0

Statement of the Missouri Catholic Conference
On Terrorists Attacks in Paris and Syrian Refugee Crisis

We, the Catholic bishops of Missouri, write to express our solidarity with all those terrorized by ISIS and other violent extremists who falsely invoke the name of God to justify their bloody attacks on innocent people. Our concern especially goes out to the French people as they cope in the aftermath of the November 13 terrorist attacks and to the many Syrians also terrorized by ISIS who are fleeing their country for the safety of new lands.

The bloody attacks on innocent Parisians on the night November 13 have galvanized the world as never before to the threat posed by ISIS and other violent extremists. According to French security and other worldwide intelligence sources, the attacks in Paris were either master-minded or inspired by ISIS forces in Syria. Legitimate concerns have, therefore, been raised that ISIS is seeking to insert terrorists into the ranks of refugees coming to Europe and America from Syria.
It is only natural that Americans wonder whether they can be safe from terrorist attacks and whether allowing Syrian refugees into our country will raise the threat of those attacks. As a nation of immigrants, Americans understand our country has a proud tradition of accepting immigrants and refugees, but we also want to be safe and secure.

In this time of increased anxiety, it is especially important to reflect and take stock of what is actually occurring when admitting Syrian refugees into our country. The Syrian refugees go through multiple layers of interviews and security checks, making them the most thoroughly vetted group of people who come to the United States. Security screenings are rigorous and involve the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Defense and multiple intelligence agencies. It can take up to two years for a refugee to pass through this vetting process.

It is true that none of these security measures can guarantee our absolute safety. Even a police state could not offer this guarantee. The challenge is to weigh security concerns with our American tradition of welcoming immigrants and refugees, as symbolized by the iconic Statute of Liberty. In our view, appropriate security measures have been taken and our country should not refuse to welcome Syrian refugees who have been through the vetting process.

We urge Governor Nixon and all public officials to work with federal officials to both keep our citizens safe and to allow refugees from war-torn Syrian to settle in our state.

CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF MISSOURI

Continue Reading

0

* Click image below to view bulletin (pdf)

November 29, 2015

Continue Reading

0

stop look listenDo you remember ever standing on a curb feeling the strong hand of your mother or father holding your small uplifted hand just before you crossed the street? “Before we cross the street,” mom/dad would say, “we must stop, look, and listen for cars that may be coming on our left or our right.” (I was nearly creamed in London one year, when I only looked to the right…) Our young lives depended on our stopping at the curb, looking both ways, listening carefully, and then crossing the street when no traffic is there. I wonder if those words might be the key to how to live Advent this year as well? “Stop! Look! Listen!”

Those words are all about awareness, aren’t they? About the wakefulness we are invited to be about during this season. It is not a sorrowful wakefulness like Lent, but rather a wakefulness that expects the kingdom of God to break into our world. Luke says it this way: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy…Be vigilant at all times…ready to stand before the Son of Man.”

Though there are many things we can/should be vigilant about, what if we just focused on three? What if we became aware of three of the ‘myths’/temptations of this season?

1) More is better.
The black Friday ads in the newspaper this year totaled 4lbs. Four pounds of printed glossy gloriousness saying: MORE, MORE MORE. “Stop” invites me to know a different truth. More is not better. Actually, usually, less is. Less alcohol, less food, less schedule, less presents, less running, less TV, less noise… The juggernaut that is Madison Avenue shouts again and again: “It’s that most wonderful time of year. You need more of everything.” And we buy into that – figuratively and literally: “I must do my patriotic duty and spend more money.” Perhaps we would all do well to spend less time buying things for one another, and more time looking at one another, and more time forgiving each other. Some choose to spend less time in front of a TV and more time in front of an Advent wreath. Sitting in some emptiness and silence is one of the most important things we could do to help us wake up to what is most real. “STOP!” the myth that more is better.

2) The concerns of the bigger world are not mine.
We can be tempted to make our Christmas so small; to think only about what affects me. To not really care about the Syrian refugee crisis; reports of violence and starvation; global climate change; racism: as long as it doesn’t affect our plans, our comfort, our schedule. “LOOK!” invites me to realize that every single person in each of those news stories is part of OUR family. The pain of each is our pain, and WE must work to create a more just and loving world. I know we can’t fix it all. But we are ALL in this together. And the only way to see the beauty of this world and the presence of Christ in it is also to be awake to the pain and struggle of a world not yet what it was meant to be, and to the sufferings of those around us. “LOOK” bids us to be awake to how God still wants to be birthed now in the world THROUGH US.

