Tips for Families: The Rosary - July 1, 2018

Praying the rosary doesn't always sound like a lot of fun to kids and teens (or even adults).  It can be hard to convince our families to pray and not just go through themotions and say the words.  Here are a few tips to help make this time of prayer together special.

1. Pick a Time & Place - Consistency is key!  Even if it's just once a week, choose a time when everyone is home and make it family prayer time.  Make it special, and don't give up this time when things get busy.

2. Espect Distractions - The devil hates the Rosary, and he'll try to interfere.  Prayer is a battlefield and the enemy will try to make your prayer time less fruitful.  When a distraction happens and you realize it, return to prayer as if you were dodging a bullet and continue on.

3. Light a Candle - The simple lighting of a candle can help set the time and place of prayer apart.  Set it in the center of your prayer space next to a crucifix or a picture of Mary and let it draw your eye to rest on them.

4. Use Blessed Rosaries - If you haven't done so already, have your rosaries blessed by a priest.  I'll volunteer Fr. Tatro to do this!  Having a blessed rosary brings just a little more grace to your prayer time. 

5. Focus on the Mysteries - Google some images of the mysteries of the rosary, or have your little ones draw pictures of them.  Use these to help your family contemplate the mysteries in new ways.  It's okay to let your prayer focus on the mysteries of the rosary and not necessarily on the repetitive words of the prayers. 

6. Don't go Crazy - When it comes to prayer, quality matters much more than quantity.  If your family struggles to get through an entire rosary, don't force it.  It's better to pray one or two decades well than it is to ramble through a whole rosary to 'get it done'.

7. Keep a Tally - Every prayer said during a rosary becomes a rose in Mary's heavenly crown.  Keep a tally of how many roses yoru family has added.  Each rosary has 60 Our Father's and Hail Mary's combined.  Each time you pray, multiply the number of family members praying by 60 and add it to your existing number.  It will be fun for your kids (and you) to see some sort of progress being made!

You won't regret the efforts you put forth in establishing this habit with your family.  Our lady is always generous with those who turn to her for help. 

In Him, through Her,

Cassi FitzGerald 

(Read archived blog posts here)

13 Reasons for Hope - June 24, 2018

Hopelessness is a very real thing.  It can happen when someone is going through difficult times or painful experiences.  And, it can happen without specific reasons.  Maybe someone feels overwhelmed, trapped, or insecure; there might be challenges that someone is facing where there seems like no solution is possible.  But there is always a reason for hope, no matter how bad things seem at the moment.

You see, hope is more than a feel good emotion, it is a gift from God that He freely wants to give all of us.  Why is it important?  Because life has its challenges.  There are obstacles amidst the twists and turns of the journey.  The gift ofhope allows us to approach life with confidence that our loving God has our best interests at heart and will sustain us through the storms in life.

Remember these 13 reasons for our hope:

1. Christ is victorious (1 Corinthians 15: 54-54-58)

2. The Lord will fight for you (Joshua 10:25)

3. God has a plan and purpose for your life (Jeremiah 29:11)

4. Jesus is healer and wants to heal you (Luke 18:35-43)

5. God says you're not alone (Isaiah 43: 1-3)

6. God will always help you (Psalm 121: 1-8)

7. God's grace is enough (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

8. He will give you hope (Romans 5:3-4, 8)

9. God will comfort you (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

10. God will carry your burdens (Psalm 55:22)

11. He will forgive.  God syas he gave his only Son for our sins. (Isaiah 53: 3-5)

12. God loves you (John 3:16)

13. God is with you forever (2 Corinthians 4:7, 16-18)

Adapted from www.lifeteen.com/blog/13-reasons-hope/

(Read archived blog posts here)

June 17, 2018

Dear Friends,

"You never leave a place you love.  Part of it you take with you leaving a part of you behind."  I do not know the author of this quotation, but I know that the words conveyed are true.  As I leave this parish family of St. John the Evangelist, I give thanks to God for the blessing and privilege of accompanying you the last two years in this pilgrimage to the Kingdom of Heaven. 

Three weeks ago at the 140th Anniversary Parish Festival, I shared with Fr. Derek Thome and the crowd gathered that night, that the two of us were about to begin a formation in a new seminary.  He will continue his formation as a priest at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Wichita, and I will continue my formation as a priest at St. John the Evangelist Parish in El Dorado.  Fr. Derek has been ordained three weeks and I have been ordained thirty years.  Our formation is never completed as priests and neither is the faith formation for any of you.  There is no graduation from faith formation!

God has truly blessed and continued to bless this parish for 140 years since its birth in 1878.  Generations that have gone before us have formed us in the Catholic Faith.  By our Baptism, we now are called to pass on that Faith to the generations that follow us.  There is a great blessing in knowing that we are on a pilgrim journey to one destination - the Kingdom of God.

Please know that as I celebrate Mass at the Altar of St. John the Evangelist Parish in El Dorado, I will pray for you as you gather around the Altar to celebrate Mass at the Altar of St. John tht eEvangelist Parish in Clonmel.  (It is 49.7 miles from one Altar to the other.  You know me and my love for numbers)!

I have no doubt that you will warmly welcome Fr. Joe Tatro as your new shepherd.  You are blessed indeed to receive such a gifted and holy pastor.  He is blessed to receive such a holy parish family as St. John the Evangelist.

"May the Lord bles syou and keep you.  May the Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.  May the Lord look upon you kindly and keep you in his peace." (Numbers 6:24-26)

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

June 10, 2018

Dear Friends,

After the celebrations on these last Sundays of the Ascension of the Lord, Pentecost Sunday, the Solemnity of the Trinity, Corpus Christi and the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we find ourselves this Sunday back in "Ordinary Time."  The Church provides us a liturgical calendar throughout the year through which we celebrate what we believe.  Beginning the year with the Season of Advent, we prepare for four weeks for the Season fo Christmas, marking the Mystery of the Incarnation - Jesus became flesh and was born of Mary.  We enter into the Season of Lent for 40 days to prepare for the Paschal Mystery of Christ's Passion, Death and Resurrection.  For the fifty days of the Easter Season, we reflect upon the significance of this most important event in the history of humanity - the Son of God was crucified and rose on the third day. 

We celebrate Jesus's Ascension to Heaven and the sending of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles at Pentecost.  We then enter "Ordinary Time."  This is a time if you will to "catch our breath."  No time with God is ordinary.  It is in this season of the year that we reflect upon Jesus's public ministry of how he formed his apostles, how he taught the crowds that gathered, how he preached in parables about the Kingdom of God.

As we enter into the Season of Summer, the pace changes.  Hopefully, you will be able to make time to slow down, to be outside more frequently, to enjoy a barbeque with family and friends, to go to the lake, to go on a family vacation.  But we must also remember, there is no vacation from our vocation.  I urge you to continue to make Sunday the Day of the Lord - to come to Mass each Sunday.  We need to give thanks to God each Sunday, for each Sunday is a Day of the Resurrection.  This is the day the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

June 3, 2018

Dear Friends,

As our parish celebrated a week ago the Ordination to the Priesthood of one of our native sons, Fr. Derek, the Festival of Vocations Picnic and Dance on Saturday, the First Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated by Fr. Derek and ten concelebrating priests on Sunday and the Memorial Day Mass on Monday mornign in our St. John the Evangelist Parish Cemetery.  God has certainly blessed this parish family for 140 years.  May we never forget those blessings.  For all of those who worked so hard to plan and organize these events over many months, may the Lord shower down His love on all of you.

We are the Body of Christ and today, we celebrate Corpus Christi the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  Throughout the events of last weekend, I watched and witnessed the Body of Christ alive and well in our little shire of Clonmel.

St. Thomas Aquinas called the Sacrament of the Eucharist the "Sacrament of Charity."  Jesus says that we are to lvoe one another as He loves us.  How can we, who are sinful human beings, love like a sinless Son of God?  Only by receiving Him into our very body.  Jesus gives us the gift of Himself in Holy Communion.  In this Blessed Sacrament, we receive Jesus Christ!  Nourished by this Bread form Heaven, we are strengthened to continue our pilgrim journey in this life to one day share at the Banquet Table in the Kingdom of God.

O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine.  All praise and all thanksgiving, be every moment thine!

This week, our parish forms our youth in the love of Christ through Totus Tuus, which was given birth by another of our parish native sons, Fr. Bernie Gorges.  I will be serving as a retreat director next week for the priests of the Diocese of Dodge City, who will be gathering at the Spiritual Life Center.  Therefore, daily Mass next week is offered at different times each day.  Please pray for our Totus Tuus teams and for our youth who will be attending Totus Tuus.  Pleaes pray for the priests of the Diocese of Dodge City and for myself that God will open our hearts in the Sacrament of Charity to be holy and humble servants to God's People.  May we give thanks to God for this gift of Corpus Christi - the Body of Christ.  Amen!

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

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)