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Notes from Father Parker

June 2 & 9, 2024 Bulletin

Dear Good People, 

    I hope this letter finds you well.  I hope all of you had a blessed Memorial Day Weekend.  We had a very nice mass at Holy Cross followed by a beautiful service in the Cemetery.  Thank you to all who did so much to get everything looking so nice.  Certainly we owe a debt of gratitude to all of our veterans, and especially to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  Just a note that I will be gone on retreat at Conception Monastery in Missouri. I leave on Sunday, June 2 and be back late on Thursday, June 6.  There will be no daily mass, but Ankeny is only a short drive away! 

    This weekend we conclude our schedule of feasts after Easter with Corpus Christi.  Today's celebration of the Body and Blood of the Lord originated in the Diocese of Liege in 1246 as the feast of Corpus Christi.  In the reforms of Vatican II, Corpus Christi was joined with the feast of the Precious Blood (July 1) to become the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord. We celebrate today Christ's gift to us of the Eucharist, the source and summit of our life together as the Church.  The Council of Trent (1545 to 1563), declared that we must honor Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist publicly so that those who observed the faith of Catholics in the Most Holy Eucharist might be attracted to the Eucharistic Lord and believe in the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, present in this great Sacrament. "The Catholic Church teaches that in the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of the God-man are really, truly, substantially, and abidingly present together with his soul and divinity by reason of the Transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.  This takes place in the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass." Reflections for the Feast of Corpus Christi - Vatican News,           A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross  

May 26, 2024 Bulletin   

Dear Good People, 

    We certainly had one crazy storm.  I am writing this right after the aftermath.  From what I can see now we have had significant tree damage at St. Mary, but luckily, I think both Churches did not sustain any major structural damage.  A giant thank you to those who helped clear some of the debris.  Since I do not know exactly who helped I do not want to miss anyone.  So thank you again.

   I pray all of you have a blessed Memorial Day weekend.  During these days of vacation just a reminder to make sure you plan on finding a Church and attending Holy Mass.  On Memorial Day we will have Mass at Holy Cross at 10AM followed by a service in the cemetery to honor our veterans.  We are especially grateful for all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

   Finally, this weekend we celebrate Trinity Sunday.  The feast of the Most Holy Trinity may well be regarded as the Church's Te Deum of gratitude over all the blessings of the Christmas and Easter seasons; for this mystery is a synthesis of Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost. This feast, which falls on the first Sunday after Pentecost, should make us mindful that actually every Sunday is devoted to the honor of the Most Holy Trinity, that every Sunday is sanctified and consecrated to the triune God. Sunday after Sunday we should recall in a spirit of gratitude the gifts which the Blessed Trinity is bestowing upon us. (        A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross  


May 19, 2024 Bulletin

Dear Good People, 

   First of all, I just want to thank everyone for making our May Crowning a rousing success.  It was truly beautiful to honor our lady on the day we honor all mother's.  Hopefully we can make the May Crowning an annual tradition.

   I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our staff.  They do a tremendous job.  Just an update on that.  Sue Harrington has decided to step down from leading our music ministry.  She has done an outstanding job these past few years.  Sue has generously agreed to help us until we can find a replacement.  Secondly, Geneveve Loraditch is going to step down in her role as co-coordinator of our Preschool-6th grade faith formation program. Geneveve will still be involved in teaching, and Tracy Miller will take on the role as coordinator.  This should make for a seamless transition.  Please join me in my sincere thanks for Sue and Geneveve.  They have worked tirelessly to help build up our community.

   This weekend we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost.  The birthday of our Holy Catholic Church.  

Today is a great day to ask the Holy Spirit to rekindle in us the spirit of new life and enthusiasm, the fire of God's love.  Let us repeat Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman’s favorite little prayer, “Come Holy Spirit”:

“Come Holy Spirit. Make our ears to hear. Make our eyes to see. Make our mouths to speak. Make our hearts to seek. Make our hands to reach out and touch the world with your love.  AMEN.”             A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross  


May 12, 2024 Bulletin

Dear Good People, 

   This weekend we celebrate the Ascension of our Lord into heaven.  This event concludes Jesus' earthly mission and prefigures our hope that one day we will join our Lord in the heavenly kingdom.

   We also draw close to our Lady and honor her with a May Crowning after 10:00am Mass.  We thank Jack Selby for all his hard work rehabilitating our Marian statue and garden.  What a great opportunity to honor our Lady on Mother's Day as she is the mother of our Lord and our mother as well.

   Finally, we honor all mothers on this Mother's Day.  Here is what Pope Francis wrote about mothers:  “A society without mothers would be a dehumanized society, for mothers are always, even in the worst moments, witnesses of tenderness, dedication and moral strength….Dearest mothers, thank you, thank you for what you are in your family and for what you give to the Church and the world.” 

   I certainly echo these sentiments.  Blessings to all of you good people!       A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross  

May 5, 2024 Bulletin

Dear Good People,  
   I hope this letter finds you well.  I just wanted to take a moment to thank all our catechist and adult leaders for the good work they have done this past year in our Faith Formation programs.  Handing on the gift of faith is one of the greatest things we can do.  So a giant thank you to all those who have contributed to this in any way.
   This weekend we are also honoring all those who have graduated from High School.  Graduations are a big milestone in young people's lives.  Just a continued encouragement for our young people to continue practicing their faith as they move onto the next chapters of their life.  Hopefully they also feel that St. Mary Holy Cross Parish is their home and they always feel welcome here.
   Finally, we are planning a May Crowning in honor of our Lady next Sunday, May 12 after the 10:00am Mass.  I think that will be very cool.  Again, blessings to all of you good people!       A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross  

April 28, 2024 Bulletin

Dear Good People,    

    Why does the Easter season go so much quicker than the Lenten season?  I mean come on!!!  Just kind of joking, but we really have a lot going on, which is awesome.  First of all, an update on Fr. Andrew.  I spoke to him on the phone and there was some confusion.  He actually never passed out, but there was a water leak in his bathroom and he slipped causing the broken ribs.  He is on the mend now and I am heading to his parish to celebrate a wedding on Saturday.  Fr. Dan will be here on Saturday so we are grateful for his help.

    Secondly, I want to extend a huge thank you to all the people who helped during our clean-up day.  We had a great turnout and got a lot of things done.  A huge thank you to all of our volunteers for what you do seen and unseen.

    Finally, this weekend we are celebrating First Holy Communion at SMHC.  Please keep our young people in your prayers.  Thank you to Genevieve and Tracy for coordinating everything.  It is a lot of work.  First Communion is one of my favorite days in the parish.  If this is our First Holy Communion or our ten-thousandth let us continue to foster a sense of reverence and love for our Blessed Lord in the Eucharist.    A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross  


April 21, 2024 Bulletin

Dear Good People, 

    The Fourth Sunday of Easter is also World Day of Prayer for Vocations.  I would humbly ask you to continue to pray for Vocations, and in a special way Vocations to the priesthood.  Worldwide there are more and more Catholics, which is awesome, but there are less and less priests.  We pray that many will be open to a call to priesthood in service to Christ and His Church.

    Please also keep in your prayers Fr. Andrew Windschitl former Pastor of St. Mary-Holy Cross.  He had quite the health scare, but it seems like he is now on the road to recovery.

    Finally, we are preparing for First Holy Communion next week.  Please keep our young people in prayer as they are preparing to receive Jesus in Holy Communion next Sunday.  I will be presiding at a wedding in Shelby County Friday and Saturday and Fr. Dan will have mass on Saturday, but I will be home on Saturday night.  A lot of awesome things are happening.       A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross  


April 14, 2024 Bulletin

Dear Good People, 

     I hope this letter finds you well.  A very Happy Easter to all of you!  We continue to celebrate the Lord's resurrection for fifty days.  I truly hope these are joy filled days for all of you.

    That being said there are certainly a lot of things happening this time of year.  This Saturday we celebrated the sacrament of Confirmation.  Please keep these young people in your prayers.  We are certainly very proud of all of them.  A big thank you to Nicole Cory for helping prepare the young people for the sacrament.  Please also keep our young people in prayer who are preparing for their first holy communion on April 28th.

    Finally, thank you again for your understanding with my travel schedule.  I really do not like being gone, but it is part of my duties and I do enjoy visiting the seminarians. Please keep them and their formators in your prayers.  Again, a giant thank you to all who contributed to our holy week liturgies.  It was a special time and the graces are continuing to flow!         A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross  

March 31, 2024 Bulletin

Dear Good People, 

      Jesus Christ is Risen; He is Risen indeed!!!  The ancient Easter greeting is a sign of great hope that Christ the Lord by dying has destroyed our death and by rising has restored our life.

