Pastor's Message - June 24, 2018
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you,
a prophet to the nations I appointed you”. ~Jeremiah 1
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
This past Tuesday our St. Rita School hosted their annual end of the year "Blue and Gold” field day celebration. Teachers, staff, and many volunteer parents provided assistance with outdoor games, grilled hot dogs, bagged fruit, potato chips, cookies and frozen ice treats. Visits from our local first responders during the event added to the excitement. It ended with the traditional "Tug of War" games between classes and even between former graduates of St. Rita School who came back to participate. Thank you to all the parents, the wonderful St. Rita school staff and our own students for another happy and successful academic year. Summer vacation time now begins!
This weekend we celebrate the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. While we often focus on the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary and the subsequent birth of Christ as described in the Gospel of Luke, we also have many details about John the Baptist. In the very first chapter of the Gospel of Luke we read, "In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly." Both Elizabeth and Zechariah longed for a child but they were still childless and getting "along in years."
When Zechariah was chosen by lot to perform special duties at the temple, he suddenly sees an angel of the Lord standing at the altar and is fearful. "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard" said the angel. "Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. John will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn their hearts toward their children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.”
Because of his stunned disbelief at what was said by the angel, Zechariah emerges from the temple unable to speak a single word until the day his son is born and he is named John.
Mary also heard that her cousin Elizabeth was pregnant, so she traveled "in haste" to the country of Judah to assist. Upon Mary’s arrival, Elizabeth felt the infant stir in her womb leaping for joy. So even from his mother's womb, John recognized Christ.
Years later, at the river Jordan, John would be baptizing speaking of repentance and pointing the way toward Jesus. Jesus would also come to the river to be baptized by John. A voice from heaven would proclaim, "This is my beloved son, listen to him!" Luke 9:35
From that moment forward, Jesus would begin his ministry and command his disciples to also baptized, preach and proclaim the Word of the Lord. We continue that same mission today.
May God bless you and have a happy summer!
Pastor's Message - June 17, 2018
"To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” ~Mark 4
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
Many, many thanks to all who offered me their congratulations and cards after the Masses last weekend on my 25th Anniversary of my Ordination!
Last Wednesday we celebrated our final school Mass and our annual "Moving Up " ceremony for our children ending the school academic year. On Friday evening we had a special ceremony for our Fifth Graders as they prepare to move on to area middle schools. The occasion is always a moving one for parents, grandparents and teachers as new milestones are reached by our young 5th graders. When I first came to St. Rita as pastor six years ago, these same fifth graders were once kindergartners!
For all parents and grandparents who share in the joy and accomplishments of their children, teenagers or young adults, know the St. Rita parish and school community shares also your joy. Our young people are a great blessing to their families, our church community and the world in which we live. They are a living sign of God's providence and are graced by your own parental love and guidance.
May God bless you!
Pastor's Message - June 10, 2018
“Go and teach all nations, says the Lord;
I am with you always, until the end of the world.” ~Luke 3:4,6
Thank you to everyone for helping me celebrate my 25th Anniversary of my Ordination. I am so blessed to be a priest in the Rochester Diocese for 25 years and to have had the blessings of supportive parents and family and to have known so many wonderful parishioners, fellow priests, and the kind shepherding of my ordaining Emeritus Bishop Clark and Bishop Matano. Remember, we all have the responsibility to encourage vocations to the priesthood. Vocations do not drop down from heaven. They come from families like your own. We can encourage and challenge our young people to think bigger – it has been a remarkable 25 years for me!
Registration is underway for our St. Rita Faith Formation and Sacramental Programs. You can find all of our programs and online registrations on our website here.
Be sure to sign your children up for our annual St. Rita Vacation Bible School to be held August 6-10. It will be a fun week here! You can register online here - any questions, please contact Elizabeth – remember All Are Welcome!
May God bless you!
Pastor's Message - June 3, 2018
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven, says the Lord;
whoever eats this bread will live forever.” ~John 6
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
Happy Fiesta! I wish to extend a special thank you for our Fiesta Planning Committee who worked countless hours to prepare, plan and run our Annual Fiesta. Many thanks also to the 400+ volunteers who helped with setup, cleanup and staffing all of the great booths and activities! I am grateful for the support of our many sponsors and vendors and especially for the generous support of Isaac Heating and Air Conditioning and Vision Automotive Group who helped make this event possible. It is a wonderful tradition of live music, food and family fun and of course, and winning a car, that has been in effect for 64 years!
