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.

 

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time - August 22, 2021

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time - August 22, 2021

Greetings Faithful Parishioners in Christ,

Well, here we go! I will start meeting with our young and youth disciples in both parishes the next three Wednesdays to offer confessions and Opening Masses and to explain to them the reasons we are changing from the traditional “parish religious education” model to the present “youth faith formation” model being used in our diocese plus my own approach, method, and added features. I have been doing this in my homilies, writings, and meetings with Parish Councils and team meetings.

For the most part, I am finding some reactions and connfusion from people who have not had the opportunity to get to know more but also great excitement from people who have been involved more and have been closely working with me. This week begins the tougher challenge of engaging our young and youth disciples in an effective but also pastoral manner.

These past few Sundays, other than for last Sunday’s Solemnity of the Assumption, we have been progressing through the Gospel of John chapter 6 which leads up to Jesus’ “Bread of Life” discourse. As He keeps stepping up the challenges of His teachings, He is preparing them to make a very difficult commitment to Him as He claims they must eat his flesh and drink his blood for them to have eternal life.

I see the process of Faith Formation in a similar way. As St. Paul says, he has to begin with milk before he can give them solid food. For people to have effective assimilation of the Faith we have to introduce them to Christ and His Church before we can expect them to be faithful disciples of Christ and His Church. People of all ages have to be “made disciples” before we engage them “as disciples.” For the most part, parish religious education programs have assumed our young people and youth already are disciples. When the degree of difficulty in practicing the Faith steps up, they do not have the personal commitment and discipline to be faithful in living it.

Our parishes’ Faith Formation Missions need to use new approaches, methods, and other means to have a New Evangelization that is more effective in helping our parishioners of all ages to make their personal Faith commitments stronger and to live by them. Some day, we might be challenged like Jesus challenged the Twelve in the Gospel proclamation for today (John 6:60-69) saying, “Do you also want to leave?” If so, will we be able to respond to Jesus like Peter did? Peter replied, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

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Published on  November 27th, 2021

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