Fr. Gerard's Mid-Week Message - June 17, 2020

Our Lady of Refuge will open June 20-21 for the public celebration of Mass at SA 5:30 P.M., SU 8 A.M., and SU 11:30 A.M. Registrations are required due to limited attendance.

Due to technical difficulties, Father’s message from Last Sunday was not delivered. It has been edited below:

Greetings my good friends,

Hanging on the wall in my mother’s bedroom in our home in Ireland was a certificate she received on the 4th of June, 1925, the day of her First Communion. It has her maiden name, Mary Theresa Crean, and words stating that on this day you received Jesus in the Holy Sacrament of the Mass. I often asked my mother as a child, ’’Where was my certificate?’’ She replied, ’’Don’t worry, you received your Holy Eucharist, I was there, I saw it for myself, you don’t need a piece of paper." My mother’s certificate, hanging on that wall all those years, up to her 93rd year this year, is a testament to her faith and her parents’ faith in Jesus Christ. Do you remember your First Communion? Can you remember the date? Mine was the 6th of June, 1967. I can remember it distinctly as a very special day in my life. The nuns in our school prepared us well and told us that we had to fast from midnight until after Mass the next day.  Can you imagine going to Mass with an empty tummy? On the morning of my First Eucharist, my mother told me that she wanted me to have a bowl of cornflakes with milk and sugar in case I might faint on the altar of my parish church. I remember resisting her, and worried about what the nuns might say if they found out. My mother told me, ’’I am your mother, and you are going to enjoy this food now, before you receive the most sacred food, your Holy Communion, Jesus, who loves you with all His heart.’’ So on the first day of receiving Jesus, I broke my fast because, like any mother, my mother had great concern for me and love of me as her son.

The actions by my mother on that day, reminded me of the day Jesus performed a miracle of healing on a Sabbath. The religious leaders got very angry with Him and told Him, in no uncertain words, He broke the law. Remember, Jesus told them, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law,” (Matthew 5:17) but to enhance it with My caring and healing presence. Sometimes we have to go beyond the law and experience love and compassion too. Just before I departed for California for the first time as a newly ordained priest, I remember telling a very old priest in my home town that I was worried about hearing confessions. What would I say to people? He was so gentle to me and he said, ’’Ger, always put compassion and love first, before the law; listen to people intently and lift them up to a higher glory.’’

Last Sunday’s Feast Day of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, is that special day when we remember how Jesus touched us on our own First Eucharist. For me, I think it was the start of my vocational journey to the priesthood, something powerful happened to me that day. I can still remember the feeling, and I was just seven years old. Since that day, my love of the Eucharist at Mass has been overwhelming. I truly believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and I know of its power whenever I pray or adore the Sacred Bread. For many non-Catholics, the idea of adoring a piece of bread sounds strange, but it’s more than bread, it’s the Lord in our midst, pouring out His love, compassion, healing, and forgiveness, in a tangible form, that we can feel within us. The Eucharist is about true love, it’s about acknowledging a mystery in our midst that is beyond our understanding, it’s about accepting, with faith, the knowledge that the Lord is with us and will never abandon us. The Eucharist is life, is hope, is peace, and is strength to all who come forward with open hearts and respond with the Great Amen!

Jesus says profound words in the Gospel last Sunday, ’’I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.’’ (John 6:51) Please don’t ever abandon the Holy Eucharist. Many Catholics do when they convert to other Christian faiths, sadly not realizing the great injustice they are doing to themselves. The Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, is the core of our Christian faith, His real presence, here in our midst, His life within our own lives, His love embracing us all in one simple act: ’’Do this in memory of Me.’’ (Luke 22:19) So do it in memory of Jesus, enter into it with great joy, accept it with gratitude.

BODY OF CHRIST – AMEN          BLOOD OF CHRIST - AMEN  

Many thanks to all our parishioners who have volunteered to help with the Mass this weekend and beyond. Thank you, thank you so much.

For those of you who intend to go to Mass this weekend, please prepare yourselves spiritually to receive the Holy Eucharist. For those of you who wish to stay at home, Mass is still being recorded and is available on our website. Hopefully soon we will be able to livestream one Mass every Sunday to keep you connected. I want to thank Danny Domingo, Phat To, and Gerry Mendoza who are helping to install Wi-Fi in our church.

The Mass never changes; the Holy Eucharist is here for us to unite us as the one Body of Christ. Even though we will have many restrictions and safety measures, the Holy Mass will be celebrated with the passion and love which Jesus poured out upon all of us.

Let us all be open to this powerful moment of homecoming in our great parish of Our Lady of Refuge. Remember it’s not about how many will attend, it’s about our Faith in Jesus Christ and how each one of us can practice that faith with love beyond telling.

Welcome home with love; both Fr. Bill and I are here with a big smile.

Love,

Fr. Gerard

Parish Support: We are grateful to those who send contributions to the church office. Thanks to all those who signed up for on-line giving with Faith Direct which now includes a Religious Education option so that parents may pay registration fees electronically. To date, 192 have registered. Thank you so much. We are 58 from our goal of 250 enrollees. 

Religious Education registration for the Fall is now open with Early-bird discounts. To register, click  https://forms.gle/r56XV1ovxruQy9CL8. It is online only and you can pay your registration fees through Faith Direct https://membership.faithdirect.net/enroll/CA966You can still send in a check or money order if you prefer. All directions are provided. If you have been in the program, an email was sent to you as well as the link to register. If new to the program, send an email to sre@start.olrs.org. Please call 562-597-3102 with any questions. 

Our Lady of Refuge Confirmation will take place Saturday, September 12. Please pray for our confirmation candidates.  

Our Mass and Liturgies have changed, all due to the mandates to keep everyone protected from any further outbreaks of the Corona virus. Cleanliness and distancing are two key components. Your help and support are needed to help us follow these procedures. Our church environment has changed -- inside and out. These changes have been mandated by the State of California, County of Los Angeles, the CDC and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The guidelines below outline what to expect next weekend. Please come with clean hands and use a restroom before arriving. Keep your face mask on at all times; put on your mask before you exit your car; you must wear a face mask to be admitted. Be 15 minutes early. Doors will be locked when Mass begins.

Volunteers: We are assembling weekend teams for each Mass, and we need volunteers in two areas: greeters and ushers (to greet and help seat people) and cleaners (to wipe down the pews and other contact areas after each of the Masses).  All supplies are provided.  Contact the church office (562) 498-6641 or betty@start.olrs.org. The more volunteers we get, the easier the task completion.

Registration for Mass: 3 Masses are available each weekend with only 100 attendees at each; you must register each week.

Self-registration: Go to Realm www.onrealm.org 1. Log into your account with your email and password; 2. Look left and select Community; 3. Select Events; 4. Click on colored title with preferred Mass time; 5. Click register by; 6. Who is attending? See your name; 7. Click Next and Next again, then Register OR Add names of family members as guests, then Click Next and Next again, then Register. (You will receive an email confirmation.)

Phone registration: You must speak with someone, not leave a request on voice mail. Parish office hours are M-F, 9 A.M. – 1 P.M.

Need help? Contact Patti Strait (562-597-5645 or pattistrait00@gmail.com). She will guide you through the steps personally to help you register for Mass.

Realm: If you received this email, you have an account which you must activate. Be ready to reply to the email you received (check spam folder) with a password (8 characters with 1 upper case, 1 lower case, 1 number). There is a second verification email with instructions and then you can edit your information. Or maybe you did activate your account, but can’t recall your password. Log into your account (https://onrealm.org) and follow the steps for forgotten passwords. Don’t wait until you wish to register for Mass and go through the frustration of account set-ups.

Confessions resume on Saturday, June 20 from 4-5 P.M. in the 8th grade classroom. Please wear a mask. Line up on the benches maintaining 6 feet of social distancing.

 

OLR Church Office (562) 498-6641 -- voice messages only

5195 Stearns Street, Long Beach, CA 90815-2901

OLR website -- https://www.ourladyofrefuge.org/

Betty Guevara, Parish Secretary -- betty@start.olrs.org

Shirl Giacomi, Director of Religious Education -- dre@start.olrs.org

(562) 597-3102 – M-F, 9 A.M.-3 P.M.

Tricia Holmquist, School Principal -- principal@start.olrs.org

(562) 597-0819 -- voice messages only

Team Refuge -- Tony McKeon, Coordinator (949) 874-6097

Faith Direct -- https://membership.faithdirect.net/enroll/CA966

Realm -- https://onrealm.org to access to your account