We find ourselves on the threshold of Christmas – this is one of those delightful years when we have an Advent of four full weeks which means we have had the time to fully enter into Advent and, hopefully, prepare ourselves well for the coming celebration of Christmas. Just a few notes, with Christmas falling on a Sunday, we will have our normal Christmas Mass times rather than the usual weekend Mass times. So Masses will be celebrated on Christmas Eve at 4:00 PM and at 10:30 PM with a Christmas concert beginning at 10:00 PM. Masses for Christmas morning will be celebrated at 7:30 AM, 9:00 AM, and 11:00 AM. I know that every year we have large crowds, most especially at the 4:00 PM Christmas Eve Mass, and so we will have the Atrium system up and running for those who are in the overflow in the Atrium.
A few other notes to pass along, the first is in reference to Christmas falling on a Sunday this year. Did you know that 18% of our general stewardship offerings are received during the month of December? It is a very important month for the parish financially, unfortunately with Christmas falling on a Sunday that means we will have one less weekend of collections this year. May I ask you to consider helping to support the parish in making up for this loss of a collection with your Christmas donation? People at St. Mary’s are so generous and, on behalf of myself, the Parish Trustees and Finance Council I want to thank you.
I wanted to bring you up to date on the continued efforts of the Archdiocese to address the declining number of priests through effective parish planning. I am sure we are all familiar with the fact that St. Mary’s is one of what has been known as the Quad Parishes of St. Mary’s, St. Dominic, St. John Vianney and St. Joseph. In particular, St. Mary’s and St. Joseph have been clustered together. With the continued unfolding of the diocesan planning process things change based on circumstances and that has happened once again. As the diocesan planning process has unfolded it was deemed worthwhile for the cluster of St. Mary’s and St. Joseph to draw to a close and for St. Joseph to cluster, instead, with St. Agnes Parish in Butler. This means that St. Mary’s will now be considered a “stand alone” parish without a clustering partner. We will, however, continue to collaborate on various efforts with St. John Vianney and St. Dominic and what was known in the past as the “Quad Parishes” will now be the “Tri Parishes” of three separate “stand alone” parishes. We are grateful to have such wonderful neighbors and wish many blessings on St. Joseph and St. Agnes as they begin their new cluster relationship. Please pray for vocations – our seminary has more young men studying for the priesthood than it has in thirty years – this is an important trend, but one we must continually reinforce through prayer and encouraging vocations!
Finally, as we gear up for Christmas, I hope that you will be able to find some time for rest and most especially for prayer. I am convinced that the joy of Christmas is affected by the time we spend in preparation for the celebration on a spiritual level. So if wrapping and baking and shopping are fraying your nerves, perhaps it is a sign from the Holy Spirit to stop what you are doing and to pray!