Third Sunday of Advent

Dear Parishioners,

Saints of God, the Lord be with you!

Today is called “Gaudete (Let us rejoice!) Sunday” perhaps because of the opening phrase in the second reading from St. Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians (5:16-24) “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.” Beautiful words, but then we tend to misread the next sentence that says, “In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you.” Notice, we don’t need to give thanks for ALL circumstances, but rather whatever the circumstance we are called to give thanks. Gratitude seems to be God’s will for us and, no matter the circumstances, there is still a lot to give thanks for.

While reflecting on this, it took me a while to get the deeper message in all the readings when using this idea of rejoicing as a lens. It seems to me that most important aspect of our call to rejoice is the fact that God knows each of us as we are in our entirety. “God looks upon his lowly servant” as we sing in today’s responsorial, which is Mary’s Magnificat, found in the Gospel according to Luke (1:46-54). God knows we are lowly and yet, does great things for us, has mercy upon us, fills us with good things, and comes to our help. Perhaps God does all these things for us so that we might accept our lowliness and thus respond with rejoicing and gratitude. Everything that God does for us is grace, a gift, an unmerited favor which should lead each of us to an honest humility.

The Baptist in today’s Gospel according to John (1:6-8, 19-28) is faced with the temptation to make himself something that he is not. When asked if he is the Christ, he answers no. When asked if he is Elijah, or the Prophet, he answers no. He is not the Light, but the one who testifies to the Light. He is simply a voice crying out “Prepare!” I admire John, for it seems to me it is easy to fall into the trap of making yourself greater than you actually are.

True discipleship begins with humility that allows the Holy Spirit to enter one’s life. It is humility that continues to sustain the Spirit working within us, and it is humility that will in the end allow us to accept the promised mercy of God.

We rejoice in that we are all anointed with the Holy Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation. As we near the end of our Advent, let us take the time for gratitude for all God has done for us. Let us take the time to rejoice that we don’t need to be perfect, but rather that as imperfect we are loved by God and are anointed with the Holy Spirit. So let us “rejoice heartily in the Lord (for) in my God is the joy of my soul” (Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11).

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Steve

The Comfort of God | Friar Reflections | Second Sunday of Advent

Dear Parishioners,

This Sunday’s passage from Isaiah speaks of comfort, preparation, and the arrival of the Lord. It reflects the compassionate nature of God, comforting His people. This second week of Advent continues as a time of anticipation and reflection, focusing on the theme of peace. As we light the second candle, we are reminded of the peace that comes from the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.

During this week, we can find ourselves contemplating the concept of peace in a world often filled with chaos and uncertainty. The lit candle serves as a beacon of hope, signaling that amidst the challenges, there is a tranquility available to us.

In the midst of our holiday preparations, the Advent season calls us to pause. It urges us to reflect on the true meaning of peace, not merely the absence of conflict, but a profound sense of wholeness and harmony. A peace independent of external circumstances and rooted in a spiritual connection that transcends the temporal. As we consider the idea of peace, we are drawn again to the words of Isaiah:

“ For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him…Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful…”| Isaiah 9:5-6

The Advent season is an invitation to step away from the noise of the world and find solace in prayer and meditation. It prompts us to examine our own heart, seeking reconciliation where needed and embracing a spirit of forgiveness. True peace begins with an inner transformation and Advent provides us with this sacred space.

Peace is not a passive state but an active pursuit. It requires a conscious effort to seek reconciliation, promote justice, and extend compassion. The candles of the Advent wreath serve as a reminder that each of us can be a light of peace, dispelling the darkness that may surround us.

Let our prayer be that we allow this season of hope to transform us into the people God is calling us to be through His Son. Let this season challenge us to embody that peace in our daily lives.

As we light the second candle of the Advent wreath this weekend, may we pray that we become the symbol of peace that surpasses all understanding.

Let the candle light illuminate your heart and guide you through your Advent journey, as we embrace the hope and assurance Isaiah relays to us of a loving and compassionate God.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Zack

Maintaining Our Parish | From the Desk of the Pastor | December 2023

Dear Parishioners,

As we come the end of 2023, I felt it would be important to update you on the various maintenance and preservation projects completed in the church and at the North Campus, while also informing you of upcoming repairs to the church that will need to be done in the new year. The upcoming repairs to the church cannot be put off, and stand to cost nearly $200,000.

Recent repairs for the Church

New Carpeting                                                  $37,000
Glass Enclosure – Reconciliation Room  $8,800
New Sacristy Closets                                       $24,000
1st Set of Doors – Repair & Refinish            $18,000
Fixing leaks to the side of the building    $6,000

Recent Repairs for the North Campus

Replace Light Fixtures (Alumni Hall)           $ 2,635
Replace A/C Units (Auditorium)                     $24,000
Replace Light Fixtures (Auditorium)            $7,500
Termite Treatment (Auditorium)                   $4,500
New Roof (St. Bonaventure Building)          $18,900
New Lighting (St. Bonaventure Building)   $3,500
Restoring Electric (St. Bonaventure Building)  $6,500
New Roof (School Building)                              $59,000

The figures you see here do not reflect the day-to-day cost of caring for these two properties. One of our biggest expenses is plumbing. The pipes in the church are old, while at the North Campus, some pipes are broken. Repairs to air conditioning units are also an issue. The Maintenance Committee does have a budget to replace units and there are a few more at the North Campus that will have to be replaced soon.

Upcoming Projects at the Church

Starting early next year, we will address a number of maintenance and preservation projects related to the front of the church, beginning with the cross at the top of the front façade. You may have noticed over the course of the last year or so, that it has begun to lean. At this point, we do not know how stable it is, and if it were to fall, what damage it might cause. It has become a liability that needs to be repaired. The front façade’s rose window, facing Florida Avenue, also must be repaired. Leaks are causing the window to sag and water damage to seep inside the front wall of the church. It will need to be reglazed to prevent the glass from falling out. The contractor will be repointing and resealing the window, and given the scale and need for these two projects, along with the presence of scaffolding to accomplish them, the decision to have the front façade cleaned and repointed has also been made. 

The hope is for each project to be accomplished concurrently, alongside the to restoration of the remaining doorways. As I have mentioned in the past, each set of doors are original to the church, but have been weathered over time. In some areas, sunlight can be seen through cracks in the wood. These projects will be intrusive, with the presence of the scaffolding and temporary plywood coverings for entryways. Those celebrating weddings during the duration of the projects will be informed in advance, as a courtesy, to have time to take photos in front of the church before they begin.

The parish will have to use money from both our operating funds and savings to cover the cost. At our most recent Parish Finance Committee meeting, we discussed a shortfall from our FY23/24 first quarter collections, down ~$18,000 from last year. Positively, Mass attendance for that same period is up by more than 2,000. Our parish is dependent on the stewardship and generosity of its parishioners. The friars and parish leadership would ask that if you are able to make an additional gift to the church, it would go a long way to ensuring the expedient completion of these projects. I would also ask visitors to consider making a gift to Sacred Heart to assist with the repairs. The beauty of our church draws people from all over to pray and celebrate Mass with us. We are only able to maintain the beauty of this historic building with your donations. You can make your gift today at this link.

North Campus Update

The Maintenance and Finance Committees, as well as the Parish Advisory Board are all in agreement on the current direction to renovate the kitchen as the next major project at the North Campus. Most often used by Hands of Hope, which serves the homeless each weekend, we see the renovation as a chance to expand their reach and function, in addition to future use opportunities for wedding receptions and parish dinners. The ball is already rolling, as a firm has been hired to serve as our owner’s representative, tasked with securing the various trades needed to renovate the kitchen. The renovation would require new plumbing and electric. All existing equipment would also need to be replaced. Additionally, since there is no air conditioning in the kitchen, this too would require the installation of a new system. Rough estimates see the renovation costing between $750,000 to $1,000,000 to complete. A fundraiser would be launched to raise the money, but, once completed, the potential for income would help offset maintenance costs, with the auditorium’s potential to host corporate meetings, weddings, and the like given a fully functioning kitchen.

The main school building and Alumni Hall remain in usable condition and can be upgraded in the future, though we must consider bathroom upgrades for the school. We are currently renting the St. Bonaventure building (former Pre-K building, located between the school and cafeteria) to the engineering and planning firms redeveloping Robles Park Village directly to the North Campus’ north and east. Many parishioners regularly contribute to our True North campaign, and some money has already been allocated for this kitchen project to begin, but we are still far from our goal. Any gifts would be greatly appreciated and would quicken our goal for a new kitchen. Those looking to contribute can do so here, by selecting the “True North/Campus” tab.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Mike

Our Matthew 25 Commitment | Staff Reflections | Feast of Christ the King

Dear Parishioners,

Since beginning work here at Sacred Heart a little over two years ago, I can easily say I have been a beneficiary of our parishioners’ exemplification of this weekend’s Gospel according to Matthew, at least in a figurative sense. Communications, public relations, and social media personnel are often mischaracterized as gatekeepers protecting a company’s image or shills for an organization’s agenda. While these negative connotations may carry a small amount of truth to specific aspects of our profession, we are more akin to story-tellers than gatekeepers or parrots. Thankfully and intentionally, I have been working to make that the more dominate descriptor for my work here, because what a story we have to tell!

Each and every week we are blessed with new examples of our parishioners, ministries, and volunteers embodying Matthew 25:35-40. I am privileged to have a front row seat to so much of that service to our neighbors. I am even more privileged to be the one to help advance these stories of service to the rest of the parish and our local and regional partners. Not that you wouldn’t believe it, but many of those who work with our outreach ministries here at Sacred Heart are so camera shy when I am around to get photos or video. They don’t want any recognition for what they feel is simply answering His call to action, and I respect that, even when that necessitates more effort with how we represent or advertise a given ministry or outreach.

I feel strongly that we continue to grow our efforts in covering these “Matthew 25” stories here at Sacred Heart. Not for vanity, credit, or favor, but to grow our basis for who we can help and how we can help them. Outside of a personal invitation, effective story-telling is one of the best ways to convince someone to take an action. It could be as simple as a 10-second video on social media showing the interaction a volunteer has with a donor at our Giving from the Heart drives that makes a new parishioner set a reminder to donate at the next drive, for instance.

Creating and distributing content across multiple channels (web, social, email, print) takes time, and we all know that is in short supply. While we are nearly finished with the in-office studio space, we will need experienced volunteers to join us in making the space an effective tool for telling our parish’s story. A parish communications committee will be reestablished in the new year to help lead these efforts, so we can continue to grow our parish’s commitment to Matthew 25.

Peace and All Good,
Rob Boelke

Our Christmas Poinsettias

A long-standing Sacred Heart tradition, parishioners and visitors alike donate the poinsettias that you see adorning our altar in honor of loved ones they wish to remember during the Christmas season.

2023 Digital Memorial Book

We would like to thank all who donated in memory of their loved ones, as those donations help create the beautiful atmosphere within our church during the 2023 Christmas season.

As part of that tradition, we memorialize their loved ones in a digital book, found here.

2023 Order Information

Remember a loved one during the Christmas season with a poinsettia used to decorate our sanctuary. A long-standing Sacred Heart tradition, each plant that you see has been given in remembrance or honor of loved ones whose names will be memorialized online.

Request forms can be found on the table near the church entrance, or at the link below. All forms, along with the suggested donation of $15 per plant, must be received by Thursday, December 14.

Click here to download your 2023 Poinsettia order form