Author Archives: DMiller

July 15, 2018 – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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July 15, 2018

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there & shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.”

The Priesthood Series

Article 5 – The priesthood in the scriptures (Part 2)

There are several examples in the New Testament of priests in the early Church.  In Greek, the word “presbyter” (literally “elder”) is usually used to designate a priest.  And as the Apostles establish new Christian communities, they appoint “elders” to lead them.

Acts 14:23 describes how Paul and Barnabas “appointed elders for [the believers] in every church”.

St. Paul writes to Timothy: “If you put these instructions before the brethren, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus….Command and teach these things.  Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.  Till I come, attend to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching, to teaching.  Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the elders laid their hands upon you” (1 Timothy 4:6-14).  And St. Paul adds in his Second Letter to Timothy: “I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6).

In this, St. Paul, an Apostles (and thus a bishop), is writing to the Timothy, and instructing him to preach and teach with authority, because he has been ordained by God through the laying on of hands of other elders.  This laying on of hands is exactly how Catholic priests are still ordained today.

St. Paul also instructs new elders not only to teach and govern, but also to continue the apostolic succession by appointing additional elders.  St. Paul writes to Titus: “This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you” (Titus 1:5).

Note how the new “elders” do not appoint themselves, nor does the local community appoint or “hire” them, rather, elders are always appointed by current apostles or elders.  This has been the practice of the Catholic Church since the beginning, as the Letter to the Hebrews says, “no one takes this honor upon himself, but only he who is called by God” (Hebrews 5:4).

And in the Acts of the Apostles, we again hear St. Paul remind the elders that they were appointed by the Holy Spirit: St. Paul “called to him the elders of the Church.  And when they came to him, he said to them….Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians, to feed the Church of the Lord” (Acts 17-28).

The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is described as being administered only by priests: “Is any among you sick?  Let him call for the elders [priests] of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:14-15).

And one final example is St. Paul speaking about his authority to speak and act in the name of Christ: “People must think of us as Christ’s servants, stewards entrusted with the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1).  A steward is one who acts in another’s name.  Thus, claiming to act as a “steward of the mysteries of God”, means one has the power to reveal or make present the mysteries of God.  This is amazing.  This is the task of the priest, to reveal or make present the mysteries of God; to represent God to his people.

Next up, I will begin addressing current “hot topics”.  The first will be the question of priestly celibacy.  Stay tuned!

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

 

July 8, 2018 – 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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July 8, 2018

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”

 

The Priesthood Series

Article 4 – The priesthood in the scriptures (Part 1)

 

 

There are many scripture passages which relate to the priesthood.  This week I will focus on the words of Jesus.

Jesus said to Simon Peter, “I tell you, you are Peter, and   on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18-20).

John chapter 17 is called the “High priestly prayer of Jesus” as he prays for his apostles during the Last Supper.  During this prayer Jesus said, “I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world….Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.  And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth” (John 17:9,17-19).  The beginning of this quote shows that Jesus was very intentional in praying specifically for his apostles.  He then declares that they are consecrated before the Father just as he is.

Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’  And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20:21-23).  Again, Jesus is present just with his apostles, and he gives them his own power to forgive sins in his name.  And not only that, he says that they are sent out by him just as he has been sent out by his Father.  In other words, they are to go out to the world and teach and act In Persona Christi—in the person of Christ.

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.’” (Luke 22:19).  Notice Jesus says “Do this”; he didn’t say “Go write down my words”.  Thankfully the apostles did write down Jesus’ words, but even before they wrote anything, they began “doing this in remembrance of Jesus”, in other words, they began celebrating the Mass and consecrating the Body and Blood of Jesus as he commanded them to.

Now the eleven disciples when to Galilee….And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20).  Jesus claims universal and absolute power.  And again, Jesus is present only with his (now 11) apostles.  In this statement Jesus is not simply designating his apostles as his minions who just talk about him, but they have his own authority.  This is why Jesus begins by declaring his authority—“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”—and then immediately adds—“Go therefore!  And make disciples…”—they are sent out to act in the name and with the power of Jesus himself.  Just as Jesus had previously given Peter the power of binding and loosing in heaven and on earth (Matt 16:19), so now Jesus gives this power over heaven and earth to all 11 apostles.

Additionally, this passage shows the very practical necessity for there to be leaders in the Church that Jesus has established, not just in the first century, but until “the end of the age”.  For, without leaders, how could the Church continue?  How could the words of Jesus, the faith, authentically and completely be taught?  Without leaders who have the authority to speak and act in the name of Jesus we would be on our own to try to read the scriptures and try to interpret them for ourselves (which is why we now have more than 30,000 different Protestant denominations…because each of these is another group or individual claiming that they properly interpret the scriptures.)  Thankfully, because Jesus gave his authority to his apostles and their successors, the Catholic Church has always authentically taught the fullness of the Truth of Jesus, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”.

 

June 24, 2018 – The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

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June 24, 2018

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

“What then will this child be?  For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.”

 

The Priesthood Series

Article 3 – What does a priest do?

The most basic definition of a priest is a mediator between God and men.  This is what we see in priests throughout every time and culture.  The priest offers sacrifice to God, and sends the blessing of God to His people.

More specifically, Catholic priests have two major duties: Preaching, and celebrating the Sacraments.

Those are duties for all priests.  Beyond that, a priest may exercise his priesthood and a variety of specific “jobs”, such as a parish priest, a teacher, a hospital chaplain, etc.  However, the identity and primary duties of a priest are universal and do not depend upon his particular job.

The Church teaches that priests “have the primary duty of proclaiming the Gospel of God to all.  In this way they fulfill the command of the Lord: ‘Go therefore into the whole world preaching the Gospel to every creature’ ” (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 4).  It likewise states that priests fulfill their “principle function” in celebrating the Eucharist (cf. PO, 12).  So on the one hand, the priest’s “primary duty” is to preach the Gospel, while on the other hand his “principle function”, is to celebrate the Eucharist.

While at first this might seem like a contradiction, the two actually are in perfect harmony.  If the preaching function comes first in the chronological order, it follows that the Eucharistic Liturgy must count as the culmination of priestly action.  And this makes perfect sense, for, “How can they call on the one of whom they have not heard….faith comes by hearing” (Romans 10:14,17), and the purpose of all faith and calling on God is Communion with God: “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).

And we see these two duties of the priest come together perfectly in the Mass.  The first part of the Mass is the preaching of the Word of God, and the second part of the Mass is the celebration of Eucharist.  Just as a priest’s duty of preaching leads people to Christ, so too in the Mass the celebration of the Word leads us to Christ in the Eucharist.

As the Synod of Bishops in 1971 said, “The ministry of the Word, if rightly understood, leads to the sacraments and to the Christian life, as it is practiced in the visible community of the Church and in the world….Unity between evangelization and sacramental life is always proper to the ministerial priesthood and must be carefully kept in mind by every priest.”

Other duties of the priest include: Shepherding the faithful; Presenting the needs and prayers of the faithful to God, and uniting the prayers of the faithful to that of Christ; Exercising the ministry of alleviation and reconciliation for the sick and sinners; etc.  In everything, the nature of the priesthood is one of service.  In imitation of the Lord, a priest must serve like the Lord, and for the glory of the Lord.

In conclusion, the priest is a mediator between God and men.  As Scripture says, there is “one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ” (1 Tim 2:5), and the priest stands in the person of Christ as he offers prayers “for everyone—petitions, intercessions, and thanksgiving” (1 Tim 2:1).  The priest is a mediator through his participation in the mediation of Christ.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

 

June 17, 2018 – 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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June 17, 2018

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Father’s Day

“With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.”

 

Fatherhood

This weekend I am preaching on the topic of fatherhood.  God created men to protect, provide, and lead.  And God has entrusted to most men the special task of protecting, providing for, and leading a wife and children.  To offer his strength to serve his wife and children.  Every man wants to be strong—not only physical strength, but also to know “I have what it takes” no matter what comes, “I am a man”.

It can be easy to see this working on a natural level, for example, if an intruder came into the house at night, what would you do?  Would you go confront the intruder, and if needed defend your family from him?  Or, would you rather make your wife do that?  This isn’t just a “cultural stereotype” to say that the man should be the one to protect his family from physical danger, it is part of his nature.  Women have a protecting spirit too, but it looks different.  She would run to the children’s room, comfort them, hide them or try to get them to safety.  She would defend herself and the children if she had to, but not in the same aggressor way.  Woman was not created to be an aggressor.  Man was.  We were created to attack things, to go on the offensive.

When boys grow up, they love attacking things.  This is why they play cops and robbers; why they fight with swords; and why they like to whack things to kingdom come—baseballs, golf balls, etc.  But as boys grow up, they need to learn to focus their strength in order to serve, and this is especially true when it comes to fatherhood.

We easily recognize on the natural level that a man must be ready and willing to protect, provide, and lead, but a man was also created to do this on the supernatural level as well.  In our world today, there are so many things that attack us, that attack your families and children, and try to lead them away from God and His Church.  And it is your duty as a father to protect them from these evils, to provide for their spiritual growth, and lead them in holiness.  Fathers need to be willing to go on the offensive, to confront the evils coming against their families, and teach their children to face and resist falsehood and evil.

As the head of his household, a man has the responsibility of knowing the faith, teaching the faith, and to defend his family from things that might lead them away from the faith.

Often times, women are the primary spiritual leaders in their home.  And it is very good for her to be nurturing the faith of her children, but the husband must be actively supporting.  If a father is passive, or worse, if he doesn’t support his wife in teaching the faith, then no matter what she teaches the children, they will almost never stay in the faith as adults.  The father’s role cannot be underestimated.  Men, you need to actively assist your wives in teaching your children the faith, you need to be the first in encouraging and demanding your family get to Mass every Sunday, and pray every day.  If you are simply among the children as those “herded” by your wife to church and only pray when she initiates it, then your children will learn from your example that the faith really isn’t that important.

A father cannot help but lead his family, lead his children, in one direction or another.  Either by his active leading, or his passive non-leading, the children will learn from you and follow you.

Every married man wants to be a good husband and father, but this takes serious effort.  As men we need to help one another to step up and meet the challenge.

I invite all men to a special talk on Fatherhood I will be giving this Thursday night, June 21st, at 7pm in the church.  I hope to see you there.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

June 10, 2018 – 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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June 10, 2018

10th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

The Priesthood Series

Article 2 – The identity of a priest

In talking about the priesthood, we might begin by talking about what a priest does.  But before we do that, we need to talk about what a priest is.  For, a priest is not defined primarily by what he does, but by who he is.  So, let us begin by looking at the identity of a priest.

The Letter to the Hebrews says that Jesus Christ is our “great high priest” (Heb 4:14).  And as the Church teaches, “The priest is a living and transparent image of Christ the priest” (Pastores Dabo Vobis, 12).  Therefore, to understand the identity of a priest, we must understand the priesthood of Christ.

Let me begin with a quote from a book called The Charism of Priestly Celibacy (a topic we will cover soon):

When we priests kiss the altar, we are making a very public gesture in the presence of those gathered for the Eucharist; but at the same time kissing the altar is an intensely private gesture, an act of affection and surrender, an act of love and trust.  Even more to the point, the priest’s kiss of the altar is an act of identification: he is proclaiming to Christ, to himself, and to his parishioners that it is Christ the Priest who makes him who he is.  We kiss the altar, which is a sign of the Lord himself, the sacrifice of Calvary, and the table of the Last Supper.  Everything we do flows from the altar and back to it.  The kiss symbolizes our daily embrace of the sacrifice of Christ as our way of life, for on the day of our ordination we were totally and irrevocably joined in character to him.”  (pg. 138)

This “character” that is mentioned is important to understand.  When a man is ordained, a mark, or a character, is put on his soul which identifies him with Christ the priest.  Just as in baptism and confirmation we received a special character that is permanent (also called an indelible mark), so too in ordination a special character is given to the soul.  This character is an identification with Jesus Christ, our high priest.  And it is because of this priestly character that the priest is able to act in the person of Christ.

This is why the priest speaks in the name of Christ when celebrating the sacraments.  He says, “I baptize you…”, “I absolve you…”, and “This is my body…”.  The priest cannot say these words just because he’s really talented, or because he wants to claim the authority of God— “Who but God alone can forgive sins?” (Mark 2:7).  No one could claim such authority simply as a human being, only through the power of Christ.  As the Second Vatican Council document Lumen Gentium says: Through priests, “our Lord Jesus Christ, the supreme high priest, is present in the midst of those who believe” (LG 21).  So a priest does not act in his own name, but in the name of Christ.

There is only o ne priesthood: that of Jesus Christ.  And every Catholic priest is ordained into this one priesthood of Jesus Christ.  The power and authority of the priest comes solely through his identity with Christ and His priesthood.

The “doing” of the priest must flow from his “being”.  So now that we know the identity of a priest, we can talk about what the priest does.  Stay tuned for next time…

 

Save the date: Father’s Day is coming up soon, and I will be giving a talk on Fatherhood on Thursday, June 21st, at 7pm.  I gave this talk at my previous parish last year and it was very well received.  I encourage all the men of the parish to attend.

June 3, 2018 – The Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ – Corpus Christi

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June 3, 2018

The Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ – Corpus Christi

“Take it; this is my body”

“This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.”

 

Understanding the Eucharist

 

This month’s Lighthouse CD is Understanding the Eucharist by Dr. Scott Hahn.

This is a very powerful CD explaining the meaning of the Mass and the Eucharist.  Dr. Scott Hahn was once a militant opponent of the Catholic Church, and is now one of the leading theologians in America today.  In this CD he highlights the key misunderstandings people have about the Eucharist and explains the Church’s teaching from a scriptural and historical perspective.

Whether you feel you know a lot about the Eucharist already or very little, I guarantee that this talk will help deepen your understanding of the Eucharist and the Mass.  I have learned a lot from this talk, and every time I listen to it I think I hear something new and grow in my own love for Christ in the Eucharist.

I thought this talk would especially be appropriate to debut on Corpus Christi Sunday, which is the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist.

Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist is one of the most amazing gifts of our faith.  The very fact that Jesus is always with us, not just spiritually, but also sacramentally, is so incredible.  And as Jesus promised us in John 6, “If you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have eternal life.”  I encourage all parishioners to not only be faithful to Sunday Mass to receive Jesus, but also to continue growing in our knowledge and love of Jesus in the Eucharist.

If it would be easier for you to listen to this (or any other Lighthouse CD talk) as an MP3, rather than on CD, please talk to me.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

Published by:

MAY 27, 2018

The Most Holy Trinity

 

Note: This is the first article in a series that Fr. VanDenBroeke is writing on The Priesthood

Article 1 – Statistics

The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), from Georgetown University, publishes yearly statistics about the ordination of priests around the United States.  We can see great hope in the fact that there were 548 men ordained priests last year!  Additionally, 4 men were just ordained this weekend for our Archdiocese.  This number has been growing since the year 2000, when only 442 men were ordained priests, but it is still down dramatically from the year 1965 when 994 men were ordained priests.

Please continue to pray for more priests.  However, praying for them is not enough, we must also encourage young men (perhaps your own children or grandchildren) to consider discerning a call to the priesthood.  The CARA survey said that, on average, 4 people encouraged each of the men who were ordained to consider a vocation.  In other words, it is important young men be encouraged not just by one person, but by several people to consider the seminary.  The most influential people who encouraged most men to join the seminary were: Parish priests, Friends, Parishioners, and Mothers.  Sadly, almost half of the priests ordained last year said they were discouraged by at least two people from entering the seminary.  We must be encouraging, not discouraging, of our young people considering a call to the priesthood.

Did you know that priests are among the happiest people in any way of life or vocation in the United States?  A large scale survey was conducted a few years ago which determined that priests are remarkably happy, are less likely to be depressed or to suffer “burn-out” than other careers, and are largely at peace with the demands of the priestly life, including the requirement of lifelong celibacy.  These findings are published in a book called “Why priests are happy”, by Stephen J. Rossetti.

The findings of this study that priests are truly happy is really important to hear, because I think there can be conflicting thoughts in our minds saying, on the one hand, “we need priests if we are going to have the sacraments”, and on the other hand, “I wouldn’t want my own son/friend to become a priest because the priesthood is a sad, lonely, and unsatisfying existence”.  That might be what our culture would like everyone to think, but that simply isn’t true.  The data shows the opposite, that priests are truly happy and satisfied.  And I can personally testify to the fact that I love being a priest, and I would encourage any young man who had thoughts of priesthood to look into it further.

Journalist John L. Allen Jr. sums up the findings of the priest survey with these words: “…It would all boil down to this.  The priests of this country obviously love serving you and ministering to you, because otherwise there’s no way to explain why they’re basically happy, in the teeth of a culture which constantly tells them they’re not supposed to be.

We need more priests.  We need men to give up their lives for Jesus Christ now.  Pray for your priests, and pray for more priests.  Encourage your sons, grandsons, god-children, nephews, neighbors, friends, and parishioners to consider the priesthood.  As Archbishop Flynn says, “If I had a hundred lives, I’d live every one of them as a priest.”

To live in the midst of the world,

Without wishing its pleasures;

To be a member of each family,

Yet belonging to none;

To share all sufferings;

To penetrate all secrets;

To heal all wounds;

To go from men to God

And offer Him their Prayers;

To return from God to men

To bring pardon and hope;

To have a heart of fire for charity

And a heart of bronze for chastity;

To teach and to pardon,

Console and bless always–

What a glorious life!

And it is yours,

O Priest of Jesus Christ!                -Henri-Dominique Lacordaire, OP

 

Stay tuned next week for more information on the priesthood…

 

 

CORPUS CHRISTI PROCESSION

I want to personally invite everyone, especially those from the various liturgical ministries at IC, to attend the 10:00AM Mass next Sunday, June 3rd.  At the end of this Mass we will have a Eucharistic Procession around the block and then return to the Church for Benediction.

 

May 20, 2018 – PENTECOST SUNDAY

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 MAY 20, 2018

Pentecost Sunday

 

“Everything that the Father has is mine”

GOD BLESS OUR GRADUATES

We are honoring and celebrating our Immaculate Conception Parish 2018 High School Graduates at our 5:00 PM Mass 

We wish them well, & offer our prayers for their success in the future.  

Katie Calliguri

Daughter of Jim & Marcy Calliguri

Ronan Carston-Fix

Son of James & Elizabeth Daleiden

Jack Dooley

 Son of Dave & Mary Dooley

Jadon Duban

Son of Scott & Theresa Duban

Logan Geer

Son of Shannon & Kristen Geer

Grace Jacobs

Daughter of Janet Jacobs

Cole Kaderlik

Son of Mike & Andrea Kaderlik

Ashley Kes

Daughter of Tim & Kim Kes

Kaitlyn Koktavy

Daughter of Thomas & Jenni Koktavy

Zachary Mikel

Son of Brian & Cathy Mikel

Emma Sickmann

Daughter of Paula and Trent Vinge and David Sickmann

Isaac Simon

Son of Bruce & Ann Simon

Jack Skluzacek

Son of Tim & +Lisa Skluzacek

Katelyn Sticha

Daughter of Scott & Theresa Sticha

Tommy Witte

Son of Bridget Leirer

Faith is not knowing what the future holds, but knowing Who holds the future.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We offer our special prayers and Congratulations to the following students, who will graduate from Holy Cross Catholic School on Thursday, May 24, 2018

 Dustin Anderson, Daughter of Dennis & Denise Anderson

John Benolkin, Son of Jake & Sara Benolkin

Maggie Flicek, Daughter of Joe & Melissa Flicek

Ellie Fredrickson, Daughter of Duane & Anne Fredrickson

Macey Hager, Daughter of Jon & Selena Hager

Maggie Havlicek, Daughter of Tim & Molly Havlicek

Abigail Kugler, Daughter of Keith & Diana Kugler

Maria McCabe, Daughter of Tom & Barb McCabe

Levi Meyer, Son of Ed & Dana Murphy-Meyer

Carter Pavek, Son of Joe & Sarah Pavek

Nolan Revak, Son of Justin & Jill Revak

Fernando Reyes, Son of Francisco Reys & Erika Rodriguiz

Justin Simones, Son of Jon & Jessica Simones

Abigail Wight, Daughter of Bob & Jennifer Wight

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke

Pastor’s column for May 20, 2018

Altar Boys, Cassocks, and Sacristans

Before Vatican II (1962-1965), all parishes had altar boys and they wore cassocks (black robes).  Following Vatican II, many parishes went to boys and girls serving, and the servers wearing albs (white robes).  We are now seeing a growing trend of parishes returning to cassocks and altar boys.  There are two primary reasons for this.

1) The altar servers are an extension of the priest’s own ministry of serving the altar of God, thus, it is fitting that they, like priests, should be male.  2) Vocations to the priesthood are often more abundant from parishes where the altar boys wear cassocks.

To begin discussing this topic, we need to begin by asking: Why do we have altar servers at all?  What is their ministry or service for?  The fact is, we could quite easily celebrate Mass without altar servers (I do it almost every day for daily Mass).  However, having altar servers does add a lot to the Mass, for they are able to carry things in procession, bring things to and from the altar, hold things for the priest, and generally assist the priest in anything he needs.  That being said, we cannot look at altar serving simply as a practical “we need someone to carry or hold this, and anybody will do”.  Rather, we need to understand altar serving as a role (or ministry) at Mass which is an extension of the priest’s own ministry.

Just as the ministry of the priest is not merely practical, “we just need someone to stand in front of everyone and lead prayers”, but rather is very symbolic as the priest stands in persona Christi, in the person of Christ.  So too, an altar server is not just functional, but also symbolic, as they are an extension of the priest’s ministry at the altar.

This is the reason that altar boys have traditionally worn cassocks to serve at Mass.  A cassock is clerical (or priestly) attire.  When the servers wear cassocks, they almost look like little priests by what they wear.  This historically was very intentional, to visibly remind us that the server’s ministry flows from the priest’s ministry.

Note: I’ve written a whole series of articles on the priesthood, which I will begin publishing in the bulletin soon, and in these articles I explain why the priesthood is reserved only to men.  In short: because only a man can be ordained in the person of Christ, who himself was a man.  Christ is the bridegroom and the Church is his bride.  And only a man can be a bridegroom.  This is why only a man can be a “sacramental” presence of Christ, i.e. a priest.  And flowing from this, the altar servers assist with the priestly ministry.  Thus, it is appropriate that the altar servers be boys and wear clerical attire, showing their union with the priest.

There is something awe inspiring about seeing boys wearing cassocks in the sanctuary.  I have had several parishioners make this comment to me when they have seen some of the boys wearing them for Mass, and how fitting and sacred it feels to see the altar servers this way.  I think the reason it feels more sacred or more fitting is that we subconsciously understand this powerful connection between the priest and the altar servers when we see them wearing cassocks.

Additionally, boys being invited to be altar servers has always been an important invitation to them to seriously consider the priesthood as a possible vocation that God might be calling them to.  Statistics show that 70% of priests were altar servers when they were younger.  This closeness to the priest helped foster a desire to consider the priesthood for themselves.  For me personally, being an altar server was very instrumental in my own vocational discernment, and I want to strongly encourage this for all the boys here at our parish of Immaculate Conception.

This taking on the identity of the priest by wearing cassocks also changes how the boys approach serving.  As someone recently commented to me after seeing the boys serving in cassocks, “It seemed to me that they served with a greater dignity, that they took their role more seriously.”  I remember that this was my own personal experience too when I began wearing a cassock in seminary.  It changes the way you see yourself and what you are doing at Mass.  It deepens the boy’s sense of the sacred as he realizes his closeness to the priest at Mass.

For these reasons, I have decided to make two changes to our altar server program: Our servers will now begin wearing cassocks at Mass, and serving will be limited to boys.  Additionally, I have decided to lower the age to become an altar server.  Once a boy has received his first communion he may begin serving.

We will be implementing these changes on the weekend of Corpus Christi Sunday (June 3).

I’m grateful to the donor who came forward to purchase the new cassocks for our parish.  Thank you for your generosity.

I’m also excited to announce that we have already begun a wonderful new opportunity for girls and their mothers to minister at Mass as sacristans.  For several months now, some of the homeschool girls have been helping out as sacristans at the Friday morning Mass and have asked about helping out on Sundays as well.  Therefore, I’ve decided to expand our current group of weekend sacristans and open this opportunity to others who are interested.

I’m calling them “The Sacristans of St. Therese”.  St. Therese of Lisieux (The Little Flower) loved Jesus and the Mass very much.  One of her roles in the convent was to be the sacristan—to prepare and care for all the things used for Mass.  St. Therese served in this ministry with great love, knowing that she was serving Jesus.

One of St. Therese’s sisters wrote about her: “[Therese] loved to get the altar ready, especially on the days when we had exposition off the Blessed Sacrament.  For a long time she was sacristan, and it was edifying to see the respect and delight with which she touched the sacred vessels…She touched corporals and purificators lovingly; she said she felt she was touching the child Jesus’ linen.  When she was getting things ready for the following day’s Mass, she liked to look at herself in the chalice and paten, and imagine that the divine species would rest on her since her image was reflected in the gold.”

In the past it was common for a parish to have an Altar Society, which cared for the sacred vessels and linens for Mass.  I’m so grateful for how dedicated some of our parishioners have been serving in this role for many years, and I’m excited to expand the opportunity to the young ladies of our parish as Sacristans of St. Therese.

Please pray for me, as I pray daily for all of you.  And please pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

MAY 13, 2018 – The Ascension of the Lord

Published by:

MAY 13, 2018

7th Sunday of Easter

The Ascension of the Lord

Mother’s Day

 

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

 

Congratulations and God Bless

the Newly Confirmed Members

of Our Parish Family

 

Alexander Joseph Graff-Smisek

Son of Bruce Smisek & Amy & Nathan (Graff) Keilen

Alexis Frances Graff-Smisek

Daughter of Bruce Smisek & Amy & Nathan (Graff) Keilen

Makaylie Marie Hager

Daughter of Jon & Selena Hager

William Edward Kaderlik

Son of Michael & Andrea Kaderlik

Eliza Angeline Lynch

Daughter of Jeffrey and Rebecca  Lynch

Dawson Gregory Pint

Son of Greg & Marilyn Pint

Ellie Marie Singleton

Daughter of Jeff & Darcy Singleton

Zachary Shawn Wendorff

Son of Ryan & Melissa Wendorff

 

These students received the Sacrament of Confirmation

From Archbishop Bernard Hebda

on Thursday, May 10, 2018 at the Cathedral of St. Paul

 

 

 

Mother’s Day

On this Mother’s Day, I want to take the opportunity to thank my mother for all that she has done for me.  She gave me life.  She taught me to pray.  She encouraged me.  She comforted me.  I have been blessed to have a very wonderful mother.  Thank you mom for everything.

                                                        – Fr. VanDenBroeke

 

 

Today we pray for every mother,

that their hearts be filled with God’s joy and peace.

We pray they are blessed with happiness

 as they reflect on the memories of their children.

We pray that this Mother’s Day will be a celebration

      of the sacrifices she made and the love she shared throughout the years.

MAY 6, 2018 – 6th Sunday of Easter

Published by:

MAY 6, 2018

6th Sunday of Easter

 

“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.”

 

Congratulations

to the following children who are receiving their

First Holy Communion

Today, Sunday, May 6, 2018 at the 10:00 AM Mass

 

Ilsa Denise Baker

Daughter of Bernie & Melissa Baker

James John Paul Deutsch

Son of Terry & Andrea Deutsch

Brayden Daniel DuPay

Son of Dan & Kim DuPay

Carson Isaac Flicek

Son of Joseph & Jamie Flicek

Cullen Michael Flynn

Son of Adam & Janel Flynn

Tyson Joseph Grant

Son of Jeffrey & Heather Grant

Oliver Russell Grogg

Son of Patrick & Sara Grogg

Carsten Robert Haala

Son of Brittany Haala

Elliiot Elizabeth Kling

Daughter of Heather & +Matthew Kling

Kinsley Grace Mach

Daughter of Joseph & Melissa Mach

 Grace Mary Malecha

Daughter of Kevin & Meghann Malecha

Kayla Marie Michel

Daughter of Norbert & Ashley Michel

Gianna Vita Rickert

Daughter of Joshua & Ashlee Rickert

Gabriel Allen Rynda

Son of Allen & Kimberly Rynda

Kendall Rae Schmoll

Daughter of Joseph & Rebecca Schmoll

Avery Rae Sirek

Daughter of Jacob & Wendy Sirek

Corrine Jane Skluzacek

Daughter of Ryan & Jennifer Skluzacek

Hunter Jeffrey Tuma

Son of Andrew & Jennifer Tuma

Welcome to the Table of the Lord

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Religionless Spirituality

 This month’s Lighthouse CD is Religionless Spirituality – Why we need the Church.

This is one of the best, and most important, Lighthouse CDs I have listened to yet.  Renowned Scripture scholar and author, Dr. Tim Gray, speaks directly to the question of “Why do we need the Church?  Can’t I just love Jesus without a church?

He offers incredible insights that make clear the role of the Church as an essential part of God’s plan for salvation.

This talk personally helped deepen my own understanding of the focus of Christ’s teachings, and his establishing the Church.

Not only does this CD increase our appreciation for the Church, but it will help you grow in your own ability to articulate why the Catholic Church is important, especially when talking with other Christians or fallen away Catholics.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke