Dear friends in Christ,
As we continue in this beautiful Christmas Season celebrating God’s Son becoming flesh by His Birth in Bethlehem and as we prepare to begin a new calendar year, perhaps this is a good time to reflect on the life of Saint Peter’s Parish. The year just passed is a good reminder of an eternal truth: no matter what national or international events; no matter what weather conditions, personal experiences, or changing seasons, the Mass and the Sacraments are celebrated each and every day. Every morning there is a reason for the Priests to go to the altar to preach the Word of God and celebrate the Eucharistic Sacrifice. God’s involvement in our lives never stops or wavers. Christmas culminates the year 2017: God comes among His people in the flesh in the Person of Jesus Christ. As new babies are baptized and our beloved dead are laid to rest, the Lord Jesus is intimately connected to every believer. Christ continues to be sovereign King of the Universe. This truth gives us joy during Christmas and should shape our lives long after Christmas is over.
Over this past year our parish church has been transformed with the new flooring and design of the altar. We have sold nearly 300 prayer books. Each month at the Saint Vincent de Paul Society Food Pantry we have provided food for the needy and cared for emergency medicine, heating oil, etc. We have seen Saint Peter’s School earn recognition from the federal government as a Blue Ribbon School. Our religious education program continues to integrate technology into catechetical experiences and to meet the linguistic needs of non-English speakers. Sister Theresa Frere, I.H.M. continues to provide pastoral care for the sick and dying in our Parish and at Saint Mary’s Church in Bryantown. The annual rhythm of First Holy Communicants, Confirmation students, RCIA candidates and couples preparing for Matrimony unfolds throughout the year. The Most Blessed Sacrament is adored throughout the night each First Friday into First Saturday. Our young people once again enacted the events of the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. We have celebrated together the seasons of the liturgical year, the feasts in honor of Our Blessed Lady and the Saints, and prayed for the Holy Souls. The list goes on and on.
Special mention should be made of the many steady and generous contributions and contributors to the Capital Campaign which ends on the 31st of December 2017. Over the years of this Campaign a new roof has been put on the parish school, a new parking lot and sidewalks have been installed and the work in the Church was possible. We all owe a debt of gratitude to my venerable predecessor, Monsignor J. Wilfred Parent, for his foresight and leadership that made this Campaign possible. The entire Parish made sacrifices so the whole Parish could enjoy the benefits of the Campaign’s projects. We are committed to building on this good work as we care for the Parish that has been entrusted to us. Undoubtedly as we enter the new calendar year we will embark on new projects that will (hopefully) bring honor and glory to God, build up His Church, and touch the spiritual life of each parishioner.
Obviously for all these good things, we know there is still work to do. We are still struggling to maintain reverence in Church, especially after the celebration of Mass. The noise and conversation are disrespectful to the Lord Jesus present in the tabernacle. We still need to ask the Lord to convert the hearts of those who do not practice their Catholic Faith and fill the empty places in the pews. We continue to beg the Lord to send us seminarians from our own parishioners to be Priests to serve Holy Church. We continue to look for ways to save money. The Rectory cook was not replaced when she retired. The parish office staff closes the office at Noon on Fridays to save a few dollars. We have eliminated a few unnecessary expenses in advertising, cut back hours for paid youth ministry, and made a few modest changes in liturgical music expenses.
It would be impossible to identify all the people who contribute to the life of this Parish. Of course the most important people are those who faithfully fill the pews each week and live the Catholic Faith each day. We thank those whose names are listed on the bulletin, those who care for the Church building and liturgical items, the choir, musicians, and vocalists, servers, lectors and those who assist with Holy Communion, the catechists, cleaners, educators in the school, money counters, members of various societies and organizations, photographers, groundskeepers…the list goes on and on. To all; to each: thank you.
I know that Monsignor McGready and Father Cezary join me in wishing each of you all the blessings of this Christmas Season as it continues and a very Happy and Healthy New Year. I am so fortunate to be with such wonderful Priests here at Saint Peter’s Church. I appreciate each parishioner’s cooperation, patience and understanding as we try to live up to the monumental vocation to which we have been ordained. As we celebrate Mass each day we pray for each of you and your intentions. A Priest is so aware of his own faults, frailties, and shortcomings. We wish we could live up to everyone’s expectations – especially the Lord’s! – but we know we fall so short. All I can promise is that we do our best, even when our best isn’t much. As Saint Teresa of Calcutta was fond of saying, “God never asks that we be successful; He only askes that we be faithful.” In your charity, please pray for your Priests.
May the Christ Child, Who brings joy to the whole world by His Birth, bring us a holy joy in the year ahead. May we never cease to sing with the angels Gloria in excelsis Deo. Throughout the New Year may we diligently follow the Star, seek like the Magi, and offer gifts to the Lord daily. May the Blessed Mother greet us at the manger and may Saint Peter intercede for us always. Begging God’s continued blessings on you and your family, I am
Sincerely in Christ,
Father Keith A. Woods