As the new year begins, I wanted to take a moment to thank Justin Weber, our seminarian summer intern for his time and work here over the course of the summer. Justin will be returning to Rome to prepare for ordination to the diaconate this fall and ordination to the priesthood next spring, it has been a pleasure to have him here over the course of these past three summers. As he departs, we also welcome back our other two seminarian interns back from their summer breaks, Deacon Levi Schmitt and Matthew Kirk. Deacon Schmitt was just ordained to the transitional diaconate this past spring and is preparing for ordination next spring for the Diocese of LaCrosse. Matthew is beginning his second year of studying theology at the seminary and will be here at the parish, but also embarking on societal ministry, which is part of the formation program at the seminary.
We have been very blessed to be entrusted with helping with the formation of these young men and we have also been blessed as a parish with a number of priestly vocations over the past few years, most recently, Deacon Patrick Magnor, a son of this parish was ordained to the diaconate earlier this year and is preparing for his ordination to the priesthood in May of next year. He will be the third priestly vocation from St. Mary’s over the course of three years! Please keep all of them and all those in discernment in your prayers. In light of these vocations and my belief that there are even more here, St. Mary’s is going to begin a new discernment group for boys and young men who are in 8th Grade through college to help facilitate their formation and discernment. This group recently launched on the Feast of the Assumption and will be known as the Sons of Our Lady, a branch of the Sons of St. John group that the Archdiocesan Vocations Office runs. If you know of a young man between 8th Grade and their college years, who desires to deepen their spiritual life and prayerfully discern their vocation in life then this is the group for them – please encourage them to contact the parish office to be placed on the Sons of Our Lady mailing list. We will be meeting once a month for an hour with time for a brief formation talk, prayer, and then a meal together. The group will be led by myself, Fr. John Gibson, Deacon Levi Schmitt and Matthew Kirk.
One of the highlights of a new academic and formation year is our annual Parish Picnic, which will take place on Sunday, September 15th from 12:00 to 2:00 – it’s a wonderful way to relax and meet other parishioners and have a little fun. Everyone is invited to attend! We have been blessed with good weather over the past few years, and so hopefully that will hold true for this one as well. Another opportunity for parents with young children to meet one another and to have a little fun is with our Parish Playgroup – the Playgroup is meeting this weekend (between the 9:00 and 11:00 Masses) and will meet at the same time on December 8th for a Breakfast with St. Nick, and again in February and April of next year. If you have little children, please be sure to stop by and meet other parents! Speaking of young children, we are so blessed to have so many here at St. Mary’s! Thank you to all the parents who work so hard to get all your little ones together and here for Sunday Mass! Finally, parents of children in our religious education program, if you have not yet registered for classes or the sacramental preparation sessions, please do so as soon as possible! Thank you to all our parents who take the religious formation of their children so seriously – it is a promise made by the parents at a child’s baptism and which is deeply pleasing to God to see fulfilled!