This weekend is also of great significance because it is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Through the gift of the Holy Eucharist, Jesus literally gives of himself to us so that we can be nourished and saved.
The account we read in today's Gospel from Mark 14, tells us all about this Pascal meal. God loved us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to us so that we could be nourished with a heavenly manna that is true food for eternal life. Now that love from God is a wild and crazy sort of love! Each time we come to Mass and gather with our brothers and sisters and eat of this bread, we receive the living Jesus who deeply loves us and wants to nourish us... “...come to me all you who labor and are weary, and I will give you rest!” This gift of the Most Holy Eucharist also allows us to BE Jesus to one another. When we receive Holy Communion, we partake in a sacramental union that serves as a direct connection to God. Jesus’ living body and blood enters into our very flesh. There is no earthly treasure that matches this gift from God!
God adopted our human nature so that we could be brought back to Him. Adam and Eve lost this perfect union with God by making a choice to sin. Unfortunately their choice (and we don't know the full nature of that choice) but it caused great and lasting awful harm to their children and their children's children. (Remember Cain and Abel?)
Sinful choices are like the flu. Flu can spread easily and affect others just as our own deliberate sinful choices can. And flu, like sinful choices, can have deadly consequences.
We needed God's help to repair what we human beings cannot fix. A "divine vaccination", so to speak, that can only come from the grace and mercy of God.
So in the merciful plan of God, a young Mary would hear the words of the Angel Gabriel, and she would courageously and trustingly say “Yes” to God by accepting this new life conceived within her. Jesus would be brought into the world, into a humble stable in a manger, God's only Son. Imagine that! Because Jesus was conceived in the Immaculate womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, God would, in parallel, make our own human nature worthy of love right from conception. This new reality is proclaimed through baptism and makes us brothers and sisters. No longer are we mere creatures of the world, but we become sons and daughters of God through Jesus.
As human life is not possible without the cooperation of parents according to the amazing plan of God, so too is our salvation not possible without the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus. Life is a gift from the hand of God. Let us not be sold on those who loudly proclaim a message contrary to our Catholic faith and moral teaching.
Instead, let us pray for one another and ask God to gently heal us and transform us into the image of God we are meant to become.
May God bless you!
Pastor's Message - May 27, 2018
"Brothers and sisters: Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him." ~Romans 8
Dear Parishioners and Friends:
Our annual St. Rita Fiesta begins next Friday and Saturday. Lots of food, live music, games and a great car show! Bring the whole family!
A special thank you goes out to our Fiesta planning committee who have donated countless hours in organization and sponsorship promotion and to our generous sponsors for helping us make it all possible.
Note that next weekend, because of the Fiesta, the Saturday evening mass will be at 4pm. There will be golf cart taxis at the ready to assist people in arriving to the front door of church.
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. It is because of Jesus that we can begin to understand the Trinitarian mystery of God. Jesus made countless references to his relationship to his Heavenly Father. In the Gospel of John we read, "I and the Father are one."(John 10:30) On the same page we also read the phrase... "He who sees me sees the Father." John 12:45) Jesus never distinguishes himself as separate or apart from his Heavenly Father's person or His will. Jesus and His Father are of a perfect unity.
In John 15:26, Jesus also tells the disciples he would send his disciples an "Advocate - the Spirit of Truth" who would come to them from the Father to help and guide them. Years later, in the year 325, a synod of Bishops from around the world came together to define in writing the current description of what we now call the "Nicene Creed." Here is the Nicene Creed below with a few of my personal notes added:
"I believe in one God, (Christians understand God as ONE God-not separate gods) the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible (everything we know and don't yet know ultimately comes from the hand of God) I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God,(and fully God) born of the Father before all ages- (Jesus exists eternally even before his incarnation) God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, (perfect being) consubstantial (means Jesus is one and the same) with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men (and women too!) and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man (Jesus is God who becomes also human flesh because of the Virgin Mary). For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end. (In the second coming of Jesus, we will render an accounting of our lives)
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. (The Holy Spirit is also fully God) I believe in one, holy, catholic (the word catholic means universal) and apostolic Church. (Our faith is clearly rooted in the eyewitness testimony of the Apostles.) I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins (baptism removes our separation from God due to original sin) and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come." (Jesus promises us eternal life with Him!)
Imagine eternal life with God with all of our dreams fulfilled! No more death, illness, sin and hatred, bloodshed, disease, torment, or harm.
Let us draw closer to the Holy Trinity through the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist and help our family and our fellow brothers and sisters to do the same.
May God bless you this week.