Gentleness

08-11-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

Over the past weeks, in our country we have been dealing with the reality of violence and hate in our society. We have seen the culture of death manifested in El Paso, in Dayton, and in too many other places. This situation is the antithesis of the Kingdom of God. I know that I feel practically powerless to address such evil, except to call it for what it is and to renounce it and all that accompanies it. It is what we promise to do in our baptismal vows: "Do you reject Satan? I do. And all his works? I do. And all his empty promises? I do."

Along with the rejection of the culture of death, I also must profess confidence in a civilization of love founded on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This profession is the positive side of our baptismal promises. Last weekend in a very different setting, I felt the transforming power of mercy, gentleness, and love. I was involved in a gathering of the Entering Canaan program for women experiencing hope and healing after abortion, which is itself another manifestation of the culture of death. The peace and grace of God is so evident in these woman, who have found mercy after years of fear, guilt, and shame. This gathering was so gentle. It gave me hope.

Please resolve to embrace and build a civilization of love in your homes, in your hearts, and everywhere you go. Do not return evil for evil. Let love triumph.

Faithfully,
Fr. Baker

READ MORE

Holy Land Gratitude

08-04-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

By the time this letter is printed, I hope that I am over jet lag! For some reason, it is much worse for me coming home than going over. In conjunction with the jet lag, I am even more in a state of awe and wonder at the pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Unlike the jet lag, I hope that the sense of awe and wonder does not wear off!

First of all, I am thankful to this wonderful parish for so generous and thoughtful a gift for my 25th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood. I cannot imagine anything that could have had a more profound impact on me. And to include my sister in the experience is thoughtfulness beyond measure. Thank you.

READ MORE

State of the Parish

07-28-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

Last week, I mainly discussed the parish staff. This week, I want to inform you of the development of parish councils and committees. The first of these to be re-established and re-energized was the Finance Council. Larry Farmer serves as the chair of this council and has been a valuable connection to previous Finance Councils on which he served. The newly constituted council was established just in time to help investigate and manage the situation of misappropriation of parish funds. (That situation remains under investigation by police and prosecutors. I will inform the parish as soon as there are any new developments.) The Finance Council is continuing to give guidance on the continuing outside review of our financial procedures, as well as helping with the budget process and financial accountability. I am very grateful for their help and expertise.

READ MORE

Year One

07-21-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

I am going to make an effort to give a "state of the parish" report, having completed my first year as pastor. What a year it has been! Thank God for his grace and mercy, and thank you all for your generosity and patience. Without God's grace and your goodness, I could accomplish nothing.

We are blessed with three priests in the parish, although we have not actually had three priests in residence, except for a few weeks. Fr. Michael has been such a gift to the parish with his warmth and gentleness since he arrived in November, and when Fr. Edwuin comes back from Columbia in early August (we hope!), three will be our normal number of priests. I also believe that there will soon be news to report about Fr. Joe finishing his medical leave and returning to an assignment in the diocese, but that is still in the discussion stage. I look forward to hearing more news from the diocese to pass on to you. Our deacons Pete Semich and John D'Amico continue to serve with distinction and dedication. I don't know where we would be without them. We have also been blessed this summer with the presence of seminarian Preston Thompson, who has served the parish with eagerness and joy.

READ MORE

Scope of Work

07-14-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

We have just about gotten all the approvals from the diocese to begin the long-discussed projects for the church. If all goes well, it looks like we will begin work by the end of the month. Let me sketch out for you the extent of the these projects. First is the long-awaited HVAC improvements to correct faulty duct work and to increase HVAC capacity, if needed. This time of year, the need for improvements in the air conditioning needs no explanation! As there is some old florescent lighting in the area of the ducts, we will be upgrading those fixtures with more efficient modern ones. Another project will be replacing the ceramic tile flooring, which was improperly installed originally, causing it to crack and to separate from the concrete underneath. This is particularly obvious down the center aisle and across the front where the floor seems to "give" as it is walked on. We have reached the limits of temporary repairs so that replacement is now called for. In conjunction with new tile being installed, a new "loop" for the audio system for the hearing impaired will be embedded in the floor. Finally, the old cry room/chapel will be converted into two confessionals and a vesting room for altar servers. Worthy and designated space for celebrating the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation has long been needed in the church. Although none of these projects is especially "glamorous," I believe that they will enhance our church in significant and needed ways.

READ MORE

Surrender

07-07-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

We usually think of surrender as a negative word of defeat. In the spiritual life, it is just the opposite. It is the first step to victory. Surrender is the way to begin and to begin again. In the spiritual life, we are not going to do much on our own. Actually, we are not going to do anything. God is the one to get us started and to keep us going. All we can do is to accept faithfully what He gives us. That is why surrender is so important spiritually.

Speaking for myself, I am very bad at surrendering to God. I usually think that I have a better way than God does. Generally what I have in mind is a more comfortable way, but a more comfortable way is rarely God's way. Speaking for myself, I seem always to prefer the easier way, and I resist God when He offers me a hard path. And yet surrender to God's way is the way of peace.

READ MORE