Category: From the Pastor

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

First Down (February 18, 2018)

Dear Friends,

Many people have had the blessing of being able to go to the Holy Land, and some have been able to go there more than just once. To walk the places that Jesus did, learn about the area and the customs, and see what formed and shaped Jesus while He was here on earth can be very enlightening. For me and others, we may not ever make it over there. Yet, in speaking to the many that have gone, they tell amazing stories. They say now the Scriptures come alive for them when they are proclaimed at Mass or read in private and make even more sense. One sees the Scriptures in a whole new way.

So, what can people like me and you do to have some kind of visual aid to help us experience the Holy Land and all that it reveals to us about Jesus and His times? I have asked one of our Biblical experts, Kevin Saunders, and two parishioners, Alex and Rosemary Cudzewicz, to make a presentation on Friday, February 23 at 7:00 pm in Fenlon Hospitality Center. The Cudzewicz’s have taken so many pictures of their visits to the Holy Land and have great stories and insights. I have asked these three people to host an evening presentation to share their great insights.

I continue to look for insights that will help me update myself on the Scriptures to help me go deeper in my faith. For an average Christian there can be an understanding of the Bible that could possibly miss a deeper meaning or great insight into what an author is trying to explain for that time period and how it would make more sense to those times, and would be missed in 2018.

So I will be there, and I hope you will join all of us there for a great evening. You can also try some of the food that would come from the Holy Land area.

On another note some or most of you may know our staff member, Betty Smith. Betty works in our office doing many important things behind the scenes. She has been with us for over 17 years and has decided to retire. Betty and her husband, David have been committed to the Parish for years. Some of her gifts to the staff have been one of fostering fellowship amongst the staff by planning fun events and meals. Betty also oversees the staff praying over the envelopes with prayer requests that come in each week from many of you. We thank Betty for her many years of service as a staff member.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

First Down (February 11, 2018)

Dear Friends,

The season of Lent is one of renewal, conversion and penance, and for Catholics, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is an important part of Lent. It is a sacrament that at times is not fully understood, as many people have different experiences of forgiveness, mercy and peace. Not every Catholic approaches this sacrament with peace, joy and knowing its powerful place in our lives. Yet, I want to offer one insight that may help many Catholics.

With 40 days of Lent, when is the best time for someone to go to confession? Some wait until the last possible moment. One reason someone might wait would be feeling cleansed to receive communion on Easter, thinking it is better to have no sin on one’s soul on such a special day. So what happens the other 39 days? The power of this sacrament is deeper than cleansing one for a special Mass.

I would recommend going right as the season begins. Lent is the time to look within our lives and see where we need to grow, change priorities, be open to healing and know that in spite of our failings God is right there loving and guiding us. In other words, the spirit of God is helping us during these 40 days, and when one works on these things during Lent, we are doing what is suppose to happen. God wants us to work on our lives, and that does not mean we will arrive at cleanliness, holiness and worthiness in enough time to receive Holy Communion. It means that we approach God knowing that throughout Lent we have been working on being the person God wants us to be.

We approach God with our lives saying we have been working on areas of our lives that need change. God looks at the efforts, the struggles and the shortcomings and is pleased. In all honesty, is God really impressed that we went to confession at the last minute and not starting Lent with the grace of the sacrament to help us during the remaining 39 days? Our worthiness comes from just trying, being open to grace that will help us, putting into practice our faith with Lent as our guide.

Someone who goes to this Sacrament early in Lent and commits to just working on their lives is doing the will of the Father in heaven. One who has worked on this is more than acceptable to God on that great Easter day. Confession is more than feeling we have taken a shower and feel clean for the moment, it is showing a body of work that says Lord I did my best during these 40 days.

Going to Confessions earlier in Lent can be a much better approach than being all stressed in trying to get this done at the last minute. Try it. I think it will be meaningful in knowing more about God’s mercy and how it works in our lives.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric