Welcoming a New Pastor

As announced at the weekend Masses, The Archdiocese has announced that the new pastor of St. Mary, Cause of Our Joy is Fr. Shafique Masih. Father has been serving at St. Jude church on the east side of Detroit for a number of years. He visited our parish last week and seemed impressed by the number of activities, both liturgical and community. He is a friendly, down to earth person and I am sure that he will be a great leader for the parish as we move forward.

Although he doesn’t arrive until July 1, I was thinking of a few things that are useful to remember when welcoming a new pastor. Some of these I experienced and others I found. You may want to keep them in mind.

  • When a new pastor arrives, be patient with him. The grief of leaving a familiar parish and the newness of this parish might be a bit overwhelming. Be patient.
  • Don’t overwhelm him or beat down a path to his door. Give him some breathing room, time to unpack, get settled, remember the names of the staff, understand the schedule, etc. This may take a couple of months.
  • If he needs help in moving in, assist him. Make sure he wants the help. But don’t be pushy about it. Many priests like their privacy and may not want parishioners traipsing through their home.
  • Perhaps a welcome basket with some fruit and simple food would be helpful. Include one simple cooked meal that may be welcome on his first day. But not too many. We all have our own tastes.
  • Let him change his mind. Sometimes a decision made early is rushed or made without fully understanding things. Give him some wiggle room.
  • Try not to compare him to the former pastor (me). First of all, it is not possible. He will also struggle comparing St. Mary, Cause of Our Joy to his former parish. Comparisons only impede relationships.
  • Eventually tell him about yourself and about the parish. But please don’t use terms like, “Well this is the way we’ve always done it.” He may ask how things have been done. Most pastors want to keep things the way they are and not try to fix things that are not broken. So he may ask. Make sure that you know how to answer a question and not try to make your own pet peeve or feeling seem like the feeling of the parish.
  • Let him get to know you and the various groups of the parish. Sure, he can read the bulletin but if you mention to him various activities, he can decide which ones to attend and not attend.
  • Most importantly, pray for him. And let him know that you are praying for him.

 

Fr. Ken

Fr. Ken is Reassigned

I am sure that most of you were surprised by my announcement at Mass last weekend. In case you didn’t hear it, or didn’t fully understand, I will repeat it here with some additions.

At the recent PIME Assembly in the USA, I was elected as the Regional Superior. This isFr Ken the same job that I held before I came to St. Mary, Cause of Our Joy in 2016. It is a full time job. It was a surprise and shock to me, as I’m sure it was to all of you. I had planned to stay here as pastor for as long as I could. I know that the parish needed stability from the pastor. My term begins on April 1 and is for four years. I will remain as pastor here until June 30, while the Archdiocese begins its search for a new pastor. On last Sunday afternoon, March 17, an email went out from the Archdiocese to all priests listing the parishes that are looking for a pastor. St. Mary, Cause of Our Joy was one of the three listed.

In addition, due to my new position, I will have to attend the PIME General Assembly (commonly called “Chapter”) in Rome from April 24 – May 24. During that time, other PIME priests in the Detroit area will be assisting for liturgies in the parish. So basically, I will be here from now until just after Easter, and then again from the end of May until June 30.

This was not something that I expected nor did I look for it. I feel that we have built a strong parish community in these past three years, and ask you to continue to support the new pastor as much as you supported me. We have a great leadership team and staff that will continue to make sure that the parish moves forward.

pime_logo_white-cbe6fd7b8dd973d973c8677388276a101ccb6534824b6b2a8e9f3570b763b70eThis position entails many facets: Relating with the PIME priests here in the United States and with the Bishops where we minister, overseeing the mission center in Detroit where we do fundraising and promotion, keeping up to date on the latest trends and issues of the American Church (which includes the current abuse scandal). Our headquarters is presently in Detroit, near the University of Detroit Mercy, just north of 6 Mile Road near Livernois. That building is too large for our present needs and a move in the future in probable.

Please continue to pray for our parish, especially during this transition period, and the new pastor. I promise my prayers as well. I ask that you pray for me and for PIME as well.
Fr. Ken

Complaining

I read this story recently, and then I heard of one of our parishioners complaining about what another one was wearing. I found this story apropos. We need to keep our eyes and hearts fixed on one thing only when we come to church. We are not the ones to judge!

A lady went to her Pastor and said ‘Pastor, I won’t be going to your church anymore.’

The Pastor responded ‘But why?’

The lady said ‘Ah! I saw a woman gossiping about another member; a man that is a hypocrite; the worship team living wrong; people looking at their phone during service; among so many other things wrong in your church.’

The Pastor replied ‘OK. But before you go, do me a favor: take a full glass of water and walk around the church three times without spilling a drop on the ground. Afterwards, leave the church if you desire.’

The lady thought: too easy! She walked three times around the church as the Pastor had asked. When she finished she told the Pastor she was ready to leave.

The Pastor said, ‘Before you leave I want to ask you one more question. When you were walking around the church, did you see anyone gossiping?’

The lady replied ‘No.’

‘Did you see any hypocrites?’

The lady said ‘No.’

‘Anyone looking at their phone?’

‘No.’

‘You know why?’

‘No.’

‘You were focused on the glass, to make sure you didn’t stumble and spill any water. It’s the same with our life. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, we don’t have time to see the mistakes of others. We will reach out a helping hand to them and concentrate on our own walk with the Lord.’”

At any church, there are going to be things to complain about. A church is filled with people, and people aren’t perfect. Only Jesus can set the perfect example, so let’s focus on Him!

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

Fr. Ken

Community Lunch

Many of you probably know that one of my “dreams” when the parish first began in 2016, and I was named pastor, was to reach out to the greater community in a special way by providing a free lunch once a month to whoever wanted to attend. We are called to reach beyond ourselves and our boundaries and be present to others, and in doing so we bring Christ to them. Last weekend we read the Gospel of Jesus feeding the 5000 with barley loaves and a few fish. Among the many aspects that we can learn from this Gospel, which is repeated six times in the four Gospels, is that we, the community, are called to feed those who are in need. Jesus didn’t ask them who they were, what their needs were, where they came from or what they believed. He just wanted to give them something to eat.

In September, St. Mary Cause of Our Joy will begin having a free lunch for everyone in our community. It is not just for the poor, or the homeless. Anyone who may want to attend is welcome. No questions asked; no donations required. Just come and eat and spend a little time with others. People who live alone and may want a little bit of company once and a while may want to attend. People who drive old, beat-up cars and brand new, shiny ones as well. Or maybe those who have no car at all.

We are called to reach out and care for others. This is one way we can do so. Under the guidance of Paul, Sabrina and Steve, we will be gathering a team of leaders who will coordinate the lunch every month, which will take place on the fourth Thursday of the month beginning at 12:00 noon. Those people will then ask for volunteers from amongst our parish members and others as well. We will need help to cook, set up, serve, clean up, to bake desserts and maybe just to be here and greet our guests and make them feel welcome. You can volunteer just once, or once every few months or every month.

By looking outward and not inward, we will see the presence of God in the eyes of others. Please help us make this endeavor a success. Evangelization takes on many forms, and this is one of them.

Fr. Ken

Virtue of Humility

When Jesus wants to teach us how a Christian should be (even though there were no “Christians” at the time of Jesus), he tells us very little. Instead, he showed us. He does so by feeding the hungry, by welcoming the stranger. The love that Christ shows to others is boundless, and it surpasses anything that we can imagine. It is not always easy to understand, however God often expresses His infinite love in small, tender ways, rather than in bulky methods. The goodness and tenderness of God is most often expressed in small ways.

It would be easier to see God’s presence in mighty deeds, like the raising of a dead person to life or some seemingly miraculous sight overhead. That would almost make things too easy to believe. Instead, we need to find God’s presence in the small and easy-to-overlook simple occurrences in our daily life. In the Old Testament, we hear that the people were looking for the voice of God in the great and mighty wind, but it was not there. They sought it in the earthquake, but that was not God’s voice. Afterwards, there was a fire, but alas, God’s voice was not there. Then came the voice of God in a whisper, a gentle blowing of the wind. There was the voice of God.

We don’t need to be in the forefront, always in charge and in positions where we are seen to live a good Christian life. Working in the background, without even expressing our opinions or getting the recognition is what it means to live a Christian life. Often times those who are looking for attention step forward; they seem to be the “super” Christians. That is not the example that Jesus gave us.

A good friend of mine was the Rector of our PIME International Theology School for a number of years. I remember that I would often tell him, “Make sure you teach our future priests the virtue of humility”. He would chuckle and respond, “You can’t teach humility”. Maybe you can’t teach it, but you sure can model it, not only for future priests but for all who choose to serve the Lord. God is present in the littleness and tenderness of our actions.

Fr. Ken

The Annunciation, Our Parish Feast

I’m still basking in the rays of warmth of the Risen Lord! I hope you are as well. Our Holy Week celebrations were awesome and inspiring. Thank you to everyone who helped out to make them so beautiful. I dare not begin to mention groups and names for fear that I would leave some one out. God knows who you are!

Tomorrow, April 9, is the feast of our parish, the Annunciation. It was transferred from March 25, which was during Holy Week this year. This Sunday (March 8, 2018) after the 12:00 Noon Mass we will have a prayer service in honor of Our Lady, followed by a report of the parish and a lunch. I hope that you are planning to attend.

It has been almost two years since our parish was founded. We have grown a lot in this time, thanks be to the grace of God. As I stressed during the parish report last year, if we do what God wants us to, He will shower his blessings and grace upon us. There is no doubt. Looking back upon these past 21 months, I can see how we have flourished under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We do not know where the Spirit will lead us, and so we must remain open to that guidance, trusting that God knows what is best for us. This can be an exhilarating experience, even if it is a little bit frightful. Our faith helps to remove the fear and anxiety, and at the same allows us to trust. We need not be concerned about the little things that seem big to us. God asks us to look at the big picture, the entirety. And when we do so, we realize the innumerable blessings that we have received. It humbles me.

We must also realize that our priority is to look outward, instead of inward. We are called to be that “joyful band of missionary disciples”. Let us continue to pray for the breath of the Holy Spirit and the guidance that will be even more exhilarating than what we have experienced up until now.
Fr. Ken

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

MERRY CHRISTMAS! May the birth of Jesus bring you peace and joy. This miracle of God’s love for us fills our hearts and lives with the awareness that God is with us in all of the daily events of our lives.

There is a commercial on television that states “Christmas is families”. Although I understand the sentiment, Christmas is much more than that. I remember the first Christmas I spent away from my family. I was already in my 30’s. I was living in Italy for 6 months, studying Italian. I was asked to help out at a parish near Milano, where I was living, in a village named Busto Garolfo, about 15 miles from Milano. On Christmas Eve, I went early to the parish and spent more than 10 hours hearing confessions. What an experience that was. The last stretch was the 3 or 4 hours just prior to midnight Mass. By the time Mass was to begin, I was exhausted.

The next day, after the Masses, I went to the home of a good friend and fellow PIME missionary. I spent the day with them, enjoying an Italian feast that lasted hours. I remember that the last course before desert was steaks of horse meat. I remember that I was already full and that I tried just a small piece of the meat. Of course, with the wine and bread and all of the other delicacies, from the antipasto to the pasta to the variety of meat dishes, I was content. Much more, however, I hadn’t been with my biological family but I was able to spend the day with family. It was an amazing day filled with many moments I won’t forget. The following day, I traveled to Rome to welcome my sister, who was arriving from the States to spend a week in Italy, including New Year’s Day. The next 13 years, I spent Christmas in Japan. December 25 is a typical work and school day in Japan, and so I had to get creative in those years.

From this experience, I learned that Christmas is more than just family. The love of God surrounds us wherever we are and with whomever we are. Even if we are alone, we are never really alone. Emmanuel, God is with us!

Fr. Ken

 

First Week of Advent

Advent begins this weekend. Most likely, our preparations for Christmas have already begun weeks or even months ago. The Gospel readings in this season introduce us to one of the most suggestive themes of Advent: the visit of the Lord to humanity. There are three times that the Lord comes to us: the first time, in the past, with the Incarnation and Birth of Jesus at Christmas. That is what we commemorate each year; The second is in the present, as Jesus visits us continually, every day, in the Eucharist; the final visit, in the future, is when Jesus “will come again in glory, to judge the living and the dead.” We read the Gospel of the last judgment last Sunday.

The Gospel, especially at the beginning of Advent, is not trying to frighten us, but to urge us on to seek the presence of Jesus in places and events that we may not have thought about. We are being invited to an attitude of seriousness, of sobriety, not letting ourselves be dominated by the things and worries of this world, but rather to keep them in their proper place. If we fall into that temptation, we will not be able to understand what is even more important, the third visit of Jesus, our final encounter with the Lord.

Pope Francis tells us that, during Advent, we are called to enlarge the horizons of our hearts, to allow ourselves to be surprised by life, as each day presents us with something new. There are people that come into our lives who may give us a whole new perspective on faith and our relationship with Jesus. We cannot only depend upon our own plans and the safety we surround ourselves with, because the Lord comes when we don’t imagine. We have to let ourselves be astonished, even beyond our imagination. Happy Advent!

Fr. Ken

The Reformation

500 years ago, Martin Luther wrote his famous “95 Theses”, asking for reformation within the Church. It was met with resistance on one side and acceptance on the other side. It caused quite a controversy among some of the hierarchy of the Church, so much so that Luther was eventually excommunicated from the Church.

Martin lived a simple and rigorous life as he entered the Augustinian monastery as he studied to become a monk. He was a well-educated man, eventually becoming a biblical scholar and professor. As happened at many times throughout the history of the Church, there was corruption, even in the highest places. The faithful were told they could pay off their sins with monetary donations. This custom was called “indulgences”. (It would be like a priest telling you that your penance in confession was to give him twenty dollars). Martin saw these and other issues that he considered wrong, and drew up a list of 95 questions and propositions for debate. Although he was critical of the Catholic Church, he distanced himself from more radical successors. If we were to read his 95 Theses today, I am willing to bet that we would agree with many of them.

For the past 500 years, the Lutherans and Catholics have been at odds over diverse issues of theology and matters of faith. However, we still remain close. Recently, both sides have put a lot of effort into working together to consider our similarities rather than our differences. I remember last January at the ecumenical prayer service, Pastor Eric reminded all of us present that they are not “Protestants”, that is “Protestors”; rather Luther wanted to reform.

Next Sunday, October 29, the two Catholic churches in Westland, Ss. Simon and Jude and St. Mary, Cause of Our Joy, together with Celebration Lutheran Church (they purchased the former Divine Savior building) will gather together to commemorate the 500 years by looking back at our past, where we are now, and our hopes and dreams for the future. Choirs from all three churches will join voices. Please join us at Celebration Lutheran Church, 39375 Joy Road, at 4:00PM for a prayer Service entitled: From Conflict to Communion, A Lutheran Catholic Commemoration of the Reformation.

Fr. Ken

Be Prepared

When I was growing up, I belonged to the Boys Scouts for a couple of years. I didn’t really want to join, but my best friend did so I followed along. It only lasted a year or two, at most. One of the things that I remember, and I’m sure most of you know as well, is the Scouts’ motto: “Be prepared”. It’s a motto not only for the Scouts, but it should be for all of us.  Throughout our lives, we need to prepare ourselves.

 

In the Gospels, Jesus tells us to “Be prepared. You do not know the day nor the hour that the Lord is coming”. Stern words, perhaps, but a good reminder.

 

I like to think about preparing for Mass. The last ten or fifteen minutes before Mass, I like to prepare, to get into, what I call, “Mass mode”.  Get ready to celebrate the mystery of Christ’s sacrifice, remember the Scripture readings that I will hear and proclaim, and prepare myself to be in touch with God.  Be prepared.

 

Before Mass, for the last 10 or 15 minutes before it begins, you will notice our music director, Steve Reyes, playing music softly.  He too, is trying to prepare himself for the Mass. He is also trying to set an atmosphere in Church, so that all of us are preparing ourselves.  A few months ago, I wrote about the importance of a silent atmosphere in Church, especially before Mass.  Many, many of you wrote to me in response, thanking me for the article. This is the time we are getting ready to be most united with Christ.  Although you may want to greet a friend, in a quiet voice, remember the reason that you are there. I hope no one of you comes to church merely to see his/her friends.  We come to be close to God.  Be prepared.

 

Those last minutes before Mass are also vital to the lectors and commentators. You should be spending the time checking over the passage from the Word of God that you are about to proclaim to the assembly, for them to hear from your mouth the Word of God.  What an awesome responsibility and privilege. Commentators, likewise, should be preparing the words that they have to announce to the Assembly; check on the pronunciation of names! No one likes to have his or her name mispronounced or worse yet, massacred, particularly at Church. The commentator is the voice of the Church for that particular Mass.  Be prepared.

 

We humans are people that are easily distracted. Let’s not let our voices or our actions distract others as they are trying to prepare to hear the Word of God and receive the Body and Blood of Christ.  Be prepared.

Fr. Ken