Since learning in May that I was being appointed your pastor, I have been pondering why the Lord has asked me to lead your community. I knew for many months before the bishop’s phone call that I would conclude my eight-year appointment at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC in August 2020. Given my background and skills, all of my priest-colleagues expected me to be named pastor of another large parish in the diocese. St. Francis of Assisi was not on anyone’s radar screen, certainly not mine. After getting over the surprise of the bishop’s request, I began to take this to daily prayer, asking the Lord why he was calling me to serve you. What came to me most clearly was an invitation to take this parish to new heights, primarily new spiritual heights and a deeper awareness of why our Catholic faith is so awesome. This has only been  confirmed in my three months as your pastor. In light of this, I embarked on a path to unpack the Lord’s invitation and believe I have gained more insight on what that might look like and how that might happen. To get there, I realized fairly early that I would need someone to help me coordinate this vision and its implementation. After a four-month search, I have found the person I believe will be most beneficial to both you and me in this journey.

On December 1, Kathy Sales began her ministry among us as Director of Pastoral Ministries. She comes with excellent theological credentials, 20 years of pastoral ministry at both the parish and campus ministry level, and a strong background in spirituality. She will serve as coordinator with our various pastoral ministry areas to explore and implement the vision I have perceived from the Lord as His desire for our community. This vision will roll out over the course of 2021 and I pray you will find it both worthwhile and something you will want to embrace yourself. Stay tuned for more details soon and join me in welcoming Kathy to our staff.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the Americas and her feast day is December 12. Millions of Latinos and others in the Americas venerate her each year. This year, a Mass in Spanish will be celebrated at St. Francis on the evening of December 11 to honor La Morenita (the little brown lady) whose presence led to the conversion to Catholicism of virtually every indigenous person in what is present-day Mexico within 10 years of her appearance, an unprecedented event in the history of Christianity. I encourage you to read her story and the many iracles attributed to her. Here is a good synopsis of her story:

On December 13, we will celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday. With the limitations placed upon all of us by COVID-19, we invite parishioners to drive by the church that afternoon to rejoice a bit with us as we near the Christmas season. Fr. Jim will offer each car some blessed straw and holy water to be used in your home crèche. Fr. Jairo will offer a small bell to each person in your car to be rung during various times during our livestream Masses or at the church during the Christmas season. I will offer you a piece of chalk and a prayer that you may use to bless your home on the feast of the Epiphany on January 3. This is a small and safe way for us to connect during this Advent-Christmas time. We look forward to seeing many of you. All safety protocols will be followed by those packaging and handling these gifts.

Please support our Advent Giving Tree Project. The poor have a special place in the heart of the Lord and ours as well. You may help them through the donation of a material gift, a financial donation, and/or a gift card. The deadline for bringing your gift to the church is Wednesday, December 9. 

 Msgr. Clay

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