Fr. Gerard's Mid-Week Message - July 1, 2020

 

 

THE CHURCH OFFICE IS CLOSED FRIDAY, JULY 3.

CONFESSIONS ON JULY 4 ARE CANCELLED.

5:30 MASS ON JULY 4 IS CANCELLED. Masses on July 5 are at 8 A.M. and 11:30 A.M. only.

Daily Mass is celebrated at 8 A.M. on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday only.

 

My good friends,

It’s July 1st. Amazing how time flies by, life moves on, and new moments are experienced. Today is an historic day in our Parish community, a new Pastor and a new Principal. Mr. Donnie Green takes leadership of our Parish school today and I become your Pastor.

Principals of Catholic Schools right now in this pandemic have a mammoth task ahead for them, more than any other issue in the past. I admire Mr. Green for taking on this commitment to lead our school into a new reality. He needs lots of prayers of support and encouragement from all of us in the parish. In these times when we can’t gather, why not mail him a nice card of welcome to our faith-filled community? Our Lady of Refuge is known for its hospitality, so this would be a nice gesture to welcome our new Principal.

At present in the school we are painting the main office; it is in great need of an uplift. Also, we plan over the summer to paint each classroom’s interior.  Reopening of our school is planned for August under strict guidelines and social distancing. Please continue to pray for our school -- the faculty, staff, students, parents, and our new Principal Mr. Donnie Green in these uncertain times.

Today I take on the Role of Pastor here at OLR, and I am so blessed to live with your Pastor Emeritus Msgr. Bill. This gentle giant has so much wisdom of this parish community having called it his home for over 40 years. This is a tremendous achievement and all of us are honored by his presence. He often says to me I am so happy to be retired! I take on this great task today to lead your parish forward, just like our school, into a new reality. I need your prayers, friendship, encouragement, advice, and wisdom as we collaboratively journey forward with hope.

Being a Pastor is not an easy role in today’s society. As pastors, when we gathered in the past, the constant worry was about administration, seldom about spirituality. As Pastors our responsibilities involve building up the Parish as a faith-filled community, inspiring people with the Word of God, and leading them in the Way of the Lord. A Pastor must have a Financial Council to help him be a good steward of all the finances of the Parish and School community.

Transparency is of the utmost importance with regard to the financials of both Parish and School. The Pastor has jurisdiction over the school community and employs a Principal to take leadership of the school. Since arriving here at OLR in September 2018, I set up a Financial Council immediately as this was of utmost importance to me. I was blessed with unbelievable parishioners who stepped forward and shared their expertise with me. I thank them today for their leadership skills in guiding our parish forward. To those in the parish and school community who have advised me, I thank you all too.

Our parish and school community is blessed with a group of volunteers who are willing to share their faith and commitment to whatever task they are given. Without you this parish would not be striving forward with Hope.  Thank you all. I ask you all to pray for me in this next chapter of my life as Pastor of Our Lady of Refuge. Amen.

Our Parish has been blessed with vocations to the Priesthood. At present we have two seminarians, Nick Russell, who is studying with the Jesuits, and Justin Ordoveza, who is studying in St. John’s Seminary. Last Sunday I asked Justin to share a reflection on the scriptures and today I asked him to share a reflection with us on his past 9 months of Pastoral Internship. Please enjoy it and please Pray for Vocations.

Please enjoy July 4th.  Be safe; protect yourself, and give thanks to God for the USA. May Peace Reign.

Fr. Gerard

 Happy Anniversary, Faith Direct! We began using online-giving several years ago with Vanco, but as of last June 2019, we had only 16 donors. The Parish Finance Council authorized a change to Faith Direct. We now have 198 participants. We thank those who enrolled and would love to reach our goal of 250. Maybe you will be inspired by our challenge and register soon. (https://membership.faithdirect.net/enroll/CA966) Faith Direct allows recurring offertory giving, one-time gifts, the ability to “text-to-give,” and payment for Religious Education and sacrament programs all in one place, plus you can easily print your own contribution statement whenever needed. “Text-to-give” allows a secure, one-time gift to Our Lady of Refuge Catholic Church; text a dollar amount to (562) 414-6831. And, of course, there is an app: Faith Direct – eGiving for Churches.  

Parish support: We also have a special “thank you” for those who use auto-pay from their bank or trust account weekly and monthly. Your continued support is greatly appreciated and we don’t acknowledge you enough. 

From Our Seminarian:

         My name is Justin Ordoveza.  I am a Seminarian from Our Lady of Refuge. I am in formation for the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. I have been in formation for the priesthood since 2011 and took two years off for health reasons. Just recently, I was at Saint Anthony Parish in San Gabriel, California, on my internship year. It’s a middle-class parish with a variety of ethnic enclaves surrounding it. It’s a trilingual parish, consisting of English-speaking, Vietnamese-speaking, and Spanish-speaking communities.
          I was prepared to experience a normal internship. Internship is a time where you experience life in a parish. For the first half of the year, it was a normal parish experience. Then, as we all know, COVID-19 hit, and the parish experience was drastically different. At that time, I set up Livestream for my parish and helped the parish transition from our former ways to the stay-at-home order and then into the slow, new normal that we know now. 

          Throughout my time at St. Anthony's, and especially during the COVID-19 crisis, I really saw people's desire for community and for Christ. People desired the sacraments more than ever during this pandemic. To see their faces once they took communion after three months at home was awe-inspiring.

          My parish experience at Saint Anthony's was fruitful, but it always reflected on my experience and my home parish here at Our Lady of Refuge. I have always received support, and I have loved this community since I attended Our Lady of Refuge School. I always received unwavering support, whether it was when I was sick or when my mother was sick. The parish community of Our Lady of Refuge rallied around my family and me and really brought Christ into those experiences where I needed Him to be.

          Thank you so much to this community.  God willing, I will be ordained in the near future. It’s a common saying among Catholics that a healthy parish produces Seminarians. And it is my honor that I am one of many from Our Lady of Refuge.

 The church office is open from 9:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M., Monday - Friday. IT IS CLOSED FRIDAY, JULY 3. All visitors must comply with office safety protocols: face mask required, social distancing, and only 1 person in the office at a time. We are not currently selling candles, and there will be no daily Mass intentions until further notice.

Religious Education registration for the Fall is now open with Early-bird discounts until July 31. To register, click  https://forms.gle/r56XV1ovxruQy9CL8. Registration is online only (but we hope classes will be on site in the fall) and you can pay your registration fees through Faith Direct https://membership.faithdirect.net/enroll/CA966. You 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. Also, you may text your Religious Education (RE) Fees to OLR!  Simply text your $$ amount due to (562) 414-6831 and click the Faith Direct link that pops up seconds later. Choose the Religious Education fund and in the notes include the first and last names of children being enrolled.  Enter your credit card information, email, name, and address and complete the process. 

Registration for Mass: Masses available this weekend: 8 A.M. and 11:30 A.M (with a 2nd Mass in the hall). Please register so we can accommodate you more easily.

Self-registration: Go to Realm www.onrealm.org 1. Log into your account with your email and password; 2. Click on your preferred Mass time; 3. Click register by; 4. Who is attending? See your name and be sure a √ is in the box for each family member or add names of guests; 5. Click Next and Next again, then Register. (You will receive an email confirmation.) Or use the app Connect – our Church Community, ACS Technology Group (Realm Connect).

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 (pattistrait00@gmail.com). She will guide you through the steps to help you register for Mass. 

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. We cannot schedule additional Masses until we have more volunteers.

OLR Church Office (562) 498-6641 – 9 A.M.- 1P.M., M-F

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.

Donnie Green, OLR Principal -- dgreen@lacatholicschools.org

OLR School -- (562) 597-0819

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)