Author: St. Patrick Catholic Community

Happy New Year! (by Torri Winn)

That’s right…Happy New Year or…Happy 1st day of the New Liturgical Year and the new liturgical year always begins with the season of ADVENT! Advent, from the word “Adventus” which is Latin for “coming,” calls for us to prepare for Christ’s second coming, as we prepare in remembrance of His first coming at Christmas. I always thought it was so appropriate that it comes after the Thanksgiving holiday, as I have always felt that one of the best ways to prepare to receive the Christ-child is to be thankful for all that God has given us, reflecting on how we can prepare our hearts and homes for Christ’s birth in the world as it is today, through prayer, reflection, and special traditions.

Historically, and I seem to be more aware of it at this time, many have gotten caught up in predictions of when Christ will return, forgetting, as the gospel of Mark a few weeks ago told us, even Jesus didn’t know the day of his return. Jesus simply wants us to be ready for His return, whenever that will be. To not let our hearts become “drowsy,” but to be alert and watchful for the signs of His coming. That means we are to be focused on the Lord. It’s easy in our society to get distracted. There are hundreds of things pulling us in different directions, especially this time of year, so we can easily lose focus of what’s most important: our faith. And with that faith comes the promise of the JOY of the Lord – a gift of the Holy Spirit! During Advent, we are called to focus a bit more intently and intentionally on our relationship with God. And whatever may come, we can be as ready as we’ll ever be when Jesus comes, secure in the knowledge that God is with us.

So, I leave you with this thought to ponder as you prepare in the next few weeks for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ. What do you need in order to ready your heart for Christ’s return?

Happy New Year!!!

First Down with Fr. Eric ( November 28, 2021)

Dear Friends,

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Advent! We are entering into a special time of year. We have a day where we can give thanks to God joined by many people throughout the country. Whether people gathered together for food and conversation, or just took time to give thanks, it is pleasing to God that we reflected on what we are grateful about. We Catholics have been giving thanks to God for a long time. The word “eucharist” in Greek means giving thanks so whenever we gather together at the table of the Lord, we express gratitude.

This Sunday marks the beginning of a new liturgical year with the season of Advent. A time of rejoicing and remembering that our Savior has come and he will come again. The main Gospel this year will be from Luke, a favorite gospel of mine. There is a theme of lots of eating! Nine stories of Jesus eating with people. Jesus being recognized eating with many people after his resurrection. These eating stories recall a time when people who shared a meal shared a bond of being family. No longer strangers, but brothers and sisters.

As we RISE to begin another new year, I think the Gospel of Luke is the perfect one to bring people back to the table. A table of gratitude, a table that reminds us we are all part of the family. A table that nourishes us to go out into the world and bring healing and peace.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Advent!

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

Rethinking Our Ways (by Richard DiCarlo)

Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die
Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die
Nobody speaks to God these days

I’d like to think he’s looking down and laughing at our ways

It takes a lot to change your plans
And a train to change your mind
Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die

These are some words to ponder from the song “Maybe It’s Time” sung by Bradley Cooper in the movie, A Star is Born. The lyrics summarize the personal introspection of his character, Jackson Maine, who is seeking to pivot and transform his life towards a different pathway. The beauty of any song’s lyrics when we hear them is that they can be adapted and used to reflect upon one’s own personal life-situation at a given moment. Are we paying attention, adapting, and allowing change? Or, does it “take a train to change your mind” like the song says?

With the holidays fast approaching, we continue to hear the plethora of panic being fed to us about how the supply chain is in disarray and there may not be enough gift items on the shelves to purchase for Christmas. Buy now! Buy quick! It won’t be the same as in years past!

Well, then, maybe it’s time…to minimize our gift purchasing……to design our holidays where we just sit at the table or the living room and reacquaint ourselves with simple conversation with our guests….and God……without looking at our phones……enjoying and appreciating the time we have with those in our presence….begin new traditions that are not consumed around materialism… re-engage in fellowship. Simplicity at its finest. My heart tells me we will prevail. What a great teaching moment for all of us, too, to recognize that sometimes we must relent to things not in our control.

Maybe it’s time….to shed all the angst that comes with getting the newest and better….to just be present to those around us. Maybe it’s time….to allow a form of rebirth into our holiday priorities. Maybe it’s time…to truly recognize the real gift of family and friendship.

Maybe…it’s…time…to (fill in the blank). I like to think we are being given a breath of fresh air to just relent to simplicity.

– Richard

First Down with Fr. Eric (November 21, 2021)

Dear Friends,

Every November we celebrate Stewardship/Commitment Sunday for our parishioners. It is a wonderful reminder that the parish community takes responsibility for forming disciples of Jesus Christ and offering one’s resources and personal gifts to serve the Lord and his people.

The weekend of November 20-21 we will be reintroducing our Offertory Baskets at the altar area. Most of us might be familiar with the practice of having parishioners come forth with their gifts and place them in the basket.

Three things people can bring with them to offer to the Lord. It can be a financial gift that helps meet our expenses. When one already gives financially online, there are two more things to offer the Lord. A card that one writes on by placing their prayer requests and/or what one has prayed about during the week. The other can be writing acts of service from the past week, things we did to serve the Lord and others. It really calls on everyone to reflect on what we can bring to the Lord. It is more than money that one brings: their hearts of love and service matter to God as well. Each Wednesday our Parish Staff prays over the financial envelopes, cards of prayers and cards of service asking the Lord to bless everyone who shared with the community.

To love the Lord with one’s whole heart, mind, soul and strength is much more than giving money: it is offering all we are to the Lord, and the community honors that by allowing the whole community to witness that we come forward to the altar and place our gifts.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

Stewardship During Advent (by Fernando Gomez)

This year’s Advent season will begin on Sunday, November 28. This very special time of year can sometimes get lost in the bright lights of the Christmas season it precedes and its many celebrations around it. The first day of Advent marks the start of a new liturgical calendar and a four-week period of preparation in anticipation of the nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It also is a time to reflect on how we can prepare our hearts and homes for Christ’s birth in a time the world seems to have stopped seeking his Love, Grace and Mercy.

We invite you to step away from what can be a frenzied time of parties and shopping and spend a few minutes each day to think about how Advent can inspire your family’s Stewardship lifestyle through its four pillars.

Hospitality – Purposeful Christian Kindness
Prayer – A Heart to Hear with God
Formation – Continuous Conversion
Service – Love in Action

Advent also brings an opportunity to be generous and grateful for all gifts we receive without measure from God. We know we could never pay back God’s generosity! Instead, we celebrate that each of us enjoys a unique share in God’s work of creation and redemption. So, how will you give generously, pray faithfully & serve joyfully this Advent?

– Fernando Gomez

First Down with Fr. Eric (November 14, 2021)

Dear Friends,

The parish has been very busy with ministry, activities, and building relationships. I want to thank everyone on staff and parishioners who worked hard in making our Fall Festival a huge success. There were about 600 people who attended, from all age groups. There was something for every age, candy for the kids in their costumes, parents and grandparents enjoying food, fellowship and activities for them. The youth were in our Youth Garage, dancing, playing volleyball, and a Cake Walk. A tour of our new House of Mercy was included in the evening. The fellowship amongst the people was amazing as some have not seen each other in a long time.

Thank you to parishioners who brought the photos of their deceased loved ones for our blessing of them, and we celebrated Halloween, All Saints and All Souls Days. Parishioners received a Resource Card on Mental Health after Sunday Masses. We talked about the importance of the Church offering guidance and support for the Mental Health of parishioners and everyone in the greater community.

We are preparing for the season of Advent which begins on the last Sunday of November. It prepares us to celebrate the season of Christmas and we expect large crowds for our Christmas Masses.

