Amazing parish!

05-26-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

This past Monday-Wednesday, I was in Cincinnati for a conference called "the amazing parish." It is about helping pastors to lead parishes well, both spiritually and practically. I am certainly happy that St. Rose is one of the four parishes chosen from our diocese to attend the conference and to implement the amazing parish process.

The transformation begins with each pastor having a leadership team with whom he consults a least weekly. The team provides the pastor both support and accountability in leadership. I can speak from experience that isolation is the biggest challenge to a pastor being an effective and joyful leader of his parish.

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Graduations

05-19-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

It is certainly the time for graduations in Murfreesboro. MTSU has already graduated. All the high school graduations took place over the past week and this weekend. Saint Rose School celebrated graduation this past Friday. Congratulations to all who have graduated. Congratulations as well to all who have supported the graduates over the years, especially parents and teachers. Graduation is an accomplishment for all of you!

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Mother's Day

05-12-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

I may be getting into dangerous territory in talking about Mother's Day because for a number of people, this day may not have happy associations. My mother died the same year that I was ordained. Her approaching death was the reason for my ordination being moved up from June to March. I have therefore not had my mother during almost all of my priesthood. I do however cherish the memories of my mother and, in particular, those few months when I was a priest at the end of her life when I was allowed to spend a great deal of time caring for her. I count it one of the special blessings of being in Murfreesboro, which was her hometown, that I am able to visit her grave frequently and that of my father, who are both buried here in an old family plot in Evergreen Cemetery.

Whatever our own personal experiences or associations with Mother's Day, one fact that I appreciate more and more is that we all have a real mother in the Blessed Virgin Mary. Jesus gave His mother to be our mother while he hung upon the cross. It is the most beautiful gift that he gave to us. Accept this gift of His Blessed Mother to you. When you need the embrace and encouragement that only a mother can give, let her embrace and encourage you. She is powerful, and she is good. She cares for you perfectly as her child. So Happy Mother's Day to the mother of us all in the family of God.

Faithfully,
Fr. Baker

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Busy May

05-05-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

I remember from being a pastor of a parish with a school that May is a busy month, and it comes after a busy April with a late Easter. I would say that May is second only to December for extra events. Things will then settle down to a somewhat slower pace for the summer. Right at the beginning of May, I want to ask for your patience because I know that I will not be able to get to many things as soon as I would like to. This year we are short handed both with priests and with staff for the time being. I expect that we will be back up to full staffing over the summer, but in the mean time we are managing with what we have. Please be assured that we are responding and making appropriate changes in our financial procedures and that I will be reporting on these changes and new staff to you as soon as I am able.

All this being said, Saint Rose is an exciting parish. Last weekend, for example, a flood of God's mercy washed over the parish in the celebration of many, many confessions. On Saturday, there were three First Communion Masses. The graces just keep coming!

Faithfully,
Fr. Baker

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Many Thanks

04-28-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

Holy Week and Easter Week are busy times. It takes a lot of work to celebrate these most holy days in the Church. I want to thank everyone who helped to make the liturgies and other events in the parish so beautiful, reverent, and meaningful. Saint Rose is a remarkable parish with very dedicated parishioners. These are the days when we encounter the most fundamental truths of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is our message and our mission in the parish. Thanks for carrying it out so faithfully.

Christ is Risen!

Faithfully,
Fr. Baker

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Resurrection

04-21-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

We celebrate the central mystery of our faith in Jesus Christ today: His resurrection from the dead. Jesus Christ is savior. He saves us from sin and death. No one else can do this. Sin and death still remain in the world, but they have lost their power. If we go through them with Jesus, as we have this Holy Week, we will also rise with Him. This is true in our lives. It is true in our parish. We know that Jesus saves and that He forgives.

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Holy Week

04-14-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

For observant Catholics, this is a week to be close to Jesus. We have the opportunity to show Jesus our love and our gratitude to Him when so many are rejecting or ignoring him. Mary Magdalene showed Jesus extravagant love at this time, and He appreciated it deeply. Jesus is so good to us and never demands our devotion, and yet we gain so much when we surrender our hearts to Him. I am not sure if I allow myself to enter into this sort of close and loving relationship with Him as much as I should. When I am vulnerable in my relationship with Him, I find peace even in the midst of many troubles because peace comes from being with Him rather than from the circumstances of my life. He is so good. He went through all the sufferings of this week so that we all could have life with Him. Just thinking about what He did and what He said should be enough to lift me up in any circumstance. I want to be with Him especially this week. Let's be with Him together.

Faithfully,
Fr. Baker

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Holy Week

04-07-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

If we are not careful, Holy Week can become just like any other week, and all of a sudden it's Easter. Please make an effort to set aside Holy Week as a holy week. Hey, even the State of Tennessee recognizes Good Friday as a holiday! So what do I mean by keeping a good Holy Week?

First, mark your calendars to come to the Holy Week liturgies. They are profound and moving. If you really can't come to everything, then come to as much as you can. See the bulletin or website for the times.

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Many Thanks!

03-31-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

I want to thank the parish for the many expressions of love on the occasion of my 25th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood. It is going to take me a while to appreciate all the kind words and gifts that were lavished on me. You are too good to me. I hope that I may serve you well as your pastor.

I had one fear about this celebration: that it would be about me. I wanted this to be a celebration of the priesthood and of our parish as a family. When we understand ourselves as a community of disciples of the Lord Jesus, we become united in joy. We are able to accept our blessings from God and to share them in service to others. In this spirit, I want to accept in humility your goodness to me as an expression of your discipleship of the Lord Jesus. He is the one who brings us together in loving service and who does all things well. Praise Him!

Faithfully,
Fr. Baker

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Thanks

03-24-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

I want to thank the parish for celebrating with me 25 years of priesthood. As a diocesan priest, my priesthood is for you. I am most grateful that God has allowed me to serve in this way in a number of interesting and demanding assignments, most recently here at Saint Rose. After 25 years, I am still growing and learning.

The most important thing that I have learned is that God wants my weakness as His priest. Whatever strengths or talents that I may have are of no use to God. He doesn't need them. After all, He is the one who gave them to me. What I can offer to Him that He does want is my weakness and my need for Him. It is very difficult for me to embrace my weakness the way that God does. I want to see it as beautiful, as He does. My weakness keeps me close to Him, and by being close to Him I have something to offer you.

I regret my weakness if it has hurt or disappointed anyone I should have served better over these 25 years. Usually, I find that the people whom I am to serve are very like God in loving me for my weaknesses. I thank you.

Faithfully,
Fr. Baker

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Schedule Changes

03-17-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

We will be making a big change in the Spanish Mass time on the weekend and a small one for the Saturday evening English Mass.

The big change first: beginning on Sunday, March 24, the Spanish Mass will move to 2 p.m. on Sunday from 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. The first day of the new schedule will be Sunday, March 24. There will no longer be a Spanish Mass at 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays beginning with March 23. There seems to be universal agreement that Mass on Sunday will serve the community better. We will also schedule confessions from 1-1:45 p.m. on Sundays before the Mass. On Tuesdays beginning this week, there will be Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at 6:30 p.m., with confessions, until 7:15 p.m. before the Spanish Mass at 7:30 p.m. I ask that you plan to come to confessions at these times before the Masses rather than after. We will try always to have a Spanish-speaking, or at least Spanish-comfortable, priest for confessions at these confession times.

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Mass Manners

03-10-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

I would like to encourage us to think more as a community when we are at Mass, rather than as individuals. In fact, we gather together at Mass to form a communion of faith for the praise and worship of God. That is why there can't be an app for Mass! We cannot do it alone. Since we are about forming a communion of believers at Mass, we need to be welcoming of all members of our community. In particular, I am thinking of the children and infants of our community. They belong at Mass as much as any other members of the community. They need patience and understanding (as do their parents) as they learn to participate in Mass appropriately. Sometimes they might need to go out from Mass for a break, but they and we are all God's children and belong in His house. It’s especially nice to see children sitting up front where they can see what is going on in the Mass.

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Stewardship

03-03-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

We tend to be creatures of habit. That is, we tend to make habits of the things that are important to us and that we need to accomplish. We have habits of when we get up, when we go to work, when we pray and go to Mass, when we do our laundry, etc. We should likewise have a plan for how we support the works of the Church. Bishop Spalding is asking us to give to support the ministries of the diocese. We also need to give to support the ministries of the parish. If we are good stewards of the gifts that God shares with us, then we give back in an habitual way -- we have a plan. We set an amount or a percentage of our income to give back to God through the ministries of the Church. We decide when and how we will make these gifts, and we follow through habitually. In this way, we develop the habit of good stewardship. When we have developed this habit or virtue of giving and of generosity, it becomes easier, even joyful, to give. The habit turns us into generous people.

Faithfully,
Fr. Baker

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