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Year of Faith-February-An Everlasting Love

This year, February is the month when love is literally at the center of it all.  Of course, here comes Valentine’s Day.  However, this year, Ash Wednesday is February 13, the day before Valentine’s Day.

The core symbol of the celebration of love I am speaking of  is not marked by fancy hearts, clever rhymes, or chocolates but by the sign of the cross, marked in ashes on our foreheads.  The cross is our symbol of the greatest love known.  Jesus Christ reveals God’s love made visible.

During the forty days of Lent, we walk the path of remembering all that love embraces–a way of the cross that reveals the true nature of love, takes on the sin of humanity, overcomes death and teaches us the substance and meaning of hope.

Love is not a passing feeling or a warm fuzzy sentiment expressed in a card.  Love is a response to a deep encounter with God in faith.  God’s love brings us to life and is the source of all love.  Through grace, love draws us outward to others, providing both witness and action.  In his encyclical ” Deus Caritas  Est” (God is Love), Pope Benedict asserts, “Love grows through love.  Love is ‘divine’ because it comes from God and unites us to God; through this unifying process it makes us a ‘we’ which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is ‘all in all.'” (Deus Caritas Est, #18)

This month we offer three essential ways to live our faith anew as we walk this path of love.  Three dimensions of love to embrace:  Love Listens, Love Forgives, and Love Reaches Out.

“Love is the light, and in the end, the only light that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working.  Love is possible, and we are able to practice it because we are created in the image of God.”  Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, #39

As we begin our Lenten journey, may the cross remind us to embrace the depth and breadth of God’s love.

by Sr. Katherine Feely, SND

New Prayer Shawl Ministry

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.


Confirmation Retreat 2013

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.!/media/set/?set=a.467238723336450.109013.382755715118085&type=1


Pursuing a Vocation and Living a Dream

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.

Falling In Love With A Vocation


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.

Children at Mass? No sweat!

God doesn’t ask for perfection, but only genuine effort. The important thing is getting the kids to Mass, even if it’s a sweat-inducing endeavor.

By Dan Cellucci
Dan Cellucci works with Catholic Leadership Institute. He and his wife, Tricia Manion Cellucci, and their daughters, Annie and Katie, are parishioners at St. Thomas of Villanova Parish in Rosemont.

So I have a sweating problem. It’s something I am pretty open about, mostly because it’s pretty obvious. I sweat easily with exercise, otherwise known to me as “walking.” I sweat in awkward situations otherwise known to my wife as all too frequent moments in her husband’s existence. Grossed out yet?  I’m sure and with good reason. Perhaps though, fellow parents can relate to my most effective sweat-trigger – parenting the children at Mass.
You start with the best intentions. Everyone will put on their Sunday best, walk in an orderly and prompt fashion to the car while expressing their enthusiasm for another visit to the parish. In reality, before you even enter the church, you have created several more reasons to fervently participate in the penitential rite and to extend a kiss of peace. For parents (especially those of little girls) know that one’s “Sunday best” is never an easy negotiation and “orderly” and “prompt” usually implode into “frantic” and “frustrated” and “looks like we might be in time for the noon Mass when we were shooting for the 9 a.m.”
As you settle into your pew, the situation doesn’t improve. Who’s fighting with whom? Who needs to sit in between whom? Which toddler has spilled their falsely advertised spill-proof container of Cheerios on the older couple behind you? And despite the 100 other crying children in the church at that Mass, for some reason, your child’s cries seem to be somehow piped through the sound system while every good and focused Catholic seems to be looking at you and wondering why it is you can’t control your children at Mass. And so you sweat … well at least I do.
I was sharing my challenge with having the girls at Mass with a priest friend of mine. What’s the point of this week after week? My little girls don’t seem to be focused on what’s going on. In trying to handle them and prevent distractions to others, my wife and I are not as focused as we should be (in truth she is a lot better at multi-tasking). Wouldn’t we be better off dividing and conquering with one of us going to one Mass while the other tends to the children? Why keep doing this?
“Dan, I’ll give you three reasons,” he said. “First, you do it because you made a promise to God at their baptism. You accepted the responsibility to be their primary teacher of God’s word and you asked a community of believers to support you in that. Second, you do it because Jesus asks you to do it. He instructed us all to “do this in memory of me” – there is no more important foundation to our faith than the Eucharist. And third, you love those girls unconditionally and you know that ultimately they don’t belong to you. Rather you are simply their caretaker with the important responsibility for making sure they know who they are and whose they are. You do it because you want them to have every special and unique blessings God has in store for them.”
“But Father,” I exclaimed, “what of the fighting, the screaming, the dress selection? What of the Cheerios!”
My priest friend smiled. “Dan, He doesn’t ask for perfection, He simply asks for your genuine effort. He wants you to bring the messiness of life to Him so that He can grant you His pardon and His peace. The important thing is that you get there and you get them there. So don’t sweat it.”

A Year of Faith Proclaimed

Pope Benedict XVI has proclaimed a Year of Faith to awaken Catholics around the world to deepen our relationship with God and live as joyful witnesses to the Gospel.

From October 11, 2012, to November 24, 2013, we are called to prayer, study, outreach, and evangelization so that the name of Jesus Christ will be known and loved throughout the world.  The beginning of this special year coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and the twentieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Please join with all members of the Church.

Prayer for the Year of Faith

Heavenly Father, you give us the gift of faith to know and believe all you reveal through your Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  May we live by these divine truths as members of the Holy Catholic Church and proclaim them joyfully to others with the witness of our lives.  Through Christ our Lord. Amen.