It’s been a very strange week for all of us in south Florida but, thanks be to God, most of us have managed to survive the onslaught of another hurricane. The airwaves and media were filled with stories of the storm bringing out the good side of so many people. They are the real-life action heroes: the police, fire fighters and paramedics, many doctors and other medical professionals, the active military and the National Guard. We wanted to honor so many of them in our annual Blue Mass, but hurricane Irma made us postpone everything until Monday, September 25th. Many parish events were cancelled or postponed, but that doesn’t stop us from working during adversity to spread the Good News of Jesus. The preparations made by the Maintenance Staff under the direction of Jay Flood were outstanding. They worked many hours day and night to secure our facilities as best as possible. During that time we lost no electric power on campus. Thank You, Jesus and Mary!
Due to the ferocity of Irma, we heeded the advice of the authorities and closed down our church, school and office facilities as directed. But because there was no severe wind on Saturday, we were able to offer the Saturday 4:00 and 5:30 p.m. Masses and satisfy the intentions offered for those two Masses (Some of our parishioners were able to attend those Masses by coming through the sacristy door past the priests’ vestry). Since our bishop dispensed us from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass last weekend (and LAST weekend ONLY), we missed out on the scheduled 2nd collection to help bring relief to the victims of hurricane Harvey. Last weekend’s scheduled collection for relief from hurricane Harvey will be taken up this weekend, but if you weren’t ready to do so this week, whenever you want to bring your special offering for that need, you may simply drop it in the collection basket along with your regular weekly offering. We also missed the regular Sunday collection for the upkeep of the parish, so you may also put that envelope in the basket with any others. We appreciate it, for it’s necessary to maintain the parish facilities. A missed Sunday collection is often seen as a pastor’s worst nightmare (“How will I pay the bills or make ends meet this coming week?”).
Our Pastoral Associate, Bob Laquerre, was ordained a Permanent Deacon on September 7th, two days earlier than anticipated, because of the unpredictability of the storm and the inability to say just when Bishop Barbarito would have another chance to ordain him and three other men of our diocese. Originally that night of Ordination was scheduled to be the dress rehearsal; but, as it turned out, it was turned into the actual ceremony, held in the Cathedral Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola in Palm Beach Gardens (not St. Patrick’s Church, as originally scheduled). It was a smaller, more intimate ceremony than was scheduled, but was beautiful and most dignified, nonetheless (Saturday would have been a bit more unpredictable, weather-wise). It was my honor and privilege to help his wife vest him as part of the ceremony. Now he’s a fully-ordained minister of the Church, ready to serve the People of God through his preaching, ministering the Holy Eucharist, baptizing and witnessing Catholic marriages. May God bless Deacon Bob!
People have asked me, “What did you do when the parish closed down for the “Big One?” Well, we prayed much more than usual and asked for divine protection. Though needed emergency calls are responded to as much and as long as humanly possible, we also try not to tempt fate. Though we didn’t lose electricity, we were limited in our wi-fi and internet capabilities, and our regular phone lines were down. Though our church was “officially closed,” we made our way to the church to offer scheduled Masses when possible. Interestingly enough, last Friday was the Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, and we were able to offer the first two morning Masses in her honor. We were blessed by Almighty God and protected by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, under whom we were consecrated last May 13th, as our parish buildings and grounds suffered only minimal damage. Having placed a statue of the Blessed Virgin in our rectory window ahead of the storm’s arrival, and praying the Rosary, we left our “fate” in the hands of our heavenly protectors. What was interesting and, I believe, miraculous, was that none of the outdoor holy images of Our Lord, Mary or the angels and saints was destroyed or even damaged, despite the widespread fallen branches and tree limbs all around us. An accompanying picture will show you how an old wooden fence on the convent property came crashing down on the statue of Mary but didn’t harm the statue. The fence probably weighed several hundred pounds! I believe this is not just a coincidence. Our Lady has been working her wonders for our parishioners in many ways these past years, and this was just one more instance to show her maternal care for us and how powerfully she works. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death!