Sunday, July 15, 2018

A Word from Your Pastor July 15

Festival Weekend is always a wonderful thing to behold.  We are glad it is here, and then, we are happy to have it completed.  When we have done the Festival, we find that we are already at the half-way point of summer.  Before we know it, we will be gearing up again for Fall and the bustle of activity that engages us.  While the “lull” still continues, we need to be sure to take time to keep the long view in our sights.

“Life comes at you fast” is a famous expression.  We use it to describe everything from the challenging experiences we have to face as individuals to the reality of watching our children grow up and move on with their own life’s journeys.  As we admit this, the Church invites us at the same time to acknowledge that it is in our power to plan and make choices that can assist not only our own generation but the generations to come.

It is in this spirit that I continue my own journey of learning this week with the second half of training in the first level of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.  As you may recall, I did the first half of the training last summer.  There are three levels for the Catechesis, covering children from age 3 to age 12, with age-appropriate methods and materials.  The training for the first level is a kind of “initiation” into the world and ways of this approach to opening up the “Mysteries of the Kingdom” to our children.

In my 33 years of priestly ministry, I have always been involved in the task of educating children.  From my earliest years as Associate Pastor at St. Mary’s Parish in Lancaster to the present, I have always spent time in the classroom as well as in church and other venues speaking to children about our Faith.  That has given me a unique opportunity to observe methods of education at all levels.   Over the past several years and now with more intentional study, I have seen the approach of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd up close.  There is no doubt in my mind that this approach, which is used all over the world and by people of varied Christian denominations, has the potential to revitalize our families in their understanding of the Catholic Faith.

Locally, even though at the present time we have only one Atrium and have materials for levels one and two available (level three is in process), we have seen many fruits.  Several families have made the decision to become Catholic because their children learned about the Sacraments through the Atrium.  The children have shared wonderful insights with their parents and their catechists that deepen the adults’ own understanding of the Faith.  Many of our high school students – who did not have the opportunity to be in an Atrium during their elementary years – have served as aides and are more excited than ever about the Faith due to what they have learned by working with the children in the Atrium.

If any of you are interested in learning about the approach of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, the Diocese of Columbus will be offering training through the next academic year on Saturdays.  I invite you to give it a try.  Aides are always needed and that would give you an opportunity to see it up close.  Parents and Grandparents of the children who attend Atrium sessions have many good things to say and stories to tell.  Just ask them!

May we all learn to hear the voice of the Shepherd and be open to the new and greener pastures He is preparing for us.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

A Word from Your Pastor July 8

It was ten years ago this week, that I arrived at St. Timothy Church as Pastor.  I remember vividly entering into a whirlwind of activity in preparation for my first St. Timothy Festival weekend. 

It seemed that everything came in “fives” at that time: five Masses, five baptisms, five funerals, etc.  We have been moving together just about that quickly ever since.  As we once again enjoy together the fun and challenges of this community gathering, I want to thank all who make it possible: the team of “captains” who work with Joe Lorenz to get things together and to bring it about, the volunteers who take care of all the activities, and, of course, our patrons and guests from home and afar who enjoy the food and fellowship and contribute to the material sustenance of our parish and school.

This week, too, the Diocese of Columbus will be experiencing many changes and moves.  Several priests are retiring from active ministry.  The five newly ordained priests will take up their first assignments as priests in parishes all around the Diocese. More than 20 priests in all will be affected in this round.  When I saw the list of “official appointments” in The Catholic Times, it took my breath away.  I was very happy not to see my name in the list!  We must pray for all the priests and parishes that are involved.  Transition is never easy.  We trust that God’s Spirit is ever at work to open hearts and to continue to breathe new life into the Church.

This weekend, I am away for a wedding out of town.  I offer my thanks to those who fill in for me and to all who make sure that things flow smoothly in my absence.   I am happy that we have our Seminarian Intern, Stephen Ondrey, on hand at the rectory.    He will get a taste of what has to happen when one is alone in a parish as many priests are.  As most folks experience, sometimes it is easier to stay home than to have to make all the arrangements to have things covered when we are away.  I have done what I can, but know that I count on all of you to do your part.  I will be back in time to plunge into the frenzy of the Festival.  Let us pray for good weather and health for all who will join us in this year’s experience and let’s do our best to be ready!

A Word from Your Pastor July 1

Freedom is one of the most central values of our society.  When we celebrate the Fourth of July, we call to mind that our way of life is founded on the core values of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  We honor those who have pledged their “lives, fortunes and sacred honor” to establish and uphold these ideals.  The responsibility left to us is to conduct ourselves as worthy recipients of the sacrifices in the past and those being made today to safeguard these values and allow us to live according to them.

