My Friends in Christ,
I’m sharing Bishop Mark’s appeal for your support of those suffering in Haiti. As I announced last weekend at all the Masses we will begin to pray the prayer to St. Michael for all those persecuted and suffering around the world and will continue to do this after each and every Mass. In addition to your prayers, as you can see in the Bishop’s letter, there is an urgent need for your generosity to assist those who are struggling in Haiti.
I also want to remind you that the second collection at this weekend’s Masses is for the Daughters of Mary and their mission in India that we heard about last weekend when sister Annceline was with us. Please be as generous as possible to this cause as well.
On behalf of those who are suffering and in need I thank you for your generosity and prayers for them.
God bless you,
Note from Collections Team:
Donations can be made through the Diocese website’s GIVING page as mentioned above for Haiti [credit cards accepted]. Cash and/or checks may be issued for either one or both collections and placed in the collection basket during mass, or can be left in the mail slot in the door to the Church Office. ALL checks to be payable to “Prince of Peace”. We will issue separate checks to each campaign for the total payments received and send them directly to the Diocese for distribution thru Catholic Relief Services.
An Urgent Request to Everyone in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown
Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown
Office of the Bishop
2713 W Chestnut Avenue
Altoona, PA 16601
August 24, 2021
In a matter of 72 hours (August 14-16), the Caribbean country of Haiti was struck by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that destroyed countless homes, churches, and schools, and flooding by Tropical Storm Grace
impeded rescue efforts.
Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Americas, with corruption, political instability, poor infrastructure, lack of health care, and lack of education. In good times, the average family lives on less than $2 per day. The people and the country of Haiti have not recovered from the last major earthquake in 2010. Help, our help, is desperately needed.
I am asking everyone in our diocese young and old to contribute to a special collection for Haiti that is to be taken up at all the Masses on the weekend of September 18-19. Online donations are also encouraged through the GIVING section of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown website. All proceeds will be given to
Catholic Relief Services for immediate distribution. The need is so great at this time. Schools, businesses, churches, and medical centers have been severely damaged or completely destroyed. Medical supplies and even clean drinking water is not readily available.
Please be generous in responding to our neighbors in their time of need. Please be a Good Samaritan! Thank you for your prayers and financial donations for our brothers and sisters in Haiti.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Rev. Mark L. Bartchak
Bishop of Altoona-Johnstown
Link to Diocese GIVING page: https://ajdiocese.weshareonline.org/ws/opportunities/HaitiEarthquake
My friends in Christ, we see again in the gospel this weekend, the struggle of many of the disciples who were following Christ. They struggled to understand, they struggled to accept what He was teaching, and they struggled with their faith. Even though we have the benefit of the entire picture through the living word of God, “Sacred Scripture” in the Bible, we too at times struggle with our faith. Be it during difficult circum-stances, perhaps a loved one or even ourselves struggling with a serious health issue, perhaps a financial burden or some other life altering catastrophic event, we may ask God, why are You doing this to me? Or why are You allowing this to happen to me? Why are You letting me suffer? These are occasions when we may question our faith. Yes indeed our faith might be being tested. The question we must answer is, how do we respond to this test of faith. In the gospel today we see that many of the disciples responded by leaving our Lord and have returned to their former way of life. We note that the Twelve however remained steadfast in their faith and in the words of Simon Peter, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Let us always have the strength and fortitude of the Twelve and put all our trust, hope and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is with us always. He wants to dwell in your heart and soul. We must always strive to make our heart a worthy vessel for our Lord to dwell in. We must live as he calls us to. We must be strong and ever vigilant in our faith and love of him. In difficult times, we must turn to him more deeply and in greater devotion so that He may be with and in us and comfort and guide us. We must be understanding and accepting of His plan and abandon our own plan. We must surrender to Him and His will always.
I pray that each of you will surrender to Him every day and thereby grow ever more in love with Him and grow stronger in your faith and trust of our Lord.
On an additional note, just a reminder that the Bishop has reinstated the obligation to attend Mass and Holy Days of Obligation as of August 15th. That means if you miss Mass or a Holy Day of Obligation without good cause, it’s a mortal sin and you must go to confession prior to receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist. If you are not feeling well we ask that you please stay home and not attend Mass until you are better. Missing Mass because of illness is good cause and therefore not a sin.
Have a very blessed week!
