Category: From the Pastor

First Down – December 4, 2016

Dear Friends,

Growing up in Eastern Arizona, ranching, farming and mining was the way of life for many. My Dad would tell me stories about my grandfather. He would say that in those days all a man had to do was shake hands with another man and his word was his bond. A man’s word was sacred, and very rarely would anyone think of breaking their word. To not mean what you say would make others not trust you. Today we might find it difficult to take people at their word. Yes times have changed, but what should not change is that our words should say what is really in our hearts.

The sadness I feel in our country right now is the concern how words have been used, and wondering if people really mean what they say. Words that do not make me feel comfortable, safe or hopeful, words that make people afraid. There is a real disconnect between what is said from people’s mouths and how we respond.

John’s Gospel reminds us that in the beginning was the Word, that Word is Jesus Christ. Christians can use the bible to refer to how we are to live and learn and it is useful. Yet Christians need to remember Jesus is the Word! He Himself embodies all instruction, all knowledge and all behavior we are to follow. Christians sometimes have blindness because all they see and all they quote are texts and verses from the bible. Oh they know the bible in and out and sometimes at Mass Catholics have this glazed look during the readings. Jesus is the Word!

Show me were Jesus used words that spoke about excluding anyone. Show me were Jesus used words that stoked unreasonable fear in those seen as outsiders. Your words need to be formed and shaped by the Word himself- Jesus.

Want to know something your Pastor knows and people think I don’t know? Some Christians call the parish office and use words that are cruel, mean and awful. Then of course they are nice to me. What is that all about? We have become a country that just accepts cruel speech and we look the other way or will not address it because it comes from someone we need something from.

I am proud of my Arizona rural upbringing. I saw firsthand the teaching that a man’s word was his bond. His words meant something. If not who can trust you. If our words are not the same words of Jesus then it is no wonder we do not choose our words carefully. This is for everybody to remember not just a few. All words from everybody must be like the Word of God.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

Good Liturgy Builds Faith

A photo from the most recent Liturgy meeting in Fr Eric’s office… Final touches for the Advent season and going over all the Christmas masses procedures. It takes a lot of coordination to have our liturgies run smoothly, involving many people who serve the community in many roles. Our motto is “Good Liturgy Builds Faith”.

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First Down – November 27, 2016

Dear Friends,

Scriptures remind us that in community there is no proof of the existence of God, only witnesses. You and I are the witnesses that Christ is risen and will come again. So it is vital that every Christian take seriously the role of being a witness to others.

One way that parishioners will witness that they serve the Lord is during Advent they will come forward towards the altar and place their financial gift in the offertory basket. To actively rise up and walk towards the Table of the Lord to lay their sacrificial gifts of giving, praying and serving at the altar is a powerful sign in the midst of the community. Visitors and visiting priest are so moved by the large number of people who come forward at that time. No one gives their gift alone but when all the gifts come together it is a large sign. Each season of Advent and Lent we do this, more and more parishioners are joining together in this sign. There is proof that this works. The collections during this season go up significantly. You read that right. The collections do increase. Now as your Pastor many times I am reminded of the movie Forrest Gump where he says, “I am not a smart man”, that is true for me, but I am smart enough to know when the giving of the community increases, we should all take notice.

Our recent Stewardship Commitment Sunday where we asked for a commitment from the community to help us in our mission as Christian Disciples was well received by many. The gift of stewardship is found in these action words, Giving, Praying and Serving (GPS). We encourage every family to use their parish envelopes. There are three ways in which to use your envelopes.

First, is our financial gift, prayerfully think about what gift you can give in a sacrificial way, to the Lord and the work of his people. The Bible always talks about giving to the Lord, not with just of our surplus, but giving when it might be a little uncomfortable. The Lord deserves our best and this is a way to trust that the Lord will return our gifts many times over. We cannot just hear about trust, we need to experience it.

