Father John’s Message

Fr. John Gerritts  |   

23 January 2022

We learned recently that Father John Parr, who previously served as pastor at Saint Patrick Parish, has announced his retirement effective at the end of January. Father Parr will step down as Pastor of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Holmen, Wisconsin, and move to LaCrosse to continue serving the Diocese of LaCrosse as a retired priest. He reports that he is very happy about the transition and I have no doubt he’ll remain busy. You can send a card or note to him at this address: Father John Parr, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, 515 N. Main Street, Holmen, WI 54636. We are grateful to Father John for the years he served here at Saint Patrick Parish and wish him God’s blessings in retirement.
This weekend we welcome an organization called “Blest Art, Inc.” to our parish. For centuries the Christians in and around Bethlehem have earned a living by carving religious art out of olive wood from the Holy Land and sold the art to visiting pilgrims. With so few pilgrims able to travel to the Holy Land, it has become increasingly difficult for those Christians to support their families.

Blest Art, Inc. helps these struggling families by marketing their artwork in the United States. They will have a variety of hand-carved statues, nativity sets, crosses, Rosaries, and many other items for sale. Their items make wonderful gifts and your purchase makes a difference in the lives of Christian families who represent only a small minority in and around Bethlehem. Please note that they do not ask for nor accept donations. Please welcome them and support them as you are able.

Finally, before Christmas I mentioned in a bulletin article the Synod Pope Francis called. The word “synod” typically means “journeying together”. When used in the Church it is about listening to the Holy Spirit and to one another in order to discern the path we are called to walk together. The synod “is intended to inspire people to dream about the Church we are called to be, to make people’s hopes flourish, to stimulate trust, to bind up wounds, to weave new and deeper relationships, to learn from one another, to build bridges, to enlighten minds, warm hearts, and restore strength to our hands for our common mission.”

In a nutshell, Pope Francis wants to hear from you and the whole Church. He wants to hear what is happening in local parishes and would like to know what you think we should all be doing to make our parishes better.

We have been including a petition for the Synod and this week will replace our Vocation Prayer with the “Synodal Prayer to the Holy Spirit”. A copy of this prayer will be available with the music sheets. Coming in February, we will be having a listening session for the Synod. This will be an opportunity for you to join with others who would like to participate in rich, vulnerable, and honest conversations about where the Church is thriving and where we are struggling. Watch for details regarding the date and time for the session. After the session we will compile a report that will be forwarded on to the Diocese. The Diocese will complete a report and send it to the United States Council of Catholic Bishops. The USCCB will then send a report to Pope Francis.

For those unable to participate in the listening session, an online portal has been set up on the Diocese of Superior’s website: https://catholicdos.org. On the website click on the icon for “Synod 2021-2023”. Here you can participate in the process of synodality — praying, listening, discerning, and sharing, similar to a listening session.

A priest being able to enjoy retirement, the opportunity to support Christians in the Holy Land, and giving feedback to our Holy Father, this is all great news.

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