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Pastor’s Perspective by Fr. Buersmeyer

Posted on Friday, June 8th, 2018 at 11:15 am

 

 

Pastor’s Perspective is Fr. Buersmeyer’s weekly column. It appears in the parish bulletin and in this space.

June 17, 2018

*St. Regis Feast Day and Recognition of Ministries

 Each year we celebrate our namesake’s feast day (June 16) at all the weekend Masses closest to his feast. John Francis Regis was educated by the Jesuits and then joined the Jesuit Order after college. After becoming a priest he devoted himself to teaching, serving the poor and sick (the bubonic plague had a resurgence at this time in some areas), preaching, especially to those who had left the Catholic faith for the Reformed churches, and finding ways for women in danger (including many prostitutes) to earn a living in a dignified way. He died at the end of 1640, at the age of 43. A short but extremely active, eventful and influential life.

On this day we want to recognize all the people in the parish who have given of their time, energy and talents in any of the many areas of ministry that make the parish active. We are beginning our week of housing guests who are temporarily homeless, over 200 of you are involved in that ministry. Hundreds more get involved in various areas of Christian Service outreach during the year, including our Advent Giving Tree and Lenten outreach, missionary camp, and more. We have over a hundred parish members involved in the various liturgical ministries as lector, Communion minister, server, choir, cantor and other music, usher, sacristan, greeter, funeral ministry, those who serve on the Worship Commission, and more. We have catechists for early childhood, Liturgy of the Word with Children, sacramental prep, RCIA, Faith Formation, Vacation Bible School, those who serve on the Faith Formation Commission, those who get involved in school fundraising, C.Y.O. sports, school committees, and more. We have people involved in parish help, mailings, Pastoral Council, Finance Council and more. We have active members of various groups such as Knights of Columbus, Legion of Mary, Women of St. Regis, Men’s Monday fellowship, intercessory prayer, meditative prayer, and more.

The above is only a partial list to indicate the breadth of ways that a parish depends on the time and energy of as many parish members as possible to be a parish of welcome, renewal and outreach. Thank you to all who do so here at St. Regis. On this namesake feast day I want to recognize how essential you are to the parish, say a prayer of blessing for all of you, and offer you a little token (bookmark and prayer card and pin) of our thanks.

*New Parish Pastoral Staff

 I am pleased to announce that a number of candidates applied both for the position of Director of Faith Formation and the new position of Pastoral Associate for Evangelization and Welcome, and we have found a good candidate for each who have said yes to our invitation to join the staff. You will hear more from them personally in the weeks ahead, as they introduce themselves and start “hanging around” the parish. Both will start officially on July 1st.

Theresa Skwara will be our new Director of Faith Formation. She will be the main staff person for our catechetical programs for children: the Monday night weekly, online monthly, Early Childhood Sunday, Liturgy of the Word for Children Sunday, Vacation Bible School, as well as the contact person for any youth endeavors. Her office will be moving back into the school so she can have more contact with the school children and families, religion teachers, and liturgical planning for school Masses. Her email will be theresa.skwara@stregis.org.

Christopher Gawel will be our new Pastoral Associate for Evangelization and Welcome. This is a totally new full-time position. He is not replacing anyone, but adding to what we already have going on. He will be the main staff person for any evangelization outreach and programs, young adults, welcoming ministry and getting parish members connected to active involvement in other ministries. He will help with adult formation, wake services, and other parish ministries as well. In Archbishop Vigneron’s Unleash the Gospel, all parishes are called to step forward in faith to create a new energy and dynamism centered on the new evangelization and radical hospitality. Christopher will be the one keeping us focused on that mission. His office will be in the parish office center and his email will be christopher.gawel@stregis.org.

New personnel bring changes not only to the parish staff but to all of us. Please welcome Theresa and Christopher. Encourage them in their gifts. Let them help us continue to grow and thrive as we embrace the mission of unleashing the Gospel at St. Regis Parish.

*South Oakland Shelter Week

 Our week of providing hospitality, room, board and support to over 30 guests begins today. We are expecting a number of parents with children, including very young ones, as well as a couple who are expecting children. Please pray daily for all involved in this week of hospitality: our guests, our S.O.S. coordinators, and all the volunteers. It takes so much coordination and work to make a week like this go smoothly.

*Thank You for Missionary of Charity Camp Support

 The bake sale last weekend and the donations provided by so many of you are greatly appreciated by our teens and families involved in the camp. The camp day on our grounds takes place in July and will provide a day of fun, support, and encouragement to a number of children from Detroit.

*Catholic Services Appeal

 We are preparing to send a final letter to all parish members who have not yet responded to this year’s CSA drive. Thank you to all who have pledged and/or donated. Your generosity has allowed us to surpass the mandatory goal and to begin to plan on how to use the overage to the benefit of the parish. You will notice in the bulletin that our budget for next year anticipated a goal of $100,000 over the mandatory Archdiocesan assessment, which would mean we would raise a total of at least $250,000 in this year’s 2018 CSA. Currently we are at just over $200,000 from 370 households. This is a great place to be at this point. Now we are looking to complete the CSA and put it over the top.

 

As a comparison, last year’s 2017 CSA pledges have just been completed and we raised $306,000 from 557 households, giving us approximately $125,000 extra dollars that were not taxed by the diocese and will be able to be used to pay down some of the debt as well as do a few repair projects around the grounds. The Catholic Service Appeal is not just another collection. It is an essential and significant (about 25% of our yearly income raised) part of the parish’s financial well-being. And a reminder to school families in the parish: tied to the in-parish tuition status is some type of gift to the yearly CSA. No amount is specified, but know that the parish appreciates all such gifts and it is the best way to give significant gifts to the parish because no tax is taken out for the diocese. If you are able, please drop off (or go online to pledge/donate) your CSA contribution before August 1. Thank you.

*Sunday’s Gospel

 One of the most agreed upon aspects of Jesus’ ministry among all biblical scholars is his use of parables. Jesus had a genius for taking an image from nature or from everyday life and comparing it to the “Kingdom of God.” Nearly always Jesus’ parables push us to think about God and one another in a new way or in unexpected ways. He often starts with the familiar, but ends in something that goes beyond what is the usual course of events. He wants his listeners (us) to be surprised, shaken from any passivity and ready to look anew at what God is trying to do.

 

What does Jesus mean by the “Kingdom of God”? In the history of the people of Israel there was a certain ambivalence toward kings. David was remembered in their history as the ideal king, though in practice he was far from that. In fact, one could read many of the books of the Old Testament (1,2 Kings, 1,2 Chronicles, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, all the prophetic books) as a chronicle of what happens when we don’t allow God to be king but try to do it ourselves. So, from the standpoint of the history of Israel, the “kingdom” belongs to God, not humanity. It is not something we possess or that one human being can claim as his lineage. Rather, it is a gift of God’s presence and care over his people. We don’t control it. God gives it as a gift. It is always surprising and can break into history at any time. Using the images from today’s Gospel, it is like a mustard seed that is so tiny and then, rather amazingly, becomes such a large shrub through no effort of our own. It is like the farmer who plants seeds and does not do anything to tend to them yet they produce a great harvest. It is God’s work primarily, not ours. We can plant the seeds, but God will bring forth the kingdom.

Given that understanding, a better translation for “Kingdom of God” is the “Reign of God” or “rule/care of God.” The kingdom of God is not some static entity analogous to a nation, but the living presence of God’s love breaking into historical time. Every time we subordinate our interests and desires to what God wants we become better vehicles for that in-breaking of God’s reign. Moreover, because the reign of God can always surprise, we never give up hope of conversion, change, and reconciliation among the people of the world. Christians are by their adopted nature “kingdom people” and therefore people who pray in hope for the ultimate good to happen, all the while willing to work in the midst of very troubled world.

 

*Happy Father’s Day

 Happy Father’s Day to all of our fathers, living and deceased. It is almost impossible to overestimate the influence of a father on his children’s growth and practice of the faith. Let us pray for all of our dads this day and every day. Here is the prayer we distributed on the prayer card last weekend. It is adapted from a Fathers’ Day prayer composed by Pope St. John XXIII:

 St. Joseph, guardian of Jesus and husband of Mary,

you cared for the holy family of Nazareth

through the work of your hands.

Amid your trials, labor and weariness,

your soul was full of deep peace and joy

through intimacy with God’s Son.

Assure all fathers that they never labor alone.

Protect them and teach them to find Jesus

in all that they do on behalf of their families,

so that they may come to know that

same peace and joy.

Amen.

Fr. Buersmeyer