We welcome Bishop Herbert Bevard of the Diocese of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands back to our parish once again, as he continues his missionary appeal to help the people of that twice hurricane-ravaged territory. Although our registered parishioners received in our mailed packets the envelope for this appeal earmarked for this weekend, we still can give a gift in next regular week’s collection by using the yellow envelopes that Bishop Bevard has provided. By whatever means and whatever amount you can give, you can be sure that your gift will be well-used and well appreciated by the bishop and people of that struggling diocese. It seems that many members of the Catholic community there have gone unemployed since the decimation of the three-island diocese by the double-whammy storms. Businesses were totally wiped out and others so severely damaged that they have yet to be repaired or restored. The major hotels of the island, which employ many local parishioners, have not returned to their former glory.
So, it’s hard to take care of teachers’ salaries and those of other employees of the diocese when there is little or almost no revenue available. Repairs are moving along at a snail’s pace, as materials have to be flown or shipped in from the mainland. So, Bishop Bevard is once again appealing to our kindness, generosity and good will to help him restore a sense of decency and dignity to the Catholic community, encouraging them to rebuild where churches and schools once stood.
HOORAY! THANK YOU! We did it! We made our designated goal for the annual DSA – the Diocesan Services
Appeal. Although the final results will come in when the diocese has calculated their share of the mailed-in pledges for our parish, we know that because of the generosity of so many of you throughout the year and in the last hours of the appeal in our parish, you helped us reach our goal of $252,000. The last-minute “call to heart” certainly drew a nice response. Now we await the “kick-off” for the 2019 campaign, which will begin in February. Although the appeal usually has become a long-term / dragged-out full yearlong effort, it can close quickly for us if everyone pitches in from the very beginning by everyone making an early pledge and then fulfilling it. YES, WE CAN!!!!
Today the universal Church celebrates the Feast of Jesus’ Baptism, and the official closing of the Christmas season. While the secular world more or less concluded its celebration on the 26th of December, the actual Christian observance of Christmas extends well beyond the opening days of the New Year, to include the great Feast of the Epiphany (Three Kings), as well as the celebration of Christ’s adult baptism. In this way, the brief days of the usual observance of Christmas are actually extended so that we can carry forth the message of hope and peace well into the next year. It was the hope of the ancient Fathers and writers of the early Church to help us retain that spirit throughout the year. So, while the sounds, sights, fragrances and other material essences of Christmas fade from our senses, the true meaning of the Savior’s birth can be renewed each day as we deepen our efforts to carry the spirit of Christmas on our lips and in our hearts – if we allow it to do so.
Last Sunday morning in Orlando, I had the privilege of celebrating Mass for nearly 300 Knights of Columbus Insurance Field Agents and their wives. Following Mass, I was invited to brunch with Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and his wife, and to engage in a conversation about the revival of anti-Catholic sentiment that is arising at a hurried pace, in view of several nominations of Catholic men to serve as judges in various federal courts. The discussion was prompted by the Supreme Knight’s recent message to all member knights about how Catholics can be good U.S. citizens and honest public servants. In it he wrote, “There have been times in our country’s past when uninformed or prejudiced people questions whether Catholics could be good citizens or honest public servants. Sadly, it seems that in some quarters, this prejudice remains. Such attacks on the basis of our Catholic faith are hardly new. From the founding of the Knights of Columbus until the presidential election of John F. Kennedy, many still held that Catholics were unfit for public office. The Knights of Columbus has always adhered to Catholic teaching and our primary motivation is Christ’s commandment that we love God completely and our neighbor as ourselves. It is this commandment of love that compels the Knights’ charitable work. This love also motivates us to stand with the Church on the important issues of life and marriage, precisely because the Church’s teaching reflects and is based on that love. We stand with our Church because we believe that what our faith teaches is consistent with reason, is timeless and transcends the changing sentiments of any particular time or place.”
Anderson then pointed out the “no religious test clause” of Article VI of the US Constitution, and the free exercise clause of the Constitution’s First Amendment, saying, “any suggestion that the Order’s adherence to the beliefs of the Catholic Church makes a Brother Knight unfit for public office blatantly violates those constitutional guarantees.” “Let us continue to express our love of God and neighbor by helping those in need and by standing with our Church, regardless of the popularity of doing so,” Anderson exhorted. “Let us also remember that, from our founding, we have embodied the truth that a good Catholic is a good citizen who shows civility and dignity even in the face of prejudice.”
The Knights of Columbus consists of 2 million members who, in 2017, carried out more than 75 million hours of volunteer work and raised more than $185 million for charitable purposes. I invite Catholic gentlemen at least 18 years of age, to consider becoming a Knight of Columbus.