Notes From Deacon Terry

October 8, 2017 Bulletin

Dear friends in Christ,

   Who are "they," and who are "we"? I watched a couple of IPTV programs over the weekend that pertained to the surge of Hispanic immigrants to the USA. The various reporters seemed to reference the immigrants as "they."  The reporters would follow that by saying "we," which I would suppose to be the reporter's opinion and the opinion of the majority of US residents. 

   Granted, many are arriving in the US by secretly crossing the US/Mexico border, but if they didn't, they would not be able to get here in the first place. Once they are here, in filing for US Citizenship, if they disclose they are "illegals," they would be arrested and deported. That's a "catch 11," times two, if I ever heard of one!!

   Didn't Jesus tell us to take care of the marginalized, the poor, to feed the hungry? If I missed something in Scripture that excluded "illegal immigrants" from the marginalized, someone please show me chapter and verse where that exclusion is put forth! If we look back at our ancestry, we will find that many of our past relatives were considered to be in the "they" category. What if "they" had been deported; where would "we" be today? God created all human beings equal and responsible for each other, our brothers and sisters, and that includes Hispanic people. 

   "We" should include ALL without discrimination or exception. I don't propose to have THE PLAN as to how that should work, but the Holy Spirit within each of us will enlighten us individually as to what or how we can help. Pope Francis is calling out to each of us, just like Jesus did, to reach out and help our brothers and sisters. Francis started an initiative called Share the Journey which we will be hearing more of in the near future.                 Blessings, Deacon Terry

September 24, 2017 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ:
   What happened in Viet Nam, and why?  Those are the questions, among many others, that Ken Burns tries to bring to light in his documentary "The Vietnam War," being shown on IPTV. What went on in Viet Nam and why has been a mystery to civilians and war participants alike for more than half a century. Having been a combat soldier myself, it is still a mystery to me. That is a sentiment shared by most who were involved.
    Ken Burns is known for his excellent documentaries on the Civil War, WWII, and others. He reveals the thoughts and actions of many of those involved in warfare, no matter which side they were on. What is important is his motto for this documentary, “There is no single truth in war.”  He shows no favoritism as far as what was done by anyone. He shares the truth as best as he can discover it. As in every war, in Viet Nam there was an overabundance of bloodshed, most of it needlessly. Needlessly because there didn't seem to be any logic, any plan, any collaborative method to what was going on. The U.S. pretty much had the Vietnamese dehumanized. Most of us bought into the propaganda to the degree that we were ruthless. Religion and faith were mostly overlooked or abandoned because it was difficult, if not impossible, to see God's hand in what was going on all around. That is not to say there weren't many prayers offered up in fear and desperation.
    So why watch the remaining episodes? So that there might be some understanding of what war does to people, all the alcoholism, drug addiction, and suicides involving Viet Nam vets. It's too late for what has already gone on in Afghanistan and Iraq, but maybe we as creatures of God may learn something from this series about how NOT to treat people, whether they are like us or not!                                                                                                  Blessings, Deacon Terry
Sept. 10, 2017 Bulletin
Dear friends in Christ,
    ​As a deacon, I have often heard frustration and concern voiced over lack of parental participation in their kids' faith. What they refer to is that parents have their kids involved in RE formation but their faith demonstration ends there. The kids/families are not seen at Mass on the weekends or involved in the parish in any other ways.
    Humans hugely learn by demonstration of the principles being taught. A formal sharing of information is great and necessary for learning, but so is modeling of those beliefs by people who are significant in the lives of the learners. That would be parents and families! If kids are taught the importance of participation in Mass and the sacraments, and they don't see those things being done by their parents, the whole message is lost, it falls on deaf ears. I have heard some kids lament that their parents won't take them to church. Really? Can anyone really expect those kids to be active followers of the faith in their own futures? There are some valid reasons for not attending Mass every weekend, but those reasons are limited.
    Are those parents living the call of the Gospel and sharing the meaning of doing so with their children?  Model, model, model!  Nothing means much if the young don't see the teaching that they have received really being lived out. Besides being a practice of the teachings of Jesus, Mass can and should be a super community builder.  Community was something that was underlying in what Jesus did and said. RE is a great community builder, but that should only be the start of family participation.
    See you in church?                                                   Blessings, Deacon Terry
August 27, 2017 Bulletin
Dear friends in Christ,
   How in the world did we get where we are in our own spiritual life? That is something for each of us to ponder. We certainly did not get where we are on our own! For most of us, we are Catholic because our grandparents and parents were Catholic and we sort of inherited the faith as it were. After we were baptized and brought into the faith, we most likely encountered a lot of people on our journey through life who encouraged us and were good role models to us as they lived their own Christian Catholic lives. At the time, we probably would not even be aware of listening to those people, not consciously aware that we were watching how they lived their lives and subtly imitating their goodness. Many of us were encouraged by the actions and words of priests and nuns, RE teachers, and other religious that we may have encountered. What a blessing they were to us!
   Now is a good time for us to step up to the plate and become one of those guides, mentors, encouragers and sharers of our faith. Now is a good time to pay it forward in terms of our faith. We always have the opportunity to live and share the values and teachings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
   Many came to the faith through a conversion to Catholicism and they did it with the help of many people previously unknown to them who shared their beliefs through words and actions. We all are called to be those guides and mentors and share our faith with others. We all are also called to grow in our faith to come to know the will of God better and to be more obedient to His will. Think RCIA.                      Blessings, Deacon Terry
July 30 & August 6, 2017 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ:
   With the grace of God, I flew to Oshkosh and back. Because of changing winds and a line of thunderstorms, my best laid plans were laid to waste! Kind of like life; we have to go along with whatever God hands us and He definitely took care of me on this trip.
   When I got to Oshkosh and wandered around taking in all the sights and sounds, I was struck with the overall friendliness and kindness of everyone I encountered. Strangers engaged in conversations with each other, people smiled a lot at each other, people were gracious as far as not crowding into lines, people laughed with each other not at each other. I thought to myself, "This must be what heaven is like!"
   As I thought about this caring atmosphere, I came to realize that it was because we all shared a common denominator, a shared interest in all things airplane. Then I remembered that the same atmosphere existed at motorcycle get-togethers, Sturgis notwithstanding. It happens everywhere that people gather with a shared interest! I wondered what would it take to bring this type of respect and caring into the whole world?
   It was then that I recognized that we all do have a common denominator-God! We are all made by Him, He is present within each of us, and He wants the best for us, much like we want the best for ourselves. So…… why is it that we don't do a much better job of taking care of, looking out for, each other? It's not a new, unheard of concept; He specifically asks us to live our lives in that way. It would take so little out of our lives if we reached out to each other with love and respect. Let's recognize, know, and love our "common denominator" and live our lives in a way that shows such love.          
                               Blessings, Deacon Terry
July 2 & 9, 2017 Bulletin
Dear friends in Christ,
   I'm hoping to fly my Piper Cub to the big fly-in in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the third week in July. The Cub is of '46 vintage - same as me - flies at 70 MPH, and is a two-seater, much like an ultralight, which is NOT at all like me! I look forward to the adventure, but I have a lot of apprehension about the trip. With only a 12-gallon gas tank, I have to plan gas stops pretty accurately. What are the winds going to be, here and along the route,  the days I plan on leaving and returning? Will there be any equipment failures on a 71-year-old airplane? Will I be able to find my way? A lot of questions and uncertainty!
   As I thought about the trip, I came to realize it is a lot like life in many ways. We know NOTHING for certain! Our path in life is ALWAYS uncertain. Will we run out of gas on the journey of life? Will we venture off course on our journey? How will we arrive, IF we get there? A lot of questions and few certain answers. 
   That is why we NEED God in our lives. We need to put our complete trust in His providence for us on our journey. We must be prudent in our decisions, in our choices, but everything about our life is in the hands of GOD! That gives us good reason to be faithful to His commands, His requests as we journey through life. And if we crash, if we run out of fuel, it shouldn't matter. It's not about this earthly life that we should be fearful; He promises eternal happiness in His presence if we proclaim Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We can, and have, gotten through many rough situations when we rely on His help and guidance. Besides, we have the Holy Spirit as our co-pilot!

Journey on in prayer.
Contact!
Blessings, Deacon Terry
June 4 & 11, 2017 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ:

   May 27th was a day that held a special meaning for many folks from our parish and to many folks who were visiting our parish. The focus of the day was the Brooks – Rooney wedding with Michael Brooks from Boston marrying Trisha Rooney, a homegrown girl. Many of Michael's family and friends from Boston attended and participated in the wedding. The wedding was a blessed thing to participate in, to be sure, but the interesting thing to watch was the dynamics when the culture of Boston interacted with the culture of Iowa, and vice versa. Some people have a preconceived notion about the nature of folks from the East Coast, and Boston in particular, but that was dispelled.
   There was politeness, welcomeness, and respect to and from both cultures, with the people from Boston being a very "lively" bunch of folks. More than a fair share of smiles and laughter were enjoyed by all.
   Mother Nature pulled a cruel trick in the morning before the wedding. There was a huge tent set up for the reception on the Rooney farm, with tables, glassware and china place settings -- until the storm hit, literally collapsing it all. The Iowa farmer can–do mentality kicked in. Someone said, "Let's get this set back up," which they set about doing and did. Locals and Bostonians pitched in to clean up and set up once again. The place was ready in time for the start of the reception. It is my sense that the Bostonians were a bit surprised by the attitude and efforts of the local folks, along with the help of many of the Bostonians.
   My point is this: in spite of the huge differences in culture, everyone loved and respected each other and pulled together to make it a beautiful wedding package. As someone joked, this is quite the place for a destination wedding! Wouldn't it be wonderful if the whole world worked that way?!          Blessings, Deacon Terry 

May 21, 2107 Bulletin

Dear friends in Christ,

 

Last week, the first reading was from Acts 6:1-7, and it spoke of the very first seven men chosen to be ordained deacons. The need for deacons was fairly obvious. The widows and children of the Hellenists were being overlooked as far as their needs for human survival not being met. The disciples' main mission was to continue the spread of the Word of God so they said to select seven reputable man, filled with the spirit and wisdom, to be ordained as deacons so the disciples could continue on with their mission of spreading the Word.

   "Deacon" comes from the Greek word "diakonos" which means "servant." The primary job of the deacon is to make sure that the needs of people are being met since that was the original intent of the establishment of the order of deacons. The deacons were slowly phased out in the early church but revived at the Second Vatican Council.

   The duties of the deacon include proclaiming the gospel, preparing the altar before the consecration, assisting the priest in a very limited way at the altar, assisting with the distribution of Communion, offering a sign of peace at the appropriate time, and dismissal at the end of Mass. The deacon, with the blessing of the priest, is allowed to preach on occasion. He also can perform baptisms, marriages, and be the celebrant at a vigil service or for the full funeral service. I like to say that we can hatch, match, and dispatch!

   I was ordained in August of 2010 as a married man. If my wife were to precede me in death, I could not remarry due to the vow of chastity that we make to the Bishop at our ordination. Today, there is a group of candidates, 17 strong, going through formation to be ordained in 2018. Pray for them to be open to do the will of God.

                                                                                                          Blessings, Deacon Terry 

May 7, 2017 Bulletin
Dear friends in Christ,

This weekend 20 young men and young women will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation which, along with Baptism and Eucharist, completes the Sacraments of Initiation. Confirmation is a sealing and strengthening of the initial Sacrament of Baptism. Baptism, performed with water, symbolizes salvation. Confirmation, performed by the laying on of hands and anointing with chrism, symbolizes the receiving of the Holy Spirit. These actions will be done by Bishop Pates.  As the Catechism of the Catholic Church declares (para. 1294), they "share more completely in the mission of Jesus Christ and the fullness of the Holy Spirit with which he is filled, so that their lives may give off 'the aroma of Christ,'" which the scent of the balsam signifies. Congratulations young people of our joint parish!

Now the bad news! Unfortunately, many, young and old alike, believe that the completion of the Sacraments of Initiation through Confirmation also completes the need for ongoing faith formation. Not so! Just as in many occupations ongoing training is needed for a full and updated understanding of the matter at hand, in this case, it is our Catholic faith. For instance, the understanding of so much pertaining to our faith changed with the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, yet many people are unknowing of what the church teaches and practices since that era. Our freshly confirmed young people and older ones continue the need to grow in their understanding of the faith. Adult faith formation sessions have been conducted in the past and will continue to be conducted if we know what kind of information you hunger for. Make your requests known to me, or any of the parish staff, and we will work at getting something going in that direction.         

Blessings, Deacon Terry
April 23, 2017 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ:

"Thank you, Father! Nice service." I can't count how many times I was told that, or something similar, during the Easter Triduum. It's hard keeping a straight face when I hear that from folks, most of whom I don't know on a familiar basis. I find it humorous because I feel like I have to struggle hard just to be a Deacon, not even thinking of being a priest!

I wonder if it is from people who are not used to being in our parish churches, or if it's the vestments that throw them off. On Easter, I wore a dalmatic, a vestment approved for deacons at "special liturgies." Fr. Dan wears a chasuble. The two vestments look somewhat similar because of their ornateness. The chasuble is like a round poncho with an opening in the middle to slip over the priest's head with his arms protruding from under the edges of the "poncho." A deacon's dalmatic is like an "over-robe" that has huge sleeves and short sides and also slips over the head. Both are usually very ornate in a liturgical theme and color.

For the record, the liturgies during the Triduum were very nice indeed! Father thanked all who were directly involved in making it special, and I also thank you all very much. It is the involvement of our parishioners that make our parish so very great!

Remember, I be the deacon, Fr. Dan be the priest!             

                                                                                                    Blessings, Deacon Terry 

April 9, 2017 Palm Sunday Bulletin
Dear friends in Christ,   
Amen?....... Amen!
    I was wrapping up my homily a couple weeks ago and felt particularly filled with the Holy Spirit. I spoke a questioning "Amen?" and got back a response of "Amen!"  I thought, and probably a lot of other people thought, this is a Catholic Church, what's that about? I was pondering that exchange, and then realized that I needed to give my full attention to the most important part of the mass that was soon to come. Later, at a "Let's Chat" gathering, a lady commented about that Amen, said she thought it was pretty nice, to which a couple more folks agreed.
    Personally, I think it's great when we can verbally respond to our feelings or to the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.  So often we seem to be in la-la land as we go through the predictable routine of the mass and say the rote prayers without even thinking about the meaning of what we are saying. I have to admit, I am somewhat envious of the evangelicals and charismatics, as they participate in their services in a manner that shows that they are truly alive, the Holy Spirit is within them. This might make some people cringe, and for that I feel badly, but not badly enough to stop looking and sounding like I am alive. And thanks be to Jesus! No, I'm not quite up to dancing in the aisles and everyone shaking their tambourines.
    Let's participate in the mass with a little joy and expression for the true meaning of why we are gathered!  Amen?
                             Blessings, Deacon Terry 
March 26, 2017 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ: 

     There is probably not such a thing as a "favorite" Station of the Cross. They are all pretty sad and graphic as they portray what Jesus endured on His journey to crucifixion on Calvary. It is difficult to understand and accept that anyone would endure that kind of pain and anguish for me (you), but He did. Praying the Stations of the Cross frequently brings on tears for those praying, which is very understandable.

     However, I believe there is good in one particular station, and that would be the ninth station when Jesus falls the third time. There are only fourteen stations and there had to be a lot going on that could/should be devoted to any particular station. In His painful journey we hear that He fell the first time, He fell the second time, and then in the ninth station He falls the third time. And the significance is??

     Jesus, in being true God and true man, shows that He falls in his humanness, not just once, but three times in fourteen stations! When we look at our lives, we KNOW that we have fallen many times. Because we know of Jesus falling and getting up again to continue His mission from God the Father, we should see from His falling and rising that it is anticipated that we fall in our human condition. It's almost as if he knows and gives us permission to fall, and again. Our message in this is to rise again and continue on whatever mission God has in mind for us. It would be wrong to chastise ourselves for falling and then to drop out of the race, or have a pity-party for ourselves because of our fall.

     Jesus' "follow me" means to do that in all things, including rising after WE fall. Let us ask Him for His help as we try to rise from whatever has beaten us down.                      Blessings, Deacon Terry 

March 12, 2017 Bulletin
Dear friend in Christ,
    A week ago, at the first fish fry of this Lenten season, I was sitting there looking around at all the activity going on with so many people. The adults were sitting around in groups gathered in conversation and laughter. Lots of laughter! The kids, as soon as they were done eating, or maybe not done eating, would take off from the table and hook up with other kids who were present. That would evolve into groups of kids chasing each other, racing each other, all the time with much laughter. Great stuff! 
    Jesus, when he walked the earth, was the master of community building. People who followed him had to be interacting with each other and sharing the stories of how Jesus had worked in their lives and what they had seen Jesus working in others’ lives. They were sharing their life's journey with each other as they followed Jesus. Community!
    We here at St. Mary-Holy Cross have much more in the way of community building than just the fish fries. On the first Friday of the month, Father Dan celebrates Mass with an open gathering afterwards for those who attended Mass. Twice a year, after a Mass, we have a gathering of senior citizens who gather in conversation and laughter and eating. On the third Thursday of the month, we have what is known as "craft day", but the name is somewhat misleading. There are people who gather in community to work on their own crafty handiworks, but there are also card games and board games for anyone who may not practice a particular "craft." This is a great fun community builder so I would invite ALL who have free time on Thursday mornings to come and join us. The bulletin also lists activities sponsored by the youth of our parish that are also great community builders.
    Come join us as we build up the body of Christ in our parish.                           Blessings, Deacon Terry
February 26, 2017 Bulletin

Dear friends in Christ, 

Let's chat!  Chat about what, you might ask?  Well, we could chat about just about anything and be okay, but let's try to include matters of our Faith.

Frequently, when we have had the video presentations for our adult faith sharing, we have followed those presentations with a time of discussion about what we just saw and heard. We would start out talking about whatever subject the video presentation encompassed, but after a while the conversation would drift away from the video presentation to personal matters in people's lives as it pertained to faith. Those discussions would go on for quite a while with most people actively engaged in either talking or listening, or both. It would sometimes be a letdown to return from whatever subject we had been talking about to the teachings brought out by the video.

So let's start out that way, with an open-ended discussion about whatever faith matters are on people's minds. The gathering could evolve into a Bible study, a study of the Catechism, a teaching about the sacraments, a book study, an audio lesson, or just going to whatever direction we, the group, feel comfortable with. We can allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit and trust me, he will lead us somewhere interesting! If anyone has a favorite subject matter or faith issue that they would like to discuss, we could go in that direction under their guidance. Of course there will be sharing of kid's stories, the health and well-being of our parishioners, the weather and the crop situation, and on and on. No gossip! It is also encouraging and uplifting to hear another person's witness, the story of their own growth in faith.

So we picked a night, Tuesday, March 7, at 7:00PM in the Social Hall to get this wagon train rolling. Let's shoot for an hour to hour-and-a-half commitment, with the understanding that in succeeding weeks anyone can drop in, or not. If you believe that you have an alternative to this format for adult faith sharing, please call me at 515–669–6158.  Blessings, Deacon Terry 

February 12, 2017 Bulletin
Dear friends in Christ,
    Hey Mister, can you spare me a smile? 
    I don't understand why I see so many glum-faced people sitting in the pews during Mass. People seem to be in the old–school way of thinking about going to Mass. I'm sure many people in our parish are old enough to remember the "obligation" concept of attending Mass. The idea, "if you don't go to Mass on Sunday, and die, you will surely go to hell" was beat into our way of thinking about attending Mass. I don't know about the accuracy of that, but I do believe Jesus promised us eternal salvation for believing in him and for receiving his body and blood. Now that's a pretty joyful thought, isn't it? Know that joy!
    So instead of sitting there glumly, looking like I have to be here, why are people not grinning from ear to ear, joyfully slapping each other on the back, telling each other, "we're in, we're in?"
    From where I usually sit, I don't see a lot of what looks like joy and happiness, except on the faces of little kids. It's kind of sad looking out at all the faces looking sadly back at Father Dan and me. It is a celebration of Mass; I invite you to look like it is, act like it is a joyful celebration! Clap your hands to the music, joyfully offer a sign of peace to those around us at the appropriate time, smile, smile, smile! I invite you to share joy with those around you, and help bring them joy. Let's have the visitors wondering why we are so happy, why we actually look like we love each other. Let's share in the joy of what brings us together. As those in the 12 step program say, "Fake it until you make it!"                  Blessings, Deacon Terry
January 29, 2017 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ,
    "Urgently need your help taking down Christmas decorations!" That was the appeal that went out in the announcements on the Feast of the Epiphany. That appeal was made, but based on the number of people who stayed, or showed up to help, there was no sense of urgency. It all went very smoothly and quickly. Thank you to all who helped!
    So why the "urgent" call? When the call went out to parishioners for help in setting up Christmas decorations, only five folks responded. That meant that we worked into the evening hours and a couple of folks came back the next day to put in more hours to finish. Pretty overwhelming and intimidating task! There were expectations of low turnout for the take-down phase but we who had set up were pleasantly shocked by all those who jumped right into the change of scenery. Once again, thank you to all who helped!
    Our next challenge in decorating the church will start on Palm Sunday and continue three times during Holy Week. Changes need to be made for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and for the climax of Easter. There will be an appeal for assistance as time draws near. 
    Melanie Stoner has generously volunteered to head up the Decorations Committee, and needs other volunteers to help with the considerable work involved with that important job. Please help however you can.    
                     Blessings, Deacon Terry
January 8, 2017 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     Today we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany or sometimes called Three Kings Day. Though not named in the Bible itself, some Christian traditions and legends have called the Magi spoken of in Matthew’s Gospel Kings, named them Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar and made them representatives of Europe, Arabia and Africa respectively. In approximately the fourth century, Epiphany began to be celebrated as signifying the visit of the three wise men to Jesus with their accompanying gifts, as written in the gospel of St. Matthew.

    It is celebrated the first Sunday after the 6th of January or 12 days after Christmas. In some Christian churches (e.g. the Anglican Communion) it marks the end of the festive season of Christmas and the time to take the Christmas decorations down. In our Catholic Church the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, January 9th this year, marks the end of the Christmas Season. The word "Epiphany" comes from Greek and means "manifestation." It is a moment of sudden or great revelation that usually changes you in some way. It means an experience of sudden and striking realization. An Epiphany is often thought of as an "aha" moment by many today. Jesus Christ, born on Christmas, was manifested as the son of God, true God and true man. What an "aha" moment!

    The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord also celebrates another such “aha” moment as it recalls how Jesus came out of the water after being baptized by John and was manifested by God as God said, "This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased." 

                    Blessed Epiphany, Deacon Terry 

December 18, 2016 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ: 

   It sure seemed strange to arrive at Holy Cross Church at 7:40 for an eight o'clock Mass and find the parking lot empty! I thought maybe I was having a senior moment and just failed to understand something, but my wife shared in my confusion, so I knew it was real. We had been commenting about all the outbound traffic on the road to Holy Cross that intersects the main highway. When we got to the church, we found an empty parking lot and Pat Phelan driving around with his car flashers on, filling people in. We could see a note stuck to the door of the church, fluttering in the winter wind. My first thought was that maybe Father Dan had gone the way of Martin Luther and had posted his grievances against the church on the note attached to the door. Not so, thankfully!

   It seems that when Pat arrived at the church earlier in the morning to fire up the furnace, it didn't want to fire up. It was way too cold to have Mass in the church so a plan was devised to move the Holy Cross Mass to St. Mary's in Elkhart at 8:15AM instead of the usual 8:00AM time. Everyone had time to make the switch of locations. A text was posted for those tech-savvy enough to be checking their mail early on a Sunday morning.

   There was to be a children's Christmas pageant at Holy Cross that morning so all the decorations and costumes were gathered up and transported to St. Mary. It all went well except that we found everyone was sitting in someone else's seat! ;-) 

