Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today is the Sunday of Joy! The name "Gaudete" comes from the official Introit of the Third Sunday of Advent, "Gaudéte in Dómino …"; "Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near" (Philippians 4:4-5). We light the rose candle in the Advent wreath and wear rose vestments, the color of the sky just before the dawn. The Lord is near! We are called to purify our hearts and make straight with joy the paths to Christ our Savior. He comes to us in our humanity, offering us a share in His divinity.
As a parish and as individuals we have many reasons to be joyful. You and I will find this joy even in the midst of hardships if we properly prepare to welcome God the Incarnate Son into our hearts. Utilize the last days of Advent to slow down and prepare spiritually to receive the Lord.
I wanted to express my extreme gratitude to Gina Kvartek for her many years of service as our parish secretary. Over her nine years, Gina has gotten to know just about every one in the parish and has done an outstanding job being the face and voice of St. Mary's. Gina is retiring to spend time with family, especially a new grandchild with another one on the way. Of course, you will still see Gina regularly around the parish as a parishioner, just try not to give her any work to do! Thank you, Gina, for all your wonderfulservice in love to the people of St. Mary's!
You may have seen and heard our new parish secretary, Frances Gledhill. We are blessed to have Frances, who brings her joyful spirit and love of Christ with her. Be sure to welcome Frances if you stop by the office. We also welcome Sandra Belcher, our new secretary for Hispanic ministry. Sandra is also a fantastic, skilled addition to our St. Mary's parish office, who likewise brings her joyful spirit ofservice to this position. Welcome Frances and Sandra!
Finally, it is hard to believe but Christmas begins the evening of next Sunday, the 24th. As I mentioned last week, we should attend both Mass for the Fourth Sunday of Advent as well as for the Holy Day of Christmas. Many people have pointed out that going to the Saturday Vigil at 5pm on the 23rd for the Fourth Sunday of Advent helps "spread out" the attendance, so feel free to use this idea!
For your planning, here is our Christmas Mass schedule (recalling that Masses on the morning of the 24th are not Christmas Masses, but Masses for the Fourth Sunday of Advent): 12/24: 4:00pm and 6:00pm in the church (138 Fairfield St. SE); 12/25 Mass at Midnight, church; 12/25 during the day, Mass at 10:00am in the church; and 12:00 in Spanish in Old St. Mary's.