Consider this…the Road to Renewal.

Consider this…the Road to Renewal.

In August of 2020, then Administrator, Bishop Scharfenberger saw the need for the Diocese of Buffalo to plan for moving forward from many factors that were all impacting the Diocese and parish life within the Diocese itself. The Road to Renewal is a way for our Diocese to respond to several things:

1.     The abuse crisis in the church, the attorney general lawsuit – how do we bring healing to those who have been abused and marginalized, as well as bring transparency and accountability to the church and her leadership.

2.    Bankruptcy – with the financial challenges facing the Diocese, how do we assure a continuation of the mission of the church with a renewed sense of fiscal responsibility.

3.    Declining resources and viability of parishes: Parishes have seen a decline in resources and people over the past few years that has been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic. Parishes need to respond now for their viability in the future.

4.    Priestly planning for the future – with the declining number of priests in the Diocese of Buffalo, a strategic planning process to meet the needs of the parishes in our diocese with the priestly talent pool is extremely important.

The Road to Renewal therefore is focusing on the following pillars:

1.     Spirituality: For any renewal to take place it needs to begin with Jesus. Jesus constantly calls all of us to renew our commitment to him, and that message needs to be central to our Diocesan Renewal. On August 29, 2021 at 3 pm, our Diocese will kickoff the Renewal with a Mass at Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Lewiston in which parish representatives will be commissioned to be renewal advocates in their parishes. Any and all are welcome to join.

2.    Catholic Education: Our Catholic schools and Faith Formation programs need reimagining to embrace the needs of our children and help them receive a firm foundation for the future. A vitality and viability index for Catholic schools that includes an evaluation of the Catholicity of our schools is being developed. The faith formation programs need to include the entire family and educating all people on their journey of faith.

3.    Priestly Life and Ministry: Our Priests need love and support. A retreat for all priests is being developed to acknowledge the difficult path that priests are walking as well as fostering a spirit of healing. The Renewal also needs to assess the talents and skills that our priests bring to our Diocese and work on development opportunities for priests to continue to grow and develop their priestly skills to lead our parishes and Diocese into the future.

4.    The Catholic Center: The leadership of our Diocese and the departments that operate to assist the operations and functioning of parishes needs renewal in how they can provide the best services possible to help our Diocese flourish. This will require up to date training and learning about empowering the church, parishes and people that make up our Diocese.

5.    Family of Parishes: Our parishes have an opportunity to collaborate and work together, supporting one another in building up the church. Parishes across the Diocese are experiencing diminished resources available to keep our parishes strong and vibrant. The Family of Parishes model brings together parishes in a geographic proximity that will work together, sharing resources, personnel and priests to make our parishes stronger. When parishes bring their best together, and work together, greater efficiencies can be realized. The Family of Parishes model also responds to the declining number of priests in our Diocese by creating families where priestly ministry is shared and more responsibility of the day to day operations of the parish will fall to lay leadership.

Each of these pillars is to help renew and transform our parishes and Diocese. At St. Mary’s, the Family that our parish has been placed into includes the following parishes:

1.     St. Mary, Swormville

2.    Good Shepherd, Pendelton

3.    St. Pius X, Getzville

4.    St. Gregory the Great, Williamsville

This phase of the Renewal is the collaborative phase in which our parish leadership is discussing this family structure and deciding if it is best for St. Mary’s. There will be an opportunity for all parishes to make suggestions and potentially change their family if they deem necessary. It is important to note that ALL parishes in the Diocese will be a part of a family of parishes model, because all of us have something to offer one another. The Family of Parishes model will take the 160 parishes in our Diocese and place them into 36 families.

As we move forward, please pray for the work of the Renewal. You can always find the most up to date information at www.roadtorenewal.org. If you have questions or concerns at St. Mary’s, please do not hesitate to contact any parish leader or bring them to me. We are planning on a parish town hall meeting on August 23rd at 6:30 p.m. in the Church to discuss the Renewal further and answer any questions you may have.

Keep smiling, 😊

Fr. Bryan

Consider this…are we coming to and believing in Jesus?

Consider this…are we coming to and believing in Jesus?

This weekend we welcome Fr. Andy Garner to our parish. Fr. Andy is a priest in the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky and is here to speak about our support of the mission work in the poor and underserved areas of our own country.

Each year, every parish in the Diocese is asked to take a special mission collection. This is meant to help remind us that the Catholic Church is much larger than just us here at St. Mary’s. We are part of the universal Catholic Church, which means that we have a responsibility to help others beyond our parish boundaries. Fr. Andy will speak to us about the opportunities we have to make a difference in communities in our own country that depend upon the generosity of parishes like ours to survive. It is important to remember however, that our support of the missions doesn’t mean we are not supported in return. The prayer of those we support helps St. Mary’s as well. The true fruit of the mission appeal is cooperation in building the Kingdom of God. Please give generously.

This weekend we again hear from John chapter 6. In the coming weeks we will hear how Jesus challenges our faith. Jesus makes three specific points, the first of which can be found in our Gospel today:

“I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (Jn. 6:35)

 

Jesus is challenging those who are following him. First, they need to come to him. How often do we seek answers from everyone but Jesus? Do we bear our soul, our joys, sorrows, struggles, etc., with everyone but Jesus? We’re reminded that we need to come to Jesus in life. Secondly, we need to believe in Jesus! That means we have to surrender our lives to Jesus, believing that he can save us, redeem us, love us! This means we have to grow in our relationship with Christ, by coming to him with our lives and all that is going on in them. We also need to believe that Jesus can make a difference. By coming and believing Jesus assures us that we will never hunger or thirst. He is saying that our true needs will be met by him. When we approach the altar to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, these are true acts of coming and believing. It is important that our reverence and respect for the Eucharist is visible to support our acts of faith.

