Weekly pastor’s post (August 27)

This Sunday we offered our goodbyes and thanks to Deacon Kirk Altenhofen as he celebrated his last Masses at Saint Mark parish. As I mentioned in last week’s pastor’s post, he has served faithfully at nearly every liturgy, coordinated our faith formation programs, and offered himself in ministry for the last several years. We have been blessed to have him. Please join me in praying for him as he discerns how God is calling him in his vocation as husband, father, and deacon.

This last week also saw the last of our ‘Ask Me Anything’ summer series. Thank you to Dane for leading the conversation on suffering, as well as fielding the many questions that were offered across a variety of topics. Despite it being the final session, we had 30+ folks come to share in food, fellowship, and faith sharing. This is definitely something we hope to revisit in the future.

There was one question asked that comes up with some regularity in parishes: ‘why don’t we more frequently use Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion’? As you might imagine, this is especially relevant given that I will be the only cleric at Masses starting next month! The short answer is that that the name of such ministers gives away the intention of the Church: that they are extraordinary (ie, out of the ordinary).

In 2004, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament (now called the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments) released a document called Redemptionis Sacramentum. Among many other things, it explicitly speaks to how Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (Redemptionis Sacramentum, 154-160) may only assist at Mass for sufficient reason. The teaching document even goes so far as to name brief prolongation of the Mass as insufficient reason for their use. If you’re interested in learning more about this, I highly recommend reading the whole section of the document – it is just a few paragraphs and is both enlightening & edifying.

This is not to say we don’t need help at our parish – especially at Mass! As the summer comes to an end, we are in real need of assistance for a number of ministries in & out of Mass: lectors, ushers, confirmation (youth) and RCIA (adult converts) teachers, in particular. And if there is some other way you’d like to be involved at the parish, please give us a shout!

Finally, please keep our parish and our archdiocese in your prayers, especially in the coming weeks. As you know, Partners in the Gospel is rolling out – we will be having our own input session on the draft family configuration on Thursday, September 28. As we discern how God is calling us locally and beyond, may we be sure to entrust ourselves to His loving will.

Yours in Christ,

Father Maurer

Monday, August 28 – Bishop of Hippo and a Doctor of the Church, Saint Augustine not only had great influence during his lifetime but continues to provide inspiration & wisdom to modern Christians. One of the greatest Catholic minds of history, his works are cited throughout the Catechism, Church documents, and by Christians worldwide.

Saint Augustine never failed to credit his faith, rooted as it is in Christ, as having been placed in his heart through the intercession of his mother, Saint Monica (whose feast day, August 27, is not celebrated this year because it lands on a Sunday). Despite his wanderlust – and oh how he wandered! – it was his mother’s faith that ultimately brought him to Christ. Finally sharing the faith here on earth, they yet looked to heaven – one such conversation is recorded by Saint Augustine in his book, Confessions (you can read about it, and them both, at Aleteia). May we ask the intercession of these two faithful saints, and pray for our own conversion, and that of the whole world.

Tuesday, August 29 – Though he famously said ‘I must decrease, he must increase’, we nonetheless celebrate Saint John the Baptist in the liturgical calendar – on the feast of his birth (June 24) and today, the Passion of Saint John the Baptist. Though he was known on earth for his prophetic lifestyle (and wardrobe!) and his role in preparing the way for Christ, perhaps his greatest triumph was offering his life for the Lord – first in stepping aside when his role as “the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord'” (John 1:23), and lastly in his martyrdom at the hands of Herod.

May we, like Saint John the Baptist, humbly embrace our own vocations! Though we are small in comparison to the Lord, He no less treasures our part in His plan. Let us witness to Christ in our words and our work – perhaps asking along the way for the gift of humility in all we do.

Funeral Mass for Thomas Egan (August 24, 2023)

The family of Thomas Egan would like to invite Saint Mark parish to join them at the funeral Mass offered for him – to be celebrated later today, August 24, 2023. The Mass will be celebrated at 11:00 am – all are welcome. The family has prepared an obituary, which can be found by clicking this sentence.

Let us pray together for Thomas, his family, and all who love them. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon his. May his soul rest in peace. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Saint Mark parish

Weekly pastor’s post (August 20)

A month of pastor’s posts! Thank you to everyone who has offered encouragement to continue these – I’ve been having a blast putting them together (and learning about the saints as I research the upcoming liturgical feasts!).

Yes, we WILL have bouncy houses.
….no, adults can’t use them (I asked 😕)

With the summer coming to a close, there’s a lot to look forward. The most immediate is our ‘End of Summer’ BBQ, happening this Sunday after Masses (11:30 am to 1:30 pm). These picnic-style barbecues started as a post-pandemic effort to rekindle our connections as a community. While we had hopes, we never dreamed how popular they would be and how much folks with rally around them. I hope you’ll come for some food, stay for some fraternity, and enjoy a pleasant afternoon with your fellow parishioners.

This Sunday is also the last weekend with Deacon Kirk at Saint Mark parish. He will be sorely missed. Even before he was ordained, Deacon Kirk was volunteering frequently at our parish. During the pandemic he was assisting at the altar at practically every Mass and building remote programs for baptism, confirmation, RCIA, and weddings. Though he has been away from Saint Mark parish every third Sunday, this wasn’t a day off – he travels north to his son’s parish to assist and preach at the Spanish-speaking Mass there. Though I suspect he might be embarrassed by our attention, I nonetheless hope you’ll join me in offering personal thanks to him for his generous sharing of his time & talents and for his faithful ministry to our community.

Well, not NASA… but our parish needs your help!

I would be remiss if I didn’t also point out that our community is going to need many hands to help assist in ministry in the coming weeks and months. As of right now, we have exactly one person to lead RCIA classes for new adult Catholics, confirmation classes for our youth, baptismal preparation for expecting parents, and wedding instruction for engaged couples: the pastor. And while I am eager to see these ministries through, the fact of the matter is that I will not be able to do this alone. Please prayerfully consider sharing your faith with new Catholics, with our youth, with expecting parents, and couples preparing for marriage. More to come on this, but it’s not too soon to invite the Lord to help you discern if He is calling you to assist.

Finally, I want to follow up on my homily from Sunday, albeit tangentially. In just a few weeks, we’ll be entering the next phase of the archbishop’s pastoral project Partners in the Gospel. The long and short is that every parish in the archdiocese is going to be part of a parish family – a joining of 2-3 parishes under one pastor and (possibly) a parochial vicar. The draft of parish family configurations will be announced in September – with an input session for parishioners to follow afterward. For many Catholics, this has not been something that has received a lot of attention – I strongly encourage you to visit our dedicated Partners in the Gospel page, read some of the materials there – perhaps starting with the most recent letter from the archbishop.

One of Deacon Kirk’s go-to lines that I especially appreciate is that “the Lord is going to do something amazing”. Of course, only He knows what that will be! As for us, we will simply have to follow the Lord, trusting – as we know we can – that He works all things for our good. Let us continue to pray for each other, and work so as to build up the Body of Christ.

Yours in Christ,

Father Maurer

Monday, August 21 – Pope Pius X is often only associated with the schismatic acts of Archbishop Lefebvre, founder of the Society of Saint Pius X – a group of irregularly ordained clerics who have yet to be reconciled with the Church even today. Lost in the noise is the fidelity and example of Pope Pius X himself, whose motto was “Restore all things in Christ”. I encourage you to take some time to learn about him, his life, and his ministry as we celebrate his memorial today.

Tuesday, August 22 – As we celebrate today the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we would do well to look to the Jewish tradition of the Queen Mother. Widow of the former king, mother of the new king, she was both advisor to the new king and advocate for the people. If that sounds familiar, good! Though Jesus has no need for an advisor, He nonetheless opens Himself to her intercession on our behalf – may we be sure to ask for her aid as we seek to follow Him.

Wednesday, August 23 – Saint Rose of Lima is perhaps most known for her persevering devotion and willingness to endure even great suffering on behalf of Christ and her love for Him. Read more about her at Franciscan Media as we celebrate her memorial today.

Thursday, August 24 – One of the twelve Apostles, Saint Bartholomew is said to have traveled to India to preach the Gospel before going on to Armenia. He is considered one of the co-patrons of the Church in Armenia. Unfortunately, apart from what is mentioned in Scripture, little of his life & work is known outside of tradition and legend. Nonetheless, we celebrate his feast today and thank God for his witness! Read more about him at uCatholic.