Dear Friends in Christ:
It is hard to believe but next week is Holy Week! Have you been to confession yet? Now of course, confession is not just for Advent and Lent. We should be going regularly and often. However, if you have not been to confession this Lent or in a while, please come. The Lord wishes to forgive your sins and give you His grace. Let go of the burden and the guilt that sin causes. We have additional times for the next two weeks in addition to the confession times before each weekday mass and the regular Saturday confession times. If you know someone who has not been to confession in a long time, please let them know about the confession times here at our parish. For your convenience, we have an examination of conscience and a How to Go to Confession Guide on our website.
A topic that I have not mentioned lately is priestly vocations and our great need for more priests and consecrated religious. Did you know that we have three young men from the parish who will be ordained to the Transitional Diaconate this year? Paolo Puccini, CSP, Rick Arriola and Justin Cormie will be ordained deacons in anticipation to their being ordained priests next year. Rick and Justin will be here for Holy Week. Additionally, we have two other men studying in the seminary and two women in the convent. Please keep all of them in your prayers. Most of all, please continue to pray for MANY MORE men and women to respond to the Lord’s call.
Recently, I drove around the Houston area. The growth is unbelievable, which explains the traffic! With this tremendous growth, we are in desperate need of more parishes. But in order to have more parishes, we must have more priests. Only three and half years ago, St. Faustina Parish in Fulshear was created. Today, they have 3000 families!!!!! It was nearly 25 years before SJV had that many families. In our first 25 years, we were divided four times with new parishes (St. Catherine, Epiphany, St. Justin and St. Elizabeth). While no one is happier than I am to have Fr. Clark here at SJV, I also know his time here is very limited. I am trying my best to teach him and show him as much as I can because he will very soon be leading a parish of his own. This year, four priests have asked to retire. We have a couple of priests working past retirement age (75). Additionally, there are a couple of priests who are in poor health who may need to step down for health reasons. The need is critical.
Who is God calling? Perfect people? Living saints? Hardly. God calls good, solid men who want to give themselves to a greater good. He calls men who want their lives to have meaning. He calls men who are willing to work hard for His Glory! He calls men willing to sacrifice out of love for His people. He calls imperfect men who want to be holy. Do you know a young man like that? If so, pray for him and encourage him to consider the priesthood. Do you know a woman like that? Pray for her and ask her to consider becoming a consecrated religious. Are you like that? God may be calling you. If you are single, under 35 and in good health, pray about it and then come and talk to me, Fr. Chuck or Fr. Clark. God could be calling. And when God calls, the answer he wants is “YES”. When we say “yes”, he gives everything else that you need.
I would like to make a special appeal to the young people in Jr. High and High School. You should be thinking of a religious vocation. Do not rule it out. Look at all the gifts that God has given you. Be open to the Lord’s call. Did you know that you can enter the seminary or convent immediately after High School? You can go to college while you are in formation. Also, for those who are currently in college, it is possible to enter and transfer while in school. Bishop Brendan Cahill, who grew up in this neighborhood, went to Rice for a year before entering the seminary. Archbishop Fiorenza went to Notre Dame for a year before entering the seminary. Of course, Fr. Chuck graduated from the Coast Guard Academy and Fr. Clark graduated from the University of Texas before entering the seminary. The important thing is that if God is calling, like the Blessed Mother, we respond, “Yes!”
Holy Thursday is when we commemorate the institution of the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood. This Holy Week, thank God for these most wonderful gifts to the Church. Thank God for the gift of the Eucharist and please pray for priests, seminarians and that many more young people from our parish will say “yes” to his call.
In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately