Notes from Father Parker
September 24, 2023 Bulletin
Dear Good People,
As you are reading this, I am either just preparing to go to Italy or am on my way. Please know that I will pray for all of you in the eternal city. I will certainly tell the Holy Father that all the parishioners of St. Mary-Holy Cross say hello, if I get to see him! Please pray for Mike Mahoney as he is ordained a Deacon on Friday, September 29th. Mike is a good man who will God willing be a fine priest. After I get back from Rome, I am then heading to our priest workshop in Iowa City. It will be nice to see my brother priests and spend some time with them as well.
Secondly, as I wrote about last week, harvest seems to be starting. Let us keep our farmers in our prayers as we pray for safety and productive yields. Please also keep Mary Ann Cory in your prayers along with her family. We have a funeral mass for Mary Ann on Saturday, October 7th.
Finally, we celebrate the feast of the Archangels on Friday, September 29th. I love this feast. This feast is celebrating the higher messengers of God, the three archangels that are mentioned by name in the Bible: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. We have gratitude to God for the gift of these angels, and need to constantly remember and pray to them in our lives. We invoke these archangels to send us messages on how to live the right purpose of our lives, to lead us to do good, to help us live for others, and to imitate in those virtues they live as spirits. A.M.D.G. ~ Fr. Ross
September 17, 2023 Bulletin
Dear Good People,
As the calendar turns to September and October the days are getting shorter and the weather is cooler. In our area the fields are also taking on a golden hue. That means that harvest time is near. Our parish of St. Mary - Holy Cross has a wide cross-section of urban, suburban, and rural parishioners. This mix provides a unique opportunity to interact with others who come from many different walks of life. I think that diversity is a great strength of our community.
It is good for us to reflect on those people who earn a living on the land. We know that farming takes a great deal of hard-work, patience, and of course faith. Most farmers I know also want to be good stewards of the land so that future generations can continued to enjoy the land, and environmental impacts can be minimized. I know that I speak often of the saints, but I think they are great models for us to emulate and to think about as we to are hopefully striving for sanctity and holiness in our lives.
At Holy Cross Church we have a statue of St. Isidore. St. Isidore is that patron saint of farmers. St. Isidore was from Spain and he lived in the 12th century. 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. Perhaps the truth which emerges is this: If you have your spiritual self in order, your earthly commitments will fall into order also. “[S]eek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness,” said the carpenter from Nazareth, “and all these things will be given you besides” (Matthew 6:33). (excerpts taken from Saint Isidore the Farmer|Franciscan Media)
A.M.D.G. ~ Fr. Ross
September 10, 2023 Bulletin
Dear Good People,
I hope this letter finds you well. I just wanted to take a quick moment and acknowledge all of our faith formation leaders and catechists. I have noticed that they have been putting in a tremendous amount of work as they prepare for faith formation this year. So a giant thank you to them. I am sure God will bless their work abundantly. I am so excited to welcome the young people back for faith formation. We kicked off the year with holy mass and we are getting right into the swing of things.
Just an update for me. September is kind of a busy time as I have to help the seminarians transition back into school for the fall, so that takes quite a bit of my time. I am also heading to Rome for the diaconate ordination of Mike Mahoney. I will be gone Sept. 24th-Oct. 1st. I am looking forward to that. Speaking of the seminarians you will be getting some information in the mail about supporting the seminarians financially. We do this every year around this time. Your generosity regarding this is greatly appreciated. We will not do a formal second collection at mass, because again, you will be getting this information in the mail. Thank you again and please pray for an increase of vocations (all vocations) in the diocese of Des Moines. Just know that all of you are prayed for each day and many blessings to all of you! A.M.D.G. ~ Fr. Ross Parker
September 3, 2023 Bulletin
Dear Good People,
A very blessed Labor Day to you. I hope you get a chance to rest from your labors on Monday. I know many of you have stressful or difficult jobs. I pray you can find some rest and relaxation. We also pray that others will be able to find meaningful work in their lives and that they will be paid a just wage. On this Labor Day weekend I thought I would share this from Pope Francis:
“Work should be the setting for this rich personal growth, where many aspects of life enter into play: creativity, planning for the future, developing our talents, living out our values, relating to others, giving glory to God. It follows that, in the reality of today's global society, it is essential that 'we continue to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment for everyone,' no matter the limited interests of business and dubious economic reasoning. We were created with a vocation to work. The goal should not be that technological progress increasingly replace human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity. Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfillment. Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work." (Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home [Laudato Si'], nos. 127-28)
A very blessed Labor Day weekend to all of you holy people. Please know of my prayers for those who travel and may God bless us abundantly! A.M.D.G. ~ Fr. Ross Parker
August 20 & 27, 2023 Bulletin
Dear Good People,
I hope this letter finds each of you well. I always get excited this time of year as a former teacher. It is so exciting to get back into the swing of things with Faith Formation, school, RCIA, and of course football!!! I have to decide what High School team I am going to be for since we have so many students from many different school districts.
