Dear Holy Family, St. Mary and St. Anthony Parish:
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.”
(I Cor. 13:7-8)
“Love them.” To any question I ask at St. Mary’s or St. Anthony’s School, almost always the answer includes love: “Because God loves you.” Or, “Because you love God.” Although as adults we know living in the real world is a bit more complex, still the core message of our Catholic Schools stands: “Love them.” Love you family, love your teachers, love your classmates, love your neighbors, love the stranger,…. Love them!
What beautiful places for children to grow in, are our Catholic Schools. What beautiful places for pastors to grow in too! Invariably class with the First and Second Graders ends with a group hug that breaks up only when I plead for air. I love the open hearted free ranging conversations we share in all the grades. No topic is taboo. We cover life and death, heaven and earth, Jedi and Jesus. We have so much to celebrate during this year’s Catholic School Week.
At the 8:30am and 10:30am liturgies this weekend School Children will be serving us as Ministers of the Word and of Music. School children will also be helping at the Annual Holy Name Men/Catholic Knights Pancake breakfast served from 8:00am to 12:30pm in Abbot Jerome Hall today (Sunday). Grandparents day will begin with Mass at 10:15am at St. Anthony’s on Tuesday and at St. Mary’s on Wednesday. I add my voices to those of the students today in thanking all whose support makes these two schools of love possible.
“Love them.” This also summarizes the training our Alpha leaders have received over the past few weeks. I was particularly struck when Nicky Gumbel, the founder of the movement said: “To love someone is to look at them with eyes of faith. It is to believe that this inactive person, even this atheist, will one day burn with love and be a leader in the faith. And that look of faith gives you all of the patience and gentleness people need to learn to trust again and come out from behind their defenses.”
Our group of hosts and helpers all agreed that even if no one signed up for this first round of Alpha gatherings, they would all gladly go through it themselves. They have heard enough testimonies and learned enough about the program to be eager to spend that time growing closer to one another and to God. That will not need to be the case however, because we already have people signing up to come! And if even half the number of red invitation cards taken result in someone coming, we are going to have a very good sized group indeed. Thank you to all who have taken the step in faith to invite someone. You have “Loved them!”
There are sign up sheets in the back of all three parishes this weekend and next. You can also call the parish office to let us know. Again, this first time especially we invite people who are attending Church to come and experience Alpha. It stirs into flames the ordinary Catholic’s faith and it gives us the confidence to invite someone not active in their faith to come and try it. We will need to begin planning food by the 8
of February and so would like a good sense of who is coming by then. And if Monday evenings don’t work for you, we will be offering Alpha again in the fall on a variety of days and times.
“Love them.” The envelope attached to the bulletin this week is for the Campaign for Human Development. This movement was begun by the US Bishops to make sure our love for the poor and needy in this country was more than a hand out; more than charity. The Campaign for Human Development works at changing the social structures that cause poverty. It is the Church’s arm for working for Justice in the United States.
“Love them.” Next Saturday at the 4:00pm Mass our RCIA Team and Sponsors will present to us three people seeking entrance into and full communion with the Catholic Church. With our approval and support they will travel to the Cathedral in La Crosse the first Sunday of Lent for the Rite of Election. We pray that through our voices and that of the Bishop they will grow certain that God is calling them to Baptism and Confirmation in the Catholic Faith.