October 25, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     Printed below is a statement from the bishop regarding the pope's comments about same-sex civil unions.

"In itself, the statement of the Holy Father regarding civil unions drawn from the recently produced

documentary is surprising, and for many Catholics seeking to be true to Christ's teaching, troubling. 

It seems that he was offering a longstanding personal opinion and not invoking his office to issue an

teaching.  One is led to speculate: perhaps he is simply trying to dissociate the Church's practice of

sacramental marriage between a woman and a man from those unions recognized by the state that

entail social and economic benefits for individuals in households who would otherwise not be afforded

them? Regardless of his intent, surely he and all Christians are called to recognize all individuals,

including those who self-identify within the LGBTQIA+ community, as children of God bearing ultimate

dignity and full members of the human community meriting respect and protection from ostracism or

harm. As with his previous, often-cited "Who am I to judge?" comment, which was lifted out of context

and given a very different interpretation than what the Holy Father was addressing at the time, we will

all need to examine the larger context of this conversation and look for Pope Francis to provide further 

clarification before offering further comment."

     A couple points of which I thought to summarize the situation (with some inspiration from the bishop): (1) regardless of one's confusion about their sexual orientation, they are still created in the image and likeness of God as much as someone who does not experience such confusion and are to be equally loved and respected and (2) official Christian teaching regarding this issue (i.e. chastity in any and all relationships and marriage) has NOT changed.


     See details on the inside of this bulletin about the opportunity for prayer for the nation on election day, including adoration and how to sign up for a time slot.  Mass will be offered at 6 PM for the nation, followed by a final hour of adoration for those who might not be able to join earlier.  Many thanks to Joe Dunham, Tim Loraditch, and Barb Liske for their behind-the-scenes work on this.       ~ Fr. Andrew 

October 18, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

      The Gospel reading for this Sunday is one of those that is easily misunderstood if it is not read carefully, especially within the context of the rest of Scripture and history.  Without such considerations and reading the passage by itself, it seems that Jesus advocates for the principle of separation of Church and state, which is also a common misunderstanding of our constitution.  Of course, he does not refer specifically to our situation as this dynamic is experienced by any Christian in any nation.  Notice that he does not deny the state its share of, in this case, taxes.  He does, however, subordinate the activity of the state and its head to God's activity and sovereignty.  So, whoever is elected in the next couple weeks should likewise be subordinate to Him.  Thankfully, He has given us clear indications in Scripture and the rest of Tradition, for example the Commandments, to help form our conscience so that we vote wisely.  Whatever happens, let us ourselves be subordinate to God and pray for this nation.                 ~ Fr. Andrew 

October 4 & 11, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

      If you do not review any of the other readings for the first Sunday of this two-week bulletin, I cannot recommend the second reading enough. St. Paul exhorts the Philippians to "have no anxiety at all." Surely that is easy for him to say because he did not deal with COVID, economic distress, and the politics of an election year. But as his letter beautifully continues, we are assured that by keeping the faith and praying, in the end "the God of peace will be with you." It is a peace that is not just temporary and fickle, it is permanent and steadfast.

     The Christ Our Life conference on the weekend of September 26th and 27th seemed to have a good turnout considering the circumstances. I arrived expecting to help with confessions, but all the stations were staffed, which is a good problem to have. 

                                 ~ Fr. Andrew 

September 27, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     The first and third readings of both last Sunday and this Sunday share the theme of God's approach to justice. Speaking through the prophet Ezekiel in this Sunday's first reading, God acknowledges that we complain that His "way is not fair." But who other than Him gets to make the rules? No amount of complaining will change that reality. In the Gospel, Jesus illustrates it with the man and his two sons. What we can learn is quite simple: God endows us with free will to make choices, sometimes good and sometimes bad. Because He does this and is Himself eternal, those choices can have eternal consequences for us, good or bad.

     Here are some reminders of guidelines as it has been a while now since we came back to Mass and a change in this era of COVID.

         - If you or direct family members are considered high-risk, we encourage you to continue to worship from home.

         - If the church at St. Mary is full, additional seating is available in the social hall. - The restriction of attendance by name at Holy                            Cross is no longer in effect.

         - Diocesan guidelines suggest at least consider receiving the host on your hand so as to not risk contacting the minister with saliva. 

                If you still opt to receive on the tongue, please receive last.

         - Baskets are available at church entrances for collections.

     A day of prayer and fasting for the nation was held on Thursday. Even though it has passed, I use it to encourage you to not let it stop with just one day.

     A couple weeks ago, in addition to the regularly scheduled confessions and Masses, a wedding and baptism were celebrated. Both sacraments were delightful opportunities to experience joy in these trying times. Congratulations to Noah and Abbey and welcome to the Church, Knox!                      ~ Fr. Andrew 

September 20, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     One way that we can waste a lot of time, energy, and effort is by comparing ourselves to others. It does no good because it is God who will judge us, no one else. He reminds us in the first reading this weekend through the prophet Isaiah, "As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts." Surely, we can see many unfortunate and realistic examples in this world and maybe even our personal lives of what happens when we neglect, purposely or not, His thoughts. Thankfully, like the landowner with the laborers in the Gospel, God is patient by constantly approaching and drawing us in. Regardless of what others do, we need to do our part by cooperating with Him. Then we will enjoy the wage of eternal life.

     The finance committee is still looking for new members to serve the parish. While it is not required for all members to have knowledge of finances, we would like especially to leverage the expertise of someone with such a background. If you are interested and/or know someone who fits this description, please contact me.      Fr. Andrew 

September 13, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

     To forgive is to be like God.  This does not mean that we will ever be gods ourselves.  However, such action on our part imitates his own generous action.  And generous is a gross understatement.  Consider that He is the king in the Gospel reading this Sunday and we are the debtor, owing Him a "huge" amount (the original Greek is translated to "ten thousand talents," referring to an amount of money that is impossible to be paid).  The debt is incurred because of our sin.  Even though He is in no way obligated to do so, He forgives us when we beg for it.  Then we are meant to visit it upon others.  If God wants mercy and forgiveness for us all, who are we to deny it for others, even ourselves?

     It has been encouraging to celebrate Mass the last couple weeks with religious education families.  Please pray that they settle in well and everyone remains healthy as they learn more about God and draw closer to Him.

     As I type this article, the floor of the social hall is being stripped and waxed.  If you are so inclined, be sure to check it out, but please do not christen it by spilling something on it!              Fr. Andrew 

August 30 & Sept. 6th, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     The readings for the first weekend (August 30 or 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time) of this bulletin, particularly Jesus' stark admonition of Peter's denial of the Passion, are a reminder of the importance of prayer.  Constant and consistent prayer helps us reconcile our thoughts with God's.  However, as Jesus also reminds us, life still involves suffering and that salvation cannot be had without it.  Part of suffering involves sin, whether it is our own or that of others against us.  In the readings for the second weekend (September 6 or 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time), we are encouraged to help others turn away from their sin.  Speaking of reconciliation, Jesus aids us by establishing a protocol whereby a sinner is brought back into the good graces of fellow Christians.  It is a wonderful model that would surely bring greater peace to our turbulent world that seems to be greatly divided and sometimes violently so.

     The finance committee is still looking for new members to serve the parish.  While it is not required for all members to have knowledge of finances, we would like especially to leverage the expertise of someone with such a background.  If you are interested and/or know someone who fits this description, please contact me.           Fr. Andrew 

August 16 & 23, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

     If someone knows how to restart the year, please be so kind as to inform me.

     In the Gospel for August 16, Jesus tests the faith and persistence of the Canaanite (could also be described as pagan) woman. He even goes so far as to compare her and her demonically tormented daughter to dogs. While there is no direct connection to this Scriptural situation, perhaps we can still compare our current situation with it. Like the woman already caring for her daughter then being seemingly insulted by Jesus, we were already battered by COVID, then this week's storm and aftermath dealt another blow. The woman's example is one of harnessing fortitude to persevere despite the adversity. A great good came for her because of it and the same can happen for us. In the Gospel for August 23, Jesus tells Peter that our heavenly Father has revealed Himself. Let us pray that He continues to reveal Himself to us in many and benevolent ways, especially as we clean up and rebuild.

