This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - September 21, 2018


This Week – September 21, 2018

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace.

Happy Feast of Saint Matthew. His story reminds us that God can help every one of us to overcome whatever it is that keeps us from listening generously to God. Ephphatha!

Unexpected conversations this week reminded me how blessed we are to have the neighbors we have. Some congregations and pastors face tough neighborhood situations. Not us. The homeowners on Yorktown, VanDoren, and Colonial look out for us and react with great kindness when our big events generate extra noise or traffic.

They only ask one favor and they ask it sincerely – SLOW DOWN. Almost all of us are courteous that way. We only have a few dangerous drivers, and most are repeat offenders! Remember, Jesus will still be in the Blessed Sacrament even if you are a few minutes late. Our neighbors have young children and they are right to be concerned about reckless drivers. Given how good they are to us, we want to take every opportunity to be good in return. Thanks for your consideration.


  • Confirmation Date Set! Bishop Checchio just let us know that he will come to celebrate Confirmations on Thursday, April 4. Thanks to the bishop and his staff for finalizing the date seven months in advance. The great lead time surely helps families to plan accordingly.

  • Blessing of the Animals – In honor of Saint Francis’ feast day, I will bless your animals on Saturday, October 6, just after the 8:35 Mass – call it 9:15. Please be sure to bring your four-legged animals on fixed length leashes. Animals of every (non-man-eating) species are welcome. 

  • Our Bishop’s Next Visit – Bishop Checchio will be here to celebrate the 9:30 Mass on Sunday, October 7. As always, it will be a great blessing to pray with our bishop 

  • Taize Prayer (Pr: “TAY-zay”) – Mark your calendar – for 7:30 pm on Sunday, October 7. The Diocesan Festival Choir is coming back to St. Joe’s to lead us in an evening of Taize prayer – a beautiful form of simple, consoling, sung prayer. Given this moment in our church history, the songs will be prayers of lament, healing, and hope. It’s probably best if we encourage youngsters to pray in other ways that night. Stadium food will be available between the 6 pm Mass and the concert.

  • Attention All Christian Ladies! – Walking with Purpose – our very highly praised bible study for women – is gearing up for its 4th year and will be offering two studies (Keeping in Balance AND Opening Your Heart) and twomeeting times (Monday evenings AND Tuesday mornings).  Learn more and sign up at the pink and green tables in the gathering space this weekend.

  • Sunday’s Homily – “Ephphatha, Part 3: “ . . . and I have not turned back.”

    • To listen to Sunday's homily, click here.  (Good news, last week's homily recording was recovered! Listen to Ephphatha Parts 2 & 3!)

    • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.


  • Becca’s Friends – “Becca's Friends” – our parish ministry that serves parishioners with special needs who are 18 or older – is five years old and going very strong. It now provides monthly gatherings, recreation and service projects for parishioners, their friends, and people living in nearby group homes. The ministry has attracted a most remarkable collection of volunteers, including members of the James Lew family who provided a "painting party" on Friday, Sept. 7th. Upcoming events include the annual campfire and sing along (Friday, 9/21), the Halloween Dance Party with DJ Count Graham (Friday, 10/26), a Thanksgiving Dinner for family members (Saturday, 11/10), and the Christmas/ Holiday Dance Party, also with DJ Count Graham (Friday, December 14). Please spread the word to your friends with special needs. Learn more from Dahlia Wong (, Janet Pescinski ( or Kathy Abuschinow ( 

  • VIRTUS Training – Thanks to all who have completed the training and associated processes. The more parishioners who complete the process, the better off we all are. Members of every ministry that involves minors and vulnerable adults must be Virtus trained. We sometimes need Virtus trained people who can occasionally sub in various programs. Even if you are not currently sure how Virtus training might enable you to serve, please consider the training. It only takes a few hours. The next sessions will be offered next week – on Monday, 9/24 at 6:30pm and Tuesday, 9/25 at 12:30pm. Click here to register.

