Grace and peace to you through our Lord Jesus Christ, today and always. I hope you had a wonderful summer and found some time to enjoy the lighter side of life over the past few months.
The pace around the parish was a bit slower, as expected, but not by much. A number of “home improvements” have begun, including the much-needed structural reinforcement of our pews and installation of our new fire alarm system. We conducted a thorough cleaning and re-lamping of our interior lights and, thanks to the generosity of Xavier High School, put down a beautiful new floor in Larkin-Hurtado Hall. XHS has provided the hall with brand new tables and chairs as well. I hope you like the new look!
More importantly, some profound matters of the heart moved through our community this summer. On June 28th, we celebrated the life and work of Fr. Ned Coughlin, SJ, former pastor of our parish. To no surprise, the church was filled to capacity as so many of his friends, brother Jesuits, and countless people whose lives he touched turned out to honor him. Among the many moving movements of that liturgy, for me, was the thunderous applause that burst forth as Ned’s coffin was moved down the center aisle during the closing hymn. Rest in peace, dear and faithful friend. You’re a tough act to follow.
It was a busy summer for weddings, as SFX is becoming increasingly more popular for the celebration of this sacrament. In fact, our own Stephen Weyer (former director of the Xavier Mission) and Elizabeth Chilla will marry during the 11:30am Mass on Sunday, September 21st. Ned was looking forward to celebrating that Mass with us and blessing the marriage of Steve and Liz. I am certain he will be with us in spirit and ask you to please join us if you can.
On August 17, we celebrated the 94th birthday of our “most seasoned” parishioner Marge Zwansiger. Happy birthday Marge and thank you for the many wonderful things you have done for us!
The Peace and Justice Committee advanced our parish efforts to address the problem of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. They continued to work on the issues of water justice, immigration, and the environment as well. It Was the Women Who Stayed and the Young Adults composed and led a beautiful prayer service to honor St. Mary Magdalene and raise awareness of the trafficking problem. Members of the Honduras Project made yet another sojourn to Central America and even appeared on a local radio show conducted by a Honduran Jesuit. And if I keep citing more recent works of our ministries, I’ll run out of room very soon. So thank you to all of you, especially those not mentioned here.
As we move into the year ahead, four significant opportunities await us. First, by the end of September, the Archdiocese of New York will announce her formal recommendations regarding the Pastoral Plan that unfolded through much of last year. I will communicate more information on this as soon as I have it. Secondly, let me kindly remind all our ministries of our focus on the problem of human trafficking that we have committed our parish to for the coming year. Please continue to think about creative ways to address this critical issue and look for more to come from Peace and Justice. Thirdly, with the help of the Finance Council, we will continue to implement the great stewardship and development plan with which parishioner Nick Grimaldi has gifted us. And fourthly, I have put together a new group, called the Ignatian Task Force, to explore substantive ways of raising knowledge and awareness of the Spiritual Exercises and Ignatian identity across the many facets and faces of our parish. It should prove to be an exciting year. And I ask you to keep all of these initiatives in your prayers.
Last but certainly not least, you probably know by now that, in October, our Holy Father Pope Francis will convene a special Synod on the Family. Speculation abounds on all sides regarding what might emerge from the Synod as something new and different, especially for divorced Catholics, LGBTQ Catholics, and non-traditional families.It’s too early to tell at the moment but let us pray and trust that the movement of the Holy Spirit will be with Pope Francis and the leadership of the Church as they take up this very important effort. And, on a related note, please mark your calendars for the morning of Saturday, November 8th, when we will host an exciting panel discussion about the outcomes of the Synod.
Onward St. Francis Xavier! May our good and gracious God continue to bless us and hold us close. I look forward to walking and working with you in the year ahead.