Pastor's Corner

September 1, 2019

 

On Labor Day and each Sunday, we celebrate the gift of work by taking time to rest. Scripture tells us work is part of the goodness of creation. Adam and Eve are to “care for and cultivate” the garden in paradise. Work is a gift that allows us to use our talents and be a part of God’s creative work. Work gives our lives purpose and meaning. Only after the fall in Genesis does work become a “toil.” Yet God’s grace redeems and can create the right attitude in us that rediscovers the blessing of work. God also gave us the Sabbath to remind us to never become slaves of work. It’s a day to praise God and to enjoy the fruits of work such as good food, family and friendship. May this Labor Day and each Sunday be a time for joy that reminds us of what is most important in life.

 

Our Last Best Gift workshop with Fr. Tom Welk will be Saturday, September 14th from 9-12 noon ending with lunch. This workshop focuses on planning for decisions at the end of life. It is not just for the elderly. Many times it is the children of those that are dying who are a big part of these decisions. Come because you might be making these decisions with and for your loved ones. Call the office to register so we can better prepare for you.

 

An “Exploring Prayer” series is planned for this fall. Prayer leads to know God rather than just know about God. Deep prayer makes faith come alive. So come learn about our wonderful Catholic Tradition of prayer. So every other week starting Tuesday, September 24th at 6:30 PM, we will teach another way of praying that is part of our bigger Catholic tradition, starting with Sacred Reading (Lectio Divina) and including Mindfulness, Praying with Nature, Centering Prayer, Imaginative Gospel Meditation and Sacred Seeing (Visio Divina). While we are calling it a series, people are invited to come to one or all of the evenings. Each one-hour session will stand on its own. We should have room for everyone that wants to attend. Stay tuned for more information in coming weeks.

 

August 25, 2019

 

Our Last Best Gift workshop with Fr. Tom Welk will be Saturday, September 14th from 9-12 noon ending with lunch. This workshop focuses on planning for decisions at the end of life. It is not just for the elderly. Twice in the last few years, I have been part of decisions about when to not continue aggressive medical care. Fr. Tom’s workshop was a great help to me. He gave me a simple framework to approach these most important decisions about the end of our earthly life. This is a great workshop. Come because you might be making these decisions with and for your loved ones. Call the office to register so we can better prepare for you.

 

Christians have no need to fear death. Today’s readings tell us our destiny is to be with God in a wondrous way in heaven. Jesus says not to worry who else will be there, but to focus on living this life well, which is the narrow path. So we best prepare for heaven by keeping our eyes focused on this life on earth. If we make our lives a blessing to the people and world around us, God will take care of the rest. The life of prayer and faith both guides our lives on earth and gives us a taste of heaven. May that taste of heaven truly remove all fear so we can better live on this earth and say farewell in peace when our time to go to God comes.

 

Last weekend for Faith Formation Registration for children (K-5) and those to be confirmed. So act today. Check out the table in the Gathering Space or the website or call the office for more information.

 

Confirmation age has been changed by the diocese and will eventually be done in 6th- 7th grades. As part of the transition to younger ages, we will have confirmation for grades 7-12 this year. Two years from now we will move the ages down to 6th-8th grades. We will continue to use small groups, which will help us in this transition period to offer age appropriate groups.

 

August 11, 2019

 

Faith Formation Registration for children (K-5) and those to be confirmed begins this weekend and continues through the month of August. There are no fees so act now. Check out the table in the Gathering Space or the website or call the office for more information.

 

Confirmation age has been changed by the diocese and will eventually be done in 6th- 7th grades. As part of the transition to younger ages, we will have confirmation for grades 7-12 this year. Two years from now we will move the ages down to 6th-8th grades. We will continue to use small groups, which will help us in this transition period to offer age appropriate groups.

 

We need volunteers to lead our Confirmation groups. We currently use a program developed by Matthew Kelly, which has the advantage of using short videos to provide the content. Therefore, the group leaders are more group facilitators than teachers of content.

 

The Bell Tower is finally finished after being damaged by the wind. Fortunately, insurance covered everything but the $500 deductible.

 

 

Our Annual Fund projects are in process of being completed. We have completed the tile in the Gathering Space to replace the worn wallpaper. The Parking Lot repair and sealing should happen in the next week or two depending on the weather. We have a contract signed to replace the moveable partition between the Social Space and Gathering Space and should come in during the next 2 or 3 weeks. We will replace the remainder of the Vinyl windows on the ground floor including 2 windows in the Gathering Space and 8 windows around the Educational Wing. The new boilers are here and waiting to be installed in the next few weeks before it gets cold. And we are planning to install a new tile floor in 1A to replace the worn and badly stained carpet. So we have a lot of projects in process that will be completed in the next few weeks. Thank you for your generosity that allows us to care for our building. 

 

August 4, 2019

 

Faith Formation Registration for children and those to be confirmed begins this weekend and continues through the month of August. There are no fees so act now. This year we are coordinating all these registrations so parents can register all their children at the same time for the different programs. We will be doing registration for 1st Communion and 1st Reconciliation, Breakfast of Champions (Grades 3-5), Children’s Small Groups (K-5), and Confirmation (Grades 7-12). Please note that even though Confirmation includes a wide range of grades, the middle school and high school youth will be put into different small groups.

 

Confirmation age has been changed by the diocese and will eventually be done in 6th- 7th grades. As part of the transition to younger ages, we will have confirmation for grades 7-12 this year. Two years from now we will move the ages down to 6th-8th grades. Another dimension to this change is the shift of Confirmation preparation from the parish formation programs to the Catholic schools if the student is in a Catholic middle school. We have students in many different Catholic middle schools and each of those schools will have its own schedule for transitioning to a younger age. We also will have a Confirmation program here for students that are not in Catholic schools. We will continue to use small groups, which will help us in this transition period to offer age appropriate groups.

 

We need volunteers to lead our Confirmation groups. We currently use a program developed by Matthew Kelly, which has the advantage of using short videos to provide the content. Therefore, the group leaders are more facilitators of the group and discussions than teachers of content.

 

Thank you to all the volunteers, staff and others who made Vacation Bible School such a great success. A special thank you to Pam Cross who coordinated all the volunteers and to Melissa Cross who planned and organized for all the amazing decorations.

  

July 28, 2019

 

Prayer is spending time with God. However, too often we focus on learning prayers rather than teaching people to pray. A first step to more personal prayer is to share our hearts, lives, struggles and joys with God. The second step is to learn to listen to God. One of the best and oldest ways of listening to God in prayer is called “Lectio Divina” or “Divine Reading.” The prayer is best done alone using a passage of scripture. There are 4 basic steps, but in reality the prayer should flow, just like a conversation flows from one place to another.

 

1)      Slowly read the passage stopping when any word or phrase catches our attention or moves our heart.

 

2)      Stop reading and repeat the phrase paying attention to your feelings and reflecting on what those words might be saying to you right here and now in your life. This reflection is not a scripture study. It is considering what those words mean in your life.

 

3)      Talk to God about these words while also listening for anything more God might want you to know.

 

4)      Listen to God and sit quietly with God and these words. Remain in silence till you find yourself distracted, then continue reading the passage going back to step one with the next phrase that catches your interest or moves your heart.

 

If you spend 10 minutes praying with a single verse, that is great. If you complete the passage, go back to the beginning or return to a phrase that was especially meaningful. This is a prayer that can work for 10 minutes or an hour. Finally remember what is going on in the heart is as important as what is happening in the mind. Use Psalms or Gospel passages to start. Some good passages to begin with are: Isaiah 43:1-5; Isaiah 49:15-16; Psalm 139; Psalm 23; Psalm 103:1-5.

 

 

The Parking Lot will be sealed this next week. So don’t be surprised if you need to park in a different part of the lot and enter through a different door.

 

July 14, 2019

 

Faith Formation Registration for children and those to be confirmed will take place during the month of August. This year we are coordinating all these registrations so parents can register all their children at the same time for the different programs. We will be doing registration for 1st Communion and 1st Reconciliation, Breakfast of Champions (Grades 3-5), Children’s Small Groups (K-5), and Confirmation (Grades 7-12). Please note that even though Confirmation includes a wide range of grades, the middle school and high school youth will be put into different small groups. The first weekend for Faith Formation registrations will be Aug. 3-4.

 

If you are new stop by the welcome desk and get a new parishioner packet and receive any other information you are interested in. Registering allows us to communicate with you better and is the first step for you to get more involved.

 

Online Giving has become more and more popular because it makes supporting St. Vincent’s so easy. Go to our website to sign-up. Once you sign up, you have complete control over your giving and are even able to support special collections online. If you have any questions, contact Michele in the parish office. We thank you for your support so we can continue to do God’s work here at St. Vincent’s and in our community.

 

 

This week we will be preparing for Vacation Bible School so do not be surprised if you see some unusual decorations going up throughout the building. Vacation Bible School is each morning of the following week July 22-25th

 

July 7, 2019

 

Family movie night is July 12 with food starting at 7 PM and the movie starting around 8 PM. All are welcome so invite friends and neighbors to come for a free and fun movie with the kids. Spiderman will be our movie this month.

 

Notify us about homebound and hospitalized parishioners. I would love to be able to visit them and bring them communion at home if needed. Only rarely do we receive a name from the hospital so we need you to let us know if you or your loved one would like a visit. Also since hospital stays are often so short, home visits have become more important. Finally, do not worry if your home is cluttered and not perfectly clean. Neither is mine. I take communion and anoint the sick and elderly in homes the first Friday of the month and other ministers do so on the other Fridays of the month.

 

Kidville our childcare for Masses will not be available during the month of July. Last summer the diocese required us to have at least 2 adults (over 18) present when we were offering childcare. We were not able to schedule enough adult workers to cover the Masses during July. So we unfortunately cannot offer childcare. We would like to have more adults help with Kidville and we pay our Kidville helpers. So please apply at the office if you are interested in being part of this ministry.

 

 

June 30, 2019

 

Kidville our childcare for Masses will not be available during the month of July. Last summer the diocese required us to have at least 2 adults (over 18) present when we were offering childcare. We were not able to schedule enough adult workers to cover the Masses during July. So we unfortunately cannot offer childcare. We would like to have more adults help with Kidville and we pay our Kidville helpers. So please apply at the office if you are interested in being part of this ministry.

 

 

Energy use at St. Vincent’s has declined over the years. This past year we used 42% less kilowatts than we did from June 2011 to May 2012, when I first started tracking our electricity use. We also are using significantly less natural gas since most of the north part of the building is now heated with electricity. Heating most of the north part of the building with electricity and using 42% less kilowatts overall may seem contradictory. However, our current system is so efficient that it uses less electricity to heat the building than the previous system used just to move air through the building. There also was some significant inefficiency in the previous design. More efficient LED lights also have had a significant impact as has improved heating and air controls that allow us to only heat and cool the rooms we are using.  I have learned that energy efficiency is gained not by a single silver bullet, but making many small changes that add up. This summer we are replacing our boiler for the south part of the building because the old boiler was becoming undependable and expensive to repair. Once again, we have chosen to use high efficiency condensing boilers that will provide significant energy savings. We also are changing out more lights so that almost all the Worship Space lights will be LED. I hope the change to LED lights will not only help with the kilowatt charge, but also our demand charges for peak energy use each month. We try to be both good stewards of your gifts and our earth.

 

June 23, 2019

 

Bishop Kemme is requiring us to kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer and during the prayer prior to communion. Bishop Kemme feels it is important for us to follow the norms of the Catholic Church in the United States. So we will begin kneeling this weekend of June 22-23 on the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. Of course for those that cannot kneel, the norms provide the option of being seated. After receiving communion, the norms allow all to sit and we will adopt that custom since it fits our seating arrangements and personally I find it easier to both sing and pray from a seated position. So we will kneel from the Holy, Holy to the Great Amen and from after the Lamb of God till the beginning of communion. After communion all can be seated.

 

We will use the cushions in the back of the chairs that can be put on the floor to make it more comfortable to kneel. If anyone comes up with a better solution than the cushions to provide for both comfort and convenience, I am very open to your ideas. While the cushions might not be ideal, I’ve been at churches where the kneelers were much more uncomfortable or poorly placed than our kneeling cushions. Please return the cushions to their place in the chairs at the end of Mass.

