This Sunday we celebrate “Trinity Sunday” and next week we’ll celebrate Corpus Christi. So while we’re back into the season of Ordinary Time, we still have another couple weeks of white. The Mystery of the Trinity is probably one of the most confusing parts of our faith. Probably the clearest expression was the statement by St. Athanasius,
We worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity, neither blending their persons nor dividing their essence. For the person of the Father is a distinct person, the person of the Son is another, and that of the Holy Spirit still another. But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal.
Now doesn’t that clarify things? If it still seems confusing, please remember that’s ok, it should. We have a God who created the universe, do we really expect that we’d be able comprehend everything about him? We can certainly understand some. We should always work to better understand, but we’re never going to understand God in himself perfectly. That’s ok, because we don’t have to perfectly understand him to follow him. Probably my favorite explanation goes something like this:
God created everything, including Love itself. He can’t make something he doesn’t already have, so God is Love, and he exists in an eternal relationship. All our feeble human efforts at love are in imitation of the Father’s perfect Love of Jesus, and Jesus’s perfect Love of His Father. When we encounter God, we’re just trying to listen follow him and learn, because we know he created us and loves us.
In the parish, we’ve had quite a whirlwind since the announcement of the upcoming move. The new Pastor here was ordained a priest this Saturday morning and he’s looking forward to joining us here. Thank you to everyone who made it down for the ordination.
It’s been pretty busy for me here between visiting my new parishes and working to wrap things up here. I really want to thank our Parish and Finance Councils and the Cemetery Committee for working together to help begin this transition process. There’s a lot to get done, but it’s good to see we’re well on our way. This week seems to have been cemetery week. I’ve been fielding calls all week as we’re getting plots settled, transfers done, and sales completed. Thank you to everyone who’s stepped up to get those things finalized for your family while I’m still here. I’m hopeful that by working through that now, it will make things easier for Father Mark when he arrives.
Every day, it seems that there’s a few more things to hand off or show to others as we make preparations for this move. Thank you to everyone who has been so willing to help, I’m very hopeful that the good things that we’ve started will continue in the future. So much of that depends right now on folks who step up to help us keep that momentum going.
Meanwhile, I thank you all for your patience, as half of my days right now are on the phone organizing things at my new places for my arrival. Over the next few weeks, I’m also starting to get packed, and get ready for the big move. I want to also thank everyone who’s offered to help. I do really appreciate it.
Finally, the baskets for the basket raffle have started to arrive. Thank you all again for all of your donations of such beautiful baskets. I trust that the upcoming summer dinner will be a wonderful introduction for Father Mark.
God Bless You,
Happy Pentecost! This weekend is Pentecost, the “birthday” of the Church. This weekend, we celebrate the day when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles, empowering them to go out and make disciples of all nations. We hear from the book of Acts about how the Apostles, all huddled in one room for fear after the crucifixion of Jesus, received the Holy Spirit and were empowered to go out into the world proclaiming the good news and the mighty works of God.
I’d like us to think about that this week. If you were asked to go out and proclaim the mighty works of God in your life, how well would you be able to do that right now? What would you say? Jesus is asking us to do it right now, so what DO we say? Do we talk to others about how God is working in our lives? It’s something to think about honestly. If we really can focus and see that, it changes everything. As I walk through all the transition stuff this week, as I get to tour my two new parishes, and as I work with the staff, councils, and committees here on the transition, a thought keeps hitting me through all of it. What we’re doing here really is the work of God. Our Church is so much bigger than any one of us. None of us are irreplaceable. There’s only one who’s really irreplicable and that’s God himself. Those first Apostles never thought they would have been able to do a tiny fraction of what they actually did. I can look at my own life, and my time here. It’s amazing how many people have really stepped up in my two years here. All sorts of people here have all sorts of different skills. Just as we hear from St. Paul, there are many gifts, but one spirit. Whether it was parishioners stepping up to help cut the grass, change light fixtures, cook for dinners, make baskets, serving on a committee, or bring communion to the sick. I’ve been amazed at the willingness of so many to step up. Thank you to each of you for answering the call in so many different ways over the last few years.
As we move into the next few weeks, our real challenge is going to be working to make a smooth transition, work to bring your new pastor into the loop, and build on what we’ve been working on so far. I keep thinking of those apostles, they were worried about how things would go too. Yet, they realized the Holy Spirit was with them, empowering them, but it was their turn to step up. So as we move forward in the next few weeks, there’s quite a few things we’re working on. I’d ask that you please be open if I call asking for your help with something in the next few weeks. Right now, I’m asking for your help with two specific things.
First of all, next Saturday, May 29th, Deacon Groeger will be ordained as Father Groeger at 10am at the Altoona Cathedral. The assignment has officially been made public, so it would be wonderful if we had a healthy representation from his new parish attending his ordination. Please consider making the trip down. Additionally, if you’re a little worried about crowds, on May 28th, from 6pm-7pm at St. Michael Church in Hollidaysburg, there will be a Eucharistic Holy Hour to offer prayers for those to be ordained. Let’s work together and make a good first impression on this new guy!
Secondly, I’d really like to see us begin to focus on our Summer Dinner. Please start bringing the baskets in, helping us hang up the flyers around town, taking a look at that weekend as we get requests out for help. I’d love to see that dinner be an opportunity for your new pastor to be able to meet and greet everyone, as well as helping that event get things off for him on the right foot financially with a few extra resources for us to be able to get some new things done at this parish.
Please continue to pray for me and the soon-to-be Fr. Mark Groeger, as we walk through this transition.
It’s with mixed feelings that I share with you the news that was made public this Friday. Very soon, Bishop Mark has asked me to take on a new assignment. I’ve just been appointed the Rector of St. John Gualbert Co-Cathedral in Johnstown and Pastor of St. Patrick Church in Moxham. As I’m sure you’re all aware, St. John’s is home to our Diocesan TV Mass, which I’ll be taking over from Fr. Crookston who will be retiring. I know these moves never come at a good time. I’m not sure there really is such a thing as a good time for a priest to move parishes. I know when I arrived here, just a little less than two years ago, it wasn’t under the best of circumstances: Father Dusza had just been removed, and he had only been here for about a year.
I keep thinking of the words of St. Paul to the Corinthians…“One plants, another waters, but God caused the growth. Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who causes the growth.” We’ve come a long way in the last two years. We’ve been through events that no one could have ever imagined. We’ve accomplished a lot. We cleaned up our office procedures, reorganized and expanded our bulletin and implemented a new Census System. We’re well underway toward the process of remapping our cemeteries. We have revamped our Religious Ed program and engaged some families in Family Catechesis. We’ve dramatically stepped up our Eucharistic Ministers in visiting the homebound. We’ve revived our Parish Council and worked to help make sure our parishioners can be heard. We’ve expanded our Finance Council, moved all of our bookkeeping into QuickBooks and issued some real Financial Reports with some really improved transparency. Then, of course, that was all while we’re all weathering a pandemic and all that has come with it. We’ve begun streaming the mass, and who would have imagined that for my first Holy Week here, we’d have had just 5 people present and over 300 watching online. I think we’ve all realized that we live in a time when things we never could have imagined have become reality. We’ve launched our first full take-out dinner and we have another one on the way. In that same time, we’ve celebrated many funerals, a few weddings, a couple of baptisms, and we received one RCIA candidate into the Church. It’s been a blessing to be with you for this time.
I’m also pleased to be able to say that I think I’ll be leaving you in good hands. Deacon Mark Gregor will be ordained a priest on May 29th and this will be his first assignment. I’ve gotten to know him over the last few years, and I really think he’ll do well here. He’s a bit older than me and although he’ll be a newly ordained priest, he brings with him a great deal of experience. I don’t want to say too much, as I’d rather allow him to introduce himself when he arrives. I hope you’ll be as kind and welcoming to him as you’ve been to me.
At the same time, please pray for me, this is an exciting move, but also a little overwhelming. I’ll be the new Rector of the Co-Cathedral, Administrator of St. Pat’s, overseeing the TV Mass every Sunday on Fox 8, while remaining at the prison in Somerset. I know quite a few folks down there, and please know that if you’re ever in Johnstown, you’re always welcome to stop in to say hello.
I know this isn’t something that any of us expected. I had thought I’d have been here a little bit longer than this and I had only barely gotten my things unpacked. Still, I’m very happy that you will still be able to have a full-time resident pastor here at Prince of Peace, and you don’t yet need to share that pastor with another parish. That’s something to be very thankful for, especially when we realize that even the Co-Cathedral where I’m heading will have to share me with St. Patrick’s in Moxham.
Over the next few weeks as we prepare for the change, I’ll be asking many of you for help. I ask that you please consider being generous with your time. As soon-to-be Father Mark Gregor will be a brand new priest, I’d like to hand off as many practical things to as many parishioners as I can in the next few weeks so that we can make the transition as smooth as possible and not overwhelm him as he walks in the door. Of course, over time, he may change many of those things, but I know this parish has been through a lot of changes in recent years, and I really want to help make this transition as smooth as we can.
