Psalm 139:13-14 teaches us, “You created every part of me, knitting me in my Mother’s womb. For such handiwork, I praise you. Awesome this great wonder!”
Do you enjoy knitting or crocheting, or would you like to learn? Come and be a part of this new ministry at St Bridget Parish. Through the work of our hands and prayer we hope to spread Christ’s love by prayerfully creating shawls that will be given to someone who is in need of a tangible reminder of God’s love; the lonely, elderly,mourning, ill, or to celebrate a milestone such as a birth, Confirmation, or even going away to college. Shawls can be made using a variety of patterns for traditional knitting, crocheting, or even loom knitting and quilting. To create a shawl, usually 3 skeins of yarn is needed; even if you do not knit or crochet, donations of yarn would be greatly appreciated as we begin to form this new ministry at St Bridget parish.
For more information please contact Jen Markgraf at 267-495-7327.
Our first gathering will be Sunday, February 3 at 12:30 PM in St Brendan’s Meeting Room.
On Sunday January 13, the confirmation candidates and a parent or sponsor participated in a retreat experience. The group first attended the 11:00 am Mass, Father Devlin reflected on listening to God as the children and their families prepare for Confirmation. Father also reminded all parishioners about the graces they received at Confirmation.
The group then proceeded to Saint Brendan’s dormitory, had a quick snack then set to work. The large group was split into two smaller groups, and Pati Krasensky and her staff from the Marianist center in Philadelphia led the retreat. The retreat opened with a presentation on the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit. Following the presentation, the adults were separated from the children, and each group was given a specific task. The PREP teachers were circulating to help assist with the activities.
The tasks the groups were to complete varied. They could create slogans on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, design “Wanted” posters attracting Catholics, and create Superheros who used the gifts of the Holy Spirit. As you can see in our facebook album, each group was extremely creative.
The day concluded with a closing prayer and ritual. Each person present was to hold a bit of colored sand in their hands as they reflected on their own gifts. The sand was then poured into a vase to symbolize that all of their gifts are necessary in building the Church.
Please click the link below, to view the finished projects of the retreat.
Every year on the anniversary of 9/11, I find myself thinking of 9/12: September 12th, 2001. The day after. Waking up. Looking out the window. Seeing the beautiful late summer sky that morning, just like the morning before. From all appearances, nothing had changed.
But, in fact, everything had changed.
Over a decade later, we are still grappling with how that day in history changed so much.
It is the same way, I think, with January 22nd , 1973. The anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
We tend to focus on that date as being most significant. And it is. But then there was the 23rd. The day after the Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade, the world didn’t look different. Life went on.
But now, as we mark the 40th anniversary of that event, we are able to see more clearly just what happened. Everything shifted. In many ways, we are living in the world of January the 23rd. It is forever the day after. And nothing has been quite the same.
How has the world changed?
Let me count the ways.
1.2 million abortions a year – roughly double the number of 40 years ago.
The total number of abortions since 1973: 54, 559,000—and climbing.
In New York City today, 40% of all pregnancies, nearly half, end in abortion.
Among minorities, it’s as high as 60%.
In some neighborhoods, it’s 67%.
And that’s just the beginning. To some, it seems, that’s not enough.
In Albany two weeks ago, the governor of this state proposed an abortion bill that threatens to make New York the bloodiest state in the union.
It would permit unlimited late term abortion on demand – right up to the ninth month.
It would allow people who are not doctors to perform abortions.
It would declare that the “state shall not discriminate” against the right to abortion, a declaration that could threaten the very existence of Catholic hospitals. Long Island alone is home to six hospitals that could be crippled by having Medicare funds withheld if they refuse to comply.
If enacted into law, this bill would declare that abortion is a fundamental right that cannot be denied. No parental notification for minors, no limits on taxpayer funding of abortion, no limits on late-term abortions.
How has the world changed?
When the governor announced these proposals during his address, the audience cheered.
