A BELATED THANK YOU

     Since the next to the last post, we as a parish have had many wonderful experiences of Church.  We have travelled through a great season of grace called LENT, which ends on Holy Thursday at sunset, when the Triduum of the Lord begins.  This Lent saw opportunities for prayer and spiritual growth in our lives, of repentance of sin and conversion of heart, and of works of charity and outreach that describe our love of the Lord.  I hope that your Lent was profitable for your soul.  To those who went the extra mile during Lent and remembered the parish in prayer, a sincere thank you.

We also had the opportunity to share a particular time of prayer in our parish Lenten Retreat held from March 30 through April 2.  Many set extra time aside to be uplifted and even challenged, and the Retreat Team gifted us in many ways.  They were good retreat masters – coming in like all retreat masters as prophets to share the Word of God, inviting us to expand our vision of Church as it is found in Vatican II, and giving us much to think on and to discuss in their answers to our questions.  We are grateful for their ministry.  We are also most grateful for the many people who provided hospitality, publicity, set up and coordination on many levels, and to those who prayed and participated.  Check out the notes on the Retreat on this website, and the pictures there and in our photo gallery.  Despite the “cold” that the team left with me, I count the many blessings that I have seen take place in our parish.

And we have also had the gift to the parish and to the community of our Annual Lenten Fish Fry Dinners (with one more this Good Friday).  Under the leadership of Debbie Pazehoski and Julie McNamara, with excellent, hard-working and dedicated chefs and waiters and bakers and helpers of every sort, this year, like the multitude of years past, was a great community builder and important fund-raiser.  It was also THE BEST Fish Dinner around.  Again, deep and abiding gratitude to all!

GREAT NEWS!

     It is just over a month since I have shared a reflection with you.  The last one announced the start of our Annual Diocesan Lenten Appeal in which I asked for your cooperation and generosity to make this year’s campaign successful – both for the work of the Church in the Diocese of Greensburg as well as to help our local parish directly.  From that post on March 12th until today almost 31% of our parish family have responded to this year’s DLA and we are very pleased to announce that we have SURPASSED our Diocesan goal of $48,990.00 as of yesterday, April 14th, with $51,717.00 pledged or gifted.  We have come close in the past few years yet have fallen short of that goal.  So this year’s response is OUTSTANDING!

EVERYTHING pledged or gifted from this point onward returns to the parish with no strings attached.  We did set a parish goal of $55,000.00 with a modest expected return of a little over $5,000.  However, the needs of the parish continue to outdistance our offertory income, and everything over our goal will be of great benefit to our unpaid bills to the diocesan assessments (we are two to three months in arrears, but making payments).  A second letter will be coming from me after Easter to those who have not as yet responded.  Please be as generous as possible … and again – OUTSTANDING!  God bless you and many thanks.

LENTEN APPEAL 2014

     The 2014 Diocesan Lenten Appeal is underway.  I received my letter from Bishop Brandt with his request for my support of the work of the Diocesan Church, and I have just responded by filling out my pledge card and turning it in.  With the theme “I have no hands but yours”, DLA provides us an opportunity to join with others and be the hands of Christ, touching the lives of so many through the ministry of the Diocese and the Parish.

Our parish goal this year is $55,000.00, of which $48,990.00 is our share of the Diocesan mission.  The letter and brochure that you will receive explains the needs and the intended funding.  I ask that you prayerfully consider participating in this year’s Appeal, and that your pledge or gift indicate an increase (if possible) this year.  If you are uncertain as to what to give, I would suggest support of $1.00  a day for the year, or a pledge of $36.50 for ten months, or a gift of $365.00.  A larger gift, if possible, is deeply appreciated.  I was not able to increase my gift, but when I filled out my card I continued my practice of a monthly gift of $100.00 over twelve months – or a gift of $1,200.00.  I have been blessed to be able to give this over the past many years.  I mention this to indicate that I share with you this mission and this dedication to the work of the Lord.  Committment Weekend will be on March 22-23 at all Masses.  Please be as generous as possible in helping us meet and surpass our goal this year.  Thanks, Father Len.

LENTEN Notes II

March the 4th of this year is Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday” or “Shrove Tuesday”.  It is the celebration of excess before we enter into the penitential season of Lent.  Some go to reckless abandon in their partying, others simply enjoy a richer meal before the Lenten fast begins.  Enjoy Mardi Gras in a safe and healthy way.

     Then on March 5th we begin Lent.  It is a time of fasting and prayer, as I noted in the last post.  Liturgically we even fast from the use of the jubilant “Alleluia” of Easter, and move to purple vestments and simpler decorations in church.  We begin with being signed with ashes which are blessed and imposed after the homily.  These ashes are of previous years palm branches, and are placed upon the forehead with one of these formulas:

REPENT AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL

or

REMEMBER, YOU ARE DUST, AND TO DUST YOU WILL RETURN.

The season of Lent is for reflection, for prayer and fasting, for almsgiving (charity toward the needy), for penance and interior conversion.  Use this time well.  Grow ever closer to the Lord Jesus, who died that we might have life.  Prepare your hearts to once again sing with great joy the “ALLELUIA” of our faith at Easter.

 

LENTEN Notes

In the ‘ceremonial of Bishops” the following is stated: “The annual observance of Lent is the special season for the ascent to the holy mountain of Easter.  Through its twofold theme of repentance and baptism, the season of Lent disposes both the catechumens and the faithful to celebrate the paschal mystery.  Catechumens are led to the sacraments of initiation …”  The faithful, listening more intently to the word of God and devoting themselves to prayer, are prepared through a spirit of repentance to renew their baptismal promises.”  Here are some Lenten observations.

LENGTH OF THE SEASON OF LENT – LENT runs from Ash Wednesday until the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening .  If we include the fast of the Triduum (Holy Thursday through the Easter Vigil) there are 46 days.  When we speak of the forty days of Lent, we are really speaking of the forty days of the Lenten fast.  The Sunday’s on Lent are not included in the Lenten fasts because of Sunday being the Lord’s Day, a little Easter.  How can the wedding guests fast as long as the bridegroom is with them.

DAYS OF FAST – In the Church there are only two days of fasting – both during this season of grace.  The first is ASH WEDNESDAY and the second is GOOD FRIDAY.  FASTING officially involves eating only one full meal during the day, with the possibility of two smaller meals allowed for health reasons.  Fasting is required of all Catholics 18 to 59. Fasting should never threaten or impair one’s health issues.  These two days are also days of ABSTINENCE which means refraining from eating meat and meat products, and is for all Catholics 14 and older.

DAYS OF ABSTINENCE – are Ash Wednesday, and EVERY FRIDAY during Lent including Good Friday.  Abstinence means not eating meat and meat products,  Those excused from fast and abstinence outside of the age limits include the physically or mentally ill including people suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes.  Also excluded are pregnant and nursing women.  Common sense should prevail and health should not be jeopardized.

FRIDAY’S during Lent should be particular days of prayer and penitence, with extra acts of charity, generosity and prayer involving daily Mass or the Stations of the Cross.

IMPORTANT SACRAMENTAL DATES

In the life of every parish there are certain moments of excitement and grace when the Sacraments are shared for the first time or in a very special setting.  We often mention in these posts the celebrations of the Sacrament of Baptism of our youngsters when they occur.

It is with great excitement and joy that we announce the dates for the reception of First Holy Communion in our parish in 2014.  Because of the number and the crowds that will celebrate with them, we have once again scheduled two dates: SATURDAY, May 3rd at 11:00 am and again on SATURDAY, May 10th at 11:00 am.  Sister Charlene has or will notify each family the date assigned to them.  There will be a rehearsal for both groups on Friday evening, May 2nd at 7:00 pm in church

  And fresh from the Office of the Bishop we received word that our Candidates for Confirmation will receive this great Sacrament from the hands of Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt along with the Candidates from Saint Regis Parish in Trafford on THURSDAY, May 15th, at 7:00 pm AT SAINT REGIS CHURCH in Trafford.  Two years ago when were shared Confirmation together, they came to SEAS.  We are excited about these moments of grace and ask for all of you to pray for our Candidates and their families in the weeks to come.

WHO ARE WE?

I recently came across a pastor’s description of his parish on their website, and thought that it would serve as a reminder of our community of faith here in the Norwin Catholic Community of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish.  We are a Eucharistic community gathered around a table at which we are fed with the living word and the real presence of Christ in bread and wine.  Nourished at this table, we set out to create family among ourselves and to reach out to bring to this table any who want to be refreshed in the love that we have found here.  We are a community of imperfect people struggling to be perfect in Christ.

This table is set for those who have not attained sainthood and feel they need the presence of Christ to continue to grow into fully human, loving people.  This table is set for children who need to be nourished, protected, and loved so that they may grow into healthy, loving adults.  This table is set for the elderly who bring to us such wisdom and an opportunity to thank them in serving their needs for gifts they have given us.  This table is set for adults in stable marriages, struggling marriages, and broken relationships who need the support of this holy community to continue the struggle of life.  This table is set for singles, young and old, to encourage them to find a place in the larger family that is our parish.  This table is set for those who to the Lord’s invitation, “Come Follow Me,” want to respond “yes”.

A smiling face, an openness to others, attentiveness to the word of God, a sense of his presence, and a hope for a deeper relationship with him and his family are what you will hopefully find in the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish Family.   I thought that this says it all.  I hope you agree.

YOU ARE INVITED

     This March marks the tenth anniversary of the Ordination and Installation of Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg.  In honor of the occasion, the Diocese of Greensburg extends an invitation to parishioners of all parishes to join with Bishop Brandt at the 11:30 am Mass at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral on Sunday, March 2, 2014.  This is an open invitation to all.

Welcome Saint Agnes Parish

One of the blessings in having a wonderful parish social gathering space in Mack Hall is the ability to share with our neighbors.  For many years now, the good parishioners of Saint Agnes Parish gather in February for an Appreciation Party.  They will be at Mack Hall this Saturday, February 22, in the evening,  We are glad to provide a gathering place for their celebration, and want them to know that they are always welcome.

WELCOME CHILDREN OF GOD

     On Sunday afternoon, February 16th, following the 11:00 am Mass, we welcomed two little ones into the Family of God through the Sacrament of Baptism.  KENDALL JOYCE ZAHRATKA, daughter of Nicholas Michael and Julie Elizabeth Broz Zahratka, who was born on August 12th of last year, brought her charm and smile to the celebration.  Mom and Dad were married at Saint Teresa of Avila Church in Pittsburgh and are currently members in our parish.  As mentioned, Kendall has a delightful smile that lights up the room.  Also baptized was OWEN RICHARD BELKO, son of Glen George and Kimberly Anne Zentner Belko.  Owen, who was born on September 6th of last year is a grabber – grabbing onto Father’s finger and vestment in his desire to be involved in everything.  Another charmer.  Mom and Dad were married at SEAS and are current members at the parish.  Family and friends braved the snow and celebrated with both families on this wonderful occasion.  Pray for these youngsters and their families as they begin their journey with us.