Wednesday - 6:00 PM
Sunday - 10:00 AM
CHAPLET OF DIVINE MERCY:
Friday - 3:00 PM
Friday - 12:00 NOON
Saturday, October 22
4:00 p.m. - Mass - (d) Dr. Galen Lueking
Sunday, October 23
10:00 A.M. Rosary
10:30 A.M. - Mass - For the living & deceased of the Parish
Wednesday, October 26
8:00 A.M. - Mass - For intentions of the Anonymous Angels and Altar Society Members
Thursday, October 27
8:00 A.M. - Mass - (d) Mary Talmant
Friday, October 28
8:30 a.m. - 3:15 p.m. - Eucharistic Adoration
12:00 noon - Servite Rosary
3:00 p.m. - Chaplet of Divine Mercy
Saturday, October 29
4:00 p.m. - Mass - (d) Bill Handley
Sunday, October 30
10:00 A.M. Rosary
10:30 Mass - For the living & deceased of the parish
OUR NEW ECCLESIAL IDENTITY
On the 1st of October, 2016, the parishes of St Edward, Fairfield and St Stephen, Flora were represented by the members of the Pastoral Plan for Parish Renewal and Restructuring Committee in a meeting with the Bishop of the diocese, His Excellency, Most Rev. Edward K. Braxton at the Chancery office. This meeting was part of the diocesan on-going strategy to deepen our awareness to the new ecclesial identity in our local church. In the meeting with us were also the Episcopal Vicar of the East Vicariate, Very Reverend Mark Stec and the Vicar General of the diocese, Very Reverend Monsignor John McEvilly.
Several issues were raised and discussed. The initial submission made in 2013 in response to these parishes being served by only one priest or, not having any priest all becomes our new ecclesial reality. This was actually the point of discussion and review. This reality involves but not limited to our present Mass schedules and frequency, areas of pastoral cooperation, finances, maintenance and upkeep. Virtually, every major ministry concern was addressed. Though our bishop expressed his profound gratitude to our individual commitment, cooperation and support to the diocese and our priest, and as well meeting our mission goals, he however, pointed out the need for all of us to be aware of this new reality. He is of the view that deferring the praxis of the reality may not be to any one’s good or benefit. In that vein, he mandated a few things that need our immediate action:
*A more frequent joint Pastoral/Finance Council meetings.
*Having a common bulletin.
*Planning together our common activities and creating familiar faces - not simply inviting the other sister parish.
*Celebrating one Sacred Triduum during the Holy Week.
*Forming a joint Youth Program outreach.
*Having a joint Adult Education formation/program and Parish School of Religion (PSR) modules.
*Inviting our parishioners to always sit in front to reflect the family and communion image of the Church.
These given mandates from the bishop of the diocese are not to be taken for granted. As challenging as they may seem to us now and in the future, it behooves on us to engage in them as a way into appreciating our new ecclesial identity. Presently, the diocese of Belleville has only 49 diocesan priests and 115 parishes. Of this number, the priests who are below the age of 50 are not more than 10. We are left with older priests, retired priests and sometimes priests who may be having health challenges. The diocese cannot plan her future with extern (international) priests who could be called back at any time - at the shortest notice. Hence, it is from the new reality of having less priests to minister to our people of faith and the growing diminishing of resources and demography that this new identity is being formed. It becomes our collective responsibility to appreciate this trend and make it transforming to each of us.
While each of us may have our different dispositions to the new reality, it does not negate what the reality is compelling us to do. Thus, at the very beginning of the Pastoral Plan, the strategy was not limited to the physical planning, but also to the renewal that needs go with it to enable a smooth transition to our common cause and identity. In the end, it may not be our individual preferences or lack of it, but our ability to reflect, respond and commit to this new ecclesial identity. We must pray for more vocations to the priesthood in our diocese. We must also pray for a come-back to the Church of our fallen away Catholics, and a more generous giving of our committed Catholics.
In response to the mandate of the bishop, some things are bound to change. In a few weeks’ time, we shall experiment during a Sunday liturgy “the celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the absence of a priest” in both of our parishes with our diocesan certified ministers. This experience will enable us into a new awareness that could become sudden if we were forced to it at any given time by any circumstance. Secondly, there will be set in motion the strategies to observe the other mandates given by the bishop. Consequently, I shall welcome ideas and proposals from any one to enable a transforming new reality rather than a frustrating experience to our parishioners.
This weekend, St Edward Fairfield marks 135 years of its establishment. It is something to celebrate and thank God for his blessings on the past and present people of faith who have withstood the challenges in the different stages of the growth of the parish. I congratulate the members of St Edward Fairfield for their stewardship and spirit-filled witnessing. Let us celebrate with them and count our blessings. Meanwhile, St Stephen Flora continues to add in the many decades of her existence the enviable commitment of the present crop of parishioners whose faith and stewardship I am proud to be part of. These are powerful testimonies we must not let be deemed by some of our fears. I strongly believe that there is hope; yet, we are enjoined to look to the future trusting in God’s providential path.
Hence, in all of this, I pray for patient understanding from each of us – as things unfold. More sacrifice, more selflessness and more commitment could be our way forward. There can be no limit to all of this. The challenges are enormous, but they are not insurmountable. In faith, we have been called to serve. In faith we have been giving our best. I believe, in faith, we can do more. And we shall become stronger in the Lord!
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As Pope Francis calls on all the faithful to “constantly contemplate the mystery of mercy,” all are encouraged to take time to visit the Blessed Sacrament, where we come face to face with Jesus Christ who is “the face of the Father’s mercy.” Pope Saint John Paul II said that by spending time in Eucharistic Adoration, we “contribute to the radical transformation of the world.”
The Adoration Chapel at St. Stephen Parish is open on Wednesday evenings from 7:00 – 12:00 midnight, and on Fridays from 8:30 a.m. – 3:15 p.m. Visits to the Blessed Sacrament can be made for any amount of time. A goal of 10,000 ten-minute visits has been set for St. Stephen Parish during the entire Year of Mercy. Be sure to record your time before you leave the chapel so that it can be counted in the parish’s total.
Click Here for information on the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.
“Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy."
- Jesus to St. Faustina
Do you have questions about the Catholic faith? Are you interested in becoming a Catholic? Have you been away from the Church for a long time? Would you like to return but don't know how? Below are some links to helpful information. Please do not hesitate to contact us or visit St. Stephen's at any time. We look forward to seeing you!