Pastor’s Desk ~ April 30, 2023
Dear Fellow Parishioners,
At this time of year, I sign hundreds of documents: Baptismal certificates for those receiving other sacraments, First Communion and Confirmation certificates, diplomas from two schools, contracts for teachers and staff from two schools, you name it, all in addition to the usual checks, letters and Mass cards that need to be signed year round. Sometimes I think that for a month, what the parish needs is not so much a pastor as a signature machine, or the character “Thing” from the old Addams Family series – a bare hand that pops up out of a hinged box. However, it’s the sheer numbers of life-markers I sign that reminds me of how many young lives the ministry of St. Vincent de Paul parish touches, and attempts to guide, every year.
The names of students on these documents are invariably formal – first, middle and last. Some middle names were originally surnames passed down from an earlier generation. Each diploma represents a young person completing an important step in their education and live’s journeys, moving on to new challenges, new friends and new – possibly distant – locations.
Each First Communion certificate marks the day on which a young person is able to receive the Lord under the signs of bread and wine for the first time, and participate in the life of the Church on the same terms as any adult.
Each Confirmation certificate marks the day when a young person chooses his or her own Christian identity in the form of a Confirmation name, is fully initiated into the Church by the ancient sign of anointing with Sacred Chrism, and receives the seven-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and reverence for the Lord.
I don’t normally keep up with professional sports. So much of it happens on weekends, when I am not free. However, the statement by Milwaukee Bucks player Giannis Atetokounmpo, when being interviewed on the disappointing end of their season, provided much food for thought, especially for those embarking on a new stage or project in life.
“Do you get a promotion every year, in your job?” Antetokounmpo answered, after a long pause in which he placed his head in his hands. “No, right? So every year you work is a failure? Yes or no. No? Every year you work, you work towards something, towards a goal, which is to get a promotion, to be able to take care of your family, provide a house for them, or take care of your parents. You work towards a goal – it’s not a failure. It’s steps to success.”
“There’s always steps to it,” Antetokounmpo continued. “Michael Jordan played 15 years, won six championships. The other nine years [were] a failure? That’s what you’re telling me…why do you ask me that question? It’s the wrong question.”
“There’s no failure in sports. There’s good days, bad days. Some days you are able to be successful, some days you’re not. Some days it’s your turn, some days it’s not your turn. And that’s what sports is about. You don’t always win. Some other people are going to win. And this year, somebody else is going to win. We’re going to come back next year and try to be better.”
Fr. Bill Donahue
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