Town Hall Meeting Update!


Thank you to all who came out to the Town Hall meeting to discuss the progress of the flooring replacement project and receive feedback on the carpet selection options.  If you were unable to attend and would like to see the presentation, please click Town Hall Meeting Presentation – 04.12.18 (1).


If you have any questions or comments, please direct them to Deacon John at


Deacon John Bulletin Article, April 22 2018

I seem to be getting asked a lot about “spirituality” the past few weeks.   People wondering why their spirituality and prayer life is different from others.  I think spirituality can be look at much like “personality”.  Each of us has a unique personality.  Although personalities can be grouped into “types”, for the most part, we are all different.  So, why can’t we look at spirituality way?  Just like my personality is different from yours, so is my spirituality. One good look around the church at Eucharistic Adoration shows people reading devotionals, praying the rosary, on their knees in deep in prayer, and fixated on starring at the Eucharist.  All of them are worshiping God with their unique, and very different, spirituality.  And that’s something we must respect in each other.  Forcing my spirituality on you is like forcing you to act like me.

To understand our own spirituality, we must know where we are on our spiritual journey.  It’s a journey, for the most of us, that lasts a lifetime.  It only happens when we strive for holiness and desire to be with God.  That means our hearts and minds and actions are in full union with Him every day of our lives.  Our spiritual journey has three distinct phases.  It begins with the Purgative Phase where our soul yearns for more.  We experience an awakening, a wakeup call, and begin to recognize our desires and affections are not fed by an attraction to sin or worldly temptations.  Next, we move into the Illuminative Phase where we start to grow in prayer life and love for others.  We begin to think and act differently while developing a deepening desire to be with God.  Finally, we move to the Unitive Phase where a deep union with God brings an inner joy and profound humility to be content with ourselves and seek to make other’s lives more bearable.  St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta is a good example of living in the Unitive Phase.  Here, we are free from fear over suffering, loss, the unknown, evil, and even death.  The Unitive Phase is what we strive for – to experience God’s continual presence in our everyday life.

Whether we know it or not, each of us are traveling on this spiritual journey.  Maybe we are just beginning, while others have finished and home with the Lord now.  What’s important is to search our hearts to know where we are at on that road and strive to make the journey.  Isaiah wrote “A highway will be there, called the holy way; No one unclean may pass over it, but it will be for his people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray on it. No lion shall be there, nor any beast of prey approach, nor be found.  But there the redeemed shall walk.” (Isaiah 35 :8-9)  As we continue celebrating this Easer Season, may we pray for courage and perseverance to travel the Holy Way to become one with God.

Deacon John


Deacon John Bulletin Article, April 15 2018

It’s only been three weeks since we heard the Passion Story of Jesus.  A story where we can only imagine the pain of His mother and disciples as they watched him die a horrible death on the cross.  A pain we only begin to feel when we are separated from those we love.  That pain is the price of love.

Jesus felt the ultimate pain of separation when He paid the price of his love for us on the cross.  Jesus loves us so much that he came into our world as a vulnerable little baby.  He accepted the abuse of the teachers and elders of the law.  He was scorned, humiliated, and brutally beaten.  Jesus was nailed to a cross and pierced by a Roman warrior’s lance.  It was a painful “good-bye” for those he loved.  Because of love, Jesus suffered and died to be the perfect Passover sacrifice, standing in our place before the Father so we can live.

In the Gospel today, some disciples meet Jesus while walking home after the Passover.  They didn’t recognize him at first.  But after Jesus left, their hearts were on fire as His words opened Scripture to them.  This time, saying “good-bye” was not painful – it was joyful.  And although those disciples may not have understood the big picture yet of Jesus’ Passion, death, and resurrection they were exited and on fire with his love.

As we continue celebrating this Easter Season, can we share in those feelings of being on fire with our faith and his love?  Jesus died to give us life.  But, we live today not because Jesus died, but because of His love for us.  Now, like those disciples on the road to Emmaus, our job is to share His love with others.

Deacon John


Deacon John Homily, April 8 2018

Holy Week is over.  What a week it was for our two parishes!   We prayed together on Palm Sunday, at weekday Masses and Adoration, Stations of the Cross, the Mass of the Last Supper, Good Friday, an evening Tenebrae service, Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday.  We became one community of believers celebrating the biggest week of our church liturgical year with 18 liturgies, including the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral.

Combining two unique parishes into one, week long, celebration was no small task.  Planning began last January with a combined team from both parishes. Many people, adults and children alike, spent long hours and late nights pulling together all the little details so these Sacred Liturgies would be joyful celebrations of our rich Catholic heritage.  I counted over 100 volunteers between our two parishes working together as lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, servers, masters of ceremony, choir and musicians, ordering supplies, setting up, and preparing our churches for worship.  Many went unnoticed behind the scenes.  I couldn’t possibly begin to name them all, but it couldn’t have happened without all of them involved.

From the beginning of planning in January, to the end of the last Mass on Easter Sunday, we had only one goal in mind – a joyful experience giving glory and praise to God with our two parishes worshipping together in harmony.  Despite all the planning, not everything went smooth.  We had miscues, disagreements, last minute changes, and mistakes (including myself).  Some you may have seen, others you didn’t.  And, yes, some things we will change for next year.  But, with God’s grace, we persevered.  You would think after planning and celebrating these liturgies for almost 2000 years, things would just go “perfect” – that we could get it right at least once.  But, as Kimberly’s Grandmother used to say, only God makes things perfect.

We hear in our first reading today from Acts about the first-generation Christians living immediately after Jesus ascended into Heaven.  It says, The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common (Acts 4:32).”  I’m sure they had their fair share of miscues and disagreements, too.  After all, they were human like us.  But in the end, they must have figured it out or we wouldn’t have celebrated Easter last Sunday.  Our job is to be like them.  To work out our differences as two unique parishes and worship as one faith family – two parishes, one flock, one pastor, one Shepherd.  I think last week was one more step in bringing us together in Christ.

As the early Christians used to say in greeting each other, “HE HAS RISEN!  HE HAS RISEN INDEED!!”  May you have a blessed and joyous Easter Season!

Deacon John


Deacon John Bulletin Article March 11, 2018

In the Second Reading, St Paul writes because of God’s mercy and great love for us, He “brought us to life with Christ – by grace you have been saved.”   The word “grace” comes from the Greek word charis, which means “favor, blessing, or kindness.” We can extend grace to others; but when the word grace is used in connection with God, it takes on a more powerful meaning. Grace is God choosing to bless us rather than curse us as our sin deserves.  Grace is His gift to us of kindness, compassion, generosity, and goodwill.  Because grace is a gift, we can choose to accept or reject it.  But, only by accepting God’s grace, then showing His mercy and great love to others, can we turn something evil into something good.

In the wake of the tragedy at a high school in Florida three weeks ago, Sam Houser posted on Facebook:  “Recently, I have been seeing a lot of conflict following the tragedy in Florida.  I’ve seen a lot of arguing, name-calling, and blaming going around, like the Left blaming the Right or the Right blaming the Left.  However, I think that we can agree that what happened was a lack of love and respect for fellow people. I know that there’s still going to be conflict, especially those who you don’t particularly care for. Going forward, I have no idea what’s going to happen regarding any legislation.  However, I do have an idea that if we treat others with love and respect, we may be able to help the world become better.  Just remember that no act of love is too small or insignificant; rather, every act of love is important.”

I have known Sam for almost 4 years.  He is an alumnus of Sacred Heart School and currently studying mathematics at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids.  Sam is a humble, kind, gentleman who will do anything for anyone, whether they agree with him or not.  His words remind us of what it means to be “brought to life with Christ”.  Jesus did not take sides on politics.    He didn’t place blame or exclude anyone from His social circle.  He didn’t bully those who disagreed with Him.  Jesus always treated others with respect and showed the same love for his friend Lazarus as he did to the soldiers who nailed him to the cross.  Through His example, Jesus invites us to accept God’s grace to save us from the anger and bitterness that exists in our society today.  For it is only through our kindness, compassion, generosity, and goodwill are we able to do those acts of love that are so important to bringing harmony into the world even though we have no idea what will happen next.

Deacon John


Deacon John Bulletin March 4, 2018

Last week I wrote how God doesn’t allow evil to happen to in the world – we do.  God gave us a free will to make our own choices.  Evil exists because of the choices we make between following God and doing good or rejecting God and doing evil.  Sadly, choosing to sin affects many people.  So, our choices to sin can hurt innocent people and allow them to suffer, too.  The existence of evil is a stumbling block for many people who believe in God.  Fortunately, our Christian faith has a solution to the problem.  In a nutshell, here it is:

To begin, God created everything good.  He gave human beings the power of free will to accept or reject Him.  Without free will, human beings would just be robots without the ability to love.  But, humans use this free will to sin against God and separate themselves from Him.  As a result, our human desires and passions became disordered.  Our sin brought suffering and death into the world.  God saw this, and sent Jesus, His Only Begotten Son, into the world to redeem all people and restore human nature to its original state before the fall of Adam and Eve.  Through Jesus’ example – His life, death, and resurrection – God invites us to seek a greater holiness and perfection so we may enjoy eternal life with Him in heaven.  Through the grace of the Holy Spirit, we are called to imitate Christ, even in how we bear our sufferings, to unite our human wills to God’s Divine Will.

Therefore, the solution to the problem of evil in the world is to launch a great Christian revolution to convert pain into fruitful suffering and turn bad things into something good.  In doing so, we will conquer eternity by depriving Satan of the only weapon he has – trying to convince us the glamor of evil is far more satisfying than being united with God.  God looks for us to something good from the consequences of evil.

Because He knows when we do, we will put Satan out of business forever.

Deacon John 

Adapted from “Introduction to Catholicism for Adults” by Rev. James Socias


Deacon John Bulletin Article February 25, 2018

Deacon’s Corner

The finger pointing after the tragedy in a Florida high school 10 days ago was all too familiar.  Some said it could have been avoided if guns were outlawed.  Others said we need more guns.  Some blamed poor health care or a broken educational system.  Some even blamed God.  So, where does the blame lie?  And just why would God allow evil in the world?  Those questions have no simple answers.  So, let’s start with what we know.

We know God loves everyone and that He is All-good.   We also know from experience that God allows suffering in the world.   Even ‘good’ people suffer the effects of evil, sometimes even more so than ‘bad’ people.  To answer these questions, we must first appreciate the nature of evil.  Evil does not exist by itself.  Evil results from the absence of good.  What we call “evil” is really the failure to live up to the purpose God created us for.  God gave each of us the gift of free will with the ability to choose to follow His will or reject it.  So, evil is the vacuum created when whenever we choose not to reach the true fulfillment of our lives as God intended. When we consider the evil in the world and the suffering caused by it – murder, drug abuse, rape, war, poverty, to name a few – we can see evil results directly from choosing not to respect God or love our neighbor.

So, evil exists because of the choices we make.  Sadly, choosing to sin can affect many, so the innocent often suffer along with the guilty.  Even so, God looks for us to do a good from the consequences of an evil.  St. Thomas Aquinas wrote in the 13th Century, “There is nothing to prevent human nature’s being raised up to something greater, even after sin. God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good. Thus St Paul says, ‘Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.’

So, what caused this latest tragedy?  Quite frankly, I don’t know.  Mother Theresa said, “We must not be surprised when we hear of murders, of killings, of war, of hatred.  If a mother can kill her own child, what is left but for us to kill each other?”   The answer to what happened in Florida lies somewhere in how well our culture embraces God and valuing (or not) the dignity of human life.  Those are things not resolved with laws, political agendas, Facebook, or sensationalism in the news.  Embracing God and respecting life is something that grows in the heart as we strive for holiness, perfection, and being in total union with God.  When we choose to be with God, not separated from Him, we can build a culture of life where evil can’t exist.  When that happens, our world becomes a better place to live.

Adapted from “Introduction to Catholicism for Adults” by Rev. James Socias


Deacon’s Corner 2/18/18

Did you know by the 2nd Century, Christians prepared for the annual celebration of Easter by fasting for two days?  This was the natural thing to do in preparation for the holiest of times when the Early Christians expected Jesus’ immediate return.  By the 3rd Century, this fasting was extended to all of Holy Week.  The 40 days of Lent, we know it today, began sometime in the early 4th Century.

Lent is that time of year when we buckle down, don’t eat meat on Fridays, and “give up something”.   We call this “penance”.   We do penance to remind us that suffering a little bit can make us a better person.  Through this suffering, we come to appreciate what we have and realize we can really do more with less.  Our Catechism tells us penance “can be expressed in many and various ways…above all three forms:  fasting, prayer, and almsgiving (CCC 1434.)”

When looking for something to “give up” during Lent, let’s remember the goal is to acknowledge our weaknesses so we can undergo a spiritual revival to grow closer to God.  Doing penance without reflecting on how it can change us for the better misses the whole point of Lent.  If we deny ourselves a favorite food to develop the self-discipline for spiritual renewal – that’s good!  But if we “give up” that same tasty treat during Lent as a motive to lose a few pounds, well, we should probably think again.

Lent emphasizes three very specific aspects of personal choice for spiritual renewal.  These are prayer, fasting; and recalling our Baptismal Vows to remember what it means to belong to God’s people.  “Giving up” something can include giving up our time to do Corporal Works of Mercy – feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and imprisoned, giving to the poor, and burying the dead.  Burying the dead can be as simple as attending a funeral for someone you don’t know, especially if their funeral is not well attended.  Doing Corporal Works of Mercy helps foster conversion of our heart by instilling a greater love for God and others.

Lent is a time of preparation to help us find our ourselves and encounter God.  May you have a Blessed Lenten Season with our Lord!  Deacon John

Deacon’s Corner 1/27/18

I sat staring at the computer last week struggling to write something.  Nothing was coming to mind.  I thumbed through my file of ideas.  Nothing jumped out at me. I paused and prayed, asking God to give me an idea on what to write about.  Then, I remembered an email a parishioner sent me about my Deacon’s Corner from last week.  It was one, simple sentence that said, “Loved your thoughts on abortion; beautifully written.” I thought about it a minute, then decided I had to write more this week.

Abortion is one of biggest issues that divides our society today.  We mourn the lives lost long before their time, the mothers and fathers who feel forced into this decision due to lack of support, the families torn apart, and the cultural betrayal of human dignity.  When we see the gift of life as expendable, we begin to disregard the dignity the unborn and all those whom we perceive as different—we become a society divided against itself.

As we witness the many offenses against human life, it is important to remember there are people out there working to build a culture of life.  A culture that fights for the protection of the unborn -for the protection of all life -will stand united.  But to do so, we must build that culture of life together.  We must rely on God and draw encouragement from the examples of the people He puts into our lives every day.  When we join this community of life, we stand united to bring forth God’s kingdom showing consistent and genuine care for all vulnerable people.  Including the unborn.  Our witness for life will move others to do the same.

Church Remodel Update 12/17/2017

Two weeks ago, we held a Town Hall meeting in the church to provide an update on the flooring study and present the proposed recommendation before obtaining Fr Joe’s approval.  Approximately 30 people attended the meeting.  The following is a summary of our discussion:

In developing the proposed recommendation, our goal was to restore and maintain the historical heritage of our beautiful church.

A picture of the Sanctuary area around 1920 which we used to guide our thoughts.

We evaluated a short list of 3 options – restore the original flooring, install new carpet, and install commercial grade vinyl planking.  These options were evaluated for cost, historical “fit”, safety, practical use, maintenance, and longevity.  At the request of Fr Joe, we considered removing the curved platform in front of communion rail.  We reviewed the options with a Jeff Weatherford (our historical consultant) and David Siler (the architect who helped us with the original capital campaign projects), then discussed general contracting with Krieghoff Construction in Adrian who specializes in renovating churches.  Because this project affects the worship space and Sanctuary of the church, it will need Bishop Boyea’s approval of the final plans and specifications.  So, we had a meeting with a representative from his staff who handles these things for initial input and find out how the approval process works.  After doing all that, the committee developed a proposed recommendation for the flooring.

The proposed recommendation is to replace the carpeting in the nave (the pew seating area) with new carpeting.  The curved platform would be removed, and the original communion rail doors reinstalled (currently they are stored in the back of the sacristy).  For the Sanctuary (the Altar area), we would remove the wood decking and carpet installed in the early 1980s and restore the original flooring.  Initial investigation indicates this flooring is either a mosaic marble or terrazzo.  For the narthex (the front entry), the old and worn carpeting would be replaced with a commercial grade vinyl planking that has the appearance of wood.  The original hardwood flooring would be restored in the sacristies.  If our budget does not allow for this work to happen at the same time, it would be performed in the following phases as funding becomes available:  Phase 1 – Nave and Narthex, Phase 2 – Sanctuary, Phase 3 – Sacristies.

Other work that must be considered during this project include painting the sacristy, replacing the cornice lighting along the ceiling with and an LED strip, replacing the main Altar used for Mass with one which is a good historical fit and coordinates with the High Altar, and renovating the narthex itself.  Currently, the cornice lights are a mixture of about 300 CFL and incandescent bulbs which are difficult to access for replacement (many are burned out).  Additional considerations, as budget allows, are renovating the parking lot entrance into the parish hall and installing ADA auto-opening doors, and replacing the carpeting in the stairwells.

After a general discussion of the options and recommendations, a show of hands vote was taken.  All except a few people voted to proceed with the proposed recommendation.  The next steps for the project are to complete the assessment of the existing floors (including asbestos testing), finalize the recommendation and review it with the diocese, obtain budget estimates, develop conceptual drawings and construction plan, and request Fr Joe’s approval.   Looking ahead, over the next 5 months we will be finalizing the details and soliciting contractor bids to award contracts for construction to be completed next summer.  We also need to figure out how and where to hold Masses when the church is not available during construction.  We identified some options for this, but nothing has been determined at this time.

As always, please feel free to contact any committee member with your questions or concerns.  The members are Steve Kope, Jim Friedrich, Cathy Hartley, Bill Beal, Jim Cuthbertson, and myself.  We will hold another Town Hall meeting to update you in late January or early February.  In the meantime, please watch the bulletin for further developments.   Thank you for your time and support of this project!  Deacon John