Fr. Daniel Gifford
HE CARES FOR US
Dear St. Louis Parishioners,
Pop Quiz: Do you remember how we began this Liturgical Year? On the First Sunday of Advent, we were introduced to a central truth about who God is, that has been revealed anew time and time again. God is Ever-Faithful. He always keeps His promises and He’s always there for us! The promise of the Good Shepherd, which fills our readings and our liturgies this Good Shepherd Sunday, is simply a reminder of this fact, that our God is ever-faithful. He cares for us and He will take care of our needs, as a good shepherd cares for his sheep. The earlier in life that we can learn this, the more deeply it is implanted into our minds and hearts. All sorts of challenging experiences in life can attempt to uproot this truth. But, the Lord always calls us back to Himself and plants this Seed of Hope and Life within us once more. Today, we honor two important ways that the Lord plants this Seed of Hope, which trusts in His everlasting faithfulness, deep within our hearts. The first is Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, an increasingly popular approach to the faith formation of children, that takes place in a specialized space, known as the atrium. “The Atrium is a place where the child can fall in love with God.” These words are often used in description of the atrium and with good reason! It
has been my observation that Catechesis of the Good Shepherd has a unique way of tapping into a child’s interior life and helping them to do so. For example, the prayer table (front cover) is a devotional space, that is normally set aside for the children themselves to set up. These hands on experiences enable tangible encounters with the goodness and love of God and also prompt them to offer a genuine response. This is the essence of falling in love with God. We must first realize that He loves us and then we respond with our love for Him. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd provides a unique space for this to be able to take place, that the faith, hope and love that are found only in God may be planted deep within their souls, from a very early age, and may continue to be nourished and to grow.
Of course, the place where we first learn what it means to be loved and to love in return is from our parents. In particular, our mothers have a privileged place in God’s plan as being the first ones to teach us of God’s love by caring for us and providing for us in tangible and direct ways, even before we are born. Since they have a privileged place in God’s plan for our growth in His love, they have also a privileged place in our hearts. By the love and care we receive from our mothers, we learn of the faithfulness of our God, who will always be there for us. On this Mother’s Day, we thank and honor all of our mothers! May the Lord continue to bless and keep them, that they may know of His faithfulness, goodness and love in the depths of their own hearts. And may we do the best to show them a glimpse of His goodness and love, by our own actions.
FIRST COMMUNION THANKS: Speaking of parents being the first to show us the love of God, I would like to express a word of thanks to all of the parents of our First Communion children, as they are the first educators of their children in the ways of the faith! As we still have this celebration in our recent memory, I also wish to express a word of thanks to Julia Mead, who helped to prepare them in the atrium and in the formation opportunities made available to their parents, as well as Renee Toomey, who was their teacher in the Sacramental Prep classroom at the beginning of each month.
TOTUS TUUS AND TOTUS TOTS: As we celebrate the conclusion for the year of
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd with Good Shepherd Sunday and of Sacramental Prep with First Communion, we now look forward to what we will offer our children during the summer. Last summer, I spoke fairly extensively about how Totus Tuus, which provides a day program for our children and an evening program for our Jr. High and High School age youth for one week of the summer presented by a team of trained missionaries traveling the diocese, is truly meant to be a moment of renewal for the whole parish. We sought to make this more of a reality last year, by providing an evening study and prayer opportunity for adults after the midweek potluck, as well as seeking to widely publicize the Masses, which are open to all! I am very excited to announce that we are taking this a step further by revamping our approach to include our youngest children, as well. This year, we are pleased to offer a kind of “pre-school” for Totus Tuus for our children which will be known as Totus Tots! Similar in some ways to the Vacation Bible School that has been offered in the past, Totus Tots will work to help our youngest children be a part of the program that the rest of the parish is engaged in and to give them a little taste of what they have to look forward to, but in a program offered by parish volunteers, who will work cooperatively with the Totus Tuus program. We are very excited about the promise this great new opportunity holds for our families. Totus Tuus and Totus Tots will take place on July 21-26. Find out more details at the June Stay and Play (June 9th).
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!