The statue of Welcoming Jesus is beautifully placed in front of the entrance to our church. The open arms of the Lord remind all of us that he truly welcomes us every time we enter the church. The statue also reminds us that this is how our parish must be: all of us must welcome everyone who comes here in the spirit of Christ. We are all truly blessed to have this image in front of our church.

But there is another image, just as important. In the parking lot, on a bench, is the image of Homeless Jesus. He is only recognizable by the nail wounds in his feet. The statue is realistic, and hopefully it catches our eye as we walk from the parking lot to the entrance of the church. Hopefully it reminds us that Christ identifies himself with the poor; what we do for them, we do for him.

The United States Bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development has designated January as Poverty Awareness Month. We can’t let the month go by without reflecting on the fact that more than 37 million Americans live in poverty. What can we do to help? Here are a few ideas:

  • Pray for all who are poor, and pray for an end to poverty

  • Support the ministry of our parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society, which helps those in need

  • Support the great work of FAM (Family Assistance Ministries), which partners with our parish in helping families in need

  • Visit to become informed about this important issue

Let’s make sure we recognize the Lord and respond to him in the poor and needy. We may not see wounded feet, but his image and likeness is still there. Let’s give him the love and honor he deserves.

Gratefully Yours,

In the picture above, you can see me signing one of the beams that will go into our new Pastoral Center. Last weekend we gave all parishioners a chance to sign the beams, and a lot of you signed. It was fun to see people gathered around the two beams after every Mass, and to see all the signatures that were there by Sunday night. But that’s not all! On Monday all the students of our Parish School were given the opportunity to sign as well. Now the beams are covered with signatures: people of all ages, from all backgrounds, have all made their mark on these structural parts of the new Pastoral Center.

Meanwhile, everyone has been enjoying our new Narthex, which will be blessed at the beginning of each Mass this weekend. It is a great place for people to calm themselves before entering the church proper, as well as a nice place to greet each other and talk after Mass. In this way the church proper is maintained as a quiet, sacred space for people to pray, and at the same time we can enjoy being together as a community.

Another event which I am anticipating with great joy is our second Evening of Encounter, which will be in the church on January 20th from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm. Our first Evening of Encounter (last October) was well attended, and it received great response from all who participated. No doubt those who enjoyed it the first time will come again. But if you did not come

to the Evening in October, I really hope you will come this time and experience what people are talking about: a free-flowing gathering of people (of all faith backgrounds), brought together by their desire to encounter the presence of Christ in a special way; the inspiration of a strong, relatable message; the incomparable music of Johnny Oskam and his band; the Eucharistic Presence of the Lord on the altar; the availability of prayer partners for individual prayer; and the list could go on. I hope to see you there, and I hope you’ll bring a friend with you.

Gratefully Yours,

This Sunday we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The Gospels present to us a marvelous scene: Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist, and the Holy Spirit descends upon him in the form of a dove, and the voice of God the Father is heard proclaiming, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

In celebrating this feast, we have more than a mere commemoration of a past event. We also have a reminder of our own baptism. When we were baptized, no dove was seen and the voice of God the Father was not heard; but the Holy Spirit did come upon us and we became the beloved children of God. This is the glorious reality of our baptism. “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.” (1 Jn. 3:1)

Rejoicing as God’s beloved children, we realize that we are abundantly blessed. Let’s continue to treasure the life of grace that comes to us through the sacraments, and let’s use God’s blessings for his glory and the good of all his children.

Gratefully Yours,