Godspeed, Father Ron

Barbie was kind enough to let me write her column this week to bid farewell to you.

Three Sundays ago I said that Mission begins with Gratitude. This has been the guiding principal in my life. My 42 years in as a Columban Missionary serving in Japan have given me so much and I am so grateful.

I returned to the U.S. at the age of 70 and the doors of St Mary’s was opened to me. Fr Mike and the people of St Mary’s have done so much to make this transition a good one. Learning how to minister in the U.S. has been very challenging to me. Also, for the first time in my priestly life, not being the Pastor has been an area that I had to grow into. But Fr Mike and the Staff have walked with me and helped me so much.

In the beginning life was simple enough. Celebrating weekday Masses, helping on Sunday Masses and Confessions, sick calls and some Marriage preparation. Fr Mike was very receptive to various ideas I offered and there was a good working relationship.

But then Fr Mike became ill and I had to step in for everything else. Every day I prayed that Fr Mike would recover and return but there was Christmas, Easter, etc. in the meantime. Just as I was beginning to wear out, Fr Mike came back more refreshed and healthy than I have ever seen him. Thanks be to God!

At the same time the announcement that an Associate Pastor had been appointed to St Mary’s meant that I had to move on. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, I am certain, but it is so hard to pick up and move on.

You have been so good to me and I want to thank you for letting me share the most intimate times in your life, whether it be through Funerals or Weddings or Anointings.

May God continue to bless you and continue to show your goodness to Fr Rick who is coming to serve.

 

Father Ron has been a welcome addition to our parish staff for the past several years. He was a huge source of support during Father Mike’s medical leave. He will be sorely missed by our parish staff and our faith community.

 If you wish to reach Father Ron, you can write him at:

 Father Ron Kelso

Corpus Christi

450 Corral Canyon Road

Bonita, CA 91902

 

 

 

 

Being Good Stewards of Our Religious Freedom

The Christian steward knows that gratitude is at the heart of stewardship. Indeed, gratitude lies at the heart of our spirituality; it’s a primary door through which we enter into a relationship with our Creator. Having the freedom to deepen our relationship with the Lord offers us much with which to be grateful.

And yet like so many things sublime and sacred, gratitude can be reduced to easy bromides or pious platitudes. Sometimes those of us in the U.S. reduce Independence Day, July 4, and the freedoms it represents, to just a good barbecue and fireworks show. Instead, Americans and all of us in the Western world should feel a renewed gratitude for the blessings of living in countries where our faith may be freely practiced, where we can freely assemble, and where we can stand up for justice without risking our very lives.

A few years ago, Pope Francis cited the mounting waves of anti-Christian violence sweeping the world. He was thinking in particular of at least 85 people who died during an attack on an Anglican church in Pakistan when he asked us, “Am I indifferent to that, or does it affect me like it’s a member of the family?” The instability and upheaval in countries like Syria and Iraq threaten the faithful. The Middle East, which was 20 percent Christian in the early 20th century, is now four percent Christian with that population steadily declining. Refugees fleeing persecution are at levels not seen since post-World These are troubled times in our 21st century world. Religious intolerance and persecution are at a zenith, and much of it is directed against Catholics and other Christians. And throughout the world – China, North Korea, Sub-Sahara Africa, even India – Christians are a persecuted minority.

Meanwhile, some of us are tempted during the warm summer months to take a “vacation” from Sunday Mass. Some travel and feel no necessity to find a local Catholic church. Some sit through Sunday’s liturgy with golf or the swimming pool on their minds. Some elevate kids’ sports over Sunday worship.

The Christian steward, however, realizes that somewhere around the world, others are being persecuted for the religious freedom so many take for granted. The Christian steward goes to Mass, and with much gratitude, prays in unity and solidarity with their brothers and sisters throughout the world who suffer for our shared faith in Jesus Christ.

 

Random Acts of Kindness

I’ve published several articles recently about Hospitality.   Most of them address Greeting others at Mass, offering a place for people to gather to get to know each other, etc.

Fr. Mike recently received a letter from “Roland F.”. Roland lives on the East Coast. His letter begins…

Dear Father Mike,

I had the recent opportunity to visit St. Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Church while briefly visiting in the Oceanside, CA area.

I had some time to pass while visiting and walked past your church at about 1 p.m. a few weeks ago. There were a few folks standing outside on the top step, and one of them was about to lock the door. When I asked if I could just stop in for a few minutes to “visit with Our Lord”, there was a pause. At any rate, after about thirty seconds, they all said “sure”, and I was allowed to enter. One of the gentlemen smiled and asked that I lock the door on the way out.

I was able to spend about 45 minutes in quite adoration before the Lord, along with praying the Holy Rosary.

I was very grateful for this kind opportunity—to have the privilege to spend a few moments in your Beautiful Church! It provided such a wonderful sanctuary for me that day.

And so, my prayers are with you, and for your beautiful church and parish. May the Risen Lord be with all of you always.             —Roland F.

 

It was a small act of kindness to allow a stranger to enter our church. But it provided him a significant opportunity to refresh his soul and visit with Our Lord.

 

I received a letter recently from a former parishioner. Here is her story:

To Whom It May Concern,

Hi, my name is Dania Haros. I used to attend St. Mary’s…like 15 years ago. I did my Confirmation and 15añera there. Plus, I used to be in the Youth Group. Even though I haven’t been physically part of the church, I still feel I belong there.

Well, I’m currently incarcerated but I got a good job in here which the Lord blessed me with. So, I would like to start sending a monthly tithe. Give back a little of the blessings the Lord has given me in here and in life. Thank you.

I was so moved by this letter from Dania. Whatever happened in her life for her to end up incarcerated, she hasn’t given up on God. That is so powerful. I would like to suggest that you could send her a card to let her know that you’re praying for her. Let her feel the power for love and prayer. If you feel moved to making a difference in her life, her address is:

Dania Haros #WE0974

C.C.W.F. 512.11.4 up

P.O. Box 1508

Chowchilla, CA 93610

 

 

 

Stewardship of Leisure Time: Refreshing Our Spirits

In a recent newspaper essay titled In Defense of the Three-Week Vacation, the writer makes the case for longer American respites from work. Jynne Dilling argues for trips that take us away from cell phone coverage and internet, and urges relaxation that includes re­flective walks at dawn and time to get lost in a foreign habitat (New York Times, 9 June 2016).

Many of us have neither the time nor the resources for long overseas sojourns, but all of us can resonate with the need to really “get away” from work or the daily grind or the constant demands of social media. Good stewardship of our bodies, minds and souls obliges us to get away on a regular basis (see Luke 5:16).

As Christian stewards, we aren’t just encouraged but obligated to con­sider how we approach our steward­ship of leisure time.

Stewards are aware of their need to be busy doing God’s work, but often forget that down time is equally important to spiritual growth. Leisure time, whether it’s our evenings, our weekends, or our vacation, pro­vides spiritual, physical, mental and emotional recharging. Leisure is nec­essary for human wholeness. Leisure reconnects us to the wider mysteries of our world and our God. It helps us daydream, imagine, pray. It refreshes our spirit.

Today, connectivity has become almost an obsession. People check their emails, their messages and calls with alarming repetitiveness. Acci­dents, both pedestrian and automo­bile, happen because people can’t put down their phones.

Employers ex­pect their workers to be available for evening emails. The lines between work and free time increasingly blur, as do the lines between solitude and always being present “online.” We can’t imagine putting aside screens for a two-week vacation. But we must give ourselves time to renew and re­charge, not just two weeks of the year, but each day and each week.

July offers an opportunity to re­connect with the rhythms of God and nature. We need to take time off from screens and phones, and practice giv­ing undivided attention to the things before us.

When we pray, we commit time and silence. When we enjoy time with our friends and family, we practice being totally present. When we sit on the patio or at the beach, we give our­selves wholly to the wind or the waves. Be a good steward of your body, mind and soul. Don’t overschedule your time off. Listen to the quiet whisper of God encouraging you to relax.

 

Exercising Good Stewardship in the Month of July

A quick check of July’s holiday calendar reveals this month to be one that celebrates national ice cream day (16th), national hot dog day (17th) and national paperback book day (30th). These and other quaint holidays all serve to underscore the fact that the month of July is probably ground zero for those “lazy, hazy, crazy” days of summer. If June finds us finishing off the graduation parties, August brings back-to-school sales.

But July? July is swimming, picnicking, the lake or beach, and vacation. July brings Fourth of July parades and highways and airports jammed with travelers. How does one exercise the virtues of Christian stewardship during this noisy, boisterous, sun-filled month?

Hospitality is a big part of July, and essential to exercising Christian stewardship. July brings the easy, informal backyard kind of hospitality. Consider sharing a cook-out with neighbors you’ve been hoping to know better, the parish priest you normally see only on Sunday, or the family member who may be lonely this summer. Organize a block party. Invite the people next door over for a quiet evening on the patio.

Even though July has a “time off” feel to it, make sure you don’t extend that feeling to weekend Mass. If you travel, it’s now easy to locate a Catholic Church and find Mass times. It is also enlightening to experience sacred liturgy in a new environment at a different locale.

If you’re staying home, July might be the time to visit a neighboring parish. Just remember that your home parish needs your financial support all during the summer months.

If July finds you able to engage in more leisurely reading in a lounge chair, hammock or on a beach towel, be a good steward of your spiritual life and supplement your summer reading list with a spiritual classic. And with the morning sun up early, perhaps become a contemplative by making a dawn prayer walk a healthy and spiritually nourishing habit during July.

Many charities host “runs” during the summer. But even if you’re not up to a 5K, they’re a good reminder that local charities need our support during July as they do every month. Consider offering one free afternoon to a food bank or shelter, especially if you can involve your children or grandchildren.

Let us also remain mindful that gratitude is fundamental to the Christian life and there is much to be grateful for during the warm, sunny days of July. Remember to begin each day with a grateful heart and a resolve to be a good steward of God’s abundant gifts.