Dear Friends in Christ:
This weekend after Christmas I am filled with gratitude! Even in a time of pandemic I am awed at the blessings of God in my life and in the life of our parish family! Thank you to Father Federico, Sister Patricia, our Pastoral Staff and our Parish Staff for their tremendous efforts this past year!
Thank you to Lynn Krieg and Jim Mitchell and to our entire Parish Pastoral Council who have done tremendous work in helping us to reopen since June and in keeping the list of Mass attendees as well as coordinating volunteers for each and every Mass and event.
Thank you to Santa Fe Council 2978 of our Knights of Columbus for their support throughout the year, assistance with reopening, and assistance with special events like this past Sunday at our Confession and Eucharist event. They deserve a lot of credit from their efforts this past Sunday being out there in the snow directing the 166 cars that came through for Confession and the 115 or so that came for Holy Communion at our Confessions & Eucharist event!! Look at the line of cars. Thank God we used Cherry Street entrance and not Main Street. The Knights even had to start a double line up the driveway just to get more cars off the road so we wouldn’t back up onto Route 70. The turnout was AMAZING!!!
Thank you to Julia Atwood and our other musicians who shared their talents to enhance our celebrations of Christmas. Special gratitude to Julia for the phenomenal virtual concert and for her tremendous efforts to coordinate putting together a music ministry piece and a St. Bridget School student chorus piece. Thank you to Steve Tine and the Tine Family for their tremendous efforts in putting these two pieces together. You can hear our students sing Silent Night, and our music ministry members sing Christ our Light Has Come, which are both posted on our Facebook and YouTube pages.
Thank you to Team Holy Spirit…Sandra Centorino, Victoria Clarizio, Frank Johnson, and Steve Tine…who from the very beginning back in March have worked together to assist us in communicating the Good News, programs and events, and Holy Mass with our parishioners by using the technology of today!
Thank you to our phenomenal decorating committee and volunteers for their tremendous work in decorating our three worship spaces for Christmas and a word of special gratitude to Charlie Kurtz of CK Greenhouses for donating so many poinsettias!
Thank you to the members of our Contemporary Music Group who came caroling last Sunday night at the rectory!
Thank you to all who sent Christmas cards, cookies, and other delicious treats to the rectory during the past weeks. Your thoughtfulness and generosity are very much appreciated.
Thank you to EVERYONE who came together at our 17 Masses Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. I am so pleased we offered so many opportunities and that the people of God responded by coming! It is my hope that each person who came to celebrate Christmas Eve and Day with our parish family felt welcomed, loved, and encouraged. Merry Christmas once again!
A special word of gratitude to all who participated in our Advent Giving Tree…It is truly amazing how much we can do together as one family of faith and this was once again witnessed in your generosity to our Advent Giving Tree. THIS YEAR WAS MUCH DIFFERENT but you all did your part to respond to the needs of our neighbors and I cannot thank you enough for your phenomenal generosity! I thank you for the OVER 700 gifts that were distributed to those in need. Thanks to your generosity and care for the less fortunate, their Christmases will be brighter, they will know that hope is never cancelled, and the little ones will smile with joy! Your constant support and generosity to the less fortunate continues to be a great hallmark of our parish family, and for that I thank you!
A word of special gratitude goes to Tina Kurtz who coordinated the program again this year and to the many helpers who worked with her to make sure that even in a time of pandemic, we would be able to meet the needs of our neighbors in need. They created the SignUpGenius, made out the stars for the tree, and worked together so beautifully to ensure this Christmas brought joy into the lives of others. Typically this program requires months of planning, preparation, execution, and delivering, and I know this year it was even more time-consuming. To ALL THE VOLUNTEERS I say thank you!
I have said it before, it truly takes a village to accomplish a task so large, and the Advent Giving Tree is proof it sure does. To those who helped Tina in this effort including Devorah Olewnik, Cee Cee and David Johnson, Stacie Nole, Margaret Hardner & Steve Burner, Nancy & Bruce Humiston, Heather & Jimmy Alix, and Leah Judge. Thanks, too, to the students from our parish who took time to cut out the stars for the tree.
Your generosity provided gifts and gift cards to the 170 families served by the Cheshire Community Food Pantry, as well as 130 gifts to the clients of Saint Vincent DePaul Soup Kitchen, 30 gifts to Carolyn’s Place, and 19 gifts to Marbridge residents. Your care for others also made it possible to serve new families who became clients of the Food Pantry during the weeks we were coordinating this effort! The responses of those who benefited from your generosity was truly heartfelt. Again, please know of my personal gratitude to each and every one of you who give from your hearts to support those in need.
This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The Sunday that falls in the Octave of the Solemnity of Christmas is always dedicated to celebrating the Holy Family. The Readings for this Sunday focus on the rights and responsibilities of family members toward each other, and the Gospel focuses on Saint Joseph, who cared for and protected the Blessed Mother and infant Jesus through the dangerous early years of Jesus’ childhood. The primary purpose of The Feast of the Holy Family is to present the Holy Family as a model for Christian families.
Family life today is experiencing a crisis of stability, partly caused by economic hardship, but often by other factors like lack of generosity, or too much insistence on getting one’s own way. Today’s feast invites us to meditate on our own contribution to family life. The future of the Church and of society begins in the family—yours and mine. This is the first great fruit of the Incarnation. It should give all of us hope!
If there have been rifts in your family in the past which have separated you from one part of your family, perhaps in 2021 these relationships can be mended. If there are relatives you haven’t seen or spoken with in some time through neglect, perhaps in 2021 you can reach out to them and let them know you care. And for those family members within our “safe bubble” (immediate family members we live with) give them a hug, a smile, or just tell them how much you love them!
How fitting it is for US then on this Feast of the Holy Family, in collaboration with our Knights of Columbus Santa Fe Council #2978 that we are inviting ALL families in our parish to, once again, celebrate this feast day by a special consecration of your family to the Holy Family. It is our hope that consecrating your family to the Holy Family will help your individual family to be strengthened in the bond of love and that through this spiritual exercise we as a parish family will, likewise, be strengthened in grace and love.
The Knights of Columbus together with your Priests invite each family of our Parish to be consecrated to the Holy Family and to devote yourselves to the ideal model of familial love set forth by Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Consecrating yourselves to the Holy Family provides you great intercessors to help you as a family to follow their model of living lives obedient to God’s Will, strong in faith, persevering in prayer, diligent in work, and generous towards those in need.
We will invite all families to consider standing up at the end of Mass this weekend and reciting the Prayer of Consecration to the Holy Family. Our local council has purchased prayer cards for you to use during those Masses and take home with you.
The New Year is approaching! This coming week we celebrate and enter into a New Year, 2021! Wow, how time flies by. Don’t forget January 1st is also a Holy Day of Obligation, the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. (Of course due to the pandemic all are dispensed from the obligation.) We will offer Mass at 5PM on Thursday, December 31st, and at 8:30 and 10:30AM on Friday, January 1, 2021.
CERTAINLY WE ARE ALL LOOKING TO 2021 TO BE A YEAR OF HOPE AND HEALING, but let us also enter into this New Year mindful that a new year can be so much more. It can be a time of new enthusiasm, it can be a time of new energy, it can be a time of new opportunity. It is also a time to discern how God is calling us to live out our call as missionary disciples today as individuals and as a family of faith here at Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish.
So, as we embark on this New Year in God’s grace, let us pray that we will do so in the understanding that there is nothing that should hinder us from following the Lord completely, strengthening our relationship with Him, and serving Him in our daily lives.
Last year I shared 8 suggestions for New Year’s Resolutions and they were well received, so here they are again:
1) Read the Bible… Can you read a chapter a day during your prayer time?
2) Get to know the Saints…go to Amazon and purchase a book on the lives of the Saints or start with just one Saint perhaps your patron for Confirmation. Learn about their lives and get to know them as spiritual guides.
3) Come to Eucharistic Adoration…it happens every Friday from 1-2PM in Saint Bridget Church. Come by for a visit with the Lord Jesus.
4) Commit to daily prayer…make a commitment to the Lord to spend time each day in prayer no matter what time of day, but make a commitment and keep it. Read the book I Heard God Laugh and learn from Matthew Kelly’s own experience, or read Do Something Beautiful for God and be inspired by the daily reflections of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Both books were available at the Christmas Masses.
5) Celebrate the Sacraments…come to Confession more! Participate more frequently in the Eucharist! If you are doing both perhaps you can increase your prayer time?
6) Join a group…perhaps one of our Adult Ed Programs, our Parenting Circle, a book club, a bible study, or one of the many other opportunities we have in our parish.
7) Start fasting…fasting isn’t just for Lent, it is a way for us to be conformed to Christ every day. Perhaps you can start by performing some act of penance every Friday throughout the year! It is only 52! You can do it.
8) Forgive…wow. There it is. “I knew he would throw that in there,” I could hear some saying right now. Yes I did. “He doesn’t understand how hard it is,” perhaps some are thinking. Yes I do. We all need to realize that forgiveness is a choice and not a feeling. Let’s all make a resolution to forgive one person for whom we have been harboring resentment and add them to our prayer intentions. It’s a good start!
As we continue to move into the New Year be sure to stay connected to the parish. Be sure you have visited our user-friendly website at www.stbridgetchesire.org. Through the website you will find out what is happening in our parish family. You can also “like” us on Facebook @stbridgetofswedenparish, and don’t forget to sign-up for our parish app by texting APP to 88202 and searching for our parish through the application.
We are really hoping to better utilize these means of communication as a way to get information out to you in a timely manner. Of course, for more information on the life of our parish family and the many spiritual and social activities and events throughout the year, including a parish calendar, simply visit the parish website.
As always, please remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings as we 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 Blessed Father Michael J. McGivney, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world. Merry Christmas once again! Stay safe!!!