April 22, 2018
Today we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Easter. This Sunday in the Easter Season is commonly known as “Good Shepherd Sunday.” In today’s Gospel Jesus says it clearly, “I am the Good Shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me…and I will lay down my life my life for the sheep.” I always like this Sunday as it reminds me of my first assignment as associate at Good Shepherd Parish in Ferguson. It was there that I had a very good shepherd to help me begin ministry. I also came to understand the importance of getting to know the sheep by name. In the past 10 months I have certainly been working on your names and will continue to do so. Pope Francis preached that in the Good Shepherd’s heart, “the Father’s love shines forth…There I know I am welcomed and understood as I am; there, with all my sins and limitations, I know that I am chosen and loved.” Isn’t it Good News to hear that I need not be perfect to belong to the Good Shepherd’s flock as a child of God? He invites me to be willing to accept that God’s love for me is greater than my sin. He invites me to change the things I can and accept what I can’t. This week let the Good Shepherd’s heart speak to your heart. Speak from yours to Him.
Thank you to the many parishioners who adopted our Easter Flowers. If you took one home and planted it, look forward to it taking root and returning next year to bring beauty to your home garden. Some of the plants will be planted here on the parish property to make our family home beautiful and inviting.
During the past ten months I have been doing what I promised I would do when I came as Pastor of St. Luke’s: Look, Listen, and Learn. In this time I noticed that our Mass schedule was a reason some left and were going to other parishes at times more conducive to their schedules. By moving Masses back to their original times there has been a slow, but steady increase. Praise God! I also noticed that our daily mass attendance was good, but heating/cooling the entire Church for less than 20, was not good stewardship use of our finances. I have begun to make our current servers sacristy into a daily mass chapel to seat 20 and provide a more economical place for daily worship and Adoration. I have also noticed how willing people are to lend a hand when needed, i.e. Christmas decorating and taking down, taking care of some of the parish gardens and flower pots, coming out for Mass on the Grass celebrations, changing missalettes, and offering Time and Talent to enhance the parish. I would like to see us form an Art & Environment Committee for our Church made up of people who could sew new appointments for the sanctuary, be in charge of ordering flowers, and come up with new ideas to enhance the beauty of the Church throughout the Liturgical Year. There are some very talented parishioners in our family and I look forward to gathering with them to form this committee. I also noticed that our Church is too big for the number of people attending weekend masses. While the task of bringing new members into our family is a work of all of us, the way to do that is a challenge. I have finished a very helpful book, “Forming Intentional Disciples,” by author Sherry Weddell. In the summer months I hope to form a study group to come up with ideas for evangelization in our parish. As the Cursillo group says, “Make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ.” There are countless people in the Maplewood/Richmond Heights neighborhoods who are our potential new “friends.” I have also noticed that there is a small area for us to gather and fellowship after Masses. With the Finance committee and the Parish Pastoral Council’s consensus I will be proposing the removal of several pews in the back of Church to create a space where we can gather, celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism, and create a space for fellowship. So, I have been looking, listening, and learning and appreciate any and all input from you, my brothers and sisters. As your shepherd, it is important to me that we all be one flock committed to the Good Shepherd and our mission.
God Bless! Happy Eastertide!
Remember those 3 Hail Marys (Fr. Pete)