3) If I hurry up and get everything done, THEN I will be able to celebrate Christmas.
Quite honestly, many of us miss the profound gift of Christmas because we rush so trying to get ready … and we miss what is happening in and around us. A preacher once said that his biggest regret in life was “Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry. But I can think of a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing. Through all that haste, I thought I was making up time. It turns out, I was throwing it away.” He concludes simply: “Hurry always empties the soul.”

“LISTEN!” is the invitation to enter into the NOW. For if I scurry through these days, trying to get “there”, once “there” arrives, I’ll miss it, because I have never allowed myself to be HERE. How we prepare is how we celebrate. Be awake to love now. “Listen!”

How will you travel through Advent this year? Let those three words you learned at your mom and/or dad’s side so many years ago, guide you.

“STOP!” – more is not better. “LOOK!” – there is a larger world in need of your love. “LISTEN!” – Christ comes, not when I get THERE, but right here. Right now.

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy…Be vigilant at all times…ready to stand before the Son of Man.”

Continue Reading

0

As you might know, this week, the movie “Spotlight” came out. The movie follows the investigation of journalists into the allegations of clergy sex abuse in Boston and the cover-up by the hierarchy. Though I have not seen the movie, I am certain that it will raise reactions in and among, not just our catholic family, but in families and homes all across our nation. I want to say a few words about that.

First, most importantly, as members of the clergy, Fr. Ron and I offer our sorrow and regret that anyone was ever hurt by any member of the clergy. It was wrong, and it breaks our hearts.

Sadly and regrettably, American bishops in the middle of the last century did not act on credible accusations of sexual abuse against their priests. In the 70’s and 80’s bishops followed what turned out to be the incorrect assessment of psychologists that, after treatment, accused priests could re-turn to active ministry in parishes. More seriously, over this long period of time bishops did not report credible accusations to the police. As a result of these practices innocent people suffered. It never was okay. It is not okay now. It never will be okay.

However, one positive outgrowth is that the practices and policies that the Catholic Church has instituted – our Safe Environment Program – for all clergy and for all who work with children have now made us one of the safest places for children in the country. (go to: http://archstl.org/files/field-file/Spotlight%20Doc%20Color.pdf for an update on our efforts since the Boston Globe report) Since 2002, we have trained over 130,000 adults on how to recognize and report potential abuse situations. And we continue that training, month by month all throughout our Archdiocese and this country.

Yet, we must still keep our eyes open. If you know that any child is living with abuse, it is imperative that you report it. If you know someone who abuses children – priest or not – please call the Police so that that child might be spared. If you want Fr. Ron or me to stand next to you when you call the police, let us know. We will stand with you. We must protect our children. The hotline number in Missouri is: 1-800-392-3738. The Archdiocesan phone number for the Office of Child and Youth Protection is 314-792-7704

Secondly, let us continue to keep solidarity in our hearts at all our Masses this weekend with our brothers and sisters in Paris, France, who were victims of the senseless and violent attacks. May God help us all find a way to create a world that is more just and loving for all. May we each do our own part to end the violence and hatred that can be so real even in our own homes and hearts.

Continue Reading

0

* Click image below to view bulletin (pdf)

November 22, 2015

Continue Reading

0

keysSt. Ann rectory has the most doors of any rectory I have ever lived in. If I start in my bathroom, I have to go through 8 sets of doors to get into the church. Likewise, if I start in the kitchen, and go up the back stairwell, it is 7 sets of doors. If go up through the main staircase, it is only 5 sets of doors. There is one place in my room where I can see 7 sets of doors. In hallway outside my bedroom, I can see 12 doors. There are other places where I can see 11, 10 and 8, without moving. Finally, there is one spot where, if I stand just right, I can see 13 doorways. I sometimes joke that the architect of St. Ann’s rectory was paid by the doorway…

And then, to complicate matters, there is no ONE master key that opens all the doors of this St. Ann plant. There are a few keys that open a lot of the doors (and I don’t want to even think about how many people have those…) but there is no one MASTER key that opens all the doors to this parish. In that spot just outside my door where I can see 12 doors, I need at least 4 different keys. You need one key for the parish center, and another for the PC kitchen. Another for the men’s club storage closet. Another for the bar. And the concessions stand. And the closet that turns on the lights on the field. And for the principal’s office. And the Early Childhood center. But, if you wanted to get into every room and every place of this Saint Ann parish with one key, you could not do it.

