Dear Friends in Christ:
The penitential season of Lent begins this Wednesday, Ash Wednesday. This season of praying, fasting and almsgiving is one of the two major penitential seasons in the Church year. The way to have a happy Easter is to have a holy Lent! This is a wonderful time for all of us, but especially for families to begin new spiritual practices. Attend a weekday mass, come to confession during the week, pray the rosary together with the whole family at home, come to Friday Stations of the Cross and/or pray them at home, stop by for a visit to the Blessed Sacrament or pray Morning and Evening Prayer in the Adoration Chapel. As in the past, we will have the Magnificat Lenten prayer books. They have beautiful meditations and reflections for each day of Lent. Another wonderful idea is to start reading two chapters of the gospels every day during Lent. Start with Matthew chapters 1 and 2 on Ash Wednesday and you will read all four gospels in their entirety by Easter! If you have never read all of the gospels before, it is a wonderful thing to do! As St. Jerome says, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is an ignorance of Christ!”
On a different note, did you know that St. John Vianney has an Endowment Fund? We do! This is for those parishioners who would like to leave a testamentary gift to the parish in their wills or simply make a financial gift to support the parish for the years to come. This endowment fund is segregated to provide future funds for our parish’s charitable work, parish operations and special needs. The funds that are donated or bequeathed to the endowment become part of the principal, appreciating in value and earning interest for the benefit of our parish. Of course, this is not the only way to remember the parish in one’s will or to make a financial gift. Bequests and gifts (cash, appreciated stock, etc.) can also be donated to our general operating funds or to special program funds (Liturgy, Respect Life, Youth and Adult Formation, Music, etc.). The SJV Endowment Fund was established by the parish with the guidance of our Parish Finance Council in 2013. The SJV Endowment Fund is part of the Catholic Endowment Foundation of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. The foundation’s funds are professionally managed and the SJV Endowment Fund is restricted for the exclusive benefit of St. John Vianney parish. These gifts and bequests are very important to our parish’s financial security and a beautiful way to support the spread of the gospel and works of charity by our parish. For more information, please contact our parish Finance Office or your financial and legal advisors.
Periodically, people ask why we do one thing here at SJV or why we don’t do something else. People have all sorts of suggestions and recommendations. Sometimes people can be confused as to why we choose to pursue some activities and not others. The activities and ministries of the parish stem from our parish vision, which is described in Acts 2:42
“They devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles, the communal life, the breaking of the bread and prayer.”
Put another way, we can state this vision as Living Faith, Changing Lives, Making a Difference! As a Catholic community of disciples, our primary focus is not on ourselves but on God and then others. We seek ways through our ministries and activities to serve God in all things and above all things. Sometimes though, we can lose our focus and our priorities can become confused. When that happens, we have to remind ourselves of the vision of who God wants us to be and calls us to be. We are not a country club, school, social service agency, convenience store, restaurant, counselling center, bank, business or cultural organization. While we do indeed have activities that can seem similar to some of the activities of any of the aforementioned, we are different. We are a parish. What distinguishes our activities is our nature, motivation and purpose as a parish. When we are true to our nature and true to our vision, that is when we are our best!
See you on Ash Wednesday! Have a wonderful Mardi Gras and a Holy Lent!
In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately