Prayer of Thanksgiving
Generous and loving God, We give you thanks for the opportunity to gather together once again with our fellow believers in Your name and in Your house, to hear Your Word proclaimed and to receive the Eucharist, the Body of you Son, Jesus. May we remember the physical distance we endured and let it bring us closer to You and to Your people. We continue to pray for those who suffer; those who care for them; and those who mourn for the loss of loved ones. We give thanks, too, for all those who worked each day, putting the safety of others before their own. With you love, may our faith remain strong, our desire to serve be steadfast and our willingness to share our resources sacrificially in Your name deepen our faith. We ask this and all things through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
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Lay Witness Weekend
This weekend we invite one of our own parishioners to share their personal witness with regard to their love for our parish community, their experience of not being able to celebrate the Eucharist at Church during the pandemic and their time away from ministry and the Sacraments.
Our fellow parishioners will also challenge us to reflect upon the gifts which God has given to us and how we can share these gifts with our parish community so that we may continue to spread the Gospel.
We ask that you open your hearts and minds to the words of your neighbors and hear their stories of faith, love and generosity.
PLEASE KEEP IN MIND:
This appeal, invites parishioners to consider THREE requests:
Recovery Appeal Gift: Due to the suspension of Masses, many parishioners have been unable to share their gifts of treasure with our parish community. As part of this Appeal, we are inviting these families to consider a recovery gift as illustrated below:
Usual Weekly Offertory Weeks without Public Mass Total Gift
$20 $10 $200
Weekly Offertory Increase: We are all aware that there are some members of our parish community that at this time cannot support our parish as they would wish to due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The second request in this Appeal is for those families who are able, to consider increasing their weekly contribution by 20-40% to assist the parish during this time when some families may have to suspend or limit their weekly contributions due to being financially impacted by the pandemic.
If you are able to help click here to make an on-line payment
Share your Time: Many of our most dedicated and engaged stewards fall into the high-risk category. In an effort to keep them safe, we are extending this special request to those who are able, to pray about a call to ministry. These unprecedented times have also created an opportunity for new ministries!
Councils: Finance or Pastoral
Committees: Education; Family Life; Sacred Worship; Social Concerns; Stewardship
Together, as we continue to physically Reunite as one community and Rebuild our parish, may we Rejoice in the Lord’s goodness today and always!
Lay Witness Weekend Reunite, Rebuild, Rejoice 7-12-2020
Family members: Gary (can fix anything!), Theresa (altar server, now as an adult teaches 5th grade CCD and trains servers) & Tim (plays guitar/trumpet and helps with server training). I love seeing my adult kids get involved! I love it even more when we all get involved together (i.e. Madrigal dinner).
I grew up in a family that was always involved in church ministries & activities. So, getting involved here about 25 years ago was natural. I’ve worn many hats as family obligations have changed over the years. There was a time I couldn’t do much because the kids were really little, but I needed to be involved in some small way to feel like a part of this community. I’ve always really enjoyed music so getting involved in this ministry was one thing I could do. Eventually I had enough courage to try cantoring and found that it filled me with an incredible joy. Later when Fr. Max was here, I felt a tug to become an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion & found this to be a fulfilling ministry especially when it involves the sick or homebound. I love how someone’s eyes light up when you walk in the room! I currently serve on the Pastoral Council and felt another tug at the heart to go through the Lay Formation Program with Father’s approval. I have since been commissioned by the Bishop as a Leader of Prayer which has opened doors I didn’t think possible. My involvement in various ministries and activities have led me quite literally to fall in love with all of you in this community but most importantly, with Jesus.
Mike Juris asked if I would be willing to speak with you about my experiences during this pandemic. I am humbled to be here yet grateful for the opportunity to verbalize what I’ve been feeling. I am confident that all of you could share how you’ve been impacted as well.
I am not going to lie, it’s been hard! ~5 yrs ago I made a point to attend at least one daily Mass/wk as my schedule allowed. I found on days that I didn’t go I wished I had because something was missing. It brought a sense of peace to my life which I desperately needed. So I started to schedule it into my days. Prior to COVID 19 I was attending Mass 3-4 times per week because I realized how much I needed that dedicated time to talk with Jesus one on one, to receive His living, beating heart into my own, and to be in a community of believers. It brought the strength I needed to endure life’s struggles, peace & joy. (On occasion I was graced with hearing someone comment “strong woman” or “Michelle you are so understanding”, I smile because I know the source. I would then I invite them to stop in to talk anytime or be bold enough to invite them to attend Mass with me (some do!). Life gets real exciting when you decide to put Jesus first.) When word came that we would no longer be able to receive the Holy Eucharist I mourned the loss of physically being able to receive Jesus, but at least I could still talk with Him at any time of the day or night. All I had to do was say His name. When word came that we could no longer have the alternative Masses, I felt abandoned and stripped of the things that were critically important to my well-being. Jesus truly present in the Eucharist, the easy access to the sacrament of reconciliation, seeing & talking with you, members of this beloved community, singing for my Lord at Mass…all the things that brought incredible joy to my life. You can imagine the joy of receiving Jesus after all those weeks. I am reminded of a reflection from the Word Among Us for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, “Without the nourishment of the Eucharist, God’s life in us can slowly start to drain away.” Case in point! Everything seemed to be more difficult!
