Pastor’s Perspective – June 14 (expanded online version)

*Feast of St. Regis and Recognition of Ministries

We celebrate our namesake day (the Feast of St. Regis on June 16) and our founding day (June 19).  The parish turns 58 this week!  This year we also connect it to the Feast of Corpus Christi, celebrating the gift of the Eucharist, and so it is very appropriate that we recognize all the people who give their time, talent and energy so that we can live out Jesus’ mission and ministry. A parish thrives because of the people who give it substance and shape. We had planned a little memento for you during this “Walk with Me”-themed year. Unfortunately, it was delayed in production due to the lockdown.

Thank you to all who help with liturgies—sacristans, lectors, communion ministers, greeters/ushers, cantor/choir, leaders of children’s liturgies, servers, environment helpers, linen care, and worship commission.  Thank you to all who enhance our prayer ministry—Adorers, Christian meditation, Pray-ers, Prayer Teams, Intercessors ,Prayer Box users.  Thank you to those who share their faith in areas of formation—catechists, children’s Word leaders, RCIA catechists, teachers, Men’s Fellowship, Women’s evenings and retreats, evangelization, welcome, vocations, Vacation Bible School, and Faith Formation Commission.

Thank you to Christian service outreach and support—S.O.S., Immigration Circle, Meal Ministry, New Dawn grief support, Young at Heart Seniors support, Divorced Ministry, Stephen Ministry, Food and Clothing Collection help, Knights of Columbus and Legion of Mary groups, Christian Service Commission.  Thank you all who help at the office with bulletins and mailings, collection counters, Finance Council, Pastoral Council, vicariate liaisons, gardening help, and any and all others that have given time and energy these past twelve months. Thank you and may St. John Francis Regis intercede for you in your times of need.

* Solidarity with Immigrants. Upcoming Webinars

Part of thinking through how to respond to issues of immigration is to educate ourselves on the situation immigrants are in, why they seek entry, even if undocumented, and the Church’s moral teaching about care for and treatment of immigrants.  St. Regis’ Immigration Circle of Support is allied with the wider coalition of Circles called Strangers No Longer.  That wider coalition is sponsoring a series of educational events during the summer, to help people understand more fully immigration issues and why the Catholic Church encourages all to be involved with such issues and, more importantly, with immigrants themselves.

The first educational event is a webinar which gives an overview of Catholic social teaching; where the current wave of immigrants come from and why; the numbers involved and some history on immigration in the United States; and what parish Circles of Support can do to help parishes become more involved with immigrants via education, accompaniment, and advocacy. You can register for the webinar by going to stregis.org/immigrationwebinar or follow the links on our homepage News posts.  The dates available are Saturday June 20th at 10 a.m. and Tuesday June 23rd at 7:00 p.m.  Full disclosure: I recorded the brief presentation on Catholic Social Teaching which you will view at the webinar. Then, during July and August there will be more focused webinars on U.S. Immigration History and Current Immigration Law; the History of Central America and Causes of Immigration; and the Current Crisis at the Border.  Finally, toward the end of the summer on Tuesday August 25th at 7:00 p.m. there will be a Zoom gathering focused on Catholic Social Teaching and Immigration, which I will lead.

St. Regis’ Circle of Support meets monthly and has become involved in a number of ways with immigrants and issues of immigration.  Go to our website and look over some of their testimony and think about joining in some of the educational events above or fill out the form on the website and let them know of ways you are willing to be connected.

* “Black Lives Matter”

Should Catholics support the organized protests against police violence? In essence, supporting the “Black Lives Matter” demonstrations?  The short answer is “Yes.” A slightly longer answer is “Yes, as long as the goals remain non-violent and one’s conscience believes the goals remain just.”  I personally support the overall thrust of the demonstrations. And the basis for that is our Catholic Social Teaching—mentioned above—the intrinsic and inviolable dignity of every human being and what it means to work for the common good.  The set of principles the Church has developed to address social, economic and political issues supports the aims of the majority of demonstrators: to see justice done in the specific case of George Floyd and others who have been killed or harmed by the use of excessive force, especially toward blacks; and to call our nation to change its policies and structures in regard to race.  I have provided a link on our webpage under “News/News Briefs” to the document from the United States Bishops addressing the systemic racism that continues to haunt our nation. It is well worth reading.  I have further thoughts on this matter. You can read them in my longer, online version of this Pastor’s Perspective.

[Further thoughts on “Black Lives Matter” for online]

I have had numerous conversations over the past couple of weeks with people who say something like “But why just ‘Black Lives Matter;’ do not all lives matter? Or, why do some people get so upset when others say “All Lives Matter”?  For me, a question like this gets to the heart of the matter, in terms of understanding how racism works in our society.  Of course all lives matter.  But if we really believe and want that to mean something, we need to come to grips with how race still plays such a large role in so many areas of American life—the economy, health care, education, crime, police violence, even just general attitudes.  Listening to our brothers and sisters who are black and who have had numerous negative and even threatening encounters with people who treat them differently simply because of the color of their skin, to say “all lives matter” as a retort to “Black Lives Matter” is to continue to make their experiences invisible.  Because all lives matter it is important to say and show and live that “black lives matter.”

Racism is something that gets into the guts and bones of our systems, so much so that we do not even realize its effects.  I am sure there are a few, but how of us who are articulate, professional and law-abiding have been stopped by police for little or no reason, and in that encounter truly feared for our safety? Many who are black have experienced that at least once in their lives.  How many of us, when we walk into a nice store, all of a sudden have a “tail” on us, watching our every move, what we touch and  handle and so forth? Again, I am sure there are some who have, but not to the same extent as it happens to those who are black.  In other words, in many little (and some big) ways, to not be black puts us on the receiving end of a lot of privilege we did not earn or ask for, but which is given to us, in comparison to those who are black.  That does not make us personally racist. If one is racist, then all I can say is “Repent for the sake of your own soul.” But if one is not personally racist, it does not mean that we can ignore the effects of systemic racism in our society.

Which brings us back to the “Black Lives Matter” protests.  I am fully in support of the aims of that movement. The main leaders and organizers are using time-honored non-violent protests to raise awareness and to call for systemic change.  The key is systemic change. It is easy to shrug off as naïve the people who say “defund the police,” because we know that will not happen on a massive scale. But that slogan is one way of raising awareness that we need to go beyond small steps. We need systemic change and that calls for big steps.

I do hope that this eruption of passion for justice does not stop just at the rallying cry stage.  I am impressed with how many college-age youth are involved.  It seems to have the potential to make deeper marks within our culture, now that it has spread to cities in all areas of the country. Even all the major sports and most major companies are recognizing that they have to be part of the solution as well.  There is a small but vocal opposition to this movement, which has tried to mock it or disrupt it. This has the potential, then, to dissolve into violence on either side.  But we have, I think, even more potential, if wise heads prevail, to have this erupt into real change, the next blossoming of the civil rights movement that came into prominence in the 1960s. For Christians, Catholics included, that blossoming can be seen as a work of God’s Spirit,

*May Monthly and Budget/CSA

Elsewhere in the bulletin are the Sunday/Holyday Offering figures for the month of May and Year-to-Date against budget.  We will be posting a monthly report like that from now on, rather than a weekly report, given that most contributions do not come in via the weekend Masses. With the extraordinary times and the financial crunch many are experiencing, your generosity has been so appreciated and heartening.  Going into the COVID-19 lockdown we were about $20,000 ahead of budget for the fiscal year. You can see that we are now a bit under budget ($15,000). Still very good.

A few people have asked about the Catholic Services Appeal this year.  The archdiocese decided to delay the appeal until August, due to the lockdown. You will be receiving a letter in early August asking that all try to make some level of contribution to the yearly C.S.A., whether as a one-time donation or a pledge.  All school families that receive in-parish tuition rates are required to make some type of contribution.  If you want to take care of your C.S.A. pledge/donation earlier, you can go to our website and click on the Donations button and follow the links to make a C.S.A. pledge/donation.  We realize that financial circumstances vary greatly. If you can match or exceed last year’s donation, that is the ideal. If you cannot, that is fine. Give what you can. Remember: all C.S.A. donations help the parish 100% with no tax taken out. Thank you.

Fr. Buersmeyer

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