Friday, December 3, 2010

Second Week of Advent

As we enter the Second Week of Advent, I share with you a potpourri of activities that are taking place in our parish and in our Eastern Greece/Charlotte Catholic Churches.

1) Our Eastern Greece/Charlotte Penance Service will be hosted by Holy Cross Church on Sunday, December 19, at 3:00 PM. This year, the Penance Service will be more family oriented. Father Tom Wheeland will lead an adult and young adult Service in the Church proper. Our own Father Mark will conduct a special children’s program in the Parish Center. Individual Confessions will be available to all who have celebrated the Sacrament of Penance. I encourage our parishioners to prepare for the joy of Christmas by celebrating with us at this Family Penance Service.

2) David Tedesche, our seminarian in residence, conducted recently an 8-week Adult Education program, exploring the history and spirituality of the Fathers of our Church. Wherever I traveled in Greece and met folks who attended these adult learning sessions, I received positive and complimentary comments on the sessions. From my perspective, David is a skilled teacher and a budding scholar. I am grateful that he is sharing generously his talents with us. Starting in mid-January, David will be offering a series of adult learning sessions on the historical development of the Liturgy and the spirituality of the Eucharist as the source and summit of the life and mission of the Church. As more particulars develop regarding the day and time of the sessions, David will share them in the bulletin and on fliers. This will be such a timely opportunity to deepen one’s knowledge of the Eucharist as we prepare to welcome the new Roman Missal in Advent 2011.

3) Recently, I came across an excerpt from Pope Benedict XVI encyclical letter, Deus Caritas Est, that reminded me of the importance of participating in our Annual Catholic Ministries Appeal (CMA). Pope Benedict wrote:

“Love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to her (the Church) as the ministry of the sacraments and the preaching of the Gospel. The Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the sacraments and the Word.”

Once again, I encourage parishioners who have not yet participated in the CMA, to please do so. Your contribution is an authentic realization of the Holy Father’s teaching of the importance of charity in our Christian life. To participate is simple. Fill out the CMA card designating your contribution and place it in the collection basket at the time of the Offertory. Your gift, an expression of charity and gratitude, will strengthen our witness to Love-made-flesh. I am grateful to all who have already participated and helped us to realize $65,869 of our fair share giving with the target of $82,461.

During this Second Advent Week, wait patiently. Pray frequently. Do not drink and drive.

Father John

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gratitude at Thanksgiving...

During this week of Thanksgiving, I am reminded once again of the importance to practice gratitude in my daily living. For me, the grace of gratitude comes when I take the time daily to recount the many ways that God has touched me with love and care. A word of encouragement, the attentive listening of a friend or colleague, a moment of humor, a brisk walk on a Fall day, witnessing the generosity of others, are all ways that I have experienced the blessing of God.
In that experience my spirit moves to express gratitude. In giving voice to my gratitude in prayer and to others, I realize in a fresh way that the God and Father of Jesus, is a God who deeply cares for all with an abiding love.

I encourage us to approach this week of Thanksgiving as a God-given opportunity to renew our own practice and commitment to be a person of gratitude. I also take this occasion to say “thank you” to all our parishioners for your witness to the Faith, your care for others, and your generous spirit.

I find it appropriate that as we approach Thanksgiving, this time to pause and remember God’s blessings to us that we also remember that it is a blessing to give thanks through our acts of generosity. I am sensitive to the reality that any one of us could be tempted by our own financial fears and anxieties not to participate in the Catholic Ministries Appeal (CMA). If that is the case, I ask that we remember that God’s goodness is greater than any fear or anxiety.

I ask again to those who have not yet participated in the CMA to please consider “Letting your light shine” by supporting the CMA this year. Make your commitment today and join the growing number of parishioners who believe that by working together and sharing our gifts does make a difference. Remember, we are a People of Faith, a People of Gratitude; and that our faith in Jesus Christ makes a difference.

As of this writing we have 416 donors who have pledged $61,089 towards our goal of $82,461. We are now $21,372 shy of our goal. We can accomplish our appeal with the participation of all parishioners. I ask for your help.

Also, I ask that we remember that each donation will help the parish financially. Any parish that doesn’t reach their goal will have to draw from their own general operating funds to meet their goal. So by contributing to the CMA, you are also helping out our own parish.

In closing, I express my gratitude to all our parishioners for your steadfast generosity to Saint Charles Borromeo parish and the mission of our greater Church. I pray that you have a peaceful Thanksgiving. Enjoy. Give thanks in prayer and to others. Remember not to drink and drive.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Looking From The Outside In...

I am grateful for the members of our Parish Pastoral Council. In the last six months, the members have been helpful to me in pastoral planning not only with our current activities but as we plan for our future. Through thoughtful discussions, concern for the common good of all, and faith in the action of the Holy Spirit, the Parish Pastoral Council is helping to shape the vision and direction of our parish as we move forward.

I am delighted to share with you the Vision Statement that has been emerging from their long hours of study and discussion at Council meetings and between Council meetings. I present the Statement to you as a way to seek your input and comments. You will notice that it is written in the first person as a way to emphasize the need for all parishioners to take responsibility for its fulfillment.

Father Mark and I welcome your comments in person, by e-mail (; or on the blog-site (

Just as your voice has been instrumental through your participation in the US Congregational Survey to initiate this Statement, your voice is critical in finalizing the work.
  • It is my vision that St. Charles Borromeo (SCB) offers welcome to all who seek a deeper friendship (relationship) with the living God through the Roman Catholic Tradition;
  • It is my vision that all parishioners are treated with respect and dignity and are accepted for their gifts and limitations;
  • It is my vision that (all) the ministries of SCB, especially the liturgical ones, encourage and afford opportunities for active participation in all our liturgical services;
  • It is my vision that our parishioners know one another by name and gather joyfully for (worship) prayer, support, learning, and social activities;
  • It is my vision that we honor the senior members of our faith Community, by encouraging and offering opportunities for them to share their experiences, strengths, and hopes to our younger families;
  • It is my vision that our friendship with the living God is deepened with SCB encouraging and offering opportunities for study, reflection, and action. To this end, I envision the former school building being designated as a MINISTRY CENTER that also houses the ministerial staff offices;
  • It is my vision that SCB take a leadership role in reaching out and evangelizing in the Eastern Greece/Charlotte (EG/C) wider community;
  • It is my vision that we offer to eligible parishioners a formation program in order to be involved in SCB parish ministry as a volunteer;
  • It is my vision that we encourage our young men and their families, through planned activities, to consider a vocation to the ministerial priesthood;
  • It is my vision to have a vibrant Youth Ministry that offers opportunities for all youth to become acquainted with the Christian life in the EG/C wider community;
  • It is my vision that SCB collaborate wherever possible with the other Christian Communities in our area to offer Christian human services.
I pray that our Heavenly Father will continue to bless the work of our hands and hearts as we walk together as the faith community of Saint Charles Borromeo.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It's Simple...Yet Not Always Easy

In recent weeks, I have preached about the importance of quiet time to hear the voice of God, the need to trust that God desires us to hear His Word, and the need for us to surrender daily our will and lives into God’s care and to follow His Word.

When I speak or write it, it sounds easy. Yet I know that some days it can be difficult to practice it. What do we do on the difficult days? I can share from my own experiences.

Firstly, I admit to God, to another, and to myself that it is difficult on a particular day to be silent, to listen, or to surrender. There is no sense in pretending that it is otherwise. Admitting it helps one to realize the need to ask for the grace to practice silence, listening, and surrendering. The difficulty can stem from external circumstances that grab our attention as well as internal distractions that draw us out of the present moment.

Secondly, I remind myself that it is foolish for me to put on God my timeline for Him to “fix”, resolve, or remove my difficulties before I pray. How easy it is for any one of us to forget that we are the created ones. One’s difficulties can be the very “stuff” of our prayer to discover God’s voice. It can also be a moment for us to grow deeper in trust that God knows us and will give to us all that we need for that day.

Finally, I just do it; I strive to practice silence, listening, and surrendering. For me, on the difficult days, it confronts my ego to do things perfectly. Yet this is the time when I need to trust that my human efforts are about progress. Perfection will need to wait another day.

Our life as followers of Jesus, as Christians, is a daily journey that we make together. It is true that some days appear easier than others to listen to the voice of God and to surrender our will and lives. However, what does not change is God’s willingness and desire to stand with us regardless of ease or difficulties. As Scripture reminds us we are God’s People, and He is our God.

And what a gift it is to belong to the Christian community. For it is here that we are nourished with the Bread of Life, strengthened by the witness of others, and grow closer into the image and likeness of our God.

I pray that all of us have a peaceful week of silence, listening, and surrendering.

Fr. John

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ascension Thursday

Yesterday, the people who work at the various parishes in the diocese gathered for our annual "Ministerium Day." The theme was What on Earth is Discipleship? The speaker was a priest from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. His talk was very good, and reminded us that our mission as disciples comes from God. God's mission for us is to be followers of Christ who strive to reach our fullest potential. Christ came to enhance our basic human capacity.

In the process of striving to live out God's mission our ego might take over; "I know what God wants me to do!" And we move ahead without checking with God to make sure this is what he is calling us to do. A good reminder that we need to always stay connected with God even when the temptation is there to move the mission in our own direction.

Sometimes, we limit ourselves in the way we live out our call to be a part of God's mission. The speaker yesterday shared with us a Prayer of Sir Francis Drake titled Disturb Us, Lord:

Disturb us, Lord, when We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

Our Lord had to ascend to heaven to return to God so that the Holy Spirit could come and move us more deeply into the mission that Christ began here on earth. We are called to be witnesses to that mission, to be faithful to our call as mission-ers of the Good News. We are reminded that we are limited in our vision and must turn to God to move us beyond the ways that we limit ourselves and others. God has the wider vision, not us. We need to be disturbed by God so that we don't become complacent, hard-hearted, hopeless.

May the ascension of our Lord make room in our hearts for a wider and deeper love for God and others that moves us into a future filled with hope, life and love. May we always strive, with the help of God, to live our lives to our fullest potential!

Fr. Mark

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Goals for the Parish

It was an exciting conversation. I sensed the dedication, interest, and concern of the participants. Each shared respectfully their thoughts. They listened intently to one another. At the end of the meeting they appeared, and rightfully so, pleased with the fruit of their long hours of work that brought them to the conversation.

I am referring to this past week’s Parish Council meeting. For the last few months the members having been studying, digesting, and summarizing the survey results from our parish-wide survey conducted when I first arrived. Three goals appear to have emerged:

- Strengthening our Sense of Belonging
- Finding Ways to Share our Faith with New Members
- Looking to our Future with Hope and Excitement

With each goal the Council members have begun to enumerate steps to accomplish them.

I admire the Parish Council members’ commitment to our parish to deepen our rich history of being a vibrant faith community. In the near future the Council will being sharing their work with the Community to involve even greater input as to the ways we can live faithfully our mission.

In the meantime, if you have input/opinions regarding the above goals, please respond to this blog with your feedback. I’d be happy to read your comments.

Fr. John

Monday, April 5, 2010

An Easter Revolution

Recently, I watched a show on TV called "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution." The show has an interesting premise. Jamie goes into a town and brings to light the eating habits of the people and how we should be eating healthier.

Do you know what the word "revolution" means? It means "an instance of great change in affairs." To be revolutionized is "to change a thing completely and fundamentally." As Easter people, we have been revolutionized by Christ's resurrection from the dead! We have been changed forever!

Yet, how often do we go back to our old eating habits? In Jamie Oliver's show, he did a demonstration with a group of 6 years old. He showed them the parts of a chicken that we eat, and then took the carcass and put it in a food processor to show them how chicken nuggets are made. It was quite disgusting! Yet, when asked if they wanted chicken nuggets, all the children raised their hands!

Do we find that we continue to feed on old nuggets of death and destruction that cannot give us anything of value? In fact, they are bad for our spiritual health. The old nuggets of sinfulness, despair, anger, hopelessness only lead us to an unhealthy way of living in Christ.

We have been revolutionized by Christ. We have been given healthy, wholesome, life-giving food in the very Body and Blood of Christ. There's a diet we can all feed on that will make us healthy! Feed on this food, not old nuggets. It's time for us, in this season of Easter, to stop feeding on over-processed nuggets and start feeding on the very life and love of God through our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. May we be revolutionized this Easter! Alleluia!

Fr. Mark