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Parish Happenings
1st Quarter of 2008

                After the Easter Sunday Mass, our Annual Easter Egg Hunt and Breakfast was held at the Father Rausch Hall. The Easter bunny made an appearance during the breakfast. The egg hunt took place after breakfast, and then the kids all sat around for story time. The pictures below really show that everyone had a good time.
               Holy Week at St. Paul's was exciting and powerful at the same time. During the Holy Thursday Service, four kids from The Family School received their 1st Holy Communion. The cross that was venerated during the Good Friday Service was hand crafted by the grandfather of Tyler Hornbeck, who passed away in 2006. The Saturday night Easter Vigil was long, (as it should be,)  but at the same time, very moving. Two kids from The Family School were baptized and two others were received into the Catholic Church with their confirmation. Easter Sunday saw the church overflowing with parishioners, friends and visitors.
             The Mary's Flowers Mass and get together that was cancelled on March 1st due to the weather, was rescheduled for Sat. March 8th. After the Mass and the Rosary, the girls went to the hall where the first learned how to make home made bath salts. Cindy Biedekapp graciously donated her time and talents, as well as all the ingredients that went into this fun project. To learn more about bath salts and to get the recipe, click on this link. http://maplelane.org/homemade-bath-salt.html
            The second project for the morning was to learn how to put together a decorative gift basket to give to some one special. Some of choices the girls came up with were: their parents, shut-ins, a special relative or just someone they felt that needed cheering up. The girls all got some goodies to take home with them for Easter morning.
               On Sunday evening February 24th, Father John Zharsky and Cantor Gabriel from John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Church in Johnson City came to the Family Foundation School. They brought with them an icon of Saint Anna, the grandmother of Jesus and myrrh that seeped from an icon of Anna in a Russian Orthodox Church in Philadelphia. The story of Jesus and his grandparents was chanted by Father Zharsky and Gabriel. Afterwards, the students from the Family School, St. Paul's parishioners, and guests were invited to venerate the icon and a relic of St. Anna. Father Zharsky then anointed everyone with the oil that came from the original icon in Philadelphia. The evening was a very moving experience.

            The news of St. Paul's Capital Campaign for raising funds to replace our church roof, caught the attention of the youth group from St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, Our Lady of the Lake in Cooperstown, NY. Last fall they made Advent Pins and at Christmas time they made bookmarkers. There are 14 kids (grades 8-12) in the group and on Sunday February 24th, three of the group, along with Carole and Michael Lachance traveled to Hancock to attend the 9AM Mass. They presented Father Stephen with a check for $1000.00 to help St. Paul's with the roof replacement. The amount of hard work and time they put into this type of fund raiser was greatly appreciated by the parishioners. The kids that traveled to Hancock are: Joelle Lachance, Michaela Lachance, and Sean Sansevere. The Lachance Family was at St. Paul's in 2006. Carole and Michael  spoke about Marriage Encounter Weekends. Our thanks again, for the effort that was put forth to raise this amount of money for us.

          Laurie Gross was accepted into the Catholic Church during the 9AM Mass on Sunday, January 27th. Elizabeth Gross was her sponsor. Laurie is the wife of Bill Gross.
          Ella Grace Mroz was baptized at St. Paul's recently. Baby Ella is the grand daughter of David and Socorro Marin. The parents are Nathan and Linda Mroz of Charlotte, N.C. Rita Marin was the Godmother and Brian Mroz the Godfather.
            The Baptism of Baby Vanessa Horton took place at the 9AM Mass on Sunday January 13th. Vanessa is the daughter of Tom and Beth Horton. The also have a son, Jarrett. The Godmother is Marla Gorton and the Godfather is Matthew Gorton.
         The rosary book titled "There is no problem..." written by Father Stephen has been published and copies are now available after the weekend Masses and at the parish office for $15.00 each. Arrangements can also be made to send the book to  friends and relatives for $20.00 each, which includes the postage. Below is an interview with Father Stephen about how the book idea came about and what it took to make it a reality.

Father Stephen reflecting a bit as his book has been published, “There is no problem….!”

How did you arrive at the idea to write this rosary book? Every Sunday evening, for many years, we’ve had Adoration in the chapel of The Family School following the Mass. I’d often look for some new source-book to help keep the prayer fresh and in doing so come across a rosary devotional book which dated from the 1930’s.While the book was too pious and disconnected for our purposes, I liked the technique, which used a consideration or brief thought or message before each “Hail Mary.” The considerations had the effect of keeping the mind locked on the mystery being prayed. Good for distractible people. So while using the book one night I heard a very distinct voice that said, “You can do this.” So I immediately set out to do just that.

How did the Assisi sabbatical come into play?

Years before, when Tony and Betty Argiros were still very influential at the Family School, we were having a conversation about something else and somehow the idea of a sabbatical came up. I think I must have been ordained over 20 years at that time. But I didn’t want to do a traditional sabbatical of going back to school – even abroad. Wanting very much to develop the idea though I was hesitant because finding coverage is increasingly difficult with the shortage of priests today. Still, Tony and Betty were very enthusiastic and gave me a most generous, happy and supportive “go-ahead.” In fact, in all the years of my priesthood, I don’t think I’ve ever felt such kind support and love for my ministry and person. I remain very grateful to them for that.

Then one day, I was going to concelebrate a Mass in Honesdale and as I walked into the sacristy where priests get ready, there was an older priest standing by the vesting case looking my way. I said, “Hi, I’m Stephen Morris, who are you?” He answered, “I’m Ed Scott.” I asked, “What do you do?” And he said, “I’m newly retired and I go around and cover for priests who want to get away.”  I said, “How would you like to cover my parish and school for 3 months – October, November, December 2007?” He said, “I’ll be there!”  And so he was. Talk about God being in charge!

Through still more wondrous events I wound up living in the guest house of the Capuchin Franciscan Friars, just a few feet from the front entrance to the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi. I spent my days with a little black book (the rosary book was written in longhand) wandering from church to church, chapel to chapel. I wrote the book on a train going down the Adriatic to Manoppello, in a primitive convent in Amelia where I went olive picking with the brothers, on the train to Padua and Venice, sometimes in my room looking west as the sun went down in the evening, sometimes in the middle of the night, sometimes while waiting for Mass to start – some of it was written in Rome. I finished the book in a monastery on the top of Monte Luco in Spoletto, where young men live who are just beginning the Franciscan life as postulants. In fact, I wrote the last meditations in the tiny Romanesque chapel of Saint Catherine there after my Mass where it was so cold my breath clouded in the unheated stone chapel.

All throughout though, I had the students at The Family School in mind: our concerns, our struggles and also that most of the young people who might pick up the book would have no idea of religious language or concepts. So I hope I was successful in making the mysteries of the rosary available to them in a new way. I thought about the French Jesuits who when they came to the “New World” to bring the gospel, used the rosary as a teaching tool. I had the advantage of the 5 new Luminous Mysteries which invite us into the adult life of Jesus between the Infancy Narratives and the Sorrowful Passion of Christ.

What’s the Family School–Rosary connection?

I’m at The Family School for 13 years now and long ago I discovered that somehow there is a Marian charism there that is rather inexplicable. Perhaps my predecessor, Franciscan Father Anthony Moore, sparked it, but it remains very real. Very simply, a lot of young people wake up or get alive spiritually and humanly through Mary. Her statue is on the lawn. For some people it’s just a woman praying – others get nervous that the place is Catholic whatever – still others are just drawn there – perhaps they miss their mothers or they don’t like that they have treated women badly or they know that Mary is about important human things like believing, being pure, being good, saying “yes” in a world that has a million ways of saying, “no.”

The rosary is a time-tested prayer that celebrates the life of Jesus Christ and in many ways, Mary’s place in that life as seen in the gospels and the early Church. You can’t ignore it – Mary matters in the gospels. There’s this too big reaction to the rosary and the celebrated place of Mary in the Church. The second half of the repeated prayer says, “…pray for us sinners…” To call her an intercessor makes a lot of Christians wild – as if Jesus – the definitive intercessor can’t share his prerogatives. You can be sure that if you were going to see Mr. Bush or Queen Elizabeth you’d go through a lot of mediators. I think this American thing of direct access is kind of obnoxious. “Let me talk to your manager….” Mary, a mother so tenderly with us, is pleased to stand next to us as we utter the “little twitter” of our prayer, C.S. Lewis says. And Mary adds a most wonderful warm presence or atmosphere to the experience of Christianity. You either get it or you don’t. But those who don’t get it waste too much time arguing against it.

Anyway, I wrote the book because of these things and also because I know throughout my life that the rosary has been a weapon. I know it because I use it and because I see the power the prayer has in the lives of lifeless, angry, damaged people at school. I knew a fellow 30 years ago in the seminary who I thought was on the fringe. Something was wrong and I wouldn’t have been surprised had I heard he’d “gone off the deep end.” But he had a rosary in his left hand all the time and recently I found out he was ordained and has been a happy and successful priest for nearly 3 decades. What can I tell you? Maybe a psychologist would have field day with that. I don’t care; I know what I know.

So what about your hopes for the book?

I’m not delusional. Some will buy the book and see the beautiful pictures. Maybe a picture will seize a soul or imagination. The introduction is a letter written to young people. Americans skip introductions because they don’t imagine there’s anything to learn. Ah well! And others will read it and ponder it and savor it and turn it over in their hearts and minds. I think of the Jesus-parable of the Seed Sower (Luke 8:05 ff) – the fellow throws seed everywhere. And the seed lands everywhere! Seemingly most of  the seed is lost: people walking on it – too shallow roots – birds eating it up – thorns choking it out. But some of it sprouts and yields a great fruitfulness. The book is just a little effort along the way – a handful of seed. It was a wonderful experience for me. I grew personally by writing the book, by living with these remarkable young friars. I prayed well for those months. I made some beautiful and lasting friendships. God seized me at one point in a mystical way that has become a defining moment for my life. If no one else were to grow from the book – I did. Ultimately, I wrote the book for God’s Glory – who has been so good to me as to love me into existence and to salvage me from my own worst possibilities in Christ – and to give me such a Mother!

January 2008

         It is amazing that it is January of 2008. The girls of Mary's Flowers have done so much in one calendar year. This month Mary's Flowers was honored to have Charlene Caramore read the wonderful book: Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt after morning mass and praying the rosary. The author of Angela and the Baby Jesus, Frank McCourt, is also the author of Angela's Ashes. The titles on both books make reference to his mother, Angela. In Angela and the Baby Jesus, six-year-old Angela is concerned that the statue of baby Jesus is cold outside. It is fantastic book that will make children and adults smile.

        After the reading, Mrs. Caramore taught Mary's Flowers the importance of having a prayer journal. She also shared her homemade Marian Journals with prayer prompts, pages for journaling, and an entirely separate journal complete with additional coloring pages for the younger members. Everyone enjoyed Mrs. Caramore's company and her spiritual guidance.