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* Click image below to view bulletin (pdf)

May 31, 2015

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PARISH APPRECIATION PARTY
Saturday, June 6, 2015
Beginning at 6:00pm
through 9:pm (and beyond?)
in the Parish Center!
Everyone who does anything to support the parish is welcome to gather as we celebrate what it means to be the community of faith called St. Ann Parish.
PLEASE RSVP to Pat Marstall at the rectory (314-385-5090) by Monday, June 1st.
Number of Adults coming: ____
Number of Kids ages 6-11: ____
(Kids 0-5 are no charge so we don’t need to know)

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

Perhaps many of you remember the old Porgy and Bess tune “Summertime.” It begins with those iconic words: “Summertime and the livin’ is easy…” That is partly true for me. There is certainly a slightly different rhythm to the days. The Newman Center slows down a LOT. My weekly meetings with my principal are done. The “All School” Masses stop until the fall. So things are a bit slower.

However, this summer finds three major things on my to do list. 1) Stage one and two of the “Beyond Sunday” Capital Campaign starts first. 2) Assembling the Confirmation Team and beginning that preparation. 3) And the “Parish Planning Process” for the Archdiocese of St. Louis rounds out the top priorities. It is this third one that I want to begin to put on your radar.

As a part of the process of looking at future utilization of priests in parishes, the Archbishop has asked each parish to go through the identical process. A small team, which I am assembling, will answer a series of questions, come to a consensus on the rankings, tally up the numbers, and then make a recommendation as to which of the seven possible staffing options might best fit our parish profile. Then a variation of that same process will be opened to the entire parish, giving folks time over two meetings to process through the questionnaire and then give their input to the committee for final evaluation.

Once this is done, then our parish profile with our recommendations for priest staffing (prioritized according to the top three) is sent to the Archdiocese, to be kept on file as needed in the future. This report is due on the Archbishop’s desk on November 1 of this year.

(FYI – PLEASE NOTE: This is not a process about closing churches but one about utilizing our priest resources in a realistic and healthy manner….)

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trinityI was introduced, to a concept about the trinity that I had never heard before. (maybe I ducked during that class, I don’t know.) A man can be “Father, Brother, and Son” – all at once. A woman can be “Mother, Daughter, Sister”. One can be “Nephew, Uncle, Cousin;” or “Niece, Aunt, Friend.” These are kinds of words which describe how we are connected to one another, how we relate to each other and what the bonds are that exist between us. None of them exhaust the mystery of who we are. None of them completely capture the complexity of whose we are. And if that is true of us as human beings, isn’t it also true of our experience of the Triune God. Different names, different descriptors, different ways of trying to understand this mystery we call the Trinity, yet, it is the same God we experience. Some call God – Father, Son and Spirit; others relate as Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier; still others as Source, Mediator and Summit. We can use all kinds of words to try and frame our experience of that mystery. Yet, when all is done, our words can only help to peel back the mystery in a small way…

But, isn’t it also true that beyond the words, we all have our experiences of God? There are events in our daily lives that pull back the veil just a bit and help us understand the nature of God. And though we each may have our favorite images and icons that help us grasp the mystery, let me suggest three from the common experience of a wedding, that may unpack something of who we know as God. Let me use the most recent wedding of some kids I have known from CFC to unpack the mystery.

1) There is that long walk down the aisle for the Father (and sometimes Mother) of the bride with their daughter. And then that all so brief moment, when daddy’s little girl is no longer his little girl to care for. I always watch that moment – this time there were a few words to Dan, the groom, a kiss on the forehead and a gentle giving of his daughters hand into this ‘stranger’s arms’ in hope and fear and surrender. A little tear there. And I image God the father’s love for us when he allowed his son to be born of the virgin. Like every father of the bride, His Heart was full of hopes and dreams and fears and courage as He gave away His treasure into OUR hands. He gave away His treasure so that WE might know life. That is what we know in every wedding and every moment of our days – A God who loves us that way. And whether you call that experience – Father, or Creator or Maker or whatever other adjective works for you – we know one part of the truth of God for us.

The second two moments were nearly instantaneous.

Dan and Tracy had now made those few small steps from where Dad has handed her off, and are now before me, and the altar. There were a few moments while the music was still playing. So I invited them to do what I had given them as a penance when they each went to confession the night before –to just breathe. Just arrive HERE, NOW – to let the music wash over them, and to be present to this grace and this hour and this opportunity of response, of saying a yes to whatever God has in store for them both. And they both did – a visible relaxation. A visible surrender to what the moment would hold for them and the promise they would make. A nod of their heads in assent. And in that moment, I knew a son’s love, who, in his moments of centering in the garden, only knew how to say ‘yes’ in response to the love that had called him to life. Son, Redeemer, Obedient one; Savior – regardless of the words, we know what it means for us to say that same yes, because we were redeemed by His yes.

