Happy Independence Day! We give thanks to God for our country and for the liberty He has bestowed upon us. As Catholics, we strive to be good citizens, committed to acknowledging that “all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are the right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” As the son of immigrants, I am most grateful for the freedom and opportunity offered in our nation.
Yet, we also know that our true country, our true homeland, is in heaven. Today’s Gospel recounts the famous line: “Nemo propheta in patria” – no prophet is accepted in his own country, by his own people. This was certainly the case with Jesus. (cf Mk 6:4). After Jesus left Nazareth to begin His public ministry and had worked many miracles, He returned to His birthplace and taught in the synagogue. His fellow citizens “were astonished” by his wisdom.
But instead of welcoming him with faith, they were shocked and took offense. Familiarity, at the human level, makes it hard for them to be open to the divine dimension. Unlike the figures of last week’s Gospel, it is hard for them to believe that the son of Mary and Joseph, the carpenter, is really the Son of Man. Jesus takes as an example the experience of the prophets of Israel, who in their own homeland were an object of contempt, and identifies himself with them. Due to their spiritual closure, Jesus “could do no mighty work there,” laying hands upon only a few sick people and curing them (Mk 6:5).
At the end of the Gospel, Jesus “marveled because of their unbelief” (Mk 6:6). Even Jesus is shocked! Although He knows that no prophet is accepted in His homeland, the closed heart of his people was, nevertheless, confounding: how could they fail to recognize the light of the Truth? Why did they not open themselves to the goodness of God who deigned to share in our humanity?
We too ask similar questions in our country where faith, belief in Jesus, and religious practice appear to be waning. Perhaps, bringing Jesus to others and being signs of His love are the greatest contribution we as Catholics can make to our country. Christ makes all things new. Let us pray, therefore, for a renewal of our country’s core values.
Our New Parochial Vicar: Speaking of new things, on behalf of our entire parish, I want to welcome our new priest, Father Christian Cone-Lombarte, who begins as the parochial vicar. We will have a special reception for him following the 10:15am Mass next Sunday in Loyola Hall. He has been serving as parochial vicar in the Fort Recovery Cluster in the northern part of the Archdiocese. Please make him feel at home. His arrival allows us to restore weekday Mass at 9:15am, Tuesday through Saturday. His arrival also allows me to do something “new,” namely take vacation. I will be away from the parish following Sunday Masses through July 10th. Go easy on the new guy!
Our New Pastoral Council Members: I also want to welcome new members to our parish Pastoral Council. Kris Schoettmer, Jeremy Menner, and Brian Schmutte will begin their terms this month. Michelle Kroeger will be the new Chair of the Pastoral Council and Carol Pieper will be the Vice-Chair. Parish Council members are listed on the back of the bulletin. They are my “eyes and ears” to hear your voice. Please bring your ideas and concerns to them, especially as we emerge from the pandemic. They have been great to work with throughout these difficult years. Let me express my gratitude to Kirk Fischesser, who served as Chair of the Pastoral Council during this difficult year of the pandemic, and Larry Sickman; both have completed their terms, and we thank them for their service.
Newness in our Music Ministry: I also want to welcome back our music groups. They have been playing for more than a month, but there are a few new things happening. Megan Mears, who teaches in our school and who occasionally plays and cantors for us, will begin her service to the parish as a part-time Assistant Music Director, helping Patty Stretch with communications, programs, music, establishing a traditional choir, and the like. We are happy to have her as part of our team.
We will be ordering new hymnals for St. Ignatius in the near future. We also will be preparing a songbook which contains hymns that are commonly used at St. Ignatius, but this will take some time to prepare; in the meantime, we will continue to use the Journeysongs hymnal. We will also be ordering Today’s Missal, a seasonal paperback, which will contain the weekday and weekend Mass readings, allowing people to follow the Mass more easily. These will arrive for Advent, but the Sunday Readings are available in Journeysongs and the weekday readings continue to be available through the USCCB website (https://bible.usccb.org/).
Finally, during the pandemic, we reduced the number of Sunday Masses at St. Ignatius. As such, there are fewer time slots available for all our music groups to play (not counting some of our children’s groups which we hope will resume in the new school year). To accommodate all our groups and to best utilize our Music Director, Patty Stretch, in general, the music groups will follow this schedule: 4:30 PM Mass: 3rd, 4th, and 5th Saturdays – Women’s Ensemble; 6:30: No music; 8:30: Patty Stretch; 10:15: 1st, 2nd, and 5th Sundays: Celebrate; 3rd and 4th Sundays: Patty Stretch; 12:00: 1st and 2nd Sundays: Good News Chorus; 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays: N’Spirit. In the coming weeks and months, Patty Stretch and Megan Mears will also be recruiting singers, hoping to re-establish a traditional choir, and get more people engaged. Please put your talents and gifts at the service of the Lord and His Church. St. Augustine says, “He who sings well, prays twice!”
Old Business: Yes, I said old business! We have had an ongoing problem at St. Ignatius. We do not have a sufficient number of ushers and greeters for our Masses. This makes it difficult to create a welcoming environment at Mass. We need ushers also to help take up the collection and to identify families to bring up the gifts at the offertory; we cannot resume these basic practices without a core team of ushers. Ushers also help people find seats, which is crucial, especially at bigger Masses. If we want to be a welcoming parish, we need your help. I have made appeals before in the bulletin and from the pulpit but with little or no response. It’s your parish, please get involved. Contact me if interested: (513) 661-6565 ext. 2709 or email@example.com.
Happy 4th of July! May God bless you and may God bless the United States of America! -Fr. Fernandes