A word from Pope Francis ~ “To be saints is not a privilege for the few, but a vocation for everyone.”
This is a full weekend. Besides our celebration of the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time and the first weekend in February, we have Sunday evening’s Super Bowl LV game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Even though our hometown Bears ended their season with their defeat in the first round of the playoff games, many of us will find ourselves gathering in small groups of family and friends for the traditional Super Bowl parties. COVID-19 may reduce the size of the parties, but not dampen the spirit of our middle of winter gatherings.
With Ash Wednesday coming on February 17th, our Kick-Off date of the 2021 Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal is taking place this weekend at all Masses. Commitment Weekend will take place next weekend. The 2021 CMAA theme is, “Shining the Light of Christ.” Bishop Hicks will be sharing an important message with us next weekend during the homily. Our parish goal for the 2021 CMAA is $167,300. The diocesan goal for the Appeal is $8.2 million. All registered parishioners should have received the 2021 mailing from Bishop Hicks. If you have not responded to his request, please mail your completed pledge form anticipating next weekend’s Commitment Sunday.
Our 2021 celebration of Catholic Schools Week got off to an excellent start last Sunday. We have a long and proud history of Catholic education here at our parish. Even though we had a heavy snow storm over the weekend, the St. Isidore Catholic School community did a wonderful job in providing the lectors for last Sunday’s 10:00am Mass. It was great to have our young people proclaim God’s Word at Mass and serve the parish in this liturgical ministry. Our principal, Mrs. Corie Alimento extended a genuine thank you to the parish community for our support of the school. On Monday we had the chance to welcome back former principals Mary Anne Shine and Sandy Renehan. They shared some special memories of their time with us which will be a part of our virtual parish Centennial Gala, “There’s No Place like Home” on February 20th. On Thursday’s Vocation Day, I had the chance to visit both 5th and 7th grade and share some of my vocation story. Other parish staff members visited other classes and shared their story of service at our parish. All of the different celebrations concluded on Friday. Thank you to all who helped make these various celebrations so memorable. It was a good week to celebrate our mission of passing on our faith tradition from one generation to the next.
When I celebrated the Grade School Mass last Wednesday, I had the chance to thank the men and women who serve on our Grade School faculty and staff. It was interesting to tally the combined years of service given to the St. Isidore parish community by our school faculty and staff – 254 years of service in Catholic education at our school and a total of 557 years of service in education overall. This is an astounding number of years of service to our parish through our school, especially when we remember that our country will be 245 years old this July! We offer our prayers and thanks for our teachers, administrators, staff and all who share in the ministry of Catholic education.
Ash Wednesday is only ten days away. As expected, the COVID-19 restrictions apply to our Ash Wednesday Masses and schedule of prayer services. Face masks and social distancing remain the norm during this time of the pandemic. We received specific instructions from the Bishop for the distribution of ashes this year. Instead of applying ashes in the form of a cross on the forehead, a pinch of ashes will be sprinkled over the crown of the head of each person. The “contactless distribution” is intended for the protection and safety of both the minister and the person receiving the ashes. Reservations will be required for each of our Masses and prayer services, as well as the usual sanitizing of the church following each event. By following all of these steps makes it possible for us to be certified for in-person prayer in our church. Reservations for each of our Ash Wednesday services will open next Wednesday, February 10th at noon. Masses will be celebrated at 6:30am, 8:15am with the Grade School community (no reservations available), noon and 7:30pm in Spanish. Each of our Masses will be live streamed for those unable to join us in-person. Scripture Services including the distribution of ashes will be held at 3:30pm, 5:00pm and 6:30pm. I thank you in advance for your understanding, patience and cooperation as we continue to provide a safe environment for us to gather for in-person prayer.
We will have the Little Black Books for your Lenten prayer available this weekend. This year’s edition gives us six-minute meditations on the Sunday Gospels of Lent, Cycle B. They are a great way to spend some quiet time with the Lord. They are available for a $2 donation.
All are invited to take part in our Centennial Virtual Gala called “There’s No Place Like Home” on Saturday, February 20th. It begins with 5pm Mass and continues with a full one-hour program. We were hoping to make this annual Dinner Dance the centerpiece of our parish Centennial celebration, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed those plans. This event benefits our school. Grand Raffle tickets for the $10,000 grand prize are now available at the parish and school websites.
We have received dates for our spring celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation for our parish. We will need to have three individual celebrations to allow for social distancing and personal safety. The Sacrament of Confirmation will be celebrated at Saint Isidore on Friday, May 7th at 7:00pm, and Saturday, May 8th at 10:00am and 1:00pm. Thank you to our Connect Youth Ministry staff and Adult Faith Formation staff for overseeing our Confirmation program. Classes for Adult Confirmation will meet on Thursday evenings, 7:00pm, beginning on February 25th. Please contact Leonor at the parish office for additional information and to register.
Happy Chinese New Year to our parishioners of Asian descent. The Year of the Ox begins this Friday, February 12th.
Please see our weekly bulletin posted on the parish website for additional news, the additional notices posted on Flocknote and other notices on our parish Facebook page. We try to use as many social media vehicles as possible to keep everyone up-to-date with all that is happening here. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Fr. Jim Murphy