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.”

August 1, 2021

Your Parish Priest

Greetings Faithful Parishioners in Christ,

This past Sunday and past week some of you discovered how passionate I am about our responsibility to help our young people and youth to arrive at a personal commitment to Jesus Christ and His Body, the Church with the assistance of our parishes’ Youth Faith Formation missions. In launching this new endeavor replacing the Religious Education programs, I became too emotional the first time I addressed it in my homily last Sunday in St. Pius X Church. I quickly adjusted it in time for my following homily in Sacred Heart Church and told them what happened in Onida. I apologize for not being able to control my emotions in Onida. I was barely able to do it in Gettysburg. I will give you an explanation as to what happened to help you accept my apology.

For the past 25 years of my priesthood I have been very frustrated with the Universal Church, our local Church, the Diocese of Sioux Falls, and the parishes in which I have served as pastor or parish priest. I have been constantly up against opposition to changes I have tried to implement to help parishes improve according to Church documents, diocese policies, best business practices, etc. When it has to do with our children, I really get frustrated. I finally was getting the cooperation I needed in my previous parishes but then had to move. Now I realize, God’s providence. This was all in preparation for me being here in these parishes now. Praise God!

We had excellent team meetings this past week in both parishes with good turnouts of faithful parishioners willing to take advantage of the opportunities I am proposing. We had very good discussions and made important decisions. We will be passing them on to you as we are able.

Sacred Heart Parish (SHP)
Evangelization & Discipleship Team (PEDT) &
Youth Faith Formation (YFF) Mission
Bulletin Summarization of the Minutes of the First Meeting on July 27, 2021

Our first meeting of Sacred Heart PEDT and YFF planning team was attended by fourteen parishioners from Gettysburg and four parishioners from Onida. Fr. Brian Simon explained our need for the PEDT to animate our parish mission and the YFF mission as a part of this team effort. He shared his vision, objectives and strategic planning. We will need to be doing this in conformance with the documents, vocabulary, concepts, and mind of the Church.

Fr. Simon distributed a working document of old “school” vocabulary vs the Church’s vocabulary. Doing this will help people rethink how we have been doing Religious Education and how we need to replace it to bring us up to current standards and beyond. For example, Fr. Simon will train Religious Education teachers on how to be catechists according to the mind of the Church. We started planning YFF to begin the first full week of the school year, Wednesday, August 25th and end the last full week of the school year to ensure forty hours of diocese required instruction and add formation instruction and activities, more so in the evening. We will be meeting for 1.25 hours in the afternoon as before but 1.5 hours in the evening. We will have an Opening Mass and Closing Mass with confessions. We will also have confessions Advent & Lent with Eucharistic Adoration & Benediction.

Fr. Simon is the Director of YFF, Beverly is providing secretarial and clerical support, and Veronica Wager and Stacie Weinheimer, Youth Faith Formation Coordinator at St. Piux X Parish, are advisors. We had several parishioners volunteer to be catechists (formally known as (f.k.a.) teachers) and support volunteers. JoAnne Beringer volunteered to be the Catechist Team Leader.

We will be getting textbooks from Ignatius Press using their Faith & Life curriculum. We decided to have 1st – 5th grade classes in the afternoon starting at 3:45 pm until 5 pm. We may shift this time up on the school’s early release days. The 6th – 12th grade classes will be in the evening starting at 6:45 pm until 8:15 pm. We still need 1st, 6th – 10th grade catechists so please discern God’s call for you to help. Fr. Simon will contact the school if the sports teams do not adhere to the school policy of having their practices end so that the athletes can leave the school grounds by 5:45 p.m. Fr. Simon provided a list of possible formation instruction topics and activities adjusted for appropriate pedagogy. The use of these will be limited this first year due to having to restart and rebuild this year and to focus on the basics.

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Published on  August 29th, 2023

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