Archive for October, 2009

Homily — 30th Sun. OT 80th Anniversary Weekend 10/25/09

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

Homily — 30th Sun. OT 80th Anniversary Weekend 10/25/09

original-church-1929

Original Church 1929

current-church-19292

Current Church 2009

The Lord has done great things for us,

We are filled with joy!

Today’s first reading and psalm speak of the joy the Israelites had when they were able to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem after the Exile.

Even Jeremiah, usually a pretty grim, doom and gloom prophet, is bursting with happiness at seeing God’s Temple go up, as he says in the first reading: Thus says the LORD: Shout with joy, proclaim your praise and say “The LORD has delivered His people!” Behold, (now) I (the LORD) will gather them . . . . the blind and the lame, mothers and those with child, an immense throng.

(Now) I will console and guide them, I will lead them to brooks of water, on a level road so that none (of them) shall stumble.

Today’s readings are most appropriate for us, as we rejoice, as we celebrate this weekend the 80th Anniversary of the building of this Temple of God, St. Joseph Church Woonsocket.

The story of the birth of our parish goes back to the mid 1920′s. Our wonderful parish historian, Raymond Bacon, has for over 30 years chronicled our parish history, and as the current Pastor I’d like to take the opportunity to thank him for his excellent work, just a little of which I will share with you in this homily.

In the late 1920s, this area of East Woonsocket was rapidly changing from a rural farmland to a populace suburb. The population of Woonsocket had doubled since the turn of the century, and St. Anne’s Parish which then included East Woonsocket was bursting at the seams.

In July of 1926, at the request of East Woonsocketers who felt a strong need for a parish in their growing corner of the city, the Bishop of Providence, Bishop Hickey, purchased 6 acres of land from Elmer and Edwin Jillson, which is the present site of St. Joseph Parish. The cost of the whole 6 acres: $23,000 – less money than it cost to repair our steeple this past summer!

Two and a half years later, the Bishop gave permission for a new parish to be founded. The Reverend Joseph F. Dumont, a curate at St. Anne’s, was appointed Pastor of the still unbuilt parish on Friday, July 12, 1929.

But Fr. Dumont wasted no time getting things moving. As Ray Bacon tells it in his history: “On Tuesday afternoon, July 16, work was begun on the new Church. As if inspired by their patron saint, some fifty men, under the direction of Mr. Aime Lefebvre, gave of their time, their talent and their labor, and successfully completed the Church in time for the following Sunday, July 21 1929.”

“The original structure was 80 feet long, 30 feet wide, and had a seating capacity of some 500 people” (And I’m happy to say, we continue to this day to be blessed with people in the parish who work hard in that same spirit of sacrifice – the building committee, food cupboard workers, bingo volunteers, liturgy committee, 50/50 Club, choir, and so many others)

On that Sunday, July 21, 1929, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated for the very first time at St. Joseph’s Parish, and Jesus our Lord took up residence in the Tabernacle, where He has happily lived for the past 80 years.

The Lord has done great things for us

We are filled with Joy!

Filled with Joy, over the thousands of people who were born again of water and the Holy Spirit from this Baptismal Font.

Filled with Joy for the many holy vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, religious life and married life that have been nurtured from our parish.

Filled with Joy that over these past 80 years, countless men and women have been nourished with the Eucharist, reconciled to God through the Sacrament of Penance, healed and consoled by Jesus through the anointing of the sick, and honored with Christian burial when their earthly pilgrimage ended, all here at our parish.

Filled with Joy, that 80 years later, in 2009 we now worship God in this beautifully renovated Church building (with one of the best Steeples in Woonsocket!); and our Catholic School and Public School children are getting taught the faith in a equally impressive, solidly built school building.

But the greatest thing by far the LORD has done for us, my brothers and sisters, the thing we are most filled with joy about, is that the Faith our ancestors built this parish upon remains strong in the hearts of those who come to Mass here each week.

Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary, the Foster Son of St. Joseph, continues to be the Lord of our Hearts,

Jesus Christ continues to be made known through the lives of so many faith filled parishioners.

May St. Joseph our Patron, and Mary his Immaculate Spouse continue to shower these blessings from their Son down on us, as we celebrate this weekend, and for many many years to come.

Homily — 29th Sunday OT B World Mission Sunday 10/18/9

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Homily — 29th Sunday OT B World Mission Sunday 10/18/9

The Universal Church celebrates this Sunday “World Mission Sunday,” a Sunday when we focus on our call as a Church to be Missionary, to spread the faith to the ends of the earth.

And while we are certainly to support the foreign missions to the Church in non-Christian lands, by our prayers and our financial support to today’s Second Collection, we also need to be mindful of the mission lands found right here in Woonsocket, in the neighborhoods we live in, in the places we work or go to school in – those people right around us that have yet to respond to the Gospel message, or have need of hearing it afresh.

At the end of every Mass, the priest (turns to the people and) says “Ite, Missa Est.” This could be loosely translated as “Go, you are missioned – you have your Mission from God this week.”

