This Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday, the day that is the high point of our week-long Easter celebration. On this day, in particular, we focus our attention on the celebration of each Mass. Each Sacrifice of the Mass is the greatest act of filial love and devotion that we can offer our God, in particular, to give thanks for His boundless mercy that comes through the redemptive act by Jesus. We have this day to set apart as an opportunity to seek the grace and mercy that only God can bestow on those who are in great need of it and are truly repentant of their past sins. This feast is the result of the efforts of a Polish nun, Sister Faustina Kowalska, who, during several opportunities of fervent prayer, received the vision of Jesus who asked her to spread the knowledge of God’s mercy for His people.
Special Golden Jubilee congratulations to Father Danis Ridore, Sister Maria Liber and Father Jay Haskin, who, this Sunday, are marking 50 years in religious life and service to Almighty God and His people. This is a remarkable occasion in the life of our parish. Sunday’s joint celebration begins with Mass at 11:30 a.m., followed by an open reception in the parish hall (Family Life Center) for all three of them. I hope that you’re planning to greet and honor them at this wonderful event in the history of our parish.
I am very grateful for the splendid performances by our Parish Choir, under the capable leadership of its conductor, Eric Keiper, that lifted our spirits high and gave a beautiful gift to God and to us through the liturgies of Holy Week and Easter. A good number of our long-time parishioners commented that they don’t ever recall the music in our church to be so inspiring. I also appreciate the many hours spent by our staff and a handful of volunteers in decorating our church sanctuary and parish hall for Easter. They really made a difference in the way that those venues were so well-suited to conduct Easter services. I also thank the many generous parishioners and guests who contributed to the Easter collections, in particular, the support of the Capital Campaign to expand our school and church buildings. May God bless them all!
This past Thursday, our church was the setting for my seminary class reunion. The chief shepherd for all Catholics in West Virginia, Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, was the main celebrant for the eight of us who partook of the festivities marking 46 years of priestly service. Just about every other year, it seems, God is calling back to Himself more of my priest-classmates, so that we are now about one-third the size we were when we finished our seminary training. Please pray that God will send more good priests to replace those who have “run the good race” (as St. Paul says it) and have earned their heavenly reward. It’s only right and just that we ask the Lord to send more laborers into His harvest. If we don’t encourage young men to think about the possibilities that God may be calling them to serve His people, then from where will we expect to get the priests needed to nourish God’s flock?
Our youngsters made their first Confession this past Saturday and anxiously await the great day of their First Holy Communion next Saturday, For many Catholics, First Holy Communion Day is considered the biggest day of their life because they actually could receive the Body and Blood of Jesus for the first time. There is much truth to that belief because of our Catholic teaching that Jesus is truly present in the consecrated bread and wine that have become His Body and Blood.
Thank you for your generous support of our Capital Campaign through last week’s second collection. Although several parishioners have yet to respond to our two-year long campaign to help build the planned additions to our school and church, I’m hopeful that they’ll finally pitch in with a thoughtful pledge and make their commitment. Because of our “growing pains,” we need to expand our facilities and services. I pray that your generous heart will be open to the needs of our children and other parishioners who, like us, are the beneficiaries of God’s love for us.
This weekend, we will take up the special 2nd collection to cover several of the monthly collections that our diocese requires of us to meet the needs of quite a few charitable requests from “outside-the-diocese.” The money will be given to each of those charities according to the percentage proportions of the last three years. May this somewhat ease the burden of repeated requests from those various charities.