Pastor’s Corner | Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

On the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time we hear Jesus tell his disciples about his passion, death and resurrection a second time. It is clear to him that they didn’t understand the first time. He knew that, along the way, they had been arguing about who was the greatest. He gathers the Apostles and says to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”

The first reading this week comes from the Book of Ezra, one of the first chroniclers of the post-exile period of Judaism. He is responsible for helping hold the restored people together. We finish the week with brief selections from the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, who were prophets during this period. “Consider your ways!” “My spirit continues in your midst; do not fear!”

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus urges us to use our gifts: “No one lights a lamp and hides it under a bushel basket.” When his family comes looking for him, Jesus uses the occasion to tell us that we are family to him, if we hear his Word and act on it. He encourages his Apostles to freedom, sending them out to teach and heal, taking nothing with them. Herod is wondering who Jesus really is. Jesus asks his disciples who they think he is. Peter replies for them all, “The Christ of God.” Jesus doesn’t want them to announce he’s the type of Messiah they were looking for. Instead, he tells them of his upcoming Passion and death.

This is a great week to be reminded that the call to be a Christian is not a simple path. We are called to serve boldly and without worrying about material needs. This week’s readings have a clear call for us to examine how we share God’s love for us with others.

How do we do such serious reflection when it seems we don’t have time for it? We can be “contemplatives in action” by beginning our day with a desire, letting that desire come to our consciousness throughout the day in the “background” moments, and by giving thanks for what graces we received at the end of the day.

How do we come up with the desire? The first step to finding “intimacy with God in the midst of our daily lives” is to develop the habit of naming a desire for the day, while we are still just getting started with the day, before our concentration becomes preoccupied with the worries of the day. These guides can help by suggesting desires that flow from the readings of the week, but the best desires are in the very needs and anxieties that are deep in our hearts. That is where God is working in us, revealing things we can turn over to the Lord and form into a prayer. It can often be just 45 seconds, when we throw on a robe or slippers, or while in the shower or getting dressed. It is deep prayer if we can just say, “Help me, today, Lord. My day is so full. Give me courage, and let me know you are with me all day.”

We can use the readings of the week in a variety of ways. We can take a day to imagine being part of Jesus’ family, with a desire to hear his word and keep it. We can let Jesus address us one day this week, asking us who we say he is. The words don’t need to be complicated – it’s just starting conversation with God who loves you deeply, then listening.

Gracious God, I ask you to heal me today as you healed so many others. Bless my eyes that I might appreciate all that I see around me; and my mouth that I may not judge others and speak harshly of them. And bless my feet as you send me on this journey of grace in my life each day.

I would be remiss to note that these pastor’s corners are offered in correlation with Creighton University’s Online Ministry Team. As a graduate of the Institute of Priestly Formation at Creighton University, I have the opportunity to use their Weekly Guides for Prayer. I have been using them for so long, when I switched parishes and bulletins, I did not make mention of it. Otherwise, have a great week!

-Fr. Joe

Rosaries on the Lawn

“The Rosary is the ‘weapon’ for these times.”

Saint Padre Pio

We are pleased to announce Rosaries on the Lawn! During the month of October, we will pray the rosary on the front lawn for special intentions. Please plan to join us, and bring family, friends, a rosary, and a chair. 

Sunday, October 3 at 3 pm for the intention of the end to abortion, mercy for those who have had an abortion, and for a return to the sanctity of life from conception till natural death.

Sunday, October 10 at 3 pm for the intention of an increase in vocations to the priesthood and in consecrated religious life. 

Sunday, October 17 at 3 pm for the intention of an increase in faith, especially an increase in faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist, and that Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament helps lead us to peace in our world, nation, and homes.

Sunday, October 24 at 4:30 pm for the intention of all students, teachers, school staff, and families for a productive and peaceful school year.

Sunday, October 31 at 3 pm for the intention of peace and healing for all who struggle with mental health.

We will have plenty of rosaries and instructions for anyone who may need them. In case of inclement weather, we will move indoors into the Nave. If you or your ministry would like to lead a decade of the rosary on any date listed above, please contact Marie Kinietz at [email protected]

Parishioner Profile | Baptism Formation Team: Hammerhead Sharks

Yes, this article is a profile of the Baptism Formation Team at Our Lady of Perpetual Help; yes, it will include hammerhead sharks; and yes, it will all make sense by the end. 

I hope. 

Baptism Formation at Our Lady is facilitated by a team of volunteers, some who have participated in this ministry for years and others who have only conducted a handful of sessions so far. The team is coordinated by Karen Cook, Director of Adult Faith Formation, and also includes Deacon Kopczewski. Formation sessions take place a handful of times throughout the year and typically last ninety minutes with a variety of different speakers on different topics. Karen further explains that instead of Baptism Formation, attendees should consider this “Baptism and Beyond.” Instead of merely preparing these new parents for the Sacrament of Baptism, the goal is to prepare them for their responsibilities in starting a Catholic family. Their own domestic church. 

