April 7, 2013

April 7, 2013 Column Father De Celles

HE IS RISEN! HE IS TRULY RISEN! On this Octave day of Easter, I thank God for a truly blessed Lent, Holy Week, Triduum and Easter Sunday. Once again I was overjoyed to see so many take advantage of the sacraments and special liturgies, in particular another full house at the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, and a standing room only crowd on Good Friday for the Veneration of the Cross. Even so, while it seems everything went very well, I would be genuinely interested in feedback on how you thought it went, what went well and what we might improve. (Note: I do not read or consider anonymous notes).

I also want to thank so many people who helped make Lent, Holy Week and Easter so special this year. First, thanks Elisabeth Turco (our music director), Denise Anezin (organist), and our choir members for their hard work and many beautiful “performances”! Also, thanks to our Altar Servers for their diligence and reverence, with a special thanks to Mark Arbeen, who organizes the servers and acted as Master of Ceremonies. Also thanks to the ushers, headed by Paul DeRosa. And to Nena Brennan (our head sacristan) and her family and the other sacristans who spent so many hours preparing things behind the scenes. And to Jane Steele (seamstress) and Carmelita Gamallo (florist) and her helpers who helped make the sanctuary so beautiful. Thanks also to the lectors and the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. And to Bob and Bev Ward, Mike Malachowski and Sue Smith for their work with the RCIA/RCIC. Also, thanks to our Youth Group for their moving re-enactment of the Living Stations of the Cross. And a big thanks to the parish staff who worked so hard all throughout Lent and Holy Week. And last but not least, thanks to Fr. Kenna for his dedication, and to Fr. Scalia and Fr. Daly and the ten or so other priests who visited to help with one thing or another. I’m sure I’ve forgotten to mention a lot of folks, so please forgive me. Thanks and God bless you all.

EASTER RECOMMITMENT. Sometimes after the intensity of Lent and Easter Sunday, there is a tendency to relax our spiritual and religious efforts. But Easter Sunday is not the end of things: it’s only the beginning of our renewed efforts to live the life of the Risen Christ in the world.

So I call on each of you to take to heart the lessons learned these last weeks, and to recommit yourself to continued growth and service to Christ. One way to do this is through continued daily prayer and regular use of the sacraments, especially weekday Mass and frequent (monthly?) confession. Another is to commit to spreading the Gospel in the “world” you live in—i.e., “evangelizing,” by considering every encounter with another person as a possible opportunity to share Christ with them in some way.

Committed Volunteerism. And there’s another very important way to do this: committing to volunteer in the parish. I’ve always been so impressed with the unusually high number of committed volunteers taking responsibility for so many good projects and programs in our parish. Much of this seems to spring from the time before we moved into the current “facilities”: the parish was much smaller then, and without a home people had to step up to make things work. And they did, and do, with flying colors (see my “thank yous” above).

As time has passed, the parish has grown tremendously, but our volunteer base is beginning to grow a bit static and even thin. Sometimes we see how smoothly everything is running and think there’s no need for us to help. Or sometimes our lives are so busy we think we just don’t have time to volunteer at the parish. But there’s always need for new ideas and “fresh blood.” And every few months some key volunteer chooses to move on, slow down or cut back, for a variety reasons.

I know you all feel overburdened and pulled in 10 different ways at once. But, honestly, there is no better place to spend your time and efforts than volunteering in your parish. Maybe it might require some restructuring and reprioritizing, but you’d be surprised what you can do, and what a difference it can make. And not just by helping in ways you think you’d “like” to. Maybe you might want to do XYZ for the parish, but I already have someone doing XYZ, and need you to do ABC. And you do ABC, and you love it!

Currently it seems all of our parish groups need volunteers. In particular I think of the USHERS. Every Mass really needs several more adults to commit to usher on a regular basis. Last minute helpers are fine and it’s wonderful to have the kids pitch in (both are greatly appreciated), but having a committed adult usher corps is very important to a smooth running and dynamic parish. There’s a million reasons for you not to volunteer: for example, maybe you have to take care of your kids at Mass, okay, then how about ushering one Mass, and taking your family to a second Mass? For every obstacle, we can probably find 2 ways around it. Paul DeRosa is accepting volunteers right now.

Many of you raved about our CHOIR over Holy Week and Easter. But all those folks are volunteers (except the cantors and musicians). And not all of them started out as great vocalists, individually. But with a little patient instruction, and working as part of a group of voices, great things can happen (a cantor told me “Elisabeth Turco can teach a doorknob to sing”—no offense choir members!).

There is also a clear current need for volunteers with the Samaritans, a very dedicated parish group that provides a cooked meal for families dealing with a serious illness or accident. And the Women Of St. Raymond Of Penafort (WSRP) is also in need of active members and volunteers—really, all the ladies of the parish should be involved in this in one way or another. Also, the Youth Apostolate and Religious Education are always in need of help. And Altar Servers—we need boys to serve and parents to help behind the scenes…. Also, Pro-Life, Flowers, Landscaping…I could go on and on. Every group needs volunteers.

Please call the office, or speak directly to the group you’re interested in helping. Committed volunteerism in the parish can be more rewarding than almost any other “free time” activity, if you make it an integral part of growing in faith and serving Christ, done out of love for Christ, the Church, and neighbor. May the Risen Christ speak to you through my words.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles