Monday, February 22, 2016

Education + St. Thomas Aquinas School: Parish Bulletin--2-21-16

            This weekend I would like to share about education in our area.  In my own life, learning has been an important part of each day.  Both of my parents taught public school in McGregor, Minnesota for over thirty years.  Inspired by their profession, I completed my Bachelor’s degree and teaching license from The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth to become a high school math teacher.  Education is essential.  Receiving a high quality education from caring teachers in my formative years was an immense blessing.
We, too, in the North Country have much to be grateful for.  As I said during the Mass at our Catholic School Week celebration, you, dear teachers (as well as administrative, coaches, helpers, volunteers, etc.): you are awesome.  St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Columban churches have several teachers that work here at St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as Falls, Littlefork-Big Falls and Indus schools.  Praise God for the vocation of teaching in your life!  You are a blessing to the children of our area, and your expertise in education gives glory to God.  Let us continuously raise grateful hearts to Jesus, the best teacher, ask his continued blessing upon our community schools.
            As I write these, a crucial belief of our Catholic Church is that the parents must be the best teachers of their children.  This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years.  This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2226).  As you parents determine how your children are educated—whether within public or private institutions, or if you choose to home school, seek God with prayer.            As your pastor, I would like to share few points of pride that our Catholic school at St. Thomas Aquinas offers:
1.)   Jesus Christ:  I often use the verse over and over about children: “Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me…’” (Matthew 19:14a).  Jesus Christ taught while he was on earth.  He has been the best teacher of humanity.  Period.  Now, through his Church and parochial schools around the world Jesus continues to teach through his brothers and sisters in Baptism.  Any good that comes from a Catholic education is through his grace (and our cooperation with his abundant grace). 
2.)   Faith:  In addition to designated religion classes, students of St. Thomas Aquinas are able to translate the head knowledge of the faith into heart knowledge.  Through Jesus Christ, the children learn to pray well and to pray with His heart.  Our children pray several times each day in class, before lunch, before the end of the day, when they hear sirens of emergency response vehicles passing by the school.  Most importantly, the Mass, the greatest of prayers, is celebrated at least once a week.  Prayer is a reflexive and authentic way of life for the students of St. Thomas Aquinas. 
3.)   No Bullying:  As a big issue in all schools, we believe that bullying must be cut out.  The way we do it at St. Thomas Aquinas is by focusing on the dignity of each person.  By helping children learn about their dignity and the dignity of each other as sons and daughters of God, lessons from the Bible are given an immediate and practical application.  Our children learning about sin, forgiveness and love are necessity from our school.
4.)   Pre-School will be free next year:  We, too, would enjoy more children at St. Thomas Aquinas.  Our pre-school will be especially for our members of our Catholic church, as well as families who have already have children here for school.  As we would like many families for children of pre-school we will be setting our maximum of a single teacher.
5.)   Alumni relations:  We are proud of our school, and recognize that generations of students have gone on to do wonderful things in their lives and communities.  We are working through an idea to bring our alumni to help St. Thomas Aquinas School as well.  We will continue to work hard to get our school family back together!  As we work on improving our alumni network here are some questions for you to pray about: Are there families, friends or coworkers you can invite to check out our school?  Do you know people who would like to visit the school to check out pre-school or another grade?  Do you have any other ideas that I, as well as our principal would love to hear?
We give God praise and thanks for the good work he has begun at St. Thomas Aquinas School.  Please continue to pray for all involved in continuing a tradition of academic excellence while forming the hearts of our children to live as intentional disciples of Jesus.

God Bless!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Nuggets in Leviticus...: Monday, February 15th, 2016

Listen to the homily here

Operation Rice Bowl: Parish Bulletin--2-14-16

           As Lent began on Ash Wednesday, do you remember our challenge last year for Lent?  (Gossip with wristbands…and some are still wearing them!). 
This year I would like a new challenge: Operation Rice Bowl.  I would like each person/family to grow helping the poor.
         Pat Bjorum, our deanery representative for this project, shared some good things of this undertaking: “Catholic Relief Services which sponsors Operation Rice Bowl allows dioceses who participate in Rice Bowl to keep 25% of the collection in the local communities of the diocese.  This is to be used to for local hunger and poverty alleviation projects.  Our Bishop Sirba has promoted this local use in our diocese through Patrice Menor of the Social Justice Apostolate.”
         This is a cool part of our Diocese of Duluth—seeking out the hungry, homeless and poverty to help our brothers and sisters in our family of the Church.  As Pope Francis has given us the Jubilee of Mercy, God’s mercy is serving these men, women and children.
While Operation Rice Bowl will serve people in many places in the world, Pat added that we have many opportunities in our area as well: “…Falls Hunger Coalition, Backus Community CafĂ© Summer Lunch Program for Children, and Servants of Shelter.” 
         First, grab an Operation Rice Bowl for you or your family! 
Next, think—where will you keep the bowl at the best place?  The shelf by your door you walk in?  On your television?  Next to your mirror?  (Mine will sit in my truck to help me remember the change I receive paying things).
Finally, let’s do this!

God Bless!

Jesus vs. devil (Jesus dominates!): 1st Sunday of Lent

Listen to the homily here.

Life (for them or you?) and death (for them or you?): Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Listen to the homily here.

Monday, February 8, 2016

40 Days: Parish Bulletin--2-6-16

Praise God after a wonderful Catholic Schools Week.

I would like to say, “Thank you” to Sabrina Etienne and Dawn Flesland for the last two bulletins.  I have enjoyed reading about our faith formation and school on my vacation!  When I got home, I heard from several parishioners that they were happy about our students in faith formation and in the school.  Perhaps we can continue to include them in our weekly bulletin.               

            As you read this bulletin, remember that Lent begins on Ash Wednesday this week (February 10th).  Check the bulletin for our scheduled times for masses.

            Lent gives us forty days to walk with Jesus Christ.  Jesus himself spent days in the desert: “Filled with the holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.  He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry” (Luke 4:1-2).  While the battle began between Jesus and the devil, he dominated this through his death and resurrection.
Lent is time for us to grow in our faith, our soul and our lives.  A few ideas to help us for these days:
·      How can I pray each day during Lent?  (attending daily mass, spend five minutes speaking with God and praying the rosary).
·      What can I do to help my spiritual life each day?  (read the Bible, Rediscovery Jesus, read books, listen to CD’s or DVD’s).
·      How can I give up something like food or drink?  (chocolate, pop, beer, dessert, etc.).
·      How could I help another person?  (Visit the sick in the hospital or nursing home, purchase items on the food shelf shopping list, teach a child, a simple telephone call to someone in need).
·      What could I give away?  (Clothes, possessions, worldly time…)

Forty days in Lent.  Let’s do it well.

God Bless!

How will you pray that God is in our Catholic churches today?: Monday, February 8th, 2016

Listen to this homily here.

The conversations Isaiah and Peter had with God: 5th Sunday Ordinary Time

Listen to this homily here.