Finally, still there in front of the altar, we let the music, fit for an ordination, just surround us in this lovely, 4 part harmony, for all of mass, but particularly, at that moment. And this refrain kept repeating. The Lord is my light…The lord is my light. Filling us with grace and blessing. Allowing the empty places and the fearful places, and all that was unredeemed, and all that was not yet “yes’ to God be ‘spirited’ away. And that was all you heard in the entire church – no coughing or baby’s cry or shuffling – just this music that surrounded and sustained and sanctified and recreated us – the promised gift of the Spirit of God – so present, so real. And I knew in that moment the Spirit’s power – ready to renew the face of the earth in each of us.

Father, Son and Spirit. Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. Source, Mediator, Summit. It matters less the words we choose, but more, our decision to let that experience of God wash over us – shaping us and molding us into that love of God for all the world to experience…

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* Click image below to view bulletin (pdf)

May 24, 2015

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YOU ARE STILL CORDIALLY INVITED
TO A
PARISH APPRECIATION PARTY
Saturday, June 6, 2015
Beginning at 6:00pm
through 9:pm (and beyond?) in the Parish Center!

Everyone who does anything to support the parish – whether by direct service, or offering your prayers or contributions to the collection, or maintenance or cemetery grass cutting or… is welcome to gather as we celebrate what it means to be the community of faith called St. Ann Parish.

PLEASE RSVP to Pat Marstall at the rectory (314-385-5090) by Monday, June 1st.
Number of Adults coming: ____
Number of Kids ages 6-11: ____
(Kids 0-5 are no charge so we don’t need to know)
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ __

Priests are nervous from about mid-March through the early part of May. Why? What we know is that new assignments are usually effective the middle of June. Which means that, unless you have actively contacted the diocese and said: “I need to leave this pastoral assignment”, there can come an unsolicited phone call which begins a dialogue about ‘your next assignment’. The ‘transfer season’ ends the Monday before ordinations (traditionally the Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend) with an email to all the priests of the diocese listing the impending changes. (sans newly ordained, who are told AFTER their ordination where they are going.)

So, this past Monday, I officially breathed a sigh of relief when that email came out, and happily for me, my name was not on the list. So, for better or worse, (barring any-thing unforeseen) you have me for another year. For that I am grateful. I am so blessed here, by you and this community. I know the day will come when the Arch-bishop will say: “We have need of your skills and talents in XYZ parish.” And I will trust that day that the Holy Spirit is truly guiding him and the church, and I will say my continuing ‘yes’ to the call of my ordination to serve the church of St. Louis, however and wherever they need me. Which, for another year, looks like St. Ann parish and the Catholic Newman Center at UMSL… Deo Gratias

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YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED
TO A
PARISH APPRECIATION PARTY
Saturday, June 6, 2015
Beginning at 6:00 pm
through 9:00 pm (and beyond?)
in the Parish Center!

So that we might strengthen the bonds that exist be-tween us, and acknowledge that it takes a whole village to raise a St. Ann Parish, please join us in this kid-friendly event. A light, finger food kind of supper will be provided, along with a kids-buffet line. (for kids only!) Beer, wine, soda, water and coffee will be available. The field lights will be turned on at 7pm for the kids to have an evening of play “under the lights.” Steve Engelmeyer will be ‘spinning some dance tunes’ from 7:30 till 9:00 pm for folks of all ages.

Everyone who does anything to support the parish – whether by direct service, or prayer or contributions to the collection, or maintenance or heavenly dusting or… is welcome to gather as we acknowledge all that God has allowed us to accomplish these past years as the community of faith called St. Ann Parish.

PLEASE RSVP to Pat Marstall at the rectory (314-385-5090) by Monday, June 1st:
Number of Adults coming: ____
Number of Kids ages 6-11: ____
(Kids 0-5 are no charge so we don’t need to know)
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
On a personal note, a huge word of thanks to Pat and Bob Lohe and to Jim Paunika who spent many hours in the rectory in the evenings prior to May 2nd and the Newman 50th Anniversary Day of Service. They cleaned and wiped down walls, dusted and prepared surfaces, and then joined Kay Dieckmann, Michael Novak, Gail Fike and Katherine Geerling on that Saturday to do the painting. It is amazing what a new coat of paint will do… It was wonderful to work side by side with all of you on Saturday. Thanks for your help in sprucing up the place.

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* Click image below to view bulletin (pdf)

May 17, 2015

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pooh2“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”

Those are wise words of wisdom from that anthropomorphic bear called Winnie the Pooh. Don’t those words summarize exactly what Jesus calls his disciples to? Jesus tells them/us. You will:
• drive out demons
• speak new languages
• pick up serpents
• not be harmed by poisons
• lay hands on the sick
• PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL to every creature in the whole world..
In other words – “It is time to put the big boots on…” I have led you every step of the way. Now I leave you so that you can go on that adventure called discipleship. So are there any other sayings of Winnie the Pooh that can teach us about the life of discipleship? Let me suggest three.

Lesson #1: “You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” Jesus begins his instructions to the disciples in just that way: GO OUT TO ALL THE NATIONS… If there is a challenge that Jesus might level against us, here at St. Ann, it would be this. We are EXCEPTIONALLY good at caring for our own, helping folks in hard times, reaching out to those in need. But, we are not so good at inviting others to become Catholic. To walk with us the road of faith. In the past 5 years, we have invited exactly 2 adults to join our faith in Baptism. It is hard, I know. I face that temptation every time I head to the Newman Center and don’t make it over to campus. Sure, take care of the students who come to the center – and that is important. But what of those who never cross that great divide called Natural Bridge road? What of those who have never come to St. Ann church? We see them at Bermuda pool, at neighborhood gatherings, at Sprenke’s and fish fries and the like. Do we take the risk to invite them to join us in the practice of the faith? We still have some “Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic” books. Take one and give it to a neighbor… it could be a great starting point.

Lesson #2: “I don’t feel very much like Pooh today,” said Pooh. “There there,” said Piglet. “I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.” This is another way to say: practice kindness! We have enough knuckleheads, imbeciles, megalomaniacs, jerks and idiots. We have more than enough cruel people, heartless people, greedy people, careless people, thoughtless people, inconsiderate people, apathetic people. Our world needs more people of kindness. We need people who are willing to bring others tea and honey. Never overlook an opportunity to be kind.

Lesson #3: “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” Because you are a child of God, because you are part of the Body of Christ, because you are a member of the Church, the People of God, you have a dignity, you have a nobility, you have a power beyond your wildest imaginings. Mark’s gospel tells us: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” That Spirit has already been given to each of us in Confirmation. That power is ours to call upon, in both the profound and the simple moments. Most of the time it will look like the decision to:
• reverently mention the name of Jesus in my conversation?
• pray grace in a restaurant before I eat my burger and fries?
• makes the decision to attend the confirmation class instead of last minute practice for the city-county playoff?
Sometimes, it will look like posting on our facebook pages about the wrongness of the death penalty even if, like the Boston Marathon Bomber, the nation thinks it is justified. Other times it will be that choice to stop the gossip around the workplace lunch room. YOU are indeed braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

This feast of the Ascension reminds us that it is time to put on our Big Boots. And in the immortal words of Winnie the Pooh, “I am pretty sure an Adventure is about to happen.”

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* Click image below to view bulletin (pdf)

May 10, 2015

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bestIt was a lovely wedding yesterday afternoon. The bride was radiant; the groom – tall and handsome. The music was outstanding. The families were welcoming and joyful. It was obvious that the couple put a TON of work into the liturgical celebration. And though it would be nearly a cop out to say that I saw love at its best in the bride and groom as they laid down their lives in the vows they spoke, (which I did), that was not that moment that stood out for me. Rather, just as the ceremony was beginning, the three brothers of the bride came forward and lit a small, rainbow colored candle. And it was all I could do to keep from losing it, because I knew the story of the candle. You see, the candle stood for the middle sister of the family, Caitlin, who died about 2 years ago after a short, sudden illness. It was one of those little touches – just a brief way to remember the daughter/sister/friend who was such a vibrant part of the family until her death. And whom they continue to make a part of each of their family celebrations. And I am not sure if it was the tenderness of the memory, or how reverently they did that simple act, but it was a profound moment of “love at its best.”

And then at the reception, I ran into a young alum from my days at Wash U – who had a stroke at the age of 31, and was doing his best to be present, but the loudness of the reception venue made it extremely difficult on John. And then, as conversation shift and flow, I turned and he was no longer there on my right. I figured that he had left. But on my way out, there was a little ‘glassed off area’, with a table and 4 chairs. There, his friends had herded John so that he could actually be able to participate in conversations and not be isolated because of the noise and his disability. It was a small gesture, but how profoundly touching – people leaving the ‘excitement of the dance floor and party atmosphere’ – so that he would be able to be a participant and not a spectator.

No one has great love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Driving home, I was reflecting on what a good day it was because I saw ‘love at its best’ twice in one evening. But God was not done. I came home to the very tail end of the funeral gathering for the grandmother of one of our pre-school families, downstairs in the parish center. There were two kids, 6 adults and the men’s club bartender still in the parish hall. And though the men’s club member had worked 10 hours at work that day, his back was killing him, and was ready to go home, there he was, still cleaning up, mopping up, making sure that the folks staying to the bitter end had everything that they needed. It was a thankless job, yet he kept pouring himself (and the drinks) out in service.

No one has great love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Love at its best – is seldom flashy or flamboyant. It is not pompous and self inflated. It is not rude or self seeking. Rather, it looks like a bartender going above the call of duty in serving a grieving family. It looks like 3 friends making sure that their disabled buddy was included in the evening’s conversations. It was a family that kept the memory of their daughter’s life an important part of their wedding celebrations. And, dare I say, it is a mother’s love as she kisses an ouch-y away on her young son’s knee; as she cooks yet another meal for the cafeteria family headed a hundred directions that evening; as she babysits for her daughter so she and her husband might enjoy a night together to strengthen the bonds of their marriage. It is the countless choices you and I have witnessed from our mothers to give of self for the good of others…

And it is a savior’s love as he lay down his life for us all upon the cross.

In every act of love, we hear an echo of THE act of love. Each time you and I make the choice to lay down our lives in love, no matter how small or how great the sacrifice, we have the privilege of making God real. There is no greater love than this. How blessed we are to make ‘love at its best’ a reality on behalf of God himself.

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