“…If You Agree With Them Politically.”

That was the post a former parishioner, well-loved and well-cared for, and missed greatly posted on our Facebook page recently. The exact quote went something like, “This is a wonderful place to worship, if you agree with them politically.”  Hurtful? Yes. Unexpected? Sadly, no.

You see, during their tenure with us we all knew their political views. But, as you also know, we don’t allow a bully-pulpit, or political rallies here, but we do address civil rights and incompatibility issues that run against the gospel we adore. It is incumbent upon us to address these as a People of God, an Assembly that worships and proclaims Jesus as Lord and Savior, and me as a priest in Christ’s holy Church. There is no doubt that I’ve stepped on toes this past two years as I have addressed health care as a right, immigration and refugees and unlawful and immoral bans, children in custody at despicable border camps, inhumane treatment of refugees, the rejection of a person solely because of their religion, and the deep-seated misogyny of women and the penchant for war. For that, I make no apologies. It’s my job.

That said, since the comment was publicly posted, I do feel an obligation to turn this into a teaching moment. Now, I could tell you about Jesus’ actions during the Passion in Matthew where he directed Peter to put away his sword. I could also tell you about our Franciscan values and the relationship that St Francis had with Muslim leader, Sultan Malek al-Kamil, a model of not only inter-religious dialogue, but a dialogue of earnestly desiring peace (We studied this last year in our Secular Franciscan Group). I could also tell regale you with the many times Jesus asked us to turn a cheek, or spread love, or welcomed the sinner, or ate with the despised, touched the bleeding woman, embraced the leper, the tax cheat, the rejected foreigner, or how He directed us countless times to spread His gospel and not hate, but love one another. But, for me, perhaps the greatest lesson I can give is a short story and a direct summation of why we are Catholics.

The story. I sat with a major benefactor and parishioner as she angerly told me to hire someone for my staff different than my choice because we welcomed ‘too many gays here’. She ended her comments with, “If you don’t listen, Father, you will not receive my $10,000 check this year.” She left with her check. I was sad (and yes, wanted that donation!) but not at the expense of my soul, or the life of the parish we committed to being.

The summation. What makes us validly catholic is that we believe in the inherent dignity of the human person and the unconditional focus on the concept of Christian Grace. Every single person, and yes, even those you disdain, or practice another religion, or worship a tree, or have darker skin, or sit in jail for murder, or make bombs that maim or kill in war, and so many others are made Imago Dei, in the image and likeness of God. Despite your protestations, God is the author of life – the Ruach Elohim – the breath in our lungs, not you. It is why it informs our consciousness against abortion, but allows us to welcome those who had the procedure and lost a life; it is why we hate the sin of war, but can find forgiveness to the war load; it is how we despise the death penalty, but can forgive those who slaughtered; it is why we may never have been homeless or rejected or ill or penniless or confused about our sexuality or marginalized because of our skin color or sexual identity, but still we welcome all of those – all of us – and all of the us’ out there – that need a home and a place to find comfort and love and care and welcoming face; ‘not a sword, but a fish.’

Politics and questions, and life issues are very complicated and highly controversial at times, but the Gospel is not a chess match, and our life here at Saint Miriam are crystal clear: We are not for sale.

We welcome and we love, and yes, we protect those who are not; even if you disagree with us politically.
 


“Shhh, Why I Don’t Care If You Make it to Mass on Christmas Day!”

I know what you are thinking, “He is a priest, our pastor, and he is saying stay home on Christmas Day? He’s lost his mind!”  Well, not really.

You see, I want you to come today! I want you to bring your kids, your family and your friends, and even a neighbor or two! I want you to see how much effort we put into a beautiful Christmas for you and your family this year at Saint Miriam! The sights, the sounds, and the decorations are simply stunning! I want you to enjoy the ‘No fuss’ Christmas Pageant at 3:00pm with hot cocoa and a Christmas carol sing-a-log, and witness the Live Nativity and then witness us make history as a real live camel leads us – God’s people – into our first Christmas Mass of this year at 4:30pm! I want you to see a small child bring in the Infant Jesus and gently place him in His manger, and I want you to hear the lovely bells and sing the songs, and believe like a child all about the wonderous season that now holds us so firmly! You can even meet our parish’s newest Golden Retriever, Bailey! (Now what’s more Christmas than a puppy under the tree!)

