Pastor’s Perspective by Fr. Buersmeyer

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

April 22, 2018

*Mass with the Anointing of the Sick on Monday

Our quarterly Mass with the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is this Monday at 6:45 pm. Please let people know of its availability. The basic rule of thumb is that the anointing is for anyone, from the age of reason on up (we are meant to be active participants in the sacrament), who is facing a serious illness in their life. It is a sacrament that is meant to accompany you in the midst of the illness, not simply at the end of life. It is a sacrament for physical, emotional, or other illnesses. For example, addictive behaviors like alcoholism, drugs, gambling are all illnesses that are serious, and the sacrament is a proper way to bring such illnesses before God and the community in prayer. No one knows what is being prayed for, only that the person needs prayer. The sacrament can be repeated if you are continuing to struggle with your illness or are elderly and in a generally frail state.

This sacrament has become a usual part of our community’s prayer. It should now be much, much rarer that a priest rushes out in the middle of the night to administer an anointing just before someone dies. Now the norm is: when a person is facing something serious, ask for the sacrament earlier rather than later. Then, as a person moves into the final stage, the Church will again do an anointing, invite the person, if able, to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation and receive last Communion (Viaticum).

That is why we no longer call the Anointing of the Sick the “last anointing” or “Extreme Unction” or “last rites.” It is a sacrament that most of us will receive more than once in our life and not simply at the end of life. Please avail yourself of the sacrament and let the community pray with and for you, even as you witness to the community of your faith in the midst of suffering. Join us April 23rd. Bring a family member or friend who you think should celebrate this sacrament.

*Staff Transitions and Staff Openings

At Easter our Director of Faith Formation, Sarah Hogan, informed me that she would be accepting a job as Director of Faith Formation at Prince of Peace Parish in West Bloomfield beginning in August. Sarah has been with St. Regis for six years and has dedicated her time to our children’s faith formation and sacramental prep. as well as being the staff lead for evangelization and youth. I thank her for all she has done here at St. Regis and pray for God’s blessings on Sarah and her family as she begins her new venture. Sarah’s last days with us will be in mid-June and we will have a farewell and send-off blessing for her at the 10 am. Mass on Sunday June 10th.

I have posted the job opening on the Archdiocesan website and have informed various people that we are looking for a new Director of Faith Formation. My hope is to have someone in place by the end of June. Please pray that a person who can be a good fit here will come forward; someone whose creativity will be able to fill the gap and challenge us further.

At the same time, I am posting an additional job opening for another full-time Pastoral Associate. This would be in addition to the pastoral staff we already have. As will be clear from the Pastoral Council’s vision for the future (come to the May 15th meeting mentioned below!), we will need to expand the parish staff to achieve that vision. For the past two years, in order to keep the church’s budget lower and to get a feel for where we stand on paying down our loans and covering expenses, I have deliberately left one Pastoral Associate position vacant. As we look to the future, especially in light of the vision developed with the Pastoral Council, we will once again need that extra creativity and energy.

Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel” in 2013 and his most recent exhortation this year “Rejoice and Be Glad“ (more on that next week), as well as Archbishop Vigneron’s pastoral letter Unleash the Gospel and our own parish vision all highlight the importance of supporting and strengthening the faith of current Catholics, being even more welcoming for those who have dropped away from the Church, and becoming more adept at living our lives as joyful missionary disciples. Although it is the responsibility of all of us and the responsibility of the entire staff to encourage that reality at St. Regis Parish, I would like to have a staff member who takes on those areas of welcome and evangelization and support as their main focus. Whether this job opening gets filled for the next fiscal year beginning in July (which is my hope) or later will depend on finding the right person.

In both cases—Director of Faith Formation and Pastoral Associate for Welcome and Evangelization—we are looking for people with experience and educational background that fits pastoral ministry. Many in these positions would have a master’s degree in religious education, theology, or pastoral ministry. A minimum of a B.A. with sufficient experience in parish ministry will be required. I am accepting inquiries and resumes from interested, qualified people. We will begin interviewing possible candidates in late April or early May.