Secondly, I would really like to get RCIA going forward this year so if you know someone who is interested in becoming Catholic, please let me know. I am still working out what RCIA will look like this year. If you have any ideas of suggestions on that I would be open to speak with you about that as well.
Finally, I want to thank all the young people who volunteer to serve at holy mass. What an opportunity to get closer to our Lord. I loved being a server growing up because I thought it helped me focus. I especially liked serving at funerals because I got a little cash! If you are interested in serving, please let me know. I am a pretty nice guy, so do not be afraid of making mistakes. If you are new you can learn from some older people while you get some experience. I will also make some time to do some training before or after mass as well. Remember there is no age limit on serving. I am 40 and I still serve mass for Bishop Joensen and others. But again a giant thank you to all who are serving currently. Again, if you would like to start please let me know. A.M.D.G. ~ Fr. Ross Parker
August 6 & 13, 2023 Bulletin
Dear Good People,
I hope this letter finds you well as we are moving into August and are looking forward to the Iowa State Fair. Just a reminder that World Youth Day is just wrapping up in Lisbon, Portugal. Please pray for all of the pilgrims who are attending World Youth Day. If you ever have a chance to attend a World Youth Day, please consider it. It can truly be a life changing experience. We will find out where the next one will be at the end of the current World Youth Day.
Secondly, just an update about my travel schedule. We have the seminarian convocation this year in Davenport so I will be there starting Monday the 7th and returning on Wednesday afternoon. There will be mass that evening at Holy Cross. Next month I will be travelling to Rome for the diaconate ordination of Mike Mahoney and then we have our priest convocation that next week. Thank you again for your understanding for the times I have to be away.
Finally, on Tuesday, August 15th we celebrate the Assumption of Our Lady body and soul into heaven. This is a holy day of obligation and as I say a holy day of opportunity. Please plan on attending holy mass this day. We will offer mass at 7AM and 6:30PM at St. Mary's. If you are unable to make one of these times, please find another mass time in Ankeny or somewhere else that would work for you. What an outstanding opportunity to honor Our Lady and to ask for her intercession! I remember all of you daily in my prayers. God bless you! A.M.D.G. ~ Fr. Ross Parker
July 23 & 30, 2023 Bulletin
Dear Good People,
I hope this letter finds you well. I had a very nice time re-connecting with some people in Council Bluffs for the wedding I presided at, and I had a nice few days of relaxing with some friends of mine. It is also good to be back though because I felt like I was kind of living in my suitcase for a week there. Thank you again for your understanding. It was kind of weird timing being gone for two consecutive weekends. Fr. Brendan left me a nice note saying how much he enjoyed being at SMHC. So well done there! At this time in the vocations office we are finishing up a lot of loose ends and trying to make the final push to get a last candidate admitted into seminary. Please pray for this young man as I hope it will work out.
I just wanted to remind all of you again that we are seeking members for our Finance and Parish Council’s. We will get more information to you about the process, but we would like to move to a discernment model. So this takes some discernment on all our parts. If you are interested in serving on one of these councils please let me or someone else know. I know that all of you have so much going on and it is so hard to commit to things, but the commitment to serve on these councils is about 11 hours per year. I think that is pretty reasonable and we try to be respectful of your time. So maybe spend some time praying about serving on one of the councils.
Finally, I just want to give a big shout out and thank you to all who participated in the garage sale. That was a lot of work! I do not want to mention people by name (for fear of leaving someone out), but there were many nights where I saw people working until very late getting things ready. So again a big thank you to them. These funds will help our High School students attend the National Catholic Youth Conference. It can really be a life changing experience for our young people. So thank you again for the donations and the work that went into making the event a success. A.M.D.G. ~ Fr. Ross Parker
July 9 & 16, 2023 Bulletin
Dear Good People,
I hope this letter finds you well. I cannot believe we have already passed Independence Day. Summer is flying by! I think that is because a lot of positive things are happening. Just a reminder that we welcome Fr. Brendan, a Columban Father this weekend. I am sure he will share some the inspiring work he has been a part of. Please be generous in helping him and his confrere's as they continue their mission around the world.
Again, this weekend I will be at a wedding in Council Bluffs and then on Sunday we have what is called the Rite of Candidacy for two of our seminarians. It really worked out great that Fr. Brendan could be here this weekend. Then a reminder that I will be gone Thursday thru Sunday the 13th-16th. I am grateful that Fr. Dan is able to cover the masses that weekend.
Finally, again a reminder as you continue to enjoy the good things of summer and as your travels take you to different locales, please check in to make sure you can attend Holy Mass. When we put Christ first in our lives, we realize that every part of our life goes better. Christ wants to be with us in all that we do. May Christ continue to be the center of our lives as we continue to grow in holiness and virtue each day.
