Did you read the happy news that our Deacon John shared in last Sunday’s bulletin? He wrote: “I wish to share the exciting news that St. Matthias was recently awarded an opportunity by the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry to participate in a 3‐year opportunity to learn and implement Accompaniment strategies.” This is the result of the painstaking efforts that Deacon John and Sue Lenczewski have been making to make our youth ministry more effective. In the acceptance letter, the Project Manager of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry wrote:
“After reviewing all of the applications and interviews, I am pleased to share that St. Matthias has been selected to participate in one of the five cohorts for the Accompaniment Project. Congratulations! The selection process was exceptionally difficult, and we considered many factors while continually calling on the Holy Spirit for guidance in our discernment. In the end, we believe that we have the right set of parishes with the right demographics, attitude, and gifts to make a difference in our Church’s ministry with young people.”
We are one of only 43 parishes chosen nationally. Considering that there are over 17,000 Catholic parishes in the US, this selection is very significant to us to be part of this three-year national pilot project for accompanying our youth about whom we all have great interest and concern. Praise God! Stay tuned for more info about the next steps as this will involve the rest of us too.
We enter the second week of the season of Advent. Naturally, we are going to be caught up (if we are not already!) in preparations for Christmas and all the celebrations surrounding that holy day. Since this year’s Advent is the shortest in many years (only three weeks instead of the usual four), it will make us feel very rushed and even totally unprepared as Christmas suddenly comes upon us. This is true not only about all the external preparations (decorations, shopping, sending greetings, gift buying and wrapping, etc.) but also about our spiritual preparations. One important spiritual preparation is the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession which we all can benefit from. Due to this year’s Advent limitations, we will not be having the Advent Penance Service. Instead, we will have ample opportunities to avail of this wonderful sacrament throughout Advent. I wish to repeat what I wrote in the bulletin last week:
“Both of us priests plan to be available for confessions during the whole season of Advent: weekdays after the 8 am Mass, and a longer time on Saturdays from 3:00 – 4:30 pm. If these times are not convenient, you can call any of us and make an appointment. I would encourage you to plan early to take advantage of this Sacrament that brings so much peace of heart.”
Today’s gospel, about John the Baptist who was sent as the messenger to prepare the people for the Messiah, has this verse: “And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by John in the river Jordan, confessing their sins” (Mark 1:1-8). This is a timely reminder to all of us about repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Very glad to see that many of you are already utilizing these Advent days to receive the grace of this healing Sacrament of Reconciliation/Penance. We priests have this opportunity this Thursday at the Diocesan center as we gather for an Advent day of retreat. All of us are in need of the healing touch of the Lord.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal