November 2013

November 24, 2013

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Well, demolition and construction work on the Parish Hall has begun. Because of this, I ask your patience and good humor whenever inconvenienced over the next ten months or so.

I suspect that the two most major inconveniences for our Sunday worship will revolve around restrooms and parking! And I’m happy to say that we’re doing our best to cope.

For the duration of construction, during the Saturday vigil and all Sunday Masses, we’ve asked members of our Parish staff to serve as “restroom escorts” from the back of church out along Fourth Street to the bathroom facilities in the Parish Office. The ushers will direct you to the escorts, or to wait until an escort gets back from escorting someone else! It’s going to be bothersome due to the distance, and especially when it rains! The best thing, of course, will be to do what your mama told you when you were little: “Go before you go to church!”

In time the contractor will also need to take up most of our parking lot area on Cathedral Square for his equipment. Fortunately, the owner of the small lot directly across Main Street from the front of the Cathedral has given us permission to use it. Its gate will be opened for us during weekend Masses, and while it holds only 30 vehicles, that will be a big help. Its entrance is from Fourth Street, which conveniently is a two-way street. Beyond this, remember that curbside parking downtown is free on weekends, the neighborhood is very safe, and a little walk of a block or two is probably a healthy thing for everyone!

If your children or grandchildren are between 6 months and 6 years old, bring them to our Sunday Children’s Nursery before the 10 am Mass! While we still need a few more parents to help staff it once a month or so (could YOU help?), it’s already much-appreciated by children, parents and congregation alike!

Finally, of course, since the most religious of American holidays is this week, Happy Thanksgiving! In a special way I thank God for all of you, the parishioners and friends of the Cathedral, and quite particularly for your good humor, your generosity, your cooperation, and your earnest desire to know and follow Christ Jesus more intimately. You are uppermost in my prayers each day!

November 17, 2013

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Tomorrow (on Monday, November 18), in accord with the terms of the contract signed with Stuart and Company, General Contractors, of Baton Rouge, the building site of our Parish Hall renovation project, will be turned over to the builders. Thank you for your continued prayers for good weather and safety for all involved in the demolition and construction!

I want to continue to publicize our new Sunday Children’s Nursery! Parents of infants aged 6 months to 6 years can drop them off now before the 10 am Mass and thus be less distracted during our worship! Mrs. Heather Kirk-Ballard is coordinating this project, but would welcome a few more parents to help staff the nursery once a month or so. If you can help, we’ll provide all necessary training and preparation.

Last week I offered a few reflections relative to November, the traditional month of the Holy Souls, urging everyone to offer special prayers for the dead. One thing which we (and many other Church Parishes do) is maintain a “Purgatorial List,” that is, a listing of those departed for whom we focus our prayers.

How do I enroll the names of my family’s departed members, you ask? Simple! During the month of November, in the Mary Chapel in the northwest corner of the Cathedral, next to the Easter Candle, a “Book of Remembrance” has been placed. All you need to do is take a few moments and inscribe their names in the book! These persons are remembered in prayer once each week at our Tuesday noontime Mass. There are no other formalities to accomplish, and no donation or other offering to the Church is required.

There are other ways to remember a loved one, of course. The Sanctuary Lamp near the tabernacle in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel burns perpetually before the Lord reposed in the Holy Eucharist; a memorial donation to underwrite the cost of this lamp is particularly appropriate. In all honesty, however, memorial donations of any sort to St. Joseph Cathedral Parish directly or to its trust funds are welcome: these will be properly acknowledged and so far as is possible the requested intentions of the donor(s) for directing these funds respected. For example, it is possible to provide altar cloths, flowers, candles, incense and other materials used in décor and at worship “in memory of” a loved one. This kind of gift – for use in prayer! – is a fitting tribute to those whose lives have inspired us, as our prayers for them continue.

Finally, let me offer a few words of thanks to everyone who shared their concern for me last weekend. I came down with the flu or some sort of equally terrible virus that “wiped me out” completely for almost four days! Special appreciation has to go out to Bishop Muench and Fathers John Carville and Matt McCaughey for “filling in” for me at the last minute. As I write this I’m still feeling pretty weak but much better, and by the time you read it I predict I’ll be up and around pretty much as if nothing happened. Still, I’m grateful to you for your understanding, for all of your offers of chicken soup and other remedies, and most especially for your prayers.

November 10, 2013

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

At last weekend’s Masses I was able to share that we opened the bids for renovating/expanding our Parish Hall. The low bid, which has been accepted, was submitted by Stuart and Company, General Contractors, of Baton Rouge. By the time you read this the standard contracts will have been signed, and I suspect that the contractor and his subs will get to work as soon as possible, within a week or so. As I said in last week’s Bulletin and at Mass, please continue to remember the project in your prayers: ask God to bless us with good weather and see to the safety of all involved in the demolition and construction.

A few people have already made fun of me as I’ve worried often out loud about the inconveniences and other challenges we’re likely going to experience during this rebuilding project. I realize that these are good problems to have, but the “worry wart” in me keeps hoping that they all end up being manageable hurdles for us to leap. In particular, we’re going to need continued generosity in both attendance and stewardship offerings to the Cathedral Parish even when this becomes inconvenient. God is testing my confidence in both His providence and in your generosity!

Our Parish, however, is not just generous in a financial sense. We also give people to the Church! Last Sunday, here at our 10 am Mass, three seminarians took an important step on their journey toward priesthood: they were formally admitted to “Candidacy” for the Sacrament of Holy Orders by Bishop Muench. One of them was a parishioner of St. Joseph Cathedral Parish, Mr. Reuben Dykes! The others were Mr. Brad Doyle of St. George Parish and Mr. Matt Graham of St. Jude the Apostle Parish. Congratulations go out to them all; they are three of 19 men studying to be priests of the Diocese of Baton Rouge at the college and graduate-school level.

It’s wonderful that down through the years our Parish community has been a convincing seed-bed for vocations to the priesthood. Keep it up, by your fervent prayer and constant encouragements! And for the moment, jot down Saturday, June 14, 2014, on your personal calendar, for that’s the morning when Reuben and his classmates are scheduled to be ordained deacons here at the Cathedral. Everyone’s invited to join in the celebration that day, and then to their priestly ordination a year later!

Of course, I would ask that you continue to join me in urging young men – and even those who don’t think themselves all that young anymore! – to realize that definitely God will bless them for considering a vocation as a priest. It’s a wonderful, fulfilling way of life and a privileged way to live out one’s faith.

Last weekend also saw the start of our Children’s Nursery during our 10 am Mass! Yes, you heard correctly: parents of infants up to kindergarten age can drop them off now before the 10 am Mass and thus be less distracted during our worship! We’ve got the space and have outfitted the rooms to be safe and toddler-friendly, with lots of activities for them to enjoy. I want to thank Mrs. Heather Kirk-Ballard for spearheading this project, but I know she’d love to have a few more parents to share the burden of staffing the nursery once a month or so.

Since we are now in November, the traditional month of the Holy Souls, please remember to pray with special fervor for the dead who still are being purified of their faults. Not everyone goes straight to heaven, remember, and in fact Jesus Himself stated that indeed not many are saved (see Matthew 7:14 for one key Biblical text). We Catholics rightly understand that God’s mercy ardently desires the salvation of everyone, but that His justice demands that sin not be rewarded. Before anyone still tainted by the imperfection of sin or its consequences enters into eternal rest, he or she must be purified. Thank goodness that in His mercy the Lord grants us this opportunity after death, if our sacrifices and efforts at holiness while we are still in this world are not sufficient. Our prayers are of great assistance to the Holy Souls in Purgatory in this task of readying them for the perfection of heaven: thank you for offering them!