September 19, 2021

September 19, 2021

Greetings Faithful Parishioners in Christ,

After I arrived in our two parishes and got introduced to how our parishes have been operating, I focused on our parish religious education programs. This was necessary since they had to quickly get started, and the Director of Religious Education in Sacred Heart Parish decided to resign her position. I have always wanted my parishes to be missionary focused with evangelization (bringing people personally to Christ), making Christian disciples, and developingChristian disciplesto become local parish missionaries who evangelize in thanksgiving for the gift of salvation and want to share the Gift of the Holy Spirit with others. This meant our parish religious education programs had to be reworked to become Youth Faith Formation (YFF) parish missions.

I knew I was taking a big risk in making some big changes quickly, but it had to be done for the sake of our parish children. I tried my best in the limited time I had to explain many things through homilies, bulletin and parent letter writings, teaching at missionary team meetings, Parish Council meetings, etc. As expected, our parishioners had the whole range of reactions and responses. Some people caught the vision and understood what I was trying to do the more they looked into my communications; others, took a wait and see approach, others had difficulties with me, etc. I certainly made mistakes along the way. I apologize, but I also hope more and more parishioners have patience with me and answer the Call of Christ to engage.

I have had some very encouraging indications and confirmations that we are definitely on the right track. One example is the following: Early on, I referred to St. Pope John Paul II’s encyclical letter with the Latin title Redemptoris Missio (in English “The Mission of Christ the Redeemer) and the English title “On the Permanent Validity of the Church’s Missionary Mandate.” I said the mission of our parishes has to be the Mission of Christ and His Church. I insisted that we need to keep this focus.

After this, I received a phone call request from a couple touring through Onida. They asked if they could park their camper overnight in the St. Pius X Church parking lot. I approved of it. On Tuesday, August 24 th , 2021 I started our first meeting in the church with parishioners who were interested in being involved in this new YFF initiative. This couple came into the back of the church to pray, wondering what we were doing.

After we had a prayer service where I preached on the need for our religion teachers to become catechists and I dismissed them to the parish hall, I briefly talked to this couple to explain to them what I was trying to do in our parishes. The retired deacon said that is exactly the problem, we have been having religion teachers in parishes instead of catechists. The following Sunday morning, I arrived at St. Pius X Church. The camper was gone, and I found a copy of Redemptoris Missio on the sacristy counter with the following note: Fr., My most recent re-read. May help with your dream for missionary catechesis. Thanks for sharing your parking lot and allowing us to pray in the church. Deacon Jim Black.

I shared this Divine Providence confirmation in my homily immediately at that Sunday Mass on August 29 th , 2021, the Sunday after our first Wednesday YFF missionary session. One thing is clear in our Sacred Scripture readings for this Sunday. As we hear in the Gospel of Mark (9:30-37) Jesus told

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sept 12, 2021

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sept 12, 2021

Fr. Simon Says

Greetings Faithful Parishioners in Christ,

Our new Youth Faith Formation (YFF) Mission started last Wednesday, August 25 th , 2021!

I am grateful that we have faithful parishioners who responded to the call of God to care for His children in this way. It took trust in God, but we eventually filled all of our catechist positions in both parishes grades 1 – 8.

We are still forming up our youth disciple high school mission. I am the catechist for both parishes, but I need more substitutes and assistants. Thankfully, we have other parishioners who put forth a sincere effort to discern their calling as well. For them and for more parishioners, we will have other opportunities to serve as we introduce other aspects of our YFF Mission.

We had a great turn out of young and youth disciples in both parishes excited to join in this mission adventure, except for grades 11 – 12 in Sacred Heart Parish (SHP). We did not have any youth disciples from grades 11 – 12 attend last Wednesday. That was very disappointing, because I always included grades 11 – 12 in my communications and plans. I found out that the previous practice for high school religious education was that there was not anything offered after students received the Sacrament of Confirmation. This changed with YFF.

