Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ 6 August 2023

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Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

First week of August. How did that happen? in a few weeks everyone will be back in school, and the buzz here at the parish will be back to full speed.

Bravo to all our actors, musicians and volunteer program leaders for their amazing production of “The Wizard of Oz” last weekend! It was a great show, and we had (I think) record audiences. It was good to see so many people come out and support our talented kids. Thanks to all of you parents who keep this labor of love going, and especially to our staff. Not only do you build a community of youth through this shared ministry – you build a community of families. I ran out of space in this week’s bulletin, but we will have some great photos in the bulletin on August 13.

Looking ahead as we begin many programs in the parish, I want to highlight one particular ministry that is so important to the life of the Church, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. I invite anyone who is interested in joining the Church to contact us and we can get started on the next step of your journey. We have a wonderful program, now complete in both English and Spanish, and we invite you.

The journey to faith can take many turns, and often we listen to peoples’ courageous and complicated stories of how they have been looking for goodness and truth, and ultimately God. The process, generally speaking, culminates at the beautiful Easter Vigil Mass (this year, March 30!) when we celebrate the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Those who are not yet baptized are called Catechumens. Sisters and brothers already united to us in one Baptism who are seeking to be members of the Catholic Church are called Candidates. People often mistakenly refer to those who are baptized as “converts” – but as already baptized, they do not convert, they merely deepen the faith, hope and love they have already received from God in baptism through sacramental participation in the Church.

I am often asked the question, especially as the director for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, if it all really matters anyway. I must say, it does. Although we would never say that God’s love and mercy, his desire that all might be saved, is thwarted by doctrinal definitions, those who know Jesus also recognize the particular love of a God who becomes one of us so that we might be one in him, and with him in eternity. No other religious belief system has such a belief. What God sees, and seeks, is what is in our
hearts. He honors all who seek him. We reveal Jesus to others by their seeing him in ourselves as we seek to live an authentic life.

“Those engaged in interreligious dialogue must be consistent with their own religious traditions and convictions, and be open to understanding those of the other party without pretense or close-mindedness, but with truth, humility and frankness, knowing that dialogue can enrich each side. There must be no abandonment of the principles nor false irenicism, but instead a witness given and received for mutual advancement on the road to religious inquiry and experience, and at the same time for the elimination of prejudice, intolerance, and misunderstandings” (Saint Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris missio, 56).

The Lord be with you,

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