We have reached a point where the killing of innocents receives a standing ovation.
This morning, I was struck by the words of the prophet Isaiah: For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet.
For the sake of our city, for the sake of our nation, for the sake of generations yet unborn—those who do not have a voice, those who may never have a voice— we cannot be silent. We cannot be quiet.
When killing is seen as a viable option, and cheered in the halls of power, we cannot be quiet.
When scraping a child from the womb is a routine event for half the women in our city, we cannot be quiet.
When our leaders advocate laws to make death more accessible, and murder more manageable, and when living and dying are now merely a matter of choice, we cannot be quiet.
How did we get here? Have we been too passive, too complacent, too accommodating? Maybe. Maybe we have told ourselves too often, as so many have, “Well, I’m personally opposed, but I don’t want to force my religious views on someone else.”
While championing freedom and “choice,” maybe we haven’t noticed what has happened: the children who aren’t in the playgrounds or in the classrooms. Maybe we haven’t noticed the hospitals that are closing obstetrics units because so few babies are being born.
Maybe we haven’t noticed that there aren’t as many children anymore with Down Syndrome, because 90% of them are being aborted.
How has the world changed?
It’s been there all along. We just haven’t noticed.
But maybe it’s time we did notice. Maybe it’s time to take a hard look at our world and what we have become —and what we can do
In the gospel today, we encounter the first miracle of Jesus, changing water into wine at the wedding in Cana.
It is a miracle of transformation, of conversion. It shows what Jesus does: he makes the ordinary extraordinary. He changes everything.
I can’t help but think that there is something in us— in our culture, in our values—that needs changing. Desperately.
Recall the timeless teaching of the gospel:
“Whatever you did to the least of these,” Christ said, “you did to me.”
Think of what is being done to Christ 1.2 million times a year in this country alone.
That is what we need to change.
For the sake of them, we cannot be silent. We cannot be quiet.
When you get home, visit the New York State Catholic Conference website. Read the details of this bill for yourselves. With a few keystrokes, you can find the representative serving your neighborhood and learn how you can make your voice heard.
But before we do that, there is something else much more fundamental that we need to do. And that is very simple.
We need to pray for our leaders, yes.
But we need to start with people even closer: ourselves.
Pray for courage. Pray to stand up for what is right, even when everyone else tells us we are wrong. These days, especially, there is no shortage of people eager to do that.
And: pray for change – in our world and in ourselves. Prayer’s power lies not only in asking God to intercede in the events of our world, but in asking Him to intercede within us—asking Him to make us what He wants us to be, and then embracing that with gratitude and with faith.
If we pray for that, our potential is limitless. We may become a holy people – and we may begin to make a holy world. And that is where real change begins.
How has the world changed since 1973?
We know the answer.
But perhaps in another 40 years, the answer will be different. Perhaps in another 40 years, we —as a people, as a nation, as a culture —will stop cheering death. We will instead cheer life.
And we will be able to say it is so because we had the will, the desire, the faith to make it so.
The miracle at Cana reminds us: An encounter with Christ changes everything.
Look at what he did with water.
Imagine what he can do with each of us.
And then imagine what that might mean for the world.
My new son spent the first eight and a half years of his life in a Chinese orphanage. Within a week of our meeting, just about a month ago, we were attending Mass at a small church in Guangzhou. It was likely his first encounter with Christians gathered in worship.Last week a family friend was heard muttering that she could not believe we had him in a church within the first week of meeting him. On some level, I understand her concern that the visit to a church was something of a culture shock. I know something of postcolonial literature; I’ve frequently assigned Chinua Achebe’s fine work Things Fall Apart to undergraduates as a commentary on globalization in the postcolonial era. I am aware of the status of religions in China, and the suspicion on the part of the country’s leadership that academics come to China to subvert the Communist Party by means of Western religion. I live in a pluralist world and am fully cognizant of the fact that professing a religious faith is a political act, and that doing so unreflectively can be hostile to some—especially those who have been hurt by the practitioners of that tradition.
