St. Joseph Parish School News

Mrs. Amy Makruski has accepted my invitation to become the next principal of Saint Joseph Parish School beginning with the school year 2017-2018.  Mrs. Makruski is currently our first grade teacher and our assistant principal.  This announcement is made public today, 20 March 2017.  Mrs. Makruski will succeed Mrs. Karen Casper-Linn who earlier had announced her plans to retire as principal at the end of this school year 2016-2017.  Please join me in offering both of them our best wishes, our personal appreciation and our prayerful support.
Fr. Timothy J. O’Connor
Pastor, Saint Joseph Parish
Amherst, Ohio

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Fr. Tim’s Homily for May 21, 2017

Sixth Sunday of Easter – A

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 Acts of the Apostles 8: 5-8, 1-17 

1 Peter 3: 15-18

John 14: 15-21 

 

An elderly couple was sitting in the parking lot of a large shopping center.  The hood was up on their car.  They had engine trouble.

A young man pushing a shopping cart came towards then and shouted, “You shouldn’t be allowed to drive at your age!”  And then he loaded his sporty new vehicle and drove off.

A stranger approached and said, “Looks like you are having a problem.  I don’t know much about cars but I will go and get you some help.”

Returning with a tow truck, the stranger began a conversation with the old man.  He noticed that they were both wearing rings that indicated their service in the United States Marine Corps.  Both retired, they discussed where they had served and how they were doing now.

When the car was all hitched to the tow truck, the old gentleman thanked the stranger and handed him a card.  After they left, he looked at that card and saw that the elderly man was a member of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

And he was so glad that he had stopped to help one of America’s heroes.

Today’s Gospel takes place during the Last Supper.  Jesus had given His Apostles His Body and Blood in the Eucharist.  He had washed their feet.  Judas had departed to betray Him.  Now Jesus tells the Apostles that He will soon be leaving them.

He says, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always.”

“Another Advocate” – the phrase literally means “one who comes alongside to assist.”  That elderly couple with car trouble was helped by the retired Marine when they needed someone “to come alongside to assist.”  Maybe some “needful moment” is here right now with you.

Next Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension, when Jesus goes back to heaven and sits at His Father’s right hand.  The following week is the Feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit comes down upon the Apostles and they carry the message of Jesus to the world.  Pentecost is the close of the Easter season.

So in the Gospel today we hear Jesus getting us ready for His departure.  “I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always.”  This Advocate, the Holy Spirit, will “come alongside to assist.”

How does the Holy Spirit “come alongside to assist?”  You might think about a time in your life when things were pretty difficult, and you prayed.  And maybe you didn’t get the answer you were expecting and you complained, “Where are you, Lord?  Why aren’t you helping me?”

But perhaps now you can look back over your shoulder and can see that God was with you all along.  And that if you hadn’t gone through that tough time, you might not be the person that you are today.

All along God was with you, helping you to become an even better disciple and enabling you to become more aware of the needs of others – and perhaps even being God’s answer to their prayers.

There is a wonderful classic story that has meat on its bones and gives us food for thought, even if we have heard it before.

There was a man in a town where the flood waters were on their way.  He was out on his porch when a rescue truck drove by and the driver invited him to get in.  But the man said, “No, God will take care of me.  I’m staying with my house.”

A while later, as the waters were rising, a boat came by.  The man was looking out the window on the second floor.  The boat driver said, “Get on board.”  The man replied, “No, God will take care of me.  I’m staying with my house.”

A bit later the man was on his rooftop and a helicopter flew overhead and dropped a line.  “Grab hold of this rope and we will rescue you.”  And the man said, “No, God will take care of me.  I’m staying with my house.”

And the man drowned.  Standing before Almighty God he said, “I prayed to you.  Why didn’t you answer me?”

And God looked at him and said, “You fool!  I sent you a truck, a boat and a helicopter.  What more could I have done.

It is an old story, but it does drive home a point.  God is with us – “alongside us” – even when we don’t recognize God’s answer to our prayers.

And so often God works through us “to come alongside” someone else and be God’s answer to their prayers.

“I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always.”

God is faithful to us.

What an awesome God we serve!

Fr. Tim’s Homily for May 15, 2017

Fifth Sunday of Easter – A

Mother’s day

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 Acts of the Apostles 6: 1-7 

1 Peter 2: 4-9

John 14: 1-12 

 

Early this past week I was looking over the great Gospel passage that we just heard with the conversation between Jesus and the Apostle Philip.

Jesus said to His disciples:  “No one comes to the Father except through Me.  If you know Me, then you will also know my Father.”

And Philip said to Him:  “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus, a bit exasperated, I think, said to Philip:  “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip?  Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.”

I was thinking of what I might like to reflect on with you about these verses today.  And then it dawned on me:  this is Mother’s Day weekend! And I am seasoned enough in ministry to know that if I expect to receive a paycheck this month, I had better not fail to talk about Mother’s Day!

So…  I tried to put the two together, and this is where it took me.

Philip saw Jesus all right.  But the Father – visible in Jesus – was still invisible to Philip.

This reminded me of a mother named Nicole Johnson who wrote a book entitled, The Invisible Woman:  When Only God Sees.

And I thought that you might like to reflect with me upon a passage from this book on this Mother’s Day.

         It all began to make sense:  the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.  Inside I’m thinking:  “Can’t you see I’m on the phone?”
       Obviously not.  No one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.  I’m invisible.
       Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more.  “Can you fix this?”  “Can you tie this?”  “Can you open this?”
       Some days I’m not even a pair of hands.  I’m not even a human being.  I’m a clock to ask, “What time is it?”  I’m a satellite guide to ask, “What number is the Disney Channel?”  I’m a car to order, “Pick me up at 5:30, please.”
       I was certain that these were the hands that once held books, and the eyes that studied history, and the mind that graduated summa cum laude – but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.
       One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England.  Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in.
       I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well.  It was hard not to feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress.  It was the only thing I could find that was clean.  My hair was pulled up in a clip.  I didn’t have time to do anything with it.
       I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, “I brought you this.”
       It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe.  I wasn’t exactly sure why she had given it to me until I read her inscription:
       “To Nicole, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”
       In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book.  And I would discover what would become for me four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:
1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of their names.
2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.
3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
4) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built.  He saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam.  He was puzzled and asked the man, “Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof?  No one will ever see it.”  And the workman replied, “Because God will see it.”
       I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place.  It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me:  “I see you, Nicole.  I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.  No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over.  You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.”
       At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction.  But it is actually the cure for my own self-centeredness.
I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder:  as one of the people who shows up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.
The writer of the book went so far as to say that no great cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime, because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving:  “My mom gets up at four in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand-bastes the turkey for three hours, and presses all the linens for the table.”  That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself.
I just want him to want to come home.  And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add:  “You’re going to love it here.
       As mothers, we are building great cathedrals.  We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right.  And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.

And so writes a mother named Nicole Johnson in her book, The Invisible Woman:  When Only God Sees.

Jesus said to Philip:  “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip?  Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.”

And mothers, we pray that whoever sees you will also see the influence of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother too.

Mothers, we are proud of you and grateful for your accomplishments.

You are building great cathedrals!

You are, in cooperation with Jesus, building up His beautiful family, the Church!

Happy Mother’s Day.  And God bless you all.

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