October 17, 2021 - 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Greetings my brothers and sisters,
My vacation home to Ireland was spectacular, the three weeks passed so quickly, and I was very homesick returning to Long Beach. My first week was in Dublin the capital city and I stayed with Fr. Bill’s niece and her husband, Deirdre and Sean. What a warm hospitable welcome from this wonderful couple. It was home from home, and I thank God that I met them through their visits here to Fr. Bill. I stayed one night with my godson and nephew Paul in his new home, and he brought me out to dinner and we had a good chat about life. One regret I have is I missed out in his 26 years of his life as he grew up in Ireland while I was here, a sacrifice and part of the call of the lord. It was nice being with him.
Then I journeyed to the city of Cork and stayed with my sister another beautiful pleasant experience. I love my sister and she has always been so good to me. On the second week my sister and I did a road trip to West Cork for a few days. The weather was beautiful and the Irish landscape was super green and life giving. I marveled on the gift of creation and the beauty of Ireland.
Final week I stayed with high school friends, their homes so comfortable and warm, overlooked Dingle Bay in my home county of Kerry. We had a great week traveling around the county, meeting other friends and family members. Just wonderful!
I thank God for this beautiful opportunity to go home to Ireland after such a break since the pandemic, it was a blessing for me.
Returning here I got such a welcome from my two dogs Elly and Bones they went crazy. Johanna was overjoyed and so many parishioners welcomed me. Fr. Bill was so happy to see me and during this time I got an opportunity to getting to know his brother Fr. Jerry. Thank you all for your love of me.
Special thanks to Shirl for sharing her thoughts and wisdom in the bulletin while I was away.
“For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.” Gospel of Mark
As a child I have wonderful memories of my brothers and sister helping around our home as we grew up. My mother, a widow from a very young age, taught us all about the need to work as a team to get jobs done around our home and garden. Every summer as I got older, I got the job of painting the outside walls of our two-story house, mowing the lawn, and keeping a vegetable garden. This was common for everyone. We painted, cleaned, and worked in the garden. We shared and we connected with our neighbors. It was normal! I remember on my first visit to Los Angeles and the USA, as a seminarian, I noticed that no one mowed lawns. Practically every household had gardeners, everything was so perfect, and no one knew their neighbor. Gardeners, pool maintenance, and workers arrived early, got the job done and disappeared while the occupants had cleaners inside and outside, serving them! I now realize this is not just common in the USA, but in many countries throughout the world. When you think about it, hiring people to do this type of work, gives us a little status, gives us more time to do all the other important things that we ought to do. Maybe we can justify it by providing jobs for those who need them in an often-uncertain financial environment. Here in my own home at the parish, I often wash the kitchen floor, sometimes on hands and knees, a good experience to bring me back to the reality of life for many throughout the world who work for pennies as they try and survive.
Jesus challenges us this Sunday about being a servant to others. He came into the world not to be served but to serve. Are you a servant to others? Or do you “lord” it over others, making sure the other person knows you are superior to them? Jesus washing his disciples’ feet must have shocked them. Here was their leader kneeling down to touch and wash their dirty and smelly feet.
Have you ever had the privilege of washing another person’s feet or body? I always marvel at the work of nurses in hospitals and hospices. How often we take them for granted. We demand care. I remember one summer, during my seminary formation, taking a course in hospice care. What an awe-inspiring experience that was for me in serving others. I had the privilege of washing people’s bodies as they prepared for their final days; of changing colostomy bags; touching the sacredness of life and doing it with graciousness and peace. I salute all hospice caregivers and nurses for their dedication to all of us who need that gentle touch and reassurance. God bless you. Jesus is calling all of us to serve others with dignity and respect, with love and affection, with justice and peace.
“Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant, whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave to all.” Gospel of Mark
In today’s gospel, James and his brother John lose sight of the goal. They wanted it all for themselves. They wanted to be the first in line, superior to others. I think at times we are all like these two brothers. It’s the “me” mentality. I’m first and forget about the others.
Jesus wants the opposite! Can you do it?
Blessings upon all, including those of other faith beliefs, who enter this Holy Space this weekend. May the Holy One, Son of God, bless you and keep you in peace.
Enrollment in Faith Direct has continued to grow at Our Lady of Refuge. There are now more families participating in electronic giving through Faith Direct’s convenient tool. When combined with "bill pay" donations, total electronic giving at OLR represents about 27% of the offertory collections.
Giving through Faith Direct lowers the costs associated with our weekly collections by eliminating envelope fees and by requiring less effort to count and deposit money. Electronic giving is a secure way to transmit money while being environmentally conscious. Our parish receives your contribution when you are traveling, sick, or in a rush. Your contribution amount is flexible; as you can give by the week or month and designate donations for specific purposes. It also improves our cash flow and the ability to project our income to match our expenses.
Faith Direct enables parishioners to make contributions through either direct debit from a checking/savings account or through a credit card. Now you can apply the convenience of direct debit to your parish offerings in much the same way as you may now use it to make your mortgage, car or tuition payments. This allows you to budget with a ‘set and forget' plan, as the donations recur on a defined schedule.
Electronic giving means you do not have to stop at the bank, carry cash or checks, or remember to write a check before coming to Mass. Faith Direct also offers you personalized offertory cards (if desired) to replace your envelopes for the collection basket. You can easily track your giving and know that your donations go directly to the bank. Any time during the year, you have access to records of your donations from both the bank and Faith Direct for tax reporting purposes.
For those of you who have yet to consider online giving, enrollment will be a continuing effort. Please visit the OLR website at https://www.ourladyofrefuge.
As your shepherd, I encourage you to consider Faith Direct. Please help us make our parish financially strong again. Thanks to all of you for your continued support of our parish.
In peace, Fr. Gerard