Voices of Faith

The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Dear Friends:

The whole of the Christian life is essentially about preparing ourselves for heaven. The call to live justly and to serve in love is about making the presence of Christ known in our actions and our deeds, but it is also about how our lives conform to the will of God as an expression of our trust and our openness to God’s will. Our motivation for doing so is our love for God and our desire to receive what he promises to those who trust in him. It comes as no surprise, then, that Jesus would speak to us about readiness, about being prepared for heaven. How we live day in and day out is about our “practicing” for heaven. When we speak of being a “practicing Catholic” we do indeed get it right… we are practicing, learning, preparing, and making ourselves ready.

This Thursday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, a holy day of obligation. Our Blessed Mother is always an example to us in her fidelity and devotion, demonstrated in her “yes” to God’s call. She is also an example to us in showing how the path to heaven is prepared for us. Her complete devotion leads to her being taken to heaven at the moment of her death. So may it be for us, that fidelity and trust in God’s Word will open the gates of paradise to us!

I have received some inquiries about the state of our finances after my comments back in early June. We did finish the year with a slight loss as offertory fell below what we had originally budgeted, which is understandable given the news and scandals regarding abuse and the handling of accusations within the Church last summer (the budget had been prepared and approved long before that). Still, our offertory income has been steadily increasing over the past five years as our membership and participation have grown. While we experienced a slight loss, we are still fiscally strong thanks to our reserves, some of which is in the form of an endowment, from which we can draw from dividends. While we can’t sustain continual years of shortfalls, we can weather short-term losses, and our Management and Planning Committee is continually monitoring the budget to control expenses and manage the prudent use of our earnings from investments to fund our essential ministries and programs. All registered parishioners will be receiving an annual report at the end of September that will give greater detail regarding our finances and an update on our strategic plans. As always, I am encouraged by your enthusiasm and your dedication to St. Joseph Parish.

The month of July was a complete blur for me… I had three different work-related events that took me out of town as well as a week of vacation (which was most relaxing and enjoyable!). I am grateful to Fr. John for his diligence in my absence during my travels in the last few weeks. I know the parish has been in good hands. As you read these words, I am away for one final speaking engagement this weekend in the Diocese of Beaumont, Texas (the eastern edge of Texas, near the Louisiana border… I had to check myself!) to speak at their diocesan ministry conference. This was to have taken place last year, but that area was still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, so it was postponed until now.  I am leading a day of study for their priests and then offering the keynote address for their lay ministry formation day. While I enjoy these opportunities to speak, I do try to limit accepting such invitations so as not to impede my service here in my primary ministry. I do appreciate how everyone is so supportive—both staff and members of the community. I look forward to the final weeks of summer here, especially Camp Smile with our middle school youth ministry this week, the return of our school faculty in the coming weeks, and Crushes in the Courtyard as we gather to celebrate the end of vacation season.

God’s peace,

Fr. Rick