From the Pastor
With this column, I would like to update you regarding several areas of our parish’s life.
1. Christmas at The Basilica: While Christmas was once again very different this year because of the pandemic, there were also many blessings associated with it. Our staff did an excellent job of making our Christmas celebrations safe, meaningful, and reverent. They helped with live streaming the Masses, and they also assisted in various liturgical ministries. I am very grateful to them, and to those volunteers, who made this year’s Christmas celebrations so special. As pastor of The Basilica, I have much to be proud of and even more to be grateful for this year.
2. Our Parish Finances: First and foremost, I want to thank all those who made a commitment of financial support to our parish community during our financial stewardship campaign this past fall. Please know your commitment of financial support to our parish community is greatly appreciated. Your pledge, no matter the size, is important and makes a difference. It allows us to continue to offer the many programs, ministries and services that are the hallmark of our Basilica community.
Thank you for your ongoing generosity. Please know of my great gratitude for your ongoing financial support of our parish.
3. Lent: Having just finished the Christmas season, it is hard to believe that Lent is coming, but Ash Wednesday this year is Wednesday March 2nd. As a child I never really appreciated Lent. As I have grown older, though, I’ve come to realize how important and how good the season of Lent is for me, and for all of us. During this special season I invite and encourage you to look at your calendar and to plan on participating virtually or in-person in the services and activities that will be offered at The Basilica. Visit our web site at mary.org for a list of our Lenten activities and services.
4. Catholic Services Appeal: The 2022 Catholic Services Appeal (CSA) will begin the weekend of February 5 and 6. This yearly appeal helps support the many ministries, services, and programs within our Archdiocese. Now obviously, many people are concerned that contributions to the Archdiocese will be used for purposes they did not intend. In this regard, it is important to note that The Catholic Services Appeal is an independent 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. This was done, to ensure that all the money that is collected through the Appeal would go directly and solely to the ministries, services and programs supported by the CSA. No CSA funds go to the Archdiocese.
By pooling the financial resources from generous donors throughout our diocese, much important and necessary work is funded by the Catholic Services Appeal (CSA). As your pastor, I wholeheartedly endorse the work of the Appeal. I support it financially and I encourage you to make a gift to support these important ministries, services, and programs. Please look for the Catholic Services Appeal information in pews or learn more at csafspm.org.
5. A new Parish Trustee: A few months ago, Kathy Noecker, who has served as one of our parish trustees for the past six plus years informed me of her decision to retire from this position at the end of her current term. While I was saddened by her decision, I also respected her desire to take a step back to enjoy retirement and time with her new grandchild.
After prayer and reflection, I asked Susan Link if she would be willing to accept an appointment as one of our parish trustees, and she agreed. Tom Paul is our other parish trustee. I am extremely grateful to Kathy for her years of service and to Susan for her willingness to take on this responsibility. They have been and will continue to be blessings for our parish.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the role of parish trustees, let me briefly explain. In our Archdiocese, each parish is an individual corporation. Two members of each parish join the pastor, the Vicar General and the Archbishop as officers of the corporate board. In addition to their responsibilities as members of the corporate board, the trustees are members of the Parish Council and Finance Committee. They also sit on the Board of Directors for The Basilica Landmark.
Perhaps most importantly (from my perspective) they also serve as “wisdom figures” and “truth tellers.” Because of the sensitivity and/or confidentiality of some issues, I look to the parish trustees for prudent counsel, wise insights, and the unvarnished truth. In my years as pastor of The Basilica, and in my previous pastorates, the trustees with whom I have worked have been great blessings for me and the parishes I have served. I am confident that this will continue to be the case with Susan Link as our new trustee.
6. Parish Life During the Pandemic: I suspect most of us thought the pandemic would be over by now and things would have returned to normal. Unfortunately, with the new Omicron variant it seems like normal—whatever that new normal might be —is still not on the horizon.
While we have resumed many activities on our campus, many are being done virtually and some are being done hybrid. At this point, and for the foreseeable future, this will continue to be the case. We will make decisions on a case-by-case basis. And we will also continue to look for new ways to/opportunities to celebrate the life of our parish community.
What is clear to me is that we miss the many opportunities to gather and celebrate our faith. We miss praying and worshipping together and the chance to give witness to our faith through our community activities. When we are able to gather again as we used to—and I believe we will—it is my hope and sincere prayer that church will have a renewed and deeper meaning for all of us.
Rev. John M. Bauer
Pastor, The Basilica of Saint Mary