The State of Things #2 – Pastor’s Reflection (December 13, 2015)
In my experience, this Gaudete Sunday stands out as one of the happiest moments of our Parish Year. By custom this has been the weekend of the Advent retreat and the celebration of Lessons and Carols. These days offer a time of togetherness and festivity before people take up the more familial pursuits of Christmas itself.
This year we wear the encouraging rose vestments in a time of shared vulnerability in the United States and Europe. For us to sing carols in denial of this might appear to offer a counter-witness to the Gospel of Truth whose fulfillment we await. But our waiting for the Advent of God does not consist in wishful thinking, but rests in the virtue of hope. Because of hope we possess a joy and confidence that people of violence cannot take away from us. For this reason, we proceed with the Gaudete and Christmas festivities, with the longing that the victims of violence may find the healing that God alone can fully give.
On the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception, last Monday, we installed the new image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and on Saturday, her feast day, we blessed it. This new object of beauty and place of prayer comes to us through years of contributions by hope-filled people who have taken this cause to their hearts candle by candle. I trust I speak for the whole Community of the Parish when I express my profound gratitude for the gift, and for the witness of the gift.
The closed doors of the triptych reveal a sixteenth century map of the Americas, with the Holy Spirit hovering over them in the gable. The opened doors yield the image of the encounter between St Juan-Diego and the Blessed Mother upon the hill of Tepeyac. Framing this image are four Dominican Saints of the Americas; Martin de Porres, Rose of Lima, Juan Macias, and Louis Bertrand. They too form part of God’s visitation of this new world. In the gable the Holy Spirit presides over this new annunciation of God’s love, even as He presided over the original mystery bearing that title.
Ahead of us in the new year lie a number of tasks. Since I am running out of space let me simply enumerate them.
- The gradual formation of a united Parish Council.
- In view of the merger we have not added new members to the the Parish Council of St. Vincent Ferrer. The members are Lou Zacharilla (Chair), Sr. Mary Elena Rizzo, O.P., Lois Deming, Philip Morace, Ashley Rose and Lane Shea, and David Linnehan.
- At St. Catherine’s I have asked Helen Cox, Peggy Gale, Peter Marchewka, Fran Warga, and Steve and Kim Quatela to form a Parish Council.
- Each group is helping me to be aware of the issues facing each congregation as this process goes forward.
- Each group has also engaged in providing our Province of St. Joseph with a candid assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the Friars’ ministry in each place.
- The gradual union of Finance Councils. This needs to be handled carefully since St. Vincent’s and St. Catherine’s will be functioning as separate civil corporations for some time yet.
- At St. Vincent’s, Lauretta Bruno, Lois Deming, Joan Carvo, Peter Handal, Joe Brownell, and Jean-Hugues Monier have helped us analyze our performance for the previous fiscal year and present it to the parish.
- At St. Catherine’s, the vagaries of transition have slowed the production of the latest reports. However, we now have those figures. It will be a relief to sit down with Tom Warga, Ed Munshower, Stanley Nadel, Rev. John Farren, O.P., and Anthony Pirraglia, to go over our most recent performance and present it to the congregation. Also important to this task will be the Parish Trustee, Peter Marchewka.
- A process of communal reflection on the name of the new parish so that we can give the Cardinal three alternatives when the time comes.
- We all need to register for the new parish. In tandem with this, we need to convince more people to take this step of commitment.
- To pool our resources and develop a comprehensive program of religious education for the new parish. Toward this end, Lisa Harrelson who administers the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at St. Catherine’s has been completing the coursework necessary to be a Director of Religious Education (DRE) in the archdiocese. Once she possesses this certification, she can provide training to other catechists, so that the whole program can be up to code.
- Clergy and Laity will need to reflect on the Mass and confession schedule of the new parish. What can we sustain? What does the common good ask of us?
- The whole new community must be heard on the subject of liturgical music, so that we can frame a program that serves our worship.
- The Jubilee of the 800th anniversary of the Friars began on November 7. It will be a great work of the merger to develop a parish plan of celebration as we draw near to the anniversary itself on December 22, 2016.
- It will be Memorial Day in the twinkling of an eye.