A.M.D.G. ~ Fr. Ross Parker
June 26 & July 2, 2023 Bulletin
Dear Good People,
I hope this message finds you well. It seems like there are a tremendous amount of things going on right now. Personally the coronavirus lockdowns were very hard on me so I feel like I try to do extra activity for fear of missing out on things. This can be good and bad. It is a challenge for me to find that balance between activity and rest and reflection. Something I continue to work on, and maybe something for all of us to reflect on. Right now we are getting ready for the ordination to the priesthood for Deacon Jason Lee. Please pray for him. We are also finalizing applications for new seminarians as well. Hopefully we will have three men entering seminary next fall. As I write this we are in the midst of Vacation Bible School. We have had a tremendous turnout. A big thank you to the volunteers who have done so much to promote and execute VBS this year. We are also getting ready for the town festival. I am looking forward to the truck-pull and all the other fun activities around Elkhart.
Secondly, I just want to take a moment to thank all of our volunteers. Hopefully you feel appreciated and cherished. Many of you do so much. Things seen and unseen. I am grateful to the Stewardship Committee and others who put on such a beautiful dinner for our volunteers and for my ordination anniversary. I was extremely touched and honored. Thank you to all for being so hospitable to my family and to some of my former parishioners who joined us. I was touched by the Irish Blessing as well. I know my great-grandparents and grandparents would be very proud. Thank you again to all.
Finally, as you maybe saw in the Catholic Mirror two priests have been assigned to be assistant vocation directors. Please do not read too much into this. The two priests are assigned to our two high schools. My job description is not changing. We just wanted to include these holy priests in vocation work because they are closer to the action so to speak as they work day in and day out with young people. This will also take some pressure off me in terms of speaking engagements and travel etc. I have been vocation director for six years so some kids have heard the same kind of talk from me six times. I think it is good to have a new perspective coming from someone who is younger and cooler than old Father Ross! So a lot of good things are happening. Let us always keep one another in prayer.
A.M.D.G. ~ Fr. Ross Parker
May 28 & June 4, 2023 Bulletin
Dear Good People,
I wish all of you a very happy and blessed Pentecost. This day is arguably the second or third most important in our Church calendar. I will leave that up to the Theologians to decide. Today we celebrate the descent of the third person of the Holy Trinity, The Holy Spirit. Today marks the beginning or birth of our Holy Catholic Church as well. Pentecost takes place fifty days after Easter and it concludes the Easter season. Next week we will transition into ordinary time.
On Monday we also celebrate Memorial Day. We will celebrate Holy Mass at 10AM at Holy Cross. We especially remember those men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. We also continue to pray for our active military, veterans, and first responders. I hope you will be able to join us for mass. If you are traveling during the holiday weekend just make sure you check mass times before you go. Finally, Fr. Tom had very nice things to say about our parish. He mentioned how all of you were welcoming and he thought you all participated well in the mass. So good work on that front! A.M.D.G. ~ Fr. Ross Parker
Pentecost Sequence Reflection, Veni, Sancte Spriritus (Come, Holy Spirit) from St. John Paul II
Veni, Sancte Spiritus!
The magnificent sequence, which contains a rich theology of the Holy Spirit, would also be worthy of meditation, stanza by stanza. Here we will reflect only on the first word: Veni, come! It recalls the waiting of the Apostles after Christ’s Ascension into heaven.
In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke presents them to us gathered in the Upper Room in prayer with the Mother of Jesus (cf. Acts 1:14). What better words than these could express their prayer: “Veni, Sancte Spiritus” — the invocation, that is, of the one who moved over the face of the waters at the beginning of the world (cf. Gn 1:2), whom Jesus had promised them as the Paraclete?
The hearts of Mary and the Apostles at those moments were longing for his coming, alternating between ardent faith and the confession of human inadequacy. The Church’s piety has interpreted and passed on this sentiment in the hymn “Veni, Sancte Spiritus”. The Apostles know that the work Christ has entrusted to them is arduous, but decisive for the history of humanity’s salvation. Will they be able to complete it? The Lord reassures their hearts. At every step of the mission that will lead them to proclaim and witness to the Gospel to the furthest corners of the globe, they will be able to count on the Spirit promised by Christ. The Apostles, recalling Christ’s promise on the days between the Ascension and Pentecost, will focus their every thought and sentiment on that veni — come!
Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Thus beginning her invocation to the Holy Spirit, the Church makes her own the substance of the Apostles' prayer as they gathered with Mary in the Upper Room; indeed, she extends it in history and makes it ever timely.
Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Thus she says over and over in every corner of the earth, her fervor unchanged, firmly aware that she must remain in the Upper Room, always awaiting the Spirit. At the same time, she knows that she must leave the Upper Room and travel the world's roads, with the ever new task of bearing witness to the mystery of the Spirit.
Veni, Sancte Spiritus! So we pray with Mary, sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, a most precious dwelling-place of Christ among us, so that she may help us to be living temples of the Spirit and tireless witnesses of the Gospel.
Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Amen!
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