We interrupt our Advent series on the Sacred Liturgy to bring you important news of other sorts. Here at Pastor Central, there are a couple of things that need to be gotten out “onto the street.”
First, our Archbishop, who was so recently honored by our Holy Father and created a Cardinal, has honored one of our own, and by doing so, honored Saint Bernadette. His Eminence Cardinal Wuerl will bestow the Manifesting the Kingdom Award on our very own Norma Thomas, in a special ceremony on Epiphany at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. In recognizing people from around the Archdiocese who by their lives and by their efforts reveal the grace of God at work in our midst, and further that work in a tireless and selfless way, Cardinal Wuerl is helping us to see how, in these witnesses, the Kingdom of God is very near to us.
I cannot help but think you all know Norma. If you think you don’t, you probably do, but only haven’t been introduced. She’s in the sacristy, and RCIA. She “helps out” here at the rectory office – about thirty hours a week. She visits the sick, and leads a prayer group. She also keeps track, and keeps in touch – she whispers in my ear many of the situations and intentions that I need to pray about or visit. And she smiles – a lot. She is and does much more besides, but I have to stop now. Come to the Basilica on the afternoon of 2 January to show that we recognize the Kingdom breaking in on us when we see it!
Secondly, thank you very much for your good-natured attentiveness to Father Bonifacio of the Missionary Fraternity of Mary, from Guatemala. Like you, I was very impressed by him and the missionary congregation he described to us. Only twenty-five years old, it is growing by ten priests a year, and dispatching missionaries beyond the boundaries of its home country, not only to the heart of Africa, but to the heartland of America – Wisconsin!
How could I tell you were attentive? Well, I get to see the count on how you responded: $4,331.45, so far. That is the largest second collection we have had all year! As I promised at the Mass I celebrated, if you weren’t able to respond at that moment, you can get a contribution to us any time, marked in any way (in the official envelope, or just with a note) and we will transmit it to them.
Every other year, our Archdiocesan Missionary Cooperative assigns our parish one of the many organizations seeking to ask for help in our churches. Saint Bernadette is the only parish in which they were allowed to do so this year. So it is a good thing for them that you are so helpful!
You can’t imagine how many organizations would just love to speak at our Masses just so you might have the “opportunity” to support them. I am a pretty strict gatekeeper though, so this is the only mission appeal you’ll get – till two years from now.
You were also most receptive to the appeal for help for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, last month. And the pile of gifts under the Giving Tree last week was another time when you responded to a genuine need that had been put before you.
You are so good. I am running out of space, but two quick reminders before I send you out into the Week before Christmas: one, there will be no five o’clock Saturday evening Mass on Christmas Day. And two, since the five o’clock Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve is so crowded, please try going to one of our other Masses if you do not have children who have not yet received their first Holy Communion. God will reward you – and more folks will get a seat. Have a great week – and if you haven’t already, go to confession! See you Christmas.