The Month of July 2019

My Friends,

“Deliver us from evil”
Over a period of several months, our Holy Father Francis presented a series of reflections on the “Our Father” at his Wednesday General Audience.  The following is a thought provoking summary of the last reflection in the series: “Deliver us from evil”.
Pope Francis reflected at length on the presence of evil in the world.  He said the word used in the original Greek evokes, “the presence of evil that seeks to grab hold and bite at us, and from which we ask God for delivery.”
There is a mysterious evil, “which is surely not the work of God, but which silently penetrates the folds of history.”
            The Holy Father noted, the person who prays is not blind and sees clearly that evil is in contradiction with the mystery of God.
“The last cry of the Our Father is hurled against this evil, which encompasses the most diverse experiences, including mourning, the suffering of innocents, slavery, the exploitation of others, and the cries of innocent children.”
            Covering the full range of evil, the Lord’s Prayer is like “a symphony that seeks to be fulfilled in each of us.”
Pope Francis said Jesus’ experience of death on the cross fulfilled the prayer He taught His disciples, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” No matter how much we are subjected to wickedness, Jesus will be at our side to save us.
“Jesus’ prayer leaves us the most precious inheritance: the presence of the Son of God who delivers us from evil. From Jesus’ forgiveness on the cross flows peace. True peace comes from the cross; it is the gift of the Risen One.”

On the Horizon
There has been considerable media coverage, by both Catholic and secular sources, of the fact that Archbishop Carlson, like all pastors, bishops and archbishops, by Church law, must submit his resignation as Archbishop of St. Louis on his 75th birthday.  On June 30th, the Archbishop reached seventy-five and submitted the required letter.  It is Pope Francis alone, in the matter of arch/bishops, who decides whether to accept the resignation promptly or to defer that to a later date.  We have no indication of the inclination of the Holy Father regarding the Archdiocese of St. Louis.  We wait, grateful for the ten years that Archbishop Carlson has been Pastor of the Church of St. Louis.  We pray, also, that when the time comes, the Pope names as 11th Bishop/10th Archbishop of St. Louis one who is a simple, wise, gentle and holy pastor.

The accomplishments realized during the service here of Archbishop Carlson are notable.  His unwavering commitment to the promotion of pro-life initiatives is one of them.  So also is his unwavering commitment to the promotion of quality Catholic education and faith-formation from elementary schools, to high schools, to adult faith formation.

The new Archbishop, nevertheless, will have to address significant challenges in this local Church. Over the last decade, baptisms for children younger than six declined 20% from 5,711 to 4,564 a year. Catholic school enrollment, in kindergarten through high school, declined 25% from 43,086 to 32,487. The number of parish schools declined 14% from 152 to 131, and parishes fell 3% from 185 to 179.

Much like many “municipalities” that want to retain their autonomy and identity, many parishes want to have their own pastor and parish school, despite fewer numbers of parishioners. A growing model, though, of several parishes supporting a consolidated parish school system in various parts of the archdiocese, is an encouraging example of working better together.

The population of the Archdiocese has been moving west from the riverfront for generations. Today, the three largest parishes are all in St. Charles County: St. Joseph in Cottleville, 18,060 parishioners; Immaculate Conception in Dardenne Prairie, 14,680 parishioners; and Assumption in O’Fallon, 9,885 parishioners.  Those three churches are served by nine priests, compared to 31 priests who lead 34,000 parishioners spread across in 26 south city parishes. Overall, the data collected annually, indicate that approximately one fourth of Catholics participate in Mass each week in the Archdiocese.
In 1999, we had 463 “active” priests serving our parishes.  Now that number is 324 “active” priests.  In coming years, the Ordination Classes of 1974 through 1977 – our largest classes in recent memory – will see some 60 priests reach the retirement age of seventy-five.  Ordinations in recent years numbered thirty-two priests.
That said, as a hymn refrain has it, “We rely on the power of God”!  And we pray that God will give us, as the Prophet Jeremiah proclaimed, “a future full of hope”.

In Brief
Last August we initiated Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament & Eucharistic Adoration every Saturday from 3:30-4:00 PM during the time when the Sacrament of Confession is available.  During this time, at most, there has been one person present for prayer.  Often that individual, because of scheduling demands, cannot be here.  The Church norms are that there must be at least one person present during Eucharistic Adoration.  For this reason it is necessary, effective Saturday, August 3rd, to discontinue Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament & Eucharistic Adoration.  The Sacrament of Confession will continue, from 3:30-4:00, to be available.
On Saturday, July 20th, parishioners Phillip Heslin and Cecilia (Cece) Reicher were united in the Sacrament of Holy Marriage here.  May the years be blessed.  And may the years be many!
Thursday, August 15, the feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, is a holyday of obligation.  Mass will be celebrated here at 7:10 in the morning on the holyday.
The Old Cathedral on the Riverfront and the College Church at Lindell and Grand, and St. Nicholas Church at 701 North 18th Street, offer Noon Masses for those who find that time more convenient.

Monsignor Delaney