This Week in Prayer, Service & Community

Dear All:

Christ's Peace!

This week in prayer: 

  • God doesn’t will most wilderness situations but God has a will for every wilderness situation and that will is peace. God’s infinite desire for our authentic peace persists even when our wilderness experiences result from our choices. This Sunday’s readings remind us of that. The passage from Isaiah expresses God’s passionate desire to restore the exiles to peace – despite the fact that their rotten choices delivered them into the wilderness of exile. The Gospel depicts Jesus’ desire for the woman caught in adultery to discover and to dwell in the perfect peace that only He can offer. What wilderness experience of yours (spiritual, relational, social, financial, academic) is making it hard for you to remember that, even now, God desires your peace infinitely more than you do? What loved ones of yours are in a wilderness experience that makes it tough for them to trust that God’s desire for their peace is boundless, regardless of what put them in the wilderness? That remembering is key; it makes us much more receptive to God’s hope and God’s love.
  • It was consoling to see so many people at Tuesday’s penance service. For those who could not make it, remember (a) I will be hearing confessions from 12-1 and then again from 3:30 to 4:25 this Saturdayand (b) you can email me or call the office to set up a confession time throughout Holy Week. Like Hosea says “Don’t let fear keep us apart” – even if it’s been years!
  • Those spending extra time with the bible this lent might want to meditate on Christ’s seven last words (phrases) this Holy Week.

This week in service:

  • Your Points-of-Light projects continue to inspire. With Suzanne Kral’s guidance, parishioners have now made 150 special pillows for veterans who have suffered amputations. Special thanks to the members of the Special Needs Social Club who stuffed pillows at theirFriday gathering.  
  • The Mellott family has created and delivered 150 holiday placemats to the Samaritan Homeless Interim Project (SHIP) in Somerville to brighten the tables of those who will be having Easter dinner at SHIP. Special thanks to the CCD students who colored and decorated the blank placemats.

This week in community:

  • Our first annual “Religious Artifacts Road Show” was, thanks to Carol and John Jorgensen, a rollicking success. So many of the stories attached to the artifacts were magnificent.
  • !!!! COME ONE COME ALL !!!! Friday night is the K of C Fish Fry. The food and company alone make it worth the trip. And you don’t want to miss the Irish step dancing exhibitions.
  • Save the date – Friday April 8, Comedy Night at St. Joe’s.

The next installment of “This Week” will reach you before Palm Sunday. It will be all about the Holy Week readings.  The next regular version of “This Week” will reach you after Easter.

All best blessings.

Fr. Hank SJ

PS – Priests, prophets and kings, remember to pray, read, shine, join, labor and yak. 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community

Dear All:

Christ's Peace.

This week in prayer: 

  • Sunday’s gospel described Jesus in the wilderness, tempted by the devil to live lavishly, to live famously and to live dangerously. Those temptations, which necessarily include tormenting interior deliberations, occurred immediately after Jesus’ peak experience of being baptized in the Jordan and hearing the Father say “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Our spiritual masters tell us that this is to be expected – the dark side loves to assail us immediately after a peak experience. When has that been your story? When have you (a) made a choice that glorified God and lead you and others to peace and then (b) soon thereafter found yourself flailing about in doubt and temptation? Do you know someone who has just taken that timeless tumble from consolation to desolation and needs some support in their wilderness?
  • Thanks to the 102 people who participated in Saturday’s morning of recollection for liturgical ministers. As Bill Gibson put it so well, “the faith was electric”– because of the participants.
  • Several parishioners have reported making a great effort to listen prayerfully to their GoBibles for Lent – and getting bogged down in the books of Leviticus and Numbers. Skip them! Go to the juicy stories of great faith. Right after Deuteronomy comes Joshua, Judges and Ruth. Then comes the high excitement of Samuel and Kings. Persevere!

This week in service:

  • Get this . . . The Blue Storm effort to gather plastic bags has produced a collection of 22,030 bags. That’s right – TWENTY TWO THOUSAND. Go Blue Storm! Hats off to you and the project organizers and managers.
  • The response to the “Point-of-Light” walls has been superb. 97 new projects are in the works. That’s in addition to the 40+ that are already on the way. You are remarkable. And if you haven’t already, take a star!
  • Three cheers/blessings for the 25 St. Joe’s folk who are working with IHN and our brethren at the Dutch Reformed Church to provide housing, food, homework help, toddler play, warm beds and friendship this week for 3 area homeless families with 6 children.
  • Remember to pick up a Catholic Relief Services “Rice Bowl” in the gathering space. Your help makes a big difference to the world’s neediest.

This week in community:

  • Nearly twenty people posted for Financial Peace University. May God poor out extra special blessings on Rich Realbuto and everyone in the program as they do the noble work of answering God’s call to greater peace.
  • The calendar of Spring Fellowship is now posted in the gathering space - mark your calendars early.
  • Be good to yourself if your Sesqui score isn’t quite where you want it…yet. We have five more weeks to up our averages and then another forty days until Pentecost. Chin up as you double down on your efforts to Pray, Read, Shine, Join, Labor and Yak

All best blessings.

Fr. Hank SJ

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community

Dear All:

Christ's Peace.

Special Edition:  The Start of Our CL Year’s Second Part. 

Ash Wednesday marks the start of our Sesqui Year’s second part (of four). This is a good time to consider where we are and where we might go.  The renovated parish website invites you to consider:

The website also provides the new and improved “Affiliate” link that enables you to stay connected to the ministries and groups you value most. Go ahead and check off your connections.

This week in prayer: 

  • Sunday’s readings portrayed Isaiah, St. Paul and St. Peter receiving the same three-part message from God: “I know you mess up from time to time; I love you and I don’t love you less because you mess up; I really hope you will join and help my team.”  God sends the same message to each of us. Sometimes the message comes through loud and clear. Mostly it is barely audible. One inspired response is to try dialing down the mess-ups/sin while dialing up the discipleship. Can you think of one habitual mess-up/sin you might dialing down in the next forty days? How about one habit of discipleship you might dial up? 
  • This year’s “Little Black Prayer Books” for Lent will be available in the Gathering Space this weekend to enrich your prayer this Lent.
  • Calling all members of liturgical ministries! to Mass, some reflection and some food and conversation on Saturday morning. If you haven’t already RSVPd, email Suzanne Kral at skral@stjosephsparish.com

This week in service:

  • Starting Sunday, the gathering space will host the new “150 Point-of-Light Walls.” Think of them as first cousins to the Giving Trees. The walls provide 150 suggestions for your Point-of-Light projects. The ideas are simple and easily done. Take a star and sign the roster so we can proclaim YOUR good news when you complete your project. The Point-of-Light Project is all about us thanking God for all the great things God has been doing for us the last CL years.  What return can we make to the Lord?  “Love kindness” leads the pack of inspired responses. 
  • And the final tally is . . . .ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTY NINE pounds of food delivered to the Franklin Food Bank.  Bravo for the Lew Family for sponsoring the Souper Bowl Food Drive and to the Lazarus Ministry for making the food drive its Point-of-Light Project.
  • Are you financially stressed or know someone who is?  You still have time to sign up for Financial Peace University, the nationally acclaimed course, taught right here at St. Joe’s by Rich Realbuto.

This week in community:

  • The calendar for the winter/spring Fellowship Programs has now been finalized.  It offers some extremely . . . noteworthy . . . events.

I hope your observances of Mardi Gras were sufficiently festive and your reception of ashes sufficiently reflective.   

All best blessings.

Fr. Hank SJ

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community (Jan 21, 2016)

Dear All -

Christ's Peace to you this week. Lot’s of incredible stuff going on in our parish this week!

This week in prayer:

  • In Sunday’s gospel about the wedding feast at Cana, we encountered a Christ who is at once compassionate (He cares about the difficulty), creative (He solves it in a very unexpected way) and cooperative (He enlists the help of many people).. Which of those aspects of Christ’s human nature is most worthy of your consideration these days?
  • Due to popular demand, plan’s for this Lent’s prayer camp have changed. The evening Masses and talks will take place on Wednesday nights rather than on Mondays. 
  • Several parents, independent of one another, have expressed a desire to pray for their children who are going through a rough time. It now seems likely that the prayer group will form in the third week in Lent and will meet once or twice a month. It will use a very simple method of petitionary prayer and will adhere to very strict rules about confidentiality. If you are interested in joining this group, please email me directly at fhilton@loyola.edu and put “Parents Prayer Group” in the subject line.

This week in service:

  • Several new Points-of-Light service projects launched this week. Noteworthy among them is the Kral family’s project to supply “pressure pillows” to veterans who have lost limbs. Please click here to learn the very simple steps you can take to help the church supply 150 of these pillows to veterans who have lost limbs. Contact Suzanne Kral for more information.
  • Hooray for the regular members of the 6 pm Sunday congregation. Their response to the ministerial help-wanted ads was particularly strong. Regulars at the other Mass times still have time to figure out the best ways to help enrich our shared liturgical experience – as servers, lectors, ushers, sacristans, Eucharistic ministers, musicians, singers or projectionists.  
  • Help is on the way for those who still need help formulating their Point-of-Light projects. A specific list of suggestions will be coming soon to the church website.
  • GREAT thanks to our Religious Education volunteers. There are scores of them and they are dedicated and tireless. We are all in their debt.

This week in community:

  • Only nine days are left until The K of C Pasta dinner. It is a terrific opportunity for parishioners of all ages to rub elbows without having to wash dishes. And Yes, a half dozen “Heads Up” games will be in circulation. The food will be excellent. So will the Heads Up entertainment! 
  • By this time next week (or maybe the week after), the parish website will provide a very user-friendly way for you to officially affiliate with each parish group (ministry, Mass time, affinity group, Once you have completed the very short affiliation process, you will be very much in touch with each group.

I’m hoping the snow provides you with just the right amount of disruption – the kind of disruption that yields more fun and free time than back ache and burden.

All best blessings.

Fr. Hank SJ

Lord Jesus Christ, Living Son of the living God, Help me to know what You want and to want what You want.
— St. Joseph Parish Community

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community (Jan 13, 2016)

Dear All -

Christ's Peace to you this week. Today's note is a bit longer than usual - a testament to all the wonderful things going on in our parish community. 

This week in prayer:

  • From this Sunday’s readings for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Isaiah 42, Titus and Luke) -- The call to be merciful is easily misconstrued as a call to be a wimp who blesses wrongs. Not true. As Christians, we are always called to pursue “the victory of justice.” A just situation is one that aligns with God’s hopes. Hence, we try to make our worlds the way God wants them to be. In pursuing justice, we practice mercy (kindness to the troubled and to the trouble makers). In what circumstance do you need to recall that is exactly what you are doing, even though you might be exasperated? In what circumstance are you trying to right a wrong and be kind in the process?
  • Once again, what relationships or circumstances most incline you to pray our parish prayer for help to be merciful.
God, help me to bless the troublemakers, the pains in the neck and the real heartbreakers. And help me to help the truly troubled, that their woes may be halved though mine might be doubled.
— Mercy Prayer, St. Joseph Parish Community


  • Thanks to Bob Vornlocker for organizing the distribution of the 200 “GoBibles.” May we use them well to expand our exposure to God’s Word.
  • Prayer Camp will take place on Monday evenings in Lent. Looks like it will be Mass at 7pm followed by an hour of input about prayer – others and yours. Details to follow.

This week in service:

  • The countdown is on for our Souper Bowl Food Drive. Details to follow but the process is simple – bring canned foods to church on Super Bowl Sunday…and wear your favorite team’s colors (as long as they are green and gold).** 
  • Giant “Help Wanted” ads for Liturgical Ministers will make their debut this week in the gathering space. Every Mass needs additional liturgical ministers. No experience necessary. Notice the needs. Make up your mind. Fill in the form. Put it in the box. Complete the training. Serve your community. Be happy. Glorify God.
  • Are financial worries keeping you or people in your life from experiencing God’s peace in a more profound way? If financial pressures are distressing you or someone in your life, consider Financial Peace University (FPU). We are greatly blessed to have Rich Realbuto offer the tried-and-true FPU for his “Point-of-Light” service project. Stay tuned for details.
  • Lent starts four weeks from today. (True.) Pretty much every person in church wants to have her or his Point-of-Light project on her or his drawing board by Ash Wednesday.

This week in community 

  • Thanks to members of the Lazarus ministry. They worked extra overtime throughout December, and always with amazing grace. This is their first week off in ages.
  • The list of fellowship events is almost ready to post. Keep an eye out for it in the gathering space. Mark your calendars for Comedy Night on April 15.  Pay the IRS then laugh.
  • Mark your calendar for the Knights of Columbus pasta night on January 29 – the first pasta cooked on their magnificent new kitchen equipment. Go Knights. And what’s this we hear about a high-stakes “Heads Up” competition? Eaters and players of all ages strongly encouraged to smell the toast and taste the meatballs.
  • Dance Dance Dance! If you like to dance or want to learn REAL dancing, fill out the form in the gathering space.

Hoping that this week’s dose of winter feels ok to you.

All best blessings.

Fr. Hank SJ

**Editor's note: Feel free to wear YOUR favorite team's colors, especially if you like the winning colors blue and red. 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community (Jan 7, 2016)

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Dear All –

Christ’s Peace;

This week in prayer: 

  • From this Sunday’s readings – This Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, only the third Extraordinary Jubilee in church history, calls us to be kind to the troubled and kind to the troublemakers.  Sunday’s passage from Isaiah and the story of the Magi express the same call.  Who have been the instruments of God’s mercy toward you when you were (a) troubled and (b) a troublemaker?  What aspect of their mercy makes you most grateful?
  • What relationships or circumstances most incline you to pray our parish prayer for help to be merciful:

    God, help me to bless the troublemakers,
    The pains in the neck and the real heartbreakers.
    And help me to help the truly troubled,
    That their woes may be halved though mine might be doubled.

This week in service:

  • Current and new members of all liturgical ministries – our Morning of Recollection will be Saturday, February 13, starting with Mass at 8:30.  The morning will consist of coffee, one retreat talk, a bit of time for quiet reflection, time to meet with other members of your ministry, and lunch.  All are most welcome – even if you are only contemplating joining a ministry and could use a retreat morning.  Please sign up through your ministry coordinator. 
  • The needs for ministers of all sorts and for all Masses will be posted in the gathering space starting next week.  Both new and returning ministers are energetically encouraged.
  • The dedicated ladies of our chapter of Colombiettes have completed their latest Point of Light Project – a donation of 50 pairs of pajamas to the Resource Center of Somerset.  The Pajama Drive is just one more of their Points of Light.  Their list also includes the donation of backpacks with school supplies for needy students and the donation of bags of toiletries for clients at homeless shelters.  The Colombiettes shine an impressive light.

This week in community

  • Thanks to Jay K for cleaning up the long-neglected water garden at the north end of the parish center.  It is a whole new garden.
  • Thanks to all the counters who had an all-hands-on-deck day on 12/28 to count the Christmas collection.  Your help is invaluable.
  • Thanks to all members of the Buildings and Grounds Committee (Dave M., Jo-Ann D, Kevin B, Al G, Joe B, Dan G, Christophe B, (and staff members Monica and Brian) for their remarkable effort.  The fruits of your labor surround us  - -  and help us to make the most of every dime contributed to the parish.
  • The menu of Spring fellowship events is almost ready for prime time.  Keep an eye out for it in the gathering space.

Hoping that your return to routine was consoling – and with all best blessings.

Fr. Hank SJ

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community (Dec 31, 2015)

Dear All –

Happy Feast of Mary the Mother of God and Happy New Year.

Happy Feast of the Epiphany.

May 2016 be full of the peace that only Christ can provide.

This week in prayer: 

  • From the Christmas (midnight) readings – Of Isaiah’s four descriptions of the Messiah, which best describes the way you most want to experience Christ in a more profound way, as Wonderful Counselor,God HeroFather Forever, or Prince of Peace?
  • From the readings for the Feast of the Holy Family – Do you encourage your family members to take the alone time they need to experience the peace that only Christ can provide? Are you willing to take the time you need to do so?
  • We will start our parish observance of The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy this weekend. Please enter church through the Doors of Mercy at the north end of the Memorial Hallway. 
  • How about if we think of “mercy” as the practice of being kind to the troubled AND to the troublemakers?

This week in service:

  • The Parish residents of Holcomb Court, and their Holcomb Court neighbors, have completed their Point-of-Light project, an end-to-end clean up of Amsterdam Drive. Notice the impressive lack of rubbish all along the thoroughfare. Well done Holcomb Courters. That’s a terrific gift to the community to honor our CL.
  • Keep thinking about the ministries that need help at your regular Mass and how you might enrich their efforts. More on that in January.
  • Current and new members of all liturgical ministries – it seems most probable that our morning or recollection will be Saturday February 13. More on that in January

This week in community

  • Thanks to the dozens of parishioners who went above and beyond to make our celebration of Christmas such a good one – musicians, singers, lectors, servers, ushers, decorators and plant folk, and the many I am surely forgetting. Your generosity is an inspiration.
  • Thanks to Pete H., Nick C., Ben L. and Curt E. for getting the Door of Mercy ready for its grand opening. Your work is a gift to the parish and to the pilgrims who will visit.
  • Thanks to Jo-Ann Delasko for coordinating the many Church Improvement Projects that are either already completed or in the planning stages.
  • Parish Fellowship prospects now include Karaoke, a Robot competition, Comedy Night and Irish Step Dancing. Also, folks who (a) are old enough to remember Ike and (b) like to dance – stay tuned.

All best blessings for 2016.

Fr. Hank SJ

Thanksgiving

Dear All,

Count on a prayer for God’s blessings on your Thanksgiving celebrations.  I’m praying that God will:

Supply great fun and peace to every gathering that includes one of you;

Treat you with extra kindness if your table is missing a loved one this year;

Jumpstart your awareness of how many people are grateful for you;

Overwhelm you with the truth that Jesus had you in mind when he said

     “Father, they are your gift to me” (John 17: 24);

Convince you anew that your connection to Christ is the greatest of all gifts;

Let you chillax plenty and savor the chillaxing.

Best blessings

Fr. Hank