      I certainly do not want to leave anyone out as I extend my heartfelt thanks to our staff, musicians, ministers, decorators, and RCIA team.  To pull off the Triduum it takes a lot of work.  Thank you to all who helped in any way.

      My first pastor used to joke that as Jesus comes out of the tomb I go in.  Certainly, Lent is an awesome but busy time.  I am looking forward to spending a couple of days with my classmate in Oklahoma.  I will be gone Monday-Friday.  There will be no daily mass on those days.  I am looking forward to returning and celebrating one of my other favorite days Divine Mercy Sunday.  Please see the information regarding extra confession times at Our Lady's Immaculate Heart Parish.  A very happy Easter to all of you and your families!               A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross  


March 24, 2024 Bulletin

Dear Good People,   

    I just want to say how excited I am for the Easter Vigil this year.  It is going to be awesome.  This is just my appeal for everyone to attend the Triduum this year.  They are all beautiful liturgies.   

    Secondly, I just want to take a moment to thank the staff for their tremendous hard work this last week.  As you all know I kind of fly by the seat of my pants so they are keeping things together and really living the Lenten sacrifice.  Please thank them when you see them.  Let us continue to keep one another in prayer as we enter into the holiest of weeks!             A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross  


March 17, 2024 Bulletin

    The feast of our salvation draws ever closer as we are getting to the most important time of the Lenten season.  This time of purification leads us to Holy Week and the Easter Triduum.  If you are able, please sign up to help with the varied ministries that we need filled for all the great liturgies of Holy Week and the Triduum.  As a Church nerd, I love the Triduum.  It is like the Super Bowl of our faith.

    As we know, a great way to prepare for Easter is to go to the sacrament of reconciliation.  I will be having extended hours of confessions from 6 PM-7:30 PM on Wednesday and Thursday, March 20th and 21st.  On that Wednesday only, we will also have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament during that reconciliation time.  Just a reminder that we have confessions on Saturday at 4 PM as well.  There are also many parishes around that have communal penance services as well.     

     Let us continue to keep one another in prayer during this time.  Please pray especially for those who will be entering the Holy Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil!          A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross  


March 10, 2024 Bulletin

Dear Good People, 

    I hope this letter finds you well.  Lent is flying by as usual.  Sometimes we kind of fall off during this time and our Lenten resolutions start to wane.  What a great opportunity to redouble our efforts.

    I just wanted to say a word of thanks to the Knights of Columbus for their work on the Fish Fry's.  They have been a rousing success.  Secondly a big thank you to all who have provided our Lenten meals and have led the Stations of the Cross.

   Finally, please continue to keep the RCIA candidates and catechumens in your prayers along with the RCIA team.  We pray that all of them will be enlightened by the Holy Spirit as they prepare to be received into the Holy Catholic Church!             A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross  

March 3, 2024 Bulletin

Dear Good People,   

   I hope this letter finds you well.  I pray all of our Lenten journey has gotten off to a great start.  The second Sunday of Lent we always hear the gospel of the Transfiguration of Jesus on Mt. Tabor.  As Jesus's time of temptation in the desert foreshadows His eventual victory on the cross, the Transfiguration foreshadows the resurrection.

   Again, please continue to pray for our RCIA candidates and catechumens as well as the RCIA team.  Please also pray for our young people who are preparing to receive the sacraments of reconciliation, first holy communion, and confirmation.

   Finally, we are going to schedule some extra time for reconciliation next month, so please be aware of that.  I also really need to make some seminary visits so I will plan on doing that in April.  Please pray for Deacon Mike Mahoney and Deacon Luis Cabrera as they prepare for priesthood ordination in June.  Exciting things are happening!       A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross  


February 25, 2024 Bulletin

Dear Good People, 

     I hope this letter finds you well.  I pray all of our Lenten journey has gotten off to a great start.  The second Sunday of Lent we always hear the gospel of the Transfiguration of Jesus on Mt. Tabor.  As Jesus's time of temptation in the desert foreshadows His eventual victory on the cross, the Transfiguration foreshadows the resurrection.

   Again, please continue to pray for our RCIA candidates and catechumens as well as the RCIA team.  Please also pray for our young people who are preparing to receive the sacraments of reconciliation, first holy communion, and confirmation.

