Fr. Todd Bulletin, January 23, 2022

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,

This weekend tens of thousands are gathering in D.C. for the 49th Annual March for Life.  We need to continue supporting the Culture of Life with our prayers and doing all that we can to help people choose life.  In Hillsdale we are blessed to have Helping Hands Crisis Pregnancy Center: https://helpinghandsprc.org/  This weekend they begin their “Baby Bottle Drive”.  We ask that you pick up a bottle and pray for those who are facing difficult situations.  Through our support we can help those in our community.

Now to continue walking through the vision of a healthy parish laid out by Realigning Resources for Mission. The third part of that vision states that a healthy Parish:

Makes and Forms Missionary Disciples

  • There is much greater access to sacraments and devotions
  • Sacred worship that is dynamic, reverent and beautiful
  • Parishes have a discipleship process that moves people of all ages to spiritual maturity
  • They have a process to get people serving others according to their gifts
  • Parishes have a vibrant community life
  • All parishes have a commitment to Catholic education

This summation gets right at the heart of why a parish exists in the first place.  It reminds me of how Jesus appointed the twelve apostles.  We hear St. Mark describe that moment: “He went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him.  He appointed twelve [whom he also named apostles] that they might be with him and he might send them forth”. (Mark 3:13-14)

There is a two-fold aspect to their call.  First and foremost, before we miss it, the very first part of the call wasn’t for the Apostles to do anything in particular.  No, the first, and most important part, of their mission was that they were called to be with Him.  Too quickly we can tend to fixate on all that Jesus calls us to do.  But before He calls to do anything He first calls us to simply be.  We need to be with Him.  Jesus doesn’t want mere servants.  At the last supper Jesus told the Apostles that He called them friends.  To be a Missionary Disciple is to live in that friendship and like the best of friendships we live our life with Him.  Life is meant to be a grand adventure- any adventure is best experienced with a good friend.

A parish exists to foster our encountering and being with Him.  All of our sacraments exist for this purpose.  Both our Churches have undergone renovations to their sanctuaries in the last three years to help highlight the fact that Jesus is at the center.  Both in the Tabernacles to be found there and hopefully in the tabernacles of our souls.   Only from that foundation can I go and do anything.

I have been very happy with some of the new initiatives starting over the last year to help us encounter Him. Our Mom’s group, days of reflection for Advent and Lent, wedding retreat, our first annual men’s retreat.  This isn’t even mentioning other ongoing small groups and bible studies.  As we move into our grouping of parishes a goal is to coordinate these encounter opportunities so that we can best fulfill the first part of a disciple’s commission- to be with the Lord.  From this place the Lord then can send us forth as well.  In the meantime, please take advantage of all the great opportunities already available!

God Bless!

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, January 19, 2022

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,

Well, welcome to Winter!  These days remind me of a prayer of praise found in the book of Daniel.  It has this prescient part: Cold and chill, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.  Frost and chill, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.  Hoarfrost and snow, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. (Daniel 3: 67, 69-70).  The earth itself with all its seasons praises God.  May we too recognize and praise Him in all of His works.

Now to continue walking through the vision of a healthy parish laid out by Realigning Resources for Mission.  The second part of that vision states:

Equips and empowers parish staff:

  • Parishes hire the best and most competent people
  • Every defined critical ministry/role in a parish has a competent leader
  • Parishes have sufficient staff to fulfill the mission
  • Those staff are paid competitively
  • Parish staff are a healthy team aligned to the mission and vision of the parish
  • Staff also receive ongoing formation/mentoring and coaching

When I received the call from Bishop Boyea asking me to come to Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake, I didn’t know anyone at either of our parishes.  My first call after that call then was to Fr. Joe.  I will never forget how he started – “You will love it here and they will love you.  You have the best staff you could ask for.”  I can attest to how right he was and how grateful I am for the staff we have here!

As a small staff in small parishes, it is the nature of the business that we all wear a lot of hats.  Please know that, and I thank you for your patience and understanding.  We are trying to do our best.  RRM does provide us as parishes the impetus to see if things could be streamlined in a better way.  This has actually been a silver lining of the pandemic for us before we knew what RRM was asking.  During the pandemic the staff of both parishes began meeting jointly instead of separately once a week.  This has been a great blessing for better coordinating and sharing of events.  Some tasks that were being duplicated at both parishes, but that could be easily done by one person, have been shared.  I am glad we have been able to take this step with our parishes, and I will need to see what that looks like with being connected to St. Anthony’s as well.  With the three parishes working together, an option could be shared staffing for someone that an individual parish couldn’t afford but could be by three.  It is exciting to see what creative things could be done in this regard to best serve our people as we also take care of our staff.

I am glad to see the focus on pouring back into our staff.  The challenge, of course is making that goal concrete.  Once a year as parish staffs we take a one-day retreat.  I can envision that retreat coming to include the staff at St. Anthony as well.  I am also looking forward to seeing other resources the Diocese will provide to help us be better equipped for our mission.

Again – thank you to all the members of our team!

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, January 9, 2022

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,

Please keep the family of Fr. David Hudgins in your prayers.  He died in a car accident the past week.  He was the pastor of St. Joseph Shrine in Brooklyn and the Judicial Vicar for the Diocese of Lansing.  Please pray for us priests – it is hard to lose one of our brothers this way.  Fr. David, my dear brother, may you rest in peace.

Over the course of January, I want to walk through the four parts of the vision laid out by Realigning Resources for Mission for a healthy parish in the Diocese of Lansing.  The first part of that vision addresses priests in particular.  Each parish is:

Led by priests striving for health and holiness

  • Priests support one another
  • They live in community, even if not in the same rectory
  • Multiple priests serving one parish together
  • Ongoing formation, mentoring and coaching is provided to diocesan clergy
  • Priests are unified with and accountable to the Bishop
  • A Pastor who has the charism of leadership and has a parish leadership team
  • Other priests operate out of their charisms and gifts too

A worthy goal indeed, and as I mentioned last week, I am especially looking forward to taking steps to achieve this goal.  Fr. Ginu and I pray morning prayer together Tuesday -Thursday.  When the seminarians are living at the parish, they join us as well.  I look forward to the regular meetings where Fr. David Reamsynder will also be with us or us with him.  We are and have been serving together for the last number of years.  Strengthening that fraternity and community life will help us serve our three parishes in a greater way.

As a moderator I know that the Diocese will be providing that ongoing formation, mentoring, and coaching.  We are blessed in our Diocese to meet every Fall for three days together.  This coming Feb 15-17th all the priests of the Diocese will gather with Bishop Boyea for a retreat so we can pray together and enter more fully into our mission.  All are steps toward achieving this goal.

It is good to be challenged as priests to live our priesthood in as healthy a way as possible.  I want to share here a reflection by Fr. Richard Veras on his ordination day that I have found so inspiring. “In his homily at my priestly ordination, Cardinal John J. O’Connor told my classmates and me, ‘The greatest homily that could be preached to you about your priesthood does not come from me, but from these priests and bishops who are here in this sanctuary … You will find them weak at times, tempted at times, even sinful at times; you and others may rant or rave about their inabilities or their lack of zeal, but these brothers of yours have never given up.’  It was a beautiful testament to the grace of perseverance in one’s vocation, which is the grace of Christ persevering with us and bearing fruit in those who humbly accept his graces.  The Cardinal told us to seek Christ in the Eucharist and in the gift of the Holy Spirit in times of discouragement.”

I can think of many priests who have given me such a good witness.  Fr. Ginu, Fr. David, and I strive to do the same.

God Bless!

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, January 2, 2022

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,

Many Blessings on this new year!  How good it is that at the beginning of the year we ask the Lord what He wants to make new in us this year.  May these resolutions bring about the good work He has in mind for you!

For us as Parishes we will also be beginning something new.  This past fall the Diocese concluded the Realigning Resources for Mission (RRM) process after two years of prayer and consultation.  The operating Vision for Parishes from RRM is this:  A healthy parish in the Diocese of Lansing is led by a priest striving for health and holiness, equips and empowers parish staff, makes and forms missionary disciples, and seeks the lost and serves the poor.  The whole point of the RRM process is to help parishes and the Diocese as a whole live this vision.

The final recommendation from RRM was for there to be 21 parish groupings and three standalone parishes.  In consultation with the Priest Assignment Board and Mrs. Deb Amato, who will lead our implementation, they have discerned eight groupings to invite to be early adopters.  Each grouping will have one of the priests from the grouping assigned as a Moderator.  Our grouping, (St. Mary on the Lake, Sacred Heart, St. Anthony’s in Hillsdale) will be one of the initial eight groupings.  Bishop Boyea has asked me to be Moderator for our grouping.

My first task will be to gather with Fr. Ginu and Fr. David for prayer and discernment to develop a covenant.  This will guide how we become a Communion of Priests who are together on Mission.  This agreement will also determine how we will lead the parishes in the grouping to fulfill the Mission together.  Each parish will retain its identity but ever more integration and collaboration will be the means for us to achieve Christ’s Mission to us.

I think our grouping is primed to take this next step because we have already been working together to a certain extent for the last number of years.  This solidifies that relationship and opens the door for us to work together more intentionally as priests and parishes.

I have been blessed to get to know all of the parishes in our grouping.  Obviously, I know Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake the best.  But I see God’s providence at work in paving the way to also knowing St. Anthony’s.  In 2012, as a seminarian, I spent my internship summer (this is what Seamus Kettner did with us last summer) at St. Anthony’s and I was blessed to get to know many of the families.  I have been able to be involved at Hillsdale College with monthly adoration and confession nights and discernment groups during the school year.  Fr. David is a native of Hudson and so also knows the community well.

There are many aspects of this that I am excited for. The one that tops my list though is the increased priestly fraternity.  In my seminary days the importance of making time for fraternity and prayer together as priests was stressed.  Now ordained for as few years I see just how easy it is to have good intentions in this regard and then for it not to happen.  So, I am excited that these regular gatherings will become fixtures on the calendar.

Being the pilot wave there is much to articulated.  I also have questions on what the particulars will look like.  In the end, I like how Bishop Boyea said it the best: “Obviously, we have a lot of work to do to put flesh on these bones.  But as the Prophet Ezekiel saw, it will be primarily the breath of the Spirit of God which will bring these simple beginnings to a good and holy conclusion.”

God Bless!

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, December 26, 2021

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,

Blessed Christmas Season and celebration of the Holy Family!  This Christmas the  detail I have been struck by is the owner of the stable and the manger.  The name of this family is long lost to history but not to God.  On that Christmas night the very first people to make room for Jesus entering into the world was that family.  In one sense you could say that was a small gesture but an act that bore such weight!

Christmas reveals the utter simplicity of what Jesus asks of us.  He asks that we make room for Him to do what He came to do.  What He came to do was save us, bring us hope, bring us healing, and ultimately bring us home.  The first step in any of those  realities is to first make room and the let Him work.  In the end, the Saints are those who made room for God without reserve and their lives were utterly transformed.

It isn’t just our lives that are impacted.  God also asks us to help make room for Him in other’s lives.  Over the course of our lives hundreds, thousands, of people will cross our paths.  Many of those encounters might seem as insignificant.  Acts of little or no importance.  Yet in those moments we can be making room for Jesus to enter into someone else’s life.  They can be acts of such weight that they will be spoken of in eternity.

It is impossible to judge the weight of any encounter we have and how God will use it. One time I found myself at the bedside of a dying man.  Not having any of his own family he was surrounded by a family who had adopted him as one of their own (talk about making room for Jesus).  That moment, with all its weight and importance, only came about through one of those seemingly throw away moments of no importance.  It happened because of a conversation that I had on the sidewalk.  That person knew this man and because of that prior conversation felt comfortable reaching out- can you visit and pray with our friend?

How often have I walked by moments like that, where Jesus wanted to enter into the world and all that is needed to make room, is to have a simple conversation on the sidewalk?

The lives that pass through ours bear more weight than we may ever know.  The interactions, small though they might be in the moment, can bear a weight far beyond what we can imagine.  It might lead to the bedside of a dying man to comfort and pray with him – all because of a small conversation on the sidewalk.

This season of Advent and Christmas is filled with moments of small things but of great weight.  So, it was for those who made room for Jesus that first Christmas night.  Let us make room in small and big ways and see how God will use them!

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, December 19, 2021

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,

Many Blessings as we prepare to celebrate Christmas this coming weekend!  I must say- the timing of Christmas falling on a Saturday is interesting this year.  We will have our usual Mass schedule for Christmas on Friday (Christmas Eve) and on Saturday morning (Christmas).  There will be no Saturday night Mass on the 25th.  On Sunday, the 26th, we will have our usual Sunday Masses at both parishes.  It is going to be a very busy few days!

At our 4:30 Mass on Christmas Eve I will be inviting the kids up to join me again for the homily.  It was very strange last year during the midst of Covid to not have them there and I am very much looking forward to it!  That Mass is one of my favorites of the whole year.

I want to encourage everyone this Christmas season to think of who you could invite to come with you to Christmas Mass.  You have no idea how important that kind of invitation can be for someone.  It might be someone of your own family who hasn’t really been back to Church since Covid started.  Having been away for so long it can be hard knowing how to start again and they need someone to go with.  It might be a neighbor who doesn’t have anyone else but they do have you.  Over this past year I have had a number of powerful encounters and moments of prayer with people that happened solely through others helping open the door.  I would never have met them if not for someone in their family or a good friend reaching out.

I am so grateful and encouraged by that witness!   This is part and parcel of the Christian life that we reach out to those around us and help bring them to Jesus.  It is a common theme throughout the Gospel accounts that when Jesus traveled in his ministry that others would come to meet him bringing their friends who needed healing, needed grace, needed mercy.  What a role they played and what a role we can play.  I know it can be awkward to make that invitation but don’t be afraid.  As someone once told me- “Don’t worry, what is the worst that can happen, they say Yes?”.  For those waiting for just such an invitation please make it!

I also want to thank you for your generosity.  I know this is a season of year end giving and lots of deserving organizations asking for our support.  I want to say thank you ahead of time. A phrase we rightly use is this: “God provides”.  How often that prayer is answered through others stepping into the breach through the nudge of the Holy Spirit.  I have been on both sides of the equation.  I have experienced the blessing of someone providing for me at a time I needed it the most.  I have been blessed at other times to be in the position of helping others in their times of need.  Both are a blessing.  On behalf of Sacred Heart Parish and School, of St. Mary on the Lake, of our Food Pantries, of Catholic Charities I want to say thank you- thank you for remembering us, thank for all of your support that makes our Missions possible.

I have had some questions about Maya Indian Missions.  In the past, parishioners have supported this ministry.  In 2019 some questions were raised concerning its finances.    The Attorney General reviewed the charity’s finances and ultimately approved the charity to continue fundraising in Michigan.

 

God Bless,

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, December 12 2021

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,

I hope you are having a happy and holy Advent!  This is a season when we want to grow in our faith but can wonder what concrete steps we should take.  There are few options in front of us.  First are the Penance services coming up this week- the 15th here at Sacred Heart and the 16th at St. Anthony’s, both starting at 6pm.  Any priest is happy to help you walk through this great Sacrament if it has been a while.

