Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
These days after the conclusion of the Easter season, coupled with the lifting of many pandemic restrictions and the unofficial start of summer could lead us to think of our time as uneventful, run-of-the-mill, and far from extraordinary. The Church even calls this time “Ordinary” (though the word “ordinary” relating in this case to “ordinal,” that is, numbered time). Of course the idea that the time between Pentecost and Advent is in any way ordinary is completely mistaken. The time after Pentecost is the season of the Church. This is the season of evangelization, of kerygma (the proclamation of the Gospel). It is the time of mission. In a certain way, the ordinary outlook of the Church must be one of mission. Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter are seasons that bring us back to the central mysteries of our faith, that turn our hearts and minds back to the Lord. But that turning is always so that we can go out to continue our mission. Just so, we should see these long weeks following Pentecost as an invitation to be on mission, allowing the graces we have received from our 40 days of penance leading to the Lord’s Passion, and the graces confirmed in us by our 50 days of rejoicing in the glory of His Resurrection to be put to work. That work includes all facets of our Catholic lives: our worship at Mass, our service within our parish, our service to the wider community, our efforts to evangelize, our personal prayer lives, our corporal and spiritual works of mercy. When we put our faith into action, when we recognize that we are on mission, there will never be an ordinary time in our living of the Catholic faith.
As many of you know, when a new pastor is appointed to a parish in the Diocese of Bridgeport, he is given a term of six years. June 30 will be the last day of my six year term – hard to believe! After consultation with the Parish Council, the parish Finance Council, and the parish staff, Bishop Caggiano has very kindly granted me a second term as pastor here at St. Pius. Coincidentally, he gave me this “new” assignment on my ordination anniversary. This parish has been an enormous part of my life since my days in seminary formation, and I am so grateful to be the pastor of this wonderful community.
Now that the (genuine) sentimental stuff is out of the way…these last six years have seen a lot of activity for us as a parish. We have renovated the church building, welcomed many new families, started new ministries, and grown together as a community of believers. But if what I wrote above is true, then we are only beginning our mission as a parish. There is work to be done! In the coming years, we have the ordinary tasks of a parish: to celebrate the sacraments together, to teach our young people the ways of faith, to build up a community united in faith and fellowship, to go out as a community in service to others. And we have the extra-ordinary, as well.
Very immediately, we need to refurnish our school classrooms so that they can be more effective spaces for teaching the faith. We are seeking gifts of $150 to help purchase new desks and chairs – thank you to those of you who have already responded to this effort! Our youth minister, Paola Peña, will be moving into a new role on our staff, as Director of Evangelization, a role in which she will organize adult faith formation efforts, retreats, and evangelization opportunities. As a result, we are actively searching for a new youth minister who will work full time with our high school and middle school youth ministries. Our Director of Elementary Faith Formation, Shari Garcia, is taking on additional responsibilities this year, as our programs add grade level opportunities. Add to the list of immediate needs, then, a cadre of volunteers who can help teach the faith as catechists in the upcoming academic year, and adult CORE team members to serve our middle school and high school students.
Another volunteer need relates to long-term planning relating to building and campus upkeep and maintenance. The school building has hardly been updated since the school closed in 1994, and the rectory, built around 1990, is in need of some work. Our site lighting is overdue for an upgrade, too. Other, smaller projects, on campus are always cropping up. I would like to put together an advisory committee of parishioners with experience in architecture, building construction, real estate law, planning and zoning, etc – anything that can help us formulate a plan for maintaining our parish infrastructure so that our buildings and campus can continue to serve us well for our community’s growth in faith and outreach. If you have the background, I ask you to prayerfully consider lending your experience to the parish.
The time after Pentecost is anything but ordinary. I am excited to live out the Church’s mission with all of you!