Keep smiling, 😊

 


Fr. Bryan  

Consider this…MY Body, MY Blood, don’t be unbelieving, but believe!

Consider this…MY Body, MY Blood, don’t be unbelieving, but believe!

Consider this… MY Body, MY Blood, don’t be unbelieving, but believe!Over the next several weeks we will be taking a break from Mark’s Gospel to hear the ‘Bread of Life Discourse’ from the Gospel of John. John chapter 6 encompasses the heart of our Eucharistic theology. Over the next several weeks we will be invited to go deeper in our understanding of what the Eucharist really means for each of us. This week the stage begins to be set with the multiplication of loaves and fish. This miracle of the feeding of the 5000 lays the ground work for our understanding of the Eucharist. Jesus desires to feed us, and he is able to so with so little, by giving thanks to his Father who provides through Jesus for the people’s needs. Jesus is able to not only satisfy the hunger of the people, but there is an abundance of leftovers. This foreshadows what is coming further in Chapter 6.

When we consider the Eucharist in our lives, do we realize what it is that we are celebrating and consuming. As Catholics, we believe in the REAL presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Through the gift of transubstantiation, Jesus becomes physically present in the gifts of bread and wine that become HIS Body and Blood. Transubstantiation means across time and substance. When Jesus at the last supper told his disciples to ‘take and eat, this is my Body’, and ‘take and drink, this is my blood’, that action is perpetually celebrated through the ministry of the priest at mass. When the priest prays those words at mass, it is really Jesus standing there saying those words to each of us. Listen to the language of the Eucharistic prayer. During those two parts, the English moves into the first person. This is MY Body. This is MY Blood. Do this in memory of ME. Jesus is the one speaking in those moments through the priest, to each of us. Jesus wants to feed us, to satisfy our every need with his very self!

The coming weeks will go deeper into John chapter 6. This is an invitation to all of us to ask ourselves if we are satisfied by Jesus’ Body and Blood. Does it nourish us, sustain us and energize us to do the work of a disciple in the world? For those who believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, it is the source and summit of our entire lives. When we recognize Jesus in the Eucharist, the sacrifice offered and given to us, it should transform our lives.

What do you believe? These coming weeks are an opportunity for all of us to get to the heart of our faith, by believing in the Real Presence of Jesus, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist. Belief will transform your life and satisfy you for all eternity. Don’t be unbelieving… but BELIEVE!

Keep Smiling 😊

 

Fr. Bryan

Consider this…Sent on Mission!

Consider this…Sent on Mission!

 

The Gospel this weekend has Jesus sending his disciples out two by two into the world for ministry. He doesn’t promise them that it is going to be easy, or that they will even be successful. Jesus simply sends them out with basic instructions to do God’s work in building the Kingdom of God.

When was the last time we did God’s work in building the Kingdom of God after we left church? At the end of mass there is the clear commissioning to ‘Go announce the Gospel of the Lord, Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life, or Go in peace.’ All of the dismissals begin with the word GO! This commissioning is empowering for all of us to go build the kingdom of God in our worlds. Do we? We need to be reminded that our lives are to attract others and cause them to ask why we’re Catholic, why do they live like that? If we are living our lives as true disciples it isn’t always going to be easy or even successful, but it is part of our baptismal call.

The Second Vatican Council spoke of the baptized being the leaven of the church in the world. The way the baptized live their lives is meant to bring the church, Jesus’ mission to the world. You and I have a responsibility through our baptism to be Disciples in all aspects of our lives. Some simple examples of doing this include; praying at work, saying grace before meals, having something on your desk or in your work area that identifies you as a believer, having something in your home that identifies your home as the home of a disciple, taking time to pray as a family, to share a meal together and have conversations about prayer and God. Speaking up for injustices that you witness, defending the faith when people speak ill of it, having the courage to share your faith when someone needs consoling, offering to pray for them. These are simple ways that all of us can live the Gospel this weekend. Try it, it may not be easy, but I promise you, it is very rewarding.

 

Picnic time! Next weekend is our St. Mary’s 172nd Picnic. Please pray for good weather and a successful picnic for our parish. Invite those who may have been away for a while, encourage people to visit and have a great time. Our parish family is a great place to grow in Jesus’ love, and our picnic is a great place to welcome our neighbors, friends and strangers who stop in. Thanks to all who over the next week will work to make our picnic a success. Thanks too, to all who have been planning behind the scenes for months now, especially making sure that everything was good with COVID regulations. The picnic plans have adjusted many times and I appreciate sincerely those who persevered through all of it. Thank you!

See you next weekend at the picnic! It’s going to be great!!

Keep smiling, 😊

 

Fr. Bryan

Reverend Robert Yetter Passes after Brief Illness

Reverend Robert Yetter Passes after Brief Illness

Reverend Robert Yetter Passes after Brief Illness

Rev. Robert Yetter, Pastor of St. Mary’s Swormville from July 1995 to August of 2018, passed away last evening, Monday, July 5th, after a brief illness.

We as a community in faith offer our prayers for healing, and express our sincere condolences to his family.

Follow this link to the wake and funeral arrangements:

https://www.amigone.com/obituaries/Rev-Robert-M-Yetter?obId=21634195#/obituaryInfo