Deacon Kopczewski also alludes to that responsibility during his presentation. Most of his talk explains the logistics and procedures of the sacrament itself. In particular he focuses on the questions that will be asked of the new parents explaining, “When we ask you a question it’s either asking for information or an affirmative. If you answer ‘no’ to something we’re just going to stop and figure out what’s going on.” He does attempt to reassure the attendees that they will be nervous, and it is not at all uncommon for the parents to be asked the name of their child and the husband and wife suddenly and silently stare at each other with wide eyes having completely “blanked out.” 

However, Deacon Kopczewski also stresses the importance of the questions, explaining they allude to the Nicene Creed recited at every Sunday Mass. “Do you understand the responsibility because baptism can never be undone.”

Team member Jason Gale also refers to this during his presentation on fatherhood. “Your central goal is to arrive at Heaven’s Gates… with your family.” He further adds, “When you make those baptismal promises it’s real. Your child’s life and salvation depend on you.” 

However, the formation session also stresses that parents are never alone and are not the first ones to go through whatever trials they are facing. Jason explains the sacrament affirms that parents are the first teachers of their children, “But not the only teachers.” Team member Meredith Adams expounds on this theme during her presentation on Keeping the Commitment. She stresses the importance of surrounding yourself with a Catholic community regardless of whether parents choose our parochial school, public school and PSR, or some other combination. New parents can lean on that community for advice, support, or simply a few words with a friendly face.

During her closing remarks, Karen also reinforces that sense of community. “You’ve met us and know who we are. If you see us at Mass or anywhere else and have questions or simply want to ask us to pray for you don’t hesitate to ask us.” Deacon Kopczewski also records the names of the parents and children of every baptism he performs and includes them when he prays the Divine Office daily. Meredith reinforces that new parents are never alone spiritually, “God is the one who guides us and leads us… be one with Jesus.” Deacon Kopczewski adds that during the sacrament we ask that, “All the saints who are, who ever will be to pray for your child.”

A central theme of the formation session is attending weekly Mass as a family. Deacon Kopczewski simply states, “The most important thing you can do is bring them to Mass. This is their home. No matter what happens they belong to Jesus Christ.” During her presentation Meredith explains, “Mass is about what you are giving; you are teaching them.” However, all the speakers acknowledge the challenge of attending Mass with children. Meredith has an entire section of practical tips for attending Mass with young children and adds, “Sometimes you just make it to Mass with them and somehow survive it and that’s okay.” Jason elaborates that a parent’s example matters, and their children are always watching them. “You’re being watched every day to see how serious you are. You need to be intentional.” All the presenters reassured the attendees that a rambunctious child at Mass is a blessing and not a distraction. Perhaps Meredith most succinctly explained this, “Remember a noisy Mass is a living Mass.”

Deacon Kopczewski again referenced the responsibilities these young parents were about to undertake. “Until they’re sixteen they’re not going to be able to make it to Mass on their own. Don’t prevent them from going.”

“Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people; but Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’ And he laid his hands on them and went away.” (Mt 19:14 – 15)

Perhaps most importantly all the speakers expressed solidarity. Each of them is a parent and has gone through many of the same things the attendees are currently going through and will go through. They all provided deeply personal anecdotes; some humorous, some instructional, and some agonizingly heart wrenching. However, the common theme was these trials never drove them away from God, but instead drew them closer to Him. 

Following the session, I had the opportunity to interview the team members. During these interviews I often ask what the greatest challenge of the position is, and for the Baptism Formation Team, the universal answer was, “It’s not challenging… it is a joy… every time I leave refreshed.” They repeatedly stated that conducting this formation brought them determination, grace, and inspiration and made them even more resolved to shepherd their own families. 

Regarding their most impactful moment, all of them referenced this session I had the privilege to observe. At the conclusion attendees mingle with the team members and an older child, around 7 years old, was there with his parents and was the one to be baptized. The session took place at 9 am on a Sunday morning, and he wanted to schedule his baptism for Monday. The next day. He was so excited to join our shared Catholic Church that he did not want to wait a single day more than necessary. 

So, hammerhead sharks. 

Until recently Jason was a pilot and aircraft commander for a Coast Guard C-130. I have quite an affinity for the C-130 as I have close family members that were a flight engineer, pilot, and navigator for an Air National Guard unit flying that aircraft. Jason and his crew had been in Central and South America flying drug interdiction missions where they endlessly patrolled vast stretches of empty water looking for boats transporting illegal drugs into the United States. 

On one of their glorious downtime days, he received a call that five divers had gone missing in an area rife with hammerhead sharks that researchers use to study them. These kinds of search and rescue missions were one of the reasons why a farm kid from landlocked Ohio joined the Coast Guard, so Jason immediately agreed to the mission. When he explained it to the crew the overwhelming consensus was, “We never find divers.” The aircraft is flying too high, too fast for the crew to ever spot something as small as a human on the ocean. Spotting a 20-foot boat is challenging, but a human head bobbing on the surface of the water is nearly impossible. 

Still, they spent the next twelve hours flying over empty water counting sea turtles to keep their eyes acclimated to examining the ocean (my older twin Henry was quite excited to hear about the sea turtles.) With twenty minutes of fuel remaining, they had to choose between two airfields and turned back towards the coast. Their choice brought them almost immediately and directly over two of the missing divers. The C-130 dropped a life raft to the survivors and directed ships to their location. Jason would later learn the divers had been continuously attacked by hammerhead sharks and jellyfish during their time in the water. 

Even though they “never find divers” Jason reminded his crew that this was someone’s son and this was their mission. If seven aircrew in a C-130 will make that kind of effort to save someone else’s son in this world, how much more important is our mission as parents to save the eternal souls of our own children. 

If you are a parent of any age with children of any age, I would encourage you to attend a Baptism Formation session. As Meredith says, “Every time I speak at one of these there’s something new to take away.” Karen also explains, “They call us ‘practicing Catholics’ because we’re practicing at it, not because we’re experts at it.”

The next Baptism & Beyond session will be Sunday, November 7 at 9 am in the Life Center. Anyone interested in attending can register through the parish website (ourladygc.org) under Sacraments > Baptism > Baptism & Beyond Parent Formation Registration. 

The members of our Baptism & Beyond Formation Team are:

  • Karen Cook, Pastoral Minister
  • Deacon Michael Kopczewski
  • George Adams
  • Meredith Adams
  • Diane Boyden
  • Emily Gale
  • Jason Gale

By Eric Brooks

Pastor’s Corner | Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

On the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, we hear in Mark’s Gospel as Jesus tell his disciples about his passion, death and resurrection to come in Jerusalem. Peter tries to prevent him from going there. Jesus rebukes him and tells the disciples and us that to be a disciple is to follow him, not trying to save one’s life, but by dying to ourselves and losing ourselves for his sake and that of the Gospel. That is the only path to real life.

We continue reading from Paul’s First Letter to Timothy. It begins this week with the great prayer for our leaders. He then says how bishops and deacons should behave. He urges Timothy to be especially caring for the youth. Paul warns Timothy of the troubles of riches. Finally, Paul encourages Timothy to be faithful.

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus praises the faith of the Roman centurion who understands Jesus’ power to heal. Jesus then raises from the dead the son of the widow of Nain. In response to constant criticism from religious authorities, Jesus compares the critics to children taunting their playmates. We read of the woman who entered a dinner Jesus was attending and wept over his feet, washing them with her tears, showing what real love is. Luke, who highlights the role of women in his Gospel, tells us of women who accompanied Jesus and his disciples. Finally, Jesus gives us the Parable of the Sower and its interpretation about how temptations and shallow roots can prevent the Word from growing in us or how “the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life” can choke the Word.

Who among us hasn’t wondered about how much is enough? How many times do we need to forgive? How much of the goods of this earth do I need to have? How generous am I able to be? The parables Jesus uses often shock our attention and give us a rich fruit for reflection.

These days, the news stories are centered on war and disasters, and on divisions and conflicts. We are not always aware of the scope of the human tragedy that goes on in our neighborhoods, in our cities, in our world. Many people on the earth suffer in so many ways – from dire poverty, from years of wars, and from ecological policies that leave the earth in trouble and people worse off. We can see stories of pain and suffering on the other side of the world and we feel it here. We might be filled with horror and compassion and fear. Insecurity, powerlessness can bring us to our knees and to the Lord. This week’s readings help us with continuing reflection that can guide our integration of a confidence in God’s love and mercy.

One of the great things that any tragedy brings forward is examples of great heroism and generosity. We also know that the human spirit can be tempted to the worst things imaginable. But, when we see people sacrificing their own lives to help others or showing with their generosity and passionate care how deeply they value human life, it lifts our own spirits and helps us be more generous and free.

We could ask the Lord this week to help us assess what we really need. Do riches become a trouble for us? Do anxieties and the pleasures of life choke my reception of the Word? Can we ask for the desire to walk through our days with trust in Jesus’ power to heal, to bring what is dead to life? Each of us can make this daily desire request and reflection very concrete. And, as we prepare for the weekend, we can begin reflecting on how happy I am that God is merciful and generous, even toward those that I don’t think “deserve” it.

As we begin each day with a desire, we can end each day with gratitude for what we received.

Have a great week!
-Fr. Joe

Pastor’s Corner | The Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

On the Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Isaiah offers comforting words: “Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you.” In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus heals a deaf and mute man. The people are astonished and say of Jesus, “He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

The first part of the week, the first readings are from the Letter to the Colossians. Paul is in prison, encouraging this community to put their trust in Christ, not mystical teachings and powers. He challenges them to live their baptism and to walk in the union they have with and in Jesus. Friday we begin reading Paul’s First Letter to Timothy. On Saturday Paul boldly proclaims that he is the “foremost” among sinners and a sign of God’s mercy.

In the first part of this week, following Luke’s Gospel, Jesus heals a man with a withered hand, on the Sabbath, in front of his religious critics. Then Jesus goes up on a mountain to pray and comes down to name his twelve apostles – all of whom seem to be unknown or questionable at best. When people come to him from all over, he heals them. Jesus announces that the poor, the hungry, those who weep, and those hated or excluded or denounced because of him are the blessed. He warns those who are rich, filled, laughing and spoken well of, for their fates will be reversed. Jesus urges us to love our enemies and pray for those who mistreat us. He cautions not to be quick to see the splinter in someone else’s eye when we do not notice the “wooden beam” in our own eyes. Jesus says that we will be known by our fruit. It is only by building our lives upon him, as a firm foundation, can we hope to survive crises.

When we place Jesus at the center of our lives, as Paul calls the Colossians to do, two marvelous graces are given us. We experience God’s love for us in the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus. As grateful sinners, we then are able to forgive others.

As we begin each day this week, we can let these two graces be part of our reflection. We can ask our Lord to show us his love. We can fearlessly ask to understand who we are as sinners, in the concrete ways each of us falls short, gets distracted, becomes uncentered and makes very unfree choices. We can ask to be forgiven and healed. We can beg for the grace to forgive others. This journey each day might take us into specific patterns, habits, ruts we’re in. We may even want to prepare to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation this week, as we realize our need for forgiveness, and God’s great love for us as sinners.

We can choose to focus carefully this week on those people we ask for the grace to forgive. To whose faults do I pay most attention? Whom do I judge harshly? From whom do I withhold forgiveness? If we begin each day, asking our Lord to reveal the answers to these questions, throughout our day, our days this week will show us deeper places where the Lord can forgive us and where we can share that mercy.

In this week when we celebrate Mary’s birth, we might ask her to gently guide us to trust her Son’s love and to be more tender in loving those people her Son invites us to forgive and be a source of healing.

Throughout this week, we can also give thanks for the ways we are called to be Jesus’ followers—not because we are extremely talented or because we are perfect, but because he saw in us something that he could heal and then send us to heal others. We can be especially attentive to the ways we are blessed in our poverty and in the ways we sometimes experience rejection as his disciples.

Have a great week!
-Fr. Joe

Parishioner Profile: Bev Killian

“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Cor 12:27)

“On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable…” (1 Cor 12:23) 

Generations are important to Bev Killian. After having lived in Philadelphia, New Jersey, North Carolina, and rural western Ohio, Bev and her husband finally settled in Grove City five years ago to be near their children. From her accent to cultural differences to big city versus rural, Bev “learned so much from each place we lived.” However, in Grove City the two of them found a home, “We just love being here.” It was the generations of their children and their grandsons that drew them to our parish. 

As a recent retiree Bev joined several social committees and volunteers at Mt. Carmel, but she “had the yearning” to do something more spiritual for her life. Two-and-a-half years ago she noticed an advertisement in the bulletin asking for help providing the Holy Eucharist to homebound persons. (My first reaction at hearing this was, “So people actually do read the bulletin!”) For the next eighteen months Bev coordinated the Extraordinary Ministers who bring the Eucharist to the elderly and other persons who are not able to regularly attend Mass. 

No doubt if you read the bulletin (people actually do read the bulletin!) you know a recurring theme I have encountered is the Holy Spirit working through other persons to guide us when we need a subtle, or not so subtle, nudge. For Bev it was one of her Extraordinary Ministers who pointed out, “So you’re on the list of us able to distribute the Eucharist, but I don’t see you actually distributing the Eucharist.” That was all Bev needed to involve herself more intimately into this ministry. 

Bev has always been a “people person” and greatly enjoys walking into a home and simply chatting with the person and their family. She explains, “You get to know these people… they become like family.” Currently she provides the Eucharist to the 95-year-old matriarch of a farming family and has the privilege of meeting five generations of that family at the same time in their farmhouse. Bev finds purpose in simply the “joy of talking about God and faith” with all of them. She pauses and then adds, “It’s just the little things.”

