What a year 2009 has been…
Our country’s economic crisis has cost many their livelihood. It has altered lifestyles and placed a heavy burden on those constantly asking, “How are we going to manage this?”
Amidst this trauma, the heart of our wonderful Parish continues to beat strongly. There is a vibrancy of change taking place, and all around us wonderful things are happening. These are just a few of the events that took place during this year. To be honest, there are so many that if I were to mention all of them this letter would go on and on ad infinitum. My fellow Redemptorists and I are so very grateful to all of you who give so much of your time to Al’s, to each other, and to those in need.
Here are some highlights of 2009.
- The autumn and the spring came together as Sister Bert stepped down after 25 years of great service to St. Al’s. She is pursuing her heart’s desires as AJ Setter takes over the reigns of the Social Justice Ministry. Thank you, Bert. Welcome to the family, AJ.
- The Parish Picnic returned as Father Andy resurrected a past tradition. Our communal life continued to grow through parish breakfasts once a month and cooking classes introduced in the fall, both of which are helping to raise monies to facelift the cafeteria and kitchen.
- The sacramental life of the parish grew as well. Brother Dan Korn, C.Ss.R. gave a mission on Iconography and Mary, Our Mother of Perpetual Help. A Mass of Hope for the Unemployed and those in Need took place followed by a three-day seminar and services for those seeking employment. We also offered the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. As 2009 comes to a close, plans are underway for a Parish Mission, March 7-11, 2010, A Lenten Walk with Christ: Our Mission through Life to Salvation.
- In 2008, twenty-four couples graced our Church writing a covenant before God as they became husband and wife. In 2009, this number climbed to forty- eight.
- The Capital Campaign was launched and the physical nature of the Parish began to change. In a year where personal financial need is enormous, the generosity of the Parish pushed pledges and donations toward a lofty two million dollars. We are not quite there yet, but this milestone is in sight. Thank you all so very much for your support. The Church has been the main recipient of the Campaign’s first phase. A new roof, a gift of one generous parishioner; tuck pointing, the sealing of the towers and a new lightening rod system have all come together to seal and protect St. Al’s. In 2010, projects are on the drawing board to continue to upgrade and care for our facilities.
- Catherine’s Health Center (renamed in 2009) has also gained early success with its campaign as well, and may be ready to begin renovations on the Lafayette wing of our former school building this spring.
2009 has been a difficult year. 2009 has also been a remarkable year. It is a year that has brought us together to feel the beating heart of our people and this Parish.
Recently, I was outside the Church when my friend, Caden, a four year old, came up to me and asked, “Father Denis, how old is Jesus?” I answered, “Caden, he is about 2009 years old, but no matter how old He is, He is still and always will be a baby born in Bethlehem to be our Savior.”
Caden’s question brings me to share this message I borrowed from a friend’s email:
If you give up when it is winter
you will miss the promise of your spring,
the beauty of your summer,
and the fulfillment of your fall.
Please don’t let the pain of one season
destroy the joy of all the rest.
Don’t judge life by difficult times.
When trials come, seek to let them make you strong,
and let happiness keep you forever true;
sorrow makes one human, and failure humbles.
But let success make you grow.
Live simply, love generously, care deeply, and speak kindly.
Leave the rest to a baby
and allow God to keep you on the go.
Merry Christmas Everyone, Blessing in the New Year