Dear People of St. Mary’s, Holy Family and St. Anthony’s:
“The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Sometimes it’s hard to love people. In fact, I’ve got a bone to chew with Alan Walter and Chuck Rueth. There I was completely off of the Bishop’s radar. I don’t think he even knew where I was. Then….. Rural Life Day! And POW. Suddenly I am on the Bishop’s radar…. and…. get …. appointed Dean of the Thorp Deanery! If you two guys hadn’t done such a spectacular job putting together that dad-burn Rural Life Day Celebration, along with your many many helpers, I’d still be just a simple carefree country pastor.
If you are wondering what being “Dean” means, I’m still trying to figure it out myself. The Bishop’s letter of appointment reads in part:
I underline the importance of your care for the welfare of the priests of your deanery, and of your promotion of cooperation among the parishes of your deanery in carrying out the Church’s pastoral mission. In a particular way it will be your responsibility to coordinate and lead the process of pastoral planning in the Thorp Deanery. Thank you Alan and Chuck!
Part of the reason taking on responsibility for the care of the priests and parishes of the Thorp Deanery is not fully welcomed is there is so much just beginning here at home. This morning at St. Mary’s three adults are declaring their desire to become Catholic and a fourth is declaring his desire to return after being away for decades. Our special celebration is called the Rite of Welcome. Their going public with their intentions allows all of us to support and welcome them. Please extend the warm embrace of Christ to Mary Denk (Greenwood), Ron Rinehart (Loyal), Jason Bravener (Greenwood) and Debra Stachowicz (Loyal). In this case it is very easy to “love these neighbors as our self.” We’ll have to run it by our new Sacred Worship Committees but it is the hope of the RCIA team that these four people will be welcomed into our Catholic family of faith at an Easter Vigil celebrated at St. Mary’s this spring.
There will be lots of loving of one another next weekend as well. Our High School Juniors from all three parishes will be going on retreat in preparation for receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation on December 7
th at 1:00pm. The retreat will be all day Saturday and Sunday morning at St. Anthony’s Spirituality Center in Marathon. We are so blessed to be led on this retreat by Theresa Hoeser who once was a full time youth retreat director. Because I will be attending the whole retreat, Fr. Hiebl will be here to cover all the Masses. Fr. Follmar, Fr. Corradi and I will be at the retreat to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation with the Confirmation Candidates.
Also, because I will be on the retreat, I will not be offering a special Mass for All Saints day Saturday morning. Because this Holy Day falls on a Saturday the obligation to attend Mass (and so for priests to provide Masses) is lifted. However, knowing how deep devotion to the Saints runs among people here, Fr. Joe will provide an All Saints Day Mass Friday evening at 8:00pm at St. Mary’s.
The evening Masses next Saturday will all be for the celebration of All Souls Day. At the 10:30am Sunday liturgy we hope to begin a new tradition. At that Mass we will recognize families who have lost loved ones from the parish in the last year. After the Creed the names of the deceased will be read and family members will be invited to bring forward a lit candle and place in a stand in the front of church. I am sorry to not be apart of this “loving one another” but Fr. Hiebl has a great heart and will do well.
And of course we are waiting for the results of the vote this last week on whether we should combine St. Mary’s and St. Anthony’ Catholic Schools. Thank you all who have been following this issue and who cast a vote. The Pastoral Planning Committee will be counting your votes tomorrow. Another way we are working at “loving one another as we love ourselves.”