May 27, 2018

Dear Friends,

As our parish celebrates this weekend and gives thanks to God for the Ordination to the Priesthood of Fr. Derek Thome and to give thanks to God for our parish's 140th anniversary, we also do well to remember those who have gone before us in death.  Our nation celebrates Memorial Day on Monday.

This day especially is reserved to honor those brave men and women who have served our nation in the military.  Our St. John the Evangelist parish cemetery has American flags positioned at the graves of veterans who sacrificed their lives so that we might enjoy the freedoms of our great nation.

Join us Monday morning, May 28, as we continue our parish weekend celebration.  Mass will be celebrated outside on Monday morning at 9:00 a.m. in the parish cemetery, (weather permitting).  Please bring lawn chairs or blankets. I will celebrate Mass at the Altar in our parish cemetery.  Immediately following the Mass, I will invite all gathered to move to the grave(s) of their loved ones and I will bless all fo the graves with Holy Water. 

In the case of inclement weather, Mass will be celebrated at 9:00 a.m. in the Church.  This is a meaningful way to honor those of our family members and friends who have passed on the Catholic Faith to us.  This Mass offers a fitting conclusion to our parish weekend celebration of the Ordination of ten new diocesan priests on Saturday morning, the Parish Vocations Festival on Saturday evening, the First Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated by Fr. Derek and to remember and pray for the souls of our deceased parishioners of our parish family. 

I ask that you please com eto this Mass on Monday.  Praying for the dead is a work of mercy.  When we die, may there be those who survive us and pray for the repose of our souls.  Eternal rest, grant unto them O Lord.  Let perpetual light shine upon them.  May their souls and the souls of all of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

May 20, 2018

Dear Friends,

We come together next weekend as a parish family to celebrate!

  • Saturday, May 26: All of you are invited to attend the Mass of Ordination of Fr. Derek Thome to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ.  The Mass will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. at the Church of the Magdalen in Wichita, (12626 East 21st Street North - just east of the K-96 exit on 21st Street North).  There will be a large crowd as we have ten priests being ordained this day so plan to arrive early to get a seat in the Church!
  • The Ordination Celebration and Parish Festival of Vocations begins Saturday evening after the 5:30 p.m. Mass.  This is a "Come-and-Go or a Come-and-Stay" informal celebration - a combination of a festival, picnic and carnival open to all of our parish members!  Games begin at 6:30 p.m.; delicious food will be served at 7:00 p.m.  A welcome and remarks will take place at 8:15 p.m. in the Clonmel Commmunity Hall, with a dance following at 8:45 - 10:45 p.m.  Everyone is invited.
  • On Sunday, May 27, Mass is celebrated at 8:00 a.m. There will NOT be a 10:30 a.m. Mass that day.  Fr. Derek Thome will celebrate his First Mass of Thanksgiving at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.  Everyone is invited to this Mass.  We will have the Parish Center set up for overflow for that Mass.  A light reception will follow the First Mass and Fr. Derek will give first blessings.
  • On Monday, May 28, (Memorial Day), we will celebrate Mass at 9:00 a.m. in our parish cemetery, (weather permitting).  At this Mass, we will pray for the repose of the souls of all of those members of our parish family who passed on the Catholic Faith to us.  I invite all of you to this special Mass on Memorial Day. Bring your lawn chairs or blankets with you for this Mass.

To help us prepare well for Saturday evening, please call the parish office at 620-545-7171 to RSVP for the Saturday evening celebration.  Please provide your name and the number of family members who will be attending.

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

May 13, 2018

Dear Friends,

Anniversaries are important milestones in life: anniversary of birth, anniversary of graduation, anniversary of wedding, anniversary of employment, anniversary of death.  This year, our parish family celebrates an anniversary.  This parish was born in 1878 - one hundred and forty years ago.  It is important as a parish family that we mark this anniversary of life.  The foundation of this anniversary must be rooted in gratitude to Almighty God.

In two weeks, we will celebrate this milestone of our parish family over an entire weekend. On Saturday, May 26, all of you are invited to attend the Mass of Ordination to the Priesthood of one of our parish native sons - Fr. Derek Thome.  The Mass will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. at the Church of the Magdalen in Wichita, (12626 East 21st Street North - just east of the K-96 exit on 21st Street North).  There will be a large crowd as we have ten priests being ordained this day so plan to arrive early to get a seat in the Church!

The Ordination Celebration and Parish Festival of Vocations begins Saturday evening after the 5:30 p.m. Mass.  This is a "Come-and-Go or a Come-and-Stay" informal celebration - a combination of a festival, picnic and carnival open to all of our parish members!  Games begin at 6:30 p.m.; delicious food will be served at 7:00 p.m., (smoked pork butts, baked beans, hot dogs, chips, nachos, popcorn).  A welcome and remarks will take palce at 8:15 p.m. in the Clonmel Commmunity Hall, with a dance following at 8:45 - 10:45 p.m.  Everyone is invited.

On Sunday, May 27, Mass is celebrated at 8:00 a.m. There will NOT be a 10:30 a.m. Mass that day.  Fr. Derek Thome will celebrate his First Mass of Thanksgiving at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, here at St. John the Evangelist Parish.  All are invited to this Mass.  We will have the Parish Center set up for overflow for that Mass.  A light reception will follow the First Mass and Fr. Derek will give first blessings.

On Monday, May 28, (Memorial Day), we will celebrate Mass at 9:00 a.m. in our parish cemetery, (weather permitting).  At this Mass, we will pray for the repose of the souls of all of those members of our parish family who passed on the Catholic Faith to us.  I invite all of you to this special Mass on Memorial Day.  We must remember and pray for those who have died.

It is time to remember, to celebrate, to mark this anniversary, to give thanks to God!

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

May 6, 2018

Dear Friends,

I imagine that one of the joys of parenting is when you look from afar and see one of your children performing an act of kindness for another person.  (My guess is that the joy is more intense when your child does not even know that you are watching them)!  Such a moment must be a time of great blessing for the parent.

This past week as a spiritual father, I watched from afar and saw the parishioners of this family of St. John the Evangelist perform incredible acts of kindness for others.  As you likely know, this past week God called two members of our parish family from this life - Danielle Dick and her grandfather, Delmer Gorges.  Danielle was buried on Tuesday and Delmer was buried on Thursday in our parish cemetery.  As a parish family, we average six or seven deaths of parishioners per year.  It is very rare for our parish family to have two funerals in one week.

The parish family responded with love, in love, for love.  The ladies of our Altar Society prepared food for two receptions on Monday and Wednesday nights and two very large dinners for family and friends on Tuesday and Thursday after the Masses of Christian Burial.  Parishioners signed up for an hour of prayer in all-night vigils with the bodies of Danielle and Delmer.  Janis Pauly provided beautiful music for the Masses of Christian Burial.  Members of our cemetery committee carefully dug and prepared the graves.  The large number of parishioners who attended the Rosary Vigils and masses of Christian Burial provided great comfort to the Dick and Gorges Families.  There were many other acts of kindness that were done by parishioners that were seen only by God our Father.

As a pastor, I watched these acts of kindness from afar.  This is how we are to live our Catholic Faith - with love, in love, for love.  There were many people of different faith traditions who attended the vigils and Masses this past week.  Some of those visitors shared with me how prayerful the funeral services were and the warm hospitality of the parishioners here.  I could not agree more.  And at that moment, my heart knew the joy of being a parent.  May God bless you - He already is!

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

April 29, 2018

Dear Friends,

"I am the vine; you are the branches."  This beautiful image that Jesus gives to us in today's Gospel is rich in meaning.  As a branch, we wither and die when we are cut off from the vine.  God the Father is the vine grower. God the Son is the vine.  God the Holy Spirit is the fruit of the vine that grows from us, the branches.  At times the vine grower prunes the branches so that the branch will bear more fruit.

When I was a young boy, I was involved in a 4-H Club and one of my 4-H projects was gardening. My family planted a large vegetable garden every summer.  One summer I remember particularly well.  We had planted four long rows of carrots from seed.  I was so excited to see the seeds germinate and the small green plants begin to break through the surface of the soil.  As the tender plants grew, I knew that we would have an abundant harvest of carrots!

One day, while tending the garden, my parents instructed my brothers and I to prune the rows of carrots.  When I asked my folks why we had to pull up these beautiful young plants that we had worked so hard to plant and water, I remember my dad smiling and said that the carrots could only grow if we pruned the plants.  I was very resistant to this idea and so my dad made a deal with me.  He asked me to choose one row of carrots and told me that we would not prune that particular row.  We would prune the other three rows. (I considered this a victory that I was able to at least save some of the plants)!

Well...you can guess the result whe nit was time to harvest the carrots!  One by one when we pulled up each plant, the plants in the rows that were pruned produced beautiful, full and large carrots.  My row of unpruned plants looked great on thes urface, but when I pulled up each plant, the carrots buried in the soul were scrawny and deformed. It was a very valuable life lesson.

God the Father prunes away things in our lives.  Sometimes, that pruning hurts and we may be resistant and wonder why God does this.  But I always remember the story fo the carrots. "God does not see as a mrotal, who sees the appearance. The Lord looks into the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

April 22, 2018

Dear Friends,

Jesus Christ is Risen!  Alleluia!  In the fifty days of the Easter Season, we read from the Acts of the Apostles.  Every time that I read this incredible story of the growth of the early Christian community, I am struck by the manner in which the Holy Spirit works through the Apostles so that they go forth from Jerusalem to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations.

In 1878, the Catholic Faith came to a small little farming community named Clonmel.  It has been 140 years now since our parish family was born!  We do well to learn the history of our parish family and to give thanks to God for the blessings that he has bestowed upon our parish family during these last 140 years.

As you know, one of our parishioners will be ordained a Priest of Jesus Christ on May 26, 2018. Deacon Derek Thome, a native son of our parish, wants the day of his priesthood ordination to be a day of celebration and thanksgiving to God for the entire St. John the Evangelist parish family as we mark this 140th anniversary of the faith coming to this part of southwest Sedgwick County.

Please watch the bulletin in the coming weeks for more details of this weekend celebration of May 26 - 28.  Saturday, May 26, will be a Parish Festival of Vocations; Sunday will be the First Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated by Fr. Derek Thome. Monday will be a special Mass celebrated in our parish cemetery, (weather permitting), on Memorial Day to pray for all of those parishioners who have died and passed on the Catholic Faith to us.

We are commissioned by Jesus to go and tell others about him.  This is our parish mission: "St. John the Evangelist Parish, inspired by the Holy Spirit, strives to sow the Word in loving service of God and neighbor." We thank God for those who have gone before us in passing on the Catholic Faith and we pray that we will joyfully pass on the Catholic Faith to the generations who follow us.

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

April 15, 2018

Dear Friends,

Jesus Christ is Risen!  Alleluia!  As we continue celebrating with Easter joy the mystery of the Resurrection fo the Lord, we have been given a mission.  Throughout the Easter Season, we read in the Gospel accounts of how the Apostles were filled with fear and locked themselves in a room after Jesus' death on the cross.  They witnessed his death on a cross.  Understandably, they feared for their own lives.  If identified as a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, (who was considered a criminal and a blasphemer), would the Apostles' lives end in death as well?

Then, Jesus appeared to them in his resurrected body.  In the locked room, he entered again into their lives. Jesus "breathed" on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." (John 20:22).  With the Holy Spirit in their hearts, the Apostles transformed from fear to courage. We read in the Acts of the Apostles how those Apostles no longer locked themselves in a room.  Now, they go forth boldly from Galilee and Jerusalem to preach Jesus Christ crucified.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in the Sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation, Holy Communion, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick.  The Holy Spirit gives us courage to preach boldly Jesus Christ.  That leads to reflection questions for us this week. "How boldly do I preach Jesus Christ to the people I meet? Do I ever hide the fact with co-workers or neighbors that i am Catholic? Do I stand up in conversations with friends when the topic of religion surfaces or do I remain quiet?"

We are commissioned by Jesus to go and tell others about him.  This is our parish mission: "St. John the Evangelist Parish, inspired by the Holy Spirit, strives to sow the Word in loving service of God and neighbor." We have been inspired by the Holy Spirit, just as were the Apostles after the Resurrection.  Let us ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with courage to preach Jesus Christ by our words and actions.

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

April 8, 2018

Dear Friends,

"Jesus Christ is the face of the Father's mercy."  These words are the opening sentence of Pope Francis' exhortation when he opened the Year of Mercy in 2015.  What does "mercy" look like? Jesus is the face of mercy.

Eighteen years ago on May 5, 2000, St. John Paul II decreed the Second Sunday of Easter be known as "Divine Mercy Sunday."  Today as we celebrate this Second Sunday of Easter, we are invited to reflect upon the m ercy and patience of our loving Heavenly Father.  Some may wonder that after completing forty days in Lent reflecting upon our sinfulness and now in the Easter Season, why are we reflecting upon our sin rather than upon the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?  Wile we are celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus for fifty days in this Easter Season, we must never forget the reason that Jesus Christ died on a cross.  He died for the forgiveness of my sins, your sins and for the sins of the whole world.  As St. John Paul said, "Who can say that he is free from sin and does not need God's mercy? As people of this restless time of ours, wavering between the emptiness of self-exaltation and the humiliation of despair, we have a greater need than ever for a regenerating experience of mercy."

The image of Divine Mercy is on the back wall fo our church.  This image is how Jesus appeared to St. Faustina Kowalska in a vision.  Red and white rays emanate from the Sacred Heart of Jesus symbolizing the blood and water that flowed from his side when Jesus was pierced by a lance as he died on the Cross.

In the midst of our busy days, how beneficial it is to repeat these words in prayer, "Jesus, I trust in You!"

I encourage you to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Go to www.thedivinemercy.org to learn how to pray the Chaplet.

We are all sinners and need to see Jesus, the face of the Father's mercy.  "For the sake of his sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world."

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

April 1, 2018

Dear Friends,

Jesus Christ is risen fromt he dead.  Alleluia!  Think for a moment...what event in the history of the human race has been more significant than the Son of God destroying death and rising to new life?  This event that happened over 2000 years ago is not "old news," nor is it "fake news.'  It is "Good News," and we call it the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

"The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.  Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, inner emptiness and loneliness.  With Christ joy is contantly born anew."  With these opening words of Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation, "The Joy of the Gospel," we do well this Easter Sunday to question how much joy fills our heart this day.  Is joy born anew in your heart today?

Besides being Easter Sunday, today also happens to fall on a day that we call April Fool's Day.  The very first followers of Christ were called fools to believe that Jesus Christ actually rose from the dead.  The first followers of Jesus were called foolish to think that a cross, a means of torture and execution reserved for the for the worst criminals, was now the means of salvation for humanity from sin and death.

St. Paul wrote in his First Letter to the Corinthians in 55 A.D., "Let no one deceive himself.  If anyone among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool so as to become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God, for it is written: "He catches the wise in their own ruses," and again: "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain." (1 Corinthians 3:18-20).

Christians are today often seen as fools to believe that a man who died on a cross, rose from the dead and now lives forever.  That man was Jesus of Nazareth.  He was not only fully human, but fully God.  He died on a cross.  He rose from the dead and now he sits at the right hand of God, interceding on our behalf that we too should die with him and rise with him to eternal life.  Alleluia!

May you and your family be blessed this Easter Season!

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

March 25, 2018

Dear Friends,

We enter into the most holy week of our Church year.  We call it "Holy Week" as we process with Palm branches into Jerusalem.  On Holy Thursday, we commemorate the institution of the Sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders.  On Good Friday, we venerate the Cross, (which by Christ's death, becomes the Altar of Sacrifice).  On Holy Saturday, we pray in Vigil for Easter Sunday and the fifty days that follow.

How will your family make this a Holy Week?  Please join us our parish family of St. John the Evangelist at one or all of the Liturgies listed above.  May we pray for our parish family that we may grow in holiness as we meditate upon the Paschal Mysteries of this most holy time.

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)