Dear sisters and brothers, I am writing this Bread to Offer on June 12th, the evening of the day in which a mass shooting took place in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. This horrific act has been described as the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. These heinous acts of violence can seriously cripple the hope and courage of family and friends who suffer the loss of a loved one in such an event. It can also challenge our faith on many levels. Let us continue to pray for those who lost loved ones to hateful violence early this morning, for those who were in attendance at the club, and for those who sustained injuries. We also pray for any who may be planning another such atrocity, that they may be deterred from their evil intent.
The first Mass I had this Sunday morning was the 11:00 Mass. Immediately before Mass, two different people alerted me to the shooting so that I might make mention of it at the Prayer of the Faithful, which I did do. Fr. Mike and Fr. Barnabas had the 8:30 and 5:00 Masses respectively but were unaware of the tragedy and so, did not mention it at Mass. Some individuals approached Fr. Barnabas wondering why he had not mentioned the tragedy.
Fr. Barnabas, Fr. Mike, and I, as well as the other friars here in Lawrence, keep ourselves well-informed and in touch with the media six days out of the week. Each day, even on our days off, Fr. Barnabas, Fr. Mike, and I listen to the news throughout the day beginning in the morning and into the evening. On Sundays, however, we try to be “unplugged” before the celebration of Sunday Masses, including the 5:00 evening Mass. We do this to retain a focus and to mentally prepare for preaching. We try to be reflective and prayerful before we enter into the celebration of the Eucharist with all of you. So, if a major tragic event, or any other event which would warrant public acknowledgment at a Sunday Mass occurs late the night before, or early morning on a Sunday, we may not get wind of it until later in the day. Thus, my apologies if at times Fr. Barnabas and I have failed to mention tragic events such as occurred early this morning in Orlando.
Whenever there are news items to mention in the Prayer of the Faithful for the following Sunday’s Masses, I always make sure that the staff include these items as they create the coming Sunday petitions. After the parish staff creates the Sunday Prayer of the Faithful, they run it by me before they print it to be read at the weekend Masses. I believe that we do due diligence in keeping our Prayer of the Faithful current with world events. If in the future something occurs in society that you feel should be mentioned for the purposes of prayer, then bring it to the attention of the celebrant before Mass. If it is of a serious nature such as this morning’s tragedy, or if it is something that will have had a significant impact on our parish and/or society, we will make mention of it.
Permit me to switch abruptly to a different topic, that of the pastoral council. In the Bread to Offer and in the Mass announcements two weeks ago, I requested nominations for three positions on the St. John Parish Pastoral Council to take the place of three members rotating off of the council this year. As of the deadline for nominations (June 12th), I received only three nominations. Since we have three positions to fill, by default these three nominated individuals will be named to the parish pastoral council. As pastor, I consider them to be qualified for the position as well as outstanding in their lives of faith. Pending their acceptance of the position, I will affirm the three of them as new members on our parish pastoral council for a term of three years. The three nominees are: Lily Romero, Cris Wenger, and Sarah Hartsig. Lily and Sarah were both nominated last year, but were narrowly outvoted by three other nominees. The two of them were quickly suggested as nominees again this year. Cris was immediately nominated as well. We will have a bio from each of the three in a coming bulletin.
Lastly, a blessed and happy Father’s Day to all of you men who have been so faithful to your wives, children, other family members, and in your support of one another! You provide a unique role in family life and are integral to the identity of your families. I want to thank you for your lives of faith, sacrifice, and love for your families and for your parish. This same blessing and gratitude goes for those men whose marriages have fallen into unfortunate circumstances, but who nevertheless have remained dedicated and loving fathers. May the Lord bless each of you in a special way on your special day!
– Fr. Jeff