From Our Pastor: Pentecost Sunday
Pentecost is a feast day like no other! This is the birth of the Church where the apostles received the promised Holy Spirit! In this moment the apostles who were hiding in fear now run into the world to preach the gospel without fear! How spectacular this moment in the Church! The Holy Spirit takes these terrified people and launches them out into the world uninhibited to spread the message of Jesus Christ! Just think if we did this too as a parish! If we allowed ourselves to be moved by the spirit to overcome our fears and barriers to preach the gospel! We can start in small ways.
First and foremost, allow yourself to overcome the fear of reaching out to strangers and visitors in the pews around you. Get to know those people that ALWAYS sit near you and welcome those people you’ve never seen before! We have got to be better at this as a parish! I have heard horror stories of people who told someone to move out of their pew or, even worse, someone who got up to take their child to the bathroom and someone came and took their seat while they were gone, separating them from their children because as they stated when the person returned with their child from the restroom, ‘this is my seat’. I wish I was making this up. I hope everyone realizes no matter how often you have sat in one location or how long, it is not your pew unless you want to start reserving that pew like the old days for a good quarter million-dollar fee, then maybe we can talk! We must be better than this. The other day at one of the daily masses a family of around 7 came in a little late because they had never joined us before at daily mass. Of course, everybody was sitting spaced out as everyone is accustomed to doing but when this family of seven came in, they could not all sit together because no one naturally just got up and moved over to make space. I was able to catch this family and sadly, although they didn’t feel rejected, they did not feel particularly welcomed. Think of the difference it could have made if two people could have moved over to allow this family to sit together with young children in their first experience at Saint Francis. We’ve got to do better.
Our parish is growing if you haven’t noticed, which is a great thing, but with growing comes the work that we must do to reach out to people who are coming for the first time just to visit or who are seeking a home permanently. If we all start to get out of our comfort zone and allow the Holy Spirit to move in us to welcome others, we can have an immense affect on the life of faith of a complete stranger. And that complete stranger can move into someone that we have a deep and lasting relationship with by simple acts of kindness to welcome them and let them know we want them here. Help them to know which book to use. Or when to kneel or sit or stand. Or where the prayer is for after the intercessions. Or maybe for the daily mass goers what the antiphons and prayers are in the pray together and what page. Or even for daily mass goers on Tuesday to help people know to grab a prayer card for the prayer in devotion of Saint Anthony of Padua. Maybe keep an extra one with you so that when someone comes in and looks lost or is even late you can just hand them one to let them know you care and want them there. Help people know where the bathrooms are or invite them to coffee and doughnuts or one of the pancake breakfasts or chicken dinners. Smile at one another or actually shake each other’s hands at the sign of peace. Or learn someone’s name! Bring a friend, neighbor or co-worker to Church with you! If you meet a new friend or visitor at mass, bring them over to meet the priest or the deacon to make a connection. These are all just very simple acts of kindness and hospitality that will move someone from visiting to staying for life. How powerful the Holy Spirit moment to just say yes to being loving and kind and welcoming. We can do this!
I know we can. Allow this Pentecost to not only inspire you and what the apostles did but to inspire you to do simple welcoming wonders in the gift of the Holy Spirit! Help us to grow by helping others to know God loves them and not only does he want them here but so do we as a parish family! This is our Pentecost!
Thanks to everyone for a great school year! Thank you to our teachers and staff and principal for all their hard work! Thank you to our parents for making Catholic education a priority! Remember Catholic education begins with Sunday mass and doesn’t take a break in the summer! Keep coming to mass and keep seeing the awesome opportunity of teaching your children the gift of faith and relationship with the Lord! A blessed summer to all!
May is special for us priests as we celebrate our anniversaries of being ordained. I celebrated nine years of priesthood May 24 and Fr. Rafal celebrated six years May 27. Please remember in your prayers our newly ordained deacons from our diocese who were ordained Friday May 26.
-Rev. Steven Arisman