Happy Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve!! This begins a marathon of sorts here at Church as we almost simultaneously close out Advent and celebrate the Birth of our Savior, rejoicing in the gift of redemption. Christmas is always such a very special and blessed time of year. I’ve been listening to Pandora (via the internet) while working at my desk. They have a Christmas Traditional Radio broadcast that is exceptionally nice. Although there are periodic commercials, the music is not commercial but… well, traditional. It has been a nice addition to preparing for Christmas as music lifts up the soul.
Christmas allows us to focus on the many blessings poured out on us by our merciful and loving Father in sending His only Son as our Savior. It also allows us to give thanks to Him for the untold blessings and faith exhibited in the lives of our parish family members as well as to be inspired by the vast generosity of all of you. Once again, our Giving Tree effort produced abundant examples of your generous and caring spirit for our brothers and sisters in need. The number of gifts donated is outstanding. Thank you for letting Christmas come alive here.
But this is just one sign of your generosity as Jesus’ disciples. All of our various efforts to help others ~ collections of small toiletry articles, baby items, canned goods, nonperishable food, small toys and clothing throughout the year, receive your kind attention and generous donations as well. Thank you!
And, there is our Tithing the Tithe efforts as a parish family. You recall that as a parish family, we began to model the tithing approach to charitable giving ~ to being generous disciples of the Lord in fiscal year 2016. That year, we set aside 1% of our ordinary Sunday collection as our parish family tithe to give to charity, to those whose work exemplify the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy which amounted to $15,130 donated to 9 charities. In fiscal year 2017 and this fiscal year (2018), we set aside 3% for that purpose. In fiscal year 2017, $42,253 was given to 19 charities; so far this year we have $18,145 set aside for donating.
So then when you donate to the Sunday collection to support the work and ministries of our amazing parish, you are also offering a small portion of support to charities who exemplify the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy both locally and abroad. I am grateful to our Tithing the Tithe Committee for their dedicated work in these matters. Tithing is a truly wonderful way to give back to God.
This year we also have taken some significant steps in parish ministry. We hired two Youth Ministers (Matt Kirsch & Alex Price) who are working with our students in Grades 7 through 12. The numbers of youth who have signed up already is most encouraging as is their generous service and their varied activities together. We hired Ted Locker as Facilities Manager, a redesigned position. We had an open office position due to Susan Gordon’s retirement, which we redesigned into a Coordinator for Communications/Media position being handled by Janet Genuardi. In October, we hired a Director of Sacred Music, Elizabeth Calabro, to give full attention to our varied music ministries, choirs, cantors and liturgical music programs.
At that time, our long time Music Director and Organist, Dan Weckerly, accepted the position of Principal Organist. Dan has provided truly remarkable service to our parish family beginning January 2003. We are most grateful to him for his gifts, talent and generous spirit of service over these many years. On December 4, Dan wrote me about his decision to resign as Principal Organist for personal reasons, taking time off. We are saddened, but wish him every blessing and success. We are now searching for a new principal organist, a vital role for our Sunday worship.
All adults attending Christmas Mass will receive a Christmas gift, another good Catholic book, Matthew Kelly’s Perfectly Yourself, Discovering God’s Dream for You. I am grateful for all who are helping to welcome everyone to Christmas Mass and distributing the books. A special thank you to Mr. Richard Holcombe, Holcombe Funeral Home, for sponsoring our Christmas gift. Our parish calendar this year, is filled with pictures of our parish family and celebrations, and is available at the doors of the Church. A special thank you to Moore, Snear & Ruggerio Funeral Home for sponsoring these calendars for our parish family. We hope you enjoy the new design.
I am also very grateful for all who helped to decorate our Church for Christmas, something that needed to be done a bit earlier than usual, and for all who are helping in any way as we worship the Lord of the Universe born in Bethlehem. On behalf of Father Moriconi, Monsignor Murray, our Deacons and Parish Staff, I wish all of you and your loved ones every blessing and grace on Christmas Day and in the new year. Thank you for your inspiring faith, joyful discipleship and for all you do out of love for Christ!
God bless you, God love you and I love you,