Be the Difference!

LENT.  This Wednesday, February 17, is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.  Last year, we were just getting into Lent when the pandemic hit.  At that time, public Masses and activities were suspended and we suddenly found ourselves on this year-long odyssey.  While we all wish we were further along, we have made tremendous headway in defeating the virus and returning to normal.  Unfortunately, we are not there yet.  While we can all be thankful for the vaccines and other progress, this Lent too will be impacted by COVID-19.  So what is the plan? 

Our beautiful Catholic Faith cannot be defeated by a virus or any earthly power.  We have victory over all things in Jesus Christ our savior!  Although we were not able to gather for much of Lent or Easter last year, we still prayed.  This year, thanks be to God, we can gather together in faith and with our community.  Maybe not to the full extent as we would like, but we can still celebrate our faith in the Lord and His love for us!  This year, we WILL have Ash Wednesday and the regular Lenten schedule (see the bulletin & website for details).  Ashes will be distributed a little bit differently given the health protocols, but we will still observe a day of fasting, abstinence, and prayer to begin our 40 days of penance.  Here at SJV, we will offer mass and confessions three times each weekday.  The adoration chapel and church will remain open, and we will pray the Stations of the Cross three times on the Fridays of Lent.  If you are concerned about being with people on Sundays, come to a weekday Mass. For those unable to come to Mass or devotions (in an “at risk” category), you are strongly encouraged to pray at home with your family.  You may wish to come and make a visit the Blessed Sacrament.  We will again have the Communal Sacrament of the Sick on March 18 and have the Blessing of Expectant Mothers on March 21. 

LENTEN MISSION.  This year we are blessed to have our Parish Mission preached by Fr. Bruce Nieli, CSP.  I have known Fr. Bruce for many years and I am so very pleased that he will be able to lead us in our mission this year.  Fr. Bruce is a well-known and highly respected missionary and experienced evangelist.  He has given missions all across the country.  He is the past Director of Evangelization for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and was named a Missionary of Mercy by Pope Francis.  Fr. Bruce will be with us from March 13-17.  Mark your calendars.  

CATHOLIC SCHOOLS.  The pandemic has shown the absolute treasure and valuable gift that our Catholic schools are to our Church and nation.  When many public schools were closed and teachers unions were fighting and kids were denied in-person instruction, our Catholic Schools opened, provided in-person quality instruction in a safe environment for students and teachers.  The mission of Catholic Schools is to form the whole person – mind, body, and SOUL.  We have been blessed in this archdiocese to offer students a Catholic education since 1847!  A Catholic education makes a difference for this life and for eternal life!  To provide a Catholic education requires sacrifice – of parents, teachers and the community.  I encourage all of our families to consider the valuable gift of a Catholic education for their children and grandchildren!

DIOCESEAN SERVICES FUND (DSF).  Since Hurricane Harvey, the number of donors to DSF from St. John Vianney parish has been falling.  This year with the pandemic, we are down by 40% from where we were just a couple of years ago.  For DSF 2020, we had to really push to make our goal.  Thankfully, we made the goal but it wasn’t easy.  Our financial support for the many ministries supported by DSF in our archdiocese is vital.  These are hard times and many people are depending on us.  Every SJV household that is capable is asked to support our archdiocesan ministries through a pledge/gift to DSF. 

BE THE DIFFERENCE.  Sadly, there remains great tension and division in our country.  As disciples of Jesus Christ and members of His holy Catholic Church, you and I can not only make a difference, but we can BE the difference in our families, neighborhoods, schools, and at work.  Let the light and the joy of your love for Jesus and your Catholic faith shine for others to see and experience.  BE positive!  BE cheerful! BE the sign of hope and love that so many need and are looking for.  BE THE DIFFERENCE!     

In pace Christi,
Fr. Troy