Each Sunday we are seeing more and more parishioners slowly making their way back to Sunday Mass. It has been a journey for many of them. To get back into the practice of Sunday worship, be in a good place in dealing with COVID in groups, getting used to not being active in the parish community are some of the challenges we face. It is just really good to see more people set up to serve, minister, come to Sunday Mass, and be part of the ministries that meet during the week.

We are grateful for all the blessings that God has given to us, and we are still moving forward as a community.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

Holiday Traditions (by Kylie Popa)

November is officially here! Can you believe it? The great debate will soon begin: when is it an acceptable time to begin playing Christmas music? If we went by Hallmark’s standards, they already started their Christmas movie countdown two weeks ago! Wherever you stand on the side of the debate, I think we can all agree that November is the beginning of those many wonderful holiday traditions.

I love traditions. I love everything about them. And I may love them a little too much to the extent that last year, when some of those traditions had to look a tad different, it was a tough reality to swallow. However, what I realized is that traditions may change or look different from year to year, but it’s not necessarily about the action itself. Rather it is about the people you are with and the memories you are making.

My family has several traditions during the holiday season, whether it’s a classic movie we watch, a delicious family recipe we bake, a special service we partake in, a certain order we open and exchange gifts, and the list goes on! Each tradition is an opportunity — an opportunity to engage with others, to be present in the moment, and to spread the holiday cheer not necessarily through things, but through moments.

The next big Popa tradition on the calendar is a classic film we watch every year the night before Thanksgiving: Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Some parts of the movie are for more mature ears, but we’ve finally surpassed the need to have my dad fast forward through the scenes with super salty language! If you haven’t seen this hilarious and heartwarming classic with John Candy and Steve Martin, it’s the story of an unlikely pair of strangers who end up traveling together on a somewhat crazy adventure in an attempt to make it home in time for Thanksgiving dinner. Two very different personalities sharing a plane, train, and automobile (among many other things!) is the recipe for some good laughs, but also a very endearing message. The Popa’s can be found dying laughing at all the same parts, quoting a few too many lines under our breaths, and most everyone (who stays awake!) tears up at the very last scene. I get chills just thinking about it now.

Planes, Train, and Automobiles is just a movie. Each year it’s the same and it doesn’t change, yet collectively, we all still find so much joy in that hour and 33 minutes together. Some years, not everyone is in town and we have a smaller viewing party. And who knows, one year, that movie might get swapped with another tradition. According to the dictionary, a “tradition” is a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society. What are the beliefs and behaviors we are passing down in our families? Rather than just gifts and material possessions, what about passing down more meaningful and lasting things such as kindness to strangers, an emphasis on building community, a more sincere effort to spend quality time in our families, or an increased awareness to give out of poverty rather than surplus, much like the poor woman in this Sunday’s Gospel? When we view traditions as opportunities, we are given the chance to spread the Good News and God’s love in ways we’d never expect. So, as we enter into this holiday season, savor those moments and pass down the things that matter, for those are the traditions that truly last.

First Down with Fr. Eric (November 7, 2021)

Dear Friends,

Most of us are familiar with the healing that Jesus does in the Gospels. Men and women are healed of physical ailments such as blindness, leprosy, paralyzed limbs, deafness and bodily illnesses. The thing about physical healing is that one can see the results of the healing. Right before our eyes, we can determine that one is healed, the illness and physical pain is gone. Over the course of time, humanity has become good at dealing with physical human illnesses.

There is another part of the human body that needs healing, but for some reason we have lagged behind in learning how to heal the human mind. One can hide the effects of mental pain. Since it is not easily visible it can be ignored, not believing there is a problem, or thinking only certain people who are lacking something are the ones who need help or seek professional help. God wants to heal the whole person and that includes the human mind.

The pandemic has created a very serious crisis for many people, the need for mental health and care. We have been challenged like never before. The level of anxiety, stress, the lack of control, the uncertainty in daily life, has taken a toll on many people. We are seeing people acting out in unhealthy ways. The Church cares about the mental health of its people.

We have asked a parishioner who is a professional in the mental health profession to come speak to us at all our Masses this weekend on this topic. Jill McMahon has spoken to our teens, parents, and parishioners through online presentations and talks to different groups. She will give us some great information on how we can get through these difficult times or help others who might need some support from us.

St. Patrick has long provided groups, support and resources in the parish or in the greater community that provide mental health support for everyone. We hope this talk will help, so everyone will know the parish is offering information on this topic over the next few months. Her talk can be seen on our online Mass so you can listen to it again, or share with others. It is difficult to see mental healing happen, but it does. It is because God wants to heal the entire human body.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

All Saints Day (by Sharon Fabyanic)

On November 1, we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, a time to take pause and reflect on all those holy women and men who have come before us and those who live among us. As a culture, we love to acknowledge greatness. We celebrate super bowls, world series and Olympic games to identify and celebrate the best athletes. We have spelling bees and geography bees to celebrate the best and the brightest. We choose a valedictorian at graduation to identify who achieved the best grades. Who doesn’t love a glory story? All Saints Day is our opportunity to cherish those holy men and women who lived the gospel with their whole hearts. It wasn’t easy, popular or fun but he said, “Come follow me,” and they did.

I have been blessed to know many people who are saints. They have not been through the process of canonization, and will never have a feast day, but they have lived holy lives. Here on Earth they demonstrated their commitment to the Gospel in ministering to those around them. Just like the canonized saints, many of their lives did not start as glory stories. They struggled, but at some point they experienced conversion. I think most of us can identify someone we know who is a saint in our midst. Their actions and deeds speak to the kingdom in a way that is holy and good. On this holy day we celebrate each of them. We recall that they are praying for us, for our lives, for our struggles and our triumphs. When we pray together at Mass, we pray in communion with saints. All of us, living and dead, unite our prayers as one. While we do not pray to saints, we ask saints to pray for us. We look to the heavens and consider those who walk among us and deeply live the Gospel. We join them in prayer. We recall that as one People of God, we go to God together, praying for one another, celebrating everyday holiness, and especially the strength of those who have lived the Gospel.

On this eve of All Saints Day, All Hallow’s Eve, we remember we are called to be saints. Pope Francis reminded us of that in 2014, when he encouraged us to be saints in our daily lives. For me, that is when it is most difficult to be a saint. In the daily encounters, the comings and goings I fall short often. On All Saint’s Day however, I look to St. Peter, who denied Jesus three times and became the rock of our church. On this day I honor him and all those who came before me, who give hope that we too can live extraordinary virtues in our ordinary lives.

– Sharon

First Down with Fr. Eric (October 31, 2021)

Dear Friends,

As we soon enter into the month of November, there is an emphasis on remembering those who have died. Our Gospels focus on end times as we come to the conclusion of another Liturgical Year and begin a new one in Advent, which begins very soon.

There are three days that have very significant religious emphasis for us as Christians. Halloween, believe it or not, has some religious beginnings and reminders for us. November 1st is the Feast of All Saints and November 2nd is the Feast of All Souls. There is a connected theme with all three days and I would like to preach that weekend at all Masses to give us some uplifting messages and comfort on these special days. (All Saints Day this year falls on a Monday, so the attendance to that Mass is optional.) I thought it would be great for the parish to celebrate these days and learn about how it applies to our everyday lives.

We also have invited parishioners to bring a photo of a loved one who has died and are at home with the Lord. We would have the photos near the altar or in the Narthex that weekend. Our Christian faith has clear and beautiful reasons we remember those who have died.

I look forward to sharing my thoughts on these special days and I hope parishioners can make an effort to attend Mass that weekend or to view our Mass online.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric