The Holy Spirit Gives Us Strength

This year, the Church celebrates the great feast of Pentecost on May 31.

As recounted in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Pentecost occurred when the followers of Jesus were, filled with fear, clustered together in a room and were suddenly surprised by the dynamic presence of the Holy Spirit in their midst. Strong wind and flame seemed to sweep the room, and the Apostles were so filled with the gifts of the Spirit that they emerged with new confidence, energy and a newly discovered strength. They experienced a new life in the Holy Spirit. In our secular culture,

Pentecost goes largely unobserved. “Pentecost” cards don’t pop up on store shelves weeks in advance, and there’s no merchandising that remotely compares to Easter and Christmas. Yet make no mistake. To Christians, Pentecost is a great celebration, sometimes called the birthday of the Church.

The word Pentecost has its roots in the Greek word for “fifty;” Pentecost comes fifty days after the Resurrection on the seventh Sunday after Easter. Why was Pentecost such a watershed event in the life of the Church?

As Christian stewards, we know we are called to live a life using the “fruits of the Spirit.” This calling has its roots in the momentous events of Pentecost. Up until that time, the followers of Jesus were still a somewhat disorganized band of believers, still in shock over the events of the crucifixion, still confused about the meaning of the sightings of the Risen Lord.  Pentecost abruptly and forever changed that. Suddenly, missionary disciples were born, followers both called and sent forth. Like us, they were called together, in community. They became aware that their great mission was to reach, not just their Jewish brothers and sisters in Palestine, but the disparate crowds who visited Jerusalem and beyond. Like us, they were called to bring Jesus to the world. The Holy Spirit brought courage to replace fear, understanding to replace confusion, faith to replace doubt.

The same Holy Spirit moves in our own lives, perhaps not always with the drama of that first Pentecost, but with the same spiritual energy. The Spirit calls us within our Church community to share Jesus with others, just as the disciples were called. Our task is to embrace the strength and energy of the life of the Holy Spirit moving through us. Let’s celebrate Pentecost this year as heirs to this great moment in the life of our Church, as stewards inspired to be people of hope for others in this world desperate for God’s presence.

Public Masses to Resume

Dear St. Mary’s parishioners,

The time has finally come and I’m happy to share the news that after careful planning we are ready to begin public Masses in our Diocese, Bishop McElroy made the announcement on Friday. We will need time to appropriately prepare so our first weekday Mass will be held on Wednesday, June 10 and June 14 for weekend Masses.

Even though this is good news  we must continue to be cautious and not forget that we are still  in the midst of this pandemic and we must continue to take our precautions and follow the States safety guidelines and comply with all restrictions. The recommendations of hygiene and social distancing are the most important ways to minimize the spread of this virus.  For this reason coming to Mass will be very different since the last time we all gathered back in March and we must continue to follow the procedures that we’ve all become accustomed to in this new reality.

One of the directives given to us by the State is to limit our Church capacity to 100 people in order to properly offer space for Social Distancing.  These spaces will be open on a first come basis and we will revise our mass schedule as we see needed.

Face covering will be required inside the church and sanitizing stations will be available at the entrance of the church.  Our Reopening plan has been approved by the Diocese.   I ask that we all think of not only our own safety but of our entire community and be thankful to God for the gift of Celebrating the Eucharist as a community.  Any adjustments or sacrifices that have to be made will all be worth it for the Glory of God.

Sincerely Fr. G.

Queridos parroquianos,

El tiempo a llegado y despues de planacion cautelosa estamos listos para resumir la celebracion de la misa publica en nuestra Diocesis.  El Obispo hizo el anuncio el viernes.  Necesitamos prepararnos  apropiadamente y por esta razon nuestra primera misa sera el Miercoles 10 de Junio y el 14 de Junio en domingo.  Aunque estas son buenas noticias tenemos que continuar ser cautelosos y no olvidarnos que aun estamos pasando por esta pandemia y tenemos que seguir muy seriamente los lineamientos que se nos han dado.
Las recomendaciones de higiene y distancia social son las maneras mas importantes de prevenir el contagio del virus.  Por esta razon el venir a Misa sera una experiencia distinta.
Una de las directivas que el Estado ha puesto es que el limite de capacidad de asistencia sera 100 personas.  Estos espacios seran ofrecido al primero que llegue.

Las mascaras seran un requisito dentro de la Iglesia y tendremos estaciones de desinfectante disponibles.  Como les comparti la semana pasada hemos entregado nuestro plan de Reapertura al Obispo y estamos esperando su aprobacion.  Al ser aprobado el plan  les compartire los detalles.
Se que algunos de estos requisitos no sean de agrado para algunos pero les pido que pensemos en la seguridad de toda la comunidad y demos gracias a Dios por el regalo de poder celebrar la Eucaristia juntos nuevamente.

Padre G

Reflecting the Beatitudes of Jesus

In his famous song, James Taylor sings that when you are “down and troubled and you need some loving care, ” you just have to “call out his name” and he will be there, “yes, you have a friend.” These words could just as well have been written by Jesus as Carole King.

In many ways, his beatitudes have become my friend since I authored the book, Blessings for Leaders. It has taken me all over the country speaking and listening to other’s insights about these beatitudes. The beatitudes teach us from a deep font of the wisdom of Jesus.

If we become poor in spirit, mournful, meek, hungry, merciful, pure of heart, peacemaking and persecuted for the sake of righteousness, we discover glimpses of the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:1-12). There is abundant paradox in these eight proverbs. To be poor in spirit, for example, is exactly the opposite of what it sounds like. I grew up thinking that these were the poor folks who were not good at praying the rosary or who had a hard time concentrating at Mass. While that resonated with me, it was not what Jesus was teaching here.

Poverty of spirit is the starting point for these beatitudes just as they are for leadership, life and stewardship ministry. To be poor in spirit means to place your total trust and confidence in God, to be so desperate for God’s presence in your life that you realize you are naught without it. Remember that it was the rich in spirit, the scribes and Pharisees, those who had it all figured out, with whom Jesus was most despondent.

The wisdom flows from this first beatitude to each that follows along a path that reminds me of the road to Emmaus. Jesus accompanies us as we explore the wonders of being comforted because we mourn our losses and the misfortune of others. We inherit the earth when we become down-to-earth humble in our interactions with each other. We are satisfied when we hunger for righteousness. We begin to wonder: Who thinks this way? Praying the Our Father is praying by the beatitudes, most profoundly evident in finding mercy by being merciful. Jesus connects the heart to the eyes when he teaches us to become pure of heart so we can see God all around us. Running toward conflict to become a peacemaker endows us as children of God. And finally, we sprint all the way to the Kingdom of Heaven when others become critical of our beatitude ways and persecute us for living, loving and leading by these very beatitudes.

At the end of these eight proverbs, we not only discover we are just beginning the journey into three chapters of Matthew citing Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, we also find ourselves glowing in the Kingdom of God. Indeed, when we are down and troubled, and we need a helping hand, we can find Jesus in these beatitudes, and he is very much our friend.

By Dr. Dan R. Ebener, professor, School of Organizational Leadership, St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa

Jeanne de Lestonnac – Stewarding the sick and poor during plague years

Jeanne de Lestonnac was born in 1556 into an influential family in Bordeaux, France. Her father was a member of the French Parliament, and a prominent Catholic. Her mother, who was the sister of the renowned humanist philosopher Michel de Montaigne, had embraced the teachings of John Calvin.

Jeanne remained a devout Catholic, and the richness of the renaissance culture in which she grew up would have a great influence on her education. Jeanne married at age 17 and gave birth to eight children, three of whom died in infancy. She would experience deep pain and sorrow because of the deaths of her husband, the three children and her father.  Eventually on her own, she ensured that her children would receive the best education she could afford as well as a devout upbringing in the Catholic faith.

At age 46, widowed and with children grown, Jeanne sensed a call from the Lord to do something extraordinary. She first turned to contemplative life and entered the Cistercian monastery in Toulouse. Illness forced her to leave the monastery, but she was led into a period of deep discernment. She prayed continuously that the Holy Spirit direct her and she searched for models of great Catholic women to be her guides and cultivated an interest in the lives of Saints Scholastica, Clare, Catherine of Siena and Teresa of Avila.

In 1605, a deadly plague spread throughout Bordeaux. Placing her own health at risk, she visited and cared for people in the poorest parts of the city. It was through her stewardship of the sick and the poor that she discovered the presence of Jesus in them. She also envisioned a religious institute to provide formal education for women. She encountered many young people who wanted to make a commitment to her endeavor.

In 1607, Jeanne established a community of consecrated women, The Company of Mary, whose primary ministry would be education. She worked very hard in this new ministry, and by the time of her death at age 84, the community had established 30 schools throughout France. Today the mission of The Company of Mary continues, with over 400 educational institutions in 26 countries, ranging from nurseries to universities.

St. Jeanne de Lestonnac’s feast day is May 15.

Attendants in a “Field Hospital”

I believe one of the most enlightening comments Pope Francis has made thus far in his papacy is that the Church is a “field hospital” in the world. He believes our community of faith is called to “heal wounds” and to “warm the hearts of the faithful.” This is what Jesus modeled so well in the Gospels, and we are called to actively participate in his life and ministry here and now.

As a visual person, our Holy Father’s image conjures up for me images such as the story of the Good Samaritan, armed forces medical care units and the work of Blessed Mother Teresa. It also brings to mind early missionaries who brought Christianity to people around the globe. I find the idea of a “field hospital” attendant somewhat overwhelming. But being good stewards of the Gospel, we are called to stand with and to serve our brothers and sisters during some of the most difficult times in their lives. This is a tremendous challenge and yet a sacred honor.

Recently, I was selected to serve as a juror in a criminal case. It was my first experience and I found it an unsettling and emotional experience for me. The fears and tears of witnesses as well as the defendant brought a very human and vulnerable dimension to this legal process. Though the outcome of the trial was based on the evidence and testimony provided, for me, the face of Jesus was everywhere in the courtroom. After the trial concluded, I wondered if any of those who participated in the trial were ministered to in some way by the “field hospital” workers in their respective parishes or worshiping communities. Was anyone visited, prayed for or given a compassionate ear and encouragement? I certainly hope so. There was so much opportunity here. Until Jesus returns, our Church will always need to be a “field hospital.”

I thank those who have special gifts of empathy, compassion, courage, and love, and use them to be Jesus in the world. And, I ask you to pray with me that we will all recognize where we are called to heal wounds and warm hearts so we can share the love of Christ and be a witness to the Good News.

By Mary Ann Otto, pastoral minister for missionary discipleship, St. Mary and St. Joseph Parishes, Appleton, Wisconsin

Putting Faith into Action In a Time of Social Distancing

PRAY – Spend time with God each day. Read the Bible or a devotional. Meditate. Listen to prayerful music.

PAY ATTENTION – God is with you! Look for God in the care of others and those you care for. See God in the beauty around you.

GROW IN GRATITUDE – Make this a time to be grateful for the blessings of life, faith relationships, gifts, talent and resources.

REACH OUT – Reach out to those who are fragile, alone, or in need. Call or video chat with elderly neighbors. GIVE Give to your parish. Your faith community is sustained through your giving.

CONNECT – Check in with other parishioners. Gather with others by phone or virtually to stay connected even when physically apart.

SHARE FAITH – As you talk with family and friends, share the consolation and hope you have through your faith in Jesus.

KEEP SABBATH – Sabbath is a time of rest and renewal in faith. Make this moment of physical distance a time for Sabbath.


By Leisa Anslinger, associate department director for pastoral life, Archdiocese of Cincinnati


Why a “Steward’s Way of the Cross”? Stewardship is all about receiving God’s gifts gratefully and sharing them generously. But to be good stewards, we have to understand first that we have been blessed – that all we have are the gifts of our good and loving God. Only then can we make our use of those gifts an act of Thanksgiving to the God who gave them. Our greatest single gift from God is Jesus, his life and ministry, his death on the cross and his resurrection for our salvation. It is appropriate to look at the gift of the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection through the lens of stewardship; to reflect on the Stations of the Cross and consider what gifts are being given and received in each one so that we are able to receive and rejoice more fully in the gift of God in Christ. Good and loving Father, we bring you praise and thanksgiving for the gift of your beloved Son, our Savior. As we walk this way of the cross, devoutly recalling his passion and death, send your Spirit to open our eyes to your gifts of grace that we may do this and all things in union with Christ. Amen.

THE FIRST STATION:  Jesus is condemned to death “Why? What evil has he done?” The gift of this first station is innocence. Pilate offers Jesus up for crucifixion. Jesus says nothing, but is in fact innocent of the crimes of which he is accused. An ancient Eucharistic prayer says “Jesus, your Son, innocent and without sin, gave himself into our hands and was nailed to a cross.” Through that selfless act, through his death and resurrection, we are saved. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE SECOND STATION:  Jesus carries his cross …carrying the cross himself, he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull We see in this station the gift of acceptance. Following Jesus may mean accepting burdens of one kind or another, and those burdens are also a gift. Saying “Yes” to the Lord means accepting the joys and sorrows that discipleship brings. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE THIRD STATION:  Jesus falls the first time He himself was tested through what he suffered… The gift of this station is fortitude. The way of the cross is long and painful, and under the weight of the cross, Jesus stumbles and falls. But he gets up and begins again – and so must we when adversity brings us to our knees, confident that our Lord is with us in our troubles. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE FOURTH STATION:  Jesus meets his mother … he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” There are many gifts here – the gift of relationships, the gift of Mary to John and in that way, to the whole Church – but the most important gift of this station is compassion. In her anguish, Mary came out to be present to her son, and even in the pain and cruelty of the crucifixion, Jesus made sure his mother would be loved and cared for. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE FIFTH STATION:  Simon helps Jesus carry his cross …this man they pressed into service to carry his cross. The gift of this station is service. Big, strong, and available, Simon of Cyrene was a steward in spite of himself, putting those gifts to use in the service of the Lord. We have gifts to share, too, and we share them best when we are “bearing one another’s burdens,” engaged in the loving service of our neighbor. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE SIXTH STATION:  Veronica wipes the face of Jesus “…whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Loving kindness is the gift of this station. Heedless of the danger to herself in a crowd of angry men, Veronica presses forward to wipe the sweat-stained face of Jesus, her love for Him overcoming her fear. In this small, loving act, we see that no gift of ours is too small or too insignificant to be offered. It is good stewardship to “do small things with great love.” Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE SEVENTH STATION:  Jesus falls the second time …it was our pain that he bore, our sufferings he endured. The gift here is endurance. Jesus falls a second time, but struggles to his feet and continues. In the Garden, He had prayed to be spared this, but rose from prayer strengthened to do the Father’s will, not his own. Following Jesus is the work of a lifetime, and to fall is not to fail. With the strength of the one who bore our burdens, we can begin again and persevere on our Christian journey. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE EIGHTH STATION:  Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem These women had followed him when he was in Galilee… These women who had faithfully followed Jesus during his ministry were drawn by their love for him into this scene of unimaginable horror. They brought emotional gifts of sympathy and concern. And, like women of every age, just by being there, they also brought the gift of presence to the one whose suffering they were not otherwise able to ease. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE NINTH STATION:  Jesus falls the third time By his wounds we have been healed. The gift of this station is selflessness. A man for others, Jesus teaches us to bear one another’s burdens, to set aside self interest and use our gifts to help the poor, the suffering, and the forgotten. Weary and weak, He summons his remaining strength to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Good stewards must follow His example. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE TENTH STATION:  Jesus is stripped of his garments “They divided my garments among them…” Here we see true humility. Stripped naked on that first Good Friday, Jesus invites us to strip away the nonessentials in our lives and focus on what really matters. Good stewards know that they have nothing – even their very life is a gift – that has not come as a gift from God. And humbly acknowledging that fact, they then use their gifts for others, in thanksgiving. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE ELEVENTH STATION:  Jesus is nailed to the cross “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Forgiveness – even for his tormentors – is the gift of this station. Discipleship is not an easy road. “If you wish to come after me,” Jesus said, “you must deny yourself and take up your cross daily and follow me. For if you wish to save your life you will lose it, but if you lose your life for my sake you will save it.” And here’s the hard part… If we are truly following Jesus, we must forgive from the heart all who have hurt us in any way. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

THE TWELFTH STATION:  Jesus dies on the cross “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” Here we see the ultimate gift – the total self sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus who has always given himself to the will of the Father, now gives his life as well. “There is no greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for a friend,” he had told his disciples. Here on the cross as he breathes his last, he shows the depth of his love for them – and for us. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

The body of Jesus is taken down from the cross Joseph of Arimathea… came and took his body. A tentative disciple at first, Joseph of Arimathea now braves the wrath of the authorities and asks for the body of Jesus. The gift we see in him is faithfulness. Once having committed to follow Jesus, he was faithful to the end, giving this last act of love and service. Good stewards are like that – always and everywhere saying “Yes” to the will of God, even when it’s difficult or dangerous. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.

The body of Jesus is laid in the tomb Joseph wrapped it in clean linen and laid it in his new tomb The gift of this station is generosity. Joseph of Arimathea gives his own new tomb to Jesus. What a bittersweet joy he must have felt to be able to give this one last gift to the Lord. But the truth is, whenever we give generously of the gifts God has so bountifully given to us – to anyone — we give them to the Lord. It is the duty and the blessing of good stewards to give freely, as we have freely received. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.



On Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, we are at the entrance to Holy Week. We’ve made a Lenten journey and now stand with Jesus before the gates of Jerusalem. We know that once we enter through those gates we shall be swept up in events that we cannot control and that will bring us to the very edge of what we can bear, as we walk with Jesus to Calvary and the tomb.

Our Lenten journey with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has become an unusual one indeed. We have walked into the valley of the surreal. The new pandemic has left most members of our society feeling afraid, anxious, isolated and alone. In an increasingly tension-filled society, the Coronavirus could rapidly mutate into an epidemic of despair.

But Christian stewards are strengthened by their faith, courage and hope as they have for centuries in times of pandemic. It is precisely at times like these that their stewardship of faith and love of neighbor make the Gospel of Jesus Christ real and not just a mere sentiment. More than ever, their lives of faith give them the courage to live with an open heart even at the center of seemingly unbearable tension.  Holy Week teaches us that God is able to transform everything about us, especially our fears and anxieties, our unfaithfulness and sinfulness. But to be open to that transformation in our lives requires some radical changes in our hearts, so much so that we might be stunned and frightened at the thought. It requires the will to endure some dying to self.

Let us start with our stewardship of prayer: Prayer is the great mediating force that gives us hope. Jesus instructed his disciples to pray always and not lose heart. Let us make a commitment to prayer as we have never done before, with great trust that our prayer has real power.

Stewardship of health: Let us embrace a new health regimen that includes obsessively maintaining a scrupulous hygienic routine so that we may take better care of ourselves and avoid infecting others. Stewardship of our neighbor: Let us follow Jesus’ injunction to love our neighbor as ourselves. Let us remember to check in on our neighbors and older family members and help where we may. And let us ultimately be ready and willing to sacrifice for others without counting the cost to ourselves.

The gates to the city of Jerusalem are open. Jesus does not steer us away from the gates and send us back into the silence of the desert. He keeps us close to him as we stand at the entrance. He bids us peace and assures us that he will always be with us if we will only listen. With the help of God’s grace, let us embrace stewardship more fully and find the strength to enter into the great city with Jesus, to walk with him to his cross and his resurrection with courage and hope.

BLESSED JAMES OLDO: Good Steward of His Neighbors during a Pandemic

Giacomo Oldo was born in 1364 to a prosperous family in Lodi, Italy near Milan. His father died while he was young, leaving him a legacy that made him a wealthy man.

Giacomo was married at a young age to Caterina Bocconi, and they had three children. The young couple enjoyed a life of extravagance and luxury. In the late 14th century, when the Black Death pandemic of 1347 reemerged in northern Italy, Giacomo, like many other wealthy citizens of Lombardy, took Caterina, his mother and three children and secluded them in one of their country houses to escape the disease. Despite their precautions, however, two of his daughters died from the plague. Giacomo’s grief was deep, but it was not until he attended the funeral of a close friend who died from the pandemic that he experienced a profound radical conversion to Jesus Christ.

He became a Secular Franciscan and began using one of his houses as a hospital where he took care of the sick and provided for the poor in his region of Lombardy. Caterina was initially opposed to his work, as was his mother. But after seeing his devotion and tireless efforts on behalf of the sick, they eventually joined him in caring for the afflicted. Caterina became a Secular Franciscan herself. In 1397 Caterina passed away, and soon thereafter, Giacomo was ordained a priest by the bishop of Lodi. His house was transformed into a chapel where small groups of people, many of them fellow Secular Franciscans, came for prayer and support. He became a celebrated preacher, and was known to have inspired many to enter consecrated religious life.

Giacomo died in 1404 at the age of 40 after contracting a disease from one of his patients. He was buried at the church of Saint Julian, the construction of which he and Caterina had financed. In the 18th century, his body was finally interred at the cathedral in Lodi. Giacomo was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1933.


During these unsettling times, there can be a temptation to focus only on ourselves and our immediate loved ones to get through the current crisis. Depending on our situations, we may not have the ability or resources to do more. But for those of us who do have the ability to support others, especially the most vulnerable people in our neighborhood, parish or broader community, it’s a crucial time to help them. Let’s not write off the vulnerable among us. Let us reach out to them. The National Council on Aging has offered some basic tips for helping more vulnerable people during this time. Below is an excerpt from the Council’s website:

  1. Health first! The most important first step is to protect yourself. • Stay informed—follow the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and your local health departments. • If you are in a high-risk group, if you are feeling sick, if you are self-isolating, or if you have tested positive—there are different steps you must take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Start by talking to your doctor. • Avoid unnecessary public activities, crowds, and public transportation. Postpone non-emergency doctor appointments.


  1. Practice physical distancing and social connecting Staying at home doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected in other ways. Stewards of Ourselves and Our Neighbors • Maintain a safe distance from other people—at least 3 feet, preferably 6 feet. • Make sure to stay socially connected. Walk around your neighborhood, go out in nature, talk to friends—but keep a safe distance. • Pick up the telephone or use Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime. The good news is many people will be home, so it can be easier to reach them. • Use email, texts, and social media to stay connected with friends, family, and your community.


  1. Reach out and educate Be a source of accurate, trusted information for your family, friends, and neighbors. • Don’t assume that everyone knows what you know about how to protect themselves and others. Make sure they are taking proper precautions. • Urge the younger people in your life to take this seriously. • Reach out especially to isolated older adults you know. Check in on them. Let them know you care. See if they need help and, if they do, help them figure out how to get it.


  1. Be proactive about your health It’s very important to do what you can to keep your physical health and mental well-being strong. • Boost your immune system with exercise. Go outside in the sunshine, hydrate, eat a balanced and nutritious diet, make sure you have enough medications for at least a month. • Do what you can to reduce stress and anxiety—don’t give into fear. Now is the time to stay calm and live realistically.


  1. Ask for help if you need it You are not alone. We are all in this together. • If you need help getting food or other essential goods and services, let people know. Don’t be afraid to ask a neighbor, friend, or family member for a helping hand. • If you’re having trouble paying your bills, visit our free BenefitsCheckUp to see if you qualify for public and private benefits programs to help pay for food, medicine, and more. We will get through this if we all support each other.