For we are sent from the Real Presence of Jesus here at this Church, back into the world, with the very important Mission to bring His saving love to all we come in contact with.

I’d like to take the opportunity this World Mission Sunday to let everyone know about a major Missionary Effort our own Diocese of Providence will soon be undertaking – a mission to bring back Catholics in our Diocese who have fallen away from the faith.

Bishop Tobin has announced that beginning this Advent, the Diocese will embark on a “Year of Evangelization.”

Throughout the months of December 2009 and January 2010, the Diocese will be airing, on prime time Television, three Television Ads created by a group called Catholics Come Home. An anonymous donor gave the Diocese the $200,000.00 needed to air these ads. If you go to www.catholicscomehome.org, you can watch them on line.

The ads are geared towards Catholics who have either left the Church, or have stopped practicing the faith. They are very professionally done and in my opinion are pretty powerful, especially the first one which simply shows who the Catholic Church is, what we’ve done and continue to do, and then invites the viewer to join us.

The Diocese of Phoenix Arizona ran these same ads in Lent of 2008, and seven months later they found that 92,000 more people were attending Mass than the year before, which was a 12% increase in weekend Mass attendance throughout the Diocese. (At St. Joseph’s, we have about 1000 people come to Mass each weekend. It would be great if a year from now, 100 more people were coming to our parish for Mass, if next year, 37% of RI Catholics instead of 25% were practicing their faith!)

The Diocese has already started getting ready, and is asking all parishes and their parishioners to get ready for these ads. People you work with or live next door to might say to you in a month or so “Hey, you go to Church, don’t you? I’m thinking of going back.” You will need to be a missionary to them, inviting them Home to the Catholic Church.

To help you do this, one thing our parish has already done for this Year of Evangelization. When we were making the 80th Anniversary Photo Directory last Spring, if you had so many people get their picture taken, not only was the Directory Free for us and them, but we were able to also get, free of charge, 1000 full color parish brochures inviting people to join our parish, with photos of different parish groups and events.

Once these TV ads begin, I’ll be putting some in the pews for people to take home and give them out if they’d like.

And so, as we celebrate World Mission Sunday, let us pray that we will imitate Jesus our Lord, who was sent by God the Father, not to be served by those He was sent to, but to serve them by sharing in their sufferings and by sharing the Gospel with them.

May we imitate Jesus, whose Mission was to give generously of His life, that many would have the fullness of life.

Newly Renovated Steeple

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Here are some photos of our recently renovated Church Steeple

Steeple before renovation

Steeple before renovation

Steeple after renovation

Steeple after renovation

Homily — 28th Sunday OT B 10-11-09

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Homily — 28th Sunday OT B 10-11-09

“We have given up everything and followed you” Peter said to the Lord Jesus.

To which Jesus replied “Peter, all that you have given up by following me – houses, relatives, children, land – you will receive a hundred times that in this life.”

When Peter decided to follow Jesus, as Jesus reminded him, he gave up houses – that dream of one day having a big expensive house to call his own.

In return, Jesus gave Peter a house a 100 times better, he gave Peter the Keys to the House of God, the Church.

When Peter decided to follow Jesus, he gave up relatives, gave up living the easy life with his brothers and sisters. He could have chose not to follow Jesus, and instead spent all his life lounging about with Andrew and the rest of his clan at the beach resort on the shores of Galilee. Instead, Peter gave up the easy life, and instead sacrificed much of his leisure time praying and learning about Jesus and working for the spread of the faith.

And because Peter gave up an easy life with his brothers and sisters, Jesus gave him 100 times as many brothers and sisters in Christ. And Jesus also made his relationship with his biological brothers and sisters such as his brother Andrew a 100 times better than it would have been had he not given up everything and followed after Jesus.

Peter gave up everything – even as Jesus mentions, his own children. Not that St. Peter disowned his children or gave them up for adoption, but rather Peter gave his children to Jesus, instead of pampering and spoiling them as he and his wife would have been inclined to do, Peter instead taught discipline to his children and raised them to know love and serve the Lord.

In doing so, Peter as a Dad received a hundredfold of blessings when he saw his children fully grown and fervently following Jesus according to he and his wife’s good example.

And finally, as Jesus mentions, Peter gave up lands or Kingdoms for the sake of Jesus. In Peter’s case, the lands he gave up were really seas. Peter in his fisherman days probably dreamed of one day having a fleet of fishing boats under him, he probably aspired to be the most successful fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, maybe of even doing deep sea fishing in the Mediterranean.

But Jesus had other plans, as the hymn goes, Jesus gazed into Peter’s eyes, and called his name, and all Peter had he left on the sand to follow Jesus, walking by faith he knew not where to.

And in return for the lands or seas Peter sacrificed, Jesus gave Peter the Ocean of Mankind to Sail in, Jesus made Peter the Chief Fisher of all Men.

And in exchange for his tiny boat, Jesus made Peter Captain of His Enormous New Ark which is the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, the bark of Peter, which rides the stormy seas; and unlike the Titanic, God won’t ever allow this ship to sink, no matter how stormy it gets out there.

Lord, “We have given up everything and followed you.”

May you Lord Jesus be our one and only possession in this life. May we cling to nothing – no person, no place, no thing, no title, no position, no reputation – may we cling to nothing but you, that we may truly possess a hundredfold of all these things in this life, with blessed persecutions for being your disciples, and eternal life with our loved ones in the age to come.

Homily — 28th Sunday OT B 10/4/09 (Respect Life Sunday)

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Homily — 28th Sunday OT B 10/4/09

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Photo of St. Francis and Wolf of Gubbio Picture

You are probably wondering what this enormous (60 inch X 40 inch) picture (shown above) is doing here in the sanctuary.

I recently acquired the picture from St. Francis House, the assisted living facility on Blackstone Street that had to be closed down by the Diocese this past week because of the stricter Rhode Island Fire Code in the aftermath of the Station Night Club Fire.

The picture was hanging up in one of the halls of St. Francis House, I have no idea how old it is, nuns moved into the building in the 1930s and perhaps it goes back that far.

In case you haven’t guessed, the man in the picture is St. Francis of Assisi, who’s Feast Day is today (October 4).

Tomorrow (Monday) at 1:15 p.m. I’ll be celebrating a special Mass with the school where I’ll bless the picture, and after that we’ll be hanging the picture on one of the walls in the school.

The picture depicts the very famous story of St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio. The account can be read in a Book called “The Little Flowers of St. Francis” written 100 years after Francis’ death on October 3, 1224.

Story about how there was a “fearfully large and fierce” wolf living outside of the town of Gubbio Italy that was so hungry it began to eat humans who were walking out in the country. The story says that people were so afraid that they would carry weapons with them “as if they were going to war” – which is why the men in the background of the picture look like confederate soldiers.

St. Francis hearing of this went out to where the wolf lived. The wolf saw Francis coming and lunged towards him with his sharp teeth and claws ready to tear him to pieces and make lunch out of him.

But Francis stood there and made the Sign of the Cross over the Savage Wolf, and immediately the big wolf stopped running, lowered his head, and meekly walked over to Francis and laid down by his feet like a little lamb would do.

And Francis said to the Wolf “Brother Wolf, . . . . you have committed horrible crimes. . . .in killing and devouring human beings made in the image of God. You deserve to be put to death . . . . this whole town is your enemy. . . .but I want to make peace with you and the town”

And Francis told Brother Wolf that if he promised not to hurt any animals or humans any more, he would promise to make the people of the town feed Brother Wolf every day for as long as he lived, “for I know that whatever evil you have been doing was done because of . . . . hunger. Will you promise (and pledge) me that, Brother Wolf?”

Let’s shake on it! And as you see in the picture, the wolf put out his paw and shook on that promise. And the people of the town of Gubbio forgave the wolf of his former sins of killing their fellow townspeople, and for the rest of it’s life they fed and took care of the wolf, and when it grew old and died they built a shrine over its burial place which you can visit today. (In the late 1800s, excavations under the shrine unearthed a very large skull of a wolf with teeth intact.)

This story could not be more relevant to us today as we observe Respect Life Sunday.

For again, a “fearfully large and fierce” wolf prowls not around the village of Gubbio Italy, but around the city of Woonsocket, around the state of Rhode Island, around the country, around our Western World.

For decades now, this savage wolf has terrorized and devastated our Christian Culture.

This wolf has for the past 30 years torn millions of unborn children from their mother’s wombs, and has hindered and prevented millions more born children from growing up knowing loving and serving Jesus so that now our Church pews are empty of children and our Catholic schools are closing.

This wolf has also torn apart countless marriages through divorce, infidelity, and the sexual revolution.

And like the townspeople of Gubbio, our efforts to stop this wolf from harming our society have all been in vain, the wolf only gets bigger and fiercer with each passing year.

And that is a pity, because we like St. Francis have been given by Jesus the power to not only stop this wolf but tame it as well, by courageously standing up to the Wolf as Francis did, and by arming ourselves with the Sign of the Cross.

The Holy Cross of Christ has the power to transform the wolf into the lamb, the culture of death into a culture of life.

But while many of us Catholics know how to make the Sign of the Cross, few us of Catholics really pray the Sign of the Cross.

St. Francis prayed the Sign of the Cross as we can see in the picture with crucified hands, standing on two crucified feet, with a pierced and crucified heart – that kind of prayer and only that will tame the wolf.

And while St. Francis was given the visible stigmata by Jesus, all of us Catholics are called to bear the invisible stigmata – to have the Hands and Feet and Heart of Christ – totally dead to sin and evil, totally alive to Love and Good Works.

On this Respect Life Sunday, and during this Respect Life Month of October, may we ask Jesus to give us the grace to Crucify ourselves to the world, that the Sign we are sending to the Wolves who prowl about our culture and hold sway over it will be the Saving and Tranforming Sign of the Cross, which will tame that wolf and turn it into a Lamb who will lead the little children and their parents to Jesus the Good Shepherd.