Author: St. Patrick Catholic Community

Prodigal Father/Son/Daughter (Ministry Blog – For the Love of Kids)

Prodigal Father/Son/Daughter


prod·i·gal; prädəɡəl


  1. spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant.

  2. having or giving something on a lavish scale.


Everyone knows the story of the prodigal son who asks for his inheritance, and after wasting it he went crawling back to his father, who then welcomes him home. Is this a story about the over indulgent son, or of a father’s unconditional love for his child?


I have been toiling over this blog for a while now. Not knowing where it was going gave me great pains. The truth is, it is a story without an ending; it is a tale that, unfortunately, I hear and see all too often.


This tale started about a year and a half ago when we met a young lady hardened by street life. “M” was smart and witty in a sassy way that I find very endearing.  She had been on her own for several years, now at 16 about to be 17, she felt she needed to turn herself in to CPS to gain some support and financial assistance. “M” had attended school sporadically throughout her life, so graduating from high school was not really an option for her; she spoke of possibly trying for her GED.  “M” had this tough guy attitude, but she always had someone under her wing: she was a protector of the weak within the house. Motherly would be the word used to describe her.  “M” grew up with a drug addicted mother and 2 young siblings. This, I believe, is why she protects and mothers the weak.


The turning point of her opening up and trusting us came when one of the ladies from our ministry set up a day long retreat here at St Patrick’s for the girls from the homes. The retreat was led by our wonderful ministers from Life Teen. I was a bit apprehensive about it but it turned out amazingly well. Shortly after the day retreat, “M “and two other girls attended a full Life Teen retreat. When we picked them up after the Sunday night Mass it was obvious that each of the girls experienced the touch of God’s grace. It was wonderful to hear them discuss their experiences with us over dinner that night.


That spring is when “M” moved into an independent living program. She got a job with a painting company and was signed up for her GED class. Life was good for her, she seemed very happy, and for the first time there was excitement in her voice. Then she stopped calling. Our texts were unanswered. We went by the place where she lived only to find out that she had up and left and no one had any idea where she had gone off to. Her phone was off, no service, and she was gone.


On a Monday night in January, our phone rang. It was “M”. She said she was not in a safe place and needed to find a place to stay, that she was afraid. Homeless, no job, no clothes other than what she had on, she was asking for help. We helped her look for services, we made calls to all the shelters only to find out what she already knew: there was no space available for her anywhere. Thankfully, her cousin took her in; she could sleep there but had to leave during the day. On Saturday we met with her to bring her some donated clothes and take her out for a big breakfast; she was emaciated, a sliver of her former self.  


Over breakfast, “M” filled us in on what she could remember of her missing months. She had moved in with her mother because “mom said she would take care of me”. Only, she fell into the same darkness her mother has been in for her adult life, the comfort of drugs. When the drugs were too much she moved in with a guy 15+ years her senior, only to be bounced out again. “M” had several stints in various jails for things “that were not my fault”. All of that aside, she wanted to get clean, get back into the assistance program for foster youth, and get a job. She said all the right things, and all she was asking was for someone to listen, to be there for support.


We took her to Walmart to purchase an outfit that she could wear to a job interview. We dropped her back at the apartment complex and after long hugs we watched this emaciated young woman with a bag of clothes and a bigger bag of leftovers disappear into the maze of buildings. We met with “M” several times over the following weeks until she disappeared again for a week or so. When we finally saw her, she was wearing an ankle monitor. She had been arrested again. “M” told us she couldn’t go look for a job now because everyone just sees her monitor and would never hire her. It was quite large. Back to Walmart to buy pants that would cover it and hopefully give her the confidence to go get a job.  Back at the apartment complex there were lots of hugs, and smiles… You see, she was going for an interview the next day. “I will call you and let you know how it went”.


That was the last time we saw “M”. She is a lost child, not yet 19. Has she been arrested, gone to jail? Is she safe? Has she gone back into the darkness that enveloped her soul?


We will wait by the phone, watch the road that leads her back, waiting to see her crazy hair and distinct gait as she strolls toward us. We will welcome her back as we will welcome all of the lost children.



We are here for the long haul and we will not go away.

That is what the For the Love of Kids Ministry is about; helping with love in any way we can.

Homily: 5th Sunday of Lent (Year B – March 18, 2018) Fr. Eric Tellez

In our Old Testament reading God desires all people to know him, he chooses to write his covenant in their hearts. In John’s Gospel, Jesus faces rejection from people of the religion and secular leaders.Yet Jesus will in the end overcome rejection from the world. People are important to God. The homily asks what kind of people do we want to be?


First Down (March 18, 2018)

Dear Friends,

There is something about being human that makes a big difference when we hear words that can open us up to something powerful. Longing to hear the words from someone telling us they love us can bring about powerful feelings. To hear words that we are appreciated, that we are valued or that something was not our fault can heal a hurting heart. There is something about hearing words from another person that can deeply move us.

When was the last time we heard someone tell us that we have to be absolved from all our sins and we are forgiven? These words come from a priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. God uses humanity to tell humanity that sin is forgiven and grace comes upon all to help heal what has been wounded or broken. I cannot tell you how many times I personally have used those words, “I absolve you…,” and it still touches me deeply.

When people go to confession face to face with the priest, we have the opportunity to see the person’s facial expressions. When the person hears the words of forgiveness, many times I can feel the power of peace, lifting of a heavy burden, the release of so much tension and sometimes lack of self forgiveness. Humanity needs to hear the words that one is forgiven. Sometimes, human beings say the opposite to those who they have been hurt by. “I will never forgive you”, “I hope you pay for what you did”, and “I hope you burn”. Words that I am sure we have heard and maybe have even said. These are such painful words. The words of a priest, who simply is an instrument of God in offering forgiveness of sins, moves hearts and souls like nothing else. The forgiveness can be for very heavy burdens or even the simple mistakes we make and feel bad about. Those mistakes can add up over time and turn someone into thinking that forgiveness is not possible.

Next Monday night, March 26, at 6:30 pm, we will gather with nine priests to celebrate the mercy of God. Each priest will over and over say the words that many long to hear, your sins are forgiven. I hope as many of you as possible will sacrifice time to go after something, not of this passing world, but for something that is eternal. For those who find it better to drive during the day, on Wednesday morning, March 28 from 9:00 to11:00 am there will be four priests who will hear confessions in the church. This will be the last opportunity to celebrate that sacrament before the whole Church turns its full attention to the Triduum.

I look forward to many of you hearing these words over and over, I absolve you from all your sins…

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

First Down (March 11, 2018)

Dear Friends,

I have to admit I do some things the old fashion way. I still write checks to pay my bills, (I know! I know!). I also use a book calendar to write down my appointments or remember events that I have committed to. I never really felt comfortable using a phone or tablet to keep track of my appointments. I am amazed when I schedule things with people how they type in the appointment or event while I like to see the entire calendar instantly on paper. To each their own.

So, however you keep track of your calendar, I am asking all parishioners to mark down these important days to remember, Christ our Savior saving deeds. We call that week Holy Week, and we call the three holy days leading to Easter the Triduum. March 29 is Holy Thursday, and Mass will be at 7:00 pm. It will officially end Lent, and we enter into these holy days. Holy Thursday we recall the Last Supper and members of the community will be able to participate in the washing of the feet. This reminds us of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet and the call to service. We will have the Blessed Sacrament exposed in our courtyard after Mass until midnight. Many parishioners come to pray that evening so Jesus is surrounded by many.

Good Friday is a day of prayer, fasting and abstaining from meat. We have the Stations of the Cross at noon, with the church open from noon to 3pm, the tradition of the time Jesus spent on the cross. The evening service will be at 7pm. This is the only day of the year that Mass is not celebrated anywhere. We pray for the whole world’s needs and the Passion is proclaimed.

On Saturday night March 31 at 7:00 pm we are the first to welcome the risen Christ at the Easter Vigil. This service is the most beautiful of the entire year as we initiate those who have prepared to join our Catholic family. The Mass lasts for about 2 1/2 hours but there is so much happening that even the kids and youth who come say it does not feel that long at all. There are Baptisms in the font, Confirmation, First Communion and the celebration of Christ’s victory over sin and death.