   Finally, we are going to schedule some extra time for reconciliation next month, so please be aware of that.  I also really need to make some seminary visits so I will plan on doing that in April.  Please pray for Deacon Mike Mahoney and Deacon Luis Cabrera as they prepare for priesthood ordination in June.  Exciting things are happening!          A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross  


February 18, 2024 Bulletin

Dear Good People,

    I hope your Lent is off to a great start.  We had a wonderful turnout for our Ash Wednesday masses.  There is always something that stirs in us at the beginning of Lent.   I think it is a stirring that reminds us that we all need to return to the Lord.  The imposition of ashes is a powerful outward symbol that we are dust and unto dust we shall return.

    As I am writing this, we are also preparing for our first fish fry.  Please come support the brother Knights and attend the fish fry's if you are able.  Also, a reminder that we have stations of the cross at 6PM on Friday's as well.  What a wonderful opportunity to spend some time in prayer contemplating our Lord's way of the Cross.  You can come enjoy some fish and then spend some time in prayer.  What a wonderful opportunity!      A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross    

February 11, 2024 Bulletin

Dear Good People,    

    It is hard to believe but Lent is now upon us!  I love the season of Lent.  I think it really gives us an opportunity to get serious about our faith.  Just a couple of things, remember that we have Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Mary at 7AM and 6:30PM on Wednesday February 14th.  We will also have Stations of the Cross on Friday’s during Lent.  Please consider volunteering to lead the Stations.  I thought I would share some of what Pope Francis has said about this upcoming Lent.

    It is time to act, and in Lent, to act also means to pause. To pause in prayer, in order to receive the word of God, to pause like the Samaritan in the presence of a wounded brother or sister. Love of God and love of neighbor are one love. Not to have other gods is to pause in the presence of God beside the flesh of our neighbor. For this reason, prayer, almsgiving and fasting are not three unrelated acts, but a single movement of openness and self-emptying, in which we cast out the idols that weigh us down, the attachments that imprison us. Then the atrophied and isolated heart will revive. Slow down, then, and pause! The contemplative dimension of life that Lent helps us to rediscover will release new energies. In the presence of God, we become brothers and sisters, more sensitive to one another: in place of threats and enemies, we discover companions and fellow travelers. This is God’s dream, the promised land to which we journey once we have left our slavery behind.

    To the extent that this Lent becomes a time of conversion, an anxious humanity will notice a burst of creativity, a flash of new hope. Allow me to repeat what I told the young people whom I met in Lisbon last summer: “Keep seeking and be ready to take risks. At this moment in time, we face enormous risks; we hear the painful plea of so many people. Indeed, we are experiencing a third world war fought piecemeal. Yet let us find the courage to see our world, not as being in its death throes but in a process of giving birth, not at the end but at the beginning of a great new chapter of history. We need courage to think like this” (Address to University Students, 3 August 2023). Such is the courage of conversion, born of coming up from slavery. For faith and charity take hope, this small child, by the hand. They teach her to walk, and at the same time, she leads them forward.[1]     

     I bless all of you and your Lenten journey (                              

                          A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross  

February 4, 2024 Bulletin

Dear Good People,

      I hope this letter finds you well.  Watching all the snow drifts I was figuring it was going to be May until we saw the grass again, but these warm days have been a nice gift.  Just some words of thanks again for all who helped with our Chili Cook Off.  That was a lot of fun.  Congratulations to the winners as well.  I also got a nice note from the Blood Center of Iowa about our Blood Drive.  Thank you to all who volunteered and who gave blood.  Some more exciting news is that we have some inquirers into the RCIA.  This is outstanding.  I want to thank the team for their work and dedication.  They have been meeting after mass at 10 AM.

     Finally, it is hard to believe but Lent will be starting on Feb. 14th.  Now might be a good time to start discerning what you would like to do for Lent.  I say this to me as much as anyone, but we do not want to miss the opportunity to grow in virtue and holiness this Lenten season.     A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross


January 21 & 28, 2024 Bulletin

Dear Good People,    

     I hope this letter finds you at least warm.  What a storm!!!  First of all I want to thank everyone who helped us to dig out from the deep snow.  That certainly helped my back!  I am sorry that I had to cancel mass at Holy Cross.  They tried three times to clear away the snow, but were unsuccessful with all the wind.  Again, I will do everything in my power to have mass, but it was quite dangerous this last weekend.  Again, please use your best judgement when we are dealing with severe weather of any kind.  I had a nice vacation to Florida, but as usual I am happy to be home.  This last weekend we also celebrated the wedding of Sue Schmidt and Dan Harrington.  Even though the weather was bad, it was a very beautiful wedding.  As a parish family we are proud of both Sue and Dan.  Please pray for them as they begin married life together.  With weddings and all that good stuff happening it is also a good reminder for all of us to continue to pray for vocations, and to pray for those who are in their vocations.  Please know of my prayers for all of you and here is hoping for at least some seasonable weather.

     A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross

January 7, 2024 Bulletin

Dear Good People,

    A very happy New Year to all of you and your families.  Also, Merry Christmas.  We continue to celebrate Christmas through the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.  We are grateful to be joined by Fr. Hurley this weekend.  Just a little note on my schedule.  I will plan on returning on January 11th.  I am certainly looking forward to some vacation time.  

   Just on a personal note, I want to thank so many of you who offered prayers for my grandmother or attended her wake or funeral.  The outpouring of support was truly humbling.  Thank you so much for that and for everyone who helped during those days as well.  I am truly humbled and grateful.  So, a very Merry Christmas, Happy Feast of the Epiphany, and a Happy New Year to all of you!          A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross


December 24, 25 & 31, 2023 Bulletin

Dear Good People,

    A very blessed and Merry Christmas to all of you and a Happy and Healthy New Year.  Just on a personal note, I want to thank all of you for the prayers for my Grandmother Kay Ross.  Your many prayers have brought comfort to me and my family.

    Just a little update on the schedule coming up for the next couple of weeks.  For the weekend of January 30th/31st, we will just have our regular weekend schedule.  This year the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God falls on a Monday, so it is not a holy day of obligation, but I cannot think of a better way to begin our New Year than by praying for the intercession of Our Lady.  We will have Mass at 9 AM at St. Mary's.  I will be gone for some vacation beginning on Friday, January 5th, and returning on the 11th.  I am going to Florida with some priest friends of mine.  So looking forward to that.

    I will leave you with some final words from Pope Francis for the Christmas Season: Brothers and sisters, let us turn our eyes to Bethlehem, and listen to the first faint cries of the Prince of Peace. For truly Jesus is our peace. The peace that the world cannot give, the peace that God the Father has bestowed on humanity by sending his Son into the world. Saint Leo the Great summed up the message of this day in a concise Latin phrase: Natalis Domini, natalis est pacis: “the Lord’s birth is the birth of peace” (Serm. 26, 5).           A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross


December 17, 2023 Bulletin

  --Fr. Parker's note this week is the Parish Annual Financial Report July 2022-2023

Overview: During fiscal year 2023, our parish continued to contend with several challenges, but showed growth in some key areas. We succeeded in meeting the financial objectives in the Diocesan Ignite campaign, earning our parish share back for future investment. Throughout this year, our parish continued to function well and was financially stable, thanks to the efforts of all of our parishioners, parish leadership, and staff! In the attached report, you will see that though our tithing households  has increased significantly, our weekly tithing is lower than the past 6 years, and the general fund has felt this decrease.


Challenges: The continuing high cost for supplies and services will continue to have an impact on our parish expenses.  As Catholics, we believe in fair pay for our employees, so we will continue to try to provide cost-of-living raises to parish staff.  Our weekly collections have taken a significant drop, and the General Fund has likewise seen a decrease. B & G items such as the parking lot at St. Mary’s is still uneven and broken, and we want to get it resurfaced. The parish Finance Council is aware of these issues and more and is committed to prioritizing parish needs and equitably managing the precious resources of the parish.


Opportunities: The number of households contributing to the parish has once again moved in a positive direction and our overall register of households has remained virtually the same. We are enjoying the stability of celebrating with Fr. Ross Parker as our full-time pastor. Our belief is that we will continue to grow and prosper in N.E. Polk County.

We continue to have a solid parish spirit as shown in the activities surrounding the parish.  Let us continue to build each other up, and find our parish worth investing in. We not only need parishioners financial support but also to volunteer to help guide us into the future to serve and share the Word of Our Lord.                       ~  Fr. Ross Parker & the SMHC Finance Council           — See additional information on the Finance Council Page


December 10, 2023 Bulletin

Dear Good People,


   I hope your Advent Season is starting off well.  My biggest advice for Advent is kind of what I talked about in my homily last weekend.  Let’s remember to slow down and watch in expectation for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This time of year is filled with so much activity, and we can kind of miss the reason for the season if you will if we do not challenge ourselves to slow down and patiently wait with the Blessed Mother for the birth of Jesus.  Another great way to engage with the season of Advent is to do a thorough examination of conscience and receive God’s mercy in the sacrament of reconciliation.


   With the theme of waiting, we are waiting to return to the Church after our renovations are complete.  A major thank you to all who moved furniture and items around.  I know it is a little inconvenient, but we will be happy when the project is completed.  A giant thank you to our benefactor who is in charge of completing the project.  I think our temporary set-up is working just fine.  Thank you again for your patience with this.  Again, a very blessed Advent to you and your families!          A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross


November 26 & December 3, 2023 Bulletin

Dear Good People,    

     A very happy and Blessed Thanksgiving to all of you!  This Sunday we celebrate Christ the King Sunday.  The last Sunday of Ordinary Time.  We are reminded that Christ is our true King.  Governments and civil leaders come and go, but we remember that no matter what we believe politically, Christ is our sovereign and our head and we are all on a journey to meet Him one day; he is our just judge.

    The weekend after Christ the King will be the beginning of Advent.  This will begin our new liturgical year.  This year it will be quite abbreviated because Christmas falls on a Monday.  Information about this schedule is included in this bulletin.  Advent means coming to.  We are preparing to meet Christ at Christmas.  With all the busyness of the season, I would challenge all of us to try and slow down and take some time to prepare for the coming of Christ in our lives.  A great way to do that is to go to the sacrament of reconciliation.  A thorough examination of our conscience and sacramental reconciliation is a tremendous way for us to prepare ourselves to meet Christ.  Blessings to all of you and let us enjoy this wonderful season!        A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross

November 19, 2023 Bulletin

Dear Good People,    

     I hope this letter finds you well.  I cannot believe the absolutely beautiful weather we have had for mid-November.  As we know this probably will not last, but we will enjoy it while we have it!  It is hard to believe, but next week we will celebrate Thanksgiving.  What a wonderful day to give thanks for all of our abundant blessings.  Please enjoy the time celebrating with your family and friends.  Just a reminder that we will have holy mass at 9 AM on Thanksgiving Day at St. Mary.  What a wonderful opportunity to start our day with the ultimate expression of gratitude in the Eucharist.

      I also just want to give you a heads-up about our schedule for Advent.  We have a great opportunity to have some plaster work done in the Church at St. Mary's beginning on December 4th.  Because of this, daily mass, Holy Day masses on December 8th and weekend masses on December 9/10 will be in the hall.  I wanted to give you a heads-up and will keep you posted. These are certainly exciting times with all the good things happening.  A very blessed Thanksgiving to all of you and let's keep one another in prayer.        A.M.D.G.   ~ Fr. Ross


November 12, 2023 Bulletin

Dear Good People,

     I hope this letter finds each of you well.  I just wanted to give an update about some of our projects.  You will notice that we have installed new gutters around St. Mary’s church.  We are hoping that this will help with some of our water leakage issues.  The crew is finishing up as I write this.  I want to thank David Liske for helping remove all the old gutters and dispose of them properly.  I also want to thank Drew Hanlon and John Roberts for their help in replacing the lights in the parking lot.  Drew and Doug Jones are also working to fix the leak in the bell tower.  Unfortunately, the lift we have here now does not reach the bell tower, so that project may have to wait until we can get a lift that reaches higher.  We have also been working with the Buildings and Grounds Committee, Finance Council, and Parish Council to get a plan going for our building needs.  I think this is a work of hospitality as we want the buildings and grounds at both of our sites to look nice as it is inviting to others.  We are also going to finish some plaster work at St. Mary's next month.  Thank you to all who work at this, seen and unseen.

     I also want to thank everyone for the great turnout for the Work of Our Hands festival.  It was a lot of work for all the vendors to set up and I think all of you were very supportive of them.  Great work all around!  It is hard to believe that we are moving ever closer to Advent.  We will send a schedule out soon that will include extra time for the sacrament of reconciliation and mass times.  Christmas will be on a Monday this year (worst day) so we will have to adjust our weekend mass times.  We will get that to you soon.  A lot going on, so let's keep one another in prayer!   A.M.D.G.  ~ Fr. Ross


November 5, 2023 Bulletin

Dear Good People,

     I hope this letter finds you well.  It is so hard to believe that we are heading into November and Advent is right around the corner!  I am sorry I am a little behind on everything it seems like.  I just wanted to extend the invitation to the RCIA program for this year.  We are getting our team together and I think we will be meeting after 10 AM Mass.  Please let me know if you would like to join this year.  

     Just an FYI for my schedule.  It seems like my speaking engagements are on the rise so I will be traveling quite a bit in November giving talks.  Please continue to pray for an increase in vocations.

     Finally, I want to thank everyone who volunteered for our Blood Drive and to those who gave the gift of life.  Secondly, I want to thank those who planned and are participating in the Work of Our Hands Festival.  Finally, a big thank you to Janet Phelan and Pat and Diane Gannon for the popcorn balls and apples; to Jon and Michele Hand who provided us with sweet corn; and also to those who dropped off produce at St Mary's this summer.  We are certainly well-fed!  Blessings to all of you and your families.  Let us remember to pray especially for our beloved deceased during this month.       A.M.D.G.  ~ Fr. Ross


October 29, 2023 Bulletin

Dear Good People,

     I just wanted to remind you of a few housekeeping things.  First of all, we are looking for people to serve on Parish Council and Finance Council.  Please pray about this and let me or someone on the councils know if you would be willing to serve.

     Secondly, just a reminder that Wednesday, November 1st is a Holy Day of Obligation or as I say a Holy Day of Opportunity.  We will have mass at St. Mary's at 7AM and 6:30 PM.  Nov. 2nd is not a holy day of obligation, but we remember that praying for the dead is a spiritual work of mercy.  We will have mass at St. Mary's at 8 AM and Mass at  Holy Cross at 6:30 PM. Maybe next year we can have mass in the cemetery itself (weather permitting) something to think about.

     Finally, I want to thank Delila Roberts for bringing us some nice pumpkins to decorate our homes.  I also want to  thank everyone who helped with Trunk or Treat.  We had fine weather and a great turnout.  What an awesome way to continue to build community!  Thank you all again!          A.M.D.G.  ~ Fr. Ross


October 15 & 22, 2023 Bulletin

Dear Good People,

     As I hope this letter finds you well.  What a crazy, but blessed two weeks.  Thank you for understanding my absence.  All of you were prayed for at the major basilica’s in Rome.  The highlight of my trip was of course the transitional deacon ordinations of 18 young men who are giving their lives for the church.  Among them was Deacon Mike Mahoney from West Des Moines.  Please keep Deacon Mike and his classmates in your prayers.

     I also wanted to touch briefly on the location of the tabernacle in the sanctuary of St. Mary’s.  I spoke about this at mass a couple of months ago and I think I also touched on this during one of my letters as well.  Basically, this conversation was ongoing before I arrived and we have been discussing this with the Parish Council as well. I also wanted to make sure I got input from as many people as possible.  The input has been very positive in terms of moving the tabernacle to the center of the sanctuary and then moving the statue of St. Joseph to the right of the sanctuary as you are facing the altar.  The main reasons for this proposed move is first of all theological.  Now, the priest is in the center of the sanctuary during mass.  If we move the tabernacle to the center, it makes the statement that Christ is at the center of our worship.  Secondly, aesthetically, with the musicians and the flow of everything it makes sense to move the tabernacle so that things are much more balanced.  This is by no means a repudiation of former pastors or decisions that were made in the past.  I am sure that there were good reasons to move the high altar and the tabernacle. Secondly, this is not some repudiation of the Second Vatican Council.  I would argue that it fits nicely with the council’s teaching that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith.  Also, it will help foster full, conscious, and active participation in the liturgy that the council called for.  This is also not a step in moving the altar back or installing communion rails and things like that.  Again, this is simply meant to continue to challenge us to put Christ in the center of our worship.  We would also move the presider's chair off to the side so that it would not obstruct the view of the tabernacle.  Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about this.  The Director of Worship in the diocese has approved of this change. I just want to make sure we kind of go slow with this as the current set-up has been in place since the late 80’s.  I know that some changes can be difficult as at least one generation has always known the set-up as it is.  Sometimes these changes can be difficult and I totally get that.  So, I think we just want to prudently proceed.     A.M.D.G.  ~ Fr. Ross


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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