     When the storm hit late Monday morning, I was in the church, the roof of which creaked. Power went out about 11:30 that day and returned at about 4:30 Thursday afternoon. Trees sustained damage, but thankfully no whole trees came down. There were multiple leaks in the building and a minor one in the house. Many thanks to those who helped with cleanup and checked in. If you need help with something and/or know someone who does, please let us know.    Fr. Andrew 

August 2 & 9, 2020 BUlletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     The Gospel for August 2 is the story of the famous multiplication of the loaves.  It must have been exceptionally important to the early Church because it is one of the few, if not only, story that appears in all four gospels.  The Gospel for August 9 is another famous story, that of Jesus and Peter walking on the sea.  Unfortunately, there is an effort by some people to explain away these miracles and rather emphasize the importance of generosity in the first Gospel and that the water was shallow in the second Gospel.  Such attempts could be a slippery slope when we read about Jesus performing other miracles.  In other words, denying one miracle could lead to denying another miracle, which could eventually lead to denying the greatest one of all, the Resurrection.  Let us trust our Lord who nourished the crowd and continues to spiritually nourish humanity with his body and blood of the Eucharist.  And why could he through whom everything is created not also have dominion over it so that he could walk on the water and comfort his disciples in the midst of turmoil, something from which surely we would benefit at this time?      Fr. Andrew 

July 19 & 26, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

     Like the gospel reading of the previous Sunday, over the next two weeks Jesus continues to teach the crowds about the kingdom of heaven using parables.  He uses imagery that is meant to challenge our minds to better comprehend what the kingdom is like and how we can cooperate with God's grace to enter it.  How often do we look for an easy solution to a problem instead of accepting the one that is more challenging?  While not presuming to speak for anyone, if we always take the easy way out, surely we do ourselves no favor in the long term because to do so neglects the opportunity for us to grow in trust in God and perhaps even ourselves.  In his book What's Wrong with the World, Catholic convert G.K. Chesterton wrote, "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting.  It has been found difficult; and left untried."

     A parishioner has pointed me to an idea about how to pray for the Church and the nation.  It is called "Let Freedom Ring: 40 Days to Freedom from the Devil."  More information can be found here: https://usgraceforce.com/let-freedom-ring-40-days-to-freedom-from-the-devil/.

     The finance committee is still looking for new members to serve the parish.  While it is not required for all members to have knowledge of finances, we would like especially to leverage the expertise of someone with such a background. If you are interested and/or know someone who fits this description, please contact me.                         ~ Fr. Andrew 

July 5 & 12, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

      Be aware that beginning with this bulletin, it will be published every two weeks for the remainder of the summer.

      "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me."  Life is already challenging enough as it is.  Why does Jesus seem to suggest that we should further burden ourselves?  Such a question might be the result of an overly simplistic reading of this part of the Gospel.  Without faith, it does not make sense.  But with faith, we recognize Jesus as not just another man, he is also the same God who created us and did the work to redeem us.  No other man's yoke can free us like his from sin and death.

     In the following Sunday's reading, Jesus teaches about the reality that people will have varying reactions to the Gospel.  Some will not understand it, some will receive then lose it, and some will bear great fruit.  While it does no good to force the faith on anyone, we who have it, however imperfect it might be, still have the responsibility to provide a genuine witness by living according to it.  For those who tend to be faint of heart, there are subtle ways of doing so and I encourage you to pray and act accordingly.          ~Fr. Andrew 

June 28, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     For those of you returning to Mass this weekend, welcome back to your spiritual home!  For those who are unable or uncomfortable attending, know of God's consolation and my prayer for you.  This is a good time to remember a couple things from last week's bulletin.  Please remember that the dispensation from the bishop regarding obligatory Sunday Mass attendance is still in effect.  If you are sick and/or have a compromised immune system, it is already prudent for you to remain home.  If there is something with which we as your parish family can help you, please let us know by calling the office or sending an e-mail.

     The beautiful story in our first reading this Sunday is a reminder that as Elisha allows God to work through him to provide for the woman, so too are we expected as Christians to provide for others.  Notice that Jesus sets the bar low: "whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink."  Perhaps he wants us to know that it is not always about how much we do for someone as what is the right thing to do.  Before we can do that, we need to take up our cross and follow him.  We can do all sorts of things to help others, but if they are not done out of sacrificial love for God and neighbor, then such actions have little, if any, value.  Do people who we as Christians encounter have at least a little better understanding of who Christ is?           ~Fr. Andrew 

June 21, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

   The first reading and Gospel this weekend refer to fear, with Jesus simply saying, "Fear no one."  This statement is not to be mistaken as an outright prohibition of fear because later he says, "be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna."  So, we are meant to have a healthy sense of fear as opposed to unhealthy.  Healthy fear is a respect of God and His law, avoiding sin so as to not damage our relationship with Him and others.  Unhealthy fear renders us incapable of serving Him and others and even clouding our judgment, eventually leading to sin.  The more that we maintain a relationship with God and obtain His grace through prayer, attending Mass, reading Scripture, to name just a few examples, the less likely we will have need to fear anything.

    The bishop has cleared Polk County to return to Sunday Mass (also known as phase 2) beginning the evening of June 27. Thanks to the parish council, we have been working on the logistics of returning.  You will find the parish-specific guidelines on the back of the bulletin.  They will also be on the website.  It is not a long document; please take the short time to read it.  Please remember that the dispensation from the bishop regarding obligatory Sunday Mass attendance is still in effect.  If you are sick and/or have a compromised immune system, it is already prudent for you to remain home.  Like going anywhere else, coming to church exposes you to what is out there. Lastly, you will notice some liturgical modifications:

1.  No singing for at least the first couple weekends.  There will still be some instrumental music.

2.  No offertory, which means gifts are not brought forward.

3.  No Communion from the cup, only the Precious Body.

Such changes may be awkward; they are made for good reason and hopefully they will not be long-lasting. Regardless, it will be good to be back and worship our Lord together as he deserves and what we very much need.           ~Fr. Andrew 

June 14, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     Sunday is the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, also known by its Latin name Corpus Christi.  It is a holy day that honors the Eucharist and traces its origin back to the thirteenth century.  In the Gospel, Jesus is quite explicit about this reality that Catholicism holds dear: "For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink" (John 6:55).  There is no qualification, no wavering in this statement.  Furthermore, he connects reception of his flesh and blood to eternal life: "'Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day'" (John 6:53-54).  If surveys are to be believed, many Catholics do not believe that the Eucharist is really the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ.  What is holding us back?  If Jesus himself said so, then why do we not trust him?  Perhaps even some who believe waver in their belief.  Wherever you find yourself in this, I encourage you to ask God for more faith, one of the three theological virtues.  It is a gift from Him that as the author to the letter to the Hebrews wrote, helps us with "the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).  Sure, that host may not look like nor taste like flesh, but with the faith that God gives us, we will be able see it and experience it for what it really is.  According to Jesus, eternal life depends on it.

     On a related note, please pray for those children who are finalizing their preparation for first Communion.  The group has been broken into two smaller groups and will celebrate the sacrament on June 20 and 27.            ~Fr. Andrew 

June 7, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     On this Sunday and the next, we ease our way back into ordinary time by celebrating special solemnities, this one being that of the Most Holy Trinity.  It is fitting that it follows the Easter season, a time during which we come to know what God did for us.  Now we come to what God is like.  The Catechism tells us that the Trinity is the most central mystery of our faith.  Consider how seriously the Church takes it: we invoke it when we celebrate Baptism, the first sacrament that any Christian receives, and we also invoke it before every prayer.  However, how conscious are we really of what we are saying and doing?  We do well to remember that not only is God three unified and at the same time distinct persons and however hard it is to fathom the Trinity, He is so benevolent that He still allows us access to His inner self.  Stay tuned regarding the solemnity next Sunday, as it develops this theme.

     Even though you probably heard about this, it is worth reiterating: we are headed back to daily Mass.  The bishop is allowing us to resume as early as this Thursday, the 11th.  The parish council and I have been working on the logistics of spacing and liturgical practice.  Please exercise prudence concerning your health and if you attend, to what extent you interact with others.  Modifications will be made to the liturgy, some of which will likely be clear and some of which will be communicated at that time.  We are also allowed to go ahead with smaller liturgies for first Communion, which are being planned.  Right now, there is indication that we may get back to Sunday Mass toward the end of the month. However, that is not definitive.                   ~Fr. Andrew

May 31, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     The word Pentecost refers to the fifty days following Easter.  This holy day traces its origin back to Judaism.  It was celebrated earlier with joy for the first fruits of harvest.  It was later associated with God giving Moses the Law on Mount Sinai.  Of course, we recognize it for Jesus' gift of the Holy Spirit to the disciples.  It is notable that in the Gospel he connects reception of the Spirit with peace and forgiveness of sins.  This seems to be an implicit acknowledgement of sin doing violence to one's contentment that can be had in a relationship with God.  Jesus clearly wants peace for us.  Do we really want it for ourselves and others?

     Many thanks to Lynn Schreurs and company for the wonderful flag display early last week and program on Memorial Day.  The turnout was a pleasant surprise and that the weather held off long enough was surely an answered prayer.

                                                      ~Fr. Andrew 

May 24, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

    This Sunday, known as the Ascension of the Lord, marks the beginning of the seventh and last week of the Easter season.  We have been without Sunday Mass for nine weeks now.  Does it not seem like this will never end?  Thankfully, though, according to the readings, Jesus does not leave the apostles without not only promising them, "I am with you always, until the end of the age."  It is not an idle promise, because he already gave them his body and blood of the Eucharist, the celebration of which they were charged with perpetuating, and of which we will someday (pray that it somehow be today!) partake again.  Lastly, for those who do not pray the Rosary, I cannot recommend it enough. Surely after trying it you will realize that the mysteries relate to one another in a way that reflects the events of Jesus' life and help us know him better.  One of the best examples is the glorious mysteries, particularly the first three, which show us how the Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost cannot be isolated from each other and how necessary were all three for our salvation.

                      ~Fr. Andrew 

May 17, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

    What would be your reaction if someone equated your love for them with obeying them?  In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus does exactly that.  Regarding our strictly natural relationships, we might be appalled.  But our relationship with him is far more than natural; it is supernatural.  We cannot know and abide in him by ourselves, no matter how hard we try.  Thankfully, though, he gives us the Spirit, allowing us to draw closer to him and when our time comes, hopefully to the Father.  According to the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, in the early Church, the apostles recognized the need for this visitation of the Spirit upon those who had been baptized.  We now know it as the sacrament of Confirmation.

     Having just mentioned a sacrament, please continue to pray for the perseverance for those who are still preparing for first Reconciliation, first Communion, and Confirmation.  Normally, we would have had such celebrations already, but of course they have been delayed and there is still no indication as to when we will be able to continue.            ~ Fr. Andrew 

May 10, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     The Easter season continues unabated as this is already the fifth Sunday.  Our readings have taken a turn from emphasizing Jesus' post-resurrection appearances to preparing the disciples for his ascension.  And it seems, according to this Sunday's Gospel, that he wants them to not be as concerned about the ascension itself as what happens afterward.  At the end of the reading he makes a curious proclamation: "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father."  What work could a believer possibly do that is greater than what Jesus himself does?  While I do not have an answer, it is certainly something about which to pray and think.

     During the most recent weekly online meeting with the bishop, other priests, and diocesan staff, we learned that there is now a committee working on a plan for when it is deemed suitable for us to gather again.  At this time, I do not know of any details, including any date for when that would happen.

     Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there.  I pray that you experience the love of our Lord and Blessed Mother and bless your children with it.                               ~Fr. Andrew 

May 3, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     Many of you likely heard that despite some other organizations opening, the bishops of the state have decided to maintain our posture of no public Masses, among other activities, for what seems to be the foreseeable future.  The letter can be found on the back page of this bulletin and a video from Bishop Joensen can be found on the diocese's website (www.dmdiocese.org).  Without a doubt, this is frustrating because we are not being allowed to celebrate the Mass, which is our most important action as Catholics.  While nothing can replicate it, we still need to do what we can to remain united with God.  St. Mary's remains open for prayer throughout the week and I am still in the office during the week.  Even though that is the case and you would like to have confession or just a meeting to chat, it is best to call or send an e-mail to schedule it.  For what it is worth, know of my continued prayer for you all.

                                                                                                                                                ~Fr. Andrew 

April 26, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     In a few of the Gospel readings that follow Easter Sunday, including this Sunday, there is an emphasis on Jesus revealing himself to his disciples.  For some reason, those who were closest to him did not immediately recognize him after the Resurrection.  In the Gospel for this Sunday, it is not until he breaks the bread that they recognize him.  What is it about his resurrected body compared to what are their expectations that challenges them?  We can ask a similar question about ourselves.  Do we truly recognize our resurrected and glorified Lord in the Eucharist such that we agonize over not being able to receive him?  Whether or not that is the case, I encourage everyone to continue praying, especially for the faith that we need to know him and to persevere through the current situation.

     Thanks to Tom and Jacki Ausman, who have been tending well to the decorations.  Even though the church is not as busy, the reality of the Easter season remains and it is right for us to act accordingly.  The flowers especially make the place look and smell great!

     Diocesan staff and clergy including the bishop meet via Zoom every Tuesday morning now.  The social aspect of it is helpful as well as the discussion and trading of ideas.

     If you did not receive the weekly e-mail, you can find an update from the finance council on the parish website.

                                             ~ Fr. Andrew 

April 19, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     The second Sunday of Easter is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday, which was instituted by St. Pope John Paul II in the year 2000.  This solemnity emphasizes God's bounteous mercy for us, even though we are sinners. On the parish website you will find a document with resources to help you celebrate.

     Bishop Joensen has granted faculties to pastors to celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation with those who have been preparing.  When the restriction regarding gatherings is lifted, we will consider dates and seek input from those who are involved. At this time, the same goes for first Communion.       ~ Fr. Andrew 

April 12, 2020 Easter Sunday

Dear Friends in Christ,

     Despite what currently seems like overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the power of the Resurrection always has been, is, and always will be greater than that of death.  Having faith in God, especially Jesus Christ, who established this reality for us, we have a reasonable hope that this trial too will pass and with His grace we will move on to better things.  Know of my love and prayer for all of you always and especially as we enter Easter.

     If the technology cooperates and there is no user error, I intend to publish to the website a brief recording of some kind on Saturday night after celebrating the vigil.  I have hesitated to do so throughout this ordeal for several reasons, including the adage about having a face for radio. Now it seems prudent to do something special for the most important day of the year.

     Thanks very much to those who have dropped off tithing envelopes and who have been creative in contributing to the parish.  We are doing what we can here to minimize costs, but the fact is that they still exist. It is understood that not everyone can give as much as they have in the past.  I prefer that you have food on your table and a roof over your head. For those who are so inclined, we have set up a way to contribute online. Details can be found later in this bulletin.               ~ Fr. Andrew 

April 5, 2020 Palm Sunday Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

     According to an update from the bishop that was sent on Wednesday, there will be no public liturgies during Holy Week, which begins with Palm Sunday and includes and ends with Easter Sunday.  Even though we have been without public celebrations of the Mass for the last couple weeks, this may still come as a shock because only on rare occasions - if ever, for some - have we not celebrated the most important day of the Christian year.  I will continue, as is my obligation, to celebrate the liturgies for the intentions and for the entire parish on Easter Sunday. It is also my intention to put together some kind of resource to help you enter spiritually into this sacred time even though it is hard to do so physically.

     Palms will be blessed on Sunday and made available in the church at St. Mary for anyone who would like to stop in to get one and I encourage you to take at least a little time to pray as well.  Please respect the distancing guidelines.

     Church hours will vary on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday so that the liturgies are celebrated without interruption and to be in accord with diocesan guidelines.  The exact timing has yet to be determined. For now, I estimate it will be closed around four on Thursday, two on Friday, and seven on Saturday. Regular hours should resume on Sunday.  If you can, check the parish website to be sure before you come.

     Lastly, not many people have taken advantage of FORMED, which is free to us for about another thirty days.  I especially urge those parents who have a child preparing to receive a sacrament to sign up and watch the appropriate content since religious education is not currently meeting.  It is very easy to sign up.

1. Go to https://signup.formed.org/.

2. Enter the parish zip code of 50073.

3. Enter your name and e-mail address.

4. Check your e-mail account for a link to begin using FORMED.                 ~ Fr. Andrew 

March 29, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

     This is the last Sunday of Lent before Palm Sunday, which initiates Holy Week.  In the gospel, Jesus has yet another encounter with someone that ends in him pointing to the paschal mystery.  His friend Lazarus is sick and will die and not unlike with the blind man in last Sunday's gospel, he says, "This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it."  It is yet another reminder that with faith in this challenging time, we too will be able to recognize the glory of God at work in our lives and the lives of others, even those who are gravely affected.

