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PARISH HAPPENINGS
4th Quarter 2007

          Our church had to be closed about three weeks ago due to the amount of weight the last few snow storms has added to the roof area. Thanks goes to the many volunteers that it takes to set the hall up, in order for us to have Mass. The Family Foundation School kindly offered their chapel for us to use for our Christmas Masses and for awhile it looked as though this would take place. Then a short lived warm front passed through the area over the weekend and the rains came down hard. This combination caused most of the snow to melt off the roof and now the Christmas and weekend Masses are back in church.
          The church being closed and not knowing where we would celebrate Christmas Mass, has necessitated a simplified use of decorations and a modest manger scene. It's still Christmas and the birth of Jesus is what's important, so let us all be thankful.
                                                          Buon Natale!

There is sadness or poignancy with us always, but somehow Christmas brings it into sharper focus. We feel things more deeply perhaps this time of year.
         The heart of the Catholic parish is the Mass. So at Christmas Mass- from the community’s heart, we remember prayerfully the sick, the lonely, and those who are away from us. We remember those who have gone from us since last Christmas and those who are depressed or fearful. And we hear the angel’s message to all the world, “Do not be afraid; there’s good news!”
         Jesus was born in the nighttime. Name the night. Joseph and Mary were fatigued. Name the fatigue. Jesus was born into an oppressive occupation. Name the oppression and all that’s pre-occupying. Take heart! God is close to us — Jesus, born of Mary!
         To believe in God is to let God be God. To believe in God is to accept that despite appearances — the decline, the decay, the death — God is allowing this and for God’s own reasons. Can I ponder this? But all the more, ponder (with and like Mary) that God’s Word, God’s Self-gift and expression, has joined us in it all? And that marvelous identification with us began at once shivering in the cave as cold as ice, the Italian carol tells.
          The older I get and the longer I am at this, the more I understand and value that there is indeed a priestly heart. It is a wounded, suffering heart, a troubled and burdened heart. But it is also, and exceedingly more, a grateful heart, a heart of light and delight, a heart filled with beauty, goodness and gratitude. I thank all who draw near and share this.
         The little Child of Bethlehem bless you then, and bless your families and your friends. Indeed, may he bless us all with a new year filled with gratitude for his mercies, a felt need for the things he alone offers and promises, and a deep sense of solidarity with and love for each other.

With a blessing at Christmas!

~ Father Stephen P. Morris

 
          The final porch repairs at the rectory have been done. The eave troughs for the rectory porch have been replaced and a new railing to go along with the new steps was installed recently.
         The Bethany Ministry Volunteers provide a funeral luncheon for the family of Frank Redzich on Thursday December 20th. Frank passed away on December 14th and was a long time parishioner of St. Paul's. He is survived by his large family of 11 children.
        The Hancock Community Loaves and Fishes Program gave out turkeys and the fixings for a Thanksgiving Dinner to 81 families. Now that Christmas is upon us, they will doing it all over again on December 18th and this time they will be giving out hams instead of turkeys to even more families. In addition, toys will be given out to the children. Collecting all the toys is a big job, but they all have to be wrapped after they are sorted by age groups and whether it's for a boy, girl or is it appropriate for either. This can be an overwhelming task that most of us don't even realize the amount of time and effort involved. Socorro Marin and her group deserves a special thank you from all of us for doing such a terrific job that is much appreciated by the families and their children. The pictures below show the blue bags containing the already wrapped toys with many more on the tables waiting for caring hands.
       The newest members of St. Paul's Parish Visitors Ministry and Eucharistic Ministers were installed at the 5 PM Mass on Sat. December 8th. The Parish Visitors Ministry volunteers visits the sick and homebound, as well as taking communion.
        Ryan Charles O'Hallahan graduated from The Family Foundation School on Saturday morning December 8th, and that evening at the 5 PM Mass here at St. Paul's he was received into the Catholic Church. Ryan received both his First Communion and Confirmation at this Mass. He will be living at Betton House in Scranton while attending an area college and then join one of the armed services. 
       In honor of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday December 8th, Saint Paul's Mary's Flowers and the Blue Knights held a luncheon in the Father Rausch Hall for about 65 senior citizens. These young people not only served the luncheon, they helped with the planning and the preparations. Beef with noodles and gravy was the main course, but salad, breads, and applesauce were served, as well as desserts. They also did a great job of clean up afterwards. Look closely to see who jumped in to help wash the dishes. I heard a rumor afterwards that the hall should have an automatic dish washer installed. I'm not so sure about that, what I observed; it looked like Father Stephen was on auto-pilot and doing just fine. I'm sure everyone appreciated his help.
       A slide show was shown with some of the things that the group has been doing over the past year. Some of the highlights was a trip to Fonda to visit the
National Shrine of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. Their visit to the Roscoe Nursing Home and learning how to arrange flowers. Baking, manners and proper etiquette has been a big part of what they have been doing.
      November 29th there was a funeral Mass at St. Paul's for Elizabeth Murphy. The Bethany Ministry Volunteers did their usual excellent work of helping at the Mass as well providing her large family with a great luncheon afterwards.
        On November 8th an Eagle Scout Ceremony was held at the Father Rausch Hall to honor Daniel Leonard, son of Barbara and Michael Leonard. Dan began his scouting career as a Tiger Cub in Pack 75. He earned the Arrow of Light, Cub Scouting's Highest Award in 2001 when he was in the 5th grade and then crossed over to join Boy Scout Troop 74.
       During his years in the troop, Dan has held numerous positions and is a member of the Order of the Arrow of Onteroraus Lodge and is a Brotherhood Member. Dan's Eagle Scout Project took place at the Equinunk Cemetery where he and fellow scouts rebuilt stone pathways, painted a storage shed and did spring cleanup.
        Dan attends St. Paul the Apostle Church in Hancock and has served on the altar as an acolyte for eight years. While at Hancock Central School he has been on the merit and honor roll and is a member of the National Honor Society. He is a member of the Varsity Golf Team and received the Golf Scholar Athlete Award in the fall of 2004. After graduating in June, Dan plans to attend a 4 year college in the Northeast and study business.
        The pictures below are some of the many that were taken at the ceremony. If you would like to borrow the disc to see them all, a copy is available at the rectory office.
           A contractor from Bainbridge, NY has submitted a bid that is within the budget that was set to replace the roof on the church. His references were checked and the results were very favorable. We made a trip to Bainbridge to look at some of the restoration work that he has done and that also was impressive. A meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 4th with the contractor and the engineer to go over the plans before the contracts are sent to the diocese office in Albany for final approval.
          The work on the rectory steps and the porch brick work has been completed. The porch railings were replaced in order to bring them up to code. A railing for the steps will be installed soon, the support posts and porch railings still need another coat of paint and some of the bricks still need to washed down. The weather has not been warm enough lately for painting, so this may have to wait awhile. The rain gutters on the porch need replacing and that will also be done soon. I'm sure everyone will agree that the steps look great and were a much needed improvement. The work was done by Fred Soulier Construction. Fred donated his time to St. Paul's for installing and painting the new porch railings.
 

Mary's Flower's October information was late in coming, but November's is right on time.

The morning started with Mass celebrated by Father Scott, followed by a full rosary with the Blue Knights. The rosary led by MaryAnn Hunter,

1st decade led by Kylee Letosky
2nd by Rachael Argiros
3rd by MaryAnn Hunter
4th by America Restaino
5th by Andrew Gross

10am program:
Barbara McGraw and Linda Kulikowski taught Mary's Flowers how to properly arrange flowers. All of the girls had lots of fun and each brought home their own arrangements. Many thanks to Barbara and Linda for their time and expertise and to Barbara Wrighter of Cerama Craft for ordering and donating the special flowers that were used by the girls.
 

11am program:
Preparations are under way for our December luncheon. Our thank you note was perfected and Mary's Flowers eagerly made place mats.

If anyone wants to see all the pictures that were taken for the November meeting, the disc is at the rectory for you to borrow for viewing or to make a copy if you like.
 

For October's meeting of Mary's Flowers they  lit candles at Mass, learned a new song, called The Gift. They  began preparations for their December Luncheon, and studied "Who, what, when where and how" of a Saint. The girls also created journals to keep their information we research.
          Corporal Bryan Sarday was on leave from Iraq recently and Father Stephen gave him a special blessing at Mass before he returned to active duty. While on patrol after his return to Iraq the Humvee he was riding in hit a road side bomb, fatally wounding one of his men. Bryan was also wounded and required hospitalization and surgery. Thankfully he is healing well and is in good spirits. When asked if he was ready to come home for awhile, he commented that he wanted to get back to his men. Bryan as well as his entire family, wants to express a sincere thank you for all the prayers and thoughts of concern that were sent his way.

 

Forty Hours

 

For a number of years now we have kept the tradition of The Forty Hours here at Saint Paul’s. The parish is invited to gather around the Eucharistic Presence of Christ – reflective of the time his body lay in the tomb awaiting His Resurrection from the dead. Jesus is very near – pray we rush to be with him in prayer and silence.

The prayer, spread over a period of 3 days, is contemplative in nature. The parish is permeated with attentive prayer – adoration, intercession, contrition and gratitude.

It is a time for repentance too– for the sins of the Church, the nation, the world. Time is scheduled for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Let the image of Christ entombed spur us to celebrate Christ’s Mercy through the confession of our sins.

