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Veterans’Day

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Every year when Veterans’ Day rolls around it makes me think about war. Today, America is at war, as we have been in one form or another throughout many years of my life. If the war was not a “hot” war, it was a “cold” war; nevertheless it was war. And wars are never fought apart from soldiers on the ground, in the air, at sea and under the sea. Men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to defend a way of life, threatened by outside forces have always been the warriors who we call veterans when they come home. And all too often some returned damaged, disabled, bruised and broken. Others return to be buried by grieving loved ones. And on this national holiday dedicated to veterans we are to pause, recall the sacrifices of those who went to war and served in the military, and acknowledge their courage and sacrifice, with grateful hearts.

When I was in college, the Vietnam War was raging and the protests of those of my age were many and loud. It was difficult to find the space in my mind between loving my country and disagreeing with her policies. There were many who saw those who opposed the war as not being loyal to a true spirit of patriotism. It was a new experience for me. I was very willing to serve the country, felt I had an obligation to do so, yet, like many, felt the Vietnam War was illegal, immoral and wrong.

I ended up serving in the United States Air Force reserves and spent time at bases in Texas, Colorado and Maine. At several times during the six years we thought our unit would be activated and we would be shipping out to war. We never were. Honorably discharged from the US Air Force in 1974, I arrive at this Veterans’ Day more skeptical about war than ever before. I keep going back to look up President Dwight Eisenhower’s comments about war. One of the most decorated US Army Generals in World War II, later two term president often spoke of the wrongness of war: “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity.”

When former Secretary of State John Kerry returned from the Vietnam War as a decorated veteran, he became one of the most prominent voices against the war. I recall hearing him give a speech in Framingham condemning the war. I thought for the first time, sometimes being patriotic means disagreeing with your country’s policies. This was a veteran, who loved and served his country and I found his voice against war resonated with that of President Eisenhower.

So it is on this Veterans’ Day I share my country’s pride and gratitude for those who are serving and those who have served, and especially for those who made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in service to our country. While on this day we honor veterans, for me it is also a day to pray that all wars will end and that all those serving in war zones will return safely home.

At the same time, it seems fitting to exercise our patriotism by standing firmly in the camp that abhors war in every way and would seek that our nation work tirelessly to contribute to a world of greater justice for all, such that war is increasingly less likely. President Eisenhower addressed the graduating class at the United States Military Academy in 1947 and said: “War is mankind’s most tragic and stupid folly; to seek or advise its deliberate provocation is a black crime against all men.”

Fr. Ronan

Thirty-second Sunday Ordinary Time -November 10, 2019

In today’s second reading we hear Saint Paul urging the members of the community at Thessalonica to direct their hearts to God’s love through Christ. He wants them to be laser-focused on Christ, and nothing else. He desires that they be strengthened by the Lord and shielded from what is not Christ-like. Good stewards cultivate a “laser-sharp” focus on Christ; not on things that could give them false or superficial images or ideals.
Let’s think about our own daily focus:
Do we direct out hearts toward Christ or are there other “gods” that claim our attention? Our career? Material possessions? Sexuality? Favorite sports team? Political leanings?
Does our daily life point to Christ so that those who are younger and less mature in their faith learn from our example?

November

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

The wind is howling outside and the gusts are succeeding in removing the leaves from the trees in the neighborhood. Looking out the window, folks, young and old, are bent against the wind and early autumn chill, making their way across the training field. This weekend we celebrate the Feast of All Saints and the Feast of All Souls. November is upon us and, no matter how much we would like to stave off the upcoming winter, it is approaching.

All around us are the signs of life changing. Nature herself is preparing for the change of seasons as the leaves drop from trees and bushes, yet small buds are evident, giving us hopeful signs of a springtime yet to come. To me it is virtually impossible not to see in the cycles of nature, a mirror of the cycles of our own life journey.

Years ago there was a popular book written by Daniel J. Levinson called, The Seasons of a Man’s Life. Some years later the author wrote another work called, The Seasons of a Woman’s Life. The point of both works is to understand the stages of development in adulthood, from the 20’s on. The popularity of the research is explained by the lack of understanding of the ongoing growth throughout our adult lives and not just throughout childhood and adolescence.

As adults, how are we changing and is our growth in life and faith a simple extension of our childhood or something new? Probably both. Growth in adulthood is both a continuation of our earlier years as well as adapting and learning, growing and struggling throughout the adult years. For myself, I am amazed at how much I have yet to learn and grow. The more the years pass, the more I am aware of how much I do not know!

And while this development applies to all aspects of life, I believe it applies very much to our relationship with God. Do I hold the same image of God today that I held as a child? With the depth of my life experience I see God as bigger and more amazing than ever. The compassion of God, the unfathomable greatness, and the immeasurable and all present love seems to me more evident today than ever. Jesus, the Church, the sacraments, Sacred Scripture and all of the revelations of God amaze me. And while I wonder about all of this on this November morning, I can’t help being filled with a deep gratitude for it all, this mystery called life.

Perhaps for each of us, November can be a special gift – watch, look around and wonder about all that is happening in Charlestown and in your own life. Examine where you have been, where you are and where you are going. Watch the changes, the leaves dropping and the buds wrapped tightly for winter. Delight in the mystery of God’s grace working in your life and in the world

Fr. Ronan

Thirty-first Sunday Ordinary Time Weekend November 2/3, 2019

The Gospel story of Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus makes for an ideal stewardship reflection. So does today’s first reading from the Book of Wisdom. Good stewards have faith in, and give thanks for, an almighty and powerful God who transcends the universe, but who gives personal attention to every human being. God loves his creation, his people. He lives in them, and through his Holy Spirit, instills a fundamental goodness in them. Good stewards recognize this movement of the Spirit as a gift, and make efforts to cultivate this gift and grow in their faith. Take time this week to stop and look around you, be aware of God’s awe-inspiring creation, and give thanks for God’s loving care and concern for each of us.

2018-2019 Parish Financial Report

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

The Parish Finance Council is pleased to provide the Annual Financial Report of St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parish for fiscal 2018-2019.

We are grateful for the continued energy of our Parish thanks to the members of the community who engage in the life and support of the Parish. We welcomed 149 new registered parishioners, celebrated 66 baptisms and 20 weddings and had an increase in the number of students in religious education. The more people that connect with the Parish, whether newly arrived or newly supportive, the stronger and more dynamic our Parish will become.

God has gifted each of us with talents and skills and we welcome and encourage you to share those in whatever way possible with the Parish. Only a fraction of all the registered families have established giving plans or become active in our many ministries and social activities. We are working on several initiatives to engage busy members which include: our new on-line newsletter, increasing the number of parishioners using on-line giving and re-launching the young adult group.

Your financial generosity to the weekly and monthly Offertory, as well as the Grand Annual Collection, is the foundation of Parish operating budget. While the Parish staff and Finance Council work diligently to manage our expenses and budget, health and property insurances costs have risen dramatically in the last few years, the need for Food Pantry assistance has increased along with food costs, our old buildings require significant ongoing maintenance, and there are always unexpected expenditures.

Running a Parish is costly. After finishing 2017-2018 and 2016-2017 with operating surpluses of $31,390 and $21,728, respectively, we finished this fiscal year with an operating deficit of $82,975. Major factors that contributed to this deficit were: Grand Annual down $21,791, Sacramental Offerings down $9,902, Gifts & Bequests down $30,850 and Monthly Offertory down $9,348 versus 2017-18. Our budget for 2019-20 projects another deficit. Our expenses have increased and if contributions do not do the same, we will unfortunately need to take further measures to reduce Parish services and activities.

This was a unique year in that we launched the Inspiring Hope Campaign in the Fall to fund the interior painting and restoration of the artwork of our beautiful church, and various other ministries in the Archdiocese. Through the generosity of 126 parishioners, we were able to raise in excess of $600,000 in gifts and pledges – of which $125,000 will fund ministries in the Archdiocese. The remainder of the funds will stay with the Parish. It is important to note that these funds are legally restricted to this capital project and cannot be used for operating expenses. The project will be getting fully underway within the next month. As we move forward with this project and begin to see it come to fruition, we would ask that those who have not contributed or are new to the Parish consider contributing to the effort.

Despite the operating deficit, our Balance Sheet remained strong with $1.2 million in Net Assets as contributions from the Inspiring Hope Campaign more than offset this year’s operating shortfall. (A complete set of financial statements, including a detailed Balance Sheet, is available on our Parish Website, StmaryStcatherine.org.

Capital projects during the year included the completion of the Marilyn Doherty room along with an update to the security system at the Parish Center and a small upgrade to the sound system in the church. We still have a long to-do list of projects but getting bids has proved difficult for retaining walls at Parish Center and Food Pantry. There is also masonry work needed at the Church.

The Good Shepherd School renewed its lease for the next five years, continuing to strengthen our Parish community. The Parish is grateful for the ongoing support from parishioners and the Charlestown community for the Harvest on Vine Emergency Food Pantry. In addition to semi-monthly distributions of food and fresh produce to the ever-increasing number of those in need, Harvest on Vine was able to provide a food distribution to government workers during the government shutdown.

The Parish Finance Council is deeply appreciative of your past support and would earnestly ask that you consider increasing the level of your of financial commitment to the Parish so that we can return to a balanced operating budget without impacting any of our wonderful Parish services.

Rev. James Ronan (Chair), Nancy Higgins (Vice-Chair), Brian Fleming, Dennis Hanson, Maureen Moore, Tom Mosel, Robert Rooney, Kevin Walsh, James Santosuosso (Ex Officio)