A Year of Grace and a Year of Hope
As we look back on 2020 it was a challenging year. Pandemics and politics has made this a very challenging year. However we can’t deny all the good work that God is doing in our midst. It seems that he is refocusing all of us on what is essential. He is undertaking a very painful pruning process in our hearts to remove what is dead so that new life can bud forth. I don’t mean to imply that the future looks easy, but the Lord will not abandon us. If we let him clear out overgrowth, new life can blossom.
There are many ways that I’ve seen God’s grace at work in my own life and our parishes. I write this article on December 23rd, the day after the Day of Grace at St. Joseph. We also had a Day of Grace at Immaculate Conception earlier in December. People waited for an hour for confession regularly. Fr. Jedidiah and I estimated that around 350 people went to confession on those two days alone. This is clearly a sign that the Lord is at work in your lives and hearts. Any time we return to His mercy, it is a sign that He is at work.
Another sign that God is at work in our parishes has been your reaction to some of the decisions made in response to the pandemic. I know many of the decisions have been challenging and frustrating, yet you persevered and trusted. As we make our way back to Sunday Mass at St. Lawrence and St. John, I am grateful to everyone for the maturity and patience you exhibited over the year. Please continue to be patient as we gradually find a new normal in 2021.
Your financial generosity has been incredible. I am blown away by the way you sustained our parishes during financial uncertainty. Although some hours were adjusted, we didn’t lay off any employee. Receiving the Payroll Protection Loan helped as well. You continued to give generously to our parishes and found new ways to give. Also I should acknowledge the way the Kleinhenz-Moeller Foundation continues to support St. Joseph. The parish has been blessed with over two million dollars over the last few decades.
2021 is shaping up to be an exciting year in our parishes. St. John will christen new bathrooms. Immaculate Conception will refurbish the stained glass windows. St. Joseph will install a new high altar and continue to pursue the renovation of the Faith Center. St. Lawrence will officially launch the “St. Lawrence Family Festival”.
My prayer and fasting for 2021 are centered upon the Year of the Eucharist. As we celebrate the Epiphany of Our Lord this Sunday, Jesus is revealed to the three magi. When they meet Jesus, their lives are never the same and “they return by a different path.” I pray and hope that after the Year of the Eucharist, our parishes will go on a different path. I pray that we may be set aflame by the gift of His love in the Eucharist and have a deeper appreciation for the Holy Mass. In 2021 may we set out on a new course animated by the Eucharist.
One of the first events for the Year of the Eucharist is a Teaching Mass (slow motion Mass) on Wednesday, January 6th at 7:00pm. You can either attend in person at St. Joseph Church or watch on Facebook live.
May 2021 be a year dedicated to our Eucharistic Lord!
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Sean Wilson
Clipart Courtesy FCIT: https://etc.usf.edu/clipart/galleries/383-christianity