An Act of Devotion

Dear Friends in Christ:

Today is our Annual Parish Bazaar! This year we had to move the bazaar back a month due to the floods and Hurricane Harvey. As usual, there have been more than a thousand people involved in making today’s festival possible. Please make an effort to come and enjoy the day with us. The bazaar is the biggest one-day event in the parish where people from every mass and from all segments of the community; young and old, longtime parishioners and newcomers, singles and marrieds all come together. There are other times where we come together (Parish Dinners, confirmations, Party on the Lot, concerts, classes and presentations) but the bazaar is the largest.

Our parish Mission Statement which is on our webpage an in every bulletin is Living Faith, Changing Lives, Making a Difference. We try to make this a reality every day here at St. John Vianney. Hopefully, you can see it in your own life and in the lives of your fellow parishioners too! Our vision of who we are as a parish is taken from the description of the early Church recorded in the Acts of Apostles 2:42: They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, the breaking of the bread and the prayers. Again, hopefully, this can be seen in your life and in the lives of every parishioner here at St. John Vianney. As even the most casual observer looks at our weekly calendar of events, our bulletins, on our website and most importantly our words and actions, it is our hope and desire that this devotion can be truly observed and experienced. Many people in our area showed their beautiful character during the time of the hurricane and floods. The dramatic rescues and the tireless work to help folks recover have been wonderful. Our efforts here at SJV have been remarkable, especially given how many of our parishioners were themselves victims. Yet our relief and recovery efforts were not simply motivated out of civic duty, a moral imperative or simple neighborliness, but out of our devotion to Christ and his Church. Our coming together today for the bazaar is not just to have fun or to raise money, but again out of our devotion to living the communal life of being part of Christ’s Church! The way we raise our families and perform our jobs is rooted in our devotion to loving Christ and His Church!

As St. Cyprian of Carthage (c. 210-258 A.D.) so powerfully stated, “You cannot have God for your Father if you do not have the Church for your mother!”

Our coming together today is indeed a gift as it is whenever we gather together in devotion. Some may be surprised that we consider the bazaar a devotional act! But it is! It is our family coming together sharing our common life and bond in the Lord! Games, food, entertainment, conversation, laughter, volunteering, serving, fundraising, may all seem perfectly natural and human activities and they are. Yet when we do them out of devotion to Christ and His Church there is the “added value” of becoming more and more of whom Jesus calls us to be. When we become more what God wants us to be, it is not only good for us, our souls, our parish community and the larger Church, it is a gift to others as well. So in addition to everything else, we thank God for the bazaar, our parish and especially for our faith and salvation in Jesus Christ and for being able to devote ourselves and become more of whom God wants us to be.

As this is our primary objective, we want others to share in our blessings and so we give away all of our net proceeds from the bazaar hoping that our love of God and our blessings may have an impact in the lives of others.
Here is the list of those who tangibly benefited from our devotion this past year:

Casa Juan Diego, Magnificat House, Wellsprings, Angela House, Isaiah House, Interfaith Ministries (Meals on Wheels), Our Daily Bread (Galveston), Catholic Charities, Memorial Assistance Ministries, Christian Community Counselling Services, Habitat for Humanity, Carmelites Nuns, Cenacle Retreat House, Cenacle Sisters, Legion of Christ, Passionist Fathers and Brothers, Texas Right to Life, Houston Coalition for Life, Volunteer Interfaith Caregivers, Spring Branch Community Health Center, San Jose Clinic, CanCare, Interfaith Care Partners, St. Leo The Great Church, St. Peter Claver Church, Holy Name Church, St. Francis of Assisi Church, St. Francis of Assisi School, Cristo Rey High School, Pope John XXIII High School, Incarnate Word Academy, John Paul II School, Inner City Catholic Schools, St. Jerome School, FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), University of St. Thomas and in support of SJV Missions in Eagle Pass and El Salvador.

This list translates to hundreds of thousands of individual people who have received assistance in their lives. It could be food or housing, education or healthcare, spiritual guidance or emergency services, assistance during a pregnancy or paying a light bill. But as great as that number of people or the kinds of help provided may be, what is most important is that each person, including ourselves, has experienced our love for God and God’s love for us. That is what Living Faith, Changing Lives and Making a Difference is all about!

In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately