Dear People of St. Mary’s, Holy Family and St. Anthony’s:
“May it be done to me according to your word.”
To all those who will be travelling for the Christmas Holiday, I pray that while you are with your loved ones you will “Trust and open your heart” that God might grant you a new birth of “Christ’s peace and joy.” That’s what we will be working on here at home. And we take as our guide Mary, the one who opened her heart completely to God in trust and let Christ be born in her.
We have had many people working hard to help us have a joyful and peaceful Christmas celebration. At the 8:00pm Christmas Eve at St. Mary’s we will enjoy the preparations made by a group of St. Mary’s students under the direction of one of our RCIA candidates Jason Bravener. Jason has been directing community theater productions in Neillsville and accepted the invitation to help us develop something to enrich our Christmas celebration. We are starting out simple this year but will “trust and open our hearts” to what the Spirit will lead us into. Mary Hosesly and crew have been working with our children on the wonderful Christmas Pageant that has become a much loved tradition at St. Anthony’s. The pageant will begin at 4:00pm Christmas Eve with Mass immediately following.
In all three parishes we will be blessed with the preparations made by our Choirs and instrumentalists. And as you are probably already seeing today, we will enjoy again this year the fruit of many very talented people who have robed our Churches in Christmas glory. To all who help up us “trust and open our hearts” by filling and surrounding us with beauty, we give thanks.
We are not able to give you the complete line up of priest celebrants yet. Fr. Richard Bayuk, native of Holy Family in Willard, who has come home on major holidays for years to celebrate with us, had back surgery a few weeks ago. At the time this bulletin went to press he was up and walking again without a cane. But he wasn’t sure how much stamina he would have by Christmas Eve and Day. So Fr. Bayuk will celebrate the 4:00pm in Willard Christmas Eve and I’ll preside at the 4:00pm at St. Anthony’s. Fr. Charlie Hiebl has been so kind as to assist us again for the 8:00pm at St. Anthony’s so I can concelebrate with Fr. Joe at St. Mary’s. We are waiting to see how Fr. Bayuk is doing before deciding whether he or I will take the 8:30am and 10:30am Christmas Day and the other take the 9:30am. He would certainly like to preside at Holy Family, but may not be up to doing both Masses as the schedule would require. We will just have to trust and open our heart to what the situation may be.
As excited as I am about Christmas, I am also looking beyond it to events coming up. In response to the One Voice newsletter article inviting people to help send parish youth Shae Horvat on mission to Casa Hogar in Peru, a parish member suggested we establish a Mission Fund that people could contribute tax deductable dollars to and that could be used by Shae and anyone else from our parishes who wanted to go on Mission. Our Social Concerns Committees would be the group to decide who would be supported and with how much.
To build this Fund we are working on a benefit concert for Sunday evening March 1
st. That would be the night before our Parish Mission with Fr. John Parr begins (Monday through Wednesday March 2-4.) We are hoping to get the Balsam Road Ramblers back who were very well received at the St. Anthony Fall Festival. Hopefully the event will get Shae the remaining funds she needs and set aside additional funds for future parish missionaries to draw from.
I believe establishing this fund now is just the right time because Shae who trusted and opened her heart to what God was calling her to, just like Mary, will no doubt inspire others to do the same when she returns. We want to be ready to support others with the courage to say: Let it be done to me as you say.