     Is it hard to imagine that the situation in which we find ourselves without Mass and other activities as a parish is only in its second week?  If so, perhaps such is how the shock of being deprived of the greatest sacrament affects us. While we as creatures and especially as sinners are not necessarily entitled to receive the Eucharist, our Lord intends us to receive it.  How sweet will be that reunion whenever it occurs?

     As of yet, there is no definitive directive from the diocese regarding Holy Week.  Be aware that there might not be any public liturgies.  If that will be the case, I intend to put together something that will aid in your entering into the highest holy day of year.  Ideas for that are greatly appreciated; please let me know.

     Some people have asked if I am recording and broadcasting Masses and the answer is no.  The main reason for that is there are so many other priests out there who are doing so. Also, it seems we are being bombarded with a lot of other things at this time.  I want to reach out to you in other ways such as the bulletins and an occasional e-mail message that would be more impactful than just another video.

     Remember that the office is still open, and I maintain a presence in the building.  If you would like to chat and/or go to confession (especially since the Lenten Reconciliation service is cancelled), you can stop by and ask, although a call or e-mail is preferable in case I happen to be out.  The church also remains open for prayer from about 8 AM to 8 PM Monday through Friday and about 10 AM to 8 PM on the weekends. ~ Fr. Andrew 

March 22, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     In the gospel reading for this Sunday, Jesus upends the popular belief that maladies are the result of someone's sin.  He tells his disciples that "it is so that the works of God might be made visible." These are challenging words that we need to not only hear in this trying time, the world needs them to become our attitude toward the situation in which we find ourselves.  We could easily wallow in this mess or like the Christians we are and the saints who have gone before us, we could continue to serve our Lord and neighbors and make God visible to them. This could also be an opportunity to slow down and enjoy life more as opposed to inordinately busying ourselves.

     Despite Masses and other activities being cancelled, I maintain a presence in the building and remain available for individual confessions and/or consultation.  I recommend taking time to pray with Mass readings, and if you have family, to discuss them. It is not just a pious practice; it is good to keep track of what is going on in the liturgy, especially when you cannot attend.  The church will be open throughout the day for anyone to pray. At this time there is no indication as to when Masses will resume and what Holy Week including Easter will be like. Unfortunately, there is still a lot that is unknown.  It is frustrating, though that is the reality. For those who have requested Mass for someone: I continue to celebrate daily on my own and honor those intentions.

     Thanks to the Augustine Institute, we have a complimentary forty-day subscription to FORMED, a Catholic platform with content including movies, programs, audio, and books for adults and children alike.  I encourage especially those families with children preparing to receive a sacrament to take advantage of it.

1. Go to www.formed.org and click on 'SIGN UP.'

2.  Select 'I belong to a parish or organization.'  Type 'St. Mary-Holy Cross' to find the parish and select it.  The address will be next to it. Click 'Next.'

3.  Enter your name and e-mail address on the next page, then click 'Sign Up.'

After that you should be able to access the content.  If for some reason you have trouble signing up, please let me know.    ~ Fr. Andrew 

March 15, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

     Some of you have questioned what precautions we can take regarding the spread of disease. Surely, we should be prudent and do something while not getting carried away. The challenge is that our liturgy by nature is communal. Therefore, how do we be cautious without degrading it? Consider that some parts are both not essential and bring with them greater risk than other parts. With that in mind and as instructed by the bishop, the following changes will be made. Caution about physical contact with others is urged. For now, the encouragement to greet others before Mass in the same way we have been doing it will be halted. This includes the sign of peace. Distribution of the Precious Blood is suspended until further notice. To receive the body of Christ is to also receive the fullness of his body, blood, soul, and divinity. Anyone serving as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion should wash their hands before Mass. Those who receive Communion on the tongue will not be denied, but please consider receiving on the hand for now. The holy water fonts at the entrance of each church have been emptied, though the larger vessels still contain water as it is not accessed in the same way as the water in the fonts. Please pray for those who are sick with this disease (as well as any other) and that this pandemic comes to a swift resolution.

                ~ Fr. Andrew 

March 8, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     Obviously, the coronavirus continues to make headlines.  On Monday the bishop sent a message with the following points that we do well to heed.

> Those who are sick should be (as always) encouraged to stay home from Mass and reminded that there is no "sin" in doing so - and, in fact, it represents an act of charity for the entire parish.

> Reception of Holy Communion under either species (body or blood) is full Eucharistic communion with Christ.

     On a lighter note, thanks to everyone who helped us go beyond the goal for bibles for those children who will receive Communion for the first time this year.  This is the most important sacrament of initiation that anyone can celebrate, and I am edified by the support. I encourage anyone who wanted to donate but for whatever reason was unable to do so, and really everyone else to at least pray for these future first communicants.        ~ Fr. Andrew 

March 1, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     Lent has begun and if you are still trying to figure out what to do for a penance, here are a couple suggestions.

          1.  Probably the most important thing to do among others is to reconcile with our God!  Reconciliation services in the Des Moines area are noted on the parish calendar. Our service will be on Sunday, March 29 at 1 PM.

          2.  Tend to a daily Mass and further prayer.  The following are words from a parishioner who has been attending the Tuesday evening Mass and adoration: "Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is a wonderful opportunity to experience God's grace, it's a true gift for yourself!  I had no idea how much Adoration would bring to my life."

         3.  Pick up a baby bottle next weekend and fill it with change, paper money, or check (make it payable to InnerVisions HealthCare).  The funds will provide free, caring, and confidential pregnancy care with a pro-life approach.

     Of course, there are many other options; usually those that are more challenging bear more fruit.                ~ Fr. Andrew 

February 23, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     Ash Wednesday, Jesus reminds us in the gospel reading that prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are essential practices of Christians.  By carrying these out not to show off but with the appropriate interior disposition, we please God. I encourage you to prayerfully think about and discern what will be your own Lenten penance and especially parents to help your children do the same.

     During the week of March 8, we will again have the opportunity this year to participate in InnerVisions HealthCare's baby bottle campaign.  Please return them no later than the following weekend. This could be a good Lenten penance for individuals and families alike. Further details will be relayed before Mass that first weekend and can also be found inside this bulletin.

     The finance committee is still looking for new members to serve the parish.  While it is not required for all members to have knowledge of finances, we would like especially to leverage the expertise of someone with such a background. If you are interested and/or know someone who fits this description, please contact me.

     The scammers are hard at work again, recently regarding the bishop.  They are sending e-mail messages that purport to be from him and ask for a favor.  If you receive one, do not reply; delete the message. The same goes for any of you who are still receiving messages from someone pretending to be me.                    ~ Fr. Andrew 

February 9, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

    Parents have the responsibility and privilege to provide the name by which even God Himself calls each of us for life.  It begins with our baptism and is echoed each time we celebrate the sacraments. These are encounters with Jesus Christ that insofar as we allow ourselves to be moved by him, we are converted.  There are about 24 children who will receive the Eucharist for the first time this year and the religious education staff and myself would like the children to have a sponsor who would pray for them.  In addition to this commitment, the sponsor would donate $30 for a personalized bible with which the child will be gifted for their first Communion. At the end of Scripture readings at Mass, the reader concludes by saying, "The Word of the Lord."  This bible with their name on it will serve as a reminder to the child that he or she is personally called with our Lord's words to serve him and others. More information is coming next weekend. There will be a sign-up soon. If you have questions, contact Tracy or Geneveve.                      ~ Fr. Andrew 

January 26, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     Thanks very much to everyone who helped last weekend with the snow removal of the walks and parking lot.  It was not a pleasant few days with the cold and wind, but we all persevered. Remember: control of the weather is above the pay grade of any bishop, priest, and deacon!

     The finance committee is looking for new members to serve the parish.  While it is not required for all members to have knowledge of finances, we would like especially to leverage the expertise of someone with such a background.  If you are interested and/or know someone who fits this description, please contact me.              ~ Fr. Andrew 

January 12 & 19, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     A tradition of the Church on Epiphany, which we celebrated this year on the 5th of January, is to bless homes. If your home is not blessed, it is not too late. Call or send me an e-mail to arrange the blessing.

     Despite much of the world having "moved on," the Christmas season ends with the celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on Sunday the 12th. Ordinary time follows, which is not to be confused with boring time. The word 'ordinary' is used to refer to the successive numbered weeks that follow along with Jesus' life, mainly his ministry.           ~ Fr. Andrew

January 5, 2020 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

    Happy new year to all.  God bless it and I pray that it begins well for you, and, regardless, that it goes and ends well.

Did you know that the calendar we use, even much of the secular world, was authored by a pope?  The current version is known as the Gregorian calendar, instituted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 as a correction to the Julian calendar.  The difference between the two, as Encyclopedia Britannica describes it: "only in that no century year is a leap year unless it is exactly divisible by 400 (e.g., 1600, 2000)."  I will leave it at that and let you investigate it more for yourself if you are so inclined lest I bore you. So now you too can in turn either impress your friends with such knowledge or bore them!               ~ Fr. Andrew 

Dear Friends in Christ,

     While looking back on recent history, do you ever realize that there were times when you were working on autopilot?  This could be the case any time of year, though it may be a more frequent occurrence around Christmas when there are more items on the to-do list.  Despite the busyness, which is not necessarily a bad thing, I challenge and encourage you to be intentional about getting the physical and especially spiritual respite that we need.  Holy days certainly require some work, but they should also refresh us and bring new vigor to our relationship with God and others. That will not happen unless we are open to it. So, amid the shopping, cooking, and whatever else you do to prepare for Christmas, please take time to do something (e.g. prayer, reading) that gets you out of autopilot and into a mode that allows you to more fully experience what little of Advent is left and of the coming Christmas season.             ~ Fr. Andrew 

December 8, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     In the Gospel this weekend we encounter St. John the Baptist.  Among the many things that we could learn from him, one is that our faith is not always glamorous.  Recall that he is described as wearing "clothing made of camel's hair and had a leather belt" and "his food was locusts and wild honey."  Such a lifestyle does not seem to be a good selling point when trying to bring people into the fold. Yet, do we at least admire him for his conviction?  His faith led him to live this way and carry out his mission to proclaim the coming of the Messiah, even though he later seems to implicitly admit that he does not know it is Jesus.  What about our faith do we not understand? Is there something about it over which we even agonize? If so, there is no need to do so. Prayer, while it should not be considered a quick fix, will help bring peace.  Of course, there are additional ways we can take to gain understanding, such as reading the Catechism.  Certainly I am available to serve you as well, but so often I do not know if someone is struggling unless they inform me, so please do not hesitate to contact me.                    ~ Father Andrew 

Nov. 24 & Dec. 1 Bulletin, 2019

Dear Friends in Christ, 

     As Catholics, giving thanks is something that we do whenever the Mass is celebrated.  A meaning for the word Eucharist is thanksgiving. Therefore, Thanksgiving for us is every day, not just once per year.  Perhaps people can handle only so much turkey and stuffing that we celebrate it on one day every year as a nation!  Thankfully, God consistently endows us with His love and grace, so we owe Him gratitude by celebrating Mass and receiving Jesus' body and blood as the Eucharist, the greatest gift he gives us in this life.

     Apologies to Doug Jones, who somehow slipped by me in the formation of the parish council.  With him there are seven members, not six, as was previously reported. His biographical information was not printed in the previous bulletin, but you can find it later in this issue.

     Another correction to make is that Mark Schmidt will not be on the council because as I failed to recall, he offered to serve if enough people did not sign up.

     Lastly, December 1 is the first day of Advent and the new liturgical year.  This means that most of the Sunday Gospel readings will come from St. Matthew.             ~ Father Andrew 

November 17, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

On Wednesday this past week, the Church in the United States celebrated the memorial of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini.  She was born in Italy then emigrated to the U.S. and founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, an order that served God and others through schools, hospitals, and orphanages.  Canonized in 1946, she was the first U.S. citizen to be granted such an honor. Of course, saints in general are role models by which we can live the Christian faith; this saint shows us that holiness is attainable regardless of from where we come.  Sanctity knows no bounds!                        ~ Father Andrew


November 3, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

Having experienced some snow earlier this week, please be aware of our winter weather policy.  It can be found on the parish calendar during the winter months, periodically in the bulletin, as well as on the website.  In the meantime, it would not hurt to pray that we have a milder winter than the last!

                                                                    ~ Fr. Andrew 

October 27, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

Thanks to the six parishioners who have offered to serve on the parish council.  Because the number is marginally greater than the original number of seats that were discussed, it has been determined that six is acceptable and as such there will be no need for an election.  More information about who they are and what you can expect is forthcoming.

Another one of the great solemnities of the Church will be celebrated with Mass Thursday evening and Friday and is a holy day of obligation.  Known as All Saints, it was first mentioned in the fourth century. Veneration was originally exclusive to martyrs, then as time went on, other saints were included.  The following day, we celebrate All Souls' Day, on which we remember the departed, who may not have been declared saints formally by the Church. 

                                                                                               ~ Fr. Andrew 

October 20, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     Over the last few weeks we have had the privilege of initiating members into the Church by baptizing them during Mass.  It is a moment of great joy that the families of the children and the larger parish deserve to mutually celebrate. Baptism during Mass also foreshadows what we pray to be the child's eventual entrance into the heavenly banquet of heaven whenever his or her time comes.

     Your generosity in prayerfully and financially supporting Haleigh, daughter of Nicole Cory, is greatly appreciated. Details about her ordeal can be found further on in the bulletin, including how you may donate online. Otherwise, donations can be made through the parish for the next week.  Mail them into the office or drop them off during open hours.

     It has come to my attention that someone continues to use my name to obtain money.  In the past, they have created an e-mail address that looks like mine and they sent text messages.  I am unsure how to stop it. Please disregard such messages and I apologize for the trouble.            ~ Fr. Andrew 

October 13, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     It seems that a fun time was had by all at the Oktoberfest-themed picnic last weekend.  Thanks to the stewardship committee et al who labored in putting it together.

     Last Monday was the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary.  It was instituted as thanksgiving to the Blessed Mother for her intercession that lent to the naval victory in 1571 that kept the Ottoman Empire from expanding into the rest of Europe.  The Islamic empire's encroachment was seen by some as a threat to Christianity, which itself at the time was already experiencing the proliferation of denominations. Such a victory is certainly impressive.  Then consider that the Blessed Mother seeks to lend even greater victory over sin and death through the prayerful meditation of her son's mysteries of the Rosary. Personally, I have experienced great fruit by praying the Rosary and if it is something that you do not already practice, then start slowly, perhaps with one decade (one Our Father and ten Hail Marys) each day until you are comfortable with moving on.  Lastly, remember another opportunity: we as a community offer the prayer before each weekend Mass during the month of October.                          ~ Fr. Andrew 

October 6, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     The memorial of St. Francis of Assisi was celebrated on Friday. While he is often related to nature, there is much more to know about this humble and pivotal saint of God's Church. He was the son of a wealthy merchant and in his early years acted with what could be considered reckless abandon. The phase did not last long. One day he was praying before a crucifix, during which a voice told him to "repair my house." Francis understood this command literally and began to rebuild the church that contained said crucifix. Disappointed by his son, Francis' father dragged him home. Francis did not give in and took on poverty, renouncing his inheritance. He later understood what the voice really meant: to repair the larger Church, not one bound by walls. In response he founded the order of the Friars Minor, which expanded rather quickly. The rule he wrote for the order emphasized poverty, chastity, and obedience. Francis also expressed devotion to our Lord as the Eucharist and procured for churches the sacred vessels fitting for the celebration of Holy Mass. He may have been materially poor in the end, but he certainly was not lacking in what really matters to God.           ~ Fr. Andrew


September 29, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

This past Friday Bishop William Joensen was ordained and installed as the tenth bishop of the diocese.  I encourage you to pray that he, along with the rest of the diocese, experiences a smooth transition. You might also recognize that his first name is now used during the Eucharistic prayer at Mass.  Realistically, I may slip up (please forgive me!) and use Bishop Pates name since we have been accustomed to it for the last eleven years.

~ Fr. Andrew


September 22, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     On at least a couple of occasions, I have not been notified by the hospitals when a parishioner was admitted.  Whether or not this is an issue that lies with the hospital itself I do not know. You can still do your part by indicating on the intake form that you are Catholic and affiliated with SMHC.  Then in theory I should be notified and know who to visit and where.  You can also notify more directly by calling me or sending an e-mail.