                               Blessings, and stay warm, Deacon Terry 

December 4, 2016 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ:
    This Thursday, December 8th, we celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception which is a holy day of obligation. Many people, including many Catholics, think that the Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Christ through the action of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. That event, though, is celebrated at the feast of the Annunciation of the Lord on March 25, nine months before Christmas. 
    The Immaculate Conception refers to the condition that Blessed Virgin Mary was free from Original Sin from the very moment of her conception in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne. We celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, her birth, on Sept. 8; nine months before that is December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
     Another misconception people have is that Mary's Immaculate Conception was necessary to ensure that Original Sin would not be passed on to Christ. This has never been a part of the teaching on the Immaculate Conception; rather, the Immaculate Conception represents Christ's saving grace operating in Mary in anticipation of His redemption of man and in God's foreknowledge of Mary's acceptance of His Will for her.  In other words, the Immaculate Conception was not a precondition for Christ's act of redemption but the result of that act. It is the concrete expression of God's love for Mary, who gave herself fully, completely, and without hesitation to His service.                                  Blessings, Deacon Terry
November 13, 2016 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ:
   The RE kids were introduced to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament last Wednesday.  Both early and late class times met and started an abbreviated version of Adoration lasting approximately 1/2 hour. There were many questions about the Tabernacle and the use of incense during the liturgy. Parents of the children were invited to stay for the adoration and there were a few that took up the offer.
   What was interesting to note is how many kids, and even adults, experienced their first Adoration that evening. Unfortunately, it is a liturgy that has fallen out of favor amongst many. As explained to the kids, it is an excellent time to sit quietly and listen to the Holy Spirit within each of us speak to us about our own life. Yeah, it is all too easy for one's mind to wander during the silence; we're human. However, when that happens at Adoration, or even sometimes at Mass, we need to gently call ourselves back to the present moment of being in the presence of Christ. 
   When asked if the liturgy was too long, many replied with a "yes."  It is uncomfortable to sit in silence without interaction with others, but that is a minor inconvenience compared to dying on a cross!
    The next parish Adoration will be at St. Mary next Thursday, the 17th of November. Please come and give up a little bit of your time reflecting on the One who gave up His entire life for us.        Blessings, Deacon Terry
November 6, 2016 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ:
     "Liturgy literally means 'the work of the people.' As a religious phenomenon, liturgy is a communal response to, and participation in, the sacred through activity reflecting praise, thanksgiving, supplication, or repentance," or so says Wikipedia.
     At a recent Liturgy Committee meeting there was both a strong interest in changing some of the music at our liturgies, along with a strong disinterest in change of anything. Liturgy involves the music, the decorations, the attire, the prayers, which all are subject to the change of seasons. It was mentioned that the music should be more upbeat, more joyful, more spirit-filled. This obviously does not suit everyone's idea of a good liturgy.
     The reason for a possible change is due to the decline in attendance, not only at Catholic churches, but all churches in the United States. The reason for this decline, especially among young people, is that they say there is nothing in the church that fits their needs. We at St. Mary's-Holy Cross seem to have a tradition of the faith being handed down from one generation to the next. While that may have been true in the past, people are more mobile, more transient, and people are less likely to carry on the family traditions in one location. Do we need to address such a decline in our parish or are we okay just as we are?
     I ask that you contact Celeste Muehlenthaler, who is our Director of Music, and give her a piece of your mind. She claims to not be a liturgist, but in many of our minds she is! Please share with her your opinions, ideas, suggestions, and hopes on all aspects of our liturgy, but especially music, in particular. Celeste will facilitate all input at the next Liturgy Committee meeting.                         
                                                                        Blessings, Deacon Terry

October 23, 2016
Dear Friends in Christ:
   Grief can be easily avoided! MYTH!  Not only can it not be easily avoided, but it cannot be avoided at all. Grief is something that we face, we deal with, from time to time throughout our lives. All of us. There is no escaping grief. As we go through the various stages of grief, we sometimes act those feelings out, which can cause us confusion or embarrassment. It is helpful, but no less painful, to understand what grief does to us and to be able to recognize what is going on as we go through the grieving process.
   Kathleen Rohwer-Greenwood, the presenter of the grief process, started a three-part series last Tuesday evening in our parish hall. What she shared, in a relaxing and sympathetic manner, helped all of us to understand where we might be in our own grieving process about many different matters. There is no reason to feel shame or embarrassment because one is grieving over some matter. Grief frequently besets us at times of loss in our lives and it doesn't matter, or make it harder or easier, what that loss might have been, such as job, pet, property. Grief is powerfully present at the time of the loss of a loved one, be that family or friend.
   Kathleen will continue her series on October 25 (7:00pm) and November 1 (7:15pm) in the parish hall. All are invited to attend whether or not you are currently experiencing grief.            Blessings, Deacon Terry
October 2, 2016 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ:
   Good grief, Charlie Brown! Is there such a thing as "good grief"?  We will find out when our friend Kathleen Rohwer-Greenwood comes to our parish for three weeks to discuss grief. Grief is something that we are all familiar with and have experienced at different times in our lives. It is an emotion that we will continue to face as long as we are alive. Kathleen's program seems especially timely now as our parish has recently experienced so many funerals.
   Kathleen will present to us the various causes, stages, and effects of grief in our own life and how to cope with them. She has presented her program at various correctional institutions in Iowa. It could be said that she had a captive audience. We, however, will be free to return to our homes each evening.
   All are invited to the presentations on Tuesday evenings, October 18th, 25th, and November 1st in St. Mary's Social Hall. Each session will be an hour long beginning at 7:00 PM.   Please join us.
                                                                                Blessings, Deacon Terry
September 18, 2016 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ:
     Recently, Tammi McClain and Sonya Staudt, co-directors of our PreK-6th Grade RE program, came up with a great idea. They want to introduce the kiddos and their parents to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Typically, Adoration at our parish is for an hour period of time on the third Thursday of the month in the evening. What they propose is to have a brief period of Adoration for the kids on some Wednesday night during the normal timeframe of Religious Education. The date for that Adoration has not yet been set.
    This Adoration would include all the sacramentals normally used in a typical Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, including incense, the monstrance, candles, and the humeral veil. During the time of Adoration, an explanation of what is taking place and the significance of the Adoration will be provided to give understanding. Parents are invited to join their children for this Adoration rather than just drop the kids off and dash out the door. I would imagine this to be about a 20 to 30 minute commitment.
    A similar abbreviated period of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament has been suggested for the teen groups of our parish, with a date also yet to be set.
    So, watch the bulletin and listen to the announcements for the upcoming dates of these sacred activities. Share this time with your children as you both grow in faith and understanding of our Catholic spirituality. This is an opportunity to grow closer to your children and to God at the same time.                Blessings, Deacon Terry
September 4, 2016 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ:
    Please come to our parish picnic on Sunday, September 25! It's far enough out in the future so as to be able to put it in your schedule.  It should be a fun time, as it always has been in the past, with great food and activities for all ages. I have been invited to skydive into the event but I'm not sure if I will "drop in" or not. Doesn't matter; it will be a great event either way.
    While there, everyone will have the opportunity to interact with many. That is a GREAT thing because the more you know about the joys and struggles of others, the more likely you will be to see them as "neighbor." Remember the "Love your neighbor" thing?  This is a good opportunity to come to know those you are called to love. Enter into community with those present.
    Also, the sharing of the meal, the breaking of the bread, is huge throughout cultures and religions. Our ancestors, the Jewish people, were supposed to show hospitality, to share a meal with all who visited them. A universal symbol of unity is to eat with someone. It would be more fulfilling, more enlightening, if you sat next to someone you didn't know well. Minister to them; let them minister to you through shared conversation. 
    Let the little child in you come out again to enjoy the festivities. Remember that thing about, "you must be childlike to enter the kingdom of heaven"? Act your shoe size, not your age. You may not have noticed, but I do that all the time and it's OK!         
                             Blessings, Deacon Terry
August 21, 2016 Bulletin
Dear friends in Christ,
    Kim Mandelkow, director of Worship for the Diocese of Des Moines, served our parish community last weekend in two capacities. First, she played as musical accompanist for the Masses at St. Mary in the absence of Celeste Muehlenthaler. After the Masses, she delivered a short program on living the Eucharist. 
    Most think of Eucharist as a "thing," albeit holy and sacred, rather than something that one "does." Prior to Vatican II, most thought of our faith as attendance at Mass, and after Mass, your obligation was fulfilled. Kim shared that we are called to be the living Eucharist in our daily lives outside the church building. Our "obligation" is ongoing in the way we live our lives; it is without end. The Eucharist at Mass is the true body of Christ that gives us the grace, the encouragement, the reminder to live a life of holiness. After Mass, we are called to imitate the Eucharist, the very living body of Christ, in the ways we conduct ourselves in OUR everyday life. Living the Eucharist is not an either/or choice; it is more of a both/and!
    What does that look like? We are to imitate the life of Christ whose body is the Eucharist that we receive and consume, and in so doing, become a living Eucharist, a Eucharist that cares and shares and assists other human beings on our collective daily journey to eternal life.
    It might sound somewhat grandiose, but we, in the image and likeness of Christ, are called to be humbly grandiose in our lives.               Blessings, Deacon Terry
July 24 & 31, 2016 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ:
   The parish community of St. Mary's – Holy Cross will be opening up, or exploring, Laudato Si, Pope Francis' encyclical on Care for Our Common Home. On the weekend of July 9-10 there was a short video shown after each Mass showing the top 10 messages of the encyclical. After the video, there was an open discussion about what was seen and heard in the video. There were many comments and ideas about how the points Pope Francis made affect our rural Iowa parish. Many agreed there was enough interest to set up another meeting to discuss and decide how best to respond to the Pope’s letter. Without knowing what works or doesn't work for each person, it was decided to meet in the Social Hall on the evening of Tuesday, August 2nd at 7:00 PM.
   The reason for making a point of this encyclical, and not others in the past, is because someone took a special interest in what this encyclical says, and wanted to pursue the content. This encyclical does not focus exclusively on global warming as it is often portrayed and that single issue is not the only issue that we will be discussing.   
   Whether we like it, or not, we as the world human race are responsible for a LOT as pointed out in Scripture. Pope Francis said if we do nothing, the planet will end up an immense pile of filth. Is that what you want to be known for, or is that what you want to pass on to following generations?
   If anyone is interested in some of the comments and suggestions brought forth at the video sessions, contact me and I will email it to you.                       Blessings, Deacon Terry