 

I have heard from a number of people who are upset by this decision of the Bishop. I understand your frustration especially since no consultation was done prior to the decision. I want to repeat that neither standing or kneeling makes us Catholic or leads us to love God more or less. The identity and character of St. Vincent de Paul parish doesn’t depend upon us standing. We will remain an open, welcoming community embracing all who seek God. We will continue to emphasize faith formation for the entire community. We will continue to serve the poor and broader community. We will continue to see God in one another as we gather around the altar at St. Vincent’s. Our faith is much bigger than this issue. The bonds we share as a parish and Catholics are so much bigger than whether we stand or kneel.

 

Vacation Bible School Registration deadline is this Friday, June 28th.

 

June 16, 2019

 

Trinity Sunday usually seems terribly complicated. First, pray to God in whatever way works for you. You can pray to God in general, or the Father, or Jesus or the Holy Spirit. Do what works for you. Secondly, God is one. We start with the unity of God rather than spending all our time considering the differences between the 3 persons of one God. All three persons of God have the same will, desire and love for us. There are no arguments in the Trinity. Jesus doesn’t have to intercede for us before the Father. They both want what is best for us. Also where one person of the Trinity is acting, all the Trinity is present. The Father and Holy Spirit were always with Jesus the Son of God, just in a different way. We must always remember God is one. Finally, the Trinity tells us God is relationship and love. The essential reason for three persons in the Trinity is so that love could flow between them from the beginning of eternity. So pray to God how you want. Trust all persons in the Trinity have the same love for you. Remember God is love.

 

Confirmation preparation will begin this fall. The date for Confirmation will be April 29, 2020. We will have registration in August. The one big change in Confirmation is this year we will prepare children 7th grade through High School since the Bishop has change the Confirmation age to 6th and 7th grade. So as we transition this year, we will do 7th grade through High School. We will separate the 7th and 8th graders from the High School youth in different small groups. We will use the same program from Matthew Kelly that we have used in the past.

 

 

June 9, 2019

 

The skylight above the Ville entrance has been causing a number of problems. The most immediate problem is leaks because the rubber seals are old. The leaks have caused problems with both the inside and outside walls. The longer term problems are glare from the sun and it is impossible to heat and cool that space even with 12 tons of air conditioning. The biggest problem with heating and cooling is the simple fact that the skylight is about 20 by 20 feet, which is a lot of glass. The good news is we have some funds available from the Annual Fund to solve this problem.

 

The easy solution is to install white frosted glass with new seals that would fix the leak and solve most of the glare issues. We now are getting a bid to replace the glass. However, we still would have problems with heating and cooling. So I am asking the help of any parishioners with expertise for their ideas. I also would love good contacts with contractors that might know how to solve these problems. Please contact me in the office or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

One idea we have come up with is to reduce the size of the actual window area to the center square part of the structure, which would still be about 7 by 7 feet (49+ square feet of glass rather than 400+ square feet of glass). We then could put a slanted false ceiling below. This would allow us to put a white metal roof on the part that does not have glass and probably would help with leaks long term. Since glass is very heavy, this solution also would reduce the weight on the structure. The biggest challenge to this solution would be to find a roofer that does metal roofing that would work with the glass contractor to get the flashings right at the top. So let me know if you have any other ideas, or if you know of any contractors that might help us figure this problem out.

 

 

June 2, 2019

 

Vacation Bible School registration is happening now. Sign up by the end of June. Vacation Bible School will be the week of July 22-26 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 noon. Grades pre-K through 5 attend. Older kids and adults are needed as volunteers.

 

Summer projects will begin this week. Hopefully, they will begin Bell Tower repairs this week. The cost is about $28,000, but insurance will pay for all but $500, which is our deductible. The scaffolding for the project will cost significantly more than the repairs. Fortunately, we have insurance.

 

Repairs and sealing of the parking lot are on hold until the weather improves even though the contract has already been signed. We also hope to sign a contract for a new boiler during the next week because we want to get that project done during the summer season. Once the boiler contract is signed, I will look at getting contracts signed for other projects like the moveable wall between the Gathering Space and Social Space and updating other parts of the heating and air control system. One final project we plan to accomplish with parish labor is replacing the worn wallpaper with tile in the Gathering Space. I want to thank all of you for your support through the Annual Fund that provides funds for these projects.

 

Part time maintenance personnel wanted. We are looking for women or men who want part time work. If we find the right person, we are willing to provide regular hours each night during the week. Please apply at the office.

 

 

May 26, 2019

 

The Feast of the Ascension is celebrated next Sunday rather than on Thursday in our diocese and in most of the United States. So there is no special Holy Day on Thursday.

 

 

Retreats are a gift we give ourselves, but we are usually too busy to take time for retreat. Fortunately, priests are required to go on a retreat each year. The challenge is to treat this requirement as a true gift rather than a boxed to be checked each year. I took a few extra days of retreat this year and found it to be a great blessing. Retreats provide time to delve deeper into my relationship with God and give God quiet and space to come closer to me. A special thanks for Fr. Mark Beran and everyone who kept things going at the parish this past week. Consider giving yourself the gift of a retreat. God can do great things if we give God the time and space to touch us. 

 

May 12, 2019

 

Bishop Kemme is requiring us to kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer and during the prayer prior to communion. Bishop Kemme feels it is important for us to follow the norms of the Catholic Church in the United States. So we will be making this change the weekend of June 22-23 on the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. We are taking this time to prepare so the change to kneeling can be done in an orderly manner. Of course for those that cannot kneel, the norms provide the option of being seated. After receiving communion, the norms allow all to sit and we will adopt that custom as I feel it fits our seating arrangements and personally I find it easier to both sing and pray from a seated position. We will use the cushions in the back of the chairs that can be put on the floor to make it more comfortable to kneel. If anyone comes up with a better solution than the cushions to provide for both comfort and convenience, I am very open to your ideas.

 

Some people will be very upset by this decision of the Bishop. There also may be some people who are pleased. Neither standing or kneeling makes us Catholic or leads us to love God more or less. The identity and character of St. Vincent de Paul parish doesn’t depend upon us standing. We will remain an open, welcoming community embracing all who seek God. We will continue to emphasize faith formation for the entire community. We will continue to serve the poor and broader community. We will continue to see God in one another as we gather around the altar at St. Vincent’s. Our faith is much bigger than this issue. The bonds we share as a parish and Catholics are so much bigger than whether we stand or kneel. So after having time for emotions to run their course, I hope we can remember what is truly important in the love we share and the Eucharist we come to celebrate.

 

Fr. Mark Beran from St. Augustine Indian Mission, our sister parish in Winnebago, Nebraska will be visiting next weekend. I am taking advantage of this opportunity to go on a longer 8-day retreat. Our parish helps to support the St. Augustine Indian Mission School through the designated gifts of many parishioners and through the gifts the children bring up to me each week. Please welcome Fr. Mark next weekend and please pray for me while I am on retreat this week.

 

Sr. Kathy will lead Good Wine this Thursday at 11:00 AM. Lunch will follow her presentation.

 

 

Part time maintenance personnel wanted. We are looking for women or men who want part time work in the evenings and on weekends. The work primarily involves cleaning, setting up tables occasionally and helping with hospitality on weekends. Competitive wages are offered. Please apply in the parish office. 

 

May 5, 2019

 

Mental Health Awareness month is May. Mental health is much more than dealing with mental illness. Many people follow a plan to maintain their physical health that includes dieting and exercise. Some people will even get a trainer to coach them in caring for their physical health. However, do we spend as much time and effort maintaining our mental health? Do we find healthy ways to deal with stress and anger? Do we develop habits that increase gratitude as part of our lives? Do we pray? So during this month of May consider what habits might help you develop your mental health muscles. Some of the best resources on mental health can be found at nimh.nih.gov .

 

I congratulate our first communicants. We celebrate with them and allow their enthusiasm to remind us of the great gift of the Eucharist. Everyone is invited to congratulate the children after Mass in the Gathering Space.

 

Part time maintenance personnel wanted. We are looking for women or men who want part time work in the evenings and on weekends. The work primarily involves cleaning, setting up tables occasionally and helping with hospitality on weekends. Competitive wages are offered. Please apply in the office.

 

 

South of the Gathering Space doors, we are having curb cuts and a small sidewalk installed. The curb cuts and sidewalk will eliminate the barrier between the south handicapped parking and the door. We are maintaining the curb around the rest of that area to protect the pillars that support the portico. I want to thank the Quilters who highlighted this need and provided the funds to pay for this improvement.