Fr. Todd Bulletin, September 26, 2021

Dear St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart,

What a blessed time of year it is.  I feel like my last weekend was a picture-perfect slice of Fall in just a few days-

*  Friday night football game at Hudson (which Hudson won)

*  Deer hunting on Saturday for Early Doe (successful)

*  Mass followed by two baptisms on Sunday (the baptism party out to the Brasher farm included a spin on their bulldozer)

*  Chicken butchering at home on Monday for the day off (which included instructing an inquisitive nephew on how to peel a chicken gizzard!).

This is all to say how blessed I feel to be assigned to our two parishes!  I hope your Fall has been off to an equally good start.

This coming week is our annual priest convocation (Sept 27th– 30th).  It was canceled last year due to the pandemic so it will be especially good to be together again with all of the priests in our Diocese.  There are some priests I only see once or twice a year so these are great days for being able to catch up again.  Because Fr. Ginu and I will both be attending it we will not have Daily Masses those four days.

The major theme of the convocation this year will be the ongoing Realigning Resources for Mission process.  Being a part of individual parishes, it can be easy to forget that we don’t exist as an island.  We are all a part of a local Church that is bigger than our individual communities.  We all are meant to share in that larger vision of serving Christ in the world.  I am excited to get all of us together for a few days to talk and pray about that overall vision and mission of our parishes together.  That overall Vision for a parish in the Diocese of Lansing is as follows: “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.”  Please pray for our all of us and we will be praying for you.

We will be back on Friday for the 9am School Mass October 1st.  That same day we will have our annual pet blessing at 2:00 in Sacred Heart’s Church parking lot in honor of St. Francis of Assisi’s feast day on the 4th.  It is always a treat to see the wide variety of animals that make an appearance that afternoon!

October 3rd is Sacred Heart’s Roast Beef dinner also back again after a pandemic hiatus.  It will be take-out only this year but delicious as always.

God Bless!  Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, September 19, 2021

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,

On Saturday October 9th we will be hosting a one-day marriage retreat in Sacred Heart’s parish hall.

I know there are a thousand and one things going on in our lives that make taking even one day like this off.  I want to try and make a case for it!  The biggest obstacle is that when it comes to marriage enrichment, everything else (and they are all usually good) takes precedence.  Taking care of the kids, sports activities, work, getting the chores around the house done, etc.  Too easily and too often couples stop making and taking the time for each other that every marriage needs to grow and thrive.  With the myriad of things going on, this gets pushed to the bottom of the pile.  This retreat is one day to be built up and focus on each other as a couple, and on this vocation you are called to live.

This retreat reminds me of something I heard at a funeral.  It was for the father of one of the priests in our diocese who died unexpectedly a few years back.  At the funeral Mass Bishop Mengeling got up and asked “What is the most important gift a mother and father can give to their children?”  In the end he said the greatest gift parents give their children is the example of them loving and caring for each other.  Dad caring for Mom, loving her, and sacrificing for her.  Mom caring for Dad, loving him, and sacrificing for him.  That relationship provides the foundation of security that children’s lives are built on.  The relationship of our parents is meant to provide the model that we can then go out and emulate in all other relationships that come.  That example will help us enter fully into our own vocations.

In a world filled with so many demands, it is important to clear the deck now and again for a day like this.  If you can’t come yourself but want to sponsor another couple, a great gift is to offer to watch their kids for the day.

Ron and Neysa Stacey are heading up the day and providing lunch.  If you have had a chance to eat their smoked Bar-B-Que meats you know you won’t be disappointed!

One of our speakers for the day will be Bert Schomberger.  She is the lay ministry coordinator for the Diocese and helps out with many events throughout the Diocese.  One ministry especially close to her heart is marriage support and enrichment.  Every year she helps put on a married couples retreat at St. Francis Retreat center in Dewitt, MI.  The retreat this year will be December 3rd-5th.  Ron and Neysa have been attending this retreat and have found it to be very renewing.  And as it always takes place in the first part of December, it is a good launching point for the season of Advent.

St. John Chrysostom (whose feast day we celebrated this past week) suggested that young husbands should say to their wives: “I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself.  For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us.  . . . I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you.”  Good words no matter how young or old you are!

Let’s pray for all married couples.  Hope to see you on October 9th!

 

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, September 12, 2021

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,

This past Labor Day I was blessed to visit my newborn niece on my way back down to the parish.  As the first baby born on Labor Day at the hospital, I thought they should win a prize but thus far none has been forthcoming.  (After fourteen tries I also once again failed to win the $25 dollars for guessing the right gender and date in the family betting pool.  Hopefully my luck will be better whenever number 15 is announced!)  I hope you all had a blessed weekend before the Fall begins in earnest.

For those who were not able to attend in person or virtually, I encourage you to watch the video of the meeting held at the end of August with the Diocese’s proposed plan from the Realigning Resources for Mission committee:  https://www.dioceseoflansing.org/office-bishop/realign-resources-mission

A part of that plan is looking at grouping of parishes throughout the Diocese to make it easier to share resources.  These are groupings- not merging and not clustering.  The proposed parish grouping we are in is one that is already very familiar.  It is Sacred Heart, St. Mary on the Lake, and St. Anthony in Hillsdale.  I would include the college ministry at Hillsdale College as well since that is in our area.

In some ways we have already been practicing what is being proposed because we are already working to share resources and work together.  Fr. Ginu is serving at all three of our parishes where two priests alone would not be enough to cover the needs of our region.  I have been very happy with the cooperation that is already evident with shared programs like our Confirmation program, Youth Group, and other special events like the Women’s Night of Reflection this past summer and the Marriage Retreat coming up this October.  For all of these events we advertise them at St. Anthony’s, and St. Anthony’s advertises major events with us.  We are so blessed with a staff that works seamlessly together.

One of the major temptations the Realigning Resources for Mission committee is trying to address with these proposals is the temptation to operate as silos- parishes strictly separated.  The committee has a vision of what they want each parish in the Diocese to be: “A healthy parish in the Diocese of Lansing is led by a priest who strives for health and holiness, equips and empowers parish staff, makes and forms missionary disciples, and seeks the lost and serves the poor.”  We have a shared mission of forming us and helping us live as faithful Christians.  Why not do as much together as makes sense, rather than duplicating in that common mission?

This is still a proposal.  After presenting it to the Diocese, the committee will be taking feedback and revisiting their proposals.  There are elements of it that still need to be defined.  I know processing this feedback will help fill in some of those gaps.

Again, I feel like we are already living some of what is being proposed and I consider it a blessing.  I think some of what would flow from this grouping is living more intentionally what we are already doing.  Please keep all this in prayer and pray that it would help us achieve what that Vision laid out: “A healthy parish in the Diocese of Lansing is led by a priest who strives for health and holiness, equips and empowers parish staff, makes and forms missionary disciples, and seeks the lost and serves the poor.”\

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, September 5, 2021

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,

Blessed Labor Day weekend! Work is one of the great gifts that God has entrusted to us that is meant to help us grow, develop and live virtue, and be the mission field where we live out our discipleship.  We thank God today for the gift of our jobs and remember especially those who are without work.  I wanted to share part of a reflection from Fr. Roger Landy on the significance of work in our lives.

“In the first command in the Bible, the Lord gave the human person the mission to co-operate (work together) with him in bringing His work of creation to fulfillment: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish … the birds … and every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen 1:28). God, who worked for the “six days” of creation and whom Jesus says “is still working” (Jn 5:17), made man and woman in his own image and likeness and called them to share in this work. …

Right from the beginning, before the Fall, the human person had received this mission, which shows not only the goodness of human work but how central it is for man’s dignity, vocation and mission.

So great was Jesus’ appreciation for human work in God’s divine plan that he could not stop using it as the proper analogy for his preaching. In his teaching, he favorably mentions shepherds, farmers, doctors, sowers, householders, servants, stewards, merchants, laborers, soldiers, cooks, tax collectors and scholars and many more. He compares the work of the apostolate to the manual work of harvesters and fishermen.

Jesus did not merely praise ordinary human work but shared in it. He spent the vast majority of his life in Nazareth as a manual laborer. His fellow Nazarenes knew him as a “construction worker” (the Greek word teknon, in Mk 6:3, means is broader than “carpenter”).

He called all his listeners, of whatever noble profession, to be saints. A few he called to leave their fishing boats or tax-charts behind to proclaim the Gospel. The vast majority he called to proclaim the Gospel by living that good news right where they were.  That’s still what Jesus does today.

Most of his followers are called to live out their discipleship and apostolate, their vocation and their mission, in the family and in the workplace. There they are called to become saints and bring others to sanctity through this “increasing and multiplying” and “subduing” and “dominion.”

One’s desk, or sewing machine, or kitchen, or chalkboard, or operating room, or workbench or boat, is meant to become an altar which sanctifies not only what is given to God in work, but the giver as well. It is there that the vast majority of men and women are called to be sanctified and sanctify others through showing the original dignity and meaning of human work.

