When I first counted, I found at least 17 times in the readings today a question or statement that requires an answer. That’s one of the greatest blessings that God has given us: the freedom to choose. It is good for us to think about this as we celebrate the Fourth of July this weekend through Tuesday. Of course, we rightly celebrate our freedom these days… freedom won by those who fought or are fighting for our country; freedom given to us through the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights and so much more. And yet, there are other freedoms that are threatened: such as the freedom to choose and exercise our own religion. In any case, we must remember that we enjoy freedom because God gave it to us first. And while we can choose to DO good or evil, we DO NOT have the freedom to choose what is right or what is wrong. If we understand and pray about that, maybe our own experience of freedom can be enriched and understood much better.
By the way, because of the Fourth of July holiday, the parish office will be closed both Monday and Tuesday. On Tuesday, there will be no Mass or Communion Service.
This week on the Fourth of July I was asked to “kick off” the first annual “Rose Run” in Richland. I will be saying a few words and then offer a prayer to start the festivities. The run is described this way: “The year 2016 was an unforgettable year for the village of Richland and for the people of Kalamazoo, as well as all of us in Michigan. We lost one of our own while serving in the line of duty, Wayne State University Police Officer, Collin Rose. Collin, a 2006 graduate of Gull Lake High School, began his career with the Richland Village Police. In 2011, he joined the Wayne State University Police Department as a K-9 Officer. Collin, an avid supporter of causes involving fallen officers, rode in the Police Unity Tour where he proposed to his fiancée. To continue Collin’s mission to help others and make our world a better, safer place our July 4th race will be dedicated to his legacy and memory. All proceeds of our race will benefit the groups that Collin was most passionate about–Scholarships awarded to Gull Lake students who want to pursue their advanced education in the first responder field; criminal justice, EMT, and fire science. Also, continuing education and training for law enforcement personnel including K-9. Training is ever so important for officers so they can continue to perform their duties while keeping us safe.’
Next Sunday, July 9, is my final Sunday as Pastor of St. Ann Church. I want to thank those who want to have a bit of a “send-off” reception following each of the masses. To be honest, I wasn’t planning on having any kind of event. But I lost that “battle”— so many thanks to those who are organizing it and everyone is invited to attend. It will give me a chance to say good-bye and thank you as well.
You probably noticed the landscape changes we made this past week. Over the years, there are many bushes and trees that became overgrown and needed to be removed or cut back. The most obvious areas include the landscaping by the main entrance to the parking lot and the huge tree next to the church entrance. You may have noticed that the branches were dead up the center of that tree, and it was really overgrown next to the building. You’ll notice how removal of the tree opened up a view of the beautiful stone on the building. Anyway, the landscaping project will continue so you can look forward to that! Many thanks to our staff and a handful of parishioners who helped make this all happen.
Have a safe Fourth of July and a good week.
Praised be Jesus Christ!