Pastor’s Corner

Gospel Reflection – Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy

English explorers Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon surveyed the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland in 1767. The border has come to be known as the Mason-Dixon Line.  During the American Civil War a century later, it was the dividing line between the Union and the Confederacy. There is a story of a man whose property was right on top of this invisible line separating the states.  During the war, he feared both sides would view him as a traitor so he decided to wear a Confederate jacket and Union pants. When the fighting got too close to home, he was in big trouble. The Union muskets were fired at his chest, and the Confederacy shot at his knees, a grim reminder that we cannot serve two masters.

Such is the challenge between the pursuit of holiness versus the pursuit of wealth and power. This was the focus of today’s first reading from the Prophet Amos. Sometime around 750 BC, the sheepherder Amos was called to leave one flock in service of another. God sent him north into Israel to convict people for their sins against the Covenant – working on the Sabbath and cheating the poor out of their hard-earned money.

Amos knows that the merchants in the Temple are fixing their scales to cheat the pilgrims coming to Jerusalem for the feast. These wealthy men became rich and made themselves richer by taking advantage of the less fortunate.  Never will I forget a thing they have done, the prophet says, speaking for God. It is an announcement of God’s judgment on those who are deaf to the cry of the poor. They were in need of forgiveness, but would only receive it if they humbled themselves to ask for it.

In writing to Timothy, Saint Paul affirms God’s desire that we all ask for and receive his mercy, and then share it with one another. Paul thought this important especially for kings and all those in authority, that they might lead a quiet and tranquil life, one without anger or argument.  It is God’s great desire that everyone be saved and … come to knowledge of the truth.

Mercy and forgiveness are in the message of the parable of the steward that Jesus tells in today’s Gospel. The steward is quite creative in dealing with the loss of his job. The steward was not forgiven his debt, but he does forgive the debt of one who owes him a large sum of wheat. Jesus compliments the man for his ability to look beyond earthly wealth to store up for himself treasure in heaven. This appears to be Jesus’ way of getting our minds out of our pocketbook and into his holy book. The Lord desires that we all show such industry in our pursuit of eternal life.

Experience tells us that wealth may leave us or be taken away, but God is a firm anchor. The dollar in our pocket is here today and gone tomorrow, but the Lord is always there for us, and all around us. The late Evangelist Billy Graham said the Lord gave us two hands – one to give, one to receive. We need both. Fold those two hands together and we can pray to God who is the source of every blessing.  What Amos says is true – that God never forgets a thing we have done – so let us at least live a life worthy of remembering, a life full of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

 

Gospel Reflection -Prodigal Son

Today’s Gospel, and particularly the parable of the prodigal son, reminds us of the merciful love that God the Father has for all of us, his children. Jesus depicts so poignantly the love found in the character of the father who runs out to greet his wayward son before he is even home – and who celebrates his son’s safe return with the feast of a fatted calf.

We might wonder how a father can be so quickly and completely forgiving of a son who prematurely took a share of the father’s wealth (to which he was not even entitled, because he was not the older son and heir), abandoned the family, and wasted the hard-earned money on immoral and reckless acts. But Jesus reminds us, as he did the Pharisees and scribes at the beginning of the Gospel, that God the Father himself is merciful, for Jesus was sent to encourage sinners to turn away from their sins and toward God.

These readings challenge us on many levels. If we are like the younger, prodigal son, it might be hard to imagine that God could forgive us for the wrongs we might have done, for the times that we turned away from God. But in the second reading, Paul reminds Timothy that God not only forgave him for his persecution of the Church, he called Paul to great glory as an Apostle. Paul describes himself as the foremost of sinners, who was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life. Through his mercy for this most zealous persecutor of the early Christians, Jesus gave Paul the grace to become one of his greatest advocates and one of the shining stars of the Church. If any of us feel that we have committed some wrong that can’t be forgiven – or have strayed so long that we can’t be welcomed back – we can take courage and comfort from these readings.

But, just as the readings encourage us to accept the mercy of God, they also challenge us to extend God’s mercy to others. For we also know that the measure we give to others is what we shall receive. We are forgiven, as we forgive. And we have this good news to share with anyone who needs to hear it: come home! So let us then accept God’s mercy, extend it to others and rejoice, as the Father commands us, when those who are lost return home.

 

From the Pastor

Dear Parish Family,

I pray that you all had a restful Labor Day weekend.  There is great importance for a balance in life. I do want to share some news with all of you.  This year the Diocese will begin a year long celebration of our 75th Anniversary as the Diocese of Evansville. Since there will be several events happening, rather than doubling up on events, the Diocese has decided to postpone this year’s Brute Society celebration.  Next year we honor double the amount as usual.  Personally, I appreciate that we will honor the same amount of people who are good stewards, but we will take things slow and do them with intention.  Blessings to all of you and thank for all that each of you do for Precious Blood, Holy Trinity, the Diocese and our local community.

Fr. Gary

 

Happy Labor Day!

Dear Parishioners,

“Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work He had been doing, He rested on the seventh day for all the work He had undertaken” (Genesis 2:2). This weekend our nation celebrates Labor Day.  This holiday provides us the chance to look at the work we do and give thanks to God for that opportunity.

I am blessed to celebrate the sacraments and minister to people at some of the most joyous times and some of the most challenging times in life.  If it were not for the priesthood, I would never be able to be a part of so many people’s lives.  I give thanks to God for my work and my vocation to serve.

Each of you has work which provides the opportunity to accomplish many different things.  Whether it is in the home, office, factory or farm, we all have been chosen by God, in a particular way, to use our gifts.  I have always noticed the pride people take in their work. That is definitely a German characteristic!  A job well done is worth more than one done half-heartedly.  I admire that in all of you.

We have the opportunity to also learn from God about our work.  God tells us that, from time to time, we need to take a break.  I have been known to work hard, but I also know that if I do not rest occasionally it has an effect on my overall performance and attentiveness to my work.  I realize I am preaching to the choir, as all of you experience this struggle as well.

Lack of rest and relaxation influences our families.  If we do not spend time with our families, we lose touch with each other.  So, share a meal together or just take the time to sit down and talk to one another.  There is no doubt that one of the biggest setbacks in our society is that we are “so busy” we don’t spend as much time as we should with our families and loved ones.

On this Labor Day weekend, as we give thanks to God for the work He has entrusted to us, let’s take the opportunity to spend some time with those we love and reflect on the blessings that surround us every day.  How blessed we are to live in the United States of America.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Gary

 

Heartfelt Thanks!

Dear Parishioners,

Thank you to all who made our Picnic a huge success. We have been praying for God’s grace to bless our parish picnic and he did in many ways. I was humbled by the number of workers that have been dedicating long hours the past several weeks preparing for the picnic. A special thanks to the picnic chairpersons

The quilts were beautiful. The Quilting ladies worked hard all year. Thanks for once again turning small scraps into beautiful pieces of artwork. Once again, the food was amazing!!  So many guests expressed they enjoyed the dinner and the helpful service you provided.

I also want to thank the entire parish staff who complete a lot of behind the scenes work all year. Thanks for your work making the picnic another success. No picnic would be possible without the hundreds of volunteers. To all, thank you and God bless you.

The picnic is certainly the largest fundraising effort we have for our parish; however, that is not the only reason to have a picnic. It is also a time to share in fellowship and invite others to Precious Blood.  Throughout last week I saw the spirit of fellowship that carried through the preparations and picnic day.  I am sure there were little issues here and there, but I never once heard a volunteer complain.  I firmly believe that God answered our prayers. It was a fun and dynamic picnic. Without dedicated parishioners we would not have had similar results.

Also, I want to remind all to join us this evening for the Town Hall Meeting at 7:00 in the Church.  Again, thank you to Ken Senedelweck and Kent Reyling for leading in facilitating the process of Strategic Planning as we continue to reflect and see how we can best serve the people of our Parish and community.

Fr. Gary

 

Parish Picnic – Welcome!

Welcome to our Picnic!

To all of our guests, we extend our Precious Blood hospitality.  Throughout the year Parishioners have been working on crafting the beautiful quilts.  Each is made with love and crafted as our quilting crew share in their fellowship.  The great weather provides the perfect opportunity to stroll around and look at all of the booths. Take time to enjoy our home style dinner.  Parishioners have been baking cakes, gathering tomatoes and green peppers for all to enjoy.

Once again, we have the country store filled with many home-made items.  For all of you who are feeling lucky, try out Bingo located in the gym.   While you are there, you can stroll around and place your bids on the silent auction items.

There are plenty of games for the young and young at heart.  Of course, everyone wants a chance to win a quilt or some cold cash. We hope you enjoy your time at Precious Blood.

A BIG THANK YOU to all parishioners and staff who have worked to make this Year’s picnic another success.  We appreciate your continued efforts to help make Precious Blood the amazing Parish that we are today. Also, thank you for sharing our blessings with all those who joined us this weekend.  A special thanks to the Chairpersons.  Your direction made the picnic run smooth.  Most of all we give thanks to our Lord for the many blessings that He has bestowed upon us. We give praise and glory to You God our Father.

Sincerely,

Fr. Gary

 

Gospel Reflection – August 11

 

In today’s Gospel parable, the master is away at a wedding feast. In Jesus’ telling of this story, he focuses on those who await the master’s return. They have been given instructions and are expected to carry them out.

The servants do not know when the master will return. They wait and make preparations [and] act in accord with his will. And they are ready. If we put ourselves in the place of the servants with Jesus as the master, here we will find the Good News of the Gospel.

For being ready for Jesus’ second coming is less about any actual time and place, and more about what we choose to do while we wait. We, too, have been given instructions and commandments, and there is no time to waste in preparing and participating in God’s kingdom. Through the grace of baptism we have been grafted into Christ, giving us, as Wisdom says of our ancestors, sure knowledge of the oaths in which [we] put [our] faith. This is the faith which is the realization of what is hoped for: redemption in Jesus Christ. It is this faith that gives us the desire, as it gave Abraham, to obey God’s call, and the courage to journey wherever God has prepared for us to go.

At the end of the Lord’s Prayer during Mass, the priest prays in part, “Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil … that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin … as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” This prayer, “developing the last petition of the Lord’s Prayer itself, asks for deliverance from the power of evil for the whole community of the faithful” (GIRM 81).

So with prayer and action, we prepare ourselves and one another for the return of our master. We do whatever it means, individually, for each one of us to sell [our] belongings and give alms; to gird [our] loins and light [our] lamps; to defend our house from thieves. Let us know God’s will, and follow it soberly and attentively. Let us do these things, by God’s grace. And we shall rejoice when we once again see the Son of Man.

 

Strassenfest 2019

Guten Tag!!

It is that time of year again, I pray you have enjoyed the Strassenfest. Sunday will be the parade. I hope to see you there. Throughout the Summer much has been happening on the East and Central Campuses preparing for the new School Year. Much activity has already taken place including the Strassenfest festival and Wettlauff.

Holy Trinity’s “float” is following the theme of Community of the Year. Throughout our community’s history Catholic Education has played a huge part. All our County Catholic parishes support our ministry in Catholic Education. Sunday afternoon we will walk with pride to honor all the sacrifices so many have made for Catholic Education in our community. Students and parents are welcome to come and join Mr. Temple, Mrs. Seng and myself in walking in the Strassenfest Parade! Meet at 15th and Vine around 12:30 sporting your Holy Trinity Spirit Wear and walking shoes. Be ready to hand out goodies to the crowd! See you all at the square celebrate and be safe.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Gary

Thank You and Campaign Update

Dear Parish Family,

Thank you for all who have helped make the preparations for the Parish Directory.  Ruth Fritch, Mike Pfau and Nancy Mendel, your coordination of these events has been efficient and helpful. Hosts and hostesses who signed people in for pictures, your kindness and hospitality were noticed by many parishioners who shared with me.  The Precious Blood Outreach Committee helped connect with parish families and listened to them as they waited.  I am most grateful for the prayer requests people shared with us. Parishioners commented on this addition to the process and appreciated it. I am always grateful for the many volunteers who help around the Parish. Thank you for taking time to have your pictures taken.  Also thank you to all who joined us for the Picture of the Parish gathered on the south side of the Church.  Now we begin the design and layout process.

As I mentioned at the weekend Masses, a big project like this provides opportunities for us to look at what we are doing well and what we can improve upon.  We heard from several people who were taken off the Parish Registration list by mistake.  The staff and I discussed and sought to correct this error.  To prevent such actions in the future, those who wish to be removed must inform us; if they have died, we will remove them. However, we will not take second-hand information about one’s Parish membership going forward; it must be first-hand information.

This week the Strategic Planning Committee met with both the Parish and Finance Councils.  We plan to have a Town Hall Meeting open for the Parish to share data we collected and to share ideas for the future, while listening to those in attendance about how we can achieve them.  Thank you to Ken Sendelweck and Kent Reyling for coordinating these efforts, collecting the data and providing the data for us to review.

Update on Diocesan Capital Campaign funds –

The first project we planned and completed was removing and replacing the HVAC towers.  We had budgeted $150,000 for this project and came in under budget spending $69,700.  This was completed in 2017.  Next, we expanded a storage room on the west side of the gym to house the lawn mowing equipment and other maintenance supplies.  The budget was $20,000 and we spent $17,890.  We planned on removing and replacing overgrown landscaping around the Parish Campus.  However, during the Campaign many of you felt the budget of $100,000 was too much.  Knowing that we need to have a plan, we asked for a professional landscape design.  To reduce the costs, we will gradually remove overgrown pieces and focus on sections through different projects like Eagle Scout projects etc. We removed overgrown trees and bushes in several areas on the north and west sides this summer.

We also planned improvements to our parking lot and additions.  The Budget was set at $165,000.  The current plan is smaller in size so this will likely come in under budget as well. Due to the unusually wet spring and summer this project won’t begin until after the Parish Picnic.  The funds saved by projects coming in under budget will still be spent for Capital Improvement projects.  Ideas we are looking at include LED lights throughout the Campus to improve lighting, increase efficiency and reduce utility expenses. I want to thank Brad, Julie and Shelia from the Facilities Staff for their efforts, as well the Building and Grounds Committee and the Finance and Parish Councils for their consultation.  Together we make Precious Blood a welcoming community and serve the people of God together.

Blessings,

Fr. Gary

Parish Picnic

Dear Parishioners,

Last week the Chairs of our Parish Picnic met. A lot of good discussion and planning took place. As we prepare for our Parish Picnic I ask that you do three things. First pray, second invite family and friends and finally volunteer. Once again I plan to roll up the shirt sleeves, sweat a little and help out.

Our Parish Picnic is our largest fundraising event. It is through these efforts that we are able to do the ministry we do here at Precious Blood. Below is a prayer that a parishioner gave me when I first came in 2009. It is a good prayer to use asking for God’s blessing upon our Picnic. We will begin to use this after communion at Mass beginning this week.

I hope that we have more people, more quilts, more food, more profits and a whole lot of FUN!! Join us on August 18th and spread the word; invite your family and friends to our Picnic.

Summer Picnic Prayer

Heavenly Father, we give you praise and thanksgiving for all that you have given us. We look forward to a day for worship, work, fellowship and good times.

Our prayer at this time of year, when we come together for our Parish Picnic, is to ask you to bless our gathering with your beautiful sunshine. We pray for a good response from our workers, parishioners, and your whole community of faith.

We ask you to guide us to do the very best to make our social a success. We place our faith in your hands, through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Blessings,

Fr. Gary