I’ve certainly been blessed to be able to spend this time with you, and I’m thankful for the opportunity. I won’t be leaving right away. Because of the nature of a newly ordained taking this on as his first assignment, there will be a little bit of lag time. I’m not sure what the final transition schedule will look like yet. We want to give the soon-to-be Fr. Mark a few weeks to be able to visit the parishes he was assigned as a seminarian to say his thank-you’s, as well as some other things he needs to take care of. The transition will happen between June 6th and June 30th, and I’ll keep you posted on what’s going to be happening as I work with the soon-to-be Fr. Mark and Father Crookston.
Please know that through all of this, you will always be in my prayers. Remember, it is not who plants or waters that matters, because it is God who causes the growth.
-Fr. Matt Baum
First of all, I’d like to congratulate our 2nd grade children on receiving their First Communion this week. It’s been quite a year for them learning about Reconciliation and Eucharist via Zoom. I’d really like to thank Mrs. Sherry Delosh for all of her hard work preparing our young people, even though she wasn’t able to join us for their First Communion last Sunday. I’d also like to thank everyone who was involved in helping prepare those three children for communion last weekend, especially their parents. Even though we had a smaller than normal crowd last Sunday at the 11AM, I’d really like to thank all of our parishioners who came to that mass to support those parents. As we all know, over the years, so many families who have drifted away from the faith. It’s vitally important that all of us do all that we can to welcome, support and encourage our young families to continue to practice their faith. As I said last weekend, I didn’t realize until I was visiting another parish how much I miss hearing more babies crying at mass, so if you know anyone with little ones, please invite them. Sometimes, all it takes is a little encouragement, and the best encouragement of all is when each of us makes a personal invitation, one person at a time.
This past Wednesday evening, we also held our last parent sessions for religious education, so that marks the end of this year’s Religious Education Program. I’d like to thank Sister Karen for all of her hard work. I can’t even imagine picking up a new job as a DRE in the middle of a pandemic, but she has done a wonderful job. It’s such a blessing to have a religious sister on staff. I know she’s worked many, many hours of phone calls, emails and texts, with catechists that she had only met a few times months earlier and many parents that she was just meeting for the first time. We made it through a successful in-person fall, and a mostly virtual spring. We’ve started a new series in every grade level, and she’s got some great plans for the fall. Although this year wasn’t what anyone could have ever predicted, I think she’s really got our program on the right track and it will be good to look forward to the fall, and the good things that are to come.
One thing I know that everyone I’ve talked to has been buzzing about is the governor’s most recent announcement. As of May 31st, all PA gathering restrictions are being lifted, except for masks. Those are due to be lifted when we reach 70% vaccination statewide. If you haven’t already, and you’re able to get the vaccine, please help us reach that number. Unless we hear differently, we’ll be planning on removing the ropes and allowing people to sit anywhere beginning that day. It’s my hope that for those who are comfortable, they’ll sit closer together, while those uncomfortable sitting close to others, will end up with a little more room to be able to distance themselves. As those changes begin to happen, I just ask that we all be as considerate as we can of each other. Different people have different comfort levels and medical conditions that we don’t always know about. If someone is uncomfortable with someone close to them, please be respectful. What’s most important is that we do our best to be welcoming and to make sure we never become the reason a person doesn’t feel welcome in our parish.
As we move into the summer, the other big news is that things are finally taking shape for our summer dinner and basket raffle. The Halupki Dinner will be Sunday July 11th from 10:30am-2:30pm. It will again be in a take-out format. The tickets are being printed and we hope to get them in the mail to you soon. The drawing for the basket raffle will be the following Sunday, July 18th. In the fall, we had a very positive response to allowing multiple times for buying chances on the baskets, so we’re finalizing a variety of times for folks to drop by and buy chances on the baskets. We hope to have those times published in the next week or so as our advertisements go out. With that news, that also means that basket season is upon us. After visiting some of the other basket parties around the area, I might be a little prejudiced, but I think we have some of the nicest baskets of any I’ve seen anywhere. So many of you do such an amazing job bringing in those baskets every time. So since we didn’t have a basket raffle with the Spring take-out dinner, let’s make this one a good one. Just as a reminder, we’re not able to accept baskets with alcohol, but we can accept baskets with gift cards to the liquor store. We’ll begin accepting baskets Wednesday of this week when Sue gets back.
Finally, and most importantly, this is Mother’s Day weekend! Please make sure to wish all mothers, and those who have come to fill the role of mothers in someone’s life in your prayers. If you’re blessed to have a mother still alive, make sure to call her today. If your mother is deceased, if you can, make sure to visit her grave, but regardless, please pray for all mothers.
God Bless you now and always,
Father Matthew Baum was the Parish Administrator at Prince of Peace Church in Northern Cambria, PA from July 2019 thru June 30, 2021..