December 10, 2017

Dear Friends,

"Let every heart prepare him room!"  This line from the Christmas Carol, "Joy to the World," is a reminder to us in the Season of Advent of how we should live Advent as a watchful people, anticipating the coming of the Lord in History (past), Mystery (present) and Majesty (future).

In last week's bulletin, I stated that there will be many opportunities provided for you to come to Confession, to encounter Jesus in this gift of mercy.  By seeking the forgiveness of God, we prepare our hearts to make room for the newborn King.  The young people in our Religious Education Classes, (Grades 3-12), are receiving this sacrament on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings during their class times.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available:

  • Every weekday morning at 7:30am before the 8:00am daily Mass here at St. John the Evangelist, Clonmel
  • Saturdays from 4:30pm-5:25pm at St. John the Evangelist, Clonmel
  • Sunday, December 17 at 2:00pm at St. Cecilia, Haysville*
  • Sunday, December 17 at 4:00pm at St. Joseph, Conway Springs*
  • Sunday, December 17 at 7:00pm at St. Anthony, Wellington*
  • Monday, December 18 at 7:00pm at St. John the Evangelist, Clonmel
  • Tuesday, December 19 at 7:00pm at St. John the Evangelist, Clonmel
  • Wednesday, December 20 at 7:00pm at St. John the Evangelist, Clonmel*

*denotes an Advent Parish Penance Service

Prepare your heart in this Advent Season to make room for Emmanuel - "God is with us."

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

December 3, 2017

Dear Friends,

"O come Emmanuel!"  The name, "Emmanuel," means "God is with us."  Throughout these next 21 days of this Season of Advent, we prepare our hearts to welcome the newborn King.  "Advent" means "coming."  One of the most spiritual preparations that we can make for the Advent of Emmanual in our hearts is to receive the gift of mercy from Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and of Holy Communion.

Throughout the Season of Advent, there will be many opportunities provided for you to come to Confession.  Besides the regular Saturday afternoon time from 4:30-5:30 p.m. each week, we will have a Parish Advent Penance Service on Wednesday evening, December 20.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation will also be available every weekday morning beginning at 7:30 a.m. before the 8:00 a.m. weekday Mass.

My brother priests are also offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation in neighboring parishes.  The schedule of their penance services will also be communicated with you in the bulletin.  Encounter Christ's mercy in this beautiful Sacrament of love.

This coming Friday is the Holy Day of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  This is a Holy Day of Obligation for all Catholics to attend Mass.  The Mass times for the vigil on Thursday and on the Holy Day on Friday are listed in this bulletin.  Our Blessed Mother was conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, without the stain of original sin, so that Mary's womb would be blessed with the gift of the Incarnation.  Mary prepared her heart to receive the newborn Savior.  May we do the same in this Holy Season of Advent.  "O come Emmanuel!" 

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

November 26, 2017

Dear Friends,

You have heard me share this quote from our Bishop Emeritus Eugene Gerber many times, "A grateful heart silences a complaining voice."  I pray that during this Thanksgiving weekend, you have had opporutnities with family members and friends to realize how blessed you are. Being mindful and grateful for those blessings helps us keep our complaining voices silent! 

I am so grateful to God and to you for allowing me to serve here at St. John the Evangelist as your pastor. Please know that I pray for you each day and I humbly ask that you pray for me.  I am grateful for your generous hearts. Wherever there is a need, there are parishioners who step up and respond.  I am grateful for many of you who returned your completed stewardship renewal pledge forms this past weekend.  Members of our stewardship council are already compiling the information.  The sharing of your time, talents and treasure are true blessings.  If you have not yet returned your stewardship pledge forms, please drop them in the collection basket at the Offertory at Mass, stop by the parish office or mail them to the office. Thank you!

Every time that we celebrate the Mass, we gather as a Eucharistic people, (a Thanksgiving people).  Let us thank our God for all the blessings that He bestows upon us.  Let us not complain for what we do not have, but thank Him for what we do have - a parish family of pilgrims on a journey following Jesus Christ into the Kingdom of God.  A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours!

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

November 19, 2017

Dear Friends,

Today is our "Call to Commitment" Sunday.  We have been preparing the last weeks to present our gifts to God in the sharing in love of our time, our talents, our treasure, our very life!  We are stewards of all that we have - not owners!

The textbook of stewardship spirituality is the Bible - the Word of God. Today in the Gospel, we learn a valuable lesson regarding stewardship.  Not everyone is given the same gifts.  However, each of us have received gifts from God.  Two of the servants who received talents from their master were prudent and hard-working to increase the gift.  One servant however buried the talent that he received.  When the master returned, he demanded that each servant give an accounting of his stewardship.

My sisters and brothers, God will demand that each of us must give an accounting of our stewardship in this life.  God has given each of us different gifts.  Each of us is called to share those gifts in love of God and neighbor.  Sadly, the temptation exists to hide and bury the talents given us by God or to hoard the talents given us by God.  Burying or hoarding the talents is not god's Will.  God gives us the talents so that we share the gifts and together, all of us benefit. 

