Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This weekend we welcome Fr. David Convertino, O.F.M., the executive director of development for our Franciscan Holy Name Province.  He will be preaching on behalf of the retired religious of our nation and particularly the friars of our province. Thank you for your generosity. It is greatly appreciated!

Fr. David is also sharing in our ministry of reconciliation this weekend.  Congratulations to our young children who celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation Saturday morning.  Thank you to their parents who witness to God’s mercy and love in their lives and continue to prepare their sons and daughters for First Eucharist in the Easter Season.

Tonight (Sunday) at 7:00 pm the youth (grades 6 through 12) of our parish are invited to join in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There will be two additional reconciliation services for the parish on Tuesday evening December 17 at 7:00 pm, and Wednesday morning, December 18 at 11:00 am.

As we continue our Advent journey, next weekend, the Third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means Rejoice, which reminds the Church of the joy that Jesus’ birth brings to us.  At the 9:30 Mass, December 15 we will have a Blessing for expectant parents and those preparing to welcome new life through adoption.  The blessing is meant to encourage prayers for, and recognition of, the precious gift of the child in the womb and support parents as they prepare to welcome new life through birth or adoption as we foster respect for human life within society.

Last month Pope Francis issued an apostolic exhortation called Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel).  Pope Francis is calling upon the Church and the world with encouragement to begin a new chapter in evangelization. This dynamic document is written in the plain, everyday language that the Pope has become famous for. He writes that an “evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!” Inspired by Jesus’ poverty and concern for the dispossessed during his earthly ministry, Pope Francis calls for a “church which is poor and for the poor.”  The poor “have much to teach us,” he writes. “We are called to find Christ in them, to lend our voices to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them and to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them.”  Charity is more than mere handouts, “It means working to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and to promote the integral development of the poor,” the Pope writes. “This means education, access to health care, and above all employment, for it is through free, creative, participatory, and mutually supportive labor that human beings express and enhance the dignity of their lives.”

I encourage you to consider using it as an Advent reflection as we  prepare for the coming of Christ anew in our hearts.  I think you’ll find  it engaging, challenging and maybe even have you feeling a bit uncomfortable.  It can be found on our parish website.

In the peace of Christ,

Fr. Mark