June 26 & July 3, 2016 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ:
    WE WANT YOU!  That sounds like the Uncle Sam recruitment poster during WWII, but we are quite a bit more user friendly in our mission. We are looking for parishioners to volunteer for parish ministries. Some of those ministries are music, Eucharistic ministers, lectors, Sacristans, ushers, greeters, announcers, and more that I am probably not remembering. Probably the minister that seems to require the most courage is lector. For some people, getting in front of a group of people to address them is difficult. NO ONE has ever been egged, or had rotten tomatoes thrown at them, or been chastised, for their acting in the role of lector. Most are admired for doing that role. 
    The role of Eucharistic minister does not require addressing people as a group, but it is a one-on-one greeting to each person coming to them. It takes being able to give a loving meeting of the eyes with those receiving Communion from you. 
    The announcer makes the parish announcements before Mass begins. That requires the same mindset and skills as the lectors along with the openness and high energy to have a good interaction with those present (hopefully). 
    The music ministry is always looking for persons who can sing as cantors alone or in a group of people or even in the choir. Cantors sometimes cantor alone but are also teamed up to share the opportunity of leading the parish in song.  Music adds beauty to the liturgy so add your beauty to our parish!
    The ushers provide a needed service by assisting people for seats, taking up the collection, and bringing forward the gifts. Also, anyone can bring forward the gifts, just let an usher know that you desire to do so.
    High school age youth and older are invited to serve in these ways. Contact me to sign up.  
Thank you!                  Blessings, Deacon Terry
May 29 and June 5, 2016 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

    We are so blessed to be members of St. Mary-Holy Cross parish. I recently met with a group of my deacon friends, and after we all caught each other up on what is going on in our lives, and the life of our families, we started talking about our parish life. I knew before, but came to the realization again how wonderful our parish is. This opinion is reinforced by the results of the recent parish survey which can be accessed at http://www.saintmaryhc.org/.
    Overall, it appears that folks are generally happy with how things are going or being done on communication efforts with a total of 89% of people satisfied or extremely satisfied. Communication is hugely important in all aspects of life and it looks like we are doing well in that area. Let's keep talking and reading! What can I say?
    In regards to the question "how satisfied are you with the Mass at St. Mary – Holy Cross?", the combined rating of satisfied and extremely satisfied came in at 85%, once again, pretty high. I am curious, how could we improve on the satisfaction of Mass? What is lacking or being overdone?
    One thing about the survey that concerns me is the area of faith development opportunities. Slightly less than 50% have participated in faith development opportunities, yet a significant number of people wanted more faith sharing, Bible study, and such. When we have programs of that nature, very few people are in attendance. How are we missing the mark? I would like input on what is needed or desired.
    There is a suggestion box at the entrance to the church. Please use it to add your ideas on how we as a parish can improve while still feeling good about how we are doing.                                Blessings, Deacon Terry

May 15,  2016 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ,
   A good gift that has been received really isn't much of a gift if it is not used. The gift placed on a shelf or in a closet is soon overlooked and forgotten. This is true whether the gift is something tangible of the world that can be seen and felt or something mystical like the Holy Spirit. I say mystical because the Holy Spirit can neither be seen nor touched.  One has to KNOW and BELIEVE in the presence of the Holy Spirit within them, acting in their lives.
   Jesus said I will ask the Father and he will send you another advocate, the Paraclete, to be with you forever. We received the essence of the Holy Spirit at baptism and we were sealed with the Holy Spirit at our confirmation. It was confirmed that we had received this mystical Holy Spirit.
   So how would one best utilize the Holy Spirit? Silence, contemplation, meditation! Mostly, we must quiet ourselves in order to know what the Holy Spirit asks of us, to know how he wants to work in our life, how we can best use our lives to give glory to God. It is only when we quiet ourselves that we can be aware of the subtle messages that God has for us and communicates to us through the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will continue to get our attention but that is hard to do with the roar and turmoil of daily life. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through our intuitions and perceptions of things we have not seen. It is frequently when we get beat up in life and become retrospective and introspective about the things that beat us up that we quiet ourselves enough to be in touch with the Holy Spirit.   
    Be still and listen to what the Holy Spirit has for you.                     Blessings, Deacon Terry
May 1, 2016 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ,
    These last couple of weeks have been a little rough around the edges, so to speak. With pneumonia of unknown origin a couple of weeks ago, a fever of 104, laying in a hospital bed, I had plenty of time to think and reflect between "power naps."  My first thought or impression was "woe is me!", and I might have been somewhat justified in feeling that way. However, those woeful thoughts were overcome with thoughts of wonderment and gratitude. Gratitude for being so sick? What's up with that?
    I was grateful that the condition was not worse. I have no idea why this condition was brought on, but it could have been worse, MUCH worse! I perceived it as a way of God getting my undivided attention and showing His mercy to me. It was as if I were standing at the edge of a cliff, leaning over the edge as a big hand behind me held onto the back of my shirt to keep me from plummeting over the edge. I would call it being half alive rather than being half dead.
    I would have preferred to know the cause of the pneumonia so I could rest in the assurance of the unlikeliness of it returning. I had to realize and accept that I was, we all ARE, at God's mercy for the outcome of our lives. Yes, we get to make choices about many of the situations in our daily lives, but final decisions are God's to make. I don't know how that all plays out, but I am grateful to God for hanging on so tightly to the back of my shirt. I am also MOST grateful to many of you for all the prayers that went out for my healing. Thank you all!           Blessings, Deacon Terry
April 17, 2016 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ:
    You ALL are invited to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament this Thursday, April 21 at Holy Cross. Surprisingly, and unfortunately, many folks don't know about Adoration, what it is, what is done. At this liturgy, the Blessed Sacrament is placed inside the monstrance and displayed on the altar. It is incensed in honor of what it is and to signify our prayers rising like the smoke of the incense towards heaven. What happens while the Sacrament is exposed can vary.  Sometimes rosaries are prayed out loud, sometimes the Liturgy of the Hours is prayed out loud but the typical activity is silence and silent prayer and reflection.
    Many folks meditate on the meaning and origin of the Blessed Sacrament and the significance to us, the human race. Some meditate on what Christ endured at the institution of the Eucharist which is displayed on the altar. Another good meditation is how Christ is present in our own life and how He has shown Himself to us. Also, it is a good time to meditate on all the obvious blessings and graces that have been poured out upon us in our life. Go where the Holy Spirit leads you. This is an excellent opportunity to actually meditate on the Blessed Sacrament away from all the actions and prayers that we sometimes do by rote at Mass.
    Many say that they are unable to keep their attention on the Blessed Sacrament. Welcome to the mind of every human being! When you catch yourself thinking about something other than the Blessed Sacrament, which will be often, gently bring yourself back to the present and the presence of the Lord. That's the evil one trying to distract you from the praise due the Lord. Be gentle to yourself as you return!          See you Thursday, I hope.                  Blessings, Deacon Terry
                 
Divine Mercy Sunday, April 3, 2016 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,
   Easter Vigil was a blessing in many ways at our St Mary-Holy Cross parish community. First and foremost, we celebrated the Risen Christ, remembering His resurrection and our own foretold and promised resurrection.  The waiting, the readings, music, candles, procession, and initiation, all remind us that God has accomplished something amazing by loving us so much. And how do we know of that love for us?  We see it; we saw and experienced it Saturday evening!
   Beth Hart was brought into the Church, and Butch Moody the week before, through the liturgical actions and prayers for them, but more importantly, because God wanted them to be fully immersed in our Catholic faith. We saw that lived out through the smiles and tears of love visible for all to see. What was behind the scenes were the prayers and shared efforts of those who offered to be on the RCIA team to share their own faith with Beth and each other. We saw that love through the beaming faces of spouses and family of Beth and Butch. We saw the fruits and talents of so many in the parish come into play through their offerings at the reception following. Weeks before, when word of a possible reception spread, many stepped forward and said, "I'll prepare my favorite recipe for ------", and did so. There was a joyful roomful of people joining in the celebration with so many treats to share. The sense of love could truly be felt in the room, and for a good period of time. Were you there?
   A big thanks to all for whatever role you played in bringing the joy of this Easter season to our parish family.                    

                                Blessings, Deacon Terry

Palm Sunday, March 20, 2016 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ:

   The Pope has declared this the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Mercy is an orientation towards the other and the good of the other. Mercy includes forgiveness and reconciliation.  It is how we love others and ourselves, how God loves us. Mercy avoids judgment and condemnation, as we learned from Dr. Matt Halbach last Saturday in our session entitled The Church of Mercy.
    Love is the basic theme of the Bible, and mercy is the activity of love. We can love someone interiorly, but if there's not some action, some activity that demonstrates that love, such as the act of mercy, we are really going nowhere. It is an orientation toward the other, and the good of the other, and following the teachings of the Bible. Life is not about us; it is about the other person and serving other persons. Mercy is much more than the extreme example of commutation of a life sentence or an execution. It is a simple act of compassion and gentleness towards another person. Father Dan's signature line in his e-mail, Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle by Philo of Alexandria, reflects that concept. Be kind, be gentle, be forgiving, be merciful.
    Everyone wants and needs mercy but some will not give mercy until they have first received mercy. That is not the order of happenings as laid out by Jesus. We are called to serve one another first and foremost, and in doing so, we are showing mercy. Nice, easy concept, but hard to live out! Let's all make a concentrated effort to be merciful towards all people we meet, regardless of the situation. That especially includes being merciful in traffic!        Blessings, Deacon Terry

March 6, 2015

Dear Friends in Christ:


Congratulations to the St. Mary – Holy Cross charter of the Knights of Columbus! The fish fries that they put on during Lent have been hugely successful which many have found pleasing. They have come to find out that many folks besides the parishioners of St. Mary-Holy Cross enjoy a good fish fry. The time that the fish fry is open for business has increased from the time that the fish fries first began. This is a huge benefit to the Knights. The fish fry started out as a parish-only activity and now has been expanded to the entire community of Elkhart and surrounding areas. The past fish fry fed 400 + people!


One of the things that is hugely beneficial to our parish is the community building and sense of fellowship that goes on at the fish fries. This is an excellent opportunity to get to know people who you have seen in church but never had the opportunity for conversation with. I see the Knights working hard together as a team and that sense of teamwork is contagious to all who attend. Even men and women who are not Knights are involved in the efforts to make this a success. That involvement is shared by the young people from the religious education group who scurry around cleaning up tables, serving drinks, and joyfully interacting with those who are dining. It is easy to see and get involved in the energy and joy that the youth bring to the whole activity.


The financial proceeds from the fish fries are gifted to our parish and to other worthwhile and needy organizations in the area. The financial benefits to the parish are substantial! Thank you to the Knights of Columbus, to all who serve with them, and to all who come to enjoy the delicious fish fries.                      Blessings, Deacon Terry

February 14, 2016 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ:

     Today, Ash Wednesday, we are marked on our foreheads with ashes. We need to ask ourselves what do the ashes represent and how deep does the mark of the cross on our forehead go? Are the ashes on our forehead something that we are embarrassed about, or something that we might go home and wash off to avoid the stares and the questions of people we meet? Or do we proudly wear the cross as a symbol of the journey of conversion that we are on or desire to be on? The ashes on our forehead today symbolize how our lives shouldn’t look the same as the secular world.
     Lent is a time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, but how deeply do we go into any of those areas? It is a time of purification and enlightenment. The question we should be asking ourselves is:  How can I let God use me during this period, and even afterwards? In our prayer is an excellent opportunity to ask God what he wants of us; who is the person that he wants us to be. This is best done by setting aside a period of time each day and sitting quietly asking God to reveal to us what he asks of us. Yes, it's hard to set aside time each day for quiet meditation, and it's very difficult to still our racing minds that bounce from one interest to another as we try to still ourselves, but we need to do it.
     Fasting is typically thought of as being food-related, things like chocolate, rich foods and things that tickle our taste buds. Fasting could include our favorite activities as well as our most common pattern of sin.  Maybe fast from all means of social media? You get the picture!                  Blessings, Deacon Terry

January 24, 2016 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

    Have you ever noticed that group of people gathered tightly together at the foot of the Altar and wondered what was going on? Someone was being prayed over!
    Most of Jesus' healings involved laying on of hands, or at least touching the healed. That action is mentioned throughout scripture and the instances mentioned in scripture resulted in healing. So why not now; it is the same Jesus that provides the healing.
    Typically, if someone is facing surgery, or other medical procedure, or a particular difficulty in life, they may ask to be prayed over. Also typically, Father Dan provides the Anointing of the Sick which is a Sacrament.  The prayers of the anointing request the same result as being prayed over by lay people except the forgiveness of sin. That action/Sacrament is limited to priests.
    When someone is prayed over, they are aware of the people gathered around them and the prayers of those people if they pray out loud. Some choose to pray silently, but God hears their prayers as well. There is consolation in knowing one is not alone in whatever situation they are in. The prayers are asking God's action to cure/heal the ailments being prayed about. Those who have experienced being prayed over have voiced about a powerful feeling coming from those prayers and actions. Some folks praying over others have said that they had never seen or heard of this practice until they participated the first time at our Parish, and they also felt it to be a powerful experience.            
    Jesus, prior to His healings, often inquired of people what they asked of Him. If anyone desires to be prayed over after a Mass, make your intentions known to either Fr. Dan or me, Deacon Terry. There have been a noteworthy number of people asking to be prayed over lately. That's a good thing.                  Blessings, Deacon Terry

January 10, 2016 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

    Over the holidays at Holy Cross Church, a man asked me who the statue next to the altar represented. I told him St. Isidore the farmer, whom the man had never heard of before. He said I should write about Isidore in my next blurb, so here goes.
    Isidore has become the patron of farmers, laborers, and rural communities. In particular he is the patron of Madrid, Spain, and of the United States National Rural Life Conference. When he was barely old enough to wield a hoe, Isidore entered the service of John de Vergas, a wealthy landowner from Madrid, and worked faithfully on his estate outside the city for the rest of his life. He married a young woman as simple and upright as himself who also became a saint—Maria de la Cabeza. They had one son, who died as a child.
    Many implications can be found in a simple laborer achieving sainthood: Physical labor has dignity; sainthood does not stem from status; contemplation does not depend on learning; the simple life is conducive to holiness and happiness. His life exemplifies that if you have your spiritual self in order, your earthly commitments will fall into order also. 
    St. Isidore's feast day is May 15. Isidore was declared a saint in 1622 along with Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila and Philip Neri. Together, the group is known in Spain as “the five saints.”
    Due to our rural connection, it seems fitting that his statue is present at one of the churches of our parish. Much of this information was gleaned from American Catholic.org.             Blessing, Deacon Terry

December 20, 25 & 27, 2015 Bulletin

Merry Christmas and a happy and blessed New Year of Mercy to all!

 

    A definition of community is this:  “A social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.”  We cannot exist without community. We all are united in the community of humanity, and as members we have much to give and maybe a few needs we hope to have met as well.

    This Jubilee Year of Mercy could and should be exciting! What forgiveness of a transgression do you desire most from someone? What physical object or emotional response do you most desire from someone else? The forgiveness that we desire is probably the very forgiveness that we can give to someone else in a situation similar to our own. The same goes for the giving of a physical object or an emotional response to someone in need of either of those. We know all too well those things we secretly want or need and we most likely have that commonality with others. This giving and receiving is mercy.

    Unfortunately, some things are beyond our power to give or replace such as the loss of a loved one, a broken marriage, loss of employment, and so on. We can, however, show mercy to those who have experienced such losses or loneliness by coming alongside them as they endure their pain. We can take away a little chunk of their pain and carry it for them ourselves as we enter into a deeper sense of community with them.

    Let's be aggressively and proactively merciful!       

       

Blessings,

Deacon Terry 

December 6, 2105 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

"Scholars debate whether the star of Bethlehem is a legend created by the early church or a miracle that marked the advent of Christ."
     I recently watched a DVD entitled "The Star of Bethlehem." It is a factual documentary that raises the question, was the star a church myth, or did something really happen astrologically on the date we believe Christ was born? I have often pondered the question of how a star could just suddenly appear in the sky and position itself directly over a certain location. I was never able to arrive at a conclusion until I watched this video. The position of the stars and their rising and setting has been accurately plotted since before the time of Christ. This science was developed in the 1600s and can be used to plot the position of most planets and stars from the past and into the future. Those who know and understand astronomy make a good case for a sign from the heavens indicating the foretold coming of the Messiah. Not only that, but a study of the sciences gives a strong argument in favor of conditions that took place at the time that Jesus died on the cross.
     I don't want to try to convince anyone of anything other than Jesus is Lord, so I'm inviting you to watch this documentary and decide for yourself. The video will be shown in the Parish Hall on Sunday, December 13 at 4:00pm. While it is appropriate for all ages, it might be difficult to understand for those not yet in their teens. As in days of old, arrive early, bring snacks to share, and popcorn will be served. This video is not part of the teachings of the Catholic Church but the scientific evidence certainly coincides with scriptural accounts of Jesus' birth.  Y'all come!       Blessings, Deacon Terry

November 15, 2015 Bulletin

Dear friends in Christ,

   Last week, the bulletin blurb pertained to "Catholics Come Home."
   This week, in Father Dan's absence, I'm still on the soapbox. We receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation to rid ourselves of that separation from God. Our sins are forgiven and we are brought into a refreshed sense of union with God. In that relationship, we are the sinners and God is the forgiver, and forgive, He does. In coming back to the Church, maybe the roles aren't quite so black and white. It might be that those who have left the Church need to forgive the Church. Forgive the Church? How can that be when typically it is the other way around? The Church, not God, is an imperfect structure in the hands of men. Maybe the leaders were not always led by the Holy Spirit as is expected of them. Maybe their motives were more concerned with their own pride or advancement or standing. In any case, their directives were not always in sync with what we know of God. Maybe healing and reconnection with the Church will only come about when those who have left the Church can find it in their heart to forgive the Church.
   The Church is calling all Catholics, active or not, to be reunited within the Church. This calls for and results in tremendous healing. No one wants to be an outcast from their family and I don't believe anyone really chooses to feel cast out of the Church. The Church is inviting those who feel that they have been wronged by the Church to come back, to take another look, to talk about it. Maybe the Church could be more inviting, more accepting, more whole through the sharing of feelings and attitudes of those who have left?
   Come home, let's talk.                      Blessings, Deacon Terry

November 8, 2015 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ,
   I can't begin to count the reasons that Catholics have left the Church. I also can't begin to tell you if the reasons offered are valid or invalid. That determination is left solely (soully) to God and the person who has wandered away. As Pope Francis eloquently said, "Who am I to judge?"  Therefore, it is not upon us to determine rightness or wrongness for leaving the church, but rather to invite those who have left to come home, to return to the fold, to be lovingly and respectfully welcomed back.
   I am reluctant to say the church has changed, but I am confident in saying that it's not the same as it used to be. The leaders of the Church, from Pope to priest, now have a greater understanding of the human psyche, or what makes us tick as people, as humans. With that understanding, the factor of human condition is taken into consideration when inviting people to worship, or inviting people to return to worship. We are all broken people and that brokenness is what Jesus ministered to in His daily life. Rather than holding people's brokenness under a magnifying glass and chastising them for that brokenness, which Jesus did not do, the Church is trying to embrace the brokenness that people carry, struggle with, which is what Jesus did do. This is evident in the dialogue of the Synod of Bishops and the Pope in matters concerning divorced and remarried Catholics who have left the Church due to lack of Church annulment.
   I invite you to go to this website, http://www.catholicscomehome.org, if you or a friend or family member are among those who have disconnected from the Catholic Church.
   Come home; let's talk!                       Blessings, Deacon Terry
October 25, 2015 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ:

   “The New Evangelization” was the topic of Father Dan's bulletin blurb a couple of weeks ago. As he stated, it is for Catholics who have been baptized members of the Church, but for whom faith and church life are not vital or significant realities. We need to ask ourselves if going to Mass is important to me, if I desire to be pleasing to God in return for all he has done for me, or if I'm going because I "have to."
   Many of us older folks who grew up with the Baltimore catechism are more likely to have a sense of, I have to go to Mass or ........ will happen to me! You fill in the blanks. In reality, God is a very loving, forgiving, compassionate God who desires us to turn to Him both in our times of need and in thanksgiving for blessings received. It's a pretty simple and straightforward relationship of respect and friendship. I don't believe that God desires to punish us, his creation, as much as he desires goodness and well-being for us. In my experience, adult converts typically are very strong and alive in their faith. They are energized by the knowledge that God is for them rather than scowling at them. How did they get that way one might wonder? They were catechized as an adult when they had a true desire to experience God and his love for them/us. They "get it." As Catholics, they are aware of the importance of having a personal relationship with Jesus.
    In the name of New Evangelization, we will be offering educational opportunities in the upcoming weeks for adults who desire to have that kind of relationship with God, the Father. Please join us.       Blessings, Deacon Terry

October 18, 2015 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ:

   This past week I found out that I had been reassigned as a deacon. Normally, a priest spends seven years in a parish before being reassigned. The normal rotation for a deacon is three years between reassignment. I guess they must want to get the deacon out of wherever before they completely frazzle the priest? Deacons are a tough bunch of nuts to crack, it seems.
   Deacons can typically ask to be assigned to any parish of their liking, and usually that's where they are assigned, but ultimately it's up to the bishop to decide where the deacon goes. My concern was that I live less than 2 miles from the new St. Luke the Evangelist parish and thought that I might be assigned there. We must also have a charitable ministry within the diocese but outside the parish. They don't want us to just be "Altar fluff." My ministry is at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Des Moines and at Bishop Drumm care facility in Johnston. I can relate well with the veterans at the VA and the elderly and infirm at Bishop Drumm.
   I had requested assignment three years ago at St. Mary-Holy Cross and did receive that assignment. What a blessing it has been! I love you all!  In this last go around, I had requested to be assigned once again to St. Mary-Holy Cross. The letter from the diocese/Bishop came last week and I was nervous as I opened it and read the letter. I had been reassigned to St. Mary-Holy Cross for another three years. You're stuck with me folks for another third of a decade! 
                                                                                                                Blessings, the newly reassigned Deacon Terry

October 4, 2015 Buleltin
Dear Friends in Christ,
   Blog   Blog   Blog...... Blog   Blog Blog.  There I said it again and probably not for the last time!  The St. Mary-Holy Cross "Web team" has been hard at it and we now, as a parish, have a blog site. Due to the hard work and persistence of parishioner Arleen Anderson, the blog site came to life this past week. There are only a couple articles on the site but you have to start somewhere.  The reason for a parish blog? DIALOG! That equates to intercommunication between potentially all parishioners, including the staff of St. Mary-Holy Cross. Not only can information be communicated from the staff to the parishioners, but information can, and hopefully will, flow from parishioners to all members of our parish. You, ALL of you, are invited to author an article for the blog site! Step up on the soapbox!
   Do you have a comment on a particular liturgy or the style or tempo of any the music used during our liturgy or anything about the liturgy? Do you have a comment or an affirmation or challenge to any of the homilies you heard at any of our liturgies? Do you like or dislike the way anything is done in our parish?  Blog it! Or maybe just comment on an existing blog. It is my understanding that comments can be posted anonymously so step behind the curtain and blog it.  The more dialogue there is between ALL members of our parish, the stronger our community can be.
   Go to http://www.saintmaryhc.org/ and click on the link for the blog. Don't know what a "link" or "blog" is? Call Susan Genalo or Arleen Anderson or Barb Liske or myself and we will talk you through it. Please, fan the glowing embers of our blog site into leaping flames of shared information. If nothing else, just go to the site and say, "hello!"                     Blessings, Deacon Terry   
September 20, 2015 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ,
     The Knights of Columbus put on a wonderful pancake breakfast immediately after 8:00 AM Mass at Holy Cross last weekend. It was a beautiful sunshiny day with no need for overhead shelters. The smells of fried sausage and eggs and pancakes filled the air as one walked out of the doors of the church. A bunch of the Knights from our charter were busy frying, or mixing, or setting up tables, or serving the "vittles." The affair was well attended but I noticed that they seemed to be "regulars" at Holy Cross on Sunday mornings that I had seen earlier at Mass. I sadly noticed the lack of attendees who I perceive to be "regulars" at St. Mary's Masses.
     I thought to myself that we are one parish, St. Mary-Holy Cross, that we have one charter for the Knights of Columbus that includes St. Mary-Holy Cross men, so why was the attendance so biased towards the regular Holy Cross attendees? I have sadly noticed the same trend for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. When Adoration is held at St. Mary, the attendees are typically regular attendees at the Masses at St. Mary. Likewise, when Adoration is held at Holy Cross, the people present are those who normally attend Mass at Holy Cross. What's up with that? Since we are one parish, why does there seem to be a division in attendance depending upon what facility hosts the function? And ANOTHER thing, why are there so very few people from anywhere who attend the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament?
      Let's all participate together to grow and strengthen and build community at OUR St. Mary-Holy Cross parish. Let us be one!
                                                                                                         Blessings, Deacon Terry
September 6, 2015 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ,
     It seemed like we have been getting quite a few new members to our parish lately. That is a good thing, for us, and hopefully for them. Barb always sends an e-mail to Lisa Kautza and myself telling us the names and address of the new parishioners, the names and ages of their children and when they joined. Lisa sets up a meeting with the new members to officially greet them, to welcome them into our community, and to inform them of the ministries available to them in our parish. Once a month, new members are introduced by name at Mass and invited to stand up so people can put faces with the names of the new folks. Everyone likes to feel welcome in the environment they are in, to feel like they are a part of the whole, so we try to welcome new members into our parish community.  I have warm memories of being made to feel welcome when I first arrived at St. Mary-Holy Cross and I would like everyone to share that same feeling
     A good way to be welcoming to those you DO NOT KNOW WELL is to walk up to them, introduce yourself, and strike up a conversation. Anybody can walk up to someone they already know and start conversing. To those not being greeted, those not involved in conversation, typically newcomers, might feel left out. We have many kindhearted, open, and welcoming parishioners who do an outstanding job of making people feel welcome. We are all called to be welcoming and inviting to those who we do not yet know. That's what Jesus would do, and He asks us to do. Let there be no strangers in our midst.
                                                                                                                    Blessings, Terry
August 16 & 23, 2015 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ,
     My last blurb was asking for team members and candidates for the RCIA process here at St Mary-Holy Cross. This gave everyone a chance and a reason to evangelize. We cast the net and now it is time to draw the net in. I would like for you to contact me with the names and contact info for the people you may have talked to about this, or maybe even just thought of as a possible candidate. The RCIA process will get rolling soon and as of right now, we have one person interested.
     Adult faith formation will be starting up soon as well. The very best way to become aware of Church teachings and the whys and hows of our faith is to participate in the RCIA program. That allows one to simply be present during the teachings without having to say or do anything. How easy and anonymous is that?! Secondly, we will be brainstorming on what kind of programs, presentations, and retreats that we may have for anyone past high-school graduation. It is hugely important to continue to learn about the Church, to grow in knowledge about the whys and hows of our faith that are probably different from what was learned in the past. Learn of a loving, compassionate, merciful God rather than the harsh, chastising, condemning God that many came to believe described our God. It is a lot nicer to feel loved and cherished rather than condemned, or likely condemned, because of lack of understanding of who our God is. Come and learn how wonderful you really are in God's eyes.
     The Church hasn't changed, yet it's not quite the same. Join us!               Blessings, Terry
July 19 & 26, 2015 Bulletin
 
 

Dear Friends in Christ:

     It's RCIA time of year again folks and I need your help, again. Actually RCIA time of year is all year long but we will be starting anew with the start of the school year. Susan Meenan, the former RCIA leader, moved to Davenport so that leaves the RCIA leadership position open. I will attempt to keep the RCIA process alive and well at St. Mary-Holy Cross in the interim. But to do that, I need your help! I would like to enlist the assistance of RCIA team members/co-journeyers/teachers/sharers from past years. I also invite anyone who wants to grow in their own faith and share their faith with outsiders coming into the Church to please step forward. No matter how many times I have been through the process, I still learn much about our faith through the RCIA process. There is a special bond formed between the guides and the guided, the mentors and the candidates. We are also in need of sponsors for those going through the formation process.

     Not only do we need leaders for this process to be alive, but we also need inquirers, candidates, and catechumens, those who want to fully enter the Church. Do you know of anyone who has been asking questions about the Catholic faith, or asking about the meaning of our Mass, our Communion, our Saints or any of the traditions that we practice in our faith? Be an evangelist and invite those people to sample our RCIA. Know of anyone who has fallen away from the faith for whatever reason? Invite them to come. Our Church hasn't changed, yet is not the same as it used to be. Possibly some of the objections of those who have fallen away have been resolved. Invite them.      All aboard!             Blessings, Deacon Terry

 
 
June 21 & 28, 2015 Bulletin
 

Dear Friends in Christ:

     What is our Catholic faith? We all know that it means going to Mass on Sundays and on Holy Days but it shouldn't end there. Our faith should kick into action once we walk OUT the church doors.
     As the song, Song of the Body of Christ, says in its lyrics, "we come to share the story, we come to break the bread, we come to know of our rising from the dead." The Mass, with Eucharist, is just that, those actions! Those actions are tremendously good and should remind us of who we are and what we are called to do. Jesus frequently said, "follow me" not "worship me".  At Mass we do worship Jesus but we should also be using that opportunity to learn, to understand the many and varied ways that we can FOLLOW Jesus. It seems to me that our faith has become more worship and less following of Jesus. It is when we leave the church, with the story of Jesus and his teachings fresh in our minds, that our faith and actions and words should kick in rather than to be "parked" until Mass time next Sunday.
     As we go through our weekly life, we should be aware of the lonely, the scared, and the needy all around us and take action to minister to those needs. Remember, through our baptism we are made priest, prophet, and king, rather than just casual observers of the world around us. It is not required that one be an ordained deacon or priest to do the work and live the life that Jesus calls us all to. These are the things we ought to be doing during the week between our "refresher" at Mass.            Blessings, Deacon Terry

 
May 17, 2015 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ:
   The Times they are changing, and NOW is the time for that change! St. Mary - Holy Cross Parish is rolling out the new website during the week of May 25.
   The new website will be much more pleasing to the eye than the one currently used. The design layout, colors, and fonts will be much more appealing. The site will be interactive, meaning that forms needed for the operation of the parish can be accessed and even filled out online.
   It will be informative in its content, both past and present.  For example, the weekly bulletin and quarterly newsletter will be available on the website. Information pertinent to families of the parish will be available on our website such as; times, dates, and places of parish activities, committees, and groups. Eventually, it is hoped that an updated parish directory will be available online. Of course, all pictures posted will require the written consent of all persons in the picture per Diocesan guidelines.
overall, there will be a lot of information about our parish community available with just a few clicks of the mouse. Our website address stays the same:  www.saintmaryhc.org.
   Stop in, say hello electronically, and thank those brave, hard-working souls who have made this possible.           Deacon Terry    

May 3, 2015 Bulletin

 

Dear Friends in Christ:
   God, and the Church, does not "change" as such, but we come to a better understanding of all that has gone before us. Many of us "oldsters" were schooled in the Baltimore catechism which portrayed God as harsh and condemning, but God actually is a God of love, mercy, and compassion. Do you remember how things were done prior to Vatican II? It got those of us who are reading this to where we are today in our faith, but I don't believe it showed the true way that God wants to be portrayed.
   My point is this: we need to continue to grow in our faith, to learn the meaning of Scripture, of what the Pope is telling us, of what the magisterium is trying to teach us. This learning typically does not come about by merely attending Mass once a week and on Holy Days. We all need ongoing faith formation to really understand and appreciate the love that God has for us. The Bishop frequently tells those about to be confirmed that "Confirmation does not mean graduation!" That means that just because one receives the Sacrament of Confirmation, one must CONTINUE to grow in the understanding of who God is and how He hopes we will live our lives. Knowing this adds peace and gives meaning to our lives.
   There are opportunities to grow in the understanding of our faith within the St. Mary – Holy Cross Parish and in many more ways in the larger Church. Rarely is it required that anyone has to speak or share any aspect of their own human life. You can bite off as much as you can chew, but please do something to grow. As the song says, "taste and see the goodness of the Lord."         Blessings, Deacon Terry

April 19, 2015 Bulletin
Dear Friends in Christ:
   "The Times they are a changing" so sang Bob Dylan a few years back, and unfortunately, so they are! What I am speaking of here is the use of technology in everyday communication. I'm sure everyone has heard of Facebook and Twitter and a bunch of other social media websites. I am in the dark as to how to utilize them, but I'm going to have to learn.
   So many people utilize the Internet for sharing of information that the Church realizes the need to utilize that technology as well for evangelization. St. Joseph Educational Center is working hard to help Des Moines region parishes transition to electronic (Internet) communications.  SJEC is offering a one-day workshop, "Digital Discipleship in a New Media Culture" on June 19. All are invited! You can find details and registration for this free event at: http://sjeciowa.org/digital-discipleship-in-a-new-media-culture.
   There are a handful of people in our Parish who are working with SJEC to update our website. Stay tuned!
   Another way to share the Gospel is through what is called a "blog." My understanding is that a blog is a place people come to on the Internet to read and review information that is posted on that blog site. My own venture into cyberspace has been limited to writing a couple of "articles" for the SJEC blog, Bite-Sized Faith, one of which is found here:  http://sjeciowa.org/are-you-a-safety-net-for-others.  I have no idea what took place for it to be published on the internet, but I am excited to learn the hows and whys of blogs, websites, and other social media. I hope you will consider joining me and others from St. Mary/Holy Cross at the June 19 Digital Discipleship workshop!
   The handwriting is on the wall, no, I mean the screen!                 Blessings, Deacon Terry