Our two parishes are now offering youth disciples in grades 9 – 12 one combined mission area made up of both parishes with one mission team lead directly by me. I am trying to provide as much personal opportunity as possible for youth disciples to have personal interaction with their parish priest, who is a trained missionary, and our new mission team. So, this is relational youth ministry, not just religious education, that seeks to make and form youth disciples and to equip them with what they need to be faithful adult disciples of Christ.

To work this out practically and logistically, it will take some creativity with increased priority and commitment from all of us directly involved and from supportive parishioners. It will be worth the sacrifice for all of us to attain a deeper personal relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church!

I propose we alternate locations for grades 9 - 12 since I have to alternate locations for the sake of all of our young and youth disciples. For legal reasons, the parents will be responsible for getting their young disciples to the location for that particular Wednesday by 6:30 p.m. For convenience, the respective church parking lot will be available for carpooling before 6:00 p.m. I will be talking to personnel from both school systems to try to work out release from all activities to be out the door by 5:45 p.m. as is the Gettysburg school system policy. With some parent preparation and planning, our youth disciples can have food ready in the cars. (On Wednesday, September 8 th K. of C. will be serving a meal 6:30 p.m. to include SPXP H.S. youth. I understand what I am proposing will not work for some families for various reasons, including winter travel. We have a less effective alternative available if needed for serious reasons, provided we have adult volunteers available. Youth disciples will be able to participate by Zoom from either location or from their homes. I will be at St. Pius X Parish (SPXP) Church this coming Wednesday, September 1 st starting at 6:30 p.m. with confessions.

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - September 5, 2021

Fr. Simon Says...

Greetings Faithful Parishioners in Christ,

We are having a great time with our young and youth disciples in both parishes. We are all excited to join in this mission adventure as we pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We had a couple new young and youth disciples answer God’s call to come to our mission sessions this past week. We even have non-Catholic Christian high school disciples in Onida answering the call to be in our high school mission sessions!

Our two parishes are offering youth disciples in grades 9 – 12 (confirmed or not) one combined mission area made up of both parishes with one mission team lead directly by me. I am trying to provide as much personal opportunity as possible for youth disciples to have personal interaction with their parish priest and our new mission team. So, this is relational youth ministry, not just religious education, that seeks to make and form youth disciples and to equip them with what they need to be faithful adult disciples of Christ. We will be able to begin combining high school sessions next Wednesday, September 15th in Onida when I will be there. This Wednesday, September 8th our high school youth will meet separately in their respective parishes.

We will alternate locations for grades 9 - 12 starting next Wednesday, September 15th, since I have to alternate locations for the sake of all of our young and youth disciples. The parents will be responsible for getting their young disciples to the location for that particular Wednesday by 6:45 pm. (Please note the new start time!) For convenience, the respective church parking lot will be available for carpooling. Both school systems are willing to release their Catholic student athletes by 5:45 pm.

We'll have to wait and see how COVID-19 goes. We have room to social distance in both locations as needed. Nobody has to have close interaction for more than a couple minutes. For Faith formation to work through personal human relationships, we have to meet physically, except for serious reasons. The decision to physically participate alwaysremains with the parents. We will provide home resources as needed for the parents.

I understand travel will not work for some families for various reasons, including winter travel. We have a less effective alternative available, if needed for serious reasons, provided we have adult volunteers. Youth disciples will be able to participate by Zoom from either location or from their homes.

We had wonderful Opening Masses in both parishes! Thank you to all of you who were able to participate.

I have been aware that I have not been available as much as I should be due to having to get YFF started in both parishes. I can get too focused on something and lose sight of the big picture. Please be patient with me and my limitations as I will be with you. I appreciate reminders and help with organization. I ask all parishioners to pray for me, our staff, our volunteers and for all aspects of our parishes and to have patience and forgiveness for one another.

 

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Published on  November 20th, 2022

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