Consider this… Taking care of “God’s House”

Consider this… Taking care of “God’s House”

Consider this… Taking care of “God’s House”

When it was time to go to Church, as kids we were told, “we are going into God’s house.”  It meant that we were about to enter into a sacred time and a sacred place to encounter God.  Of course, we can meet God in many places: our office, our kitchen, in creation, but there is something to be said about the setting and environment of coming into God’s house, of coming to Church that elevates our hearts and minds above the distractions and illusions of this fleeting world, that asks a sense of reverence and awe from us, that intentionally reminds us of how significant our relationship with God is and invites us into a celebration of that divine love.  Unfortunately, we know how increasingly difficult it is to find sacred times and sacred places as God is continually pushed out of society.  What a treasure we have among us here!

As with any house, “God’s house” needs some tender loving care.  We wanted to give you an update about just some of the projects we have undertaken together with the leadership councils of the parish to keep the whole of St. Mary’s campus a place of welcome, safety, holiness, functionality, beauty, where spiritual life can grow and live and thrive, so that we can be at home with God.   Here at St. Mary’s, we want to afford all those who come to “God’s house” for whatever reason a sacred time and place to encounter God and grow in their relationship with Him as disciples.

The Catholic Education Office: completed over the summer of last year, this has allowed for better collaboration and sharing of resources between our School and Faith Formation for the spiritual growth of all our parishioners great and small.  Our staff and faculty continue to do amazing ministry in our formation!  We have also upgraded the phone system for better functionality in this Internet age.

The Chapel: filled already with much history and many happy memories, the Chapel continues to inspire reverence and awe in our worship.  The  interior painting by Swiatek Studios reflects this inspiration and highlights some of its historical character.  Some of the windows in need of repair have been saved.  The pulpit has been pulled out of storage and restored.  The bells have been fixed and daily call us to prayer.  There are maintenance plans in the works through a generous donor to ensure the organ continues to make beautiful music.

Sidewalks and School Steps: over time, heaving, cracking, and eroding foundations have given way to some safety concerns.  We have invested in doing these projects right so as to keep us in good shape for the years to come.

Soccer Field: poor drainage and grading renders the field unplayable for good portions of the Spring sports seasons and has led to uneven terrain and unsafe playing conditions at times.  This project to add proper drainage throughout the field as well as elevate and regrade it is now underway.

Cemetery: out of respect for our beloved dead and the hope that is held in store for them at the resurrection, the statues, fencing, and trees have all been given attention to this past year.  May they rest in peace.

HVAC units for gym and cafeteria: the original units installed when the parish center was constructed have deteriorated and one unit needs serious repair that would otherwise leave us without heat in the winter.  With maintenance and such units becoming more expensive, now was the time to invest in new heating and air conditioning units.  These will be installed in October.

Speakers in the Church: how many times have we found it difficult to hear what is being said in Church?  Don’t worry, we ‘heard’ your feedback.  Romans 10:14 says, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?”  This upgrade coming in October will fill in the many dead spots of our current arrangement so that we may listen to God’s word, spoken to us at Mass.

Security Updates: members from the Erie County Sheriff’s Department conducted a walkthrough of our campus over the summer.  While giving us some considerations for security in this day and age, they were impressed with what we have in place and are doing to keep our parishioners and guests safe already.  More information to come.

As you can see, good things continue to happen at St. Mary’s!  Your generous support has made all this possible.  And yet, this work is an ongoing one, and there still exists many possibilities in which we need your continued support and sponsorship to carry St. Mary’s into the future.  Thank you for taking the ownership of making this spiritual house, a home.

  ~Fr. Luke

Soccer Field Update to be Complete End of September

Soccer Field Update to be Complete End of September

Soccer Field Update to be Complete End of September

Work continues on St. Mary’s soccer field. After the filling and grading, we should be able to hydroseed by the end of the month! We will finally have a well-drained safe field for our entire faith community to use!

Synod Voices Continue to Be Heard

Synod Voices Continue to Be Heard

Synod Voices Continue to Be Heard

Remember that earlier this year our Diocese participated in the worldwide Synod called for by Pope Francis. Well, now the results from ALL of the Dioceses in the US have been consolidated and are available at the USCCB website at the link below. We encourage you to read this extraordinary document – and notice how so many of the same comments throughout the country match the results of our own Diocesan Listening Session. 
September 18, 2022 – 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 18, 2022 – 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 18, 2022 – 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority even, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity.  Words from our 2nd Reading today from the 1st letter of St. Paul to Timothy – sisters and brothers, may the Lord give to you his peace and his joy.

Once upon a time a tortoise and a hare had an argument about who was faster and decided to settle it with a race.  Seeing that the hare was far ahead, he thought he’d sit under a tree for some time and take a break before continuing the race.  He sat down and soon fell asleep.  The tortoise plodded on and overtook the hare finishing as the champion.  The moral of the story is one of wisdom and quality: slow and steady wins the race. 

This is the version of the story that we’ve all grown up with, but the story continues.  You see, the hare was disappointed at losing, and realized that he’d lost the race because he was overconfident and careless.  So, he challenged the tortoise to another race.  They started off, but this time, the hare went all out and ran without stopping from start to finish and won by several miles.  The moral of this continued story: It’s good to be slow and steady; but it’s better to be fast and reliable.  This might well be the motto of corporate America.

And yet, the story still doesn’t end there.  The tortoise did some thinking this time, and realized that there’s no way he can beat the hare in a race the way it was currently formatted.  He then challenged the hare to another race on a slightly different route.  The hare agreed and so they started off.  The hare sprinted ahead until he came to a broad river, but the hare didn’t know what to do.  In the meantime, the tortoise shuffled along, got into the river, swam to the opposite bank, continued walking, and finished the race.  The moral of the story?  Learn to change the playing field to suit your situation.  You could say this is what is happening in our culture and government. 

Alas, the story still is not over.  Now, by this time, the tortoise and hare had become pretty good friends and so they did some thinking together.  Both realized that the last race as a whole could have been run much better.  The tortoise and hare thus decided to do the last race again, but this time they would run as a team.  They started off, and the hare carried the tortoise until they reached the riverbank.  There, the tortoise took over and swam across with the hare on his back, and on the opposite bank, they reached the finish line together.  Both the tortoise and the hare felt a greater sense of accomplishment than before.  The moral of the story: when we try to get the best of each other, someone inevitably loses.  But when we genuinely work together, as the hare and tortoise did, we can complete the course in a faster time than anyone could on their own, and we can finish the race as winners and as friends.  

We heard two stories from our readings today focused on getting the best of each other.  The first reading was about the selfishness of the merchants in the time of Amos, the prophet.  These store merchants cheated their customers by fixing the scales and increased their prices.  Think of it as the clerk tampering with your credit card transactions at the cash register.  Essentially, they changed the playing field against the poor so as to make and keep themselves rich.  Amos was right to call them out and criticize them.  We also hear in our Gospel about the dishonest steward.  The steward cheated the debtors by writing much larger promissory notes than what was originally owed on their loans to his master.  When the master found out about the stewards’ extortion, he had the servant fired.  These readings prompt us all to think about the place of money in our lives.  The steward realized that wealth is a small matter but divine riches are a great matter.  As the steward was cleaning out his office and about to leave the business, he came upon the realization that if we go around trying to get the best of each other, sooner or later someone is going to lose out.  He thus changed his attitude and rather than focusing on his own profitability, he began to look out for the good of all involved.  The benefits of him rewriting the loans are maybe not readily apparent in the Gospel, but by fairly and justly rewriting the loans owed to the master, everyone would be better off: the debtors would have reduced and affordable rates to which they initially agreed to anyway; the master would get what was originally and truly owed to him; and the steward would be more likely to be received into society because of his newfound teamwork ethic and selflessness. 

I suppose at times we are very much like the hare and tortoise, or like the merchants and the dishonest stewards.  We are competitive, and we live in a world that rewards competition, where only the best and strongest and fittest and the most intelligent win access to the finite number of resources available whether it be jobs or emotional attention or the opportunities to quote unquote ‘get ahead’ of everybody else in the race of life, presuming we know what life is about and what makes for happiness anyway.  And when we find ourselves left out and compare ourselves to the successes of others, we end up putting others down out of envy to elevate our own standing, or we find ways to change the playing field against them.  And yet, our vision for the Church is extraordinarily large.  As St. Paul reminds us in our second reading, “God wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.”  We are a universal Church.  God’s vision is not just for those who are slow and steady like the tortoise or for the fast and reliable like the hare nor is it reserved for the clever, but rather the beatific vision that we hold as Church is for everyone: known and forgotten, rich and poor, big and small alike.  St. Paul reasons that since Jesus gave himself up on the cross for the salvation of all, for everyone, we are therefore to rise above ourselves and work and pray for the welfare of everyone in the same manner as Christ.  As long as we try to get the best of each other, someone will lose out.  But instead of trying to get the best of each other, we should be striving to get the best out of each other.  God made us who we are, and has a plan and a role for each of us.  We are all on the same team here, trying to accomplish the same ultimate goal of getting to heaven.  In a Church and world full of differences and divisions, may God grant us the gift of communion.

Bishop Mike’s Letter Celebrates Catechists

Bishop Mike’s Letter Celebrates Catechists

Bishop Mike’s Letter Celebrates Catechists

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is with great joy that we celebrate, as Church, this important occasion of Catechetical Sunday, this Sunday, September 18, 2022. The Church, in the United States, celebrates Catechetical Sunday, a day especially set aside, to give thanks to God for the faithful service and witness of those who hand on the salvific message of the Gospel. In our Diocese, there are numerous volunteer catechists and parents, who teach the Faith to the children and their families, enrolled in our parish religious education programs.

The theme of this year’s Catechetical Sunday is: “This is My Body given for you”. Let us recall the words of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel (22:15) “He said to them, I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” As Pope Francis reminds us, in his Apostolic Letter: Desiderio Desidervadi, “These words of Jesus, with which the account of the Last Supper opens, are the crevice through which we are given the surprising possibility of intuiting the depth of the love of the persons of the Most Holy Trinity for us.”

Jesus eagerly desires to share His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in the Eucharistic Supper.  We in turn become strengthened and edified, and through this intimate reception of His Holy Body, we recognize that our Faith is a gift that is meant to be shared. On this Catechetical Sunday, we give thanks for all who hand on our Faith to others, including parents, catechists, and teachers who lead children, adolescents, and adults to encounter the love of Jesus Christ. These members of Christ’s body, accompany those they teach, inviting them to a deeper connection with the Body of Christ, the Church. What a beautiful privilege this is, as well as a great responsibility!

Pope Francis draws our attention, to this call of evangelization, in his Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio, Antiquum Ministerium: Instituting the Ministry of the Catechist”6). It requires that the laity “seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will” (cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 31.) In their daily life, interwoven with family and social relationships, the laity come to realize that they “are given this special vocation: to make the Church present and fruitful in those places and circumstances where it is only through them that she can become the salt of the earth” (ibid., 33).

As the Diocese of Buffalo joins the Church, throughout the United States, to celebrate Catechetical Sunday, may we continue to pray for all parents, guardians, catechists, and teachers — who through their dedication and witness, become the salt of the earth, spreading the Good News, in each unique encounter of the human heart.

Sincerely in Christ, 

Most Reverend Michael Fisher                                                                                                                              

Bishop of Buffalo