Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19: 20-21
May 1, 2021
Congratulations! You are one of two parishes to be the first to reach this year’s diocesan APA goal. That is the fastest I have personally seen in my six parish assignments. Thank you so much! It says a lot about all of you and your commitment to St. Brendan parish. I am truly grateful for your consistent level of support and generosity. I even attempted to do a “happy dance” in the office for the staff, as I promised upon reaching the goal, but you’re the fortunate ones to have not seen it. Believe me, it was bad. I looked kind of like a cross between a lamppost and a robot.
I am a little belated but I want to also heartily congratulate Rebecca Fletcher who was brought into the Catholic Faith at the Easter Vigil on April 3rd. She is one of our parishioners who went through the RCIA program at St. Cecelia’s as part of preparations for her upcoming wedding in December to Tony Xenakis, another parishioner. I am sincerely happy for Rebecca and warmly welcome her into the “Family of Faith,” and also wish her and Tony the very best as they prepare to soon receive the Sacrament of Marriage. They are a wonderful and dear couple—one of many—who are truly a blessing to this parish. May they continue to grow in love and in faith together.
This might be a good time to mention that I have made a formal arrangement with St. Cecelia parish to assist us with preparing our limited number of First Communions, Confirmations, and RCIA recipients. The initial process will still begin here, but instructions will take place at St. Cecelia’s where there is the full benefit of personnel and material resources. Confirmation students, for example, can experience peer support and receive the sacrament from our bishop with his/her group. First communicants and RCIA catechumens/candidates can still receive their sacraments at St. Brendan’s if they so choose. But our limited needs simply do not justify hiring another staff member for faith formation. This arrangement makes better pastoral and financial sense. Baptism and marriage preparations will continue to be completed here by me. That’s a wrap on parish stuff for now.
April 25, 2021 Dear Parishioners,
This Fourth Sunday of Easter, also known as “Good Shepherd Sunday,” marks the Church’s 58th anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The purpose of this day is to publicly fulfill the Lord’s instruction to “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest”. (Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2). While we appreciate all vocations, the Church focuses its attention this day on vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, and religious life. Please pray that young men and women will hear and respond generously to the Lord’s call to ordained and consecrated life, especially in our diocese. We give thanks for one young man, Deacon Israel “Izzie” Hernandez, who will be ordained to the priesthood for our diocese on May 15th and then assigned to St. Stephen parish in Riverview. However, there were also a number of older priests who passed away this year, including Father Eric Hunter. Frankly, the ratio of younger priests replacing “the old guard” is not a positive sign, at least currently. That can change, though, with all of us actively praying, supporting, and encouraging others. The Lord is always calling people; but the question is, are people open and willing to respond?
Answering the “Call” is not easy for some. It can be a real discernment struggle. Some will need more support and direction than others. I ought to know. For a time, I was like Jonah who ran away from God’s call, but there were others who were more sure of my vocation and gently nudged me in that direction. Our Lord will often speak through others, and that includes inviting someone who we think might make a good priest or sister. That is how it all started with me. And the poor Church has not recovered from it yet. 😊
April 17, 2021
Last week’s bulletin included Bishop Parkes’ letter regarding his decision that the general dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation will expire on the Vigil of Pentecost, Saturday, May 22, 2021.
A few exceptions will remain for a while longer, which were also listed last week. I mention this because May 22nd thus marks the time when we will discontinue the on-line recording of the Mass at St. Brendan’s. This may cause an inconvenience for some and I apologize, but the service was only temporary and it was a challenge for us with our limited skills and resources at the parish. I want to thank in particular Janet Nassif and Ann Baker who were instrumental in making this technical contraption work, week-in and week-out, for over a year. They deserve all the credit. And for those who may still need online services, we will provide information to other available resources in the bulletin. I know it’s not the same as your own parish, but you can still keep in touch with us on our weekly Flocknote postings.
Remember last week I told you that the newspaper reported on a recent Gallup poll that found less than half of the adults in the United States belong to a house of worship. Sociologists contend that part of the reason is due to demographic shifts. They blame the shift on the increasing number of millennials and Gen-Z's and the “aging out” of older baby boomers. Simply put, younger adults have much less connection to traditional institutions and beliefs than their older counterparts. But maybe our modern digital world, and perhaps to some extent the effects of Covid-19, has also lessen the need and desire for us to come together as a community in general, including as a church. Praying in front of a flat screen TV at home, if we are otherwise healthy (and vaccinated), is not what the Church meant when it taught at the Second Vatican Council about “fully conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations.” Lest we think this is a new problem, I will close with what St. John Chrysostom said in the 4th century: “You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is something more; the union of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the priests.” And I would add one more thing: receiving of the Holy Eucharist!
April 10, 2021
We are still in the Octave of Easter, and so I again joyfully wish you a Happy Easter! Our attendance at the various Holy Week services was wonderful, especially at the Masses on Easter Sunday morning. Thank you for coming and participating in these most sacred liturgies. I also want to sincerely thank all of our staff and volunteer ministers who assisted in making this most important week in the Christian liturgical calendar go so smoothly. This could not have happened without their help. It is a team effort and I am most grateful.
The encouraging numbers in our church on Easter Sunday seem to contradict an article that was in the Tampa Bay Times on that same day. It reported on a Gallup study that found for the first time in 80 years of surveys that Americans’ member-ship in houses of worship have dropped below 50 percent. However, seven out of ten Americans still identify or are “affiliating” with some type of organized religion. I guess that means they did not “officially” register as a member of a parish. Well, gee-whiz, that’s not news. Any pastor could have told Gallop Poll that and saved them the money from doing a survey. What I did find interesting from the study was why people do attend church. The primary reasons cited from the polling were good sermons, programs for children and teenagers, community outreach and volunteer opportunities, and dynamic leaders. These are all good and important things, but did you catch the one essential thing missing? Jesus! (oops)
I hope that our first and most important reason for coming to church is always to encounter and worship the Lord Jesus Christ. May we ask for the grace of that primary desire to ever grow in our relationship with Jesus, especially within the household of his Church. And on this Divine Mercy Sunday, Jesus will in turn continue to draw us closer to himself.
St. Brendan's Catholic Church of Clearwater, FL, located on Island Estates, is a loving, vibrant Catholic Church seeking for each and every member a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church.