Reflections on Last Sunday of Advent
December 29, 2018
On this last Sunday of Advent as we approach the Christmas Season, I wish everyone a joyous Christmas Day. As pastor, I want to share the joy with as many as possible, but I will need your help.
I ask you to please reach out to friends, neighbors, and family and invite them to our Christmas liturgies. I’m sure that with the beauty of our church and the warmth of our community, our guests will not be disappointed.
Many people often times speak of how crowded their parishes are at Christmas. Let them know that there is room for them here at St. Matthew’s. It would be great for us to fill our church this season. It is truly a great way for us to become missionary in our work and celebrate a missionary Christmas.
I know that if you continue to extend a warm welcome to visitors and guests, we will continue to develop a reputation as a welcoming community; not only during Christmas, but also throughout the year.
Many visitors and guests have told me we are a very friendly community.
I also want to say thank you to the parishioners who have extended themselves to the St. Philomena parishioners who are looking for a spiritual home. I hope that with your encouragement and warmth, they will join us in our mission of being a beacon of light and a sign of hope.
Due to my surgery, I have not been able to speak or to write to you about our involvement in the realignment of St. Philomena parish; however, after the first of the year, the new parish boundaries will be published and what that will mean for us. Again, be welcoming, inviting, and friendly, and above all give praise to God for the gift of St. Matthew Parish. We can be a real Christmas gift to all! On a separate note, a word of thanks for all the prayers and well-wishes you have been sending to me.
I truly appreciate your thoughtfulness, and I continue to pray to God that I will be restored to full health.
God bless you and Merry Christmas!
Church Abuse Update
October 27, 2018
In recent months, there has been a great deal of news regarding the Catholic church, sexual abuse, and the mishandling of incidents by bishops. I, too, have spoken about it during the announcements at Mass having read open letters from Archbishop Vigneron, the Holy Father, Judge Talbot of the Review Board of the AoD, and a verbal history of how diocesan policy developed over the years from 1987 through the present, especially touching on the years of the crisis and the formation of the Dallas Charter (protocols set in place to deal with child sexual abuse by clergy) in 2002. Although much has been accomplished to eradicate this sin from the Church, there was still the question of its proper reporting in some dioceses of the United States, particularly in Pennsylvania.
As this story broke in the news, Attorneys General throughout the country began to look at their own states. In Michigan, Attorney General Bill Schuette acted upon this concern and issued an investigation of all seven dioceses in the Province of Michigan. In 2002, the Archdiocese of Detroit in particular gave full cooperation and transparency to prosecutors to the six counties of our diocese turning over all creditable allegations to civil law enforcement and promising that, if in the future an incident should be reported, they would turn it over to civil authorities.
Nonetheless, on October 3, 2018, investigators from the department of the Attorney General and the Michigan State Police executed a search warrant on the seven dioceses obtaining relevant documents for this investigation going back to January of 1950. All seven diocese pledged their cooperation.
To this end, the Attorney General has asked all parishes in the state to publish the contact phone number and e-mail address to his department. We are publishing this weekend the contact information to the Attorney General’s office and the AoD, if you feel there is reason to report an incident of sexual abuse past or present. Please see the inset in The Pulse today. I also ask you to join me in prayer for victim survivors in our diocese, throughout our state and country. Pray for their healing and well-being and pray for the Church that this sin will soon pass us by.
On another issue, the Archdiocese is conducting an Unleash the Gospel weekend, November 3 and 4. I want to invite you to bring your SmartPhone (flip phones will not work) to Mass next weekend. This almost sounds counter-intuitive even as I ask you to do this. However, there is an app that the diocese wants us to connect to. It will be explained by AoD volunteers who will walk us through the process. But I want to make it quite clear, phones are only used in church after the homily that weekend and not at other times or other weekends.
In this day of “social media,” the AoD wishes to communicate the essence of Unleashing the Gospel through the use of social media.
Reporting Abuse in the Church
The Archdiocese of Detroit encourages individuals to report clergy sexual abuse of minors and others — no matter when the abuse occurred. Individuals may contact local law enforcement authorities and/or they may report to the Archdiocese of Detroit by calling the Victim Assistance Coordinator at 866-343-8055 or by e-mailing email@example.com.
Additionally, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office can be contacted at its toll-free reporting hotline at 844-324-3374, Monday to Friday, 8 am to 5 pm, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about the Archdiocese’s efforts to address abuse may be found at protect.aod.org.
Michigan Catholic Discontinuation
August 18, 2018
As indicated last week, I want to let you know about The Michigan Catholic newspaper. It will be ceasing publication with its last issue on August 24, 2018. It seems that print news is falling on hard times, and the circulation of the paper was diminishing. Michigan Catholic subscribers will receive two Catholic publications free of charge: Our Sunday Visitor Weekly for three months and The Word Among Us, Catholic Mass edition magazine, for six months in order to fulfill your subscription. Since last week, the Archbishop has written an article regarding this matter. I would like to share it with everyone as he speaks about the transition of how Catholic news will be presented to us. Please see the accompanying insert in today’s paper.
On another matter regarding our “vigil lights.” As you know, the lighting of candles is a long standing tradition in the Church. The lighting of a candle is typically accompanied by a personal prayer intention for an individual, one who is sick, or for a personal favor. The practice is carried on here at St. Matthew; and in so doing, we provide the candles for your spiritual convenience. The cost of the candles has been $2 each, and we have been losing money on them each year. Root Candle, our distributor, tells me the going rate at most parishes for our sized candle is $5. However, I think that would be a big increase. So, I would like to raise the cost modestly to $3. We will evaluate this after a year; and hopefully, we will at least break even. Thank you for your understanding. It seems the price of everything is going up!
Again, I want to thank everyone who has pledged or who is still thinking of pledging to the CSA drive. It would be so good to raise the participation side of our goal. Even though we have reached it monetarily, participation at whatever level you can help is appreciated. We will continue our active effort until Labor Day.
Have a good week and may God’s love be with you,
Important Updates from Fr. Duane
August 11, 2018
Important Updates from Fr. Duane
As students begin returning to school, one of our staff, John Godoshian, our Sunday receptionist in the rectory will be leaving, too. Headed for Indiana University, he begins his first year after graduating from Grosse Pointe North this past June. John has been with us for three years and has managed the front office on Sunday with grace and dignity. I, for one, will miss his presence.
But from working with him, I know he will do well in school, and an exciting life lies before him. We are fortunate to have his replacement, Charles (Charlie) Ramsdell also from Grosse Pointe North and a member of St. Paul Parish along with his family. He will be on the front desk on Sundays from now on, and I’m sure you will get to meet him. To John, I and the parish wish you good luck and thanks for the time you served St. Matthew Parish.
I am so pleased with the success of our “double down” campaign for CSA. We not only made our self-imposed goal of $30,000 but exceeded it by $3,690, and the effort is still on going. Our CSA Committee has reached out to a number of non-participants so that we could reach our goal of CSA pledge givers. As of this writing, we have 106 who responded, and others are still considering. If you can encourage anyone to help us out, our success will be more than appreciated as we continue our sustainability. Again, I want to personally thank all who participated. Some gave very generously; all who gave did so sacrificially. And all are appreciated. God bless you for responding to our effort of “doubling down.”
Last week, Sean O’Connell, from the Boy Scouts of America made a presentation to the parish on his Eagle Scout project. Back in January, he approached me with an idea for the project to collect school supplies for kids throughout the area. He partnered with our St. Vincent de Paul volunteers so that the project would reach a wider area and be more robust than what we could do on our own. Sean is reaching out to other parishes, organizations, and schools to collect the needed supplies. And with the help and direction of our SVdP, he will be able to assist students in our entire east district. Sean is a very capable young man. We wish him good luck in his efforts and his goal of receiving his Eagle Scout award. Not many reach that high honor. So I ask you to support him in his effort and keep him in your prayers.
Remember this Wednesday is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Holy Day of Obligation. Make sure you set time aside for Mass. In the midst of our busy routine, stop, reflect, and pray through Mary’s intercession for the gift God gave us in her bearing the Savior of the world. Remember the Assumption celebrates the fact that Mary was taken up to heaven without her body seeing corruption. Where she has gone, we hope to follow.
As of the end of August, the Michigan Catholic newspaper will cease to be published. As is the case with print media, digital communication seems to be undermining it, and the paper is no longer able to survive. This will definitely have an impact upon older parishioners and people who do not receive their news electronically (myself included). Adjustments will have to be made; and next week, I will write about this more extensively.
God bless you and have a good week!
Reflections on Memorial Day and Trinity Sunday
May 27, 2018
Last week’s Pentecost celebration was just marvelous! Of course, celebrating the sacred liturgy and with the testimonies of faith and declarations of ministries by the Neophytes, brought a great sign of hope for the Church. With the commissioning of our Parish Council President, John Dunstone, and our new head of Evangelization, Mike Dulapa, that hope and spirit enlivened our parish. I continue to pray for our parish and its people that we will be able to grow our parish as we grow in Christ. Please, everyone invite others to St. Matthew’s, especially during these summer months. The summer is a great time to grow closer to the Lord for we have fewer distractions.
This weekend as we celebrate Trinity Sunday, we also remember on Memorial Day those who fought and died for the sake of our nation. However, we are also recognizing one of our own, Chuck Schuster who served in World War II and was recently recognized by the French government for the role he played in freeing their country, France, from Nazi occupation. We congratulate Mr. Schuster as we honor him for his reception of the French Legion of Honor Medal.
I also want to remind you that if you receive a CSA letter from the parish this week, please respond as generously as you can. This “double down” effort is important to our sustainability. May God bless you this week and keep you safe.
CSA Double Down
May 4, 2018
Last week we heard about the important work of the Catholic Services Appeal; i.e., ministry to catholic education, marriage tribunal, community outreach programs, Black Catholic ministries, and programs such as “Unleash the Gospel.” On this CSA hospitality weekend, we are going to “double down” on CSA.
I want to make the meaning of this campaign title very clear. As I said last weekend, our CSA target for this year is $15,800. This amount must be raised by the parish and submitted to the Archdiocese for all the good ministerial work the AoD does. Any amount raised over and above the stated target stays in our parish. It is not assessed, meaning taxed by the Archdiocese, and does not effect our target for next year.
This seems like an opportune moment to raise much needed funds for our budget. As you know, we subsidize our budget yearly from our savings and until our school buildings are sold, it is nearly impossible to have a balanced budget. In addition, we had to draw down $20,000 extra last year over and above the $150,000 to deal with essential maintenance issues; i.e., the drains in the church towers, repair of asphalt in the driveway, and replacing 23 tubes in our school boiler so that we could meet the city inspection and fire-up the boiler for last winter. All of this approved by the Parish Council.
The Parish Council has now initiated a means by which we can replenish our savings especially the money we needed last year for maintenance. That is where the title of “double down” originated. We would like to “double down” on the AoD target of approximately $15,000, and internally give ourselves a target of $30,000. In effect having a pledge drive for ourselves to raise $15,000 to help offset our maintenance expenditure.
However, we are not just “doubling down” on the money. We would like to “double down” on participation. Last year, only 99 givers pledged $26,000, 104 parishioners did not participate. With a concerted effort to reach out to nongivers in the CSA and with their support, we could easily reach $30,000. If those who gave last year pledged the same and those who did not participate gave something toward it, we could reach our goal and maybe go beyond.
To that end, a CSA Committee has been formed to reach out to the 104 parishioners to encourage their participation. Through a letter, phone call, or personal invitation, perhaps our need can be expressed more clearly so that participation increases.
This request is not for anything extravagant or for anything superfluous, it is for the basic needs of our parish so that we can continue to maintain ourselves. We want to remain at the corner of Harper and Whitter as a Beacon of Light and a Sign of Hope to our neighborhood and for a Catholic presence on the east side of Detroit.
So I’m asking everyone, please “double down.” Help us to meet our internal (self-imposed) target of $30,000 through the CSA pledge drive. Over the next twelve months, you can surely do something to help us out so we can remain a viable presence as a Catholic Community.
God bless you,
Alleluia! He is Risen!
April 1, 2018
Alleluia! Our joy is complete; Christ, the first born, is risen from the dead!
The whole of Christianity around the world rejoices in the Resurrection. Today, we celebrate this great mystery, the ultimate evil, death, has been conquered by Jesus Christ. We acknowledge today that we will never die.
We will be changed but not die. Happy Easter! Even as we celebrate new life, we remember the lives of those who have gone before us. Some who have made a great impact upon us and our nation.
This Wednesday, we as a nation remember the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., 50 years ago April 4, 1968. Like so many tragic events in our nation, I’m sure for those who remember the day, we remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news. We truly lost a great figure and leader on that day.
This coming Wednesday, April 4, 2018 in order to mark and remember Dr. King, there will be a Memorial Prayer Service, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Detroit and the Black Catholic Ministry at St. Mary’s of Redford at 7 p.m. I will be attending, and I invite you to participate as well to raise the name of Rev. King to God in thanksgiving for what he gave to our nation —— his fullest measure.
At a time when racial tension seems to be growing in the nation, it is good for us to remember what Brother Martin told us, “that hatred anywhere is hatred everywhere.”
Lest we fall into our past sins, let us remind ourselves of his goodness and his message; to dream that justice is for all.
In fact, it is a great way to celebrate Easter Week, reminding ourselves in prayer of the New Life that can spring even from tragedy and death. We have come a long way; with a long way to go. But we can do it; we shall overcome!
Lenten Reflection on Almsgiving
March 24, 2018
Continuing my Lenten Reflections on the Joy of the Lenten Season, I want on this Fifth Sunday of Lent to reflect on finding joy in almsgiving. Charitable giving in the Old Testament Scriptures was usually tied to sacrifice and a tithe was recommended; i.e. 10%. Our Catholic church historically has not been linked to tithing (as some denominations are), but rather to free-will offering. Our Sunday collections are freewill offerings. We don’t tell you what you have to give rather to give what you honestly are able.
I know in my own life when I look at what I contribute to the Church, contribute to favorite charities that are dear to me, along with additional requests that are made, I am surprised that my charitable giving comes to 10% of my income. I’m sure that you probably have the same experience. But one thing I do know is that in almsgiving, I never act alone. I truly feel as if God is walking with me in my almsgiving.
Isaiah, the prophet, wrote of releasing those bound unjustly, setting free the oppressed, sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, and not turning our back on your own (Is 58:6-7).
Fulfilling these needs certainly sounds like the Corporal Works of Mercy. In a real world with real needs that often means for us to contribute to the support of structures and organizations that deal directly with the poor and the downtrodden.
Each of us has to be realistic about what we can give in light of our responsibilities and personal resources. Our time, energy, and finances are not limitless, but stretching ourselves to the point of sacrifice is a way to touch the presence of Christ himself who sacrificed his life for us. In fact, we grow in stature, meaning, and riches when we give joyfully from the heart.
Love is not diminished when it is shared, but multiplied. The joy of almsgiving is sharing in the sacrifice of Christ Jesus who gave his life for all. Charity/almsgiving reflects a deeper spirituality in the believer. Supported by prayer, it aligns us with the Corporal Works of Mercy and demonstrates that we mean what we say. The wonder and joy of giving is truly a Christian action of love, and love is joyful.
As St. Theresa of Lisieux said, “I found happiness the day I forgot myself and began to serve others.” These reflections on the Joy of Lent through the disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving bring us ever closer to the Joy of Easter, being one with a new life in Christ is certainly a joyful experience.
I also want to remind you of our Communal Penance Service Monday, March 26, at 7 p.m. God’s mercy and love celebrated through the Sacrament of Confession and Reconciliation is the perfect way to prepare ourselves for the Easter Triduum.
God Bless You, Father Duane
Lenten Reflection on Joy
March 9, 2018
During the season of Lent, we are reflecting on the “joy of the Season.” It seems odd to say that, it almost sounds like Christmas. But as we have been reflecting, Lent starts with the wonder of God’s love for us.
Opening ourselves up to God in prayer, we enter upon a conversion journey deepening our relationship to a merciful God and knowledge of Jesus which is a joyful experience.
But how does fasting fit into this reflection, and how can self-denial, sacrifice, and mortification be joyful? The Latin root of the word mortification literally means to put to death. If putting to death bad habits or any action that undermines our humanness, then it is not something sad but full of joy. Oh, it may be difficult to change habits and patterns; but, if it opens up for us a new zest for life and living in the Spirit, then it is a joy.
Let me explain. We are not called to despise our humanness. God created everything good. So to die to self (mortify) is not a denial of the goodness of who we are, but a recognition that self-defeating patterns of behavior diminish our true humanness.
Giving up things, sacrificing, and denying ourselves is not to cause pain, but they are done in pursuit of the fullness of life which God fashions for us out of His love. Looking at Lent in this fashion is not a putting to death but a coming to life.
Fasting is a path to joy because it opens a path to a fuller life. We sacrifice a false or lesser belief for a fuller one gaining a measure of freedom over compulsive behavior. If you sacrifice an hour away from your computer or “hand-held device” and reflectively used this same amount, would your life be less joyful? If you took that $20 or $40 you spent on your favorite indulgence; i.e., alcohol, desserts, junk food and donate it to a worthy cause, would your life be less? If you “put to death” that which has diminished you, a false life for a true self free from a slavery you are caught in, would that not be joyful?
Yes, fasting, although difficult, can offer us the freedom of God’s love and mercy. And isn’t that a wonderful joy?