Thursday, May 18, 2017

Catching up - in pictures

     My last post involved some "catching up".  However, I was not able to include pictures until I upgraded my browser.  That completed, I would like to add the pics that correspond to the last post.

     I wrote of the passing of Sammy, the faithful companion of my sister, Jane and favorite of "Uncle Len".  This is Sammy in all of his cuteness.  We shared eleven years and a month with him, and were blessed.



     On the 5th of May, Janie celebrated her birthday.  She is the best of sisters and a great friend.

    
Telling the Bishop what a wonderful brother she has

     On the afternoon of the 6th, we were visited by Bishop Edward Malesic for his pastoral visit to the parish of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.  Here are some of the pictures of the visit.


 My welcome of the Bishop
 Our deacon, Jeff Cieslewicz




 The Bishop with First Communicant, Wren Peters
 The cake
 With some of our Christian Mothers, who hosted the reception
 With Diana Mikash, our Director of Music
 With Ethan Guyer, a First Communicant
Yours truly, the Bishop, Alex Kahanik, a senior & server & Father Tyler Bandura

     And then, in a change of pace, our Sixth Annual Blessing of Bikes on Sunday afternoon.  Cold weather, somewhat smaller crowd, great time had by all.
Good News Blues Gospel Group
 Diana Mikash as MC
 John Mikash with favors given out

 WPXI Channel 11 news interview
 Heads bowed in prayer

Deacon Jeff enjoying doing the blessing







Friday, May 12, 2017

Catching Up

     I have resolved my computer problems at last (almost), and as of this morning are now able to post once again.  My browser was outdated and my computer was unable to upgrade, so it took an investment into a new set up.  The (almost) referred to above involves not yet transferring my pictures for download, but that too will come.  

     There is much to report from these past few weeks.

     On Tuesday of last week, May 2nd, Sammy, the faithful companion for the last eleven years of my sister, Janie, reached a point of deteriorating health where we had to put him to sleep.  Sammy was a cute little puppy that has brought much joy to Janie and myself, and to so many over these years.  Our vet was very gentle and understanding, which made the experience bearable, but the loss is deeply felt by Janie in particular.  We had almost five weeks since he was diagnosed with a stomach growth and cancer.  This gave us time to prepare and to cherish these precious moments, but it is never easy.   We had his remains cremated, and received them just yesterday from our good friends and funeral director, Frank and Rhenee Kapr of Scottdale.

     Friday the 5th of May marked Janie's birthday (I won't tell you which one) as well as my forty-fourth anniversary of ordination.  After Mass we went out to breakfast and then relaxed for the day.   I have three ordination classmates from our diocese, all still in active ministry - Monsignors Paul Fitzmaurice and Roger Statnick and Father Peter Peretti.  Father Pete's Mom, Mary, died just yesterday morning.  Keep her and Father Pete and their family in your prayers.  Roger and I will be retiring at the end of June.

     On Saturday morning we had the second of our parish First Communion celebrations.  The week before we celebrated with sixteen, and last Saturday we had nine.  I always enjoy these gatherings as I gather the children around me at the altar and share the Lord with them for the first time.  

     On Saturday afternoon at our four o'clock Mass we welcomed Bishop Edward Malesic of our diocese for his first pastoral visit, one long in the planning.  The church was full, our new Generations Choir (made up of those seven through seventy-seven) led the singing, the Lord was greatly praised by our worship, and the Bishop was warm, gracious, generous in his time, and truly delightful.  We are very blessed in having him as our shepherd.   Following Mass was a reception, and then I took the Bishop, Father Tyler Bandura, his MC, our Deacon Jeff Cieslewicz and his wife, Roseann, and my sister, Janie out to dinner.  A delightful evening.

     Sunday afternoon we had our sixth annual Blessing of Bikes at the parish.  Our bikers came to show off their rides, to share in fellowship and food, to listen to a Gospel group called "Good News Blues", and to receive a blessing before we sent them on their way.  The turnout was a little smaller this year (it was breezy and chilly) but those who attending are the most gracious of people.  Some look a bit tough, but all are kind and grateful.  One of the local tv stations from Pittsburgh (WPXI, Channel 11) sent a photographer and they had a nice piece on the evening newscast, interviewing Diana Mikash who planned the event and myself.

     Other things have happened, but these are a few of the highlights of this past week.  The month of May is jammed pact with activities, and then comes the wind down of June

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Another in the series of finals

     As I am sure that you know, I will be retiring from active ministry at the end of June, after forty-four years.  Transitions are always difficult, and yet wonderfully challenging.

     On Tuesday afternoon I had another "final event" in the journey - the final scheduled Mass for our Queen of Angels Regional Catholic School family.  I celebrated the feast of Saint Mark for the youngsters from grades one through five, along with a number of parents and guests, in the school chapel.  As always, it was a wonderful expression of faith and love.



     At the close of the liturgy, there was a surprise presentation made by one of the students on behalf of the school family. 

 
     I was presented with a framed image of a "Heralding Angel" beautifully crafted from words and phrases that the youngsters offered to their teachers to describe me.  I have included a copy of the image for your appreciation.



     A while back, when Bishop Malesic visited the school and blessed the new chapel, he was presented with a similar image.  In an observation at the time I shared my admiration for it's unique beauty.  And now I am the proud recipient of this expression of love that will be for me a life-long remembrance of my time in the Norwin area.  To the school family, a great big THANK YOU!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sacred Days indeed

    Our paschal journey through the week called Holy and the Three Sacred Days of the Triduum has reached its end.  Now begins the true celebration of New Life in the Easter Mysteries which will be the thrust of the next fifty days.  We sat at the Table in the intimacy of a supper meal ... we prayed quietly in the garden with our friend and brother, Jesus ... we contemplated the account of his passion and death, we bowed before the starkness of the Cross, and we found nourishment as we continued our journey ... we entered into the darkness of Good Friday night praying in song and word the prophecies relating to this moment in time as we experienced Tenebrae ... and we waited, waited for the Vigil.

     Then we began the Solemn Vigil.  A new fire dispelled the darkness.  A candle, blessed, lit and set apart, led the people of God into their House to contemplate the mystery of salvation.   A great proclamation, the Exultet, spoke of this night in beautiful terms, and of the Happy Fault, the necessary sin of Adam that brought to us so loving of a Redeemer and the fulfillment of a longstanding Promise.   The Church then invited us to listen with quiet hearts to the Word of God - elaborated through nine readings with psalms and prayer.  After breaking open the Word, we moved into the Baptismal Liturgy.

     This year we at the parish had one young man of catechetical age who we shared the gift of Baptism with and then later brought to the Table of the Lord for Eucharist.  His name is Conner, and he was ready and willing with his "YES" to his desire to be baptized and his "I DO'S" at the Baptismal Promises.  In the newly blessed water he entered into the family of God and all of us, renewing our Promises, were reminded of our baptisms in the Rite of Sprinkling.  Conner was welcomed, embraced by the community, prayed over, washed clean in baptism and anointed, entrusted with the Light of Faith, and made ready for the Table.

    And then we returned to the Table that we had left on Thursday to celebrate with Easter joy the Eucharist which is our life-blood.  Having been inspired, having been renewed, having been nourished, we prepared to go forth and proclaim the Good News.  The blessing that sent us forth prayed:

May almighty God bless you
through today's Easter Solemnity
and, in his compassion,
defend you from every assault of sin.
 
And may he, who restores you to eternal life
in the Resurrection of his Only Begotten,
  endow you with the prize of immortality.
 
Now that the days of the Lord's Passion have drawn to a close,
may you who celebrate the gladness of the Paschal Feast
come with Christ's help, ans exulting in spirit,
to those feasts that are celebrated in eternal joy.
 
 
ALLELUIA!  ALLELUIA!  ALLELUIA!
 
 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The vanquished foe

     As our journey through Holy Week continues, I would like to share the words from Preface II of the Passion of the Lord from the Roman Missal which is prayed this week.  We hear it for only a few days, but its beauty deserves our attention.

"It is truly right and just,
our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father,
almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.
For the days of his saving Passion
and glorious Resurrection
are approaching,
by which the pride
of the ancient foe
is vanquished
and the mystery of our redemption in Christ
is celebrated.
Through him the hosts of Angels
adores your majesty
and rejoices in your presence forever.
May our voices, we pray,
join with theirs
in one chorus of exultant praise."
 
     We celebrate our redemption in Christ's passion, death and resurrection, but we also celebrate the defeat, the conquering, the vanquishing of the ancient foe.  There are countless enemies facing us in this world and beyond, but none compare to "the ancient foe".  And it is with confident assurance that we acknowledge his being vanquished and the freedom that his defeat brings into our life.  The power of these days awakens in us great joy. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday of Holy Week

     On this Monday of Holy Week, the Prayer Over the People reads:

"May your protection, O Lord, we pray,
defend the humble
and keep ever safe those who trust in your mercy,
that they may celebrate the paschal festivities
not only with bodily observance
but above all with purity of mind.
Through Christ our Lord."
 
 
     These next few days are days of quieting of our lives, quieting of mind and heart, so that the Triduum may bring forth within us the sacredness of the mysteries that we celebrate.
 
 
     These days of Holy Week 2017 are precious to me in that they will be my last in active ministry.  My retirement from pastoral assignments is quickly approaching, as is my seventieth birthday.  The date for retirement is not yet set, but will probably be close to July 1st.  Pray for me ... and pray for the people of this great parish family.

A Week of Grace - A Holy week

     The crowds gathered [a few more than usual on this Sunday of palm branches and crosses] as we entered into a heightened journey of a reflection on the Passion of Our Lord.  Yesterday was the Palm Sunday of the Passion of Our Lord.  On this Sunday the Church recalls the entrance into Jerusalem of Jesus and his companions.  At our 11:00 am Mass our newly formed Generations Choir which combines our Young Voices and our Adult Choir set the stage with a rousing version of the "Hosanna to the Son of David".

     The beginning greeting set the stage for the upcoming week.  From the Roman Missal, I said:

Dear brothers and sisters,
since the beginning of Lent until now
we have prepared our hearts by penance and charitable works.
Today we gather together to herald with the whole Church
the beginning of the celebration
of our Lord's Paschal Mystery,
that is to say, of his Passion and Resurrection.
For it was to accomplish this mystery
that he entered his own city of Jerusalem.
Therefore, with all faith and devotion,
let us commemorate
the Lord's entry into the city for our salvation,
following in his footsteps,
so that, being made by his grace partakers of the Cross,
we may have a share also in his Resurrection and in his life.

     Then we began this journey of faith.  Triumphal entry ... sobering words ... the great story of betrayal and passion and death from Matthew ... our reliance upon our faith and the Eucharistic Table ... and our departure in quiet reflection and prayer.  As I have said to our parish family, if you allow yourself to enter into these mysteries with open hearts and minds you will experience his blessings and grace, and the "Holy" in this week's title will be able to be used to describe you at the end of the week.  We are called to holiness.  The path lays before us.  And God's grace will see us through to the end - which is really the beginning.  Journey well.

     It has been too long since my last post, and I sincerely apologize.