“They said to him, "Rabbi" — which translated means Teacher —, "where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come, and you will see." So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him ...”
These words from this weekend’s Gospel reminds us ~ who we are and what we are to be about. We are invited by Jesus to come and see and stay with Him. He came in search of us to help us who cannot help ourselves. When we accept the invitation to come and see and stay with Him, we find life in Jesus, in fact the fullness of life. On the weekend leading up to Christmas, I shared in my column a lot of information about all that is taking place here at Saint Eleanor. I spoke about some of these things in my talk before the Christmas Masses. It really is awesome … amazing … all that is happening here within our parish family.
In the last several months, we have taken some significant steps in our 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 and continue to sign up is most encouraging (185 now, 21 more in just one month). And, what is inspiring is their generous service and their varied activities together ~ social, spiritual and catechetical. We hired for the parish Ted Locker as Facilities Manager, a redesigned position. We had an open office position, which we redesigned into a Coordinator for Communications/Media position being handled by Janet Genuardi. We hired a new Director of Sacred Music, Elizabeth Calabro, to give full attention to our varied music ministries, choirs, cantors and liturgical music programs. This new position is part of our efforts to make the Sunday Worship Experience the continuing focus of our energy and a source of grace and blessing to all who come here.
Additionally on Sundays, we now have Child Care at our 9 am Mass for parents who want a little break when attending Mass. We love to have our babies in Church with us but have realized that sometimes parents appreciate a little alone time at Worship. We have expanded Children’s Liturgy of the Word to two Masses (9 & 10:30 am). The children go to the Chapel with Catechists to do a children’s Liturgy of the Word and return at the Offertory time. We also have each week, children’s special bulletins and special missalettes available for pick up at the Church doors.
In our efforts to be faithful disciples, becoming more passionately disciples ourselves and making disciples, we have initiated various discipleship and Faith-sharing opportunities. We have our Discovering Christ series and shortly will offer the Following Christ series. In the not too distant future, we will host the Sharing Christ series as well. These are for everyone, men and women, young and senior. For the women, we also have Walking With Purpose, which has proven very popular and is growing.
And then, 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 more than $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. It is freeing and helps us to keep focused on the important matters of generosity as disciples of a totally generous God.
And the good news is that we are not done, there is so much more. We are looking for every way to be His disciples, passionate and on-fire, and to make disciples of others. Like the first disciples, it all begins for each of us as we approach Jesus and say, “Rabbi, where are you staying? …"Come, and you will see." Like them may each of us and all of us as a parish family, every day, go, see and stay with Jesus because He will nurture us to go back out to our brothers and sisters who are in need.
Finally, a word of encouragement on the issue of Life and the March for Life on Friday, January 19 in Washington, DC. This year’s theme is “Love Saves Lives.” “Choosing life is not always easy, but it is the loving, empowering, and self-sacrificial option. Love is universally attractive because it is directed towards others. Love is what we all strive for because deep-down we are all drawn to give of ourselves in this way. Love saves lives in countless ways.” May we love with everything we have and witness to love’s power, either at the March or through our prayers and fasting, especially on January 22 as directed by our Bishops.
God bless you, God love you,