Sunday, November 07, 2010

From the Bulletin This Week

A Few Simple Words.....
Here at St. Paul we’ve been thinking a lot about numbers this week. Last week was the end of the October Count, which is taken up all over the country. The results have already been sent to the Archdiocese. This year our average church attendance reached
2,098. That is a 6% increase over last year, and last year there was a 10% increase. The fact that our parish is still growing is also reflected in the number of students participating in our Religious Education Program. Our final number this year is 960. Our religious education students are taught by 82 volunteer religious education
teachers and staffed by 3 part-time staff members. This year each of our students will receive 26 hours of religious instruction. That means our religious education program is providing 24,960 hours of instruction to the young people of our parish. That’s a number to
be proud of for sure.

I was also impressed by how seriously the parents of our religious education students take their responsibilities. This week we held a workshop for the parents of our students who will be receiving First Reconciliation and Communion this year. Out of 93 families, all but
17 attended one of the sessions. We will be sending the 17 families, who were unable to attend, a link so that they can watch the presentation on-line. Numbers, numbers, numbers… The Kingdom of God is not about numbers, but it is important for every  pastor to understand them and understand what they mean for the
pastoral life of the Parish.

Speaking of numbers, this year, to date, we have had 62 funerals. On All Soul’s Day we invited all of the families of our beloved deceased (those buried from our Church) for a memorial Mass. The Bereavement Committee and Sr. Ellen did a great job of organizing the Mass and refreshments that followed. Many of the
people who attended commented on how much they appreciated the Mass and the effort our parish made in reaching out to them. I  was surprised by the number that attended. We almost ran out of the Eucharist. I was also moved by how many from each family
attended. This is a wonderful tradition at St. Paul and a beautiful way for us to support the members of our parish who have preceded us home to God. It gave me a chance to catch up with  and check up on some of the families I met when I presided at the funerals of their loved ones.

One area where our numbers are slightly down is in our
Thanksgiving food collection. Because of your generosity we are usually able to provide 30 needy families from the area with a whole week’s worth of groceries and a gift certificate to buy anything they are missing for their Thanksgiving meal. The Social Action Committee wants to make sure that everyone knows that you can still bring donations of food until November 12th. If you are able, please drop off your food donation in the downstairs hallway of the Church. That will save our maintenance staff from having to
move it every day. If you are unable to make it down the stairs, please leave it in the vestibule next to the wall so that no one trips on it.

Here are some numbers for you. Me, Four Teachers –Three Teacher’s aids, one Principal, a School Counselor, a few parents, and 112 beautiful little children from Pre-K to – Third Grade. All of
us were at Mass. When I walked out of the sacristy I wasn’t sure the Pre-K kids were standing until I saw that they were indeed standing - they just couldn’t see over the pews. I was pretty nervous about the Mass. Could they handle sitting still so long? Did they know they could take over whenever they wanted? The
Mass was beautiful, just beautiful. They were very well behaved and all 112 came up for a blessing because none of them have received communion yet. Would that we could all be so innocent and sincere. As I write this, Matthew 18:2-3 comes to mind. “He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, Amen, I say to
you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Something to think about for sure.

Finally, the gospel this week also speaks about numbers. The poor woman in the Gospel had seven husbands and they all died. The Sadducees probably made up the story to illustrate their difficulty in believing in eternal life. No one could have been that bad a cook. We who have been blessed with the gift of faith know that this life is not all there is. We know that by his death and resurrection Jesus conquered death and, therefore, our life on earth is just a prelude to life everlasting with God. I knew a very old Italian priest who
used to say whenever he was faced by a problem or a difficulty… “It’s no big deal when I think of everlasting life.” It sounds better in Italian. This week when life throws us a curve ball, let’s try and fix our eyes on the prize (the prize of eternal life, that is); and when we
do so, our everyday problems and difficulties will not seem so daunting.

Thanks for taking the time to read all of this…
Fr. Robert


cindyk said...

it was a beautiful mass with the prek - 3. you were so good with them and because of that they were good with you.. My children were actually immitating you at the dinner table the other night.. It was so very sweet. You would have been smiling.

GretchN said...

Father Bob, what a nice blog. We miss you at CUA!