Perhaps tellingly Bev further explains, “I’m a firm believer that God puts the people in your life that you need when you need them.” For her this family has become her family. All the people I have interviewed have expressed how much more they get out of their ministries than they put into them. It was Karen Cook that first introduced me to Bev and her story and humorously added, “I’m so glad we were able to find a family to take care of Bev.” 

When I ask her the most powerful moment she has experienced in this ministry, Bev does not hesitate. The youngest member of those five generations was recently born with a severe heart defect that required open-heart surgery at the tender age of 6-months. His family was attempting to order some holy water from the grotto at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France. Bev and her husband had previously completed a pilgrimage to Lourdes and had some of that holy water at home. She immediately agreed to bring it to the family. Two days after the surgery the infant developed fluid around his heart and the prognosis was not positive. His family sprinkled him with that holy water and prayed over him and trusted God and the medical staff. 

A mere few days later Bev was holding him in her lap in the farmhouse. One of the family took a picture of that scene and it is now framed in his bedroom with a caption referencing this is the lady who brought the holy water. Bev smiles and says, “You’re ministering to the whole family.”

If she had one wish Bev wants all of us to show more peace and harmony. She acknowledges this seems like an impossible wish at the moment given the nearly constant vitriol we throw at each other. Bev further explains that, “We can disagree, but we can respect each other even if we disagree.” 

Outside of ministering to the homebound Bev enjoys reading and golfing although she describes herself as more of a “hacker” than a golfer. She loves the personal interactions with the homebound and their families but finds the logistics challenging in coordinating Extraordinary Ministers with those needing this assistance. In fact, when I was able to interview Bev in the morning, that evening Marti Hurd and Fr. Yokum were holding a meeting to address the coordination difficulties. The dedicated members of this ministry are growing fewer and older, and they could use help. 

For anyone who might be interested in this ministry, Bev assures me that it is not nearly as difficult as you would imagine. All the Extraordinary Ministers are given cards that walk them through the necessary prayers and readings. She also explains that praying and proclaiming the Gospel in a small group is extremely powerful. 

I am reminded of Fr. John Riccardo who is an avid golfer. He recounted having an associate pastor who was an equally avid hunter and once asked him, “When you’re sitting up there at the altar do you sometimes think about hunting?” When that priest replied in the affirmative, Fr. Riccardo responded, “I’m so glad because I just spent almost an entire Mass thinking about golfing.” For those of us who regularly attend Mass it can become routine, regular, and perhaps even boring.

Bev assures me that praying and reading the Gospel for the homebound and their families is anything but boring. She also adds that you may think you do not know enough regarding scripture, prayer, or our shared Catholic faith. In fact, those same concerns kept her from actively participating in this ministry until the Holy Spirit dragged her into it. Bev assures me, “It’s completely okay to say, ‘I don’t know’ but I’ll find out.” 

If you feel the Holy Spirit is drawing you towards ministering to the homebound you can contact Marti Hurd in the parish office at 614.875.3322, ex 318 or through email at [email protected]

By Eric Brooks

Introducing: Our new Director of Sacred Music

This weekend, I am happy to announce that I have hired a new Director of Sacred Music for Our Lady. Her name is Jordan Werring. She comes to us from the Scioto Catholic Consortium, where I was pastor before I moved to Our Lady. The Director of Sacred Music is a very important position in our parish. She will oversee, research, direct and administer all music ministries of the parish including: children’s choir, cantors, traditional adult choir, folk choir, bell choir, and school liturgies. What I look forward to most is her desire to mentor our young people in our parish. Over the years, we, the Church, have not done a great job, on the whole, at mentoring our young people, and we see the result of that in parish life and parish ministries. 

I think I can sum up Jordan’s philosophy on music from the Vigil Project, “Music opens our hearts to experience God’s love and moves us to new depths of devotion…From the beginning, music has played a central role in Christian prayer – in helping man pray from the heart and grow in deeper relationship with God. From Liturgy, to prayerful devotion, to all the moments of our Christian lives that are lived beyond the doors of the church building, music is a language that permeates the whole of our existence, raising our gaze to the Transcendent.” (www.thevigilproject.com)

Please join me in welcoming Jordan, as she begins a new chapter in her life at Our Lady. She will begin on September 1.

-Fr. Joe 


Hello!

My name is Jordan Werring, and I am excited to be joining the community at Our Lady. 

I’m originally from southern Ohio (Adams County) and grew up on a family farm. I am the eldest of four, and my parents still reside on that family farm. All of my siblings are musical, however, I am the only one who has pursued this professionally. Thank the Lord for my wonderfully supportive parents!

Musically, I started playing for the Liturgy in my junior-high-school days, and have been ever since! All told, that’s approximately twenty years of playing for the Mass, and I have been blessed during that time to have had a variety of musical experiences within the Church. Some of those include: Being the Music Coordinator at the Adams County consortium (Archdiocese of Cincinnati), Music Director at Christ the King (Columbus Diocese), and most recently, the Consortium Director of Sacred Music at Scioto Catholic consortium (Columbus Diocese). Between all of these, I have played in various parishes across the Columbus and Cincinnati diocese, and have also owned my private music teaching studio. I have earned my Bachelors in Music from Capital University’s Conservatory of Music, and am currently in graduate studies in Catholic Theology from Franciscan University at Steubenville. 

Fr. Joe summarized my personal philosophy regarding music up above so well, I only wish to add one more note: That my musical philosophy also includes walking that spiritual journey with people. This is probably my favorite part of my role, which is helping people grow in their relationship to Christ and His Church. Within the scope of what I do, I use music as the means, as the “tool” to facilitate this growing relationship. Everything that we do musically within the Church is a continual offering of our gifts back to the Lord and giving Him the praise for all that He continues to do within our lives. While we aim for musical beauty within the Liturgy, this does not matter if our hearts and souls are not in the right place. I am looking forward to engaging the community of Our Lady in musical praise of our God! 

Though I love what I do, some other things that I enjoy outside of my role in parish ministry are gardening, baking/cooking, and hanging out with friends and family while sampling delicious bourbon or cocktails. If you have a great recipe to share, I’m always interested! 

I look forward to meeting you all and serving the community of Our Lady. Please know of my prayers for you all! 

Pastor’s Corner | Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Our week begins as we look to the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. We see a glimpse of the Prophet Jeremiah who understands the pain of following the Lord and decides not to speak the Lord’s name again, “but then it becomes like fire burning in my heart.” Paul’s letter to the Romans encourages those ancient Romans—and us—not to conform to this age but to discern the will of God. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus corrects his disciples’ resistance to his own Passion and death, telling them that if they try to save their lives, they’ll lose them. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians concludes on Tuesday. Wednesday, we begin a week of readings from the Letter to the Colossians, with its gracious salutation and encouragement. The readers are exhorted to see Christ as the “head of the body” noting that all is created “in and through him.”

We now move from Matthew to Luke’s Gospel, which we will read on weekdays from now until Advent begins. We will feel the special way the evangelist will highlight healing, mercy, the poor, women, prayer, the Spirit and a gospel for a new, all inclusive, Israel.

Jesus teaches in the synagogue and reads from Isaiah: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus heals a man with demons. He heals Simon’s mother-in-law, and all the sick they brought him. “I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.” He calls out to three discouraged fishermen to lower their nets, to show them his power. Peter is overwhelmed and protests he is unworthy. “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” At Jesus’ persistence, Peter, James, and John leave their nets to follow Jesus. The week ends with Jesus’ tangling with the Pharisees who challenge the fasting of his disciples. “Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?” He deflects the criticism by telling them “no one pours new wine into old wineskins.” When his critics note that his disciples were “unlawful” by picking heads of grains to eat, he tells them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.”

As we get into this pattern of letting the readings interact with the desires of our hearts, one week flows into the next. So, we begin this week continuing to reflect on the purpose of our lives. We can measure our resistance to self-denial for the sake of loving others more and ask for the Lord’s healing and grace.

Our pattern of finding intimacy with our Lord in the unique context of our busy, complicated days begins with a morning moment of focus, the earlier the better. Soon after we wake up, we can pause briefly to give a faith-filled shape to our day. While making coffee, starting a load of wash, taking a shower, getting dressed, we can begin our day with the Lord, begin our day in a relationship. At first, it may take practice to replace what usually goes on in our heads and hearts, with this kind of prayerful desiring. It can quickly become a very natural way to anticipate, plan, and prepare for our day.

Reading this guide over the weekend or early in the week helps, as does reading a daily reflection for the day. But these resources work best when they provide support for our inner conversation with the Lord as we go through the real experiences, relationships, conflicts and challenges of our day. Then the scriptures, the unique details of our lives, and the desires of our hearts simply come together in an ongoing dialogue with the Lord that takes place in the background of our days and shapes our choices and reveals deeper desires.

This week, we might ask Jesus to confront the demons that seem to dominate the upcoming week. We may have many mothers-in-law or friends that need healing that we can entrust to the Lord’s care. We might experience discouragement in our work, with our spouses or parents or in our jobs or ministries. We can take those discouragements and use them as an opportunity to ask the Lord to show us his power there. And, when we are tempted to feel unworthy or to be humbled by the task ahead, we can let Jesus call us again to follow him. Perhaps this week we will feel the call to a real renewal, to not just keep trying to pour new wine into our old wineskins, but to ask the Lord to make us new, and ready for the new calls, new graces he is offering us. With the smallest of efforts, we can find a few moments every evening to look back on these days of connecting with our Lord, and to express our gratitude for his presence and the new freedom and graces we are receiving.

By Saturday, we might find ourselves turning to Mary to ask for the graces we need from our Lord. “I thank God for your life, Mary. Please place me with your Son.”

Have a great week!
-Fr. Joe

Parishioner Profile: Brigitte Bowman | Transformation

In his radio program, “Christ is the Answer,” Fr. John Riccardo once spoke of how “big of a tent” the Catholic Church is. How it has ministries and orders, clergy and laity, that can accommodate any personal charism or interest. To paraphrase him: if you want to be out in the world teaching or serving you can do that, if you don’t want to leave your house you can do that too; never want to talk, we’ve got places you’re not allowed to talk, like to talk we’ve got some groups that never seem to stop talking. From a young age Brigitte Bowman has been drawn to that Charismatic Renewal and missionary work. 

When I prepare for one of these interviews, I typically write a dozen or so questions and topics that I think would be helpful to explore and use those to help guide the conversation. With Brigitte I simply mentioned her time at Our Lady’s parochial school and then just sat back and enjoyed the ride, so to speak, for the next forty-five minutes as my hand began to cramp from furiously taking notes. She is so filled with charisma and passion for our shared faith that it pours out of her in an unending tide of joy. I left the interview somewhat exhausted and somewhat in awe of this young woman’s close and personal relationship with God. A personal relationship she wants to share with everyone she meets.

Brigitte’s path to developing that personal relationship began when she was trained as an altar server at OLPH. Serving in this role allowed her to become close to the Mass and she began to know, on an intuitive level, the Eucharist truly was the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. At that young age she was unable to fully articulate these feelings but looking back now she can see that seeds were being laid in her faith and it was a transformational moment. 

After completing eighth grade at Our Lady of Perpetual Help’s school Brigitte continued to Bishop Ready High School. In her junior year she began to have a yearning that there was “something more” yet was afraid to step into the fullness of what God was offering her. Despite that Brigitte began to pray in the chapel most days before classes and took strength from her fellow OLPH alumnae at Bishop Ready who were undergoing their own faith journeys. 

Her second transformation moment came during an Encounter Ministries retreat at Christ the King parish in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (I suppose despite the taint of the University of Xichigan a few good things can happen in Ann Arbor!) Encounter Ministries is a charismatic outreach organization and when Brigitte walked into the church, the retreat was in the midst of praise and worship. Her first confused thought was, “Did I stumble onto a protestant congregation?” She soon realized these were, in fact, fellow Catholics and was encouraged to hold out and open her hands in a physical gesture representing her opening her heart to God.

What resulted was Brigitte encountering the Holy Spirit in a deeply personal and intimate manner. Suddenly she realized, “all of this is real” and felt overwhelming peace and love. Brigitte soon resolved to open herself to whatever the Lord wanted for her. After graduating Bishop Ready Brigitte knew she wanted something more for her faith than university but was unsure what her next steps would be. As I have heard from so many other people during the course of these interviews, the Holy Spirit worked through a family member when her mother suggested she apply to Damascus Catholic Mission Campus in Centerburg, Ohio. 

Brigitte knew nothing about Damascus and submitted her application on the last possible day. She was accepted and is now working her third consecutive summer and her second year as a full-time missionary. Her first summer Brigitte had no idea what to expect and was assigned to the “Programs” field where she oversaw high adventure activities such as ropes courses. During the summer, Damascus provides a full summer camp experience to children and this year is expected to have 500 of them participating weekly for a total of more than 4,500 over the course of the season. 

As she describes Damascus Brigitte becomes even more passionate and explains, “there are literally miracles happening in front of my eyes.” She relates one anecdote of kids from an inner-city parish and largely disadvantaged backgrounds who attended a retreat. “They didn’t want to be there, but then we started 

Brgitte Bowman | Transformation, Continued

having fun.” Brigitte compared it to the OLPH Life Teen program and slowly the kids began to learn that “the Catholic Church isn’t boring, it’s an adventure.” 

The experience was so transformative that one high school kid, an avowed atheist, was brought to tears at the end of the retreat as he proclaimed how powerful the retreat was for him in developing a newfound relationship with God.

I am reminded of Fr. Larry Richards who once recalled exploding at one of his high school students that being Catholic is not meek and easy, but one of the hardest and most adventurous things anyone can undertake. 

Having undergone her own transformation Brigitte was now instrumental in transforming other lives. As a full-time missionary at Damascus, she also participates in organizing street ministries in communities surrounding the campus. These are missionaries who approach average people on the street in a nonconfrontational manner to present the Gospel. This is much in the same manner as the St. Paul Street Evangelization ministry. While summer at Damascus is devoted to youth camps, as a full-time missionary, Brigitte also facilitates other retreats during the off-season. 

