Church of the
Annunciation

7580 Clinton Street
Elma, New York 14059

716.683.5254

June 11, 2017

Most Holy Trinity

The only way we can say something about God is because God reveals the divine. Some propose that there is a God gene or chromosome, a DNA receptor, in human beings that is responsive to this communication from God. God, enshrouded in a cloud, reveals God to Moses on Mt. Sinai. God says to Moses and to the Hebrew people: “The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” St. Paul writing to the Church at Corinth deepens our understanding of the mystery of God. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” Jesus himself speaks of the precious gift God bestows. “God so love the world that he gave us his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” In response to the revelation of God/Trinity, to the precious gift of God’s very life and love for us in his Son and communion in the Holy Spirit, like Moses, we can only bow and, with the psalmist, offer God: “Glory and praise for ever.”   

After consultation and planning, we are getting ready to implement the Master Plan of improvements to our parish campus. I have a plaque dedicated to the officers of the Holy Name Society who constructed our picnic pavilion in 1981 – 36 years ago. We have a responsibility to maintain the structural integrity and enhance the beauty of parish buildings and grounds. I invite you to walk with me into our cemetery, stand at the center crucifix, and look to the back. You will see two shabby sheds overflowing with stuff stacked outside. Now imagine the sheds and pavilion removed and replaced to a new location. Imagine: a small committal chapel with niches for cremations, space for ground burials, benches for relaxation and meditation, a special garden and places of rest for premature births and babies, a park like setting with sidewalks and circular driveway. I invite you to join us on Monday June 19, 7 PM in Selbert Hall, and see our plans. It is already a collaborative work of multiple committees and lay leadership with the assistance of an architect and cemetery designer. Your input and suggestions are welcome.

As you have heard Fr. Gabe Scarfia will be taking on a new assignment at Siena College, Albany. Fr. Rich Siepka will continue to assist on weekends. We are given an opportunity to honestly look at our schedule of weekend Masses in light of our spacious church, the diminished number of priests available to serve and the diminished number of Catholics attending Mass. Except for Christmas and Easter, our church can accommodate more people at Mass. At our recent convocation with the Bishop, a priest (not me) appealed to the Bishop to give direction and encouragement to pastors to cut the number of weekend Masses. Pastors are reluctant to do so because of resistance/kickback from parishioners: “That’s my Mass!” Anyone who studies the issue will look closely at Sunday 11:30 AM and Sunday 5:00 PM because the number of people who attend is usually less than the other weekend Masses. But both of these Masses are critical to our present and future. Last week after the 11:30 AM Mass a person remarked to me about the number of babies and toddlers at this late Sunday morning Mass. The Sunday 5:00 PM Mass connects with Life Teen. Young adults participate in POP (music), and as lectors, cantors and ushers. We have been aware that there is insufficient time between the 8:00 AM and 10 AM Sunday Masses for Youth Faith Formation especially now when the Diocese is mandating more family elements to be included in the program. Rather than eliminate a Mass I propose to you (and to the Pastoral Council on Monday and to the Liturgy Committee on Tuesday) is the merger of the 11:30 AM and 10 AM Masses into one Mass at 11:00 AM. We have plenty of time to absorb this new reality and plan for a smooth transition with multiple ministries (priests, deacons, musicians, Eucharistic ministers, lectors, ushers, greeters, servers, hospitality, children liturgy of the Word and toddler) working out details. A captain in the Navy will say: “It is my watch.”  As pastor it is my watch and more importantly “it is our watch” to do the right thing. Although a change of Mass schedule may be difficult, it is a step we must take to ensure quality of worship and integration of our Mass schedule with Youth Faith Formation, Edge and Life Teen. This is an OMG moment – Oh My God. God will calm our fears and instill peace. 

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