Author: St. Patrick Catholic Community

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

Do you believe? (by John Seliga)

It was late at night when we flew into Cairo. It was too dark to see anything. The next morning we were up before sunrise, and just as the first ray of light shown, I saw the straight line high in the sky. It turned out to be the sun shining off the edge of the Great Pyramid.

I couldn’t believe it – we were that close.

For the next few days we explored Egypt and everyday Fr. Bob found a Catholic place where we had Mass. I proclaimed one of the readings.

I couldn’t believe it.

Crossing the Suez Canal and “coming up out of Egypt” we went North through the Gaza Strip. Palestinian kids with guns bigger than they were met us in white pickup trucks. They escorted us up to the northern border where we crossed the frontier into Israel. We arrived in Jerusalem late at night.

For the next week and a half Fr. Bob found places where our little gang could have Mass.
Jerusalem, Jordan River, Caesarea, Galilee

I couldn’t believe it.

Staying in Caesarea we explored the edge of the Sea of Galilee. At one point we were at a spot just south of Capernaum where we all got on a boat. We were crossing from the East to the West side. The motor of the boat was the only sound as we chugged along a fairly calm sea.
As we got a few miles from shore, a place called Tabka, the ship’s captain announced that he would cut the engines to simulate a quiet sail boat going the rest of the way.

I was standing in the middle of the boat watching the people. I noticed that a few of them were a little teary eyed. I figured it was the wind.
When we got to shore, I asked one of our people about the tears. She said that as she looked out over the Sea of Galilee, and if Jesus was walking on the water and reached out for her to walk to Him, would her faith be strong enough for her to step out of the boat.
It’s a tough one

YOU JUST HAVE TO BELIEVE.

– John.

First Down with Fr. Eric (October 24, 2021)

Dear Friends,

There are some special feast days coming up for the Christian world in early November. On the weekend of October 30-31 at all our Masses we will be doing some teachings on Halloween (All Hallows Eve), All Saints Day, and All Souls Day. November 1st is the feast of All Saints Day, and November 2nd is All Souls Day. I will be preaching at all our Masses that weekend to give us some insights into the beauty and significance of the special days for Christians.

That weekend we are inviting all parishioners to bring a photo of a loved one who has died and risen with the Lord. Our staff members will be at the entrance of the building and will be collecting your photos. They will place them either near the altar or in our Narthex for viewing and remembrance. After Mass parishioners may take their pictures or leave them for the other Masses. I am excited to take this opportunity to remind parishioners of the great history of our Catholic faith and the influence on these significant holy days. So often they can become so secularized that we forget the story of how our faith celebrates life, death, resurrection, and also how we deal with evil in the world.

The entire parish is invited to the FALL FESTIVAL after the October 30 evening Mass (4:30 pm). In the parking lot next to the House of Mercy there will be trick or trunk with goodies, games, some good eats and an open house for the House of Mercy, as we bless our newest building. We hope to bring people together outside for some fellowship and fun.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

Two Messages to Ponder (by Mary Permoda)

Have you ever asked yourself, “how did we get here?” How did we end up in this pandemic, in this crazy political scene, trying to navigate a world we have not been in before? Does it seem the more you try to get back to “normal,” the more crazy it gets?You are not alone! It feels like everyone I talk to is asking these questions and is struggling in some way. Yet believe it or not, God has yet to let us down.

I was catching up with a friend who had just come back from the Camino de Santiago in Spain. He said it was the most physically challenging Camino he had done. Then I asked him, “how was it spiritually?” He shared two points that were profound take aways from his pilgrimage. They are simple and you have heard them before …but for us in this day and age of COVID, political and social crazy, too much to do and not enough time, and wondering when the heck we are going to get back to normal …these are two messages to ponder and take to heart.

On the Camino the pilgrims walk and pass by one another regularly. Sometimes they pass you and in the next minute you are passing them. At one point, a couple came up to him and walked with him awhile. The wife didn’t speak english so he pointed to his knee sharing it wasn’t at its best…she said, “poco y poco” ..little by little will get you there.

Further down the Camino two young men caught up with him and they were talking on the way. Again my friend was experiencing some difficulty walking with his knee and his foot. The young man said to him, “one foot in front of the other”…

Remember scripture reminds us that if it is of God, his “yoke is easy and the burden is light.” …if that is not the case, it may be worth reflecting on … We all have heard these sayings throughout our life, but for some reason these two sayings grabbed my heart and really set me free. Free of worry, anxiety that I am not doing enough, not the right thing in the long run and I can’t see the road ahead. I don’t have to have all the answers, the plan, an exact destination of where I am going right now today …little by little it will unfold as it should… patience. And the only way I am going to get anywhere is one foot in front of the other… just do the next right thing.
May we journey together on this pilgrimage of life …little by little, one foot in front of the other… Peace.

– Mary

First Down with Fr. Eric (October 17, 2021)

Dear Friends,

The month of October is Respect Life Month for our Catholic faith. Every Sunday we listen to the Gospel of Life, and the homilies remind us of what the Gospels say, that our behavior gives witness to Jesus Christ.

We invite all parishioners to view our webpage stpatcc.org/respect life. It is filled with information about the teachings of what respect life means to our faith, a view of the different life issues and information on each issue. There is a Resource Report that gives important information of quotes, teachings and writings on Life Issues in our Catholic faith. What is asked is Prayer, Reflection and Action in whichever issue one wishes to explore. From the moment of conception until the last natural breath, we respect, protect and value all human life.

Each Sunday we have a video to present at Mass after the homily that highlights one of the many life ministries at St. Patrick. Whether you are at Mass in person, or want to view the Mass online, one can see the video. Also, the videos will be sent out on our weekly email Connection. It is the best way for every parishioner to receive the latest information from the parish. When one opens their parish email they are kept up to date with the most current and accurate information about St. Patrick. Without it one can be unaware of important news about what the parish is doing and how we are supporting people during these challenging times. Sign up on our parish website for the weekly email Connection or call the Parish Office to have your name and email address added to the list.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

The Grace of God in Unexpected Places (by Ann Weiss)

We all hear the stories of other people and their journey to a deeper sense of purpose in life. Some of us have wondered, “Why hasn’t that happened to me? Where was God in my life when I needed Him the most?”

Many years ago I found myself in a very dark place with toxic relationships and facing a personal crisis that brought me to my knees. Suffering my whole life from migraine headaches, this one took me to a place begging God to simply show me a way out. Next I found myself headed to church (as you know many people don’t come unless it’s a last resort!). As a child I was brought up in a home across the street from St. Rose of Lima in my small town of 562 people. It was always a source of family and comfort, and lots of music!

So I dragged myself to the local church, sat in a daily Mass and I heard the words we say before communion loud and clear – “Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the Word and my soul shall be healed.” Of course the new translation is slightly different now, but for the very first time I HEARD and understood those words. Asked myself if I truly believed it and broke down in a puddle of tears and couldn’t move. On the way back from communion a woman laid her hand on my shoulder and said, ”Don’t worry, Jesus hears you.” As if on cue, the weight of my distress lifted out of my body and mind and I knew that God was real, here in my midst. We all have the opportunity to be that woman for someone else daily. Don’t miss the chance to be that grace of God as one never knows the difference you might make in the life of someone truly in need.

– Ann