Secondly, prayer is essential in serving the Lord. Write down on your envelopes the needs that you want us to pray about. Also write down the people you are praying for or the area that you think needs to be remembered in prayer. Every Wednesday, the parish staff prays over the envelopes and asks God to hear your prayers and bless everyone.

Finally, write down the acts of service that you have done in the name of the Lord. To offer your works of mercy, your acts of love and your service towards others, needs to be brought before the Lord and offered. We need to reflect on what we are doing or have done. It is not bragging it is ritualizing our service and offering it to God.

Our theme is “As for Me and My House, We Will Serve the Lord”. That means each day our household here and in your dwelling place makes the Lord the priority in our lives. Advent is the time to give witness that God is alive in our world. No one can prove the existence of God; they can only see witnesses that God is here. We are those witnesses.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

First Down – November 20, 2016

Dear Friends,

When Pope Francis announced last year that he would be calling for an extra ordinary holy year and the theme would be Mercy, I was wondering what he was thinking. Did he mean that the Year of Mercy meant more confessions? Was it being kind towards sinners? Was it letting people who have hurt us off the hook? It was not exactly clear to me what he really meant by the Year of Mercy.  Soon we will conclude this holy year, and as I reflect on what I have seen in the world, I think he really saw something that was truly needed. He saw a world that has gone down a path where violence is a common occurrence and where a respectful response towards others has been tossed aside. There is a helpless feeling by many that structures that hurt people are only met with indifference from those who do not seem to care that people are suffering in so many ways. Yes, this Pope saw something in our world that needed mercy  from God and a need for people to show mercy towards others.

How merciful was our recent election campaign at all levels of public offices? Where has mercy gone if the pursuit of being right, obtaining power and degrading others takes priority even by Christians? We have seen the ugly side of human behavior all in the name of temporal matters. Will there be anyone to help lead us through a healing process?

Mercy is the willingness to listen to others concerns. Listening and being told they are heard is sometimes what human beings really need and want. We mistakenly believe that listening means we have to agree with what is being said. Listening is to understand where the other is coming from.

Mercy when practiced, never allows indifference towards others in our lives. Simply thinking first of our own suffering and only seeing our needs first while not seeing the suffering or fears of others doesn’t show mercy. Rather, mercy is to know that we can grow in unity when we share our struggles with others. After a long, nasty process to gain political power, do we Christians see any need for mercy for our country? So many people expressed frustration with the division and demeaning talk. Now is the time for us to plant the seeds of mercy.

Now that the passion has settled a bit, how about we practice listening to others? How about offering peace to someone we said harsh words towards because of different views? How about seeing the abundance of resources to share with others rather than seeing what is lacking and not wanting to share with those in serious need?

Pope Francis was right all along about the need for mercy. Even though the year of mercy ends now, the work of mercy is just beginning in our country

Peace in Christ

Fr. Eric

First Down – November 13, 2016

Dear Friends,

The size of the parish makes it a challenge to share information with parishioners about what is happening in their faith community.  The good news would be that our parish is alive and people have many options to serve God.  I always believe that it takes real effort on parishioner’s part not to be serving in some capacity.  Telling the story takes many paths and with so many parishioners coming and going it reminds us that the story telling never ends.

Next Sunday I will be speaking at all the Masses.  We are calling this the State of the Parish.  We want to share information with the entire parish of where we are with our expansion, information on our finances and future events and projects that are important to the life of the community.  Of course not everyone will be making it to Mass that weekend for one reason or another, yet the homily/talk will be on podcast and also emailed in our weekly connection, which reaches over 5000 parishioner’s email addresses.  We hope that as many people as possible will be able to listen and become better informed on what is really happening at St. Patrick.

One item shared with the parish recently in the bulletin was the decision by parish leadership to adjust our 8:30AM Sunday Mass to 8:00AM.  As mentioned in the recent First Down that after hearing the thoughts of parishioners regarding the tight time frame between the Masses, and the informal survey of asking people who attend that Mass if the half hour would make it a challenge to get to Mass, most said they would be there for Mass. The time for more fellowship, eating opportunities to build community, the lack of stress of getting into the parking lot as people are leaving are some good reasons that will help foster a more peaceful experience at our Sunday morning Masses.

We are also growing our podcasts to include some outstanding speakers, formation talks about our faith, and other items to download on your phone or other electronic devices.  So many do not have time to read or attend events and driving in the car or other times can be moments to be inspired, spiritually fed and growing in wisdom.

I personally look forward to sharing with all of you the state and direction of our faith community.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

First Down – November 6, 2016

Dear Friends,

As we move along with our expansion project there is a good possibility we soon will have some extra parking on our current property. This will be great news for everyone especially as our crowds increase during the winter months.

A challenge for Sunday mornings has been the pacing of the two Masses at 8:30 and 10:30. Some Sundays when the Rites call for more time, there can be a backup to get onto the property between the Masses. This makes it difficult to have a relaxed atmosphere for people to stay for fellowship after the 8:30 Mass. For a long time we have heard from a good number of parishioners inquiring about the possibility of having more time in between these Masses. Our Pastor’s Advisory Team and I have been looking into this area regarding how to make Sunday morning Mass times work for the parish.

We spoke with many different parishioners who attend the 8:30 Mass to see if they would be open to attending the Mass if we adjusted it to an earlier time in the morning. The feedback that we received was a strong yes; many would continue to attend if we were to adjust that Mass to 8:00 AM. Knowing that this might not fit into everyone’s schedule there seems to be a strong feeling amongst my Advisory Team that this would benefit the parish in many ways.

First of all is the extra time we would have to stay after Mass to visit, have more pancake breakfasts and other eating/fellowship opportunities, not have the traffic back up frustrating people trying to enter the parking lot or maybe offering some Formation sessions after Mass for people to learn more about their faith.

I personally am not a big fan of making change for the parish just for the sake of change. I know that to change people’s habits and routines can throw some people off. Yet the evidence is very clear to me that the positives of such an adjustment would far outweigh things that might cause change in people’s habits.

So beginning Sunday morning January 1st we will be adjusting the 8:30 AM Mass to its new time 8:00 AM.

We do not want to lose the many younger families with their children to the time change, yet the parents have told us that they are already up and they will make the change or that it works even better for them. Many of our older parishioners are up early and this might get their day off to a start a half hour earlier.

January is right around the corner and we wanted you to have ample time to adjust your schedules if you need to. After a long time of reflection and looking at the positives, I feel that this new Mass time will be the best for the parish. There are people who come to this parish for fellowship, meeting new people, caring for people they know in the pews and having coffee and donuts after Mass. Another benefit is parking congestion between Masses will be relieved. Now they can relax and not feel rushed.

I am looking forward to the extra parking spaces we hope to have soon on our own property, this will give us the momentum we need to continue our expansion.

Peace in Christ

Fr. Eric

First Down – October 30, 2016

Dear Friends,

I am a big fan of C-Span Television when it comes to history and discussions on people of the past and the mark they left on the world. It does give some perspective on what we are experiencing as a country today. The question could be, have elections ever been this nasty and bad? Well the answer would be yes! When it comes to power it can sometimes bring out the worst qualities in people. Today the only difference is more people instantly get such information.

So stating the obvious for many, what are Christians called to do as the election approaches and beyond? What we do best is call upon the Holy Spirit for the gifts of wisdom for all those who are elected to serve. No matter who is elected, and how we may feel about who won the different offices, we must be willing to pray for them. To love our neighbor is not always about liking them, but it is always wanting what is good and best for them. The Holy Spirit touches all humanity whether they believe or not. Christians see the Spirit in action in both people who believe or do not believe.

The second gift to pray for is healing. Whenever former presidents gather for special occasions, I am sure there is need for some forgiveness. Words and attacks can be hurtful so for the good of the country and humanity they can put aside differences for unity. Sometimes, believe it or not, they become friends. We may have some hurt feelings from words that were damaging to our relationships that could use some mending. Our need to be right or understood should never be above the true good nature of our humanity.

One last thing to think about is maybe we practice better listening to what others may be trying to say. This is a difficult thing for many of us. At times I want to correct opinions from others right away, rather than take the time to listen to another’s point of view. This does not mean I have to agree in the end, but it might help you and me to be more at peace in our hearts in dealing with different opinions.

I offer again the Prayer of St Francis to all parishioners to pray for our country. A country made up of people who can strive to understand, not just be understood, to give, rather than just receive and to love rather than just being loved. We cannot control what happens in our country but we can live our lives the way real Christians should live.

May God bless our country, the freedom to love and the gift of healing after a long campaign process.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

First Down – October 23, 2016

Dear Friends,

Initiation into a group is an important process that allows the person seeking to belong to that group an opportunity to see what they are about, learn what its core values are and help the person understand the importance of commitment to that group. Our Catholic faith has a 2,000 year old process of bringing people into our large community. In the early church it was a very serious process that one went through to be sure they could be trusted, and that they could commit to following Jesus Christ in that community.

That process continues today through what is called the Christian Initiation Process. Some may know this process as RCIA-Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. The year around Inquiry sessions are open to anyone seeking to know more about the Catholic faith. When one decides to enter a more serious journey to join the Catholic community, they enter through the Rite of Welcoming. At Mass those seeking to become Catholic are welcomed and prayed over, and then they begin the process of being dismissed each week at a particular mass to further break open the Word of God.

This Sunday at 10:30AM Mass we have the Adult Rite of Welcome as these people become candidates to begin their journey. Next Saturday evening mass the Family Initiation happens by welcoming families into the process, which includes children needing sacraments they have not yet received.

It is important for parishioners to know that each year the people who enter the process have powerful stories of how their lives changed; stories of loving God even more, living differently and being inspired by St. Patrick parishioners living their daily lives. These Rites of Welcome are just the beginning for these candidates. They began this journey, not to join St Patrick, but to be part of a greater community, The Roman Catholic Church.

If you happen to be at one of these Masses, please be ready to share what you see with those you meet in your lives that might ask questions of why one would want to become Catholic and what the process is like for those wanting to join.  Remember to pray for those seeking God in the midst of our Catholic family.

When the season of Lent arrives, these candidates will become the Elect, entering the final six weeks of preparation. Then at Easter they are either Baptized or make a Profession of Faith. The excitement of following Jesus, receiving sacraments for the first time, seeing their lives change as they keep studying the Word of God is clear to see. As we pray for them, we might want to remember their excitement, because it might be the thing that brings a spark into our faith life.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

First Down – October 16, 2016

Dear Friends,

Our parish is blessed to have four Deacons assigned to our community. These are men who have been ordained to serve in charity and love. Some of the duties of the Diaconate include baptizing, witnessing at weddings, proclaiming the Gospel, preaching, leading prayers for burial and assisting at our liturgies. As you view these pictures and brief bios of our Deacons we are grateful to all who served as Deacons in the Church. At this time there are serious discussions being held about the possibility of women being ordained to the diaconate. Of course everything moves slowly in the Church, the wonderful part is, there is at least discussion. For so long some in the Church have discouraged on-going discussions on serious issues in our faith. To have honest dialogue and good knowledge of our history is very important. In the meantime please become familiar with these Deacons:

 

Deacon Jim Hostutler was ordained April 19, 1986 in Toledo Ohio Diocese at Lourdes University Chapel. He was assigned to Resurrection Parish in Lexington, Ohio.  When he retired from General Motors in 2001 he moved to Cleveland and worked one season at Jacobs Field Home of the Cleveland Indians.  In May 2012, Bishop Olmsted assigned him to St. Patrick Catholic Community. He is the proud father of seven children and grandfather to 13 grandchildren.  His second oldest son will be ordained on May 6, 2017 as a permanent Deacon.

Deacon John Meyer was ordained December 1, 1973 in the Diocese of Phoenix at St. Joseph Parish in Phoenix. He received a MA in theology from Maryknoll Graduate School of Theology and a MA in Religious Education from Seattle University. Deacon John served in the Diocese of Phoenix full time for 36 years, first as a Parish Director of Religious Education for eleven years and then as Diocesan Director of Catechetical Ministry for 25 years. Deacon John and his wife Mary Ann have two children, Peter and Maureen and five grandchildren!  He served in the Peace Corps for two years in Ecuador.

Deacon Lou Cornille was ordained in 2002 by Bishop Thomas O’Brien in the diocese of Phoenix.  He and his wife Bonnie have been married for 54 years and were high school sweethearts! They have three children and seven grandchildren. Deacon Lou and his family have lived in Scottsdale for 32 years.  His career was in telecommunications with GTE.  His job took him to several countries including Canada, Puerto and Europe selling to the U.S. Military.  Deacon Lou is an avid fisherman, a enthusiastic fisher of men and an ardent grandpa today!

Deacon Richard Fettig was ordained in 1998 in the Diocese of Bismarck North Dakota serving at Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck. He married his wife in 1961 and entered USAA as a Captain and served from 1963-1965 during the Vietnam War. He and his wife Janet have three children and 7 grandchildren.  Deacon Richard got his BS degree at the University of ND and his doctor of Dental Surgery degree at University of Minnesota.  He practiced Dentistry for 43 years in Bismarck, ND and retired in 2006.  He enjoys flying and running, (including the Boston Marathon). Now Deacon Richard spends his winters here in the Valley serving at St. Patrick!

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

First Down – October 9, 2016

Dear Friends,

Through information technology our world has become a much smaller place in terms of learning of the suffering and pain in different parts of our country and the world. Instantly we can see for ourselves the many ways life can be taken. Everyday our news leads with stories that talk about shootings, abuse, taking of human life and human suffering inflicted by others. All these things are brought before us, and for most of us we can’t help but feel some sort of sorrow or discouragement.

We probably have gotten to a point in our society that we are numb to the constant news of killings and human life not being valued. So where do followers of Christ gather strength in facing such horrible actions?

The Gospel of Jesus is the Gospel of Life. Every time the Word of God is preached it is about life. Every teaching, and every word uttered by Jesus in scriptures is saying that all humanity is sacred and He is teaching us the path that every Christian must take in treating all life as sacred. Pope Francis has reminded us many times that life issues are to be more than just one cause or concern, it is all connected. Life issues are a dragnet that covers every conceivable situation that humans face.

This reminder forces some of us to broaden our view from one issue to the greater vision of all human life. We can all start with the life of the unborn; it is the beginning of human life. If our bodies are sacred temples, as we are reminded in scripture, then destroying the inside of our bodies, for both sexes, is not part of God’s plan. The cooperation of man and woman bringing forth life is sacred and holy. The reverence of that act is holy.

The treatment of children, lifting them from poverty, providing care, love and stability are life issues that challenge our country. We should not ignore any child who lives these terrible things. In regards to the dignity of life for adults, as in the death penalty, this never allows people to regain their worth even if in prison for life, or the seniors, whose long lives can be set aside and forgotten need to be remembered for their contributions, and be honored no matter what.

I look at parents who have walked the journey of life with their children, by giving birth, the protection of the unborn, loving and sacrificing for their children in the formative years by providing basic human needs and out of love they work through issues as their children get older, no matter their age. Also having children, who as adults have serious failing health and need to be cared for by family members. No parent is stuck in one area in the life of their children. Parents expand their lives to be at every level in the growth of their children. The same is true for all of us in life issues, as we protect the unborn, expand to care for children, stand by them when they make mistakes and care for them as they deal with health issues. Sadly sometimes, parents do have to bury their children, yet they expand their understanding of life as do all Christians as we hear the Gospel of Life preached every Sunday.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric