May 19, Bulletin: My Dear Parishioners,
We are hiring new teachers, and the foremost concern for me as pastor is the Catholic identity of the school: how can we strengthen the Catholic faith of the school with new teachers joining the faculty? That question has prompted me to reflect on the role of family in the handing on of the faith to younger generations. In every family, the parents are the primary educators of their children in the faith. Having your children enrolled in a parochial school does not absolve you as mothers and fathers from teaching your children catechesis and prayers, from modeling a life of faithful discipleship, from living with a view toward heaven in every decision. That is why saying grace before meals, praying together as a family before bed, blessing your children with Holy Water, are some of the important practices that would help form and mold your children into future faithful Christians and disciples and witnesses.
Also, in the church, whenever you pass by the Tabernacle outside of Mass, please make a genuflection on the right knee (if you can do so physically). During Holy Communion, please stop briefly and make an act of reverence by a bow to the chalice of the Precise Blood of Christ on your way back to the your place in the pews (even if you are not receiving from the chalice).
By our gestures of reverence toward Christ our Lord in this way, we help to foster the faith of others and the parish will grow deeper in our affection and our reverence for God!
May 12 Bulletin: My Dear Parishioners,
For the month of May, please recite the following prayer every day for your intentions, your sufferings, your sorrows, your concerns, your troubles! May you have the utmost confidence in the Blessed Mother's love and solicitude for you and your loved ones. May you never doubt her most powerful advocacy for you! May you ever rely on her maternal protection for you! May you be comforted by the efficacy of her prayers for you and your families before the throne of God!
Thus, we say together The Memorare: "Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone…who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me."
May 5 Bulletin: My Dear Parishioners,
The burning of Notre Dame Cathedral has served as a wakeup call to many people. All of a sudden, the whole world sits up and pays attention to this great monument to France's Catholicism. To most of the experts, the cathedral was everything else. To Catholics, the Cathedral was one of the most magnificent achievements of Christians in the middle ages. For me, I am think along the lines of the Archbishop of Paris: it was built to house "un morceau de pain!" The whole majestic structure was constructed to house the Blessed Sacrament, and to be the place for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Here in the heart of Sellwood, we have a magnificent structure built to house "un morceau de pain!" St. Agatha is not the Cathedral of Paris, in terms of architectural or artistic values, but St. Agatha has great dignity as the House of God and the Gate of Heaven, where the Blessed Sacrament is revered day and night, and where Holy Mass has been celebrated for a century! Here, how many generations of Catholics have come and gone? How many sermons have been preached, baptisms administered, confessions heard, and weddings officiated? How many Catholics were here in the darkest days of the Second World War, the Korean War, the Viet Nam War, the two Gulf Wars, to pray for their loved ones and to receive consolation and hope? St. Agatha Church is our heritage and patrimony, and she is ailing - at least exteriorly! Her stones are crumbling on the north and west sides, and what has been repaired is now threatening to disintegrate if we don't do anything soon.
Since our appeal in January, we have received $24,500 in pledges and donations. We have a long way to go toward the goal of $275,000 needed to finish the project. This Sunday I am going to appeal to you once again: please help me in the critical efforts to preserve what has been handed to us from previous generations of faithful Catholics at St. Agatha! I am begging for your support in saving the church building, without which there would be no place for Jesus to stay with us - No Blessed Sacraments, No Mass, No Nothing!
April 28 Bulletin: My Dear Parishioners,
My first Holy Week here was and is amazing! I thank you for making it most wonderful Holy Week for St. Agatha's by your participation, your presence, and your prayers. How many Holy Weeks have come and gone at this beautiful church? And how many of the parishioners have drawn spiritual sustenance from these amazing liturgies? I, for one, am very grateful that everyone pulled together in order to assist in the worship of God as the Church commemorated these salvific mysteries of Christ's life!
Please continue to rejoice in the risen Lord! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
April 21 Bulletin: My Dear Parishioners,
On this Easter Sunday, we rejoice with the whole Church!
And yet our hearts are heavy as we remember what happened at the beginning of Holy Week to the Church in France. The burning of Notre Dame Cathedral is not only a wakeup call to the fact that the Catholic faith has been collapsing for a long time in Europe. The burning of Notre Dame has served also as a reminder to me and others what the greatest blessing and fortune God has bestowed on the Catholic Church: we have Jesus with us! Every Catholic Church, however humble or insignificant, is a most magnificent building in every city and town and village, because every Catholic Church houses the Body and the Blood of Christ, the Body and the Blood of God's Son! Every Catholic Church, however humble or poor, is the place where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass takes place for the salvation of the world! Every Catholic Church, however humble or ugly even, is space in which God becomes incarnate - again and again!
Our St. Agatha's church is truly blessed to be the building in which God has resided among His people in this part of the city for more than one hundred years! May God bless us with many more years!b Happy Easter!
April 14 Bulletin: My Dear Parishioners,
This week, God has shown me His face once again! My dream for St. Agatha's has been realized through His graces and the indispensable and generous work by Sean MacNeela with the support and encouragement of his family. What do I mean by this blessing? I mean the fact that the beautiful marble Tabernacle was transferred without incident to its rightful place at the heart of the church! I could never thank Sean and his family enough for all the laborious and time-consuming planning and actual work that went into this project! In the end, five Irish men, including Tim Eivers who was on hand to assist, were able to make it happen! Such dedication, such generosity, such devotion! From now on, Jesus Christ our Lord TRULY AND REALLY AND SUBSTANTIALLY PRESENT in the MOST BLESSED SACRAMENT in the Tabernacle is at the central place in our church - once again! And my prayers and hope is that He is the center of the life of each one of us at St. Agatha's. From now on, we have a focus when we enter the church even as we go down on one knee in the gesture of adoration before the Tabernacle!
I believe with all my heart that the fact the marble Tabernacle did not fall apart during transit is a sign of divine approval. I don't know any other reason why these Irish men were able to accomplish such an impossible task! May God bless the MacNeela's and Sean's friends who came to lend a hand. May God bless us with an invigorated faith in the REAL PRESENCE OF JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD IN THE BLESSED SACRAMENT! May we never forget this is why He came: to remain with us until the end of the world! Amen!