Category: From the Pastor

First Down (August 13, 2017)

Dear Friends,

Recently our Parish was asked to welcome the family and friends of the victims of a recent flash flood near Payson. This tragedy had ten members of a family become victims of a wall of water and mud. The Parish staff and many parishioners, once learning of the funeral being held here, came forward and offered their services. We are so grateful that we had the opportunity to offer hospitality, comfort, sacraments and rituals among other things that the family and their friends needed.

My thanks to our Parish staff for going beyond their normal duties and stepping forward to give their physical presence, hours of set up, running errands and meeting with the many family members. Without their willingness to work together, it would not have been such a powerful experience. No complaining, no feeling it was not their job, simply stepping forward and giving their all. We are so blessed to have a staff that really sees this as ministry.

My thanks, as well, to the many parishioners who came forward and offered our guests assistance, prayers, hospitality, Spanish translation for some of the guests, music ministry, liturgical ministers and hospitality with food and watching over the many children. We had many parishioners who helped out and many others who offered to help. All needs were covered.

What we learned was it took a team effort on many fronts to help a grieving family. We all did the best we could, and the funeral went well.

With the number of funerals we have hosted the past few weeks, our outstanding Funeral Ministry team has worked very hard. The average for a few weeks was about one funeral per day. I want to thank the supporting clergy, the staff who work with funerals and the many parishioners who serve in the Funeral Ministry. It is important work.

St. Patrick was in the news for having such a big funeral mass for ten people at once. We inspired the many who came and gave them hope. Just be aware that this happens every day at our Parish. It is a large operation that offers countless funerals, weddings and sacraments that welcomes everyone and lets them know God is with them. For the big events that are seen and the many things that are unseen, know that your Parish leadership works hard to bring the love of God to all.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

First Down (August 6, 2017)

Dear Friends,

A few weeks ago many of us heard the tragic news of ten members of a Valley family losing their lives due to a flash flood. This news was heartbreaking to so many people. Four children, seven years old and younger, a 12 year old, a 19 year old and four adults also lost their lives. This news disturbed our hearts and souls.

Many people inquired how they might help the families that were grieving, how they might remember their lives through their work places, their schools or their neighborhood. The news is filled with so many stories of violence, conflict, lack of respect for others, apathy towards the dignity of others which leads many people to feel

like all of society is awful, that people are uncaring or that evil is everywhere. Yet such a heartbreaking story of a family losing their lives reminded many of us that we are members of a human family. We are connected. In spite of many stories of bad behavior that seem to grab the attention of people, there really is more caring and concern that is left out of the headlines.

Our parish had the honor of having their funeral Mass. In meeting the families involved, I saw for myself the gratitude that this family had for so many. Thanking the many who helped rescue some of the family, thanking those searching to recover the bodies and sharing powerful stories of the family members who lost their lives. This tragedy brought out the best in so many people. So many wanting to do something, even the smallest acts of kindness were opportunities that people took to share their love to these hurting families.

One of the acts of mercy that comes from the scriptures is to bury the dead. In every Catholic home all should be aware that: the Mass of Resurrection is an act of mercy; we honor the gift of life that the person received from God; and, the entire Church sends forth our loved ones towards a merciful and loving God who knows the hearts of all.

These past few weeks our Parish has been asked to bury many people, and our Parish Clergy/Staff and Funeral Ministers/Hospitality have met this need by giving each family the dignity and hope of the Funeral Rites.

Funerals remind us that in such sad moments we can show that we are connected by our concern for those who have lost loved ones. This week we will all be reminded in news stories that people can do bad things, that people can be cruel and that we might come to generalize that people are really not good. I invite all parishioners to be people who honor the dead and comfort the grieving. These might be co workers, neighbors, extended family members, friends or even strangers. Look for ways that we can all practice this act of mercy – burying the dead.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

First Down (July 30, 2017)

Dear Friends,

Our Ministers of Hospitality are ready to offer a spirit of welcome and are also available to help with special situations that may arise.

Our parish has always offered low-gluten hosts for those who cannot take the regular hosts that we use. As one walks into the sanctuary and are greeted by our hospitality ministers, please inform them of your need for a low-gluten host. They will let our Sacristan know, and a host will be placed on a special paten at the altar at the time of consecration. Please let the minister know where you are seated so that our Sacristan may direct you where to go for

communion. If you come regularly to Mass, after a while one will know the routine and the process becomes simpler. If for some reason the process is confusing or frustrating, please contact us at the Parish Office so that we can be made aware of any concerns and do what we can to help.

Secondly, there are special listening devices for the hearing-impaired that can be used by those attending Mass. Again, one can ask the Minister of Hospitality to get the listening device for you.

I want to thank all the parishioners who offer their service by driving our golf carts each Sunday, offering rides for those who need assistance or park next door. This becomes an important outreach to those who can no longer walk a good distance and it encourages those who may feel they can no longer come to Mass. As the fall season is about to begin, there might be more parishioners who would like to give of their time to drive the golf carts. We hear all the time from our drivers how much they enjoy serving the people who come to Mass.

For those who come to Mass on Sunday mornings, we are so grateful to those in our Coffee Ministry who arrive each Sunday to make sure the coffee will be served and extra goodies are available for people to munch on. Their dedication is important to the parish. And to the Knights of Columbus who offer donuts each Sunday. It is a huge commitment. They know that if they ever stopped serving donuts all our hungry kids would cry!!! Need to keep the kids and parents happy who look for a nice treat after Mass! Thanks to the Knights for their service.

These are just some of the many ways we seek to offer a welcoming spirit to those who gather in community. We express our gratitude to those who serve and we want those who have special needs to know we are here to support them.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

First Down (July 23, 2017)

Dear Friends,

We can encounter illnesses in our lives or the lives of others that we see, know about or come to understand the challenges that come with illnesses. We could even say they need healing and we might even pray for healing for them. And at the same time, we can be totally unaware of illnesses or need of healing in our own personal lives or not even know about the illnesses or need for healing in the lives of others. We do not even have a clue in many instances.

If one really claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ, one would become aware that much of His mission was to bring about all types of healing to people’s lives. The Gospels tell us that people came from all over bringing their sick loved ones to Him. The physical illnesses in the time of Jesus would find people excluded from community life, believing that their sin or the sin of their loved ones had caused their suffering. Jesus tells them that is not the case. The suffering is allowed to show the power of God who seeks to heal all of us.

The Church, by its very nature is to be an instrument of Christ’s healing for the whole world. This is really what makes the Church great, when it lives fully this mission to bring healing to others. We might think of physical healing that is needed and the Church is there with the power of the Sacrament. As a priest, I have personally witnessed amazing healing where the illness goes away. Other times it gives the person greater courage and faith to endure the suffering, knowing they are not alone, but remembered and valued.

The Church is great when it lives its mission of spiritual healing. This one can be harder to see in ourselves and others. One needs to let go of pride and control, and be attuned to what is really going on in one’s life. Many Christians can spend a long time not realizing that healing in their spiritual lives can be given to them. Yes, through the Sacraments, yet one’s heart needs to be open. One can just go through the motions of rituals and never be open to forgiveness, self-love, peace and intimacy with God and others. This need for healing can be hidden from many, or it can be ignored as others may see the need for our healing and we do not.

One more healing can be the healing for all relationships. So much damage can be seen in relationships when actions of selfishness, neglect, lack of respect, indifference or revenge. This can be so challenging for many of us. We can hold on to our mistrust, our pain, our unwillingness to move forward in our lives because of the pain we encountered, or even caused. The Eucharist, Holy Communion is so vital to communal healing. We can all agree our country is in need of such healing. Eucharist is healing and yet so many Catholics choose to receive it only occasionally. We live in fear of many things in the world, our news reminds us to be fearful and many Catholics have no clue that Eucharist is ready to heal our world.

What a great Church we have. It fulfills its mission when we offer the healing power of God to all humanity.

Peace in Christ, Fr. Eric

First Down (July 16, 2017)

Dear Friends,

One of St Paul’s letters that I really like is his letter to Philemon. He is writing this letter from prison, and the letter has a little over 300 words. Philemon was wealthy, and one of his slaves, Onesimus, took money from him and ran away. Onesimus must have been arrested as he developed a relationship with Paul. A conversion to Christianity happens to Onesimus. Paul would like him to stay with him but he feels he needs to return to Philemon. In the letter he encourages Philemon to receive

him as a brother. The name Onesimus means useful, and Paul uses language that encourages Philemon to see Onesimus as useful.

The reason I like this reading is that many times I encounter parishioners and others who sometimes arrive to the decision in their lives that they are no longer useful, or worse, that they have never been useful to the community or to other important groups. There can be many reasons that people can feel “useless” or no longer useful: maybe when people reach a certain age, health becomes a serious issue; maybe being told that they lack real knowledge or experience; maybe being afraid to make a mistake and feeling people will respond with ridicule. It is sad when parishioners decide that they really are not useful to anyone or for any cause.

This letter should help us reflect that we are all Onesimus, useful in doing the Lord’s work. One way that I would invite parishioners to consider being useful is in supporting our youth ministry. If you have ever had children you know it can be a challenge raising them in the practice of the faith. Parents cannot do this alone. They need support of other parents, community members and leaders to inspire and serve our young people of all ages.

Financial support to the parish is vital for all ages. Even if we are grateful we do not have children at home anymore we should be encouraging parents and youth to participate in formation in the parish. This can be done by simply listening and being interested in what news pertains to youth and families. There are parishioners who really get this. They have been ministering to other people’s children long after their own children have grown up. They really do not need to, and really why should they? It is so easy to check out or think we are no longer useful because we really are not in tune with youth thinking and ways of living. Yet, they do serve and they give their most precious time to other family’s children.

All parishioners are “useful” to the life of the parish. In whatever way you choose to support young people through giving, serving or praying, it is needed and necessary. We cannot allow any parishioner to check out of serving and supporting, for no one is useless, but all are Onesimus….useful.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

First Down (July 9, 2017)

Dear Friends,

The five ways that our community is formed is through Liturgy, Stewardship, Social Justice, Hospitality, and Formation. St. Patrick sees these areas as ways to grow and strengthen our faith as God’s people.

Formation can be a very challenging way to grow community. As Catholics, we need to remind ourselves that knowledge of God is a lifelong process. That anyone serious about being a follower of Jesus does not say everything is known, or that all that is needed is being a good person or I am familiar with all the rules of being a good Catholic. The word Formation is used rather than

Religious Education. The education part can give an impression to some that one has graduated from having to go to class or learn about stuff that really is more about history than anything current.

The challenge for any Christian community in Scottsdale is that people are busy and have many things to accomplish. To simply offer classes about Church and God is not going to motivate people in their busy lives. That is why we are working hard to improve our outreach and communication to parishioners, offering formation to everyone and in a variety of ways.

Adam Stein, our Coordinator of Communication, is developing a more effective website for anyone all over the world. I have always felt that our parish community has been blessed in so many ways that we have a responsibility to share what we have with everyone. Catholics, and all who want to know more about God need to have a place to go on the internet for resources that are well thought out, balanced and represent our Catholic faith.

We are developing a strong podcast outreach with not only in-house podcasts but soon making available podcasts from many good and credible sources. We currently have links to many Catholic sites that offer a wide range of information, formation and spiritual insights. To simply “Google” Catholic stuff is really playing potluck with formation. Some sites are just not exactly what our faith is about and what our Church leaders really want to present. As Pastor, I know I am dealing with people with all types of experiences, opinions and insights, and I think what is presented on our website is balanced and good spiritual insights.

An example would be when someone wants to know more about our Catholic faith or a student doing a report on Catholicism or someone asked to talk to a group about our faith or someone needing good information to share with a hurting family member or friend, we want our parish website to be a good resource. Even though people may not take the time or have the time to attend classes, they do hunger for knowledge of faith. Through our podcast outreach, people can listen while on their way to work, traveling or having quiet time at home to recharge.

The challenge for some Catholics is they are not in the habit of using technology to grow in their faith. Our faith is ready to inspire, challenge, comfort and form us as better disciples of Christ. How about checking our website stpatcc.org and start with the podcasts or links and see the many resources about our faith. It starts with using our fingers to use our website.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

First Down (July 2, 2017)

Dear Friends,

A few years ago there was a television program on our second President John Adams, a mini-series. It gave the viewers insight into the history of our country. People, who struggled, people who sacrificed, who argued and came together. I really enjoyed this mini-series.

The part I enjoyed the most was when the Declaration of Independence was signed, it could have turned out to be the death sentence for all those who signed. It gave the British an easy way to go after these men for their treason. What kind of courage did it take for these men to do such a thing? Would you and I have signed, looking at the most powerful army in the world and being protected by an inferior army of the country?

These men no longer talked a big game; they put everything on the line. The odds were totally against them. We have no clue the miracle that took place during those days.
As we celebrate the national holiday of the 4th of July, we might take the time to recall the courage that was shown at the signing of that Declaration. People’s self interest needed to be put aside so that the greater good of Independence could begin to take shape. We have all been blessed to live in this part of the world and to experience a freedom that some in the world do not experience. To find comfort in our living is a luxury that many do not see. This does not mean every person is feeling blessed to live here, as there are some blessings that are just not appreciated.
Two lessons that we might reflect on would be; first, the courage to take a stand even when the situation around us looks hopeless. To go beyond simply talking a big game and be willing to risk something of importance makes a huge statement of what we believe in. We need to be sure we are willing to risk our lives for things that are truly pleasing to God, not just ourselves.
Secondly, to let go of our self-interest for an interest that benefits the most people. The people who formed our country put aside their own interests for something greater; we are the ones who have benefited from such a way of life.

Very few people would deny that this is a challenging time in our country for many reasons. This 4th of July might remind us that our early founders offered a powerful example of a way to live out freedom in a more responsible way.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric