As I begin to write this “column” on the evening of May 15th, as I always do, I take a quick look back and a quick look ahead, to contemplate where I’ve been and to where God is calling me ahead. The morning Mass today was for my sister Deirdre Ragan, on this the first anniversary of her death, which had me looking farther back than usual. And, looking back only one week, I am prompted to express my sincere thanks to all who remembered me on the 10th anniversary of my priesthood last Thursday, with Masses, prayers and warm notes of thanks. Thank you for your kindness.
The present is always the toughest, with the need to prioritize the myriad tasks, requests, surprises, and daily responsibilities, that are all part of a committed priesthood. Today, so far, after praying the Breviary, celebrating Mass (the highlight of every day), an anointing of the sick and a confession, I visited with the construction supervisor to point out and correct an in-process error happening in the installation of the new, paved, turn-around circle by the chapel. Then I briefly met with Bill Cole our Finance Committee Chair, then reviewed a final copy revision of our new pamphlet for visitors that identifies and explains our new church statues and stained-glass windows (the idea from Mike Devine, our Parish Council Chair). From there I rushed over to the Diocese for an 11 a.m., Lay and Priest Pension Committee meeting, followed by two brief meetings with the Directors of Youth Ministry and Human Resources departments. Which brings me to this moment, rushing to meet the Parish Bulletin deadline for this “Corner” (I am already late).
And, now, “look ahead”…I must (as all of us must), to prepare to do God’s Will, and prepare to consciously live the Gospel way of life, while striving to be the best example of the Good Shepherd I can possibly be. I need to constantly be attentive to the needs of the “flock” (parishioners and family), in the great variety of ways those needs become manifest. Busy? Certainly! But, as I mentioned last week, as you can imagine, doing God’s work brings great joy and peace.
On the top of the “Looking Ahead” list is the heightened concern and critical need for a new facility to accommodate the burgeoning need for our Children’s Religious Education, as well as providing for the multitude of ministry meetings and the return of, concurrently occurring, Adult Education programs, Marriage prep, Baptism prep, and personal counselling. Both the Finance Committee and the Parish Pastoral Council have advised me that, in order to provide for the liturgical, educational, and administrative needs of our Catholic-Christian families, we need to build an Education/General Purpose building which I am referring to as a “Learning Center.” The inadequate space in Haryasz Social Hall and the trailers are currently used for this need. The trailers which served as additional classrooms and storage are no longer fully serviceable or safe and have become a community eyesore as well. The Hall has become a one-room school house for 145 CCD students, and due to lack of space, classes now take place for three straight nights every week. This puts a tremendous strain on the Director of Religious Education and especially the volunteer teaching staff. Our learning environment sorely needs improvement.
Our new Learning Center will provide: 1) Ample space and an adequate environment for the religious instruction of our youth. 2.) More inviting and practical meeting space for ministry groups, choir practice, club and organization meetings, and socials. 3) Space required to accommodate our existing, and anticipated new, ministries… to include, “Children’s Church”, Bible Study, Faith-related seminars, “Christ Renews His Parish” Retreats, Vacation Bible School, St. Vincent De Paul Society, and a genuine Food Pantry. 4) Adequate, more efficient, and accessible space for the daily operations of our parish.
In this Bulletin today, on this Feast of Pentecost, you will find an inserted letter from me that explains, in much greater detail, the challenge that we face and the solution that has been presented to me for your consideration. As with all of our important undertakings, I dearly desire your input. Please review the letter as soon as you can and return your response to the parish office…or… bring it, and put it in the basket next Sunday, Trinity Sunday. In the interim I shall be praying, and I encourage you to do so as well, for the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit to come down upon each of you (all of us) for all our personal needs and to guide us in this endeavor to facilitate the spread of the Word of God.
Come Holy Spirit,