Category: From the Pastor

First Down (October 15, 2017)

Dear Friends,

The recent event in Las Vegas has broken many hearts and brought out many emotions. Every person tries to find a way to process a horrible event like this. There are people who are capable of processing and grieving in healthy ways, while others are not sure how to respond. Some may find themselves trying to figure out how to handle fear and anger and are just tired of yet another event with so many deaths. I want to offer one insight that hopefully can comfort us and remind us that the path of healing is possible.

In recent years, we have experienced a number of tragedies, and we have become accustomed to hearing the phrase, “My thoughts and prayers go out to you and others.” A frustration can build upon hearing these words over and over again from so many people that one begins to wonder if prayers and thoughts really work. Let’s take a brief look at prayer and thoughts for others.

First, prayer is an on-going conversation with God which includes speaking and listening. All healthy human relationships have communication at the core, the sharing of intimacy and/or a getting to know the other more intently. Prayer is coming to know who God is for us in our lives. When there is little attention and effort towards prayer, we can slip into the notion that we do believe in prayer, but it is only used when we need something. Prayer is used to get something from God, to ask for results or to see God as a being that makes our lives more safe and secure. So when one tries to pray and sees no change or results, we see prayer as not productive or helpful. Then we can say to others, “Don’t bother with your prayers; they do not work.”

Prayer can develop a relationship that, over time, begins to see God as one who cares, who is with us and who in the end will bring out our eternal good. Our closest friends grow over time, and they show care and companionship. Friends cannot save us from every problem, but their willingness to be with us when others leave us is so valuable. God is the same for us. Not every problem is solved, and really if our relationship with God is ongoing, we begin to see His hands guiding us always.

Sending thoughts can mean we are united with those who suffer. To be aware of the suffering of others and to have a different perspective on how we live daily can draw us closer to those who are hurting or in pain. Hearts are sad when the ones that are suffering see others go on with their lives like nothing has changed. To look past those who struggle daily and only think of ourselves, causes division and separation. There is a great divide in the world between the “haves” and “have not’s.” There can be people who live in a bubble or have blinders on, not being aware that others live in need. Sending thoughts is more than just empty words when the Christian changes their perspective in how they live their lives. The next time someone says they are sending their thoughts and prayers, maybe we can look beyond the belief that nothing is happening; rather, there is much to offer with thoughts and prayers.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

Homily,Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 8, 2017, Fr. Eric Tellez

After many emergency situations there are always those who send messages of thoughts and prayers. Some choose to downplay such offerings. For Christians we must remember it is more than just offering words. Fr. Eric walks us through insights on what offering thoughts and prayers really mean for Christians.


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First Down (October 8, 2017)

Dear Friends,

I recently listened to a Catholic broadcast regarding the subject of Prolife Catholics and Social Justice Catholics. The Bishop speaking on the broadcast stated that there was an understanding that people might identify themselves in this way. The Bishop was being very positive and gave good examples of how unity and respect can be present in such ideologies. Overall, I thought the broadcast was very positive.

Upon my own reflection, I really searched the idea of why anyone would identify themselves with titles that could narrow the spiritual vision or limit what one stands for. I, personally, would not be in favor of the labels Pro-life Catholic or Social Justice Catholic. To me it simply repeats what should really be already obvious in who we are.

It is important that Pro-life not be seen solely as one issue. The example would be abortion. What I mean is, saying that this one issue is the most important and other life issues are less than or that the abortion issue stands above all. For me, being a Catholic has a clear foundation: that all life is protected, innocent and cherished. I would trust that anyone using the term Pro-life would be for the protection of all life. We might be touched in powerful ways where one issue of life has a deep personal hold on our hearts, and that is important. Yet, hopefully one works on broadening that scope to see all life issues in the same way. I once looked at the U.S. Bishops website under Life Issues, and they had a very long list of issues placed under Life Issues. I was so pleased to see that great vision to expand its reach.

For those using the title Social Justice Catholics, I would hope that all the work of justice would find its roots in our Liturgy, our prayer life and our devotions. These moments of quiet reflections, withdrawing during special moments from life’s business and celebrating the sacraments well, will give us a foundation that Christ is the one who guides our call to act justly. Already included in Social Justice is the struggle to defend the life of the unborn and all human life at every stage.

The point for me is that using these labels is really unnecessary. Everything in Pro-life ministry is justice, and social justice is protecting life from the womb to a natural death for every person. In other words, one should see all of this already included. One is not separate from the other; rather both are connected by our faith in Jesus Christ.

So as we honor the gift of Life during the month of October, we remember our faith honors all life from God, and the work we do to protect all life is justice work. Each one of us broadens our vision and work in our ministries.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

First Down (October 1, 2017)

Dear Friends,

There are people in my life I really care about; people who live their lives not overly concerned about having enough for the future. I watch how they can be content with what they have and how they exhibit little outward worry or stress about lacking things. Worst yet, they give freely of their time and possessions to other people, seemingly without counting the cost. In all honesty, I struggle with the way of life they show me. I have to admit I am one who plans, who makes sure that I have enough for the future, that I will not be caught short on things that I think are important to me personally. Their way of life seems odd to me, and I wonder how they seem so peaceful in dealing with life’s issues?

I think we all know that Jesus gives us many examples of placing the needs of others above our own. He says, to be great in his kingdom we must serve the needs of others first. We lay down our lives by sacrificing our own desire and security first. I have to admit that I like the ideal that Jesus talks about. It sounds great in theory. Yes, one can have a blessed life by taking care of other people. And I think that is the challenge for every Christian we hear about this way of life from – Jesus as an ideal rather than the true way for every disciple.

Words around me and in my deepest thoughts are that I must think of myself first, that my security, my needs, my concern for my loved ones should always be first. That is what people should do first; take care of their own needs. There is not enough for everyone, but our needs come first. It is the cry of the many people, even with those who have more than enough.

I constantly fight this battle, to place the needs of others first. I really admire those who live their lives not bound by security, possessions, having enough. Yet at the same time, I struggle with the fact they can be free from fear, thinking they do not have enough or that blessings and peace do not have to come only in possessions and control.

People want us to believe we need to think of ourselves first. Thinking all too long how we just help too many other people. This is so counter to the life Jesus calls us to. I reflect on my life and recall the many times I let go of my need to have enough and share with others and I am so at peace. I find the stress of living life lessens. I find that I have more than enough. I find that my life opens up to being grateful.

Now this is not an easy subject for many of us. The call is not to think of ourselves first, our own kind first, thinking we cannot do both. Fellow Christians, we cannot be true disciples of Christ if we live our lives thinking of our own needs first. Rather, as the prayer goes, “it is in giving, that we receive.” I bet that everyone at St. Patrick can remember many times we found those words to be true.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

Homily,Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 24, 2017, Fr. Eric Tellez

Is there any comfort from today’s gospel for those who are sad their loved ones are not practicing the faith? When it seems the faith we want to hand down or share seems to be rejected, what consolation can we obtain from the parable of the vineyard? Good insights from Fr Eric’s homily.


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First Down (September 24, 2017)

Dear Friends,

This past week some members of our Stewardship leadership and committee traveled to Atlanta to offer a presentation to parishes from across the country regarding ideas on stewardship and community building. One of the ideas that they took with them was “Name Tag Sunday.” We are not the only Parish that does this; rather, it is one component of many components to help open doors to relationships between fellow parishioners. Our Name Tag Sundays find our parishioners very engaged in this activity. When this first began I was not sure that it would work. Yet, so many parishioners take the time when entering our building to stop and fill out a name tag. This small gesture makes a huge statement about creating an atmosphere of community living.

There is a mindset in our culture that promotes the idea of individuality that can lead to people not speaking to, relating towards or risking relationships with others. The attitude of attending Mass by some can be an idea that Mass is personal, a duty to fulfill, serious to miss or salvation of one’s own soul. Everything that Catholics believe about the Sunday Mass involves the gathering of God’s people, the idea that Mass is the “people’s work” meaning we are to care for each other. I believe that a large number of Catholics decide not to attend Mass on a regular basis because they have never understood that they come to Mass to serve others, lift others spirits and that we do not live our lives in isolation.

I love the welcoming buzz when people arrive at Sunday Mass. This means we see each other, and we develop relationships with others that find their anchor in faith in Jesus Christ. We listen for signs when people feel or look lost, hurt, needing comfort, as well as sharing joys, moments of celebrating and even taking relationships outside the Parish doors.

Catholics come to Mass for each other, not to insure we go to heaven. I know that people can be so preoccupied with getting to heaven, there is little time to care for others, engage with others or see others as the reason we need to come to Mass. We are needed and missed if we do not share ourselves with others. This is how we find heaven. It is not a place or a sole goal, rather it is found in the relationships and journey itself.

So, on Name Tag Sunday it is our opportunity to learn the names of those we sit next to. And even if we forget their names the next Sunday, at least for that moment we called each other by name, and we moved from individual concern to being enriched by reaching out to others.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

Homily, Twenty-fouth Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 17, 2017, Fr. Eric Tellez

The word MEND can give a message of hope. One can say I am on the mend, which means that one can start feeling better. To mend can be to repair, fix, renew, heal. Take this powerful word and apply it to forgiveness. Fr Eric explores using the word, MEND, and see how it relates to our relationships and forgiveness.


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First Down (September 17, 2017)

Dear Friends,

The challenge for today’s Christian is not to just know about Jesus, but rather to know Jesus. Jesus preached about what is called “The Kingdom of God.” Another way to understand this term would be to say God’s mindset – God’s desire for how he wants the world to be. Anyone in the Catholic faith that is given the honor to preach to God’s people is to preach this Kingdom of God. Those who preach need to know Jesus and what he desired to showed the world.

Jesus would say the Kingdom of God is at hand, yet not fully here just yet. This means that when humanity accepts the ways of God, which is always different from our worldly opinions, the Kingdom of God breaks through. We see it in our lives when people live as we ought to live, which God has revealed to us.

What do we know about Jesus? His teachings, miracles, stories and actions constantly show us how he breaks down barriers that separate people from God and each other. When one knows Jesus rather than just knowing about Jesus, one can clearly see the lengths that Jesus went to remove barriers placed by humans: healing to those excluded from community because of perceived sins, speaking to and seeing great faith in the enemies of the Jewish people, Jesus was angry that the Temple ways were blocking access for the poor, he spoke to women, foreigners, Roman soldiers – the examples just keep going.

So, let’s understand what every Christian should know: Jesus does not want barriers placed anywhere. To not see this is being blind and ignorant of the Kingdom of God. The quote from Pope Francis above is the message that every preacher in the Church must proclaim. This is not his own opinion or ideology. Pope Benedict, Pope John Paul the II, Pope Paul VI, Pope John XXIII have all stated the same idea of welcoming the stranger, removing barriers, walls and attitudes that divide all of God’s people.

I would invite all parishioners who have somehow decided that the wall between this country and Mexico is the best solution, to reevaluate the actions of Jesus. No one can dispute Jesus’ clear intention and motives, yet there seems to be a belief that Christians believe it is best to raise a barrier.

Scriptures, Catholic theology, the Pope’s preaching, the Universal Catholic Church, all point to a way of life that does not find peace and security in walls, barriers and division. The Kingdom of God is God’s mindset of how things really ought to be.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric