• Fr. Daniel Gifford

VIRGIN MOST RENOWNED

Dear St. Louis Parishioners,

Earlier this week (Wednesday, December 12th), the Church celebrated the Feast of the Patroness of the Americas: Our Lady of Guadalupe! The image of Our Lady of

Guadalupe is found in our church on the front/north wall of the church, immediately to the right/east of the sanctuary (St. Joseph’s side). Last Sunday, at our special Advent Second Sunday Stay and Play PLUS, our own parishioner Jeff Peacock gave a brief, but enlightening little presentation about the apparition of Our Blessed Mother in Mexico in 1531, to Saint Juan Diego (whose feast day was on the church calendar for that day, although it was not observed this year, since it fell on a Sunday). If you are not familiar with the apparition, it is worth noting that the reason there is so little variation in images of Our Lady of Guadalupe is because the “official” image of her was not created by an artist, but miraculously left behind by Our Lady herself and equally miraculously preserved for hundreds of years. It has baffled skeptical scientists who studied it, only to reaffirm that it is indeed not man-made, as well as disappointed persecuting enemies of the Church, who sought to destroy it and failed. The imprint left on the tilma (Juan Diego’s cloak) is not only not made of paint or any artificial substance, it has been found to possess qualities normally only belonging to a living human person (I’ll let you do some research to find out the details). In browsing the Litany of Loreto to decide which title coincides best with Mama Guadalupe - as I like to call her - my eyes, mind and heart were immediately drawn to Virgin Most Renowned and Virgin Most Venerable. The reason for this choice is simple. The great renown, veneration and devotion given to “La Virgen” by the vast majority of the Mexican people, including Mexican Americans, is quite beautiful and profound to behold. In declaring her Patroness of the Americas, I believe St. John Paul II understood that this deep devotion would overflow into the rest of the American nations and would continue to spread, that her witness and her intercession may be seen and known to be a valuable gift of God, which would be instrumental in the ongoing evangelization and re-evangelization of the continents of North and South America. In this way, she stands for us as yet another sign of the fact that the renown, veneration and devotion we give to Our Blessed Mother is not for her own sake, apart from or in opposition to God. Her desire is always to point us to her Son, that we may grow in faith, hope and love, as intentional disciples of Jesus Christ, in the heart of the Church. May we renew this desire in our hearts as well.

NEW LITURGICAL MINISTERS: In recent months, we have seen many signs of the flowering of the seeds planted by our build-up to our Fall Kick-Off, with the weeks of reflection on the Pillars of Living Rooted in Communion (Prayer, Humility, Integrity, Responsibility, and Hospitality). At that Kick-Off, we had a number of parishioners sign up for various opportunities, including our Liturgical Ministries. Shortly after that, we began training new altar servers, and began Confirmation Prep classes, with those students signing up for ministries as well. For a variety of reasons related to scheduling, training and planning, many of these new liturgical ministries have been having their “debut” over these past couple of weeks. We have seen new lectors, ushers, servers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, sacristans and also the return of our cantors at Mass! It is very exciting to see more parishioners (including our youth) getting more involved in our parish and even in our Liturgy. Thanks to all who have stepped up and keep up the good work. If you’re interested in joining the ranks of any of these ministries, let us know.

NEW TRUSTEE: Over the summer, as we made preparations for the coming year, one of our longtime trustees, Joanne Stocking, made the decision to step down from her position after seven years of service to our parish in this capacity, including as a member of our Parish Finance Committee. More recently, Mary Paula Schmitt agreed to step into the role of parish trustee in her place. I want to personally and publically thank Joanne for her years of service. I also want to thank Mary Paula for her willingness to step up into this new and important role, after having already given so many years of service to our parish.

In Christ through Mary, Fr. Gifford

St. Louis, pray for us!

Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!