Thursday, September 8, 2016

Relics of JPII and St. Faustina

John Paul II and Faustina Relic Veneration

On October 14-15 our parishes have a unique opportunity to venerate the relics of John Paul II and St. Faustina.  Please join us for any of the below times.  

Friday, October 14th
11:00 AM – Relics available for veneration
12:15 PM – Daily Mass
1:00 PM – Relics available for veneration
1:30-2:30 – School students’ veneration
3:15 PM– Divine Mercy Hour (School families are encouraged to come)
4:15 PM– Relics available for veneration
5:30 PM– Vietnamese Community Divine Mercy
7:00 PM– Hispanic Community Veneration
9:00 PM – Close the Church

Saturday, October 15th
9:00 AM – Mass
9:30 AM – 4:00 PM– Relics Available for Veneration confessions available 
2:30 PM - Reflection on Divine Mercy
3:00 PM – Divine Mercy Hour

4:00 PM – Replace Relics

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Seeing God in Uganda and Rom

Hello family in Christ!

It is so good to be back home with you. This last month I have been blessed with two awesome international adventures. I want to share a few of my experiences with you in regards to the mission in Uganda and on pilgrimage in Rome.

#1) God is doing big things in Uganda.

My primary task in Uganda was helping train and support a new generation of youth leaders and empower teens from villages in the Masaka region. The average age in Uganda is 15 years old. This is huge because it means if you can impact the young people in this country with the knowledge of God’s calling and power in them then you can change the course of their entire country (and I believe the entire world).

One of the individuals I met was 21-year-old Moses. When he was 17 he heard a call from God to work to awaken the fire of God in his peers. I participated in one event he ran in a rural parish. Many youth walked from well over an hour away to attend this full day of worship and teaching. The youth were hungry for the word of God. They worshiped with all their heart. I yearn for that kind of passion in our own church here in Everett.

We saw this everywhere we went. Whether it was when I was preaching to 1,500 of the top students in the country or speaking with just to 15 teens in a small group, the young people have full faith in God’s role in their life and belief in His big plans for the future. You can hear it in how they pray. In how the Christians carry themselves and speak in love to their non-Christian neighbors. The Church in Uganda is a Holy Spirit filled example for the rest of the world.

#2) God is about to do even bigger things in Uganda (and we get to be a partner).

The young people I worked with, no matter the village or town, all have big plans. We talked a lot about taking dreams to action. They had big dreams; to be a doctor or a lawyer so they could assist others, to learn the construction trade so they could hire other young people, to become a priest, to open an orphanage and school in their home village.

The catch is these same youth have challenges, many related to living in a rural region with a depressed economy, but they are not going to let that stop they from doing what they are called to. They have come up with numerous projects to collectively generate together the funds they need to take their dreams to action. All they need is the start up capital to make this happen.

I will be working with our teens to make that happen; the young people here in Everett partnering with the young people in Uganda.

The diocese, and in particular one pastor who oversees 24 parishes, sees the call of Christ to reach the scores of youth and young adults in the area (Matthew 18:5) and support professional youth ministers in Uganda. During my time there I worked alongside and helped continue to train a number of the volunteers who minister to youth in Masaka Diocese. Two of them in particular, Ronald and Francis, have been chosen as part of a pilot program in which ProjectYM, youth ministers in the U.S. (such as myself), and American parishes (like IC/OLPH) team up to fund a sustainable youth ministry program including a living wage for the minister while supplying continued training and support. This is a model that I believe represents the universality of the church and the call to support one another as a continuous church family. Please pray for Ronald and Francis! You will hear more in the future about our parish’s role in the program.

#3) God loves his church.

In Rome and Assisi we witnessed many wonders of the church. No, I’m not talking about the beautiful structures like St. Peter’s Basilica or the Sistine Chapel, I’m referring to the lives of the saints and the way God worked in their lives.

Our first stop was in Assisi, the home of St. Francis (namesake of Pope Francis) and St. Claire. Francis was the son of a wealthy merchant whose life changed when he heard the crucifix of the San Damiano chapel speak to him and say, “Francis, rebuild my church.” He radically cast off his wealth and birthright in order to experience the love and power of God through radical poverty and service. His spirituality of service to the poor and reliance to the will and providence of God led to rebirth of the faith in thirteenth century Italy and spread throughout the world via the Franciscan movement. Claire was the daughter of aristocrats who gave up a life in the highest layer of society to not only serve God but to radically expand the way in which women shared their gifts with the church and the world. Her faith and love of God was earth shattering, as demonstrated by many miracles, including incorruptibility, and my personal favorite in which her presence, boldly carrying a Eucharistic monstrance, was so profound it stopped and turned around an army of Saracens at the city gates who decided they would rather take their chances in a different city.

At so many churches we were able to celebrate mass or pray at the remains of great saints. Whether it was St. John Paul II, St. Phillip Neri, St. Monica, or Sts. Peter and Paul themselves, it is an immense blessing and a powerful experience to reflect on how Christ has transformed and used these individuals in His plan and ask for their intercession that that same power descends on us.

This is one of the great graces of pilgrimage.

We also learned of the immense was God has protected and guided his church. It is evident by the events of the last two millennia the role of the Holy Spirit as our head and guide.

#4) The history and legacy of our church are great.

Not only did we witness the spiritual legacy of the church, but the physical and historic legacy were also something one must see to believe.

St. Peter’s Basilica is a structure that aims to call one into the transcendent beauty of our Lord. St. John Lateran brings to life the feats and struggles of the Apostles. The ceilings of The Gesu and St. Ignatius, two Jesuit churches, were mind bending. The catacombs under the city tell the story of a people of full faith who lived for the resurrection of Christ.

Beauty is often the forgotten transcendental, but the art of the Catholic church refutes that. Not just in the amount, the scale, or the scope, but in the continued pursuit of better and better trying to join with God’s creator nature. The development of news styles and technique through the centuries is apparent, and it was Christians in the churches who were making these great strides. Not only that though, through our fantastic guide, Dr. Elizabeth Lev of the Angelicum, we learned about the way brilliant theology was depicted in countless layers and artistic depth that all the guidebooks and art courses completely miss.

We witnessed the places where the martyrs changed the course of the world such as the
transformation of ancient Rome or the ending of the gruesome gladiator games.

The work of the church to shape the world for good is incredibly evident, from seeing the Vatican astronomical center (where among other science the observations that led to the Gregorian calendar occurred) and walking through the some of the numerous catacomb and convent halls that were used to hide Jews during World War II.

Thank you to all that helped make these journeys for our parishioners and I possible!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Meet the Staff: Tony Guidotti

Tony Guidotti joined the Immaculate Conception/Our Lady of Perpetual Help team in February 2015, where he currently serves as Director of Youth Ministry.  Tony is the oldest of two and was born and raised in Rosemount, Minnesota. His life changed drastically when in the summer of 2009 he heard God call him to the Catholic church, a huge change from the life he had been living. Over the next few years he built his relationship with God learning of God's providence and love for him, eventually receiving the sacraments at the St. Paul Cathedral Easter Vigil in 2011. 

Tony is a 2013 graduate of the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota triple majoring in economics, international studies, and justice & peace studies. He has a passion for humanitarian and social justice issues which is deeply related to his expression of faith and call to missions work. While in college he led mission trips for his peers within the United States and spent a summer as a missionary outside Detroit, Michigan. Upon graduation from University he did 11 months of missions work, traveling to and working in a different country each month of the year.

Some fun facts about Tony are that he used to want to be a professional wrestler, was at a time a nationally ranked player at the table top strategy game Warhammer 40,000, and is currently writing a novel within the literary magical realism genera. He does not have any pets and is firm in his resolve that "Muppet Treasure Island" is the greatest musical film of all time