So, what does this have to do with the feast of Christ the King? Just this. I wonder how often in my own life, I live my relationship with Christ the King like the doors to the rectory and parish plant. I wonder if I have ever given Christ the master key to all the rooms of MY life.

• The Lord can be King of the religious side of my life <show a key> – I’ll let him in there. But the rest of the doors of my life are closed and off limits.
• He can come into the front part of the rectory – I’ll meet him there. <show a key> But heaven forbid, I allow him into my office – let’s keep that work/spirituality division nice and clean.
• He’s welcome into the kitchen where I cook and prepare meals, <show a key> but the doorway to the TV room is off limits. Why should it matter what I watch.
• Jesus can be the King of my table fellowship – sure, I’ll invite him, in prayer, to be present at every meal. But I am not going to give him the proverbial key to the door of my wallet – that money is mine to use as I see fit.
• I will let him into the “personal side’ of my world, but don’t ask me to put that ‘personal faith’ into practice in the public world by protesting the death penalty, or by making a stand on gun violence, or predatory lending practices, or letting Syrian immigrants into our country, or any one of a hundred social justice issues that we are invited to be aware of.

Folks, either Jesus is the King of ALL of your life, or he is not King. Either we give Jesus the key to all the doors of our world or he is NOT Christ the King.

This week, take a look inward. Who has the keys to the rooms of your life? Your personal doors? Your family life doors? Your sexual life doors? Your professional life doors? Your public life doors? Who owns the most keys to the doors of your life? Is there anyone who owns ALL of them?

I suspect that all of us live with a lot of doors that separate one area of our world from other areas, just like the doors of the rectory. On this feast of Christ the King, there is just one question that really matters. Have you given Christ the Master key to your life?

Continue Reading

0

repentA few weeks ago, I got a tip that the end of the world was nigh. Usually I don’t pay much attention to them. But these were different. These warnings were a series of post it notes put on different doors of the parish complex over 4 different days. Someone went to some trouble to make sure I got the message. <<Read the notes>>
• The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is soon. Repent for these are the last days.
• These are the last days. Jesus is coming back soon.
So, obviously, I was not getting the message out quickly enough, because the next note was written on a RED post-it:
• The World is ending and the AntiChrist is about to rise! Jesus is the only way!
And the last one:
• Fr. Bill, (yikes) you must warn your congregation NOW! If you do not, you will have blood on your hands. So, you have been warned…

It is tempting to brush these notes off, to not take their message seriously. Yet, in today’s gospel, Jesus seems to think that we need just such a reminder. Our scriptures for this weekend use a type of literature we refer to as apocalyptic. Strange symbols and language, which have as their goal, in part to remind us that things end. There will be an end to our ability to work; our friendships. An end to the nation as we know it; the church as we know it. There will be an end to our very lives, and to the lives of those we love.

When Jesus tells us that we do not know the day nor hour this will happen for us, he doesn’t say that to frighten us. He does so to focus our awareness again on what we say we value. Sometimes we get so caught up in things that mean very little in light of the shortness of life, that we forget what really matters to us. Remembering that we don’t know when our world will end asks us if we are living now what we say is important to us.

Case in point: One morning, years ago, Alfred Nobel, the man who invented dynamite, sat down to have a cup of coffee, opened his newspaper and, to his surprise, read his own obituary. A reporter had mistakenly reported Alfred’s death in place of his brother’s. As you could imagine, Alfred was shocked. But it gave him the fascinating opportunity to read what was written about him and how he would be remembered. His obituary described him accurately as the “dynamite king” who had spent his life making instruments of death and destruction.

This was not the legacy that Alfred Nobel wanted to leave the world. That morning Alfred Nobel resolved to change his life. Not only did he resolve to do so, he actually did. He changed the direction of his life in such ways that – later, in his name – annual prizes would be awarded in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. He went from being the “dynamite king” to the one for whom the “Nobel Peace Prize” was named.

Such is the gift of facing the reality of our own death. Facing the reality of our deaths provides a chance to choose again what really matters. There are some here who need no reminder; some who have faced death too recently – or who narrowly escaped it – and for whom the reality of the shortness of life is altogether too much in their faces. Yet, even when we are aware, there is a part of each of us that tends to go back so quickly to ‘business as usual’.

Alfred Nobel got to see what would have been written about him had he been the one who died. What do you think would be written about you if you died? Better yet, what would you LIKE to be written?
If you or I had the opportunity to write an article about ourselves to be published after we died, what would we want to say about ourselves? What would we want to be noted for? If I want my legacy to be that I was a person who cared for others, a person of prayer, or someone who loved my family, I do well to examine whether or not I am living those values now. We DO NOT KNOW when the hour will come.

And so are there: Any words of kindness to speak? Now is the time!
Any risk to be taken; forgiveness to be sought? Now is the time!
Any friend or relative to call or visit? Now is the time!
Any prayer to be prayed or virtue to be embraced? Now is the time!
Any act of service you have been putting off? Now is the time.

For each of us, the end of our days will come. My friend who left these notes on the doors of the church reminded me of that. Jesus tells us clearly today that we do not know WHEN that will happen. But happen it will. I keep these notes on the door frame of my room, a daily reminder that the end is indeed coming. I invite you to put your own ‘post it note’ which will remind you – perhaps just with the words: “Alfred Nobel” on it, and leave it on the door frame to your room. And every time you see it let it remind you of the urgency of these hours. Are you now those values that last?

Continue Reading

0

Beyond Sunday are two wonderfully chosen words to describe the initiative begun in our Archdiocese. Our work as Catholics does not begin and end at the Sunday Liturgy, but, rather, is meant to go far beyond the walls of our St. Ann Church. We heard last weekend of the works of the St. Vincent De Paul Society and how that work has concretely helped the lives of 455 families just within our parish boundaries, not to mention what it has done in each of the five CONTINENTS that the society is flourishing. So, too, the sacrificial giving we are asking of you in this campaign is meant to go ‘beyond what we usually give on Sundays.’

The Beyond Sunday campaign, as you know, has two components – the Archdiocesan mission around Catholic Education and the Parish Mission around capital improvements. The split is 60% to the Archdiocese (who are also incurring the costs of the campaign) and 40% to the Parish. The Archdiocesan portion will be spent around the three goals for Catholic Education – tuition assistance for middle class families; educational excellence (aka – allowing schools to be competitive with the public school districts in their area – which unfortunately for this neighborhood is not much of a battle here – but in other areas of the diocese…); and what I call ‘Best Practices” – how do we retain and attract good teachers, share resources and ideas across the diocese and make our schools agents of transformation in our society.

As we move in to the public stage of our campaign, allow me to go into a bit more depth on plans for the St. Ann portion of 40%. The capital needs we seek to address are somewhat obvious:
1) Replacing the Roof over the main body of the church, and sealing the side roofs with a protective, heat reflecting polymer coating.
2) Once we are sure the new roofs are working, to repaint the stained sections of the interior of the roof, visible to all of us each Sunday.
3) Repaint the metal structure that protects our Stained Glass window from direct contact with the elements – including sanding of the rusting frame and re-glazing of the 183 window panes it contains.
4) Resealing the parking lots, with repair and replacement a few areas with crumbling asphalt.
5) School and Pre-School Priority funding – Painting, plastering, new touch-less bathroom fixtures, architectural lighting, etc.
6) Formation of an Educational Endowment of $30,000 for St. Ann School and Parish.
7) Parish Center Wi-Fi and A/V set up, DVD player, computer Connections. bluetooth connections, etc.
8) Upgrade the Parish Center entry foyer with a dropped ceiling and new lighting.
9) Replace 25+ year old carpeting in the rectory and install thermal garage doors for the heated garage which carries plumbing and water pipes.

So, pray about your pledge, about the needs both local and diocesan wide. Ask the Lord for guidance, and then turn your pledge cards in at the rectory, or in next Sunday’s collection.

Continue Reading

0

* Click image below to view bulletin (pdf)

November 15, 2015

Continue Reading

0

* Click image below to view bulletin (pdf)

November 8, 2015

Continue Reading