“Hats off” to Julie Ott, Parish Director for Stewardship and Development, who spearheaded last Saturday’s all-parish consecration in observance of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. She headed a superb team of many volunteers who made the occasion so memorable. Starting with the Mass and Act of Consecration, through to the procession around campus with the recitation of the Rosary, the Litany to the Blessed Virgin of Fatima and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, over 600 people attended the Mass. Half that number stayed for the entire event to mark the jubilee. Following the services, there was a simple, yet delightful dinner in the parish hall prepared and served by the Knights of Columbus and Columbiettes.
Our Knights of Columbus carried the Fatima statue in procession on a pallet built by Jay Flood and our maintenance crew. They also carried the icon of the Virgin Mary blessed by Pope Francis that was presented to me by the Florida state officers of the Knights of Columbus. I, in turn, have donated the icon and placed the image by the confessional on the east corridor wall. It’s an exact copy of the old painting of the Immaculate Conception found behind the main altar in the Cathedral-Basilica of Quebec City in Canada. Our Music Director, Eric Keiper, led our combined parish choirs in providing for the music in and around the church. How blessed we have been with fine weather and with many favors that will come forth from the intercession of Our Lady. At the end of May, we will place the statue of Our Lady of Fatima in the sanctuary, close to the sacristy, and transfer the current image of Our Lady to the west side of the church (where the Fatima Virgin statue once rested). Thank you to all who helped prepare the festivities and to those who came to honor the Mother of God! You could have done something else, but instead gave special honor to our Mother on Mother’s Day!
Our 32 eighth-grade graduates are being honored at the 11:30 a.m. Mass this Sunday. I thank their Principal, Home-Room Moderator, teachers, parents and all others who have helped them come to the end of their school journey with us. Not only do I wish them the best in high school and beyond, but hope that their spiritual values that we tried to cultivate in them via our Catholic school setting will stay with them and continue to flourish. It’s always difficult for me to see our graduates leave our school, and then simultaneously witness their departure from attendance at weekly Mass, ignoring the 3rd Command from God to “Keep Holy The Lord’s Day.” It’s almost like pouring money down the drain and a thumbing the nose at all of the time and effort spent to lead these children closer to the Lord. The temptation is to manipulate the Lord by regularly ignoring Him, only calling upon Him in the most desperate situations we encounter in life. If parents don’t reinforce the good values that have been prioritized and presented these past eight to ten years in our school, then they are complicit in contributing to the loosening of the bonds that should bind God to His people. Planting the seed but failing to water and to nourish it is not only wasting time, effort and money on a tree that will not bear good fruit, but is also counter-productive to focusing their minds on the life-long pilgrimage to see God.
I invite our teens to join our young people’s Life Teen Youth Group, which helps keep the teens in contact with their Catholic peers who want to help develop their spiritual, social and educational skills in a casual environment, as well as share with their peers the ups and downs of maturing throughout their high school years. They usually meet on Sunday nights, and open up our young people to a Bible-based youth program, with games, talks, event-planning, social outreach projects, plain old fun opportunities and partaking in special liturgies – all things that allow the teens to greater participation in the life of their parish – within their level of competency.
Congratulations, to our Pastoral Associate, Bob Laquerre, who recently finished his Master of Arts degree program in Theological Studies at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary. Bob graduated at the top of his class “Summa cum Laude” (“with Highest Praise”) and was the Valedictorian of his class. Bob is hoping to be ordained a Permanent Deacon this coming September, and awaits the “call” from our Bishop.
Congratulations to all of our graduates from elementary, high school and college! May God draw them closer to Himself. May they use their true wisdom and acquired knowledge to get closer to God!