     On this coming Friday, the 27th, Fr. Joensen will be ordained and installed as the tenth bishop of the diocese.  I encourage you to pray that everyone enjoy a smooth transition and that we get right to work with him to serve God, including saving souls.      ~ Fr. Andrew 

September 15, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     Over a few days last week, I joined the other "junior clergy," described as those priests ordained for less than five years and from each diocese in Iowa, at Christ the King in Des Moines for a convocation.  The idea behind such an event is for us to get together for fraternity and participate in ongoing formation. I use the word formation as opposed to education because formation is more comprehensive. It includes multiple qualities required of the priest, especially the human, intellectual, pastoral, and spiritual.  The event was a good reminder for me in that regard, and that for anyone, not just a priest, to become a saint, there is a lot of work to do. Consider also how humbling this realization can be: that the more we learn about God, ourselves, and others, and grow in holiness, we find out how much more we must learn and work toward that sanctity (with His help!).                  ~ Fr. Andrew 

September 8, 2019

Dear Friends in Christ,

     September is a busy month here at SMHC.  Religious education geared up this past week, thankfully on time compared to last year!  Nearly two hundred kids are enrolled. There are also four weddings through out the month.  Please pray for both the students and prospective spouses.

                                            ~ Fr. Andrew 

August 25 & Sept. 1, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     Multiple people have expressed concern about the unfortunate rhetoric employed by those who participate in the national discourse, which is then magnified by the media.  Some of those who are concerned have even suggested that a civil war will result if this trend continues. Perhaps the quickest remedy is to stop paying attention to the fracas altogether.  But that might also be the hardest, especially considering how easy it is these days to access the media with a plethora of devices. What follows are not necessarily solutions, but merely a couple suggestions for us as Christians to try to mitigate the negative effects of this social and cultural malady on ourselves and those around us.

     1. Participate in the discourse with love for others because they are made in the image and likeness of God as much as we

         are, even if they seem to reject that reality.  Do not resort to use of the same rhetoric. Instead, discuss the issues with

         reasoning and try not to be overly influenced by emotion, which can easily change and distract from the facts.

     2. Even though ideas contrary to the Gospel may be more accessible than ever because of the current technology, the

         Gospel itself is also more accessible than ever.  For example, daily Mass readings can be found on the United States

         Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) website and probably multiple apps for many devices.

Maybe you do not fit into either category, and even if you do, we as Christians have always had something that does not rely on others and technology: PRAYER!  Pray for this nation and pray for everyone involved, especially those who are in positions of power and authority, even if we do not like them and their ideas.

     As Deacon Terry mentioned in a previous bulletin, he will still be available for sacraments and services including baptisms, weddings, and funerals, if you so desire.  Simply call the office as usual to begin planning and mention that you would like him to be the celebrant.

                                         ~ Fr. Andrew 

July 28 & August 4, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     As you have probably heard, Fr. William Joensen of Dubuque has been designated the next bishop of the Diocese of Des Moines.  This assignment comes almost a year and a half after Bishop Pates submitted his letter of resignation to Pope Francis, so now he (Bp. Pates) can finally get some respite!  Please pray for both men, especially Fr. Joensen, as he transitions from priest to bishop. His ordination and installation are scheduled for September 27 at St. Francis in West Des Moines.

     Thanks very much to those who helped clean up after the storm last weekend.  A large branch nearly hit the house. Those who attended Mass Saturday evening could tell you about the roof creaking and rain coming in between the doors.  It was very stressful. Thankfully, we did not incur noticeable damage and did not lose power. The way the wind was blowing, it could very well have been a tornado.  This storm came up quickly; it is probably prudent to prepare for such events so that we are at least somewhat ready when they happen. If you have suggestions, please let me know.  It will be discussed at the Cross Ministry/pastoral council meeting this week.      ~ Fr. Andrew 

June 30 & July 7, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     While reviewing our parish calendar for July, I realized how lightly populated it is with activities compared to other months. One might consider us an inactive parish, but I think that would be unfair for a couple reasons. The first is that it is only one month out of twelve!  The second and most important is that most of us do not get enough spiritual rest. And if our spirits are connected to our bodies, that means we need to get physical rest too.  Jesus himself said to the apostles, "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while" (Mark 6:31). He not only beckons but also commands us to rest! So, I encourage you to think of summer vacation as more than just the physical endeavor that we accomplish now and not at other times of the year. Obviously the most important thing we do as Catholics, which is to celebrate Mass, is still on the calendar. Even though it seems arduous at times to get up and go, Mass facilitates that spiritual rest that we so desperately need with God.

     Thanks, and welcome to the staff to Sue Schmidt, who has offered to step into the position of music coordinator.  She is a parishioner and you have experienced her as a cantor along with Mark and Leah, her husband and daughter. Music is meant to lend to the greatest prayer that we pray, the Mass.  She seems excited to serve God and the rest of us in that regard.

     In Scripture (Matthew 18:15-17) Jesus lays out a protocol for resolving conflict.  Please submit both positive and constructively critical input and suggestions for the parish to the responsible parties in a fashion that, despite dispute, is Christian-like, including charitable in nature.  In the recent past, for example, a letter was sent to one of the committees, which offended at least one of the members. Another involves anonymously sending notes to the home addresses of parishioners who were not involved with the matter.  Such behavior is not to be tolerated. While we are certainly allowed to have different opinions and even disagreements, there are better ways to bring those differences to light and work on them together. Know that if you so desire to discuss anything, my door remains open.            ~Fr. Andrew 

June 2 &9, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     Thanks to Dave Ortega for his service to us over the last several months.  He moves on to a simpler work schedule and to have more time with his family.  Sarah Baumberger will fill in until a new bookkeeper is found.

     The Easter season concludes with Pentecost on June 9, after which we return to ordinary time.  The word ordinary is not to be understood as a synonym for normal, commonplace, usual, etc. Rather, in its liturgical context, it refers to the successive series of events in Jesus' life.

     Know of my prayer for you all as I attend the diocesan priest retreat from the evening of the 2nd to the 6th at Conception Abbey in Missouri.  Please pray that it prove fruitful.                          ~ Fr. Andrew 

May 12, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

     As was mentioned in the previous bulletin, Celeste Muehlenthaler is retiring from the position of music coordinator.  Her many years of service to the parish is greatly appreciated. Pray that her other continued - present as well as future - endeavors bear fruit.  As a result of her moving on, this position will be vacant. It averages about ten hours most weeks, though more around the busier times of year, specifically Christmas and Easter.  Anyone who is interested in serving in this capacity should contact me for more information. 

     Wednesday is the memorial of St. Isidore, who is the patron of farmers.  His likeness can be found in the form of a statue at Holy Cross. Your prayer for his intercession might be particularly beneficial this year considering the cooler temperatures and soggy ground make it harder for farmers to get out into the fields.                       ~ Fr. Andrew


April 28, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

       Many thanks to everyone who facilitated all the festivities during Lent and the Triduum, helping to make the season and holy days so beautiful and fruitful.  It was very meaningful to me personally since it was my first time here. Please let me know what ideas and/or constructive criticism you might have so we can do even better next year.

       Though the busiest time of year has passed, we are not quite off the hook.  On Sunday we celebrate first Communion followed by Confirmation next Sunday.  Please pray for the children who will receive these sacraments.

       As disappointing as it may have been to see Notre Dame in Paris on fire, remember that Jesus calls us to worship "in Spirit and truth" (John 4:23).  This means that the practice of our faith is not bound by walls, even those of a church. Even more tragic was the murder of everyone in the explosions on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka.  Pray for the merciful and just repose of those souls.           ~ Fr. Andrew 

Palm Sunday Bulletin, April 14, 2019

Dear Friends in Christ, 

Probably the busiest week of the liturgical year, Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday.  Even though not much seems to happen Monday through Wednesday, it may be seen as a time to transition from Lent to Triduum then the Easter season. Lent ends with the beginning of Mass on Holy Thursday and Triduum, which ends with the evening prayer of the Church on Easter Sunday. Everyone is encouraged to engage as much as possible in the liturgies because they are truly the most important liturgies of the Church that help us focus on the salvation that Jesus Christ won for - and offers - us.

