Dear Friends in Christ:
A Blessed Thanksgiving to you and your family! This coming Thursday we celebrate Thanksgiving Day! I think it is safe to say that this will be a Thanksgiving like never before! We celebrate this Thanksgiving in the midst of a worldwide pandemic with cases, unfortunately, rising in number day after day. We have all been advised by the State authorities and local health departments to reconsider any large gatherings, even with family, this year and instead make provisions for smaller gatherings. Sadly it is another special day taken away by the COVID 19 pandemic, or is it?
You see I love Thanksgiving! I love the fact that on this day families and friends “normally” come together around a table bursting with delicious food, sharing memories and stories of past traditions and family members which bring laughter and tears, and simply enjoy being together! I do want to make a note if this is your first Thanksgiving after the loss of a loved one, please know of my special prayers for you on this coming Thanksgiving Day. May the God of peace and comfort enfold you in His embrace.
Thanksgiving Day has always been a special day for me. I have shared this in the past! I have such amazing memories of family gatherings, family hikes, town football games, family basketball games at the local schoolyard or touch football in grandma’s backyard. More recently I have enjoyed putting on Thanksgiving Dinner for my parents and other family and friends. The past Thanksgiving 2019 was the last time I was with my brother and his family from California. All plans for any future encounters are on hold indefinitely due to the Pandemic. I even, sadly, missed my niece Piper’s First Holy Communion due to the travel restrictions at the time. I am going to miss having my family around the table this year but will be connected with all of them in my thoughts and in my prayers. I encourage everyone to be smart and make some sacrifices in order to stop the spread of this virus. It is a sacrifice but it is a sacrifice with the health and safety of others at the heart of it. Don’t we all want that?
Someone asked me the other day if the Church was going to encourage people to attend Mass on Thanksgiving Day! I said of course we always encourage people to attend on Thanksgiving Day but this year we will be limited to 100 people.
As I was speaking with this parishioner it dawned on me that every Mass, every celebration of the Eucharist, is an offering of thanks and praise to God for all his wonderful works.
So why not begin Thanksgiving Day by coming to Mass at 9am and giving thanks to God at the altar. There is no better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than to come to Mass and offer our gratitude to God for all the many blessings He has given to us. Mass also provides us the opportunity to pray for those in need. We remember those in need of the basic necessities of life, those who are struggling with this virus, as well as to pray for those in need of support and love. This is one tradition that the pandemic cannot stifle. Even if you cannot attend in-person please consider joining us on Livestream and giving thanks to God!
On Thanksgiving, while a secular holiday in general, we usually hear the Gospel account of the ten lepers who were cured by Jesus, and how only one, a Samaritan, returns to thank Jesus. For us as people of faith it can be the occasion to be mindful of the many blessings God has showered upon us and offer our gratitude to Him. So often, myself included, we can take those blessings for granted like the nine lepers who never return to thank Jesus. During this week, take some time and consider your blessings.
How has the Lord been active in your life lately?
What have you been given that you are grateful for?
And in this time of pandemic where we all have had life “interrupted” in so many ways, have there been particular blessings that have come out of it as well?
But it is still Thanksgiving! We can still give thanks! We can still make this a special day of gratitude! Perhaps at your Thanksgiving dinner table, even though somewhat smaller this year, you might take the time before eating to share among yourselves one or two things that you are especially grateful for, perhaps even pandemic blessings. And may these prompt us all to turn to the Lord in prayer to say, “Thank You!”
This Thanksgiving, please know of my gratitude to God for each of you, and, in particular, for your support, care, concern, and love for Father Federico and myself especially during these long and difficult months! A day does not go by when I do not thank God for the gift of being your Pastor. I am honored and privileged to serve you. I am also grateful for the gift of Father Federico who serves among us in these early days of his own priesthood, and for the enthusiasm, and talents he brings to us. I know we are all most grateful for his presence and ministry. I ask God’s blessings upon us all that we may always be found to have a grateful heart ready and willing to serve the Lord.
Cheshire’s Lights of Hope…on your behalf and mine, I express profound gratitude to our Youth Minister Regis O’Neill who coordinated the efforts this year for our parish, and to all those who worked so hard to make the light shine on our parish properties for the Cheshire’s Lights of Hope. They were here, albeit socially distant, prepping, setting up, and lighting all day Saturday, and then the next day early in the morning to clean up. I am most grateful to each and every one of them, adults and youth, who worked so diligently to help our parish participate in this worthy yearly town wide event of unity.
Our volunteers put up almost 1,800 luminaries on our two campuses! Above are two pictures from a drone, thanks to Christopher Vignola, of our two campuses and what they looked like that night. The Lights of Hope is always a wonderful sign of the unity of our community as one drives around town and sees so many homes, businesses, and places of worship coming together and lighting up our town in solidarity and in hope.
I wish to express my profound gratitude to the 707 families who have contributed, as of November 16, 2020, (this bulletin went to print before numbers were received this week) to our Annual Family Commitment, a total of $206,106.50, which reflects the generosity of 22.81% of our families. Thank you for your commitment and dedication to our parish family.
As I am sure you are aware, the added expense of doing projects to your family home can be overwhelming. Now imagine the buildings and the size of the buildings we have to care for. It gets quite costly when major repairs need to be made. And there are always repairs needed, aren’t there. As a family of faith we have a responsibility and an obligation to ensure our facilities are up-to-date and running efficiently. We need EVERY family in our parish family to make a commitment according to their means to help us reach this goal. Thank you for the deep love you have for our parish family.
That said, I also want to express my profound gratitude during this week of Thanksgiving for the phenomenal, tremendous, and humbling generosity of our parishioners THROUGHOUT this time of pandemic. Your financial support of the parish is truly remarkable and, as your Pastor, I am grateful for your continued financial support which enables us not only to pay the utilities but to continue to have our staff here working together to meet the very real needs of our parishioners. Likewise, your generosity has enabled us to develop new programs, both in-person and virtual, as we think outside the box and minister in the midst of a pandemic, above all, to meet the most important needs of our people, their spiritual needs. Thank you for helping us to make that possible by your support and generosity!
As always remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings as we build His kingdom here even during a pandemic. 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 Patron, and Blessed Father Michael J. McGivney, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world.