The Month of January 2023

My Friends,

 “…what we have in us to become”

            Bishop Erik Varden is only 48 years of age. He is a Cistercian Monk.  He speaks eight languages, including English, fluently. He writes simply and with wisdom about the things of God.  Three years ago he was appointed bishop of Trondheim, Norway.  He regularly posts insightful reflections on his personal website.  As we begin a new beginning in the year of Our Lord 2023 his words offer a valuable perspective for living in Christian joy!

            “As Catholics, we call the Church our Mother. Mothers make demands. One demand the Church makes is that we go to Mass each Sunday. We speak of the Sunday obligation. It would be better to speak of a Sunday privilege. At Mass we draw, Sunday after Sunday, from the fount of our joy: ‘The Lord is near’; indeed, he is present.

            “At Mass we take part in Christ’s saving sacrifice; we witness the influx of eternity in time; we touch the foundation of the daring prayer which the priest prays on our behalf when, in the chalice, he mixes water with wine: ‘May we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.’ We are called to be renewed.

            “The Church obliges us to attend Mass each Sunday because we depend on God’s grace and power to see and realize what we have in us to become.  The words of the prophet Isiah are apt, ‘They shall see the glory of the Lord.’ That glory surrounds us in the sacred mysteries. The Mass enables us to practice living joyfully on the terms of faith. By the power of God’s grace, we — in ourselves powerless — are capable of anything.”

A time of transition

            For my twenty years as pastor of St. John’s, and before that, Don Massey served as Director of Sacred Music and Organist.  His years of music ministry at St. John's have made an incalculable difference for good here. 

            At the conclusion of the Mass of Christmas Day, as he planned, Don entered retirement. We pray with gratitude and for God’s best blessings as Don begins a new beginning.

            For several months Aidan Donovan has served as associate organist at St. John’s.  He has succeeded, now, as Director of Sacred Music and Organist.  Aidan is twenty-four and a native of Pittsburgh.  In the Spring, he graduated from St. Louis University-Parks College of Aviation.  Before coming to St. Louis, Aidan served as organist at parishes in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Since his arrival here he has assisted on occasion as organist at a number of parishes in the Archdiocese, including St. Francis Xavier-College Church.

            Aidan brings energy and enthusiasm and creativity to his music ministry with and for us.  Welcome him, please!

To Jesus Christ be endless praise…

            In the days when few people had calendars, it was customary at the Mass on the Feast of the Epiphany to proclaim the date of Easter for the coming year, along with other major feasts that hinge on the date of Easter. The Epiphany Proclamation for the Year of Our Lord 2023 follows:

            The glory of the Lord has shone upon us and shall ever be manifest among us, until the day of his return.

            The preeminent feast of the Church’s Year of Grace, the Easter Triduum of the Lord: his last supper, his crucifixion, his burial, and his rising, will be celebrated between the evening of the 6th day of April and the evening of the 8th day of April, Easter Sunday being on the 9th day of April.  Each Easter—as on each Sunday—the Holy Church makes present the great and saving deed by which Christ has forever conquered sin and death.

            From Easter are reckoned all the days we keep holy. Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, will occur on the 22nd day of February. Pentecost, the joyful conclusion of the season of Easter, will be celebrated on the 28th day of May. And this year the First Sunday of Advent will be on the 3rd day of December.

            To Jesus Christ, who was, who is, and who is to come, Lord of time and history, be endless praise, forever and ever. Amen.

The Story of this Parish Family

            On the cover of our Parish Bulletin, and in print and online forms, we offer a brief history of St. John, Apostle & Evangelist Parish, founded by the first Archbishop of St. Louis, Peter Richard Kenrick.  Following our celebration of the 175th Anniversary of the founding of the parish – our demisemiseptcentennial – a new paragraph in this story has been added:

            “For 175 years, St. John’s has been a spiritual oasis in the heart of center city St. Louis.  On 19 November 2022, the Solemnity of Christ the King, with the tenth Archbishop of St. Louis, Mitchell T. Rozanski, the parish celebrated this Demisemiseptcentennial Anniversary.”

Truth be told…

            The All Things New pastoral planning process for the Archdiocese of St. Louis continues to move forward.  All in our parish family were invited to a presentation in the parish hall on Wednesday, November 9th, for our specific “planning area” which encompasses most of the south city area.  Our five key parish leaders and I had seen a version of this plan some weeks before, and had the opportunity to offer comments and feedback.  We did.  Next, at the parish meeting, two draft models were presented for our future.  In both models, it is envisioned that St. John’s will be closed.  Our territorial boundaries, encompassing a large part of Downtown West, will be attached to the Old Cathedral on the Riverfront.  The disposition of our physical plant was not as yet considered.

            There was, then, an opportunity for those present at the listening session to offer preliminary comments and observations.  The strong emphasis during this time centered around the liabilities of such a configuration, and the desirability of an alternate configuration in which St. John’s would be retained as a functioning parish, and the Old Cathedral preserved for its historic significance and utilized for other appropriate purposes.  This same perspective was synopsized for us, in writing, by Dr. Dan O’Brien, and submitted to the Archdiocesan leadership.

            Until 31 December 2022, all in the Archdiocese had the opportunity to offer feedback and to suggest constructive alternatives to the draft models through an online survey.  There was an online open-ended form for this purpose.

            Now, between 1 January 2023 and 28 May 2023 the Archdiocesan leadership will be reviewing and refining the comments and proposals gleaned from the feedback survey.  From these the final proposed configuration for all of the Archdiocese of St. Louis will be established.  Archbishop Rozanski is scheduled to make this public on Pentecost Sunday, 28 May 2023.  The length of time for the implementation of the plan is, at this time, thought to be two-three years.  There is nothing, at this time, more specific than that.

            Truth be told, for me and for us, the draft models were not what we had hoped.  Disappointment and sadness were real.  Decisions, though, are not yet final.  All during the All Things New planning process we have been encouraged to pray.  Pray with me, now, please, for the Holy Spirit to inspire, with wisdom & insight & right-judgment, all involved in this historic and consequential reconfiguration of the Church of St. Louis.

In Brief

            A word of gratitude to all who had part in our preparation for, and celebration of the Christmas Season.  A word of gratitude, also, to parishioners and friends for your faithful and generous support of our mission and ministry year round!  God reward you as only He can!

            Contribution Statements for the year 2022 are being prepared and will be mailed to all households by January 23rd.

            Thanks to the Kutis Family of Funeral Homes for providing 2023 Parish Calendars.

            We continue to pray that Lubertha Bartee now sees God face to face.  We pray for Murry Velasco that her recovery is steady and her faith strong.

                                                                                    Faithfully, Monsignor Delaney