Proclaim the Greatness of the Lord


Dear Friends:

Those who read, listen, and reflect on the readings probably caught this as quickly as I did. Saint Paul writes to Timothy: “I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” Right now, we need do this fervently, don’t we? I’ll leave the rest to our personal reflection.

Last week, in a memo dated September 12, Bishop Bradley released a “Clarification on Priestly Suspension” that he has asked parishes in the Diocese to communicate. I am well aware that this statement is particularly important for our parish. He asked that we share the following:

“On June 11, 2016 it was publicly announced that the Rev. Edmund “Ted” Martin, a priest of the Diocese of Kalamazoo who was on leave from active ministry, incurred the penalty of canonical suspension of his priestly ministry. In light of a number of questions that have been raised as to what a Decree of Suspension means, Bishop Bradley has issued the following clarification.

A priest who is suspended is restricted from the exercise of all priestly ministry and activity, including but not limited to the celebration of the sacraments, preaching of the Gospel, public teaching of the faith, and counseling the faithful. He remains a priest, but due to the suspension, is not a priest in good standing with the Church. While he is certainly free to receive the sacraments and practice his faith as every Catholic is encouraged to do, he may not publicly exercise anything that is proper to Holy Orders as long as the canonical suspension is in effect.

Any questions in this regard should be directed to the Office of the Bishop.”

Again, I know this will be of particular interest of many of our parishioners. We should all remember to continue our prayers for all those who have been affected by this. As the Bishop’s statement says, any questions should be directed to his office.

I have mentioned this before, but I continue to be delighted at seeing the number of young families and young adults in our parishes. So for you “younger” adults and families, please know that I hope to involve you more and more in the parish as your time allows. We are grateful to all those who share their time and talents with the parish, but most will say how important it is to add “new blood” to our many activities and ministries.

Finally, I am excited to announce that we have developed “branding” for our parish and school. With the assistance of Sr. Danielle Lussier, whom I have worked with before, we now have a “logo” that will be used on all stationery, business cards, our web page, etc. Sr. Danielle is a Novice at Daughters of St. Paul. Part of their mission is described as being “called to live as Apostles in today’s world of communications.” In fact, they even call themselves “media nuns.” So this work was done professionally… and at no cost. So we thank the sisters. You see an example of it above. It’s exciting for the parish, and so badly needed. More on this soon…

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Fr. John

Column – September 11, 2016

Dear Friends:

In the First Reading we hear this great account following the Israelites being led out of slavery to the Promised Land. But, what began as celebration soon turned into complaining. Their God had saved them and gave them freedom. But when things turned hard, it didn’t take long for the complaining to begin. With this in mind, I wonder how often we experience an “answer to our prayer,” only to thank God briefly and forget His answer altogether. Something to think about.
Today cannot go by without remembering what happened 15 years ago today, September 11, 2001. As I write this, it strikes me how many of our young people have no memory of this horrible day because they weren’t born yet or they were too young to remember. This weekend we rightly will hear the slogan “We will never forget” over and over again. But many of our young people don’t have anything to forget because of their age. It’s important that we remember to teach our young people about such violence in a way that celebrates the dignity of life. We must show them how the lives of 2,977 people were lost because of hatred. So we continue to pray for those who lost their lives, their families, and so many who were hurt in so many ways. But let’s also remember the youngest among us so that they “never forget.”

I look forward to the return of “Pack the House” on Wednesday night this week. As the (not so new anymore) pastor, this will be the first time I have the opportunity to see the spirit of fellowship and learning at this parish for this weekly ministry. It’s not totally new to me, as my former parish, Saint Philip’s does something very similar, although it is called “Midweek Faith Lift” instead. Regardless of the name, once again I look forward to seeing a lot of activity on Wednesday nights! This week I have a chance to speak to parents about their unique role and leadership when it comes to learning our beloved Catholic Christian faith. Whether you attend our Catholic School, another Catholic School or our Religious Education program, parents have a grave responsibility to support at home what is learned about in religion and theology classes. So I look forward to addressing parents this Wednesday.

As I continue to learn about our parish, I have to point out that we should appreciate all of the young adults and young families who are part of our community. In fact, on the whole, I’m not sure I have seen so many young adults and young families in a parish. I think this is a very special blessing that we should not overlook. I notice them at Mass but I also am edified by the number of them that take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To all of our young adults, thank you for being here. And while time is always precious, I would love to see more and more young adults take part in our various councils and committees, as well as making suggestions that would be beneficial to all of you. (I have some ideas… watch this column and I’ll introduce those ideas soon!)

Two final things I’d ask us to pray about. First is “perpetual” adoration. At present, we have the Blessed Sacrament exposed from Wednesday evening until Saturday prior to the 5:00 PM Mass. It would be great to add another day (Tuesday or Sunday or even both!) Maybe we could give that some prayer. Second, remember that we have “scattered” our daily Masses so that it should allow more people to attend. On Tuesdays we celebrate Mass at 5:30 PM. It’s the same time on Wednesday prior to “Pack the House”. And then on Thursday and Friday we celebrate Mass at 8:30 AM. And remember that I hear confessions before every Mass each week. These are just two things to pray about. 

Have a good week, and Praised be Jesus Christ!

 Fr. John




Weekly Letter — August 21, 2016

Dear Friends:

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews says today: “At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.”  The author also says that “discipline” can be likened to “trials.”  We can all identify “trials” in our lives.  But we usually get stuck on the “trial” itself and fail to look ahead and recognize that “peaceful fruit” will come.  This week, it would be good for us to look at our trials, present them to God, and allow ourselves to believe that “peace” will come later.

This week I have been thinking about the various “ministries” of our parish.  I was thinking about what we offer, and where we could offer more.  But I thought most about our altar servers.  When I came to our parish several weeks ago, one thing that “stuck out” was the quality of our altar boys, as well as the variety of ages these boys and young men represent.  I especially appreciate the young men of high school age (or even above) who are altar servers.  I encourage families to talk to their sons about serving as altar boys, and encourage them to do so.  Look around the church—I’ll bet there are boys and young men you could identify as future altar servers.  Tell them!  (And tell us, too!)

It’s hard to believe that a new school year is upon us!  Some are starting up now, and others will be getting started right after Labor Day.  I hope our families with young children have taken the opportunity to learn more about our own school and how it operates in the Montessori tradition.  If your sons and daughters are older school-aged kids, remember that some of our families utilize the Battle Creek Area Catholic Schools (BCACS) and the Catholic Schools of Greater Kalamazoo (CSGK).  If a family wishes to attend these system schools, they are considered “in-parish” and they receive “in-parish” tuition discounts.  (The parish makes up the difference).  So I’d also encourage families to consider utilizing the Catholic Schools nearby if it works for you.  If the primary challenge has been transportation, let me know and maybe we could find ways for families to get together and carpool together.  Or there may be other options, too.  Just some things to think about as a new school year begins.

Please allow me to make one final plea regarding the parish registration.  It helps us a lot to have updated and accurate data regarding our parishioners.  It’s been my experience that a good thing to do when a new pastor comes is to ensure the accuracy of parish records.  And as I have said before, please remember that young people 18 years and older should register themselves as parishioners.  Moreover, accurate registrations are necessary when it comes to when baptisms, marriages, funerals, and other liturgies and sacraments come along.  Thanks for understanding.

Just a gentle reminder that we offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation Tuesday through Sunday every week. Confessions are heard at 5:00 on Tuesday and Wednesday (prior to the 5:30 PM Mass); Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 AM (prior to the 8:30 AM Mass); Saturdays at 4:15 (prior to the 5:00 PM Mass) and Sundays at 8:30 AM and 10:30 AM prior to the 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM Masses, respectively.  I do have one request, though.  Please try to come at the beginning of these times so that I still have plenty of time to prepare for Mass. 

Have a good week and Praised be Jesus Christ!

    Fr. John

Weekly Letter — August 14, 2016

Dear Friends:

Today’s Gospel may seem to be particularly odd to us.  Jesus said he came “to set the earth on fire,” and that he came to establish “division” among people.  I think one way we can understand this is simply saying Jesus came to “shake things up.”  Our faith in Jesus may cause division sometimes, but if things are always quiet and steady, we probably are not “doing” enough when it comes to living out our faith each day whether it be at home, at work, at school, or anytime.

I’m starting to see the bottom of boxes… especially boxes of books as I unpack them.  As I clean things up, I see a few things (like phone messages) that need a response.  Thanks very much for understanding.  Be aware that this week I will be away.  The Diocese has suggested that each pastor in a new assignment take a week off before things get going in late August or early September.  Deacon Mike will be here if something is needed.  Our daily Masses will be celebrated by Fr. Rob Johansen (except for Friday when another priest will be here).  Of course, I’ll be back for masses next weekend as usual.  

Just two gentle reminders… First, please take the time and the opportunity to complete the form so that we can keep our database updated with parishioner information.

Second, there are a number of parishioners who have not made a pledge or gift to the 2016 Bishop’s Annual Appeal.  This sometimes happens when change comes to the parish… only because there is so much going on we often forget (I know I do!)  Thanks for your generosity for this Appeal and for your weekly sacrificial gifts to the parish.

Speaking of gifts to the parish, it’s always a good (and appreciated) thing to remember to include Saint Ann Parish as some part of a beneficiary of estates, and/or requesting memorial contributions at the time of a loved one’s death be directed (at least in part) to the parish.

Just some quick notes about special celebrations such as baptisms, weddings and funerals.  First, the pastor cannot celebrate these celebrations unless a parent, or bride or groom, or the deceased is a registered parishioner.  With special requests, we can try and seek permission otherwise.  Please remember that everyone over 18 should be registered themselves.  “Family” registration does not “cover” an adult.

Generally speaking, I will celebrate baptisms on the first Sunday of the month, and if other baptisms come up it will either be celebrated by me or Deacon Mike which he and I will arrange.  For weddings, a couple is asked to approach the Deacon or the priest at least six months in advance (but it’s better to be a year or more, in my opinion).  Remember that the church should be the first place to schedule a date for the wedding (not the reception hall).  Parish staff is not permitted to schedule a wedding without the permission of the priest or deacon.  Regarding funerals, if a person is to be cremated, it is preferred to have the body present for the funeral Mass with cremation to follow.  Once cremation has taken place, the deacon or the priest will be happy to join you at the burial or entombment of the ashes.  

Those are just some general thoughts.  Some have asked about these things so I thought I would start to address them.  Over time, I think it would be good for us to explore these “guidelines” and why each is important.  Perhaps I will do that in this column or some other forum.  If you have any ideas, let me know.  And by the way, if you ever have questions that you think the parishioners as a whole might benefit from a brief answer in my column, let me know!

As we grow closer to the “end” of summer and our young people are ready to head back to school, let’s pray for a successful and safe year for them.           

Praised be Jesus Christ!             

 Fr. John

Father’s Weekly Column

Dear Friends:

Today we celebrate the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time. “Seek what is above” is what we hear Saint Paul say to the Colossians and to us. Sadly, we all find ourselves in situations where we put our faith on the back burner because we get caught up in the moment of temptation or doubt or any near occasion of sin. Furthermore, Saint Paul gives us a list of things that are “of earth” and not “of above.” A good reflection for us this week would be to take this reading to prayer and rededicate ourselves to what is above and not to things of this earth.

Whenever the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time comes around, I always find myself reflecting on a very important moment in my life… my ordination to the priesthood. It was on the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time when I celebrated my first Mass of Thanksgiving following my ordination. This Wednesday, August 3, is my 14th anniversary of ordination. The time goes by quickly! This week, let’s all remember that we should constantly pray for vocations to the priesthood. If we look around carefully, I am sure there are some around us at Mass who might need us to invite them to consider becoming a priest. Sometimes we need to think of ourselves as “vocation directors.” Consider that God might be asking us to be the instrument to invite someone to pray about priesthood or religious life!

Despite the rain, last week’s parish festival seemed to be a great success! There are so many people to thank… from those who helped put together the prayer service at our original church, to those who were involved with the Mass (including our music and flowers), to the Knights of Columbus, and those who prepared and brought food and did set up and clean up. The only thing that was tragic about the day was that Father Adams and I lost the “cornhole bag toss” game. We were so close to winning, too! Oh well, there is always next year.

Last week, we had a great discussion with the Office of Schools regarding our parish school which remains in its infancy stage. Together, we renewed our commitment to helping our young school grow and thrive. If you have young children, you may want to consider our school. Give the parish or school a call for more information!

Many thanks to those of you who have asked about my recovery regarding my recent bout with pneumonia. I’m definitely on the mend. I find, though, that I seem to tire pretty quickly. The doctors told me to expect that for a while… especially because of the severity of my particular illness. So I take lots of naps. So there’s a good thing that came out of a bad one!

Have a good week, and Praised be Jesus Christ…Now and forever!

Fr. John