In the next six months there will be two important projects in our parish. The first will happen the last two weeks of October and the first week of November. It will be an outreach to you, the people of the parish, thanking you for your financial support and asking you to consider making an increase in your weekly donations. I know this is a very trying time financially with the price of almost everything going up. You experience it in your homes and we experience it in our parish. There will be mailings and words spoken at Mass on those weekends explaining where we are financially and where we are looking to go. This is a big parish plant: we have 19 acres, four buildings, and almost 100 employees on our payroll between full time and part time people. For the past 19 years I have been amazed and inspired by your financial support and I thank you for it.
The second major and even more important project will be a parish retreat that will take place on the first three days after the first Sunday of Lent. I have made contract with Steubenville Parish Missions in Ohio to give this mission. It is the biggest and most involved mission I have ever seen or offered in my nineteen years as pastor here and my fourteen years as pastor of St. Thomas More in Hauppauge. Much more is involved than just coming to the church for three nights for a talk and prayer. There are nine different areas that need leadership and I am seeking people to volunteer for them. As far as I am concerned we are certainly at a point in our nation and in our families and communities where we need good, solid spiritual nourishment to not just cope but to draw on the strength the gift of faith gives us in our everyday lives. More and more people are coming back as Covid is hopefully slowing down more. We have many challenges facing us. Morally we are dealing with the issues of abortion, same sex attraction in schools as well as in the media, children being offered sex change operations, and couples living together before they are married. As the Church, our challenge is not to condemn but to reach out with love, concern, and truth. It is all too easy to condemn and ignore these issues, but they are in front of us in the media, our government, and in our families and communities.
A strong and healthy spiritual life is not an escape or a judgmental position to condemn and act and feel self righteous. The nourishment and light we need is offered to us though our faith. That is why it is so important and critical to pray and receive the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession regularly. This retreat from the people at Steubenville will organize us into groups to follow up on a regular basis for the weeks and months to come. I cannot urge you enough to participate in this retreat. Please consider asking family members or friends who have not been connected to the Church for a while. How good it is to share the Good News. We all need only what God can give to us to live our lives with hope, meaning, purpose, love, and humility every day of our lives.
First and foremost I invite all the people of our parish to come to this retreat. I am truly confident that you, your family, and our parish family will be nourished spiritually. Here is a list of areas of the retreat where your help is needed: Marketing Lead, Personal Ask Coordinator, Registration Lead, Audio/Visual Lead, Liturgy Lead, Hospitality/Meals Lead, Merchandise Lead. There is a well organized team from Steubenville that will work with us to prepare, present, and follow up the retreat.
One of the most amazing experiences Saints Peter, James, and John had during their time with Jesus was the Transfiguration where Jesus took them up on a mountain and revealed Himself to the them in His heavenly glory. He loved and trusted them that much. A retreat is a time to accept that kind of invitation - to come and be renewed, refreshed, and revitalized in our faith as, individuals and the Church. Jesus loves and trusts us that much.
I offer the account of the Transfiguration from Luke. 9:28-35 for your prayerful reflection.
About eight days after he said this, he took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory* and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son."