This week finds us beginning the Lenten Season with Ash Wednesday. As you probably have already heard, ashes will be distributed in a method different from the way we are familiar with. The Vatican has issued a directive that ashes should be distributed by the sprinkling of ashes on the top of one’s head, rather than with a cross being made on the forehead. While this custom is unfamiliar to us in the United States, it is an ancient custom and has always been the custom in Rome, so while different, it is certainly a part of our liturgical heritage. Please consult this weekend’s bulletin for the times of Masses and Distribution of Ashes. Also, just as a clarification – Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation. While it is a salutary thing to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday it is not an obligation to do so.
About two weeks ago, Fr. Gibson wrote an article for the bulletin sharing the news that his term as Associate Pastor here at St. Mary’s is coming to an end in late Spring. We are very grateful for these nearly three years of work here and I know we will keep him in our prayers as he begins his next assignment. At this time, St. Mary’s is scheduled to receive a new Associate Pastor – the assignment of priests is a bit like putting together a puzzle and it usually takes some time over the late winter months and early spring to finalize assignments. In addition to praying for Fr. Gibson, please add whoever our new Associate Pastor will be to your prayers as well and as soon as we have information on who that will be, we will share it with you both at Mass and in the bulletin!
During this time of year, our attention also turns to our upcoming annual Auction for Education. The school auction is a great event and one that benefits the parish school in a multitude of ways, from helping to provide ongoing education as well as usually benefitting some specific project that enhances the school. At the 2019 Auction for Education, we began raising funds for the development of an outdoor classroom and learning space. The project was to dovetail with our desire to landscape the corner of Juneau and Crescent as well as purchasing new signs for the parish property to replace those which were old and falling apart. The original timeline was that funds raised at both the 2019 auction, as well as the 2020 auction would go to the development of this new outdoor learning space. As we all know, spring of last year threw many curveballs into everyone’s lives. Due to this, we decided to complete half the project (new gardens and new signs) and delay the second half of the project (the outdoor classroom) until this coming spring. With the donated funds, we plan to do this in late spring/early summer of this year. During the Autumn, as the children returned to school, we found that having the students outside for class and lunch was a great gift and something that we would like to do regularly going forward as a part of the educational enterprise here at St. Mary’s. Being outside on beautiful days was not only healthy physically, but mentally as well, and while there have been challenges in having in-person learning over the course of this year, there has also been knowledge gained as we have tried new things and found that we like some of them and want them to continue – the biggest of which is giving the children the chance to learn and also to get fresh air!
This weekend we have speakers talking about this year’s Auction for Education, which will be primarily a virtual event. If there are ways you can help support the auction it would be greatly appreciated. The school is certainly an important and integral part of the parish’s life and any support benefits not only the school, but the entire parish as well.
Finally, I want to thank everyone for your continued generosity to St. Mary’s – as we near the “one year mark” of what we have been going through and the challenges it has brought, one of the constants has been your generosity. Thank you! And a blessed and grace-filled Lent to everyone!