*Immigration Circle of Support

St. Regis’ Immigration Circle of Support is inviting anyone interested to an area-wide support/retreat day called “Strangers No Longer”. The focus is on the issue of immigration. It will be held at the University of Detroit/Mercy campus on McNichols in Detroit this coming Saturday from 1:00 – 6:00 pm. The parish will cover the $10 cost. To register, please go the parish website (stregis.org) and click on the link under “What’s Happening.” I will be giving a brief presentation on Catholic Social Teaching on the issue of immigration.

Also, next Sunday, April 29th after the noon Mass, the Immigration Circle of Support is hosting a presentation by Freedom House in Detroit. Freedom House is dedicated to housing and helping refugees appeal for asylum in the United States. It is another side of the immigration issue.

Please join the Immigration Circle of Support around 1:15 pm. for an hour and learn about this outreach.

*World Day of Prayer for Vocations Today

Today (Sunday) is the annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations. When I first arrived, I promised one day to share a bit more about how I became a priest. Over the next few weeks, space permitting, I will tell the story in these bulletin articles. In the meantime, please pray for vocations to the priesthood, to the religious life and to full-time lay ecclesial ministry. I am convinced people are called to all sorts of vocations within the Church. In today’s world, with fewer children per family and all sorts of other pressures, some do not hear that call or worry too much about near term success.

I want to put in a special plug for diocesan priesthood (to which I and most Detroit area priests belong). To enter into formation at any stage of the process—college, graduate school, career change—is to be surrounded by wonderfully dedicated people and an extraordinary richness of learning and support, so that no time given to priestly formation is wasted. If it ends up not being one’s call in life, then you take with you so much that is good and use it in whatever else your vocation draws you. If it ends up being your calling (and, yes, some young men of this parish are being called to priesthood), then you enter a life that allows you to be in contact daily with rich and poor, young and old, of every political stripe and multiple cultures, as they face the joys and sorrows of life. It is a privileged position to be in, not because priests are so honored, but because of what people invite us to share in their lives.

*All Councils and Commissions Meeting May 15th

On Tuesday May 15th all the leadership councils, commissions, and committees of the parish are gathering for a shared leadership night. That includes the Pastoral Council, Finance Council, Worship Commission, Christian Service Commission, and Faith Formation Commission. The Advancement Council and School Activities Council from the school are encouraged to be there as well. The goal is to have our leadership groups interact and support each other. There will be time for prayer (begins at 6:45 pm), time for interacting with each other on some question(s)/concerns essential to the whole parish (at the May meeting the Pastoral Council will be sharing the final pastoral vision “Unleashing the Gospel at St. Regis Parish”), time for each group to meet in its own area for business and planning in its area (about one hour); and a wrap up that will allow each group to share something they are doing and ways they would like the whole parish to support their work.

My own hope is that we can use this meeting for greater shared communication; to move out of any silos we find ourselves in; and to energize all these groups. The evening is open to all parish members, not just those already on these committees. It will be an excellent way to find out what goes on at the parish and how things get planned. Attend the evening, spend time as one of the commissions, committees or councils conduct their business, and then think about becoming more involved. If it works and is done well, I think this structure might be used 2-3 times a year in the coming years. Please mark May 15th 6:45-8:45 pm on your calendar now. Thank you.

*Selection of New Members for Councils and Commissions

How do people get involved in various councils and commissions mentioned above? By offering their time and energy. Nearly all groups are looking for additional members. The Parish Pastoral Council will select new members on the Feast of Pentecost (May 20th). If you are interested in sharing your energy with the parish through the Pastoral Council or know someone you would like us to invite to do so, let us know by sending in the name and phone number to the parish office over the next few weeks. Please also submit names for Worship, Christian Service, Faith Formation and the School Advancement Council. If more than are needed say yes to becoming members, we will hold a selection of names on Pentecost Sunday. [NB: those who are not selected won’t be forgotten—we will invite you to be on a subcommittee or other!]. Think and pray about it for yourself or someone you know whose leadership would be helpful for the parish.

*Angels’ Place Concert on Thursday April 26

Angels’ Place has created an extraordinary group of support homes for adults who have developmental disabilities. We have such a home in our parish and the residents are wonderful participants in our weekly Sunday liturgy. On Thursday Angel’s Place will use our church for their annual concert, headlined by Mark Tisdel, the Marian choir and Notre Dame Prep Band. If you have not been to such a concert, please come this Thursday. All donations go to support the work of Angels’ Place.

Fr. Buersmeyer