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O Little Town of Bethlehem

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  O Little Town of Bethlehem [Edited excerpt from the “Christmas in October” post by Teresa Albright on her 2016 travel blog A Tree Grows in Jerusalem .]   …The next morning our Biblical Formation group climbed onto a tour bus for our final excursion outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City. We headed to Bethlehem, a small town just five miles from Jerusalem, but outside Israel. We were entering Palestinian territory and the disputed West Bank. With passports in hand, it seemed we never left Jerusalem. The suburbs of Israeli settlements filled in any gaps of land separating the two states. I thought about a common Mexican-American expression uttered by those whose families lived in Texas since before it was a U.S. state. "We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.” Staring out the bus window, I wondered… “how many of the construction workers building these settlements are Palestinian?” I also wondered about those Israeli “settlers” – perhaps not unlike so many settle

Faith (Second Week of Advent)

  A FAITH-FILLED ADVENT by Megan Burdolski, Director of Stewardship   The second week of Advent is halfway through. As I’ve spent quite a bit of time with my father in the house where I grew up these past weeks, I’ve found myself looking through photo albums and reminiscing about my childhood. I have come across so many things that remind me of our church and the faith my father instilled in my sister and me from a very young age. As young children, my dad read stories to us from a very thick children’s Bible every Saturday evening. We were taught several prayers of the rhyming variety which we took turns reciting before meals and at bedtime. My dad also set a quiet example as we would wake up on weekend mornings and find him sitting in his chair reading his Bible or visibly in prayer. Later on Saturday evenings, we could find him poring over his Sunday school materials preparing the lesson he was going to teach his adult “Willing Workers” class the next day. [Side note: All of th

HOPE (First Week of Advent)

  A HOPE-FILLED ADVENT by Megan Burdolski, Director of Stewardship For many of us, the four candles on our Advent wreath symbolize hope, faith, joy & peace. Over the next four weeks, I plan to reflect on these themes while sharing my personal journey with you this Advent season. I am naturally an optimist so hope is part of my being. This year, we are navigating the end of my father’s life. Even so, I remain filled with hope. My father is no spring chicken. He is 96 years old and my sister & I have already grieved for him as he endured quintuple bypass surgery, a re-section of his cancerous colon and several bouts of pneumonia that many his age would not survive. We have believed his life was nearing the end on more than one occasion, yet he is still alive. Four years ago, before our mother’s death, he told us quite frankly that “we need to face the likelihood that I will outlive your mom.” She was eleven years younger so we had always expected him to go first; yet, exactly

Another Pandemic Reflection

  I’m Not In Charge by Megan Burdolski, Director of Stewardship I am a little bit disappointed to report that I’m not in charge. Of anything. Not really. I can be described as a take-charge individual. I can be bossy. I like to be in control. But, I am not in charge. Nor is President Trump or Doctor Fauci or Monsignor Offutt or Mayor Lucas. I hope that everyone reading this knows that God is the one who is truly in charge. In these uncertain times, we all likely wish that we could have more control over what’s next. Some of us are anxious, or lonely, or frustrated, or disappointed. Some of us are defiant, or worried, or scared, or depressed. Very few of us are truly enamored of masks or social distancing. Most of us do not prefer to stay at home most of the time or miss out on events and activities we had previously planned. Recently, my dad was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia - for the second time this year. Because of the current pandemic, we were unable to even go back

A Reflection on Self-Care during Uncertain Times

Letting Go by Chris Sanders, Pastoral Associate There was a man many years ago that I got to know very well through RCIA. He was a lanky, tall man with a hearty laugh, kind eyes and a calm soul. Over the course of the year he shared bits and pieces of his faith story that mirrored many others in the class. One night during our session on prayer, I shared with them a simple prayer reflection and handed out the short poem, Let Go and Let God by Laurette P. Burns.   It read:   “As children bring their broken toys with tears for us to mend, I brought my broken dreams to God, Because god was my friend. Bet then, instead of leaving God in peace, to work alone, I hung around and tried to help, With ways that were my own. As last, I snatched them back and cried, “how can you be so slow? ” “My child,” God said, “What could I do? You never did let go?” There was nothing unique about this poem, it has been around forever. I had completely forgotten about it until right before the Easter

Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene

Seven Leadership Lessons from Mary Magdalene by Teresa R. Albright, Pastoral Associate Today we celebrate the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene . Mary the Magdalene is a person in the New Testament worth considering; especially since she spent the greater part of the last one-thousand-four-hundred years misrepresented in the western, Catholic imagination as a penitent sex-worker. However, modern Biblical scholarship gives us the chance to rediscover this important figure of early Christianity.  Mary the Magdalene is significant, in part, because she is so prominent in the Christian Testament: appearing many times and in all four gospels (Mt 27.55-56, 61; 28.1; Mk 15.40-41, 47; 16:1, 9; Lk  8.2; 24.10; Jn 19.25; 20.1, 11, 16, 18). She was a follower and close companion of Jesus, she stood by Jesus as he died on the cross, and she discovered his empty tomb on the third day. Named in all four Resurrection stories, Christians from the beginning not only recognized Mary Magdalene as an impo

Reflection on Vocations in the Church

God Calling… by Teresa R. Albright, Pastoral Associate Throughout the month of July, the church memorializes the lives of several saints who were either founders of or pioneers in their respective religious communities. On July 11, we remember St. Benedict , founder of the Benedictines and father of Western monasticism. On July 15, we remember St. Bonaventure , a pioneer and reconciler among the Franciscans. On July 16, we celebrate Our Lady of Mount Carmel , the patron of the Carmelite Order that brought us Doctors of the Church such as Saints John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila and Therese of Lisieux. On July 23, we remember St. Bridget of Sweden who worked against corrupt papacies and founded the Order of the Most Holy Savior, known as the Bridgettines. And on July 31, we remember St. Ignatius Loyola , founder of the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits, who have taught and formed so many Visitation families. I remember being around thirteen years old when I told my moth