Forty Hours Devotion

Bulletin Letter, Candlemas

Forty days after the Nativity of Christ, Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the Temple to consecrate Him to God as a firstborn Son and to offer a pair of turtledoves for Mary’s purification after childbirth, according to Levitical law. The number 40 shows up quite a few times in Sacred Scripture, from the number of days it rained during the flood of Noah, to the number of years that Moses led the Israelites through the desert and the years of King David’s reign. In the New Testament, we have the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert after His Baptism in the Jordan and the days that He spent with His Apostles between His Resurrection and the Ascension. 

Another instance that I recently came across was the tradition that Jesus spent about 40 hours in the tomb, from 3 pm on Good Friday to around 7 am on Easter Sunday. Of course, the precise hour that the Resurrection occurred on that first Easter morning is not recorded in the Bible, but from this and other occurrences of the number 40 developed what’s called the 40 Hours Devotion. The 40 Hours Devotion usually involves Solemn Exposition of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament for a continuous period of 40 hours. Along with the Corpus Christi Procession, the 40 Hours Devotion is expected to happen at least once a year in each parish. 

Part of the challenge, of course, is that we are never to leave Jesus exposed upon the altar even for a moment without someone there to adore Him and to keep guard in the churchThe nighttime hours can be particularly challenging to fill. Lent seems like an especially appropriate season for us to observe this time-honored practice as we all are called to recommit ourselves to spiritual exercises of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. And if we desire spiritual renewal in our parishes, spending time with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament is the surest way. 

To limit the 40 hours to just one overnight period, I’m thinking of going from 6 am on a Saturday morning to 10 pm on Sunday. We’ll plan on the first weekend of Lent following Ash Wednesday in BowdleFebruary 29 and March 1, and the following weekend in HovenMarch 7 & 8. I’ll have a signup sheet available at the entrance of each church. Please be generous to God with your time and commit to one or more hours as part of your Lenten discipline. Your time spent with our Eucharistic Lord will never go unrewarded. 

Mean What You Say

Homily, Lenten Sunday 1C

Let me just start out by saying that hate is not nearly a strong enough word for the complete idiocy that is daylight savings time. Of course, we strive to be grateful for the extra penance as we begin our Lenten season. A man reading the paper one morning came across an article that talked about how, on average, women tend to use far more words than men do each day. He was excited to show this to his wife to prove that he had been right all along when he would tell her that she talked too much. So he showed her the article that said that men use about 2,000 words per day while women use closer to 7,000 words. His wife thought for a moment before saying, “Well, that’s because women end up having to repeat almost everything we say.” And the man, looking up from the paper again, said, “What was that?”

There’s an old saying that repetition is the mother of all learning. So much of what we say at every Mass is simply repeated, it’s what we say at every Mass, but the danger in this is that we stop paying attention to what we’re saying, and we no longer let ourselves be challenged or changed by the Word of God. Our first reading from Deuteronomy contains what many scholars believe is a primitive sort of creed of the Hebrew people. They would repeat this same formula each and every time they came to offer the first fruits of their harvest: “My father was a wandering Aramean who went down to Egypt with a small household and lived there as an alien. But there he became a nation great, strong, and numerous,” and so on.… It was a summary of the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, their forefathers, and how God fulfilled these promises by bringing them into the Promised Land and granting them an abundant harvest even in their own present day. Much like the Nicene Creed that we repeat every Sunday is a summary of how God fulfilled and surpassed all His promises in Christ His Son, and by revealing Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But do we still pay attention to what we’re saying as we recite the Creed each Sunday after so many years? Are we able to make it our own prayer and an expression of the faith we place in the saving power of Christ, still active for us in our daily lives?

Besides the Creed, the whole Mass, everything we hear, say, and do at Mass is meant to be our most exalted prayer that we offer in union with Christ’s own perfect prayer to His heavenly Father. So are we able to really pray the Mass, or do we just try to ‘get through’ it, while our mind is in a thousand other places? Are we present in body but absent in mind and spirit? A great blessing for me as a priest has been having to read and repeat the prayers of the Mass and really think about what we are doing and what we are praying for. If we start to really mean what we’re saying, these are the most powerful prayers that the Church gives us. But even as a priest saying Mass every day, it always remains a challenge to really pay attention to what I’m saying and doing, and to not let it become just routine.

