Dear Friends in Christ:
Many people have been asking me when the Annual Family Commitment is going to take place this year. The answer is—it is not. Each year I am inspired by the generosity of our parishioners to the Annual Family Commitment and helping our parish to address very real needs that impact us all. Thank you for your support of your parish family!
So, why are we not having an Annual Family Commitment this year? Because we are participating in the Forward with Faith campaign partnering with the Hartford Bishops’ Foundation. So let me provide you with some background information as we begin this process here in our parish.
Founded in 2016, The Hartford Bishops’ Foundation, Inc. (HBF) is a 501(c)(3) forward-thinking nonprofit dedicated to advancing the mission of the Archdiocese of Hartford. This is achieved by supporting the Church’s mission within the wider context of the spiritual, social, and material well-being of everyone in the Hartford, Litchfield and New Haven counties. HBF is dedicated to advancing the mission of the Archdiocese of Hartford by encouraging philanthropy and strategically investing in parishes, schools, ministries, and services that are integral to the Archdiocese’s vibrancy and long-term sustainability. To learn more about HBF visit www.hartfordbishopsfoundation.org.
The creation of HBF was in response to the call of Pope Francis for all of us to become Missionary Disciples first broached in his 2013 Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel).
“The Joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept His offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.”
From there Pope Francis tasked us to do more, to welcome more, to embrace more by becoming missionary disciples. “I dream of a 'missionary option,' that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.”
HBF seeks to do just that by partnering with parishes throughout the Archdiocese in the Forward with Faith campaign. Through this campaign, we will not only meet the needs of our parish here and now, but we will also strive to build the strong financial foundation necessary to address future needs and strengthen our parishes, schools, faith formation programs and social service ministries. And, HBF has at its core an emphasis on evangelization, to bring back those Catholics who have fallen away and to inspire non-Catholics to join us in a faith that is enthusiastic and joyful.
Before parish life paused in March of 2020, our parish was working with HBF to begin the process of participating in the Forward with Faith campaign. Since then, the Parish Pastoral Council was tasked by me to establish the Priorities we wished to address with the funds raised through the Forward with Faith campaign. 50% of the funds raised up to our goal ($1,170,000) will remain in the parish and 80% of any funds over goal remain here as well. These funds will be used for the following three priorities:
Priority One—Outreach Evangelization: Our parish is blessed with an active Adult Education Program, and we are forming a Young Adult Ministry. The Adult Education Program seeks to help adults grow in their faith through bible studies, evening programs, and special speaker programs. The Young Adult Ministry attracts young adults to come together with their peers to grow in their knowledge and love of Jesus Christ. With your generosity, we will continue to seek ways to help adults of all ages to engage in their faith while living in the real world, which often is in opposition to their faith beliefs. Your generosity will bolster and expand our programs and enable us to bring in speakers of interest to our parishioners and on basic Catholic teachings.
Priority Two—Youth Ministry Mission Trip: The Next Generation of Disciples has grown in membership in the past year. (Probably the only ministry anywhere to grow during a pandemic!) A mission trip will be a significant venue for this to continue. It is our hope to fund a mission trip for our young people to experience the joy of helping others while putting their faith into practice.
Priority Three—The Church building at our North Campus needs additional repairs. Having completed the HVAC project and recently the pew and floor project, the next phase will address the ceiling and improve the lighting. Other improvements to our worship space include painting of the church and installing a new system for projection of videos. We also need to address the accessibility of the facility for those with physical limitations.
As you can see, the focus of the funds, first and foremost, will be evangelization and growth in the faith, then, if funds permit, improvements to the north campus church building. I remain hopeful, with your generosity, we will see these priorities being met.
Through your support, we will create in both our parish and the archdiocese new programs and initiatives to evangelize to all who wish to find a home in our Catholic Community. As Mother Teresa so eloquently stated in A Simple Path: “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
Over the next few months, all of you will be hearing more about the campaign as we seek to invite everyone to participate in this extraordinary effort. For 150 years our Catholic Community in Cheshire was built on the sacrifices and dedication of those who came before us. Now it is our turn to make an investment in the future of the Catholic Church in our community. May the Holy Spirit guide and direct our efforts as we begin this historic journey together. Please join me in praying for our success throughout the Forward with Faith campaign.
Other Parish News:
The Annual Mass of Remembrance was held on Tuesday, November 2nd. I express a special word of gratitude to Sister Mary Rose, our Pastoral Associate, as well as Joan Roczynski and Paula Matthews, from our Ministry for Hope and Healing, for all of their efforts in coordinating this year’s Mass of Remembrance. At this Mass we lit a candle for each of the parishioners who have died in the past year.
Each candle had a picture on it of the Lord embracing another with the parishioner’s name below the picture. After the Mass, the families who were present were given these candles as a token of remembrance and as a reminder of our prayers for them as they continue to mourn the loss of their loved one. I was very moved by the prayerfulness of the whole experience that evening and as I looked out at so many faces I was recalling the memories so many shared with me at the time of their loved one’s funeral. It was a reminder to me of how blessed we are as priests to walk this journey of faith with you, our parishioners, through such significant moments in your families’ lives.
If you have a relative whose funeral Mass was celebrated here in our parish this past year and you were unable to be present for the Mass you can obtain the candle after Mass this weekend or you can call the rectory to arrange picking it up during the week.
Eternal Rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen. May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.
JOIN US!!! Our "No Turkey Parish Thanksgiving Dinner" will be held on Friday, November 19th! Please sign-up to join us by filling out the flyer that is in the bulletins this weekend, or call the rectory, or buy a ticket when you come to Mass next weekend.
In addition to a delicious Italian dinner, we will also have activities for the children and entertainment for all to enjoy. Please make an effort to come and join us as we gather as a parish family to give thanks to God for all His blessings.
The essay contest of recent years was a tremendous hit that we are doing it again! We are asking all school aged children to write a paragraph or more about what they are grateful for this Thanksgiving. We will select a few of them to be read at our No Turkey Parish Thanksgiving Dinner by the students! Essays must be turned in by Wednesday, November 17th, to be considered. These can be turned in through the collection, dropped off at the rectory, emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, or given to the school or religious education office.
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.