Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Christmas peace and joy to you and your families! Welcome to the Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi. Welcome to those of you who are here for the first time or perhaps from differing religious traditions. Welcome to those of you visiting with family and friends. Welcome to all who join us, whether “regulars” or those who have simply stopped by to celebrate this season of light through Christ, our Light. Welcome, peace and all good to you today and throughout this wonderful season in which we celebrate the mystery of Christmas.

In this bulletin, our weekly communication at St. Francis (also available online or delivered to your email address), you will discover many ways to engage or re-engage in the life of our community. We welcome all and, indeed, we want to offer ways that all can engage in our community to make a difference in the lives of others.

Having difficulty taking the first step, or feel that our size is daunting? There are many ways to put your faith into action at St. Francis, and yet I realize that a community as large as ours can be overwhelming. Consider stopping by the receptionist’s desk in the Welcome Center to say hello to a member of our pastoral staff.  Give a call to Sue Mathys, Coordinator of Stewardship, to one of the Friars, or to any pastoral staff member. We’ll be glad to meet with you to discover your unique gifts and how they can be shared with others. Let there be no barriers to your involvement in worshiping with us. If something is weighing you down, let this be the moment to let it go. Speak with us and seek with us. Let us walk with you on your journey of faith.

We gather throughout this Christmas season to remember that Jesus was born into our world, a human being like us. He came to show us God’s enormous love. He came to be with us, to experience our joys and pains, to be a part of our lives, to bring us joy and peace in a world which knows hatred and pain. Christ’s story is our story. Wrapped in swaddling clothes and warmed by the breath of animals, that’s us at the beginning of our lives and again before we die. How fortuitous and fragile our lives are. In God’s eyes, we are children just as Jesus was. In becoming human, Jesus put aside divinity. He left the self that was equal to God and became God’s firstborn through the body, and fully human and available to all.  Christmas involves us in the mystery which is to be found in welcoming and giving hospitality to our God who comes to us as a child. Let us remember the Child who is once more born in our midst.

On behalf of the Franciscan Friars and pastoral staff, Merry Christmas. May you know how much you are loved by our gracious God who gives us the gift of his son Jesus. Thank you for sharing the gift of yourself with our parish community. Whether you are here today as visitor, a founding member, or a fellow pilgrim on the journey, you are welcome here this week and all weeks to worship with us at St. Francis of Assisi.

Peace and all good,

Fr. Mark