Brigitte explains that she has witnessed so many transformations at Damascus, not because of the missionaries, but because God is present at Damascus. “We open the door and invite Him.” 

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Rev 3:20)

For one of the first times during our interview Brigitte pauses and then adds, “God wants to bring OLPH into a deeper relationship with His love and power. We just need to open the door.”

Following her tenure at Damascus Brigitte intends to maintain being “a missionary for life.” She is feeling called to missionary work in other countries and has made it her goal “to renew the Catholic Church.” Her one wish is that everyone could encounter the love of God in a deep and personal way. For all of us to be transformed as she continues to undergo her own transformation. 

When I ask Brigitte her hobbies and what she does for fun she is momentarily confused. At Damascus the missionaries live in households and her precious few free hours are devoted to building community within her household and prayer. Brigitte also adds, “[this life] it’s a commitment.” 

As we conclude she asks me if she could do something for me. Now I am confused and answer in the affirmative to which she responds, “Can I please pray for you?” Hours later I am still humbled by this.

I meet somewhat regularly with parochial and school staff, and very rarely have we ever begun a meeting in prayer and never have I been asked, nor have I personally asked anyone, if we could pray for one another. Contemplating this reaffirms to me that Brigitte’s goal of transformation is already working. 

By Eric Brooks

Pastor’s Corner | The Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

On the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, we continue with John’s Gospel and the Bread of Life discussion, with many of the disciples finding Jesus’ call to be nourished on his body and blood as tough to swallow. And they leave him. Peter speaks for the others: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Most of the first readings this week are from Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, the oldest book in the New Testament. The letters are affectionate and frank reminders of the humiliation and challenges that Paul met in preaching to this community he loved so much. These readings are a wonderful reminder that the letters of Paul were just that – letters to teach, encourage and support early communities of Christians.

Matthew’s Gospel this week includes stories of Jesus strongly challenging the Pharisees. He saw how they made people’s lives so difficult by their insistence on the rules and appearances while neglecting mercy and good faith. He chides them for paying attention to the extraneous and not the message: “Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!” His criticism grows stronger: “On the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.” Jesus teaches about preparation: “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” In the parable of the ten maidens who go out to meet the bridegroom, many of the women did not prepare for the meeting and do not have enough oil for their lamps and Jesus says again, “Stay awake.” Except for this year’s special readings, Saturday’s gospel is the dramatic story of the three servants who are given resources by their master and rewarded or punished for what they did with the resources they had.

The old Baltimore Catechism defined Prayer as “raising the mind and heart to God.” It reminds us that prayer is not simply saying words to God, or even thinking over religious things in our heads. Real prayer becomes a matter of the heart. We understand prayer best when we think of it as a relationship. Growing in prayer is to grow in love, in intimacy, in a type of communication that is “heart to heart.” So, on the human level, if we have a difficult time receiving love or in surrendering our self-absorption and giving love or if we just haven’t had much experience of being intimate and vulnerable with another human being, then it will be difficult for us to do that with God. Conversely, anything we can do to develop our relationship skills, to de-selfish ourselves and practice accepting love and loving generously will help us grow in our relationship with God. Praying can often become easier, more personal and intimate.

This week, we can go from hearing these wonderful readings to listening to Jesus with our hearts. It is great to begin this week asking for the grace to reflect throughout the day on how we will enter “the narrow gate,” by how we go about our day, interact with people, or return home from work. Then we can reflect on how we can humble ourselves and what that means for our day-to-day choices.

We could ask for the grace to go deeper than the externals and rules and get to the heart of our faith – loving others with the same compassion and love that Jesus shows us. For some of us, it might be extremely helpful this week to take the word “awake” and to carry it all day long. “Help me stay awake, Lord: to be alert and attentive, focused and reflective today. It will be busy, but I ask that you help me be consciously aware that you will be with me all day.” We may want to ask, “Lord, let me be conscious of the many gifts and blessings you have given me. Let me reflect upon how I use each gift gratefully and for others. Let me really see today if there are gifts that I am neglecting, squandering, or simply are afraid to use. Then, give me the courage to give you thanks and to be a good steward of your gifts.”

As we prepare for Sunday, we can begin to reflect upon giving up the honors in our lives. We can begin each day praying, “Lord, help me humble myself today, put myself last in caring for my family, in doing my job with a more selfless sense of service. Help me forgive people who aren’t performing well or behaving well. Help me see the way you give me life in this surrender, in this freedom to spend brief moments today in talking with you, friend-to-friend, in heart-felt connection with you, for others.”

Have a great week!
-Fr. Joe