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.
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.|
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
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,
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.|
|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.|