  • Help the Unborn – Technological advances have enabled babies to live outside the womb at 5 months gestation. The world will be better off if legislators are reminded of these advances and of the need to protect unborn children who can survive outside the womb. Please consider joining the postcard campaign to remind our legislators. Learn more in the Gathering Space the weekend of October 6/7.


  • Family Bingo Night – Could Family Bingo Night be as enjoyable as the Parish Picnic? Come and find out! Bring your family members of all ages. And if you don’t have family in the area, bring friends of any age to Family Bingo Night on Friday, October 5. The bingo, along with the food and the prizes, will make Bingo Night, once again, a great night for all.

  • Finance Council – As we are greatly blessed to have a very dedicated Parish Council, we are also greatly blessed to have a first-rate finance council. Like the Parish Council, the Finance Council consists of at-large members and committee chairs. The at-large members (and their probable year of term-completion) are Chair Beth Martello (2019), Jim Paterno (2019), Brenda DelMasetro (2020) and Mike Seelig (2020). The Council currently needs two people to fill three-year terms that end on June 1, 2021. The Committee Chairs are Phil Zuccarello, (Audit), Dan Galati (Budget), Dave Mendez (Buildings and Grounds), John Jorgensen (Human Relations) and Eric Kainer (Revenue).

  • Mortgage Payoff – Greatest thanks to all who have enabled the parish to pay off its mortgage well ahead of schedule. The last batch of pink envelopes, the debt-reduction envelopes, has gone out. Those who have contributed electronically will soon receive instructions for terminating their electronic debt reduction payments. Stay tuned for more specifics. We are within about eight weeks of finishing our mortgage payments. God is good and so are you!

With blessings for each parishioner – and special greetings to our college students who are reading this on campus!

Fr Hank

Summary of September 16 Homily:
Ephphatha, Part Three: “ . . . and I have not turned back.”

Some days we get it right – very, very right. Some days we are truly available to God’s voice as it comes to us through the scripture, through our Catholic tradition, through our experiences of prayer and sacrament, and through our experiences of the world around us. Sunday’s scriptures remind us that God wants us to notice when we get it right, learn from the successes, and repeat them.

Sunday’s first reading (Isaiah 50) is one of the four “Suffering Servant Songs” in Isaiah. It begins with the servant’s claim that “The Lord GOD opens my ear that I may hear, and I have not rebelled, have not turned back.” The passage lets us know that attention to God’s voice sometimes leads to great difficulties and sometimes to great consolation – and that what matters most is the listening itself. The passage also encourages us to, like the servant, acknowledge those moments when we have listened, when the Lord has said “Ephphatha” and we have effectively said, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” And we have then been, as Saint James says “Doers of the word.” Go ahead. Notice your successes and let those successes breed confidence in your life as an apostle.

Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 8) describes a moment when Saint Peter gets it very right, when he truly listens to Jesus and the Father. When Jesus asks him “who do YOU say that I am?” Peter replies “You are the Christ.” That is a world-changing statement. In Matthew’s version of the story, Jesus tells Peter that it is a statement he can make only because he (Peter) has listened to God. “Flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” Jesus seems quite pleased with Peter’s response and with the attentive listening that produced it. However, the verses immediately following this passage remind us that Peter’s successes do not immunize him from failure. Immediately after providing evidence that he listens well, he shows that he sometimes refuses to listen to God. But when Peter gets it right, Jesus wants him to know it, to relish the moment, to contemplate the success and let it breed more of the confidence he will urgently need.

What about you? You have many moments when you strive sincerely to know what God wants, to want what God wants and to do what God wants. On not-so-great days, each of us falters in our efforts to listen to God. But we have loads of good days, when we truly listen to God, when we truly let our scripture and our tradition determine our choices. Sometimes the listening leads us to lovely results and sometimes to difficulties, but the listening is what matters most. Jesus has effectively put his fingers in your ears and said “Ephphatha” and you have said “Yes.” Name three times when that has been your story – when you have been a doer of the word you have heard in the scripture, in our tradition, or in your prayer (private or shared prayer). Perhaps the listening added extra duties to your life. Perhaps it added extra peace. What matters most is that you listened sincerely.