Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
December 6, when it does not fall on a Sunday of Advent, is the feast of St. Nicholas. This great bishop and saint was known for his ardent preaching of the Gospel and the pastoral care he gave to the people of his diocese. He most likely attended the First Council of Nicea, which clarified the Church’s teaching that Jesus is fully human and fully divine. St. Nicholas is perhaps best known for his generosity to those in need, and from this habit of sneaking gifts to those in need comes our living tradition of St. Nicholas as a gift-giver. Out of love for his people, St. Nicholas gave generously. Out of love for Jesus Christ, St. Nicholas taught the faith and shared his love for God with his people. In humility, St. Nicholas called no attention to his good deeds.
We can look at St. Nicholas today, then, as an example for our Advent journey. As a preparatory season, these weeks invite us to examine our lives and habits. Like St. Nicholas, we are invited to put prioritize our relationship with Jesus. One way for us to grow in faith in Christ, to increase our love for Him, is to study. The more we know the Catholic faith, the more we understand the person of Jesus. With this increased understanding comes a more ready comprehension of the Gospel story. To know Scripture is to know God more intimately. The more we know of our faith, the more we understand that the faith has countless practical applications, especially in service to others. To be a disciple of Jesus means to take him at his word when he calls us to care for the widow, the orphan, the alien, the lonely, the sick and imprisoned, the sinner. Opportunities for this abound throughout the year. Many of you have concretely put your faith into action recently by participating in the Box of Joy effort, or in our Christmas Giving Tree. Like St. Nicholas, these efforts do not put us in the spotlight, but rather call for our own humility. We do these good things because they benefit our brothers and sisters, not for recognition. We do these things because they are a way for us to love Jesus more, not because we get attention for them. Like St. Nicholas, let us use this Advent season as a time to act on our faith more each day.
For nearly twenty years, we at St. Pius have benefitted from the tireless work, often unseen, and always generous, of one person who, like St. Nicholas, loves the Lord and the people of this Christian community. Mrs. Kathleen Donnelly has been a constant presence, teaching the faith to many, comforting people in moments of grief, celebrating with them as they bring new life into the world, organizing charitable activities and outreach, and offering spiritual counsel and guidance to so many of our parishioners. At the end of this calendar year, Kathy will retire from her work here. All told, she has given more than forty years of her life in service to the Church!
I first met Kathy when she worked at St. James Parish in Stratford. From there she went on to serve the community at St. Joseph Parish in Brookfield, before coming here to St. Pius with her husband John, who retired as our business manager a few years ago. While the parish communities are different, Kathy’s enthusiasm for the faith, and commitment to helping parish life to flourish has never changed. She has been a tremendous gift to this community. Over the years, she has seen the parish through many challenges and has been a steady, prayerful presence and influence in the office and for our parish family. Many of you have benefited from her dedication and quiet work over the years. I will never be able to adequately express my gratitude for her example, kindness, and prayerful approach to parish ministry. I am forever indebted to Kathy Donnelly for the care she gives to this parish and for the influence she has been for me, personally. I know that many in the parish will share my sentiments. Because of the pandemic, we are not able, at this time, to plan an appropriate send-off and retirement party for her, but be assured that we will do something for Kathy when it is possible! In the meantime, I encourage you to send her a note, congratulate her when you see her, and pray for her as she begins her retirement. Thank you, Kathy, for everything you have done for this parish, for your leadership, and for your loving gift of self to the St. Pius X family!