I ask that we look at our calendars and see as a family the possibility to make this Holy Week a time to remember the most important saving deeds ever. To teach our children the importance of these holy days is another reason to make room on our calendars.

I look forward to another great attendance by parishioners this coming Holy Week.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

First Down (March 4, 2018)

Dear Friends,

Many of us are very familiar with the Prayer of St. Francis, a prayer that reminds us to focus not only on ourselves but to seek to serve and love others. One of the lines in the prayer says, “…not so much to be understood, as to understand.” A beautiful thought, which for many of us, takes hard work to make it happen.

To seek to understand, before explaining our thoughts, is the way of one who serves Christ. To not be open to listening to the stories, the happenings, the concerns of others, makes us ignorant of what others are going through.

A huge problem in our country right now is the unwillingness of many, not to first seek to understand what others are suffering or struggling with. Many times we see life only through our own personal experiences and thoughts. There are many examples.

In Florida there was another recent school shooting, and there seems to be little leadership shown by people to be willing to sit at a table for an open discussion about this very emotional situation. Shouting, fear of not being in control of our safety, people feeling vulnerable, already deciding what is non-negotiable or being unwilling to listen and problem solve are some examples.

When people have real stories of struggle because of skin color, there can be missed opportunities to understand the challenges of skin color that one faces on a constant basis. When a deaf ear is turned to migrants and refugees that have horrible stories of escaping situations that we would never want to find ourselves in…when an elderly person feels unwanted or not valued…when a teenager feels that adults do not take time to listen…these are many other examples where if one put into practice the prayer to seek to understand rather than just be understood what a difference we could make.

Seeking to understand does not necessarily mean agreement or acceptance, but it might mean an openness to be sensitive or more aware of those who may see things differently. Our positions and opinions might be shaped so that we could offer real possible solutions to difficult situations.

We see so much modeling of shouting, not respecting others dignity and self-seeking ways. As Christians we could model something that the world really needs. We can look to good old St. Francis, with his powerful prayer, to first seek to understand others before seeking to be understood by others.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

First Down (February 25, 2018)

Dear Friends,

The problems in the world are many. We all encounter people who have heavy burdens and situations that can be overwhelming and painful. Sometimes it is you and me that find ourselves dealing with major challenges. I hope we can all experience a helping hand from friends, neighbors, family members and others who are there when we really need support. Sometimes we need to ask these people in our lives for help, and this may not be an easy thing for some of us. We may feel like we do not want to bother other people; some are embarrassed to ask; others are afraid to risk asking for help in their lives. One important factor, people need to ask, and people need to respond to the asking.

When Catholics gather for community prayer, there are times when many people are asking for support and help. There are many great causes and needs. There are many ministries at St. Patrick that are aware of special needs, and they want to ask parishioners to help. In large parishes like ours, there is always something happening where people are asked to respond in some way. “Wow! This can be a lot.” I get it. Wouldn’t it be nice to simply go into church, without all the external stuff happening, and experience good worship? Not a bad thing to desire at all.

So, if some people think that there could be a break from all the asking, I wonder if hungry people ever sit down with their loved ones and say, “We need to take a break from asking people so we don’t bother them. Let’s do without today.” Do people who lack basic necessities in life ever reach a point of saying we will not ask today, or for awhile, to give people a break? This is just something to think about.

Here is what I propose to help understand the huge needs of many people. First, one does not have to give in every instance. Sometimes it might call for a response of prayer or an awareness of needs that one day a need close to your heart might be the one for which to go the extra mile. Maybe just carry the need of these people to Mass and discern with the Lord what kind of response from our hearts could be the best way to help. Awareness is the first step where Christians might develop a deep love for a special cause or for people who suffer certain situations or conditions.

We are reminded that true worship is not worship that looks to escape the real world. Rather, true worship is always having before us the needs of people and knowing it is our call to respond in whichever way we can. Christians must not yearn for time off from hearing about needs of others, because these needs never take a day off. People’s hardships are always before them, but a simple response in some way by us could make a big difference. Now that’s true worship of God.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Eric