A primary challenge of our current culture is that the very values we hold dear are being undermined because we allow them to be withheld from others according to our own preferences and desires.  We voice our support, but in practice they are not given their due.

Life is the first value.  We are in a world now where it has become commonplace to deny the rights of those at both ends of the spectrum: those in the womb and those who are approaching the end of life.  We are in a world where the fundamental dignity of the human person as a human being, created in the very image and likeness of God, is denied for those whose lives include special hardships – illness or handicaps that are deemed as making their lives not worth living.

Liberty, which is a capacity to do what is right and to live in accord with the truth, is changed to mean license, the ability to do whatever I want without reference to morality or to the effects my choices have on others.  We are in a world that is consciously separating decision-making from making any reference to the Creator and to a purpose beyond this world.  We are in a world where might, majority perception – without a need for accord with truth – and personal opinion are given full authority.  We are in a world that has the illusion of being capable of making ourselves out to be whatever we desire to be rather than what we ought to be.

The Pursuit of Happiness, which is meant to include the good of the whole person and all of society, is reduced to the effort to seek pleasures and activities that are fleeting on the basis of whim, rather than a well-thought-out plan or a response to a higher calling.  We are in a world that claims that we create our ourselves by deciding for ourselves what will make us happy.  We are in a world where advertising tries to put material goods above spiritual goods and relationship with God.

Our Faith can rejoice in the core values we hold dear.  But we also have to allow them to be lived according to the Gospel.  Anything less creates a world that is without life, liberty and happiness, because we have not corresponded to who we are created to be.  We are human beings, children of God, brothers and sisters to Jesus, Who paid the ultimate price for us; and we are empowered by the Spirit of the Living God to reach for the highest Good, which allows us a life in this world that is in accord with God’s Will and opens to us the gift of Eternal Life.  We are destined for glory, sharing in the very Life of God, Freedom to enter into the Mystery of self-sacrificing Love, and to the Happiness that will never end.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Word from Your Pastor June 24 - Nativity of John the Baptist

The Birth of St. John the Baptist is one of the few celebrations of earthly birthdays in our Catholic Liturgical Calendar.  Most of the Saints’ feast days are on the day of their birth into Eternity, that is, the day of their death or martyrdom.  John the Baptist has one of those too – August 29, the feast commemorating his Beheading.  We also celebrate the Birth of Mary (September 8), the Birth of Jesus (December 25) and the Birth of the Church (Pentecost).

John, the son of the priest Zechariah and Elizabeth, who is related to Mary, is a figure who loomed large in the early Christian community.  Many of Jesus’ first disciples were followers of the Baptist.  It was John who declared that Jesus is the Lamb of God.  After John’s imprisonment, Jesus began His public ministry in earnest.  It was after John’s death that Jesus first began to announce that He would be crucified.

As we acknowledge John at the time of His birth, we are called to realize that we too must prepare the way of the Lord.  We have to be ready to identify Jesus for Who He IS and to give our lives as a witness of that truth. 

John the Baptist reminds us that God has a plan for the salvation of the world.  He shows us that Christ must increase, while we must decrease.  Our sights are to be set not on what we get, but rather on what God wants to offer the world through our participation in His plan.  This means that we must respond to the God’s call to evangelize.  We proclaim the Gospel near and far.

Next weekend, while I am away for a Mariapolis, the summer retreat weekend with the Focolare Movement, St. Timothy Parish will experience the annual mssion appeal that is part of the Mission Co-Op of the Diocese of Columbus.  The Missionaries of the Precious Blood have been assigned to us this year.  This community serves in the Diocese of Columbus as well as in missions throughout the world, taking care of St. James the Less Parish.   I am sure you will show Fr. Andrew O’Reilly a warm welcome and I invite you to be generous.  July is the month that celebrates the gift of the Blood of Christ, so it is fitting to start it off in support of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Word from Your Pastor June 17

Deepened understanding of the Catholic Faith is always possible.  Three times, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger decided that he wanted to retire.  He reached the natural age of retirement the first time.  He asked Pope John Paul II to let him retire.  Pope John Paul said, “I need you.”  He asked a second time, and he received the same response.  As Pope John Paul came to the end of his life, Cardinal Ratzinger decided he would not give the next pope the choice.  He would tell him that he needed to retire.  Then, they elected him as Pope Benedict.  After several more years, he didn’t have to ask anyone else.  He announced his retirement.

Do you know what Pope Benedict wanted to do in retirement?  He wanted to have the time to study the Catholic Faith. If the pope feels he needs to study, the rest of us have to study the Catholic Faith even more!

