God Has a Plan

09-20-2020Pastor's LetterFather Francisco

Dear friends,

As we all know our pastor, Father Wilson has been away on vacation for a few weeks and we are excited to know that he is returning this Friday, September 25th. We have been praying for Father Wilson’s fruitful retreat and wishing him a restful break. May God bless him and bring him back home safely.

This week, September 21st (Monday) is the feast of St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist. In today’s Gospel (Matthew 9:9-13) we have a short account of Jesus’ call of Matthew, a tax collector. Jesus called him out of his daily work to a life of discipleship. I cannot hear the account of the calling of Matthew without thinking of the famous painting by Michelangelo Caravaggio painted at the end of the 16th century. This painting is still in display in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome.

The painting depicts a particular moment, that is, the seconds before Matthew’s decision. What will Matthew say when Jesus says, “follow me”? Undoubtedly, this was a dramatic call and yet Matthew got up and followed the Lord. The painting not only depicts the calling of Matthew but also our calling, as Jesus is inviting us daily to follow Him. Jesus comes to us in the midst of our everyday work, in the daily challenges of life. Christ is calling us to holiness. He is calling us to follow in His footsteps. How will I respond?

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Thank You From Father Francisco

09-09-2020Pastor's LetterFather Francisco

Dear friends,

I want to take this opportunity to say, “thank you” for your warmest welcome. I am truly blessed to be part of the St. Mary’s family. I also want to thank you for all your prayers and especially for praying for me while I was sick with COVID-19. Your prayers worked!

It all started in Mexico while visiting family in the middle of July. I wasn't able to breathe and it just got worse after that. I really thought I was not going to make it, but God had other plans for me. Let us pray for all of those who are struggling with this horrible virus that they may not lose hope and that God may heal them. Prayer is one of the most powerful weapons God has given us. Remember, Jesus Himself would often slip away to pray.

This week we celebrate the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, also known as “The Triumph of the Cross.” According to tradition, early in the fourth century, St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem to excavate the Holy Sepulcher and discovered the True Cross. Holy Cross day is a day which honors and commemorates the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on the cross for our salvation.

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Resting from Our Labors

09-06-2020Pastor's LetterFr. Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

First, a reminder about scammers using the names of priests and parish staff: Some parishioners continue to get texts or emails claiming to be me, our school principal, or another trusted member of St. Mary’s parish. The scammers always ask for money in the form of iTunes gift cards or something similar. They even say things like, “I’m going into a meeting, so don’t call me. Just reply to this email” (or text). Please know that no one from St. Mary’s will ever ask you for funds like this. If you’re unsure, do nothing until you speak directly to the person you are trying to help. The scammers troll through our bulletin and website to get phone numbers and emails from volunteers or others. There isn’t much we can do to stop them since it is often someone overseas. Please pray for these unfortunate, deceitful people.

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The Gift of Sacramental Forgiveness/El don del perdón sacramental

08-30-2020Pastor's LetterFr. Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

For a while now, we have resumed regular confessions, but in a different location. Since at present we are not able to utilize the confessionals, we have been using the Waters Conference Room in St. Michael Hall. Confession times are: Mon., Tue., Thurs., and Fri. 4:45-5:15pm (before the daily Mass); and Saturday 3:30-4:30pm. “Though your sins be like scarlet, they shall become white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). Our Lord died and rose to bring us this Sacrament. Let us run to receive His free gift of loving forgiveness.

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You Are Rock.../Tu eres piedra...

08-23-2020Pastor's LetterFr. Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We pray in a special way for our parishioner, Anastasia (Stasia) Pierce, who is heading off to discern a calling to religious life with the Little Sisters of the Poor. Originally, the Congregation planned for her internship to be in Delaware; however, this has changed to their house in Mobile, Alabama. I’m certain she’d love to hear from you. Drop her a note and let her know you are praying for her. If all goes well, Stasia will enter as a postulant for the Congregation in the fall of 2021. Her address is Stasia Pierce, Sacred Heart Residence, 1655 McGill Avenue, Mobile, Alabama, 36604. The Little Sisters of the Poor are a truly remarkable international congregation of women religious serving the elderly poor in over thirty countries around the world. May God bless their important work!

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Welcome, Father Francisco!

08-16-2020Pastor's LetterFather Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This weekend, we give a very warm welcome to our new parochial vicar, Fr. Francisco Oñate-Vargas. In answer to a popular question, Father says that he prefers to be called “Father Francisco.” Over the next couple of weeks, Father will be rotating through the Masses. Although current safety precautions keep us from giving our warmest welcome, I know the great people of St. Mary’s will find a way to make Fr. Francisco feel our joy to have him here with us in Aiken!

While you were out… Our stained glass windows continue to arrive even in the midst of the pandemic. Although the church is not open as usual during the day (so that the church remains sanitized for Masses), I hope you will be able to come around Mass times to enjoy our three newest windows: The Crucifixion, The Resurrection, and The Ascension Into Heaven. (Many thanks go especially to our remarkably generous donor!)

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Small Sacrifices

08-09-2020Pastor's LetterFr. Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

To all of our dear friends who keep up with Holy Mass virtually/on-line, please know how much we miss you! Personally, I never realized until now the tremendous value of something so small as a simple handshake and “Hello!” at the door of the church after Mass. We are doing our very best to keep our parishioners at home connected until we can all safely be together again. Help us keep you connected!

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Please Stay Safe

08-02-2020Pastor's LetterFr. Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In the midst of this present pandemic, some people wonder if all our precautions are worth it. It’s sometimes difficult to persevere with no particular designated end if we don’t seem to have evidence that it affects us personally. To that end, I beg you to persevere. Many of you have told me of loved ones and even parishioners who have contracted the disease caused by the coronavirus. Please note that these cases were not contracted from attending Mass here at St. Mary’s. So far, they have been homebound, loved ones in nursing homes, or beloved relatives who live elsewhere. However, this is the reason we have the precautions we have.

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