All of that pertains to the Church at large.  On the local level, in our own parish, the festivities continue for the next two weekends with first Communion and Confirmation, respectively.  Please pray for the children who will celebrate these sacraments, that they encounter our Lord and not only allow him to be with them but to do their part to maintain his presence now and for the rest of their lives.

                                               ~ Fr. Andrew 

March 31, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     The fourth Sunday of Lent is also known as "Laetare Sunday."  Laetare is translated from Latin as rejoice.  Why rejoice about what might seem like just another day in this penitential season?  A reason is that it is the first Sunday past the halfway point of Lent. After this day, there are about seventeen more days of Lent and about nineteen until Easter, which begins with the vigil on April 20 at 8:30 PM.

     If you are interested in leading and organizing religious education for pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, please let me know, even if you aren't sure and have questions.

     Thanks to Drew, who installed exterior hand rails over the last couple days.  Some of those steps are steep, so please, still exercise caution. The doors going directly into the church will now be open more for those who prefer to use them.

                                                                                                                                                             - Father Andrew


March 17, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

     Thanks very much to Stacie Hergenreter for her service to the parish as religious education coordinator for pre-kindergarten through 6th grade over the last couple years. She will step down after First Eucharist on April 28 to pursue other endeavors. If you yourself are interested in taking on the position or know someone who might be a good fit, please let me know.

     Congratulations to the Knights on a successful first fish fry of the season. They served about 550 people, which when compared to the largest metro area parish, is phenomenal. Remember that there are two more to go on March 22 and April 5. There are also meals after the stations on the other Fridays of Lent. These are good opportunities to come together as a community and because so many people attend who are not even parishioners, to provide a witness.

     You probably noticed that the feast of St. Patrick is on Sunday this year. Also, a feast day of St. Joseph, this one ranked as a solemnity, which is the highest level, is on the following Tuesday. Regarding our Lenten observance on Sundays, there is no rule that requires us to maintain the penance that we have taken on for the season. However, some people may want to stay on track and not relax, which is okay too. If I understand correctly, the same goes for solemnities, but such days are cause for rejoicing in the Lord and in this particular case, St. Joseph and the example he offers us. So, I even encourage you to do so by foregoing your penance on that day.        ~ Father Andrew 

March 3, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on the 6th.  As usual, in the Gospel Jesus exhorts his disciples, including us, to give alms, pray, and fast.  So, if we struggle with any of these three practices, instead of doing something mundane like giving up coffee or chocolate, let's get back to the basics and focus on these essentials of Christian living.  After all, who are we as the sinners to know what's good for us and who better than Jesus himself to guide us through this penitential season? 

     A device called a "backflow preventer" was installed in both the office and the rectory.  Should there ever again be water going the wrong way through the sewer, this device will prevent it from coming into the buildings.  Thanks very much to our Knights of Columbus council that aided in the financial support of this project. 

     Yet again someone is working hard trying to scam people who have had contact with me at some time, and you may be one of them.  If you receive any kind of message from what appears to be me, most commonly e-mail though now via text on the phone, asking for money or gift cards, please disregard it.                              ~ Father Andrew


February 17, 2013 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

   The best part about being a priest is celebrating Mass, especially on the weekends and interacting with you as you come and go.  Probably the next best part is celebrating the sacrament of Baptism, many of which we have recently experienced. It is very encouraging to see the parish grow (and know that I have job security!).

   Another sacrament that Christ himself instituted is that of Reconciliation.  Even though it is not as popular as other sacraments, we still owe it to him and ourselves to celebrate it more often.  Please inform me what might be better times to offer it.

   On a lighter note, to parrot a joke going around online, the groundhog lied!  Apparently, the rodent predicted an early spring this year, but we did not get the memo.  This seemingly constant barrage of winter weather can take a toll on people. Very hard though it may be, strive to remain hopeful.  Ultimately, we hope to be with God for eternity, but that does not mean we cannot hope for warmer temperatures and finer weather. Pray for this gift from Him!         ~ Fr. Andrew 

January 27/ February 3, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

Thanks very much to Peter Relyea who served the parish as bookkeeper for the last twelve years.  May he enjoy a smooth transition into retirement. Welcome to David Ortega, who has taken over for him.

Even though the office will be closed from the 28th to the 1st, I will still be around and available.  If you do not find me at church, contact me via e-mail or phone, the latter in particular for emergencies.

The feast of St. Blaise is usually on February 3, which is on Sunday this year and the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time gets precedence.  However, blessing of the throats will still be offered after Masses.

You may have noticed that there are no more makeshift offices in the social hall.  Thankfully everyone is mostly settled in. The storm that caused the damage happened about two weeks before I started here.  While I enjoyed (sometimes) the big windows and people coming and going, it is good to have walls for a little more quiet and privacy.

                                                                                                                        ~ Fr. Andrew 

January 6, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

There is some touching up to do, but everyone should be in their respective office sometime next week.  Therefore as early as Monday you may need to go down the stairs instead of up to get there! Thanks to the staff as well as others who came to do business and have been troopers throughout this ordeal.

Thanks very much to everyone who helped get the church, including both the building itself and people ready for Christmas.  In particular I thank Tom and Jackie Ausman and crew who decorated and Celeste Muehlenthaler and crew who facilitated the music.  Certainly anybody else I am missing, please forgive me and consider yourself thanked!

Overall turnout for the Tuesday evening Mass and subsequent holy hour with adoration was encouraging enough such that I will continue to offer it through the rest of January and perhaps beyond.  Mass is at 6 PM and the holy hour concludes around 7:30.

The feedback about bell ringing at the consecration during Mass has been positive; thank you for that.  Thanks again to Jacob and Heidi Ackerman who donated the set of bells for Holy Cross in memory of their son Albert and to an anonymous family who donated the set for St. Mary.  A reminder: we do not ring the bells just because we can or because we want to figuratively turn the clock back to a different era of the Church. As creatures who are endowed with senses, we react according to how those senses are stimulated.  In this case, of course, we hear the bells and recognize that something of utmost importance is happening. ~ Fr. Andrew 

December 16, 2018 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

     The Third Sunday of Advent is also referred to as Gaudete Sunday.  Gaudete is Latin for "rejoice," the first word of the entrance antiphon and St. Paul repeats it a couple times in the second reading.  A variant of it is employed in the first reading. It is also signified by the pink candle being lit on Advent wreaths. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, it will soon be the darkest time of the year due to lack of sunlight.  In a spiritual sense, Jesus is the light in whom we take great joy. He is that light we need in our lives to dispel the darkness that is brought about by sin. Let us not get caught up so much in the frivolities of the season that he is obscured and we are unable to enjoy the season and holiday for what it really is.

     Two families, one at each church, have graciously donated altar bells.  Jacob and Heidi Ackerman have donated a set to Holy Cross in memory of their son Albert.  The other family that donated a set to St. Mary wishes to remain nameless. For those of you who attended Mass before the second Vatican Council, you may recall hearing the bells being rung during the Eucharistic prayer.  It is a tradition that we will continue here at St. Mary and Holy Cross, not just because we can. Ringing these bells serves both a natural and supernatural purpose. Naturally, sometimes we get distracted, even during Mass (imagine that!) and this is a way to refocus our attention.  Supernaturally, it denotes when one of the most important parts of Mass occurs, which is consecration, when the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Jesus. We will renew this tradition at Christmas.                     ~ Father Andrew 

December 2, 2018 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

     While it would not technically be wrong to greet someone beginning this Saturday evening with "Happy new year," let us avoid such a trite phrase and focus on what is really happening.  Not only is this the beginning of a new liturgical year, it is also the first Sunday of Advent. The literal translation of 'advent' is 'come toward.' A few less than literal translations are 'arrival,' 'approach,' and 'visit.'  Even though Advent is a liturgical season of its own, it still takes place, like the other seasons, within the context of the overall year. Perhaps another way to think about this is that 'come toward' does not make sense by itself.  It makes reference to something else, in this case, someone.  Of course that someone is Jesus Christ.  So we celebrate Advent to prepare for his coming toward us at Christmas.  A question that we might ask ourselves is, "What will he find when he arrives?"  He inevitably comes, but will we be prepared to receive him?

     Certainly there are many ways to prepare.  Try not to limit yourself, especially when there is a plethora of opportunities to prepare by allowing God to build you up with His grace.  On that note, a couple opportunities here at St. Mary-Holy Cross will be Mass followed by adoration on Tuesdays during Advent from 6 to 7:30 PM and the communal Reconciliation service on December 9 at 2 PM.  Thanks to those of you who have provided feedback that contributed to this extra Mass and prayer time. ~ Fr. Andrew 

November 18, 2018 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

How fitting it is that the readings a couple weeks before the end of the liturgical year concern the end times.  And it is all much more dramatic than whatever a Hollywood production could put together. Regardless of how advanced we think we are and despite an insatiable and maybe even unhealthy hunger for knowledge, there is nothing that humanity can do to know when exactly is the end of time.  However, as people with faith in God, we do not need to know and can be consoled, that, as Jesus says in the Gospel, "my words will not pass away."


Congratulations to the children who celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time on Saturday.  Every time we pray the Our Father, we ask Him to "forgive us our trespasses." Yet this sacrament is scarcely celebrated here at St. Mary and Holy Cross.  It is currently offered from 4 to 4:30 PM on Saturday afternoons and by appointment. Please let me know what more I might do including adding times. 

                                   ~ Fr. Andrew


November 4, 2018 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

The second part of the first reading this Sunday is part of a prayer that is known to Jews as the shema. It is one of their most important prayers and as such is recited every day, in both the morning and the evening. It reminds them - and us - of at least two very essential things. First, He is God alone. When Jewish Israel was in its infancy, it was surrounded by other nations and religions that were polytheistic. Monotheism is what helps set apart the Judeo-Christian tradition from other religions. We may not be challenged in the exact same way today, but what are other things and/or other people in our lives that receive more attention from us than God? Second, God is love. By extension, Jesus Christ is love incarnate. He teaches us that loving someone means willing the best for them as they are, even if we do not get something out of it. Sometimes that love is shown by sacrifice, to which he is no stranger.


As I understand it, everything that was removed from the offices and education center has been returned. Some touch-up painting remains. It is starting to look normal down there, if there is such a thing as normal. Barb, Peter, and I should be able to move back in the next couple weeks. More important than that, religious education begins this week. 

                                                                                                                                — Father Andrew 

October 21, 2018 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

The timing of James' and John's question couldn't have been much worse.  Jesus has just predicted his Passion for the third time and they're more concerned about the glory in which they might get to revel.  Instead of getting angry or sad, Jesus explains that despite his glorification being imminent, the path to it will involve a great deal of suffering.  Their affirmative response to his question about drinking the cup and being baptized indicates that they seem to think this suffering is something they can endure.  Traditionally, James indeed suffered a martyr's death and it's likely that John also suffered, though not in the exact same way, having lived longer and thought to have died of natural causes.  Jesus teaches that regardless of the glory that awaits a faithful Christian after death, the path to it is encumbered with suffering.  In other words, if even Jesus himself suffered, then we shouldn't expect anything different for ourselves.  Thankfully, we don't need to suffer on our own. Jesus gave us the sacraments, particularly baptism and the Eucharist, as alluded to in this gospel. Baptism initiates us into his Church and enables us to more easily receive the grace that God offers us. The Eucharist helps us become more like Jesus in anticipation of the glory to come.  Obviously suffering isn't pleasant, but we have a choice to make: do we shy away from it, seeking earthly pleasures as a distraction, or do we humbly receive everything he offers us to abide until it's our time to enter into that glory?             ~ Father Andrew 

October 7, 2018 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     In the gospel this weekend, Jesus yet again takes a stand that seems to be unpopular in both his time and ours.  Divorce is an unfortunate reality that affects a lot of people, even those who aren't themselves divorced. It's an affront to God's intention for marriage, which is much more than just a contractual obligation between two people.  He instituted it as a sacrament and thus grants the husband and wife the grace to aid in each other's salvation.  The union is intended to be a reflection of God's undying love for - and commitment to - humanity, the best example of which is Jesus' crucifixion.  This means that only death can sever a valid marriage. Because this is God's will, divorce shouldn't necessarily be condoned, regardless of the circumstances.  Granted not all circumstances in a marriage are perfect and in some cases they're downright terrible, so I encourage couples in such situations to pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit and to contact me about further help that the Church provides.

     As I type this, the carpet is almost done downstairs.  If there's truly such a thing as "normal," we should be a lot closer to it in the next couple weeks, although that isn't a guarantee.  The area should be sufficiently ready for religious education to begin on the 17th.  This has been a long and at times trying process for us and I commend the patience that's been practiced by everyone involved, not that we've had much of a choice.                        ~ Father Andrew 

September 23, 2018 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

You may have noticed that there are multiple times in Scripture when Jesus commands people to be silent about his identity as the Messiah. It's a theme that's found mainly in the Gospel of Mark, the book of the Bible from which we take many of our gospel readings for Mass during this liturgical year. We might naturally ask, "Why wouldn't he want people to know that he's the Messiah?" However, that's not the right question, because of course he wants us to know who he is. What he doesn't want to be known as is just someone who goes around curing people. He wants to teach us about God and the love He has for us and that we should love Him and others. It's after this teaching that Jesus gives us the greatest lesson of all and the most evident sign of God's love: his Passion, death, and Resurrection. This is how Jesus Christ is primarily to be known, not just by miracles. It takes time for people to understand that and that's okay. Perhaps this is the point he's making by using the child as an example. Physically speaking, children aren't given solid food right away after birth, they must work their way up to it. Morally and spiritually, they also don't immediately know right from wrong. Instead Jesus is patient with us, not unlike with the apostles in this Sunday's gospel. We do well to imitate him and be patient with others and even ourselves as we grow in faith. 

                                        ~ Fr. Andrew 

September 9, 2018 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     In the first chapter of Genesis, we're told multiple times, "God saw that it was good," referring to His creation. Then in the gospel for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, people recognize that Jesus "has done all things well." Because Jesus is divine, it makes sense that he who has created everything good also does all things well. He'll always be the best example we have of not just being good but also doing good works. It seems so simple. Yet sometimes, perhaps at this particular moment in the Church, when we hear about terrible, disgusting, maddening, and sinful acts committed by bishops and priests, we benefit from this reminder. Let not the sin of someone else become an occasion for us to sin. The Evil One and sin are not defeated by more sin. We're the ones who will lose if we take that approach. Instead, let's strive for holiness, of which Jesus is the best model.

     Even though I've mentioned it a couple Sundays in a row, it's still prudent to go on the record here. First, abuse here at St. Mary - Holy Cross will not be tolerated. Whether you notice it here or elsewhere, contact law enforcement immediately then me. Secondly, even if we're not guilty of abuse, let's still do our part to grow in holiness. Granted, there's nothing we can do to earn God's love and grace, but we can respond to it, for example participating in Mass, praying, and doing acts of charity. Thankfully we have a lot of opportunities to grow in holiness and conform ourselves to Jesus Christ in our Catholic faith. Therefore, please continue to give me input about good activities, specifically, but not necessarily limited to, more Masses, adoration, and reconciliation. ~ Fr. Andrew 

August 12 7 19, 2018 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,


As the "Bread of Life" discourse continues over the next few weeks, we'll read Jesus' proclamations, this Sunday, that "I am the bread of life" and next Sunday, that "I am the living bread that came down from heaven."  Upon reflection, these phrases were illustrated for me on Wednesday when I was privileged to hold the day-old son of some friends. The baby is a discrete representation of the love that the father has for the mother and vice versa.  True love is meant to nourish everyone involved and to bear fruit. Unfortunately, it seems that the world would have us believe all sorts of distorted notions of love that end up denying the dignity of the person having been created by God in His own image and likeness.  But thankfully in this beautiful example, among many others, the husband and wife nourish each other, and the result is the baby, the fruit of their union.


On a practical note, please contact me regarding imminent deliveries of babies.  It's most important if there are complications. Even if there aren't complications, please still notify me so that a visit to the hospital be made and the baby receive a blessing.            - Fr. Andrew


July 15 & 22, 2018 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ: 

While this isn’t exactly the start that I imagined having here, I wonder if it’s a test by God and/or a display of His sometimes very strange sense of humor.  Nonetheless, I’m thankful to be here serving Him and you.  Please be patient with me as we undergo repairs in the offices and at the rectory and because this is my first time as pastor.  Lastly, know of my prayer for you; please pray for me.  God bless. 

                                - Fr. Andrew