No doubt the pandemic has impacted and challenged you as well, all of us are enduring something we never thought we would. Some of you may be experiencing financial difficulties, some may be experiencing anxiety or depression, some may have thought they effectively dealt with something from the past only to find it resurface again, some may have had a loved one hospitalized only to find you couldn’t visit them, or worse yet lost a loved one and been faced with the challenge of limiting the number of family that could attend the funeral, or maybe struggled with how to handle no graduation.
Honk if you can relate to anything I’ve said ---
For any of you that don’t know me, my name is Trish Cohen. I have been a member of St. Mary of Mount Carmel my whole life.
I made all my sacraments there including the sacrament of marriage, almost 23 years ago to my very best friend, Adam. Together we have been blessed with 4 beautiful children that are growing up way too fast.
I remember when they were all very young and we would sit in the front of church, so they could see what the priest and servers were doing on the altar during the Mass. We would explain to them what was taking place right in front of us. How our Lord and our Savior loved us so very much that he not only died on the cross from us, but he now comes to us at every Mass in such a very beautiful and intimate way…. to be with us, to live IN us, and to show us his love and mercy. We would tell them that during the Mass, we get to touch and to feel heaven, with all the angels and saints and with all of our loved ones that have passed.
I remember then watching them, sitting and staring at the altar in awe and with such faith. Even though they couldn’t see anything, they never doubted God’s presence. They would put their little hands together and close their eyes to say a prayer. Even if that moment only lasted a short time, it still melted my heart and only helped my faith to grow stronger. It confirmed that even though it wasn’t easy bringing 4 little ones to church every week, I knew it was where God wanted us to be. I knew it was teaching them the importance of us spending time with God and most importantly, to appreciate the greatest gift we could ever receive…..the Eucharist.
St. Mary’s is not just a church to us. It’s home to us. It’s a place where we feel safe. With all the chaos that is going on in the world today, our churches are a place to find God’s peace and mercy.
These past months have been trying for all of us as we are now adjusting to our new normal. For me, it has given me time to reflect and realize there are a lot of things in this life that we spend so much time and energy on, that we really don’t need, and I can honestly say, I don’t miss all the busyness and running. But I’ve also learned, there is one thing I can’t live without. Coming back to Mass and receiving the Eucharist. We need this to sustain our life and to give us strength, and to build our relationship with the one who created us out of love… our God.
Our family has been so very grateful to Father Dan, who so quickly acted after the state put on restrictions to our gatherings, to set up these parking lot masses. Though it did make us sad that we could not receive the Eucharist, it also brought us comfort to still be able to share in the celebration with our fellow parishioners. I think the first parking lot mass we came to there were only 10 cars, but by the time Holy Week came along I remember pulling in on Good Friday, and seeing a parking lot full of cars. It gave me chills and made me feel so blessed to be a part of this parish. Coming to these masses throughout all of this made us realize we were a part of something much bigger than ourselves.
Our parishes are more than just the buildings. We are a community of people. More importantly, WE are a community of believers. We know the power of prayer. We know the power of the Eucharist. That’s why we are here today! We are the body of Christ here on earth. For our God has no hands or feet or voice here on earth. So it is through our hands, through our feet and through our voices HE works.
We need to be the presence of God to those around us. We need to NOT let these obstacles tear our family apart, but make us fight to rebuild our parish community so that we can be Christ to each other.
How do we keep our parish strong? I ask each of you today, to think about the gifts that God has given YOU. And now I ask you to pray. Pray for God to lead you where he needs you most. God gives each of us gifts; gifts that make us unique; gifts that we can use to help build our parish and build his kingdom.
Are you financially able to give a little more in your weekly contributions? Or maybe just an extra one-time gift to help make up for some of the funds that did not come in during these last few months?
Are you a good reader? Do you like working with children? Have you ever considered being a Eucharistic minister or a greeter?
Both of our parishes need volunteers. We need greeters, people on our councils and committees, lectors, ushers, servers, catechist.
This is OUR parish…this is OUR community …..OUR own family in faith.
My prayer for our parish, my prayer for each of you, is that we look beyond all the craziness that is going on in the world today and know that there is still good happening. Let us be a part of that good. Our Lord is with us. Our Lord has never left us. But we must also know that he needs us, and he needs us to use our gifts for his good. Let us be the feet of God, the hands of God and voice of our God. I pray that we can have faith like that of a child, and let us start today by uniting and building OUR parish family. Please prayerfully consider what gifts God has given you to share, and always….always rejoice in the Lords goodness!
Thank you for your time!