On Sunday the Church celebrates the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is the oldest feast day of our Lady. There is little known information on how this celebration came to be. It’s origin is thought to be during the time when Jerusalem was restored as a sacred city during the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine (c. 285-337). Prior to Constantine’s rule the city had been mostly pagan for a couple centuries.
For two hundred years every memory of Jesus was wiped out in the city and all the holy sites - places made holy by Jesus life, death and resurrection had been made pagan temples.
The Tomb of Mary, which was close to Mt. Zion, was near “Place of Dormition” the spot where Mary “fell asleep” where Mary had died. The Tomb of Mary was where she was buried. The memory of Mary was being celebrated and later became the feast of Assumption.
There was more to the feast than Mary’s death. The feast proclaimed that she had been taken up to heaven, body and soul. This belief dated back to the apostles themselves. Supporting this belief was the fact that there were no relics to be venerated and that her tomb near the site of her death was empty. Today, the Benedictine Abbey of the Dormition of Mary stands on that site. The Assumption completes God’s work in her since it was not fitting that the flesh that had given life to God himself should ever undergo corruption.
In 1950, Pope Pius XII in his Apostolic Constitution “Munificentissimus Deus” proclaimed the Assumption of Mary a dogma of the Catholic Church stating, “The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life was assumed body and soul into heaven.” Thus, an ancient belief became Catholic doctrine and the Assumption declared a truth revealed by God.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ as we celebrate the Feast of The Assumption of Mary let us always have a very special devotion to her. Let us turn to her always as an intercessor for us. For who better to ask to join us in prayer to our Lord and Savior but His own Mother. Remember Mary is Mother of the Church, mother of our Lord and Savior, Mother of God and our Mother and is always ready to assist us through her intercession.
Have a very Blessed Week!
In the Gospel for this weekend we hear Jesus say, “I am the bread of life and that no one comes to the Father except through me.” For the disciples, the people and for us, this is both an exhortation and an invitation. The exhortation is Jesus is the bread of life and the invitation is to come to the Father through Him. Jesus gives us the gift of Himself as the bread of life and also the promise of eternal life with the Father through Himself. How beautiful this promise is for us and for all who believe.
As Catholics, what does this promise mean for us? It should be paramount for us. The source and summit of our Catholic faith is of course the most holy Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ, the “Bread of Life.” We must always approach the Eucharist with a pure and contrite heart and with the utmost reverence and humility. We must realize that our Lord is truly present in the Eucharist. As Catholics we know it is not a symbol. It’s not a sign. It is in fact through the transubstantiation the actual body and blood of our Lord and savior given up for each of us and the redemption of sin.
We also must realize that the path to eternal life is through our Lord Jesus Christ and our partaking of the body and blood of Christ. Now, we must be worthy to receive Him in the Eucharist. How is it that we are worthy? We must confess our sins in reconciliation, repent of our sins, receive absolution and do penance to remain in the grace of God. It takes work on our part to be in the grace of God. The good news is that it’s always there for us. It’s always available to us because God wants us to be with him. Jesus wants to dwell in us always and he offers us to be in Him.
If we truly desire to have eternal life with God at the end of our time here on earth, Our Lord has given us a clear and very real path to follow to that end. I pray my brothers and sisters in Christ that you will walk that path with me.
On a practical note, we continue to seek to fill the position of maintenance man. The Job description has been updated and is available in the office should anyone like to see exactly what we’re looking for. If you or anyone you know might be interested in this position, please direct them to contact the rectory office.
A reminder that Bishop Mark has removed the dispensation from Mass obligation beginning on August 15th. What does this mean for us as Catholics? The obligation to attend Sunday Mass and Mass on Holy Days of obligation has been reinstated. It is a mortal sin to miss Sunday Mass and Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation. We welcome back all of you who because of the COVID 19 pandemic have not been with us.
Also, if you need to contact the office or me, I ask that you please do so during regular office hours. If it’s an emergency, such as someone needing to be anointed, you may call at any time. If no one is available to answer the phone, please leave a voice mail message and be sure to include what the need is. In the evening, I may be out, in the church praying or in a meeting. If a message is left and it is an urgent or emergency situation, I will respond as soon as possible. If it’s not urgent, your call will be returned on the next day during office hours. Thank you for your assistance and cooperation.
Have a very blessed week!
Father Mark Groeger is the Parish Administrator of Prince of Peace Church in Northern Cambria, PA.