In a spirit of friendship and family during of Rome’s World Meeting of Families this week, St. Teresa of Avila Church in Akron hosted our Family of Parishes for Mass, a blessing of families, and an ice cream social on Wednesday evening. In addition, cards were made and a goodwill offering taken up for the residents at Brothers of Mercy Wellness Campus in Clarence.
Our Northern Erie County Family of Parishes includes St. Mary Church Swormville, St. Teresa’s, Our Lady of Peace (Clarence), Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Clarence).
Family of Parishes Corpus Christi Procession
I recently went to St. Mary School eighth grade graduation dinner. It was an outstanding event with students, families, faculty and staff, and clergy. After dinner Mr. Riester, eighth grade teacher, and Mrs. D’Angelo, principal, gave heartfelt remarks about the class and their final year as students at St. Mary’s. What impressed me most was what happened next. There was a thirty-minute video showing pictures of the Eighth Grade Class from kindergarten through their final year, including pictures from their Washington, D.C. trip. I watched the video being shown, but also watched the class standing around each other, some with arms around each other’s shoulders, giving cheers for each picture that came up for a different classmate. You could definitely see the strong bonds and admiration they have for each other.
I was also fortunate to participate in the eighth grade exit interviews recently. Two teachers from the school and I, interviewed three students, who presented their student portfolio highlighting academic, social, and spiritual achievements. They also answered questions about their experience at St. Mary’s School and future goals. After the three interviews it was clear that each were very proud to have gone to school at St. Mary’s, and were ready to move forward to new opportunities and endeavors.
June is a time for school graduations and reunions. At the beginning of the month I attended my 25th high school reunion. Like the eighth graders at St. Mary’s, I am still proud of the school I went to, and still have bonds and admiration for my classmates from 25 years ago. I plan to be more intentional about staying connected as time moves forward.
Besides graduations and reunions, it is also now the beginning of wedding season, and with the good weather, time to gather with friends and family for picnics and outdoor events. Today, in this season of special events and celebrations, let us be grateful for all the gifts we have been given. I once read, Gratitude opens us up to experience God’s love. Today we give thanks for all the gifts in our lives.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic Christian livelihood. It is the source because the graces of God flow from this sacrament into every aspect of life. The Eucharist gives us nourishment and strength. It gives us direction and guidance as we listen to the proclaimed Word of God and the prayers. It gives us a model to imitate as we encounter Christ and experience again his giving his life over for our sake. It is the source of our communion with God and each other in the Body of Christ. It is also the summit towards which our life is directed. We bring our work, our families, the cares of our hearts, our joys, our sorrows, our ministries, our failings, every aspect of our life, and we bring it up to the Lord to be offered to God on the altar. It is the summit because this celebration is the intersection of heaven and earth and we get that foretaste of heaven towards which we are journeying. It is the summit because we get a share now in that divine life into which we are called. It is the greatest prayer we have in the Church, to be united to the offering and prayer of Jesus Christ himself to the Father in the Spirit, and it is why we offer the Mass with various intentions for the ones whom we love. When the host is presented to us and we hear the words, the Body of Christ, we recognize that is the same Christ before us who walked and talked the earth 2000 years ago, it is Jesus’ Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, and we claim our part in the Body of Christ together with the acclamation, “Amen.” It is not a symbol – it is the sacrament of the living God. The old hymn declares, “O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine; All Praise and All Thanksgiving Be Every Moment Thine.” That is why we genuflect to the blessed sacrament when we come into His presence in the tabernacle and why we adore the blessed sacrament in adoration. Look up the Eucharistic Miracles throughout history. Moreover, every celebration of the Eucharist is a miracle in which the eternal God, mighty in power, humbles Himself and becomes truly present before us in love. We would be remiss to neglect this opportunity to become present to God and reciprocate God’s love in this mutual exchange of thanksgiving. I hope you get the chance to participate in our family of parish’s Corpus Christi Procession this year together with us to celebrate in a special way the gift of the Eucharist and receive God’s blessings once more. Enough cannot be said of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic Christian livelihood.
Happy Father’s Day to all of our Dads. I shamelessly will use this bulletin space to say Happy Father’s Day to my own Dad, the original ‘Father’ Luke (since I share your namesake). I’ll try not to overdo it, since I am tearing up now as I write this (joyfully so), thinking about all the things I want to say, and knowing that everybody is reading this besides and that you and most Dads don’t want this kind of attention. But we’ve shared a lot of life together, ups and downs alike. And though neither of us is perfect, far from it, through all the stories and life lessons and growing up and activities and absences and travels and work and helping each other out, you continue to be my inspiration and my hero. The more I reflect upon my life and God’s calling for me, the more I have to say, “all I have ever wanted was to be a Dad like you.” And it is really cool to be a “father” amongst fathers and to care for God’s family as such. Indeed, for my own spiritual life, my original and best image for relating to God in prayer for who God is and what God is about is that of a Father still, in large part because of you. Thank you. I love you.