Pastor’s Perspective – May 2, 2021

*Introducing a New Staff Member: Kimberly Smith

I would like to welcome Ms. Kimberly Smith to our parish staff. Elsewhere in the bulletin she has provided a brief introduction. She began on April 1st as our Assistant Business Manager in the business office, working with Liz Kemp, our current Business Manager.

The need for someone like Kim arose after I learned that our current Administrative Assistant in the business office, Mrs. Janice Beers will be retiring as of June 30th this year. With her retirement I first thought that we would be looking for a replacement for that position, but then Liz Kemp said that she would like to retire sometime next year. The role of the business manager is complex, and it is vital to have someone who has the credentials and is very attentive to all the details involved. Rather than hiring an administrative assistant it became more important to first have a smooth transition in the position of business manager. We reached out to Kim—her background includes working both for the finance department of the Archdiocese of Detroit and in parishes—to see if she would be interested in coming on board, and she has done so.

For the remainder of this fiscal year (June 30) Kim will work with Janice in learning the day to day procedures for which she is responsible, and Kim will continue to work with Liz on the budgeting and day to day fiscal management of the parish. (If (when!) all this works out well and Liz is ready to retire, Kim will assume the role of Business Manager and we will look to hire an administrative assistant for the business office. We do not want to say our goodbyes to Janice yet; we will save those for the end of June. For now, let us welcome Kim to the parish. I am thankful that Kim is willing to be with us to use her business and management skills for the good of St. Regis.

*Parish Pastoral Council and Parish Commissions

Each year we look for people who are willing to join one of the parish commissions—Christian Service, Worship or Faith Formation—or serve as a member of the Parish Pastoral Council. A great way to see what these groups do is to come to our upcoming Parish Leadership Night on Tuesday May 11th. Ideally we would like several candidates for every open seat on these groups. We would then place the names in a basket, pray for the Holy Spirit to be present, and select as many as needed. In practice, most of these groups have been able to incorporate anyone who puts forward their name.

I would encourage you to not only nominate yourself, but any other parish member whom you think would be a valuable contributor to these groups. The Councils and Commissions form the core of our parish leadership and are consulted on major initiatives which the parish is considering. School families: it is a great way to get involved in the parish and to fulfil your commitment to some type of parish service. Thank you.

*COVID-19 Vaccines

There have been a number of stories both within areas of Michigan and nationwide which have highlighted how some of the special sites prepared to handle hundreds and thousands of vaccinations a day are not finding enough recipients. This is true even as the numbers and severity of cases move into another surge. This is not because most adults have been vaccinated. They have not. In every state anyone sixteen and over can make an appointment for a vaccination, so there is no shortage of possible recipients. No one, of course, is morally mandated to get vaccinated. On the other hand, if one chooses not to be vaccinated, then there comes with that the moral responsibility to be even more diligent with mask and other safety protocols. Having said that, I do want to address one misunderstanding that might especially affect how some Catholics have thought about the vaccine. I have posted a “Faith Byte” video on the topic of the “The Moral Acceptability of the Current COVIC-19 Vaccines” in which I go into a bit more detail on these matters.

The misunderstanding I see is the belief that only some of the vaccines are morally acceptable. This misunderstanding arose, I think, because of the concern about using vaccines that are connected to cells derived from a fetus that was aborted many years ago. All the current vaccines have used such cells either in the production of the vaccines or in the testing of the effectiveness of the vaccine in its initial stages or both. As a result, when speaking on the morality of these vaccines, many bishops focused on the idealized situation where someone can receive any of the vaccines in an equally timely way, all vaccines are equally effective and have no discernibly different side effects, and the person is given a choice over which one to receive. In such an idealized situation, then the moral choice would be to choose the vaccine least connected to the past abortion. Such an analysis, though, became misunderstood as a statement that certain vaccines are morally acceptable and certain ones are not. Although I have read of some statements from individual bishops that implied that, that is not what the U.S. Conference of Bishops said. That is definitely not what the Vatican or Pope have said. There is great value in the bishops calling our attention to the use of cells from aborted fetuses in research, reminding people that there are ways to do such research that have no connection to abortion, and that companies and researchers need to build their research in the most ethical ways possible. But it would be a shame to confuse this important advice with a judgment that we cannot be vaccinated or only certain vaccines are currently acceptable.

In the real world scenario we are in, where the more quickly the vast majority of people are vaccinated, the less likely variants will take hold and the closer we will be to overcoming this devastating pandemic, people will be doing a morally upright thing to be vaccinated with whichever vaccine is available to them. Vaccination is considered so remotely connected to the evil of abortion that no one is doing something morally wrong by receiving any of the vaccinations. The bottom line: All currently approved vaccines in the United States (Moderna, BioNTech-Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, and AstraZeneca if approved) are morally acceptable. Moreover, one has a moral obligation to promote the common good. One very good way to do this is to get the vaccine. If that is not possible or one believes it is in their best interest not to, then one can support the common good by encouraging others to be vaccinated, take precautions about wearing masks and other safety protocols, avoid extended gatherings that do not use masks or follow other safety protocols, and the like. If one is given the choice of which vaccine to receive and fits the idealized situation mentioned above, then you are encouraged to choose at this time the Moderna or BioNTech-Pfizer, since they did not use such cells in developing the vaccine, only in testing its effectiveness. But if another vaccine is available in a more timely manner, or if another vaccine is better suited to your health (for example, some only want to receive one dose, not two), then another vaccine such as Johnson and Johnson is equally morally acceptable. More discussion about this topic on the “Faith Byte” video at our stregis.org website.

*Marriage Ministry Town Hall

One value of being connected to a larger Archdiocese is that the resources of the diocese can be used to help parish ministry. We have been asked to be a pilot parish for a ministry outreach called Communio. The cost to the parish this year is being picked up by the Archdiocese of Detroit.  Communio is an outreach that specializes in gathering data about and helping parishes design events and programs for couples who are married, especially younger couples and couples whose children are grade school age or younger.  Communio is researching the demographics in our parish and the general area, and will present their findings and ideas to us at a “town hall” type meeting in a couple of weeks. They will also use the meeting to get some necessary feedback and then work with the parish staff and interested couples to plan some events and gatherings in the year ahead to support marriages and families.

Please join us for the Communio Marriage Ministry Town Hall Meeting on either Wednesday, May 12 (after the family faith formation zoom session) or Thursday, May 13. Both will begin at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom and last approximately one hour. The Zoom link can be accessed on our parish website under “Events.” Choose either one of the nights. Members of the Faith Formation Commission will be calling families in our Faith Formation Program and school over the next couple of weeks. Please try to make time for this hour. We need your input and feedback so that our future endeavors in marriage support can be effective.

*Catholic Services Appeal 2021

As a pastor I am tempted at times to worry when we constantly “hit you up” for donations. Seminarians one week, South Oakland Shelter for the homeless another, Peter’s Pence, Catholic Relief, Missionary, and so on. All are worthy causes, though I admit that I pick and choose which I support, some more than others. My worry is that with so many special appeals people might forget about the bottom-line support of the parish. Donating to the parish in an ongoing way is not as satisfying at times as responding to a specific or a definitive building project. Yet, everything we do including supporting these other charitable outreaches, flows from being a thriving parish. On the other hand, time and again, you continue to show me that such worry is a waste of energy because such generosity is not a zero-sum game. You are generous to the special outreaches. You are generous to St. Regis Parish as well. Thank you to all who have made the move to weekly or monthly online contributions for Sunday donations. Thank you to all who continue to let the yearly C.S.A. contribution be a generous gift to the parish, for that is what it is. Though it is a diocesan appeal, all monies donated via the C.S.A. directly benefit St. Regis, first by helping us reach our mandatory target, and then by going well beyond that target so that the parish receives the money back for its own use. If you received the mailing from the parish, then you can use the form and return envelope included in that mailing to make your 2021 C.S.A. donation and/or pledge. If you prefer to do so online, there is a link on our stregis.org homepage under “Donations.” Thank you.

*Main Entrance Landscaping

Several people have commented on the dead lawn near the main entrance of the church. It does look bad, doesn’t it? We hope to have it looking more beautiful by June. We were delayed from doing it last year due to the onset of the pandemic. The bleak look was added to when we had to tear out the hydrangeas against the wall of the church on the right side of the entrance in order to fix a leakage problem that dated back to the construction of the new gathering area in 2015. Now we are able to address these concerns, and I hope you will be pleased with how the entrance area landscaping looks going into the summer and future.

Fr. Buersmeyer

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