SAINT ALOYSIUS CEMETERY: Three weeks back, on the last Sunday of October, George Klotz the Younger spoke at the 9am Mass seeking help for a cemetery cleanup. Much to his (and MY) delight 18 people volunteered to assist. So on the rather miserable day after All Soul's (Saturday 3 November) a hearty group of concerned "Aloysiusians" braved the elements and accomplished more in that cemetery than has been accomplished in years. I know that the state of the cemetery has been a sore point for some time (to the point, I understand, that some internees have "gotten up and left"!); I hope that this great effort marks a turning point for that sacred ground wherein rest the mortal remains of so many of our forebears. It certainly serves as a powerful demonstration of love for and service to one's parish! My heartfelt thanks to George for organizing this and to his partner-in-crime Mary Lynn Pounds for donating hours and hours of their free time trying to keep the cemetery presentable.
THE WIDOW'S MITE: In last week's Gospel we heard the famous story of the widow's mite in which Jesus praises the widow for giving a tiny amount from "her need, " contrasting her with the wealthy who were giving large amounts from "their surplus." I knew that this Gospel reading was coming up, but didn't realise it would be whilst I was on holiday. I was greatly disappointed as I already had the outlines of a homily in my mind. Since I DIDN'T get to preach on this powerful scripture please indulge me as I share a few thoughts here . . . .
In the bulletin the week prior to hearing the "widow's mite" September's financial information for each parish was published. Unlike August's numbers when two parishes were in the black (causing the silly accusation that I was trying to make another parish look bad) this time ALL FOUR were in the red BIG TIME. (Remember we are talking ORDINARY income - i. e. the weekly collection - and ORDINARY expenses i. e salaries. utilities, diocesan assessment, etc. While two of the parishes have nice reserves those funds will eventually DISAPPEAR if expenses continually outpace income.)
Our Chief Shepherd, Bishop Malesic, has repeatedly said that he is NOT going to close parishes, rather par- ishes will close THEMSELVES when they can no longer "pay their bills." So if YOU want YOUR parish to continue to exist YOU must do YOUR part. I know that some reading this will be irritated because the priest "talked about money." I'm sorry, but what choice do I have. And to be clear its "no skin off my nose" if one, or two, or three of these parishes close (even, quite honestly, if the parish in which I was reared were among them); actually it would make my life, and my staff's, a lot EASIER. MY devotion is to THE CHURCH as the living Body of Christ, NOT to any particular building. Be that as it may, loving Our Lady, Queen of the Yough, Community with its diversity of churches, ethnicities, traditions, I have no desire to see parishes shut down. However, it isn't up to me; the ball is in YOUR court. Which leads to last Sunday's Gospel.
We are blessed with parishioners who give their "widow's mite" in support of their parish. And we have a few blessed souls who give QUITE GENEROUSLY from "their surplus." But in between we have quite a few who through in the equivalent of a "widow's mite" (the same one or two dollars they’ve thrown in the basket from time immemorial) when they could COMFORTABLY do more. It is this last group who in the end will MAKE or BREAK their parish.
COVER PHOTO: A late afternoon hike through the woods of Centre County on an early November day . Yes, that is some SNOW on the ground!
Which means it is time to remind parishioners that when the Connellsville School District delays or cancels classes on a Tuesday or Thursday the 8am Mass will be celebrated at SAINT RITA. The 8:30 Mass at Saint Aloysius will NOT be affected.
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