Work is not principally about earning a paycheck, but about serving and loving others. When work takes on this meaning, the perfection of the human person continues, the work-place is evangelized, and God’s work is advanced.

On this Labor Day weekend, a diligent construction worker from Nazareth waves to each of us with calloused hands and says, “Come, follow me!”

https://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2011/09/fr-landrywhat-we-celebrate-on-labor-day/

 

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, August 29, 2021

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

We are celebrating back to school this weekend with a blessing for all teachers- whether you are at the 11 AM Mass this weekend or not know of our prayers and gratitude for you!  I have been so struck by how many teachers we have at our parishes for all of the schools in our area.  You are a blessing.  Two weeks ago, I ran into one of my grade school teachers from my hometown’s Catholic grade school.  It was fun catching up with her.  What stood out to me from that encounter though was the realization that I was now (and had been for a long time!) taller than her.  Yet in my minds eye those roles are reversed and she is the one I am looking up to.  Powerful indeed is the role a teacher plays in a student’s life.  You are someone we look up to no matter how tall we get!

As part of an address to a teacher’s group in Italy Pope Francis had this encouragement for all teachers:

“As Jesus taught us, the Law and the Prophets are summed up in two commandments: love the Lord your God and love your neighbour (cf. Mt 22:34-40). We can ask ourselves: who is a teacher’s neighbour? Your students are your “neighbour”!

It is with them that you spend your days. It is they who await guidance, direction, a response — and, even before that, good questions! … School is certainly comprised of valid and qualified instruction, but also of human relations, which for us are welcoming and benevolent relations, to be offered indiscriminately to all. Indeed, the duty of a good teacher — all the more for a Christian teacher — is to love his or her more difficult, weaker, more disadvantaged students with greater intensity. Jesus would say, if you love only those who study, who are well educated, what merit do you have? And there are some who make us lose our patience, but we must love them even more! Any teacher can do well with such students. I ask you to love the “difficult” students more… those who do not want to study, those who find themselves in difficult situations, the disabled and foreigners, who today pose a great challenge for schools.”

https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2015/march/documents/papa-francesco_20150314_uciim.pdf

For all of our students we have these words of wisdom from the book of Sirach.  I know was told many times that our learning doesn’t stop after school stops so these words apply just as much to all of us!

Sirach: 6:32-37

If you wish, you can be taught; if you apply yourself, you will be shrewd. If you are willing to listen, you will learn; if you give heed, you will be wise. Frequent the company of the elders; whoever is wise, stay close to him. Be eager to hear every godly discourse; let no wise saying escape you. If you see a man of prudence, seek him out; let your feet wear away his doorstep! Reflect on the precepts of the LORD, let his commandments be your constant meditation; Then he will enlighten your mind, and the wisdom you desire he will grant.

 

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, August 22, 2022

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,

On August 13th the Diocese held their annual vocations night at the Lansing Lugnuts minor league baseball stadium.  (If you are curious, the Lansing Lugnuts beat the Dayton Dragons 7-6)!  All the seminarians were there along with many of the priests and sisters.  It was very encouraging and uplifting evening.  On behalf of all those discerning a call to religious life, I want to say thank you for your prayers and encouragement.  They mean more than you could know.

Whenever we speak about vocations, the attention tends to shift to religious callings.  What I was most moved by that night, though, was the other great vocation of marriage.  Before the game, all the seminarians gathered with their families for a dinner.  The hall was filled with the noise of chatter, laughter, and the noise of kids running all over the place.  Families are the foundation for every vocation.  Families rooted in Christ’s love bear abundant fruit, and that was what was evident that night.

Whenever you hear the vocation story of someone who is entering religious life, you are often given a picture of their home life.  Not stories that were perfect, but ones where families strove amidst all the busyness and demands of our modern world to make Christ the center.  I know this consists of parents striving and at times failing in their endeavors, but it is so important for those growing up to see their parents making that effort.

Indeed, I know parents can wonder if what they are doing is going to have any effect.  Is the chaotic prayer time filled with kids who are not paying any attention doing any good?  Does fighting for and finding the Mass while on vacation in a place that isn’t home worth it?  Does being willing to stand out in the world and sometimes even among our friends and family for our faith matter?  Can all these things, done imperfectly, be used by God?

The answer is an emphatic Yes!  A yes witnessed at that Lugnuts game, in all these men and women answering a call from God because they saw what their parents did in and for their families.  For when He called, they had already been shown the way.  Let us pray for, support, and encourage our families, which are the seedbed for all vocations.

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, August 15, 2021

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,

It is good to be back after a very refreshing time of retreat and vacation.  Fr. Ginu—thank you again for stepping in to cover Masses right after you moved in! This weekend we celebrate the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, which lands on a Sunday.  Under her care and intercession, may we walk ever more faithfully our Christian walk.

There are two events coming up I want to particularly mention.

The first is an update on Realigning Resources for Mission:

Back in the fall of 2019—which seems like an eternity ago since Covid hit—the Diocese started a process called Realigning Resources for Mission.  Over the past two years, there have been ongoing meetings and consultations looking at plans for helping parishes be as healthy as they can be while working cooperatively with each other.  This committee is now ready to roll out a proposed draft of what that model could look like.

 RRM Regional Meetings

Sunday, August 29, 2021 • 6:30pm to 8:30pm

The Realigning Resources for Mission committee invites you to join them on the evening of Sunday, August 29, 2021 when they will present to you the proposed drafts of parish groupings within the Diocese of Lansing. Your feedback is important to them and to Bishop Earl Boyea.

There will be a virtual Zoom option available to watch all the main presentations, but only those who attend in person will be able to participate in the live Q&A. All participants, in-person and online, will have a survey available to give feedback.

Locations:

Father Gabriel Richard High School, Ann Arbor
Powers Catholic High School, Flint
Lumen Christi High School, Jackson
Lansing Catholic High School, Lansing

 

The second is the Michigan Catholic Women’s Conference:

This will a great day to be rebuilt and refreshed in your faith with women from all over Michigan.

Outpouring: His Love – Our Hearts

October 16 @ 9:00 am – 5:00 pm – $50.

The Lansing Center, Lansing Michigan

Purchase your tickets today at https://michigancwc.org/

Early bird registration available through Sept. 7.

 

God Bless!

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, August 8, 2021

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,

This Wednesday, August 11th, we will have our Youth Vocations Night from 6-9pm at St. Mary on the Lake. Join us for an inspirational night of vocations as we hear from Carter and Elyse Courtney, several Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, and myself and the Seminarians about their vocations of marriage, religious life, and the priesthood. Learn how to hear God’s voice in your life and discern your calling by listening to their experiences! We will begin the night with Mass, followed by a Taco Bar in the parish hall before we listen to our speakers, ending with a Q&A with our guests and a fun group activity.

This is Seamus Kettner’s final weekend with us.  What a blessing and he has certainly jumped into his internship experience from day one—joining us for school functions, sick calls, weddings, funerals, baptisms and plenty of Euchre and Cribbage.  He led us on a four-week Bible Study of Tobit and a 33-day Marian consecration.

There are several next steps for Seamus in the next two years.  The first will be receiving the ministry of Acolyte this coming fall.  “The acolyte is instituted for service at the altar and to assist the Priest and Deacon. It is his place principally to prepare the altar and the sacred vessels and, if necessary, to distribute the Eucharist to the faithful as an extraordinary minister.”  https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/the-mass/general-instruction-of-the-roman-missal/girm-chapter-3  This will take place at a special Mass at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.  If it is open to the public, I will let you know for anyone who would like to be there for it.

The next step will be ordination to the Diaconate which will take place this coming June. At this point, Seamus makes the commitments and promises that will define his life: a life of prayer, celibacy, simplicity, and obedience.  As a deacon, he will be assigned to serve in a parish in the Diocese over the remainder of the summer and the coming school year.  It is a great joy that during your last year in seminary you are able to spend all of the weekends serving and ministering in a parish.  As a deacon he is able to read the Gospel, preach at Mass, celebrate baptisms, and witness marriages.

After that last year of seminary, he will be ordained a priest and be assigned as an associate pastor to one of our parishes.  Typically, as an associate you will receive two assignments to give you two different pastor and parish experiences before becoming pastor for the first time.  We have been blessed to be a part of Seamus’ training and experience over these past months.  I am so grateful for your warm welcome—all of the things he has been able to take part in will become a valuable part of his discernment and future ministry.   Thank you to Seamus!  Know that our prayers go with you.

Our other seminarian, Josh Bauer, will be with us for a couple more weeks before he returns to his senior year at St. John Vianney College Seminary in MN.  He has also been a great blessing and has helped on a number of projects.  He was part of the cemetery crew mowing and weed whipping to keep Calvary beautiful.  In the rectory he has helped with sanding and refinishing a downstairs hallway and oak stairs.  It is the original hardwood that had been carpeted, so we had to remove old nails, staples, remnants of carpet glue, and varnish—it is great to see it come alive again.  The rectory also has a back screened in porch that has gotten some new paint and ceiling tiles.  With all of these projects I need to particularly thank Steve Kope who has lent us his time, expertise, and tools in making it possible.

 

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, August 1, 2021

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,

St. Mary is hosting a family fun night for both parishes this Friday, August 6th.  Come out for good food, games for kids and adults, and a band.  I am returning that night late and I am bummed to miss it.

After a year and half of recording Masses during Covid, we will be stopping this August.  The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass was lifted this past spring and thankfully there hasn’t been a major resurgence in cases.  As we returned to Mass in person again, the number of people viewing those Masses has steadily declined to just above single digits.  I want to thank Suzzanne and Tammy for all their extra work this past year and half spent on their weekends getting those Masses posted online.  Audio copies of the Sunday homilies will continue to be recorded.

Last week as a staff, we were blessed to have a one-day retreat led by Deacon Aaron Petersen and his wife Kathy.  They live and work in Hillsdale.  Over the course of the day, they shared important steps for living our spiritual lives in balance with all our responsibilities.

One of the lessons was the importance of living a R.I.M. model of Christian discipleship.  This is an image developed by the Institute for Priestly Formation—incidentally, the program my brother Randy and Dan LaCroix have been attending this past summer.  The grace of this model was summed up this way by a seminarian who learned it while attending in 2019:

“A game-changer for me was learning about the “R.I.M. Model of Discipleship,” which stands for Relationship, Identity, Mission. Our Lord tells us, “Remain in me … for apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15). IPF really helped me understand the power of the word “nothing,” for often in my own life have I found myself inverting the order of the above model and beginning with mission, while pushing my relationship with him to the side. Early in the summer, I learned that I needed to prioritize first and foremost my relationship with God, trusting that an identity as his beloved son will flow from that relationship — and then comes mission.

Through the development of a richer interior life, specifically through contemplation, God has begun to unlock a lot of key things in my heart. He has helped me to see myself as he sees me and has filled me with tremendous gratitude for the gifts he’s given me. The quality of my relationship with God has transformed into deeper intimacy, and my heart is even more on fire for the Lord. Ultimately, this increased interiority has brought me to fall in love more and more with my Savior. I want to remain in this love, for it has changed everything.” https://www.catholicherald.com/news/catholic_living/falling_more_deeply_in_love_with_christ/

We all need to live our lives this way—starting with our relationship with our Heavenly Father through Christ, living that identity and that being the foundation and source of strength for our mission.  It is truly easy to let mission come first without that foundation and end up relying on ourselves instead of the Lord.

The resource they recommended to help us each live this call in a practical way is the Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales. https://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Devout-Life-Tan-Classics/dp/0895552280/ref=pd_lpo_1?pd_rd_i=0895552280&psc=1

He is very down to earth, practical, and concrete in his wisdom.  May it be a blessing to you.

Sr. Amber Czeiszperger has received her habit and new name.  We learned this on our retreat—her religious name is Sr. Francis de Sales!

 

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, July 4, 2021

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,

Blessed 4th of July Weekend!  This weekend I want to share the powerful Mass prayers used on the 4th of July in parishes in the United States.  May these prayers on behalf of our country be our own!

 

Collect

Father of all nations and ages,

we recall the day when our country

claimed its place among the family of nations;

for what has been achieved we give you thanks,

for the work that still remains we ask your help,

and as you have called us from many peoples to be one nation,

grant that, under your providence,

our country may share your blessings

with all the peoples of the earth.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

 

Prayer over the Offerings

Father, who have molded into one our nation,

drawn from the peoples of many lands;

grant, that as the grains of wheat become one bread

and the many grapes one cup of wine,

so before all others be instruments of your peace.

 

Preface

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,

always and everywhere to give you thanks,

Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,

through Christ our Lord.

He spoke to us a message of peace

and taught us to live as brothers and sisters.

His message took form in the vision of our founding fathers

as they fashioned a nation where we might live as one.

His message lives on in our midst as our task for today

and a promise for tomorrow.

 

Prayer after Communion

May the love we share in this Eucharist, heavenly Father,

flow in rich blessing throughout our land

and by your grace may we as a nation

place our trust in you

and seek to do your will.

Through Christ our Lord.

 

God Bless!