That leads to a great tool that helps plug us into our faith in a variety of ways- including Confession. It is the My Parish App, which is available and regularly updated for both Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake.  Within the App is a plethora of resources including a handy confession guide.

My Parish App (Free) Apple|Android

Simply download the app, open it and select any parish in the listing.  Select the Confession icon on the home screen (broken chain link graphic).  This Confession app within the My Parish App acts as a perfect refresher for you —offering a comprehensive examination of conscience in addition to the “how to” guide walking you through the steps of your confession and the text to the Act of Contrition you will say at the end of your confession. The app integrates an option to remind you to go to confession each time you access My Parish App.  As an added bonus, you get all the many other resources on this app including a decent Mass finder when you travel, Catholic prayers, audio Bible, audio Rosary, Bishop Barron videos, and much more.

The second great tool is the Bible in a Year Podcast offered through Ascension Press.  In The Bible in a Year podcast, Fr. Mike Schmitz walks you through the entire Bible in 365 episodes, providing commentary, reflection, and prayer along the way.

Unlike any other Bible podcast, Ascension’s Bible in a Year podcast follows a reading plan inspired by The Great Adventure Bible Timeline, a ground-breaking approach to understanding salvation history developed by renowned Catholic Bible scholar Jeff Cavins. For each period in the timeline, Jeff will join Fr. Mike for a special episode that will help you understand the context of each reading.

With this podcast, you won’t just read the Bible in a year … you’ll finally understand how all the pieces of the Bible fit together to tell an amazing story that continues in your life today!

You can start anytime you want- I am currently on day 156.  It works especially well for when I am driving.  I have found it to be very accessible and fruitful.  Being the person that is often doing the blabbing I appreciate being able to hear another perspective!  There are so many great ways for us to grow- please take advantage of them.

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin

 

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,

Blessed Advent to everyone!  I had a great and very busy Thanksgiving holiday between being home and then down to Ford Field for Hudson’s State Championship Win.  On Thanksgiving one of my sisters announced that the 15th grandbaby is due to arrive this coming summer!  At my family parties the little ones are getting close to outnumbering the adults which makes for a wonderfully chaotic time.

This coming week we will have two important events.  First is the Solemnity of the       Immaculate Conception which is a Holy Day of Obligation.  The Mass schedule will be:

Tuesday, December 7:       6:00pm at St. Mary on the Lake

Wednesday, December 8:  8:00am at Sacred Heart

Wednesday, December 8:  9:15am at St. Mary on the Lake

Wednesday, December 8:  6:30pm at Sacred Heart

We celebrate this day for it is one of God’s great acts in our redemption, God preparing Mary through this great gift of redeeming grace that she might be ready to say Yes when asked to be the Mother of God.  We celebrate this day because it points to all the others – March 25th, the Annunciation, exactly nine months from Dec 25th, the birth of Jesus.  That leads to Easter when Jesus will cry out from the cross “It is finished”.  As Christians we celebrate both the beginning and the end.  In our own lives we will find ourselves somewhere in the middle between what God has begun to do in our lives and what that finished product will look like.  This feast day should give us such hope.  The God who worked such marvels for our salvation desires to work in our own lives for our own good.  Sometimes those beginnings are small and seemingly insignificant but if we can be open, will lead to God doing great things.

The second event is our Advent night of reflection that we will hold Thursday, Dec 9th at St. Mary on the Lake at 6:00 pm.  I always forget how busy this time of year is with parties and preparation for parties yet to come.  This is a great night to get away from the busyness and be able to focus on the reason for this season.  To simply sit and receive.  The night will include Adoration with music, a reflection, and time for confession and prayer time.

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, November 21, 2021

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary,

Many blessings to you all this Thanksgiving week!  Fr. Ginu will be visiting a friend for his first American Thanksgiving and will be gone Wed-Fri.  I will have the morning Masses at both parishes Thanksgiving Day and then will be with family through Saturday.  We will not have our morning Mass at Sacred Heart on Friday, November 26th.

Thanksgiving is a national holiday that flows from a central tenant of our Christian faith- our ability to give thanks is the marker of our spiritual health.  It marks our awareness of God’s providential presence and our ongoing trust.   Once at a school Mass I asked what it meant when we said we believe in Jesus.  One little girls answered by saying this: “To believe in Jesus means to believe He has done wonderful things and He will do wonderful things for me.”  Thanksgiving then roots us in that reality of Jesus having done and promising to continue to do wonderful things.

This is what allowed St. Paul to write these words from a prison cell: Philippians 4:4-7: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!  Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.  Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  Even there Paul could rejoice because even there he was in the providential care of God.   May this Thanksgiving root all of us more fully in that reality.   I want to leave us with a few quotes from the saints who share their wisdom with us.

  • “In all created things discern the providence and wisdom of God, and in all things give Him thanks.” – St. Teresa of Avila
  • “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” – St. Ambrose
  • “Prayer is an aspiration of the heart.  It is a simple glance directed to Heaven. It is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy.” –St. Therese Lisieux
  • “O my God, let me remember with gratitude and confess to thee thy mercies toward me.” –St. Augustine of Hippo
  • “Remember the past with gratitude. Live the present with enthusiasm.  Look forward to the future with confidence.” –St. John Paul II
  • “The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for what He is sending us every day in His goodness.” – St. Gianna Beretta Molla
  • “Thank God ahead of time.”
  • “Gratitude is the first sign of a thinking, rational creature.” –Bl. Solanus Casey

God Bless!

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,

This week I will be taking Mon-Wed off for the opening days of the deer hunting season.  I will be hosting the Holy Hunt Club at the rectory for a few of my brother priests and friends.  It’ll include hunting and card playing with a midday Mass – it’ll be a fun few days!

There is a patron saint of everything including hunting.  The most famous is St. Hubert.  “Saint Hubertus was born around the year AD 656.  Saint Hubert’s wife (the daughter of a count) died giving birth to their son who would eventually become a bishop.  Heartbroken by the death of his wife, Saint Hubert retreated from the court and gave himself up entirely to hunting.

On Good Friday morning, when the faithful were crowding the churches, Hubert went hunting.  As he was pursuing a magnificent stag, the animal turned and he beheld a crucifix standing between its antlers, while he heard a voice saying: “Hubert, unless thou turn to the Lord, and lead a holy life, thou shalt quickly go down into Hell”.  Hubert dismounted, prostrated himself and said, “Lord, what would Thou have me do?”  He received the answer, “Go and seek Lambert [bishop of Maastricht-Liège, Tongeren], and he will instruct you.”

He was condemned by God not for hunting but for withdrawing from the world and shirking his duties as a member of court and as a Christian (he was out hunting on Good Friday!).

Saint Hubertus is honored among hunters as the father of ethical hunting behavior.  It is said that Saint Hubertus established the hunting principle of conserving wildlife, not killing a mother with its young, and preferring older bucks and bulls past their breeding prime.  He also advocated only shooting an animal when a humane, clean and quick kill is assured.

After leaving the wilderness as a hunter, he became a priest and eventually the successor bishop to his master Saint Lambert of Maastricht.  He was famous for his asceticism and preaching.  He is thus the patron saint of hunters, and bowhunters in particular.”

What I love about this encounter is that here the Lord steps in and helps Hubert balance the good things in his life.  Too often we struggle with letting the good things in our life get out of balance and begin edging out other good things.  In this case hunting was taking the place of God in Hubert’s life.  No good is greater than that good!  He is a wonderful patron for helping us learn to balance the good things of our lives – and when one good is making us choose between it and God, a life of prayer, going to Mass, that we choose Christ!

St. Hubert, pray for us!

God Bless,

Fr. Todd