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Easter Vigil

In one of the most beautiful liturgies of the year, we welcomed 18 newly baptized into our parishes.  The evening began at 8:15pm at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in complete darkness as the Easter Fire was lit outside.  Fr. Hersey, Deacon Dennis, the Elect and their godparents gathered around the fire with the Easter Candle.  The beauty of night had fallen as Fr. Hersey began the prayer over the Easter Candle. Soon he lit it for the first time and then passed that light to the Elect’s candles.  As Deacon Dennis processed in with the Easter Candle, the Elect followed lighting all the other parishioners’ candles with their light. What a beautiful ritual! The Elect sharing their light with all the people that will be supporting them now that they are new members of our Church!
Soon we all sit down to hear salvation history in the dark of the night. After the last reading, the lights flick on and the Gloria is proclaimed loudly! After the Gospel reading, the sacraments of baptism and confirmation take place. The change in the Elect is evident even from where I sit. I can see the utter joy on their faces and their souls coming to peace at the new entrance into our Church.
After confirmation, the Liturgy of the Eucharist begins. The newly baptized and confirmed get to join us at the table of the Lord for the first time after their years of preparation.  Their faces are serene as they walk back to their seats and meditate on their newly deepened bond with Christ.
If you have never been to Easter Vigil, I highly recommend it.  Yes, it is much longer than a regular Sunday Mass but you will not notice that until you get into your car. As you are participating in the Liturgy, you will be so drawn into what is happening in front of you that the question of time escapes your mind!

I pray the peace of this Easter season draws you in closer to our Lord that is always waiting for us with open, loving arms!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Holy Week/ Easter Schedule

Wednesday – March 23
-          Mass 7:00 PM – Immaculate Conception
-          Tenebrae 7:45 PM – Immaculate Conception
Holy Thursday – Mass of the Lord’s Passion
-          6:00 PM – English– Our Lady of Perpetual Help
-          7:00 PM – Spanish – Immaculate Conception
-          7:30 PM – Vietnamese – Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Altar of Repose available in Mattie and Hensen Halls
Good Friday
-          2:30 – Stations of the Cross – Our Lady of Perpetual Help
-          6:00 PM – English – Our Lady of Perpetual Help
-          7:00 PM – Spanish – Immaculate Conception
-          7:30 PM – Vietnamese – Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Holy Saturday – Easter Vigil
-           8:15 PM– English/ Vietnamese – Our Lady of Perpetual Help
-          8:15 PM – Spanish – Immaculate Conception
Easter Sunday
-          8:30 AM – Our Lady of Perpetual Help
-          10:00 AM – Immaculate Conception
-          11:30 AM – Our Lady of Perpetual Help
-          1:00 PM – Spanish – Immaculate Conception

-          2:30 PM – Vietnamese – Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Monday, March 7, 2016

Faith formation encompasses every age in our journey towards getting to know Christ.  I have the privilege at Immaculate Conception/Our Lady of Perpetual Help to walk that journey with the elementary faith formation program and the adults in Journey with Jesus and RCIA.  When I started in the position of Director of Religious Education almost 5 years ago, I had no idea the amazing stories I would hear or how I would feel at Easter Vigil or First Communion watching people get the grace of the Holy Spirit through the Sacraments.  Every day I thank God for the volunteers I have worked with throughout my years here at IC/OLPH. I am grateful for the families that have allowed me to catechize their children.  I am grateful for the adults that have joined the programming I have setup for them after much discussion and prayer. Throughout my contribution to the blog, I will be discussing the many joys of the faith formation program so that you can see the fruits that the Holy Spirit is bringing to our parish families. 

We have our Lenten Mission coming up March 14-16 with the sisters from the Apostles of the Interior Life. Please join us for the presentation at 7:00pm in Our Lady of Perpetual Help March 14-16.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Prodigal Son

The parable of the Prodigal Son is one of the most tender images that Jesus uses to describe the compassion of the Father.  The message Jesus is trying to convey is the Divine Love that the Father has for those who repent and return to Him with their whole heart.  It may seem to us at times that the Father’s love precludes justice with regard to the serious turning away that the young son committed.  It’s at times easier to identify with the older son in bringing a complaint against the Father for His overwhelming generosity.  But Jesus is adamant about His message, and does not back down from extending hope to those who have fallen away.  Let us ask Jesus to open our hearts to be able to grasp the extraordinary mercy Jesus brings to us, and to be converted in heart to share in the mission of Jesus to bring that wonderful mercy to all those we meet.