May 26, 2019
Happy Memorial Day weekend!
Growing up in Pittsburgh, Memorial Day marked the beginning of summer. I knew as a kid that school would soon be over. It also marked when the community pool would open, and I looked forward to the time splashing around. For Memorial Day, I knew there were parades and cookouts that weekend, but did not connect as much to the remembrance part of the holiday.
Now, as an adult, Memorial Day has different meaning. After serving overseas in East Africa as a seminarian and also talking with many Holy Cross priests and brothers who are lived in other countries, I value many blessings in our country. I am also keenly aware that many people lost their lives defending our freedoms. Memorial Day started, historically speaking, after the Civil War. Since that time, well over a million men and women have died for our country in battle. Working with vets in previous ministries, I know many more who died as a result of the wars they were in even though their deaths came years later. Whether or not their deaths officially count as losses of war does not matter. They sacrificed themselves.
This is a special weekend in which we remember those who lost their lives as a result of wars and conflicts. As a newly ordained priest serving in Colorado Springs, my friend, Dennis Shaw, enlightened me on this in his own way. Dennis is a Methodist minister. We worked together in an ecumenical ministry reaching out to people who are poor. Dennis is also an army Veteran. The week after Memorial Day he said to me, “Eric, I appreciated the kindness of someone who wished me a Happy Memorial Day. She said she was remembering me in a special way. I thought to myself, ‘Thanks, but I’m still alive.’ At least I hope I am. Veterans Day is in September.” He let me know it is always appropriate to thank veterans for their service. I agree that this is something we should do. However, he said it may not always be ok to tell them that Memorial Day is about them. Sure, they feel the pain of losing comrades in arms. But that pain is also shared by families, friends, and other loved ones.
As Catholics, we believe that every human life is sacred. We mourn every life lost and pray for those who offered the ultimate sacrifice. We pray as well for those they left behind. We pray for peace.
In this month of May, we also remember in a special way Mother Mary. Words cannot do justice to how special she is. As we celebrate her this month, while simultaneously celebrating Memorial Day, perhaps we can say a special prayer to Mary, our Blessed Mother. This weekend we can pray the Memorare. I know the prayer is not directly related to this holiday, but I was struck this year by how similar are the words Memorial and Memorare. Our Blessed Mother is a mother of consolation, of peace, and so much more. Let us pray to her:
REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help,
or sought thy intercession was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother;
to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions,
but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
See you on Thursday for Ascension Thursday, a holy day of obligation.
Masses are at 9:00 am and 7:00 pm!
May 19, 2019
As we continue in the Easter Season, we continue to have reason to rejoice. This weekend, on Saturday morning, our brother Gary Donahue was ordained a permanent deacon. After years of discernment, study and sacrifice – both on his own behalf, and sacrifices made by his wife Nancy – he is now a deacon.
This weekend he will serve as a deacon for the first time at the 10:00 am Mass, followed by a reception in the Great Room. Please join us in celebrating Deacon Gary and his ordination and offering him sincere CONGRATULATIONS.
When I say he is a permanent deacon, what does that mean? There are basically two types of deacons. A man who is preparing to become a Catholic priest must serve as a deacon for at least six months before becoming a priest. Men ordained as deacons as part of their process to become priests are called transitional deacons. Fr. Bryan Williams, CSC who had helped several times this year here while also serving at Stonehill College was a transitional deacon. He was ordained a priest on April 27 and celebrated the 10:00 Mass last week as a new priest.
For the Catholic Church, the diaconate is something more than a step towards the priesthood. In the earliest days of the Church, the apostles chose men to help them in the distribution of food (see Acts of the Apostles, chapter 6). St. Stephen, the first martyr, was one of these deacons. From this story of the first deacons, we see that first and foremost deacons are called to a ministry of service. When all the bishops gathered in Rome during Vatican II, one of the important things they did was restore the PERMANENT diaconate. Since then men, including married men, can serve the Church and the world as deacons with no intention of becoming priests.
Many people ask what a deacon can do. Deacons can proclaim the Gospel and preach during Mass and other prayer services. They can bless people and objects, and can lead prayer in the name of the entire Church. They can baptize, witness marriages, preside at funerals and wake services. They are also called to help spread the Gospel, most often through works of charity.
We are blessed to have Deacon Gary ordained from our parish. The bishop will soon make his assignment where he will serve in the Diocese. I, for one, pray that he will stay here in our parish.
Continued Easter joy and blessings to all.
Speaking of service, something deacons specialize in, our parish joined with Immaculate Conception in sponsoring a 5K run/walk with proceeds supporting the Easton Food Pantry. I participated and can report that I won in my division. I was the first clergy person to cross the finish line. I was also the only one who did (Fr. Rick’s knees prevented him from participating). It was a good time, and for a good cause, and made me proud again to be part of this parish.
May 12, 2019
Happy Mother’s Day!
I am blessed to have a great mom living in Pittsburgh who I talk to regularly. Her faith helped inspire my faith. She helped teach me how to pray, and in many ways she is very important to me being the priest that I am today. In my first assignment as a “baby priest,” there were some who “adopted me” to be like mothers to me. This weekend I am sure that you all join me in celebrating all mothers. We thank God for all the moms in our lives, living and deceased. Many blessings upon them all.
On a completely different note, this weekend we plan to have someone from our Emergency Preparedness Committee share at our Masses. The safety of our parishioners is of primary concern here at Holy Cross parish. Personally, I have been disturbed by the seeming increase and boldness of attacks on the religious sites recently. From the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka to the attack on a synagogue in San Diego, to a person being arrested for attempted arson at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, too many places of worship have been targets for violence. All of these attacks have been within the last month.
Some of our parishioners formed an Emergency Preparedness Committee several months ago and have been looking at safety issues here at our parish. This is not only about the need to be aware and alert in case of potential violence, though that has been an important area of emphasis. For example, another important focus is to have people ready who know how to help in case of a fire or medical emergency. We have an AED devices (defibrillators), and want to be sure people know where they are and how to use them to save someone’s life. One of the traditional images of the Church is Holy Mother Church. Our Church wants you to be safe. Always. Please consider helping the Emergency Preparedness Committee in our efforts to make sure everyone is safe at Holy Cross, and that this is a place where people can pray in peace as they come to know, love, and serve the Lord.
Ordination news: We rejoice that Gary Donahue, one of our parishioners, will be ordained a permanent deacon. The ordination will take place on Saturday, May 18, at 11:00 am at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the assumption in Fall River. Deacon Gary will join us for his first Mass as a deacon next Sunday, May 19, at 10:00. There will be a reception afterwards. Please plan to join us! Also, Fr. Bryan Williams, CSC who was ordained at Notre Dame two weeks ago will celebrate the 10:00 Mass today.
Continued Easter blessings to you all!
May 5, 2019
I am EXCITED for our children who will be making their First Holy Communion this weekend. Please join me in both congratulating and praying for our 2019 First Holy Communion Class. You can find their names on page 6 of the bulletin. May God bless them and their families this day!
On opening day for the Red Sox, there was a special celebration. They had the presentation of their World Series rings. The New England Patriots joined the ceremonies. The Patriots had their 6 trophies from their 6 Super Bowls, while the Red Sox had all four of their World Series trophies from the 2000s. Everyone at the stadium was continuing the celebration of these victories.
As Christians, we celebrate something greater with Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Every Easter we are reminded of the great mystery and miracle of Christ’s victory over sin and death. As we continue in the Easter Season, perhaps the Lord is challenging us as to whether we can take a page from the sports fanatics and find a way to keep celebrating the miracle of the resurrection all season long.
Of course one important way we keep celebrating the miracle of Christ’s resurrection is through frequent celebration of the Eucharist. Every time we attend Mass, we are present to the saving death and resurrection of Jesus. We get to receive Christ Himself in the Eucharist. As our children are making their 1st Holy Communion with joy and excitement, do I rejoice in the opportunity to come to Mass every week and receive Jesus in the Eucharist as well? Jesus always invites. This Easter I encourage those who for one reason or another don’t come to Mass every week to remember the day of your 1st Holy Communion and recapture why we celebrate 1st Holy Communion as a special day.
This weekend we also celebrate nurses. In the Gospel today, Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” He then invites Peter to care for His flock. We are blessed to have with us many people in our parish who care for others. This weekend is Nurse’s Day. We thank God for the healing hands guided by healing minds and hearts that touch so many lives.
Last weekend I was blessed to attend the ordinations of 5 mean as Holy Cross priests. One of those men, Fr. Bryan Williams, CSC, will be here next weekend to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving with our parish community in gratitude for our prayers and support. Fr. Bryan may be more familiar to you as Deacon Bryan who has been at Stonehill this past year and has helped here on several occasions. He will celebrate the 10:00 AM Mass. All are welcome as we continue to celebrate his becoming a priest. More importantly, we celebrate the joy of Jesus’ resurrection.