Our parish has a long history of offering ways for study.  Virtually every day of the week, something is available for those who choose.  There are small groups, bible studies and opportunity for quiet prayer in the Presence of the Lord, the True Teacher.  And now, we have made arrangements for you to be able to pursue study using modern technology.

St. Timothy Parish is now on FORMED!   Give it a try at

The Lord Himself has given us a mission to go out to all the world and to make disciples.  In order to do so, we must know Jesus and spend time with Him.  We must also get to know all that He has taught us through the Scriptures and through the Church across time.  The Holy Spirit guides us.

In order to learn about our Faith at a greater depth, a proper attitude is needed: humility and reverence for Truth and a willingness to put our trust in the Teacher.  This is something that we cultivate together.  You will have noticed some changes in the environment as we gather for Mass.  Our Eucharistic Lord has His rightful place at the center with the Tabernacle now clearly visible in the sanctuary.  The beautiful play of light with the window above the altar on the top of the baldacchino over the Tabernacle is an unexpected gift – our own experience of the Burning Bush.  The kneeling of the Altar Servers and the ringing of the bells at the time of the epiclesis and the consecration draws us together to acknowledge our Lord Who is truly Present in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.  All of this serves to draw us into the fields where our Good Shepherd intends to take us in order to grow in our Faith.  May our hearts be open to the Lord and may we learn to appreciate together the Truth of His teachings.

Friday, June 8, 2018

A Word from Your Pastor June 10

Each human being is a unique and unrepeatable gift of God.  This is the heart of the mystery of the human person.  It is the central teaching of our Catholic Faith that underlies so many other teachings.  If it is obscured or made less than central, great confusion follows.  If it is personally grasped, then it becomes a light, a prism through which everything else makes sense.

When we realized that we are loved by God, and when we come to understand that every human being we encounter is loved in the same way, we have to change our vision of the world around us.  We don’t see people as enemies when we see them as persons with dignity and worth.

Our current culture pretends to hold this value in some situations, but when it is measured with clear sight, we have to acknowledge that it is more like George Orwell’s world in the book Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”  We give due to ourselves and those we personally care about, but those beyond our immediate world are not thought about very much. 

Pope Francis keeps inviting us to seek out those who are left out “in the peripheries.”  This does not necessarily mean traveling far away, but rather opening our eyes to see one another as we live our ordinary lives.  Summer gives us an opportunity to slow down.  Can we take advantage of that by trying to see one another more clearly?

Notice when someone is sad or tired and take the time to ask them what is going on in their lives.  Spend some time playing with your children – not just driving them to their extracurricular activities, but staying close to home and doing something just for the opportunity to be together.

Take some time also to remember the folks who used to be part of your every day world.  Where are they now?  Is there anyone you have lost track of with whom you ought to renew your relationship?  Who were your friends of long ago that still live nearby but have drifted out of your life?

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A Word from Your Pastor June 3 - Corpus Christi

Ordinary Time is the Season of Growth.  We live and grow in our understanding of the Mysteries of Christ that are highlighted in special ways by all the other Liturgical Seasons of the Church.  This Sunday we experience the celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christ, the Body and Blood of Christ.  This feast is linked to the Paschal Seasons that have just come to their close – Lent-Easter-Pentecost.  It is as if a painting of bright and glorious colors flows over beyond its frame onto the wall on which it is hung.

Pentecost pours out the Holy Spirit on the Church, giving us our share in the very Life of God through Jesus Christ.  Trinity Sunday, which was celebrated last week, plunges us into the Love of the Trinity, Each Divine Person’s act of giving and receiving, and Being in Relationship with Each Other.  Corpus Christi points to the simple truth that Jesus, the Eternal Son of the Father, Whose Life, Death, Resurrection and Ascension makes possible our Union with God, has given us Himself as the Bread of Life and the Blood of the Covenant.  The Holy Spirit, Who effects the transformation of bread and wine into the very Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, enlivens in us the capacity for sharing in the Triune Life.  We receive the Body of Christ in the Eucharist and we become what we receive.

In the week after Corpus Christ is celebrated, we also experience the feasts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Friday) and the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Saturday), the two human hearts that opened fully to the action and flow of grace offered to us.  Our hearts can embrace the full gift of the Mysteries because the Hearts of Jesus and Mary have already done so in our human nature.

If you can look at all of this in a simple “glance” of Faith, you cannot help but be caught up in awe at what God accomplishes among those who are open to receive Him in Love.  May every heart be ready to respond to this great act of Love poured out for us by Jesus the Lord.