This is the spirituality of stewardship.  Thank you to all who today made a commitment and pledge of time, talent and treasure to our parish, our diocese, our community, the wider Church throughout the world.  The question askedt his year in our stewardship renewal, "Who Are You Following?" May each of us choose wisely in following the Lord Jesus. He teaches us today in the Gospel.  Are we listening?  

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

November 12, 2017

Dear Friends,

"Stewardship is the grateful response of a Christian disciple who recognizes and receives God's gifts and shares these gifts in love of God and neighbor."  Next weekend on November 18-19, each of us will share our gifts in love of God and neighbor for the next year.

People often ask, "Why do we have a stewardship renewal every year?"  The simple answer is that life never remains the same.  Our life is constnatly changing.  Situations can change in life - the birth of a child, a serious illness of a family member, the loss of a job, the death of a spouse of parent.  Other changes in life are less significant.  Interests and hobbies change.  Some parishioners have been doing a certain thing for a long time in the parish and would like to do something else.  An annual stewardship renewal allows us to reflect about our life and how we are "stewarding" our gifts of life.

"Who are you following?"  As disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to follow Jesus.  The way of the world quickly leads us away from Christ.  Today's Gospel reminds us to be prepared for the coming of the Lord.  Some of the virgins were prepared at the wedding banquet for the arrival of the groom; however, others were foolish and did not prepare and were not ready when the groom arrived.  The door to the banquet was locked and the foolish virgins were barred from entering.

One day, the Lord will call us from this life.  Each one of us will have to give an accounting to the Lord of how generous we were as stewards in sharing our gift of life with others in love.  We can either be wise or foolish.  Be aware that there are consequences for either decision.  This week, prayerfully consider how you will share your gift of life in love of God and neighbor.  Bring your completed Stewardship pledge commitment with you next weekend.  Be wise, not foolish!

 

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

November 5, 2017

Dear Friends,

The month of November is a month in which we pray for the dead.  One of the spiritual works of mercy is to pray for the living and the dead.

"In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and 'because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins' she offers her suffrages for them."  (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 958).

Our parish family is blessed to have a Catholic cemetery as part of our parish grounds.  To see the grave markers in our cemetery is a visible reminder to all of us of the members of our parish family who have died.  We need to pray for the repose of their souls and to ask God to have mercy upon these souls and by his mercy, welcome them into the Heavenly Banquet.

During this November, we especially pray for the members of our parish family who have died this past year in 2017: +Aaron Garner (1/2/2017); +Dean Pauly (2/20/2017); +Greg Hurt (7/14/2-17); +Steve Cotton (7/9/2017); +Fr. Leroy Linnebur (9/12/2017) and +Jim Pauly (10/30/2017).  Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord.  We also pray for the consolation of their family members.

I invite you to add the names of deceased loved ones in our Book of the Dead.  At every Mass in the month of November, we will remember the names of all of these souls and pray that God welcome them into the Kingdom of Heaven.  

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

October 29, 2017

Dear Friends,

"Who are you following?" Pope Francis writes, "I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day.  No one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord."

This weekend we begin a three week prayerful preparation toward our Stewardship Commitment Sunday of November 18-19.  At the Masses this weekend, I invited you to complete your personal plan to grow as a Christian disciple.  There is a saying, "Failing to plan is planning to fail."  How can I grow as a Christian disciple if I have no plan, no road map, no direction?

Today, the Gospel lesson taught to us by the Lord Jesus is very clearly stated: love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.  Stewardship spirituality is the way in which we follow these commandments as disciples of Jesus.  When we share the gift of our life with God, (e.g. attending Sunday Mass, receiving the Sacraments, praying with the Word of God, spending a Holy Hour each week in Adoration, praying the rosary), we love the Lord God with our heart, soul and mind.  When we share the gift of our life with our neighbor, (e.g. visiting the homebound or those in a nursing home, working at the Lord's Diner to feed the hungry, serving as a liturgical minister at the parish, making a commitment of treasure to support the mission of the Church), we love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Stewardship spirituality is not a program.  Stewardship spirituality is a way of life, a way of living the Gospel, a way of encountering Jesus Christ.  May our St. John the Evangelist parish family prayerfully prepare for our Stewardship Commitment Sunday of November 18-19.  "Who are you following?"

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

October 22, 2017

Dear Friends,

At the Masses this weekend, our St. John the Evangelist Parish family welcomes Fr. Jerry Beat, a "retired priest" of our diocese, who speaks to parishioners throughout the country about a lay ministry called Unbound. (I place quotation marks around "retired priest" because anyone who knows Fr. Jerry knows him to be a very active and engaged priest, especially one who is a voice for the poor).

Unbound is an organization founded in 1981 that has served more than 600,000 children, youth and elderly in 19 developing countries throughout the world.  Fr. Beat will invite us this weekend to consider sponsoring a child, youth or aging person in a developing country.  Through the monthly contribution, the sponsor provides food, medical and dental care and an opportunity for youth to attend school.  Please welcome Fr. Jerry back to our parish and consider prayerfully whether your family would sponsor a brother or sister in Christ who needs your help.

I am participating this weekend at a Kapaun Men's Retreat in Williamsburg, Kansas.  There are men from our parish of St. John the Evangelist Parish on this retreat with me, along with 90 other men of all ages from throughout the Diocese of Wichita.  Please pray for us on this retreat as we seek to grow in faith so that we can be more faithful men, faithful husbands, loving fathers, generous friends, intentional disciples.

Lastly, you are all welcome to join me next Saturday, October 28, as we go on a day-trip retreat to Pilsen, Kansas - the home of Servant of God, Fr. Emil Kapaun.  We will leave the parking lot here at St. John's at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday morning and carpool to Pilsen.  There, we will tour the Church and the grounds where Fr. Kapaun grew up.  We will be back at Clonmel no later than 3:00 p.m. "Nourished by the soil of Kansas, he nurtured the soul of Korea."  With the mounting conflict and tension that exists in North Korea at this time, we do well to ask the intercession of Fr. Kapaun to pray for peace in our world.  Any and all ages are invited to join me this Saturday.  Please call Debbie at the parish office at 620-545-7171 to register. Fr. Kapaun, pray for us!

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

October 15, 2017

Dear Friends,

"Apathy."  When searching in a dictionary, I find the following definition: absence of suppression of passion, emotion or excitement; lack of interest in or concern for thigns that others find moving or exciting.  I find excitement in watching the Kansas City Chiefs in the National Football League.  I know however, that just because I have a passion and excitement about the game of football, others have apathy toward football.  Some people have a passion for opera.  I, on the other hand, am apathetic toward opera.

Each of us have certain passions and excitement in life.  As each person is uniquely created by God, so too do our individual passions differ.  But what about our spiritual life?  Do we have a pssion for our spiritual life or are we apathetic, indifferent, unmoved?

A weapon of the devil is to downplay the importance of our spiritual life.  In the cunning action of the evil one, the devil revels when a person becomes apathetic in one's spiritual life.  When the spiritual life is out of sight, the spiritual life is out of mind.  Consequently, other things take the primacy of place in my life: my career, my possessions, my reputation, etc.

In today's Gospel, those who are invited by the king to his son's wedding banquet are apathetic to the invitation.  There is no passion, emotion or excitement to come to the banquet.  Rather, other concerns or indifference take center stage in their lives.  My sisters and brothers, "Blessed are those who are called to the Supper of the Lamb."  We are the invited guests to come to the banquet of the Lord, the sacred meal that is served at the Altar of God.  Are we excited and passionate ino ur response to this invitation or are we disinterested, or possess a "so-so" attitude to what happens at the Mass?

How we answer this question gives us an insight into how important is our spiritual life.  Do we come to the Feast, the Banquet of the Lord, with attentiveness and excitement, passion and reverence or do we make excuses and absent ourselves and thus reject the invitation from the Lord?  We do well to reflect in prayer on the last line of today's Gospel, "Many are invited, but few are chosen."  We have been invited to the banquet.  Have we been chosen?  Take this question to prayer.

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

October 8, 2017

Dear Friends,

Last Tuesday evening, our Parish Stewardsip Council met for our monthly meeting.  I am very grateful for the enthusiasm, energy and dedication of the parishioners who serve on this council.  In the next six weeks, you will be hearing many things about our preparation as individuals, as families, and as a parish family as we enter into our annual stewardship renewal.

Stewardship is the grateful response of a Christian disciple, who recognizes and receives God's gifts and shares these gifts in love of God and neighbor. Every year, our parish and diocesan family conducts a stewardship renewal.  Some people question the reason of why we do this every year.  Simply stated, our lives are never static.  Things continue to change.  There may be a change or a loss of job, addition of the birth of a child, the illness or death of a family member.  Life does not stand still.  We are either growing in our relationship with Jesus Christ or we are dying in our relationship with Jesus.

The annual stewardship renewal invites each of us to reflect upon the status of our spiritual life.  Remember the Gospel parable of last Sunday?  The father with two sons asked both of his sons to go and work in the vineyard.  One son initially said, "No, I will not go."  Later, he changed his mind and went to work.  The other son responded to his father, "Yes, I will go," but he never did.  Which son did the will of the father?

Each of us is called by God our Father to work in the vineyard of the Lord.  How will we respond?  It is one thing to say in words that I will work in the vineyard.  It is another thing to actually work in the vineyard.  As stewards, we are called to share the gift of life in working in that vineyard.  During these next six weeks leading to Stewardship Commitment sunday on November 18 - 19, we will reflect upon how we may be able to work in that vineyard of the Lord.  How will we respond to the command of our Heavenly Father?

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)