So, that is my Christmas wish as a pastor this year. I need nothing more, I have a beautiful life, wonderful parish community, and breathtaking family and a miracle baby on the way, too. No, my life is not perfect, my finances often tight, my bills sometimes past due, people don’t always support or like me very much; my struggles are the same as yours, and yet I know that I am blessed in so many ways: you are one of the biggest!

One of my all time idols, Father Henri Nouwen, once told the story of a student who, many years after his graduation, returned to sit in his former college professor’s office where so many questions had been answered and so many problems had been solved. When the student entered, he told his professor that he didn’t need anything, he came just to visit, to be together. They sat for a while in silence and looked at each other. One broke the silence by telling the other how nice it was to see each other. The other agreed, and then there was more silence. Finally, the student said, “When I look at you it is as if I am in the presence of Christ.” The professor remembers that it did not startle or surprise him and that he could only respond with, “It is the Christ in you who recognizes the Christ in me.” The student replied with the most healing words Father Nouwen had heard in many years. “Yes, Christ indeed is in our midst.’ “From now on, wherever you go, or wherever I go, all the ground between us will be holy ground.”

This is how I have come to know Santa; the spirit of Christmas. This is how I have come to know each of you. And I am reminded especially at Christmastime, that each of you, for me on a daily basis, is the very face of our living Christ.

So, no, I don’t need you here at Christmas Day. I would rather you be with your family, gathered around your family Christmas tree or the dining room table, enjoying one another for as long as you can, because that is where I so long to be and no longer can…

Merry Christmas! I end by sending my greetings and prayers for a peaceful, blessed Christmas. This truly is a holy time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, born for love of us, born to set us free.

As always, you will be remembered in my prayers on Christmas Day. And I humbly ask you to remember me in your prayers, too. That’s the very best gift you could give me, besides showing up later today!

May our Infant Savior bless you abundantly throughout the Christmas season! Again, Merry Christmas!

To Jesus through Mary this holy night,
 

Monsignor Jim



It’s Time for the Polar Express!

Today, in our school, classes rotated through the very exciting S.T.E.A.M.M. Classroom to watch the classic movie, Polar Express, and then worked on wonderful projects that allowed them to learn about wobbling science and critical thinking in a fun and interactive way! We have so much to be proud of with our new school, and our exciting welcoming parish! We have such energy and excitement as we build for a brand new 2020!

Last evening, Katelyn and I had dinner with two parishioners who regaled us with why they love Saint Miriam so much. It was heartening to me to hear as I normally only hear of the objections or dislikes to changes, etc. Very few times does anyone approach me to compliment me on what we are doing, how impactful our ministry and outreach programs are, or how we impact the world in such generous ways. As I sat and listened over such a wonderfully warm and tasty meal, I thought of the things of Polar Express: magic of the season, yearning to be a small boy without the stress of the commercialized season, and loving and trusting in things unseen!

For those who never have enjoyed the movie, the story is simple and magical, is the tale of a boy’s dreamlike train ride to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus. Late on Christmas Eve, after the town has gone to sleep, a boy boards the mysterious train that waits for him, The Polar Express! When the boy arrives at the North Pole, Santa Claus offers him any gift he desires. The boy asks only for a bell from the harness of Santa’s reindeer, but on the way home, somehow the bell is lost! Then, on Christmas morning, the boy finds the bell under the Christmas tree, and when he shakes it, the bell makes the most beautiful sound he’s ever heard!! His mother admires the bell, but she laments that it is broken … for, you see, only a true believer can hear the sound of the bell!

Nowadays we are raising children who know too much too soon and put far too much stead in reason and logic. But as adults we learn from scientists who point out again and again that the universe is a mysterious place that goes far beyond our capacity to understand it! In fact, many agree with the mystics in all religious traditions who honor the limits of our knowledge. As the Catholic theologian Leonardo Buff has put it: “We never ‘catch up with’ reality itself. The real nature of mystery always evades our attempts to conceptualize it and escapes the nets of our language and symbolism. Its depths are never plumbed. Mystery is always linked to passion, enthusiasm and all great emotions, in short, to life’s deepest and greatest impulses.”

In the movie, the Hero Boy has reached that critical year of his young life when he is not sure whether to believe in Santa Claus. In the film, he didn’t have his picture taken at the department store Santa; he didn’t send a letter; and he made his little sister leave the milk and cookies out on Christmas Eve. But, by the end of this magical Christmas tale, you will concur with Hero Boy that oftentimes the most real things in the world — the ones really worth believing in — are those we cannot see, only believe in. Mystery always overcomes reason and brings joy to the heart. Now there’s something to celebrate!

Perhaps instead of looking past Saint Miriam, or too critically, or selfishly, or without trust in what is to come, we should celebrate the real mystery and joy that God created us from nothing some almost 13 years ago, and look at the magic we are together for the world who needs us!

Blessed Christmas and coming New Year…. such things to come that will continue to marvel a world in need of place like ours!
 
 


No, Virginia, We Can’t Make It Without Santa Clause, or Alone.

There has been a push lately to use work at home videos, electronic mirrors, and virtual coaching to get fit. There are apps designed to help you change eating habits and reduce caloric intake. There are gadgets that you attach to your back that sends signals to your smart phone to improve posture. For every problem, issue, vice, or habit, there is some way to sit at home, alone, and try to improve. The issue is that they all fail.

As my Coach at the CrossFit gym said in a recent post, we are inherently social creatures. Even self-described introverts need to be around others periodically! If you simply look at our human history, community matters, and it matters a lot, even when we think it doesn’t. At first, it was to simply to survive as ‘hunter-gatherers’ – but now it is built into our very DNA as a human being. It connects us with something greater, it demands we have time where we are face-to-face with others.

This is why church still thrives, even if a little neglected right now. It is why we still run on the broken and admittedly time-wasting system of committee meetings! It is also why groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Weight Watchers still make it, despite the latest technology. It is also why, despite the greatest minds trying to find a solution to ‘church at home’, we will always be needed, too. We are social at our heart, we need community, and whether you recognize it or not, you need Saint Miriam.

Every week, people like you and me, gather in this sacred place. We do simple things like say hello, share stories, learn of others’ loves and losts, triumphs and failures, challenges, hopes, and sadness; we hug and cry, and laugh, too! We break bread, sing a little, best we can, and sip wine, and then regale a story now some 2,011 years old, as we listen, learn, engage, and grow. We remember, reminisce, and we love. This is what a community does and gives and how it breathes. Every heartbeat present brings new life and hope, despite the ills of the world. Yes, Virginia, we need the stories of the Santa Clauses of the world, and we need one another, and we certainly need Saint Miriam, or our life would be incomplete, frail, and lacking, and surely, we would die alone.

Yesterday, I helped Ed Hoelker say goodbye to the world; at least the world as he and I knew it. Ed, our most senior at age 96, and certainly one of the most beloved of parishioners. I helped Ed say goodbye to his wife of 68 years, Jinny, just a few years ago in January of 2015. And I have been his pastor, his confessor, and his confidant ever since. Ed loved Jesus and he loved Saint Miriam and he knew the power of community. Despite his advancing age, he traveled to Mass weekly, hardly ever missing his Sunday obligation. Truth be known, Ed often attended Mass at several churches during the week for daily Mass. He once told me it was out of boredom, but I knew better; so did Ed. Ed loved God and trusted God more than even I, as a priest. Ed gave me faith and strength when I needed it and when I was ready to give up. Ed never left our campus without saying goodbye to me and reminding me that he loved me. “I am leaving, Father! Thank you for all you do! I love you, Father!” Those were his parting words every single time.

Ed never forget to have Mass intentions said, never once missed a week of giving to his parish to support us financially, loved engaging the subject of Purgatory with Father Bryan, engaged every fundraiser and tried to attend every event. Ed also volunteered in the office, helped map the cemetery, and proudly would declare that he was the ‘oldest acolyte in the world!’! (I am not sure that was the case, but I know it was close enough to give him that warranted title!)

Ed loved God so much that he waited for me to arrive before letting go at Einstein Hospital yesterday. He held my hand, tried to speak, mumbled his acknowledgment that he knew it was me, and squeezed my hand tightly. I leaned into his ear and I told him clearly that it was time, it was safe, he was good to go. I controlled my deep tears and began to recite the parting prayers a priest does at the bedside of someone dying. I began with the Our Father followed by three Hail Marys in a row. It was toward the end of the second Hail Mary, somewhere about ‘Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.’  Where I felt Ed’s hand let go of mine, as he slipped into God’s embrace. His chest stopped moving and I knew – I knew without any doubt – that Ed was home, in a new community, and one that was waiting and that would embrace him eagerly because he had prepared for it all his life.

Ed loved me. I loved Ed. Ed loved the church, Ed loved Saint Miriam, and Ed loved God. So do I. There is nothing more important. There can’t be, if we want to truly live. Ed gave generously and completely because he knew that nothing here in this life was ever going to last beyond that last breath. How about you?

So, this week, we will gather and say so long to our beloved Ed. But we still have our own work to do, until our time comes. May we live as well and as long as Ed Hoelker. But more than any length of days, may our lives be one of giving, community, love, and hope.

In the end, it is all we really have…

 

 



Let Us Be Joyful in Our Being Different!

Comparison steals our joy. When we compare, we feel less than and often inadequate. In these days before Christmas, many are caught being less than content with what they have and struggle with gift buying and measuring up. It is sad, really because we are all unique and wonderfully made, and the best gift we can ever give to another person is the gift of our self; our unique and wonderful self!

If you ask a group of people at my CrossFit Gym what one of life’s biggest struggles is, the overwhelming answer will often be being content and not comparing ourselves to others. One can lift more, one can move better, one can ‘clean’ a heavier weight, or finish a WOD faster. But, in the end, the best advice I ever received was from my very first CrossFit Coach when he said, “Every day at the box (CrossFit gym) is a contest, a contest of YOU against the better YOU yet to come. It is never about the person next to you. They have their own struggles and desires. Concentrate on you, James!” I have done so ever since and I am lighter, faster, stronger, and look younger (See! There I go already!)

Contentment is something that we can and need to learn, because we are God’s children and He made us the way we are for a reason. That is what Advent is all about: God so loved the world that He gave us His own son so that we might have life. Wow! Huh? SO that WE might live, God found us worthy enough to love us, just the way we are…brokenness and all. And remember that God designed each of us to be different and unique. Life would be so boring if we all looked alike, dressed alike, and had the same talents and skills!

I am with you in this. Whether it is someone’s physical attributes, or the material things they possess, or their success, or perceived success and happiness, (think of Robin Williams or Kate Spade?) we can either make ourselves feel better or worse about ourselves based on our evaluations and our comparisons without ever loving ourselves. It is so hard to overcome this habit. I know.

In the end, comparison is selfishness disguised. It has us looking at others and selfishly thinking about only ourselves, and not others. And that is not what Saint Miriam is about; never was.

I have found Saint Miriam to be unique in a beautiful way, too. With all the scandal that goes with being Catholic lately, we are a wonderful place, and are lovely in so many ways! We welcome everyone who comes, and give children a quality education, and outreach to those on the margins and bring warmth to those experiencing homelessness. We continue to better ourselves, and build new things, and expand our operations, and reduce our impact on God’s world, not to be more selfish, or ridicule others or heir church, but rather to love all the more! Even the changes I am proposing for winter 2020 to the Sanctuary are not to just spend money, but to bring us closer to who we are and to see and love one another more deeply.  We are joyful in being different!

In this holy season of giving, reflecting, and expecting, we need to pause and ask ourselves, are we truly living?

Let us rejoice in our strengths and in our weaknesses. Let us celebrate the community we have built and support her and pray for one another. Let us worry less about the number of presents under the tree, and all the ways we have love in our lives and within our heart. Then, and only then, will we truly be wealthy beyond measure.

Blessed Advent!
 


Starfish can regrow limbs…

Those who know me, know that I love Advent! I mean, I adore – absolutely adore – every aspect of this beautiful season. I know many will relegate it to the periphery, as they rather shop and clamor for the consumer version of the Christmas season, but I will allow it to do what it is intended: change me, allow me to reflect and then ‘soft reboot’ me back into a renewed existence.

I’ve noted lately that many of us, myself included – admittedly and openly, mea culpa – have been (in the harsh vernacular of the world) bitching a lot! They moan about their illness, their hardships, their blights, their families and relationships, their health, and their finances. They walk around with the heads down and their tongues wagging in despair. They wear appliances like bumper stickers that read, “Look at ME, I need attention more than you!”

Even myself, blessed as I am, have been moaning a lot lately. And, in all my moaning, just like you, I have missed the blessings of my life. I was convicted by God, as I sat in traffic last evening, struggling to endure well over an hour of bumper-to-bumper traffic from home to the Children’s Hospital to pick up Katelyn. There I was, stuck in traffic and the glow of brake lights, listening to CNN and absorbing all the world’s troubles as my own, when it hit me: I am going to pick up my wife, who is pregnant with my child, to stop back at the parish and school  I helped create with a continuing relationship with those like Sean who helped build her into a place of hope, and who gives back to the world like no other place on earth – caring for school children, the homeless, marginalized, the rejected – and all I can do is sit here in my new Jeep and bitch!

So, I am asking God this Advent to come and help me pray more and moan less. I have learned many times over, you can rage pointlessly at the lot you’ve drawn in your life, and the hardships you’re confronting while railing against those in the world who have it ‘better’ than you, OR you can take note of, and pride in, the way you’re taking them in stride and moving forward, ever forward to become a better and more thankful person.

Waiting is one of the ways God changes us. It isn’t necessarily the waiting itself, but who we become while we wait that is important. Mary willingly gave herself over and birthed one single Divine Person – the Second Person of the Trinity. She didn’t birth half of Him, part of Him, or only His nature. She is truly the Mother of God the Son, all because she waited and joyful hope to be changed! How will you and I allow God to use us this season; to change us?  Will you willingly give yourself over to God and allow His will be one with yours? Will you learn that your hardships are no more, and no less, that of someone else; that many hardships we cannot even see, but they are there and ever-present. We can bitch or we can ensure. We can succumb, or we can adapt. We can put ourselves first and cut God off, or we can learn to trust and thrive again! Mary answered the angel of the Lord. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Jesus, may our hearts be rich soil for you and Mother Mary intercede for us that like you we may carry Christ into the world. 

I know that God once intentionally hard rebooted the world once with a great flood and a plague, too, but now He does so every year with a soft reboot that we call Advent.

So, here we are, we have come to yet another fork in the road, and we can willingly now choose between wallowing in self-pity and taking a good, hard look around us. I am reminded that Starfish can regrow limbs, but that’s nothing compared to what human beings can do.

How about you and me together? What can we do?

 


“We are so lucky to be alive.”

Yesterday after Mass, Katelyn and I went to see the movie, Last Christmas. Without giving away too much, I can tell you I left in tears. There was so much beauty in the lines and the movie’s plot, but for me the most touching point, beyond the surprise element, was when the main character, Kate, (who had been serious ill and received a heart transplant a year earlier) was talking to Tom when he asked if he could touch the scar from the surgery on her chest. She allowed him to, and he gently touched it.

I realized in that moment what we do at Saint Miriam. We heal scars by not being afraid to touch them. Yes, so many of us have scars that we hide. So many of us live in pretend worlds where we often don’t let people see us with all of our wounds, some gaping, some scared over, some still healing. We come to Saint Miriam with past hurts, sores, open wounds and deep blemishes, but unlike many other parishes, we find that they matter not and are often healed, or at the very least, accepted and viewed as part of us. And, in that sacred realization, we find we are loved.

Today we also honor Transgender Day of Remembrance and the and the 311 Transgender persons murdered this year, as well as all those in the past killed – some 3,317 trans and gender-diverse people have been murdered globally since January 2008 – simply because of hate, like Diamond Williams, laid to rest on our property when even her own Catholic family discarded her body like waste, leaving her ‘unclaimed’ at the city morgue. Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. We all should be proud of what we do as parish to not hate, and to always welcome and love, everyone. That should inspire us to give more to ensure we remain because after all, where would we find what we have created together?

Toward the end of the movie, Kate says a line that has resonated with me ever since I heard it. She said, “We are so lucky to be alive.” And so we are!

I pray that we end this year supporting the place that has loved us as we are. I pray we will all come to the Annual Concert and Silent Auction this Friday and give to our End of Year Campaign. I pray for those of us who feel we live but are still not worthy.

My wounds are as big as yours, and yet – at least for me – I now see how lucky I am to be alive and be part of who we are and what we’ve created. If this parish ever went way, I also know that I would be lost and all alone once again, scars and all. 
 
Rest well, Diamond. You are loved and not forgotten. And to everyone who feel they are too different to join us, come and find a place that loves like no other!
 
 


We Are Failing and It’s Not Good.

As pastor, it is incumbent upon me from time to time to light a fire. Sometimes it is at the Great Easter Vigil with the Lighting of the Mew Fire. Sometimes at our annual parish picnic, where we see our faces glow with a community of hope.  And, sometimes it under our proverbial butts when we are failing to honor all that we are. Today is such a day.

There is both good news and bad news about our parish community. That is the long and the short of it.  

The good news is we are growing and we enjoy a place like no other where everyone is welcome regardless of who they are, the color of their skin, where they came from, who they love or who loves them; their gender status or marital status, no matter if they are addicted or in recovery or an ex-offender, too; where immigration status is of no concern to us. From the very beginning of our founding some 13 years ago now, we have promised a parish that kept its eye on the ball. That ball for us has always been and will always be, Jesus. How He welcomes. How He forgives. How He loves. Period.

The bad news is we are taking all we created for granted.

It’s not good. 

  • 65% of parishioners don’t attend Mass on a given Sunday. 
  • 66% of today’s young people leave the church when they go to college and less than 62% are enrolled in Children Faith Formation (CFF).
  • Only 12% of church members are actively  engaged in our parish.
  • Many who attend our parish still post negative social media posts that are less than forgiving and mean-spirited and often times overly political and few engage or ‘like or share’ our posts to help us grow.
  • Less than 28% attend events or support our social and community building like the annual concert coming up or past Fall Pumpkin Festival and fewer find seasons like Advent inspirational. Instead, Sundays are about leisure and sporting events. 
  • Less than 5% enrolled their own children in our very own school; the region’s ONLY Franciscan S.T.E.A.M.M. School with great reviews and deep discounts for parishioners. 
  • Less than 40% give financially on a regular basis and less than 15% truly tithe. Most simply ‘tip’ God from loose change and few give from their abundance, but rather only from whatever is left over.

Not good, right?  In a sentence: We are failing. We are failing God, we are failing one another, and the Church, and our world. 

I realize that in our world today it’s not just us. Overall people just aren’t going to church anymore, and when they do, they just sit in the pews and don’t actively participate, but we are supposed to be different, right? This wonderful place we built on the back of so many who gave their all IS to be DIFFERENT

And personally it is hard, too. I remember only years ago, a priest was one of the most respected professions in town. Today, it can be tough for people to take you seriously. The influence of the local church and the influence of a local church pastor is on the decline. In our world today statistics show we are on track to become just another Roman Church where:

  • 75% of people don’t attend church on a given Sunday and less than 19% go weekly!
  • 66% of today’s young people leave the church when they go to college or make their Confirmation.
  • Only 21% of church members are actively engaged in their congregation in any real and meaningful ways

Sadly, just like many of us and it better change.

If you are offended by words, good. You should be. If you aren’t giving, like so many of you didn’t give last weekend, than you should be offended, but not at me, at yourselves. I gave; I always do. I was present at all Masses and into the evening, as I often am. Even when things are tight at home, I still give. I never fail to show up for events or to lead or to grow or to change myself. I work to become a better person every week. A better priest. A better Catholic Christian. And a better parishioner.

Maybe you should now, too?
 

To help, here are some links that every parishioner should know and engage regularly:

 

Give today or sign up for your weekly or monthly recurring donation here

 

Give and End of Year Gift here

 

Enroll your child in CFF here

 

Enroll your child in Saint Miriam School for January here

 

Join a Small Group here
 
 

Support our Outreach here

 

View our Mass schedules and get to church here

 

Keep up on current events here

 

Download our weekly newsletter here

 

Buy your tickets for the Annual Concert and Silent Auction here 

 

We have one of the most beautiful, inclusive, progressive and yet liturgically centered parishes on the planet earth. We are there for you always and we support you when you need pastoral care and advice. Our priests answer their phones, go where needed, and return your calls. We are responsive and energetic, and we listen to your needs. We have events and community building activities like no other parish in the region. And, sadly, many take all of that for granted.

The choice is now yours.  I have always been honest; sometime brutally honest and so let me be clear here today: If you support us, engage us, and give, really give generously and from the heart and not just ‘tip God’ from whatever change is in your pocket, then your life will be blessed like mine, and we will grow together and become stronger and even more vibrant. But, if you continue down this path, we won’t do well at all, and we WILL fail and one day the doors will simply close and all we have will be lost. 

It is that sad, and truthfully, that urgent.
 
Monsignor +Jim, Pastor

 

 

 



The Earth is Dying.

I know it’s not a popular subject, and perhaps not the most interesting or entertaining. I know there are a lot of skeptics, too. I also know there is a lot of proof.  We are killing our planet. And, last week, our government’s Administration took the first step to officially withdraw our country from the Paris agreement on climate change, which – by the way – every other country on Earth has signed. Yes, every.

Climate change is already affecting every sector and region of the United States and the global earth is warming. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has maintained global average monthly and annual records of combined land and ocean surface temperatures for more than 130 years. These data show that temperatures have climbed to more than 1.8°F (1°C) above pre-industrial levels as of 2015, and the long-term global upward trend is clear. In fact, the past five years were the warmest in history and we have rising seas, glaciers are melting, sea levels and ocean heat content are rising, and we have increased storm surge and tidal flooding, hurricanes, and historic wildfires. Patterns of rainfall and snow, droughts and storms, and lake and sea ice are changing, too. Not to mention plant and animal distributions and interactions are changing, with potential severe effects on crop pests.

You see, driving cars that burn gasoline and making electricity by burning coal and gas releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Curing of cement emits carbon dioxide, too.  Since the late 19th Century, when factories powered by coal became common, the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere each year has increased. And all of this climate change also threatens national security, our security preparedness as a nation and leader.

Our parish has been on the forefront of implementing ‘Green’ technologies. We have upgraded to Energy Star and efficient systems from HVAC to lighting to insulation to roofing and windows since we began at our current home. We use recycled materials, compost, recycle, and use ‘green’ technology wherever possible, and try to bring our own Carbon Footprint down every year. Just this past week we reduced our printing for the weekly newsletters to help, too! Oftentimes, these changes are not cheap, but the legacy is for our children and grandchildren, not for the momentary inconvenience to us today. The future is at stake. Yes, it is that serious; that grave. And I have even taken these plans to my own home and currently enjoy a 100% solar panel home with top insulation values. Cheap? No. But my coming child will one day thank me. I hope yours will, too.

It’s not too late. And that is why this Sunday we will gather, listen, learn, sing and pray to be better stewards of God’s planet. The choices we make today can help determine what our climate will be like. Putting a limit on heat-trapping emissions and encouraging the use of healthier, cleaner energy technologies, such as solar and wind power, would help us to avoid the worst potential consequences of global warming.

The Paris agreement was a good start, not the finish line. But it was the best ignition switch the world could agree on to spark international cooperation on this critical issue. I pray you will also be encouraged and determined to help. Join us in the spirit of St Francis, the Patron Saint of Ecology. He will be proud you did; so will I.