As we draw close to the end of Advent and prepare to celebrate the feast of the Nativity of our Lord, I write to express my gratitude to all who have helped us get there in one piece, despite the challenges, after a very tumultuous year. I’m grateful for all the parish employees (i.e., the church, pre-school, TFS, and contracted workers) who have been nothing less than heroic in helping the parish navigate a new way of being parish this year. Their creativity, flexibility, generosity, and optimism are so impressive and humbling.
I’m also grateful for all our volunteers who are such an indispensable part of the parish. They reach into all parts of the parish and beyond as an exercise of their baptismal calling and countless thousands have benefitted from their ministry. I’m grateful for those who have financially supported the parish, especially in the midst of a pandemic, so that ministry in all its expressions can continue, particularly to those who have faced and are facing incredible hardships. I’m grateful for all who have been praying for us through this year, especially during the transition from Franciscan to diocesan leadership. I shudder to think what things could have looked like without this spiritual accompaniment. Fr. Jairo and I are grateful to be at St. Francis of Assisi and appreciate the ongoing welcome and support we have received from you. We are especially grateful for your patience with us as we learn your ways and introduce some adjustments to help us serve the Lord, you, and those beyond our parish better.
Given the wear-and-tear of 2020 for our employees, I am closing the parish down to give them a bit of a break between December 24-January 3 except for the liturgies of Christmas (12/24-25), Holy Family (12/26-27), New Year’s (12/31-1/1) and Epiphany (1/2-3). Our faculty, staff, and administration at our two schools are enjoying a well-deserved break as well.
We will resume our regular rhythms of parish life (i.e., church, pre-school, and TFS) on Monday, January 4. All households registered in the parish should have received communication from me this past week about our annual Stewardship Appeal (if you didn’t please contact the office so we may figure out why you may not have received this request). One of the things I’ve heard from parishioners is that becoming more intentional in the inclusion of our younger members would be beneficial to both them and the parish. In this year’s appeal, I took this to heart and asked households to address how all its members who have received First Eucharist might participate in sharing their time, talent, and/or treasure with the parish in 2021. I was recently asked by a curious parishioner if those with a relationship to the parish who are not Catholic and/or not receiving Holy Communion are welcome to participate. The answer is “YES!” We are happy to have everyone affiliated with the parish in some way who have reached the age of reason to consider how they may share the blessings God has given to them with the parish.
Beginning Monday, January 4, we will adjust the way we set up requests for remembering family, friends, fellow parishioners, and others in both the Prayers of the Faithful and Masses. For the Prayers of the Faithful, we will mention only the names you submit in the petitions that are read aloud at Mass. To maintain our longstanding practice, we will also place those names and those related to them, who are affiliated with St. Francis, on our parish website. The current tradition will continue, just in a different way. In addition, we will also inaugurate a formal Mass Intention process on the same day. Requesting Masses specifically for someone, living or deceased, is a venerable tradition and an exercise of your baptismal priesthood, something you received at your baptism, that calls you to pray and intercede on behalf of others to the Lord. There are many ways to exercise this expression of your baptismal priesthood, but requesting a Mass to be celebrated for someone is a venerable tradition since the Mass is our highest form of prayer and worship. Please see the parish website for how you may request Masses to be celebrated for a particular intention. A link will appear very soon for both types of requests.