It seems that every year there is a greater imperative to stop and pray over these 3 days. A Muslim stops to pray 5 times each day! Perhaps this brochure can help us to respond to the invitation to participate in The Forty Hours – to find or create some time to visit the parish church during this most sacred time in our common life.

 

Forty Hours begins, Sunday, November 11 with the 10 A.M. Mass and Anointing with oil blessed at the Tomb of Jesus in Jerusa



Schedule for Forty Hours

 

Sunday, November 11

Forty Hours Begins with the 10 A.M. Mass

(Anointing with Oil Blessed at the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem)

Chaplet of Divine Mercy 7:00 – 8:00 P.M.

Adoration ends for the day 11:00 P.M.

 

Monday, November 12

Mass 7:00 A.M.

Confessions 1:00 – 3:00 P.M.

Father Stephen leads the Luminous Mysteries 7:00 P.M.

Adoration ends for the day 11:00 P.M.

 

Tuesday, November 13

Adoration begins for the day 7:00 A.M.

Confessions 6:00 – 7:00 P.M.

Mass to Conclude 8:00 P.M.

Thoughts on Prayer During Forty Hours

 

It is important to pray for the Church and the Pope. The world is filled with tensions that threaten the life of the Church. Pray for unity and healing in the Church. Pray for the pope’s safety and health, and that he would be able to affect a crucial dialogue with the religion of Islam.

 

Our diocese is undertaking a period of self-reflection: “Called To Be Church.” Pray that the diocese would be faithful to the mission of the gospel and that we would be fruitful in faith, hope and love.

 

Pray for our parish. That we would love each other. Pray for the young people of the parish, for the elderly, the single people, visitors, benefactors and the deceased clergy and faithful gone before us.

 

Our country needs prayer. We are beset by grave dangers and many troubles. Ask for the healing of our country and for those who live in great need. Entrust to Christ the needs of family, neighbor, fellow-parishioner and friends.

 


Heap up thanks. Be thankful for everything: the people who built this church, those who grow our food and fill our prescriptions, that our bodies work as well as they do, for the medical professionals who take care of our health, that we can read, that our hearts have been beating since we were in our mother’s womb………

Let the names of the world’s countries pass over your heart and mind before the Eucharist. Ask God to bless the people of each. Pray for the leaders of the nations.

 

Perhaps there is some particular problem or difficulty to bring to Christ in the Eucharist. Or perhaps there is some conflict of conscience that needs Christ’s light.

 

Pray for priests and that there would always be a priest to offer Mass here. Pray for young priests, senior priests, broken priests, priests in trouble, priests who have lost their fervor, the priests whose ministries have touched your life and that of your family.

 

Pray for the world in all its trouble. Imagine the world if the will of Christ the King were lived in it – the love of God and the life of each human person, forgiveness, mercy, God’s justice, “Swords into plowshares.”  Bring this to your prayer. I should not ask God to put a stamp of approval on my own agenda – rather – the gospel of Christ! .

 

I need to pray for my own conversion – that I would more closely resemble Christ – especially in my thinking. That I would surrender anger and ignorance to Christ and ask to be transformed as the bread and wine are transformed into the things of Divinity. I pray that my life at home, school and business would be reflective of my time spent at the altar.

 

Who do I need to forgive? Who do I not love rightly, not enough, or not at all? I bring this to Christ in the Eucharist. How would Christ want to touch or change my life in even some small way before I leave this church? I must let God be God! This awareness will be born out of a sustained silence. I must listen!

 

The world needs to discover repentance for: The widening gap between rich and  poor, death as a solution to problems, prejudice, fears that result in violence, sexual exploitation, greed and selfishness, materialism, nationalism, the disregard of persons, faithlessness, lies, entitlement and waste, deafness to the gospel … Pray before the Risen Christ – gone beyond death to life - and in whose presence we gather these days in the Eucharist!

 

 

 
            The re-construction of the skirting and steps of the rectory is progressing nicely. Fred Soulier Construction has been doing a meticulous job and the steps will be the next part to do.
            One of the bears that have been roaming the Hancock area, paid St. Paul's Cemetery a visit recently. A large in ground nest of bees was discovered in a part of the cemetery and the area was taped off so that someone would not accidentally walk upon them. The next day the bees were gone and all the honeycomb that was in the bottom of the hole had been pulled out an spewed about the ground. You can see the combs in the picture below. Notice also that the tape was never disturbed. I would have to assume he (she) must have been considerate enough to step over it.
         The Nationwide Life Chain Sunday was held on October 7th. There were 47 participants that stood for an hour of prayer at the West End of Hancock. Below are some pictures of the family school students that participated.