Fr. Daniel Gifford
LIFE AND VOCATION
Dear St. Louis Parishioners,
How interesting that we move from Father’s Day to the reflection upon the birth of a long-awaited son, as we celebrate the Nativity of John the Baptist! With this celebration, we seek to enter into the ecstatic joy of Zechariah and Elizabeth, those holy parents who rejoiced at the gift of this child, who was such an essential part of God’s plan for salvation. Indeed, it is a good time to reflect on the dignity of each and every human life, all of whom are destined to play an important role in God’s plan. With each and every human life, we are led to wonder at God’s will, which is a beautiful mystery that begins to unfold over the course of our lifetime. And yet, the importance of each life within God’s plan still continues to unfold even after death, as we can never know fully until heaven how our lives impact the lives of those around us, and indeed the generations that follow after us. So, this week, we begin to work our way around the Life Garden, in our weekly “Images of Saint Louis” bulletin feature. As we enter the garden, we are greeted by the child (front cover), who reminds us both of the call to have the faith of a child, and also of this mystery of the dignity of each life, all of whom hold infinite value in the beautiful plan hidden in the secret of God’s Heart.
STEUBENVILLE FOLLOW-UP: I would like to express my overwhelming and heartfelt gratitude to all of our parishioners and friends, who were lifting up our 14 teenagers and 4 chaperones attending the Steubenville Youth Conference in prayer. Your prayers have been answered and I ask that they continue. By now, some of you have probably heard that they are all safely home. However, there was a tragic incident during their drive home, in which a number of them witnessed a very serious multi-vehicular collision before their eyes, which did involve fatalities, and numerous indications point toward it having been an intentional act. By the grace of Almighty God, they narrowly escaped being directly involved, as two of our vehicles were among the first ones on the scene, not actually in the accident. While we continue to keep in prayer those who were lost and injured, and all those who grieve them, my heart resounds with the hearts of our parents, family and friends in abundant gratitude to God for the safety of our youth and chaperones. I am also grateful to our chaperones, for all of their incredible efforts to keep our youth safe, especially our drivers, as their fast reaction time is one among many factors, which resulted in their safety. I am also grateful to our youth themselves, who exhibited incredible courage, kindness and grace, as some were attending to the wounded, as they waited for the arrival of emergency personnel, others led their peers in prayer, and still others waited patiently and selflessly at a rest stop, for hours knowing that their peers were still stuck behind unmoving traffic, amidst the horrible wreckage. I hope this will always be a reminder to them, especially coming off the experience of the conference, of the presence of God in the midst of tragedy and trials, and of how He can work powerfully through us, to make His presence known to others. While we have many reasons to be abundantly grateful to Almighty God, there is no denying the traumatic nature of what they experienced. For this reason, I ask your continued prayers for them.
Regarding the Conference itself, I continue to hear beautiful stories from the teens and chaperones about their experience, which will continue to bear fruit over their lives. Hopefully, next week, after we’ve had more time to regroup, we can share with you a few more glimpses of their experience.
PASTOR INSTALLATION: You may recall, a few weeks ago, I announced that next Sunday (July 1st) is the date when I will officially be installed as Pastor of Saint Louis Church. The title of Administrator is the official, formal title given to those priests (especially to relatively newer priests, who have only been assistants in the past, like yours truly) given all of the duties, responsibilities, and authority of pastor, in order to care for the needs of the parish, but without the title and the stability that generally comes with it. It is usually the case that, after about a year, when the situation indicates that the placement is indeed a “good fit” for both priest and parish, the title of pastor is formally granted by the bishop. This takes the form of a “new assignment” technically, which took effect on June 13th, along with the other new assignments in the diocese. However, the office of pastor is only officially taken up after an installation occurs, in the form of the local vicar (in our case, Fr. Gary Blake, pastor of Holy Family in Oglesby) coming to receive his oath of fidelity and profession of faith, in the presence of the congregation. This will occur at the 10:30 Mass, next Sunday, July 1st. It has been a wonderful ten months and I am honored, humbled, and overjoyed at the opportunity to begin officially serving as your pastor.
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!