Yet it is impossible for a lover to deny the reality of the beloved, to acknowledge the difficult politics of the day as a reason to hide one’s love. “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave” (Song of Songs 8:6). The paradigmatic Western love story, Romeo and Juliet, dramatizes this kind of love that cannot rest content with quiet anonymity. If love is love, it demands the light of day. The lover recognizes with sadness that there are political forces that militate against that love, yet one cannot therefore withdraw from giving one’s heart fully.
In professing that I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, I profess a love that is born in the innocence of beauty, yet spoken in a politicized world. I am therefore torn in this love: I move from the heights of encounter with a truth I find profound and life-creating, to the depths of sadness when that truth is shrunken to fit lesser ends.
One might assume that in a politicized world, the love of Christ amounts to a hatred of those who deny or even malign him. To be sure, many over my Church’s history have made that connection, from those in early centuries who blamed the Jews, to those in later centuries who fought Muslims, to those in the modern era who have circled the wagons against the forces of modernity.
Yet I approach the problem in a rather irenic way: I marvel at people’s yearning for truth and goodness and beauty, and am more willing to share that desire than to find the ways that our shared desires find different expression. I give thanks when people use reason for the sake of the good. I marvel when people with long and ancient traditions preserve a sense of the holy in the world. I love many of the stories and teachings of the Buddha and Confucius, and their culture-shaping praise of right living. I reverence the gift of Jewish faith even today: I am so compelled by the law given to Moses that I give thanks for those who preserve that law in practice. I have benefitted from my interactions with peace-loving and generous Muslims.
Still, my heart has been shaped by encounter with the risen Christ, and so I look at the world through that encounter. Just as the elder Capulet might have counseled his daughter never to have anything to do with the troublesome House of Montague, so might some perceive my introducing my son to Christian worship as a politically charged act. I see it rather as an invitation to share in that which holds our family together: a shared love for the kind of world that Jesus imagined. Jesus is the bond that holds together our marriage; the compass point by which we have made decisions; the source and goal of the desires we hope to cultivate in our children.
Of course I know that each of my children must ultimately decide how they choose to respond to Christ. My role as a father is simply to broker the introduction, so that they in their freedom can come to know him. During this season, when we recall and anticipate the coming of Christ into the world, it is important to remember that his guise was the most unimposing imaginable: he came as an infant, and only because a girl made a free decision to give birth. My prayer as a father is that he might come so gently into their lives.
I knew I wanted to become a priest when after not having gone to Mass for most of my youth I started going to Mass again. I sat in the back of my parish church, looked up at the priest and in an instant I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life. That moment, some 13 years ago, has been the driving force of my life ever since.
When people ask how I knew in that moment that I wanted to be a priest and I simply tell them I fell in love. In an instant I fell in love with the priesthood, with the Church, with Jesus Christ. That love has since developed into a deeper and more fruitful relationship than I ever could have imagined.
Since ordination eight months ago my life has been a whirlwind. Priesthood has been everything I ever hoped it to be and more. I was assigned to the parish of St. Kilian, in Farmingdale, New York, and have found parish life has been the most exciting and challenging thing I’ve ever done. Priesthood is an honor for both my family and me, but even more than an honor, it is the most humbling of callings.
In the last eight months I’ve encountered people in intimate of ways. I’ve been present at the beginning and the end of parishioners’ lives. I’ve witnessed young men and women giving themselves to each other in Matrimony. To stand at the altar and to speak the words of consecration continues to be the most profound moment of each day. Every time I raise my hand to offer the loving mercy of absolution in the Sacrament of Penance I am both moved and reminded of my priesthood. It can still shock me that everything I’ve ever wanted from that moment thirteen years ago onward has come to fruition.
It has also become clear that ordination to the priesthood was not the end of my formation. It was the end of my seminary days – which I loved and remember fondly. Ordination was more the beginning, the start of the rest of my life. It was a continuation of the falling in love that happened when I sat in the back of that church and looked up at that priest.
I pray each day that I can live up to the call I’ve been given. No man can do this on his own. Priests need the continued assistance of the angels and saints and of the people of God. We rely upon the help of the Lord. At times it is awesome, for priesthood is serious business. Yet it is also fun because it is delightful to become a part of my people’s lives. As a father looks forward to seeing his family at the end of the day, I look forward to Sunday to see my family in the parish. I thank the Lord for calling me to this life. There’s nothing else like it!
Father Michael Duffy is associate pastor at Saint Kilian’s Parish, Farmingdale, New York, in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York.
I met the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist in 2005 through my professor, a member of the religious community, Sister Lucia Treanor. She talked me into representing Grand Valley State University at a conference on the New Evangelization with her, despite my protests that she could find someone worthier.
This was the first time I ever experienced her religious order, and while the conference was powerful, I was more impressed and captivated by the community of sisters I met. They were real, vibrant and funny, not what I expected.
Over the next five years our relationship deepened. I took advantage of every opportunity to be with the sisters on their farm in Lowell, Michigan. From mucking the stalls to helping teach teenagers about human sexuality, I cherished every minute there. I found myself happiest and most myself when with them. I also attended several retreats given by the sisters on Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on birth control, Humanae Vitae, and the complementarity of men and women.
It surprised me that I learned the beauty of fruitfulness through celibate women. I took my strong response to the retreats as a sign from God that I was called to sacramental marriage. I was caught off guard when Sister Lucia asked me if I would be interested in attending a discernment weekend at their motherhouse in Connecticut. I remember my response, “I am honored. I would love to go visit the motherhouse, but I am not seriously thinking about a religious vocation. Can I still go?” I went, learned more about the community and grew in admiration of them. At the end of the weekend I felt frustrated because I had no more clarity about my vocation.
Another discernment weekend followed the next year but I was reluctant to go. I was tired of discerning yet did not want to pass up a visit to the motherhouse. I went to have a good time. God had other plans, however. I was there for about three hours when lightning struck. One second I was thinking about how amazing the community is, the next second thinking, “Oh my God, You want me to be one of them.” I have never in my life felt such panic or such peace. My entire future changed in that instant. Amidst the inner chaos was an overwhelming sense of“rightness,” of clarity. At one point the foundress, Mother Rosemae Pender, described discovering one’s vocation as falling in love, and I knew I was deeply in love with this community.
I am a novice now and could not be any more ecstatic about the direction my life is going. I fall deeper in love with God, the Church, and community every day. My vocation gives increased purpose to every aspect of my life: in prayer, in personal interactions, and, professionally, as a physical therapist.
I will never be a biological mother, as I once dreamed, but I have never felt more life-giving. This journey reveals that the plan God had for my life is so much greater than anything I could have possibly imagined for myself.
Sister Faith Marie Woolsey is a novice with the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist in Meriden, Connecticut.
Some thoughts for this week’s Vocation Awareness Week
On the day of my ordination I was made a Priest.
Now I spend the rest of my life becoming a Priest.
What is a vocation?
God loves us into being, and creates each of us for a purpose and a calling. The calling is our vocation, and our vocation is more than our work — it’s more than our doing; it is the wholeness of our being: who we are, and who and what we serve.
“Who and what is being served” is always a good question to ask.
Many voices ask for our attention. There is a voice that says, “Prove that you are a good person.” Another voice says, “You’d better be ashamed of yourself.” There also is a voice that says, “Nobody really cares about you,” and one that says, “Be sure to become successful, popular, and powerful.” But underneath all these often very noisy voices is a still, small voice that says, “You are my Beloved, my favor rests on you.” That’s the voice we need most of all to hear. To hear that voice, however, requires special effort; it requires solitude, silence, and a strong determination to listen.
That’s what prayer is. It is listening to the voice that calls us “my Beloved.”