Friday, November 5, 2010

Our "Pledge Sunday Letter"

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

With heartfelt thanks for your previous support to the Church of St. Mark, I ask you to renew and increase your commitment to our parish.

As you have heard at Mass, and seen in our financial report, our parish is in serious trouble. Our expenses exceeded our income by $346,000 last year.

I ask you to prayerfully consider giving at least 2 percent of your gross income to the church.

The Biblical standard for the return we make to God is a “tithe,” or 10 percent. Some parishioners sacrifice to meet that standard now, and many others already give more than 2 percent.

For some parishioners, any contribution is a sacrifice that God treasures as he treasured the “widow’s mite.” But far too many people fail to support the church in any significant way.

Three weeks ago, we got the good news from the archdiocese that our church will remain open and active. We also were instructed by the archdiocese to work with other area Catholic schools to write a three-year plan for making our school sustainable in terms of finances and enrollment. We can, and must, do that.

How many of us spend more on cable television than we give to God? How many of us are so zealous about saving for retirement that we neglect God, who offers us eternal life?

All of us at St. Mark’s – the people who have been here for generations, and newcomers, like me – are privileged to be part of a faith community that meets our spiritual needs in so many ways.

We have the Mass, the sacraments and other forms of worship continually available. I see many new people, including many college students, at our Masses. I hear young families talking of buying homes in the neighborhood so they can be part of St. Mark’s. I am proud that many more parishioners are regularly going to confession. We have a growing group of people coming together on Friday evenings to venerate the Blessed Sacrament. We have 90 people, young and old, gathering for Bible study. We have wonderful music at our liturgies. We have thriving small church communities.

We have a school that, since 1912, has provided a Catholic education with high academic standards to thousands of children. We now celebrate a weekly school Mass. That school must grow and prosper. We are starting a pre-school program. We have a growing group of youngsters in Faith Formation, and we offer pre-school Sunday school and Liturgy of the Word classes for our children. We have dynamic youth groups for middle school through college-age parishioners.

We have a wonderfully competent and committed parish staff.

We have a group of women who for 25 years have offered prayers for anyone who calls the Parish Center and requests prayer. Another group knits prayer shawls for the sick. Our staff and volunteers take the Eucharist to the home bound and those in nursing homes. We are starting a Respect Life movement. Volunteers provide meals to the homeless three times a month. The Council of Catholic Women put on amazing rummage sales. I have seen how hard these women and men work. We have men meeting for prayer every Saturday. The kids at our 9:30 Mass helped St. Mark’s give 4,000 pounds of food to the Merriam Park food shelf last year. We have a parish festival, a parish play and a play for children.

I know I have forgotten many equally important activities of our parish. But what Catholic would not want to be part of a parish like this? What priest would not be proud to be its pastor? I am proud of what St. Mark’s has been, what it is and is becoming – a Strong Family United in Christ.

We are accomplishing all these things with only part of our family contributing financially. Think what we can accomplish if we all give more generously and work together to bring new people to St. Mark’s to fill our church pews and our school classrooms.

Please give generously to preserve, and to build, this parish, this Strong Family United in Christ. God will never let us be more generous than he is.

Father Humberto Palomino, P.E.S

Friday, October 8, 2010

Let the children come to me... (Mk 10, 13-16)

And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child 2 will not enter it." Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them. (Mk 10, 13-16)
When we look at the apostles trying to be babysitters may be a comical scene for us. Less funny is thinking all the world, our contemporary world working hard so that children do can't come to Jesus. And so, as messengers of holy indignation suffered by our Lord at the time, it is our duty to do everything so that your children can go to Him and receive His Abundant blessings.

To keep the children away from Jesus the world is trying to erase all boundaries between good and evil, so that the word "sin" never appears, the notion of guilt does not exist and the only engine of life are there interests, personal options and personal benefits. If they have a  malformed soul and never discover their own responsibility before God and there brothers and sisters, and therefore never feel they need of someone and finally God's grace to reach their true and full self.  Will be good to remember was taught by Pope John Paul II: Missing the notion of sin, away the notion of grace.
In order that children come to Jesus our world becomes super sensitive to its pleasures and super insensitive to pain of others. Obsessed with their demands for unrestrained enjoyment have no eyes to those whom Jesus gave the best of their time, love and strength.
But more important than what we are saying is that this state of things is not final  and definitive first with little kids and then teenagers. Once Jesus himself was able to find his way to embrace and bless the children, Today He is alive and active among us. His own zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of men will do wonders in all of us if we put ourselves in His service. Listen
May God Bless you Abundantly, and help us to become A Strong Family United In Christ,

Fr. Humberto Palomino, P.E.S.