I hope you enjoyed the Christmas liturgical and social celebrations this year.  More importantly, I hope that they were meaningful for you spiritually. 

Much preparation goes on behind the scenes to ensure that the symbols, the manger, the tree and the decorations, are carefully put together and that all the liturgical pieces fit together as they should.

There are so many to thank including Ministers of the Word, Ministers of the Eucharist, Ministers of Welcome,   the collection counters who live behind the scenes every weekend and, at Christmas and Easter, give so much more of their time, teachers who provide our children with their own liturgy every Sunday,  our Choir Directors, Anthony and Sean, and members, the Altar Servers, our decorators who did a beautiful job this year, the children who made Advent come alive with the Jesse Tree and the children who made the Christmas story come alive in the Christmas pageant under the direction of Jennifer Van de Coevering, the St. Vincent de Paul Christmas Giving Program coordinators and our many donors  and  the Knights of Columbus for putting together the tree lighting ceremony and the evening with Santa. 

It takes a lot of dedicated people to make all of these social events when liturgical celebrations happen and I am indebted to you all for your time and generosity.

Special thanks to Fr. Roger and Fr. Milton for your assistance throughout the year. Once again, thank you for the gifts, cards and good wishes I received during the Christmas Season.  They are very much appreciated!  I would like to thank Coro San Marco for their wonderful Christmas concert too! 

To all parishioners:  Your on-going support, in every way, is greatly appreciated.

                                                                                    Fr. Phil        

I hope you all enjoyed the festivities and celebrations of Advent and Christmas. Many thanks to all those who helped make our liturgies so meaningful. At this time too, I would like to thank you for your good wishes, Christmas cards and gifts, both to myself and the parish. All are very much appreciated. 

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany and the great Gospel story of the visit of the Magi. We are familiar with the term Magi, although it is more common to refer to them as the three wise men, or the three kings.

As people of faith, do we know the names of these important visitors? They are: Balthazar, Caspar and Melchior. The three wise men were called to come and give worship to the child Jesus. They were called by the powerful light of a star and by careful study of Old Testament Scripture. As scholars of non-Jewish heritage, they realized that the messiah has come to visit his people.

The Feast of the Epiphany is the celebration of the manifestation of Jesus the Lord to the Gentiles and indeed, the whole world. And this manifestation is represented by these mysterious kings from the Far East. The visit of these kings will make clear that the King of King came to save all people of every nation. This is the manifestation of the New Covenant. This is the beginning of the universality of Christ’s church; that universality we call Catholic.

The Magi journeyed far, and for quite some time, to pay homage to Jesus. This would not be an easy journey. Yet their faith in the promise of new hope motivated them to press on. They did not have the advantage of witnessing Christ’s miracles, reading the stories of Jesus in the New Testament, they hardly could know of the passion, crucifixion, death and resurrection that were to come. Still their faith was enough.

And they came not to say hello, here we are. No, they came to pay Christ worship and to bring him their finest gifts. And these gifts we all know so well; gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold is the most precious of all earth’s metals, frankincense is the incense that is burned in churches down through the centuries to make a pleasing offering to God and myrrh is a by-product that is used in the holy oils for anointing. These precious gifts represent all that the life of Jesus, sent to us through the Virgin to save us, is all about; for He is our priest, our prophet and our King.

What does all of this mean for us today?  These men gave their all and sacrificed much to be able to do so? We can ask ourselves what kind of time to we devote to giving ourselves to Jesus?  If we truly reflect on a typical day or a typical week in our lives what would we discover about our faith commitment to Christ?

Today, we can ponder the example of the three wise men, these mysterious Kings from the Far East known as the Magi. God called them, as He calls us, by name.

Please note that tomorrow, January 9th, is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Mass will be at 8 am.

PARISH SKATING PARTY – Saturday January 14th, 7pm – 8 pm at Carmen Corbasson arena followed by refreshments back in the parish hall. All are invited.

Once again, I wish you a Happy and Holy new year of 2017!

                                                                                                  Fr. Phil    

Solemnity of Mary, The Holy Mother of God

Before we reach Christ's birth in Luke's gospel we are already well aware of how special Mary is. The angel Gabriel calls her "most highly favored" and her cousin Elizabeth exclaims how she is "most blessed". She is the one in whom the blessings spoken of by God to Moses are to be fulfilled. Yet she has no claims to greatness. She is a maiden betrothed to a man named Joseph in an insignificant village in the unimportant region of Galilee. Luke traces the genealogy of Jesus through his foster-father, Joseph. Mary herself, in her great hymn of praise on her visit to Elizabeth, will speak of her own lowliness and marvel at how God has chosen the weak and poor to confound the rich and powerful.

In this sense the shepherds are Mary's natural companions. They too are looked down upon. Mary is great not through any social connections or natural talents but because God has blessed her and chosen her. She becomes the model for the many characters in Luke's gospel who will turn social expectations upside down: the Good Samaritan, the woman who was a sinner, Zacchaeus and the Prodigal Son, to name but a few. She is the one who, with the Spirit living in her heart, is able to cry "Abba, Father". She becomes the first of those freed from slavery, the first heir among the children of God.

How she accepts God's blessing and choice is important. In a phrase Luke will repeat, Mary is reported as treasuring all these things and pondering them in her heart. She is the model of prayerful reflection, the one who allows the Spirit to speak and inspire. The result of her reflection is in this case transposed onto the shepherds. They go back glorifying and praising God for all they have heard and seen. In the Magnificat it is Mary herself who glorifies and praises God for all he has done.

Mary is a wonderful model for us as we being this New Year. I wish you every blessing, happiness and health throughout 2017. May our parish and parishioners continue to be blessed!

Fr. Phil