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August 16, 2020 - 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends in Christ:

What a prayer! I don't know about you, but today's Gospel contains my most common prayer. I pray it more often than the Our Father. It is the simple prayer, "Lord, help me." I say it in the morning as I think about the coming day. I say it going into difficult situations in ministry and as I am entering meetings I expect to be difficult. And I find myself saying it often throughout the course of the day.

Interestingly enough, the prayer was expressed by a non-Jewish woman - a Canaanite. She lived in the sea coast region, just outside of Israel. When Jesus came into that territory, something about him caused her to place her trust in him - and ask for a favor, the healing of her tormented daughter. She got a negative response at first, twice! First when Jesus “did not say a word in answer to her,” and then when Jesus said “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The disciples even wanted to brush her off, but she did not give up. She kept saying, "Lord, help me."

This beautiful woman gives a lesson in respectful perseverance. She kept asking with faith, "Lord, help me." And Jesus did answer her plea.

If we keep asking like the Canaanite woman, God will answer our prayer. Now, we might not always recognize the answer. God sometimes answers prayers not with a simple answer, but by sending a puzzle. The solution requires every ounce of concentration and patience a person can muster. Do not give up.

The Canaanite woman gives us an example: she knew what she wanted - the healing of her child. She did not get discouraged, even in the face of put downs and negative responses. And she heard from Jesus those wonderful words, "Great is your faith. Let it be done for you as you desire." So, my friends, persevere in your prayer!

Last Tuesday and Wednesday I was privileged to participate in the 138th Annual Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus. As you can imagine Covid 19 caused plans for this yearly celebration and gathering to be quite drastically different than planned. We were supposed to be gathered with thousands of knights and their families in Washington, D.C. That could not happen. So the Supreme Office decided to have the first virtual convention ever in the history of the Order. The Connecticut State Officers and Delegation were privileged to attend in person since it was held in New Haven. We held the meeting portion in the Knights of Columbus Museum and the Masses in the newly renovated Saint Mary Church in New Haven where our Founder, soon to be Blessed, the Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney founded the Order. It was quite special.

The Knights of Columbus grew from a small group of men in the basement of Saint Mary’s in New Haven to now over 2 million members worldwide! These men have donated over $187 million dollars to charities in 2019, and over 77 million hours of service! The Knights were originally founded to help the men of his (Father McGivney) parish to grow in their faith, to provide financial security for the widows and orphans of deceased members, and to perform acts of charity! The Knights are based on four guiding principles: Charity, Unity, Fraternity, and Patriotism.

This year the theme for the Supreme Convention was Knights of Fraternity. It is part of a three year focus on the founding principles of the Order. This theme helps to focus our thoughts on how we Knights are united in faith and charity and exhibit a fraternal concern for others.

As you can imagine coming home Tuesday evening was a bit of a challenge since the Tropical Storm had hit our state that afternoon. A normal 30 minute drive took me over an hour to make it home safely. Roads were closed. Trees were on the ground and the streets everywhere. Detours galore. It was quite scary.

Returning home I learned very quickly we did not have power. I could not believe how bad the storm hit our town. As I was in New Haven there was some heavy rain and some winds but nowhere near the amount of damage I saw in our beloved town. Father Federico, Fenway, and I managed through the next few days, as many of you did, without having the comforts that electricity permits such as lights in the evening, access to computers or television, and of course air conditioning. It was a LONG FIVE DAYS. We persevered and were blessed that just before evening Masses on Saturday our electricity was put back on. Sites such as captured in this photo from down Maple Avenue were a very common scene in Cheshire for days. God bless the linemen who worked so hard to restore power to our homes!

Our Baptism Board is filling up!!! Such a great sign to me as your Pastor is to see the board in our parish office filling up once again with registrations for Baptism. We had done baptisms throughout the pandemic but we are really seeing a quick uptick in people coming now to schedule baptisms. I am so excited to see this part of parish life returning to some normalcy once again.

Baptisms are such special celebrations for the families but also for the parish family. At each baptism parents and godparents make a promise to bring that child up in the practice of the faith and to see that the divine life which God gives that child on the day of their baptism will be kept safe from the poison of sin and always grow stronger in their heart. The Church too makes a promise to help the parents and godparents in their role of being the child’s first educators in the way of faith. We, as a parish family, take our responsibility very seriously as we offer a parish school and our religious education program as a means to assist parents and godparents in helping their children know God and develop a relationship with Him.

I am so excited the numbers of baptisms are, once again, increasing in our parish family! Due to Covid 19, we are only having individual baptisms at this point which makes it even more special and such an intimate experience for the families. Pray for these babies who will be baptized in the coming weeks and for their families at this most important time.

With the power outage we also lost one of our air conditioners for the rectory. After the power returned it quickly became evident that one of our air conditioning units had seen its day. Thank God for F.F. Hitchcock’s quick response and phenomenal service to our parish! I cannot thank them enough for evaluating the unit which was over 30 years old and then replacing it so quickly. We certainly got our money’s worth with that old unit and hope we will with the new one as well. I know the women in the office who were most affected are most grateful as well.

Finally a word of gratitude to the men who came to assist Father Federico and myself in moving the furniture from our school classrooms onto the tractor trailer for the coming weeks or months. Due to Covid 19, we are limited as to what can occupy the space in our classrooms and so there was a great need to move A LOT of furniture from the school onto the tractor trailer. It was quite a project but I am so grateful to the men from our Over 30 Basketball Program, our Knights of Columbus, and parents and parishioners who came to help us out in the heat on Tuesday evening. We were also lucky to be assisted by three of the seminarians from the Legion of Christ College on Oak Avenue. With the number of people we had we were able to complete the whole project in just over 2 hours! It was quite amazing. Special gratitude to Pace Motor Lines, Inc., for the use of their trailer as we deal with these unprecedented times. Heartfelt gratitude to all the men who came to our aid and made this project so efficient!

As always, remember to pray for vocations, pray for our young people, pray for our parish families and ask God’s blessings as we strive to build His kingdom here. Please know that I am praying for you, and I ask for your prayers for me, that together through the intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world.

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