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Fr. John's Column - December 11, 2016

Once again the Bethlehem Peace Light flame has arrived at Saint Patrick Church. In the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, there are 15 oil lamps that have been burning continuously for over a thousand years. These have become known as the Bethlehem Peace Lamps. Christians from around the world donate money to provide oil for the lamps to ensure that they never go out. It has been said that in the 12th century a traveler to the Holy Land first brought home to Europe a lit flame from one of the lamps as a gift to his family. Since 1986 a tradition has developed that every late November a flame from one of the lamps is carried by a child to Vienna, Austria. From there Boy Scouts of many different nationalities take the flame by train to cities throughout Europe. In 2008 the first Austrian Scouts brought the flame to America. Once here local Scouts take it all across the country.

We will keep the flame burning here at Saint Patrick Parish until Christmas. You are invited to bring a lantern or candle and carefully take the flame to your own home, using it as a reminder to pray for peace in our world, on our streets, and in our homes.

Recently I was looking back at bulletins from two years ago. (They make for good bed time reading when one is having trouble falling asleep.) I wrote the following, and it seems to make good sense once again:

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my own town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the thing I can change is myself. And suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I indeed could have changed the world.

These words were written by a monk in the 1100’s. The idea of peace can seem so farfetched and a fanciful fable of an idea. But as the poem reminds us, changing the world for the better is something we can all do.

Last week in the bulletin I mentioned that we have set some dates for making a decision regarding whether or not we should be involved in the resettlement of Syrian refugees. We will have a town hall listening session on Tuesday, January 3, at 6:30 pm in the church. Following the meeting, two days later the Parish Pastoral and Finance Councils will meet to provide me with their recommendation. I truly appreciate the immensity of this question for our parish and also the greater Hudson Community. I am listening to many voices both locally and across the country. I have been involved in several interviews with various news and media sources. This is something I never anticipated when I first brought the question to you.

I have been asked a myriad of questions, from “why would you ever consider this” to “why have you not yet said ‘yes’”. Some wonder why we would help people from another country when we have people here who need our help. I have been especially grateful to see the armloads of toilet paper, diapers, toothpaste, vacuum cleaners, and so many other things for places like Operation Help and Grace Place. Your generosity is impressive and we will never stop helping people here – and hopefully do even more in the future – but whether we help the refugees by supporting their resettlement or not, we will always be called to help people in other countries. Among the various people we are helping this Advent, just as we have done in the past, are inmates at the local jail. I am sure some would question why we would help those who have been found guilty of breaking our laws. To the many people who have asked, “why would you consider helping”, my response is often “because we were asked”.  Someone in a letter to me early on wrote “you don’t need to say ‘yes’ to everyone who asks you for help”. That is true, but we do need to prayerfully consider whether or not we are called to help all who ask. For what I decide to do may help change the world, fueling an even a brighter flame of peace to burn eternally. 



Fr. John Gerritts



Friday, December 9
5:45 AM That Man is You
8:00 AM Mass
Knights of Columbus Christmas Party

~ Saturday, December 10
8:00 AM Dustbusters

10:00 AM Confessions
5:00 PM Mass
6:00 PM Oasis

~ Sunday, December 11
Masses at 8:30 AM & 10:30 AM
Social by Knights of Columbus
8:30 AM RCIA
10:30 AM Bible Explorers

10:30 AM Children's Choir
11:30 AM Faith Formation
6:30 PM Divine Mercy

~ Monday, December 12
8:00 AM Mass

9:00 AM Bakery and Produce Give Away
6:00 PM Boy Scouts
7:00 PM Food Shelf Committee
8:00 PM That Man is You

~Tuesday, December 13
8:00 AM Mass
8:15 AM Leave for Sharing and Caring Hands
4:00 PM Extended Food Shelf Hours

6:00 PM Family Rosary
6:00 PM Liturgy Committee
6:30 PM Baptism Class

~ Wednesday, December 14
8:00 AM Mass

10:00 AM Mass at CCH
6:00 PM Faith Formation

~Thursday, December 15
6:45 AM Toastmasters
8:00 AM Mass

9:15 AM Bible Study
9:30 AM Bible Study
10:30 AM Mass at New Comforts of Home
1:00 PM Quilters
5:30 PM Baptism
6:30 PM Finance Committee
7:00 PM Praise Company

~ Friday, December 16
5:45 AM That Man is You
9:00 AM Mass at School

~ Saturday, December 17
8:00 AM Dustbusters
Breakfast with St Nick at School
10:00 AM Confessions
5:00 PM Mass
6:00 PM Oasis

~ Sunday, December 18
Masses at 8:30 AM & 10:30 AM
8:30 AM RCIA
10:30 AM Bible Explorers

10:30 AM Christmas Cookies and Crafts
11:30 AM Faith Formation

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