Supernatural View

08-25-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

The Second Vatican Council teaches that the Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life; that is, everything in the Christian life comes from the Eucharist and everything leads to it as well. I want to propose that our construction projects in the church are more than practical needs. These projects will help us to live and celebrate the Holy Eucharist, and therefore these practical projects are actually of spiritual importance.

We will experience some disruptions in our routines over these months of construction; but if we have this supernatural view of what is going on, it will help us to adjust joyfully. As a reminder, on Monday - Friday daily Mass will be in the Stonewall House in the Knights of Columbus meeting room. Tuesday evening Spanish Mass and Wednesday evening Mass will be in the Jo Call Room because these Masses have too large a congregation for the meeting room. The Friday school Mass will be in the gym. Adoration from Wednesday morning to Friday morning will take place in the Stonewall House. All Masses and other liturgies on Saturday and Sunday will be in the church.

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Beginnings

08-18-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

Many things are beginning this time of year. In addition to the regular beginnings of school and so many other programs and ministries, there are new beginnings as well. The Finance Council is working on a new budget. The Pastoral Council, the Facilities Committee, and the Strategic Planning Committee have all had their first meetings in the past few weeks. Ministries such as the servers and ushers are having updated training. Our long-anticipated construction project in the church is also beginning.

Let me remind everyone that for the next few months, we will be experiencing construction going on that will deal with various parts of the church. The HVAC system, the lighting, the flooring, the organ, the new confessionals, etc. will all be parts of this project. Thank you for your patience with all of improvements. I will try to keep you posted as things develop.

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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

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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.

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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.

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Thank You!

07-28-2019NewsPreston Thompson, Seminarian

I would like to thank Saint Rose for this incredible opportunity to serve over the past two months. Through this assignment, I have been able to see what it means to be active in a parish and what it takes to be a fantastic parish. Growing up, I was never fully involved in a parish, which meant I didn’t find my love of the Faith until high school. It was only through the help of retreats and campus ministry groups, like Melchizedek Project, that I came to realize that God might be calling me to the Priesthood. When I recognized this call, I was unsure and afraid, so I went to college at the University of Montevallo in Alabama for my freshman year to continue playing Lacrosse. The year I played was fun and exciting, but it left me feeling unfulfilled, longing for something more. Near the end of the year, I felt God pulling on my heart again and began to think about seminary. Through unforgettable conversations with my old high school chaplain and an exhilarating race against deadlines, I was accepted into Holy Trinity Seminary in Dallas, Texas. God-willing, I hope to be ordained to the priesthood in 2025 and ask for your prayers as I continue on my journey of discernment; know that I will keep all of Saint Rose of Lima Parish in my prayers as I return to seminary this August.

In Christ,
Preston Thompson

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.

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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.

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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.

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Pray for Our Country

06-30-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

This week we will celebrate Independence Day on July 4. It is usually a fun holiday to be with family or friends, share a casual meal, and watch fireworks! I want to ask that we take the day more seriously this year along with the fun. Please take time to pray for the United States of America. Along with the tremendous blessings of freedom and prosperity for which we should offer prayers of thanksgiving, there are also grave problems in our country for which we need to pray for deliverance. Only God can save us! There are epidemics of hopelessness resulting in addiction, suicide, and abortion. There are plagues of confusion about sexuality and gender undermining marriage and family life and even our identity as men and women. There are crises, failures, and abuses in leadership undermining confidence in our institutions, even in the Church. Only a turn to God can set us back on the right track and restore hope, confidence, and peace. Finally, today there will be millions of people in our country who will not spend the day relaxing but rather in fear: in fear of being thrown out of the country. It is certainly true that our lack of an effective immigration policy has allowed a terrible situation to develop of disregard of law, nevertheless inflicting fear on those whose only offence is the desire to share in the blessings of this country that we and our ancestors have experienced is a short-sighted response. You don't see people lining up to get into every country! The fact that people want so desperately to come here says something good about the United States of America. Let's turn to God to keep us welcoming even as we face and address challenges.

Faithfully,
Fr. Baker

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The Body of the Lord

06-23-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

Today we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi. This is the day on which we pay particular reverence to the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus comes to us and remains with us in the Blessed Sacrament. This is a wonderful gift, which we do not deserve. Jesus displays extreme humility in coming to us in the Blessed Sacrament and allowing us to come so close to Him, even to receive Him as food for our journey to our heavenly home.

The humility of Jesus should not, however, cause us to take His presence for granted! He is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, even if He appears as a piece of bread! We have the opportunity to show our love, respect, and reverence for Him in the Blessed Sacrament.

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PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR HOLY LAND PILGRIMAGE

06-16-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

Next month, thanks to the generosity and thoughtfulness of parishioners of St. Rose, my sister (Sr. Margaret Andrew, O.P.) and I will be going on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. First, I must say thank you. This pilgrimage to the Holy Land is truly a dream come true. With my sister's inspiration, I would like to offer everyone in the parish an opportunity to share in the spiritual blessings of the pilgrimage. We would like to take your prayer intentions with us and literally place them at the holy sites we will be visiting: the sites of Our Lord's annunciation, birth, public ministry, suffering, death, and resurrection. Everywhere we go, we will take your prayer intentions.

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God Doesn't Go on Vacation

06-09-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

I want to begin to address some fundamental truths for living as faithful Catholics. Among the most important of these is to keep the 3rd Commandment by going to Sunday Mass. Sunday Mass is essential for our relationship with God and for our relationships within the Church. Unless it is impossible, we must go to Mass every Sunday. As so many of you know, once you have established the habit of Sunday Mass then it is easy to maintain. The difficultly arises when we have to convince ourselves anew each week why we should go to Mass. As a friend of mine has said, it is easy to find reasons not to do something! Save yourself the trouble, and decide that you will go to Mass every Sunday period. If you are a parent, decide that you and your children will attend Mass every Sunday period. God will help you. Don't have arguments with yourself or others. Just do it.

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Parish Staff Changes

06-02-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

For a variety of reasons, some of them planned and some unplanned, we are experiencing a number of changes in our parish staff. I would like to take the opportunity to inform the parish of these changes. First, I want to let you know of some departures from the staff. Anne Plüs who worked in the parish office in a number of capacities has moved from Murfreesboro. This move was long-planned and has finally arrived. Leaving Saint Rose from the formation team is Jenny Morris, who is likewise relocating from Murfreesboro. She will be assuming new responsibilities in Chattanooga. We thank Anne and Jenny for their years of service to the parish and wish them well in their new endeavors.

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