As I said before, routine and repetition are not the real problem. The problem is when our routine prayers become separated from living faith. In the midst of His temptations in the desert, Jesus always took refuge in the Word of God, in the words of Sacred Scripture. This is why Catholics memorize prayers and why other Christians memorize passages of the Bible, so that when we are tested and go through trials, we can fall back and find strength in the Word of God. It’s especially in times of temptation and trial that we are challenged to actually mean what we say and to exercise our faith. A good Lenten practice would be to strive each day to really be present where we are and to what we are doing, to be present to those around us, really listening when someone is speaking to us, and when God speaks to us through the prayers and readings proclaimed at Mass; and to strive each day to really mean what we say. When we tell someone, “I love you,” then we should prepare ourselves to sacrifice and suffer for the one that we love. And when we stand and say, “I believe in one God, the Father almighty,” then we should prepare ourselves to sacrifice and to suffer for the love of Christ, for the truth of the Creed for which countless martyrs bore the ultimate witness by the shedding of their own blood.

We should profess our faith not only here in the church, but to all the world by the way that we live every day. The world doesn’t need more Catholics who simply go through the motions. Our world needs Catholics who go through the motions animated by living faith. Even in the midst of temptations and trials, may all our thoughts, words, and actions—throughout this Lenten season and into eternity—proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord of all.

Taking God at His Word

Homily, Ordinary Time Sunday 8C

I think we all know a few people whom we might describe as not having any filter between what they think and what ends up coming out of their mouths. Maybe that’s even how people would describe you. It can be helpful at times. You never really have to ask their opinion on things, because they’re always just about to tell you. Other times, all we can do is sort of cringe in anticipation of what we know is going to be awkward. “From the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks.” What we say and how we say it can reveal a lot about us. Other times, it can be misunderstood or not come out quite right. Even if we’re usually careful about our choice of words and tone of voice, there are times for all of us when we say something, and then almost immediately regret it. Benjamin Franklin is often quoted as saying, “A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.”

On the other hand, hopefully all of us have experienced the great power for good that words can have upon us and those around us, affirmations, encouragement, even things that we continue to remember years later. As I was growing up, I remember having to pile into the car with my brothers and sisters. Because I was the youngest, I would often have to sit between my mom and dad in the front seat. Towards the end of one trip, someone was asking what time we would be getting home. When they heard it would be around 10 pm, they started to complain about how late that would be. So I piped up and said, “Well, at least it won’t be 11 o’clock.” And I’ll always remember my dad then saying to me, “You know, that’s what I like about you. You’ve got a positive attitude.” Now you’re all left wondering what happened to me since then to make me so negative. But there’s no denying that words can have a lasting impact, for good or for ill.

Hopefully, there are also words that our heavenly Father speaks to us that we have really taken to heart, that we remember and can recall for encouragement, consolation, even to stir up sorrow and repentance from our sins. We should have a sense that the words of Sacred Scripture are words that God is personally speaking to each one of us. We’re all familiar with the Parable of the Prodigal Son, how the Father welcomes him back and throws a feast, but actually the words that the Father speaks to the elder son are what stuck out to me during one retreat, and I continue to think of those words often. When the elder son refused to enter into the feast, the Father also comes out to him, and he says, “Son, you are here with me always. Everything I have is yours.” Do I really believe that God says that to me? “You are here with me always. Everything I have is yours.” Jesus is speaking to you and to me when He says, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart. And you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Do we believe that?

The truth is that most of the time, we would rather not take God at His word. We’d rather not believe that sin is as damaging and as unsatisfying as God warns us it is. For many of us who find ourselves too busy to pray, we’d rather not believe that prayer is all that it is cracked up to be, and that we are so often missing out on the greatest opportunity that this life on earth has to offer. When we so often ignore and rebel against God, we’d rather not believe that living in the presence of God and in communion with His will for us is actually as great and as satisfying as God promises it is.

If anyone here suffers from FOMO, the “fear of missing out,” we know there are things we tell ourselves to help us cope with missing out on something good. “Well, I’m sure that party was lame anyway. I really never wanted to go. Would have been too loud. And I bet the food wasn’t very good, either.” We do the same even more so when it comes to our spiritual lives or our lack of a spiritual life. We tell ourselves, “A life lived for God can’t really be as good as Jesus says. The Resurrection and heavenly glory can’t really be worth all the sufferings that the Saints endured, the Cross that Jesus freely accepted,” because if it is, if what God keeps saying to us actually turns out to be true, then the way I’m living my life needs to change. If I’m living as if sin is no big deal, but it really is, that’s not a comfortable position to be in. If I’m living as if suffering is the worst evil that should be avoided at all cost, but it really isn’t, then my whole approach to life needs to change, and that’s not easy.

God speaks His heart to us. Out of His great love and concern, He continues to tell us the truth, through the words of Sacred Scripture and through the teachings of the Catholic Church. But we don’t really want to believe it, because we don’t want to have to live it. The season of Lent begins this Wednesday, another opportunity for us to take God at His word, to really believe Him, and to even make changes to the way we’re living to reflect the Truth of what God says to us. It can be a transformative experience, or it can be another missed opportunity. The choice is ours. Let’s make it a good one.

Worship Requires Sacrifice

Response to a Query

A few years ago, we had a Biblical scholar, Dr. Leroy Huizenga, come to our diocese to speak with all the clergy about the Gospel according to Matthew. One of the most intriguing points in his presentation concerned the eschatological sayings of Jesus, namely, concerning the end times.

In the Jewish mind, the concept of the destruction of the Temple was inextricably bound up with the idea of the end of the world and the coming of Messiah, so it is not always clear or distinct when Jesus is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem (“before this generation passes away”) or to His own death and return from the dead, or to His Second Coming at the end of days.

The reason for this conflation was that for the Jews, worship of God always involved sacrifice. The first ones recorded as having offered sacrifice to God were Cain and Abel, sons of Adam. The destruction of the Temple would imply the cessation of sacrifice (and therefore “worship” of the one true God in its full sense). For this to come to an end again after the Babylonian Exile would effectively, in the Jewish mind, bring about the end of the entire world.

John 4:20 makes little sense if we don’t have this in mind. “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” By this time, synagogues were in many, many places. Jews and Samaritans offered prayers and praise to God in almost every city they inhabited, so what was so special about Jerusalem that only there “people ought to worship”? This only makes sense if we know that worship always implied for them sacrifice. The Temple in Jerusalem was the only place where Jews were allowed to offer sacrifices to God and, therefore, “worship” in its primary sense.

The Eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass is of course the fulfillment of all the Old Testament sacrifices, the New Covenant in His own Blood that Jesus entrusts and commands His Apostles to renew “in memory” of Him, in the fullest Jewish sense of “memory,” not just to recall pasts events abstractly in our minds, but by the ritual action and grace given by God, to make present again, throughout the generations, the saving work of Christ, the sacrifice of His own Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. So just after foretelling the end of Jewish worship of God, Jesus institutes a New Worship in Himself, the New Temple, in spirit and truth.

Only Christ’s own perfect offering of His whole Self to His heavenly Father is “worship” in the fullest sense, but as the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life, we are called to participate in that one sacrifice, to imitate what we celebrate, to unite to the sacrifice of Christ all our “prayers, works, joys, and sufferings” of each day (Morning Offering). Insofar as the rest of our thoughts, words, and actions flow from and return to the sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist, they are part of our worship of God.

The practice of the presence of God throughout the day is prayer and adoration and in a certain sense an offering of our attention and ourselves to God, in imitation of Christ Himself. It is “worship” in a derivative sense, as it is by the grace of the Eucharistic Christ that we are able to live in awareness of God’s presence.

A Haven for Saints and Sinners

By Msgr. Ronald Knox

“You may object that St Paul perhaps wasn’t thinking of what we mean by the Church; he was thinking of the invisible Church, as it has sometimes been called–not a society of people distinguishable here and now by possessing a common faith and a common organization, but simply an ideal concept, the sum total of those souls whose names will, at last, be found written in the book of life. Only, you see, that won’t do, because our Lord himself doesn’t think of the Church in that way. The kingdom of heaven (which was his name for it) is like a mixed crop, part of wheat, part of it cockle, only to be separated at the final judgment; it is like a net cast into the sea, which brings up fish for the dinner-table and fish which are of no use to anybody, not to be separated till the net is brought in to land. The Church, then, as Christ himself envisaged it is a visible Church, rogues and honest men mixed; not all members of the Church are bound for heaven by any means.

“And if you look around, to-day, for a visible Church which is visibly one, there is hardly any competition, is there? I mean, Christians who belong to other denominations don’t even claim, as a rule, that their denomination is the Church. Church unity is something which existed in the early ages, which will, it is to be hoped, come into existence again later on; it doesn’t exist here and now. Anybody who has reached the point of looking round to find a single, visible fellowship of human beings which claims to be the one Church of Christ, has got to become a Catholic or give up his search in despair.”

As quoted in Daily Readings in Catholic Classics, edited by Fr. Rawley Myers

South Dakota Blues

Bulletin Letter, Eastertide Sunday 3B

Happy Easter! Most of us probably aren’t too thrilled about the weather lately, still having snow midway through April. I for one always hope that the Celebration of the Resurrection of Christ from the dead will bring on the new life of the spring season in earnest, but in South Dakota, you never can be sure. Seeing everything clothed in white is probably appropriate for Easter, though. The Easter season lasts until Pentecost on May 20, so we should at least see some green grass by then.

Back when I studied in Rome, I got to know some Australians pretty well, and it was so strange for me to hear about how they celebrate the same holidays in the Southern Hemisphere. Of course, with December at the start of summer for them, Australians are used to having a barbeque and going to the beach on Christmas. And while we usually have the new life of spring budding forth to call our minds to the Resurrection of Easter, Australians are entering the cool of autumn instead. So just remember, it could be worse.

Fr. Smith has already taken to running outside again. My legs are not quite as restless or ambitious, but I’ll be putting in lots of miles on the road with Bishop Swain for Confirmations in the upcoming months. Throughout the Easter season, I love the contrast that the Lectionary provides with readings from the Acts of the Apostles, after they had been “confirmed” and strengthened by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and the accounts from the Gospel of the Resurrection appearances, when the Apostles were still not quite getting it, hesitant to believe, and holed up in the room of the Last Supper with the doors locked.

Now how often do we behave more like those Apostles locked in the upper room, rather than the Apostles set on fire with the Holy Spirit—even though we, too, have received of His fullness through Baptism and Confirmation? How easy is it for us to recommend to others a restaurant or a movie or an app on our phones, but how seemingly difficult to share about our relationship with Jesus and His Church? When we should be actively looking for opportunities to share our faith, as the Apostles took advantage of every occasion and opening, far more often we are only active in looking for excuses to keep it to ourselves.

As the sun comes to melt away the snows and uncover the green grass once more, may the fire of the Holy Spirit melt away the indifference from our hearts and open them to spread the love of Christ to every person we encounter, to every corner of the earth.

Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, pray for us!

God Loved Us First

Homily, Ash Wednesday

Why are we here today?  There could be many different answers to this question. To get ashes on our foreheads. To begin the season of Lent. Right now, to pretend to listen to a homily on Ash Wednesday. Why are we here? There could be other answers, but as we begin this season of Lent and all our Lenten practices, it’s good for us to keep in mind the most important answer to this question, the most basic and foundational truth of our existence and the real reason for our presence here today.

So why are we here? St. Paul gives us the answer in our second reading: “For our sake, [God] made Him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” All of us are here today because God has so marvelously shown and proved His love for us, His great desire for each one of us. In Jesus His Son, who became obedient even to the point of death on a cross for love of us, we discover the meaning of life itself. We are here because of all that God has done for us.

There is often a temptation as we think of what to give or give up for Lent to be preoccupied with asking ourselves what we can do for God, or even what we can do for ourselves through our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Instead, it’s important that we always keep in mind that any good we do, any success we have in our Lenten disciplines is already a response to God’s infinite love for us, and that it’s only possible through His grace and providence. Our love for God in response to His love is the essential part of our Lenten practices; it is what remains “hidden and secret,” in our acts of penance, as Jesus mentions in today’s Gospel, “and your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

Most of our problems and lack of progress in the spiritual life stem from not sufficiently allowing ourselves to be struck and convicted, to be moved by the startling and overwhelming love of God that is revealed to us in Christ Jesus, revealed especially in His suffering, death, and Resurrection. One of my favorite devotions has always been the Stations of the Cross, and Lent is especially a time to consider God’s wonderful work of our redemption in Christ. Every Friday during Lent at 7 pm here at the Cathedral, we’ll be praying the Stations of the Cross, and I encourage you to attend, and to let the reality of what Jesus did for you and for me really sink in and stir your hearts.

Also, if you’ve never taken the time to just read one of the gospels from start to finish, maybe to do so over the course of a couple days, but to read one of the gospels as you would read other books, it can be a very powerful experience. This year especially focuses on the Gospel according to St. Mark, which is the shortest of the Gospel accounts, 16 chapters, and only 64 pages if you were to buy it in paperback form. I invite you to try it out, or to do it again as we enter into Lent, and as you read the Gospel, to pay attention to what you notice, to what surprises you, to the plot and movement of the Gospel events. Let yourself get caught up in the experience of the apostles and the first Christians who found in Jesus the great love of God in bodily form, the reason why we are still here, the reason why we still gather as Christians to worship God every Sunday.

God so desires to make us one with Him, to illicit a response of love from us by His grace, that Jesus even gives us His own Body and Blood to eat, at this Mass and at every Mass. Far greater than the ashes that we will receive on our foreheads, Jesus invites us to receive Him into ourselves, to consume Him and to be consumed by Him in Holy Communion. May this great love and desire of God for us move us to repentance, animate all our Lenten practices, and help us to pray to God with today’s Psalm, “Restore in me the joy of your salvation; [and] sustain in me a willing spirit.” Amen.

Being Transformed by the Word of God

Bulletin Letter, Ordinary Time Sunday 19A

I can already tell it is going to be a bit confusing having both a Fr. Smith and a Fr. Schmidt here at the Cathedral. Actually, my own preference is to be called Fr. Darin, as this is more personal and more traditional. In the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass, we pray for “Francis our Pope and Paul our Bishop,” using only their first names, in part to express the personal relationship we should have with our fathers in the faith, and also showing the connection of the Catholic faith with ancient times, when no one had last names. Personal does not imply casual, though. I am not opposed to being called Fr. Schmidt, as I realize it has fewer syllables and tends to sound more respectful today. Just so long as you call me Father or Padre, I will answer.

I have already been asked quite a few times about my hobbies, and some of you may have even witnessed already that I have some strange ones. In my free time, I like to run barefoot. Some research suggests it might be healthier. It at least puts less stress on the knees. I think for me, it just keeps things interesting, seeing how well my feet can adapt. It takes months to transition, though, if you are used to wearing shoes. I also enjoy tinkering and fixing things, whether it’s with computers or things around the house, although I don’t know much about cars or sound systems.

I’m not sure if this counts as a hobby, but at some point, I calculated a system for reading the Bible and Catechism once a year. As part of my continuing education, I still read from each almost every day and have made my way through them once a year for about the last 7 years. As it is, for the Catholic Bible, 26 chapters each week will get you through the whole thing in a year, and for the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 55 paragraphs each week is what you need. I try to read four chapters of Scripture on weekdays and three on Saturday and Sunday to stay on target, along with eight paragraphs of the Catechism each day except seven on Sunday. I also have my own order in which to read the books of the Bible that I find more helpful, based variously on the human authorship, the time of events described, the time of writing, and the theology of the book. I hope you find it helpful and an encouragement to read the Books that God Himself has inspired. The Word of God, Jesus Christ, still desires to transform our lives every day. How often do we give Him the opportunity?

Bible Order

God’s Gift to Man: True Worship

Ministry Forum August 2017, as Director of Worship

With the start of each new year, I begin reading the Bible again from the beginning. It’s always a good refresher, and going through each entire book is very different than just the snippets we get in the Lectionary at Mass. Anyone who has tried to read the entire Bible usually gets bogged down in what we see as the less exciting parts. Most would say that the genealogies are the most boring, but for a long time now, I have disagreed with that assessment. At least genealogies have weird names that can be humorous or challenging to pronounce.

Far less interesting to me have been the many passages describing in detail the materials, dimensions, and arrangement of the Tent that housed the Ark of the Covenant as the Israelites traveled with Moses through the desert. The same level of detail is given in describing the Temple they would later construct in Jerusalem and all the various regulations for the different offerings and acts of worship. Now why spend all that time, energy, and money recording all these details, not just once, but several times in the Old Testament and even several times within the same individual book (as in Exodus)? We can scarcely imagine how much more difficult and expensive it was to write or reproduce anything back then, now that paper, printers, and word processing software is commonplace, not to mention literacy.

The only reason that makes sense to me is that the people of Israel were convinced that what they did in the Temple wasn’t anything that they came up with themselves, but God had revealed to them how He wanted to be worshiped. God tells Moses, “See that you make everything according to the pattern shown to you on the mountain” (Exodus 25:40; Hebrews 8:5). Their worship of the Lord was meant to be an image of the heavenly worship offered to Him by the angels. It was also different from the worship that the nations offered to their idols. “Therefore, you shall not bow down to their gods and serve them, nor shall you act as they do” (Exodus 23:24).

The New Testament has fewer details about what early Christian worship was like, but as heirs of the Jewish Tradition, it is clear that they also were very concerned about the proper worship of God. “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles, to the fellowship, to the breaking of the bread, and to the prayers” (Acts 2:42). Large portions of the first Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians reflect his concern for the good order of their worship of God as they participate in the Body and Blood of Christ (10:16). And the Letter to the Hebrews makes it clear that Christian worship far surpasses what took place in the Old Testament (cf. 12:22-24).

Catholic worship of God in the Sacraments continues to be distinctive because it is not man-made religion. God has revealed how He wants us to worship Him. If our worship is to actually bring us into communion with the heavenly worship described in the Book of Revelation, God needs to direct it, and He does so through the will of His Church, faithful to the Scriptures and the Apostolic Tradition.

May God continue to challenge us and transform us through the Church’s Sacred Liturgy.

Top 10 of 2016

Bulletin Article, Mary Mother of God

As we begin the year 2017, it gives us an opportunity to recall some of the great blessings of the past year. After much prayer and discernment (sort of), I give you

Fr. Darin’s Top 10 of 2016:

10. Calculating that, according to current diocesan standards and assuming that I remain in good health, I will be able to retire in the year 2063. I can’t wait…

9. Getting to use a brand new mulching lawn mower to clean up the leaves at the rectory. I’ve never seen a mower so clean beforehand and seldom seen one so dusty afterwards.

8. Receiving for Christmas from my Goddaughter and niece a very soft blanket embroidered with one of my favorite titles, “Uncle Father Darin.”

7. Finally having the chance to grow a full beard for Lent, perhaps in an attempt to look a little older.

6. Cooking something to bring to a Thanksgiving Dinner, for the first time in my life. I made green bean casserole. It was a hit, especially with my one-year-old niece. No leftovers, except for her.

5. Vacationing in the Black Hills and climbing to the highest point in South Dakota, newly named Black Elk Peak, with a good friend and priest from seminary.

4.Serving as chaplain of a FOCUS Mission trip to a village near San Luis Potosí in Mexico. Someday, I’d like to have a fence made out of cacti.

3. Serving as chaplain for our Parish Mission in the Orange Walk district of Belize. I had never seen a guacamole tree in person before, and the matriarch of the parish had a lot in common with my own mother.

2. Continuing to lead a Scripture course here at Holy Spirit, this year on the Letter to the Hebrews and a book called Sharing Christ’s Priesthood by Mike Aquilina.

1. Continuing to serve Holy Spirit as a parish priest.

And for all the countless blessings that I have neglected to notice or mention, I give thanks to God. Let’s continue to hold one another up in prayer and to give endless thanks for the immense blessings He has bestowed upon our parish. May we use them well for the building up of His Kingdom in the New Year and every day of our lives. Happy 2017!

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.