At the Pastoral Council this past week we discussed ways to build up the St. Bernard community. It takes an all out effort on everyone’s part and it begins right where you are: here at Mass. We don’t need a lot of gimmicks, just a genuine willingness to greet others with whom you pray and worship.
I know how difficult it is to know everybody, but when people have come here for years and still don’t know the faces they see every week – we are nothing more than a gathering place of anonymous Catholics.
The Rite of Peace is sometimes a picture of where we are with one another. Have you ever noticed that when the congregation is small, the few people sit further and further apart? So, when it comes time to offer one another a sign of peace people just turn and wave to each other rather than go to one another. I guess it works, but I think it also symbolizes a desire to not move any closer.
Being in a comfort zone can prevent a group of people from becoming a community or Church. I want to encourage you in two ways:
1) Say ‘hello’ to one another at Mass; and get to know someone new
2) Initiate events of your interest; bring people together around things you enjoy; invite a parishioner to it
The Pastoral Council can sponsor Baseball games, concerts, picnics, card parties, etc. – and as you probably know by now – I’m not exactly the Entertainment Director for the ‘Love Boat’. I think if we all take some responsibility for how the Spirit moves within each of us; there will be a greater sense of belonging and ownership by those who consider themselves part of the St. Bernard community. The Holy Spirit will have to help unite us.
This coming week the Catholic Church brings to a close the “Year of Faith”. It was initiated in 2012 by Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th Anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
This Friday marks another anniversary: the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. For those of us who were there, it was a profound tragedy that brought the nation to a halt as on September 11, 2001. Many people can still remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the incredible news. Now it is hard to believe it was half a century ago.
Next weekend we bring a close to the Liturgical year as well with the Solemnity of Christ the King. After the 4:30, 9:30, 11:30 and 1:00 Masses we will offer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to those who are seriously ill, anticipating a surgery, or frail due to the passing of years. Let us pray for them.
Also next Sunday, the Newman Students will sponsor a Pancake Breakfast for us in the Social Hall from 10:30am – 1:00pm. Come hungry!
Fr. Mark Haydu, Jackie’s son, will be here to sign his book “Meditations on Vatican Art”. It’s for “art lovers and spiritual pilgrims”, but it also makes a great gift “that allows the beauty of Vatican art help you to see your Creator’s love for you”. Check out the website and call the Parish Office BY MONDAY, NOV. 18th if you would like a copy ordered for you at the publisher’s price of $20.00. “Meditations on Vatican Art” is tops on Amazon’s “Hot New Releases in Religious Arts & Photography!”
Sadly, someone has been desecrating the Holy Water in the Font. We moved it from the place in the Baptistery, but that has not stopped the behaviors. So we can no longer keep it unsecure. If you wish to take Holy Water home for your use, please bring a sealable container to the Sacristy.
Across the nation, there has been a sharp decline in Mass attendance. Here too the decrease is evident. In the fall of 2009 six Masses were celebrated at St. Bernard on a weekend. The average number of people per weekend was 1,331. Two years later in 2011, while merged with St. Mary and with only five Masses per weekend, the total attendance was around 1,146. Now another two years have passed and last month we did another count. Still with only five Masses per weekend, but with St. Mary on its own again, our average weekend attendance here is only 1,007 people.
I say only 1,007 people because the church seats 904 people (not including the balcony). We could almost get by with ONE Mass per weekend. It’s something to think about when trying to draw people together to build a ‘vibrant Catholic presence’ in this downtown parish. Christ’s Peace, Fr. Dan