As we move towards the end of the Easter Season, we’re beginning to celebrate all those Springtime events that come with this time of year. This Sunday we congratulate our three children who will be making their first communion. They’ve been such troopers this year, meeting weekly with their teacher, Sherry Delosh via Zoom. While it’s been a strange year for everyone, I know I’m excited for some of these normal things to begin happening again. So this week, we congratulate these three children as they make their first communion at the 11AM mass. Then, at the end of Mass, we’ll invite them to come up and crown our blessed mother for the month of May. I hope that you will join me in congratulating these children and thanking their parents for continuing to answer the promises they made at their child’s baptism. Each of these families need our prayers and support, as do all of the families with children in our parish. I think we all realize it’s a difficult time in our world right now and we all need our Lord to lead us and our parish family to walk with us on that journey.
In the next few weeks we also have some very exciting moments coming up. On May 29th, after a very long 4 years without any new priests, we’ll have the next priesthood ordination in our diocese. Two men, currently deacons, Deacon Mark Gregor and Deacon Mike Pleva will be ordained priests. One of those men should sound familiar to many of you. A few years back Deacon Gregor spent a summer living here as a Seminarian. As I was talking to him, he spoke fondly of his time here. In just four short weeks, he and Deacon Michael Pleva will be our two newest priests. The week before, one of our seminarians, Brian Norris, will be ordained as a Deacon and God-willing next year ordained a priest. Then, just a week later, on June 5th, a parishioner of St. Peter’s Somerset, Mark Komula, will be ordained to the permanent diaconate. Please continue to pray for all of these men as they are ordained to the priesthood and diaconate and as they begin their new assignments. Please also pray for all of our existing priests and deacons, as well as any young men who may be called to discern the call to diaconate, priesthood, or religious life.
As all those wonderful things are happening, we’ve got a few things coming up in our Church as well. This coming Thursday, May 6th, is the National Day of Prayer. I’d invite you to join us down at the Contres Greer Social Hall at 6pm for a prayer service for our town. Let this also be your reminder, if you haven’t gotten something for your mother, next Sunday is Mother’s Day. At the end of all the masses next weekend, we’ll have a special blessing of all mothers. Next Week, Thursday May 13th, is Ascension Thursday, a Holy Day of Obligation. We’ll have mass at 6pm Wednesday at HC Chapel, and 8am, 12:05pm & 4pm Thursday at the Church. Then, coming up the weekend on June 5th, after missing them last year, we’ll be having some religious sisters from India coming to talk to us about the missions for our missionary co-op.
Finally, as we approach May, it’s getting on toward Spring Cleaning and vacation times. Our secretary Sue will be away on vacation this week from Wednesday the 5th through Tuesday the 11th and the Church Office will be closed.
Meanwhile, it’s Spring cleaning season. Since I’ve taken over as the Catholic Chaplain at the prison, I haven’t been able to clean out the Catholic office, and they’re on my case to get things cleaned up and organized. So I’ll be down there during the day this Thursday and Friday. So, there will be no mass on Thursday the 6th & Friday the 7th and no one will be around here at the Church on those days, as well as Monday the 10th.
Of course, if there’s an emergency, please leave a message via phone or email and I’ll respond as soon as I’m able.
May God Bless you now and always,
Two steps forward, one step back! It almost sounds like a dance move. I think we’ve all had the experience at some point in our lives when we had everything all planned out, but then plans change, things get cancelled or postponed, and suddenly we look around and your world looks nothing like what you had planned. In any other year, I think those experiences would be surprising, but this year, it’s almost become normal.
Originally this week, we had planned to layout a new section at Mt. Carmel Cemetery. However, as we were about to meet, we looked outside, only to see a nice coating of snow on the ground. So we’ve had to postpone that plotting for a few weeks until everyone can get together again.
Then, I got a phone call letting me know that there was a COVID outbreak at Northern Cambria Elementary, so we had to postpone our First Communion originally scheduled for this Sunday until next Sunday.
With all that we’ve been through over the last year, these things can feel like minor inconveniences, as we’re all getting used to the world where people have to cancel due to quarantine, things feel like they’re always being rescheduled, and so many things that used to be family gathering huge social moments we feel like we’re simply happy if they can happen somehow.
I was talking to a number of people this week and I can almost feel the anxiety in the air as things begin to re-open, as we begin to transition back out of crisis into normalcy. As more and more people are being vaccinated and returning to a functioning world, I think we’re beginning to come to terms with just how much has been lost in this last year. We’re allowing ourselves the space to really grieve those losses.
I’m looking at my calendar in the upcoming months and we’re starting to have the memorial services for those who passed during the thick of COVID back in January and February, but the family wanted to wait to celebrate the funeral mass and burial. I think we all realize from our own families how difficult it is to deal with the loss of a family member, and how much consolation the closure of the funeral liturgies can bring for a family. How much more difficult now, as families have had to wait for months for those events to happen. Please keep those families in your prayers as we walk through all of these funerals and memorial services in the next few weeks and months.
Still, it’s not just the ultimate loss of life that we’re grieving. For so many of our young people, this year has disrupted much of their whole world. Imagine all of the Graduations, Proms, Confirmations, Holy First Communions, and other events that haven’t been able to happen, and if they did, the family who would have been invited weren’t able to make it to those events. Even now, as we had to push our first communion back a week, I’m so thankful that our parents have been understanding, but it’s still hard, realizing that before last year, whole families would have made plans to travel, just to be able to be present for these events. Please remember our young people and be kind to them as they struggle to work through the fact that even as they are struggling with virtual learning, they’ve missed so many events they may have been looking forward to.
As we open too, I hear from so many who are now struggling, having been isolated for a year, just with the basic dynamics of starting to get together again. As we’re slowly able to gather, it’s amazing how many times feathers are ruffled unintentionally as we all begin to learn again some of those social dynamics that so many of us haven’t been using in the last year. It’s going to take a lot of patience as we work back into our new normal.
Yet, this weekend, as we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday, we realize that as we work through all of these struggles, we have someone who cares for us, loves us, and watches over us through them. He’s right there with us, looking out for us, ready to seek us out when we’re lost, ready to guide us home. The trouble is, in order to be willing to be found, sometimes we have to realize that we’re lost. Admitting that we’re lost can be a scary prospect. It means we’re struggling, we’re in trouble, we need help, and we can’t help ourselves. It means we’re going to have to put our trust in someone bigger than ourselves.
So this week, as we begin to move out of this crisis, I’d invite all of us to really reflect on how we’ve found ourselves lost and grieving in this past year. There is real hurt and loss there. Yet, we have a God who cares, who will walk through all of that loss and hurt right along with us. We have a God who not only understands loss, he was willing to sacrifice himself, so that he might rise again and that we might live forever with him in eternity, that we might be, in a word, saved.
God Bless You,
Congratulations to the newly confirmed members of our parish! I’d like to congratulate this week, the following members of our parish for making their confirmation this Thursday!
Due to a schedule conflict, Allison Moriconi will make her confirmation very soon along with St. Nicholas in Nicktown. As a parish, let us congratulate all of these young people. Now being made full members of the Church, we want to encourage them to continue to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ, working to also share that relationship with others.
It’s an exciting time to celebrate these Easter Sacraments. In a few weeks, we’ll be celebrating first communion with our 2nd graders. Of course, these things don’t happen on their own, so I’d like to also thank in a special way our DRE Sister Karen and our high school catechists, Tara Pardee and Cheryl Searle for all their hard work preparing these young people. Of course, none of this happens without the support of their parents. So let’s also thank the parents for their support of their children through this process. Over the course of the last year, I’ve had some more interactions with many of the parents of our young people, and while it’s a constant struggle to raise children in the faith, it’s good to see so many parents really looking to take the promise they made at their child’s baptism seriously.
It was recently in the news that the number of people nationwide who belong to a Church has dipped below 50% for the first time in our history. It’s a scary world that these young people are entering. They need our encouragement, our support and our prayers. Please congratulate them when you see them. Please thank them for following through with their confirmation. Please encourage them to continue the practice of their faith, even when it’s difficult. Please support them through their lives as fully confirmed Catholics. Please support too all of our parents, both with your words and with your prayers.
Please also don’t forget this week to stop downstairs to take a look at the wares from the Good Shepherds of Bethlehem. I’m sure there will be some beautiful pieces available.
He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed! I just want to thank everyone who turned out for Holy Week this year. It was so good to finally see almost everyone back in Church. It’s been a long road, but it’s good to see things beginning to return to the new normal. Of course, as I said last Sunday, that means that all of us are going to need to step up and welcome back all those who have been away for the past year as they start to return.
Along with the joy of Easter comes those Easter events in our Church where we celebrate those special moments in people’s lives. I’d ask you to pray for the couple who’s wedding I witnessed over in Patton on Saturday, so congratulations to Bethany Anna and Levi Miller on their wedding. Levi was baptized here at Prince of Peace. I’d also ask you to keep in your prayers this year’s confirmation class. We have seven in our class this year and they will be confirmed here at Prince of Peace on Thursday April 15th. Then, a little later this month on Sunday April 25th, our three 2nd graders will be making their first communion. Please keep all of them in your prayers as well
Next weekend, we will have a special even t for our parish. We’ll be visited by a group called the “Good Shepherds of Bethlehem.” They’re a family from Bethlehem. (The real one in the Holy Land, not the one in Eastern PA) They sell hand-made olive wood religious sculptures to help support their parish in Bethlehem. Their wares will be available after all masses next weekend down in the parish hall. Please stop down to support them.
This weekend we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. Divine Mercy was revealed to St. Faustina and written in her diary up until her death in 1938. Then, it was made popular by Saint John Paul II just as she was canonized in the year 2000. Her canonization happened right as our parish was being founded. Probably the simplest summary of the message of Divine Mercy can be summed up with A, B, C.
A - Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.
B - Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.
C - Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that all the graces of His mercy can only be received by our trust. The more we open the door of our hearts and lives to Him with trust, the more we can receive.
Those three principles make up the message of Divine Mercy. One of my favorite expressions of the idea is simply asking ourselves, “Do I really think that my power to sin is greater than God’s power to forgive?” Of course it isn’t. Yet, God respects us. “He who made us without our willing it, will not save us without our willing it.” His mercy is always there for us, but we do have to ask for his mercy. Then, having received his mercy, we’re called to share that mercy with others. Knowing that, we’re able to put our trust in Jesus. The more we allow him in, the more grace we’re able to receive.
So this week, as we celebrate Divine Mercy, I’d encourage all of us to really ask ourselves just how much space I really leave for Jesus in my life. Am I open to allowing him to really come and help change me, letting go of the junk that I cling to, and instead opening up more room for Him to live inside my heart.
God Bless You
Father Matthew Baum is the Parish Administrator at Prince of Peace Church in Northern Cambria, PA.