2020 has, without a doubt, been a year that we will all remember for any number of reasons. Some of you have sadly experienced firsthand the challenges of the COVID illness whether personally being ill or losing a loved one or just the fear of all this. Jobs have been lost or sidetracked, with ‘normal’ a thing of the past. I write these pastoral notes while I sit in quarantine. By God’s blessing and your many prayers (thank you), I’ve not experienced any symptoms and so mine has been just the mild disruption of daily routines and the absence of Mass in-person with a congregation. Yet, the struggles, whatever they are, are real. And just as real, has been the presence of the Lord God. I’ve spoken to, and been encouraged by, many for whom 2020 has really awakened in them a greater sense of our need for God and His goodness and grace. It has highlighted the value of the Church, the Mass, and our parish family. It was precisely in the temporary ‘loss’ of these ordinarily present features, that the important and essential nature of them has been reasserted. And that, that is a very good thing. “All things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
2020 has also shown how vulnerable the parish and the Archdiocese can be. Just as we depend upon the Church for the saving power of Scripture and Sacraments and the opportunity to serve and to be served, we realize that it takes commitment for each Catholic Christian person to sustain the parish and Church. So many of you have responded generously to this reality. I have been challenged to commit a new in stronger and different ways. The message and the power of Christ are the same, but the ways in which that message is disseminated and the power felt has had to adapt to 2020. If you had asked me a year ago whether I’d be livestreaming Masses, RCIA, devotions, and even graduation and Confirmation, I would have laughed. Now, it is just the way things are so we can be safely together, safely apart. If you had asked me how would the Archdiocese help me maintain payroll a year ago, I would have laughed. But in April of 2020, it was the CFO of the Archdioceses that enabled Holy Family to secure a Paycheck Protection Plan loan so that our employees could be assured of uninterrupted employment. If you would have asked me how the Office of Catholic Education would help us open school in August of 2020, I would have laughed. Yet, they provided needed insight and guidance to our own Holy Family principal Amy Huber to think through safe protocols that met state and local expectations, and have worked beautifully!
2020 has had the strange ability to highlight our interconnectedness as human persons, as parishioners, as parishes, as communities and the world, even as it has challenged that sense of interconnectedness. It has taught us a useful lesson nonetheless. We are connected. We need each other. We succeed only together.
Next weekend, Nov 14-15, is the annual pledge weekend for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis United Catholic Appeal. This annual appeal displays our interconnected ministry and mission as a larger Church. Only together as all parishes and parishioners can we educate future priests and deacons while caring for those now retired. Only together can we continue to provide quality Catholic educational opportunities from preschool to high school while being present to our young Catholic people on university campuses in our region. Only together can we respond to local and global challenges of our in-need neighbors for housing, food, resettlement, and disaster relief. Only together as the Church Universal acting as the Church United. Hence this United Catholic Appeal to support the mission and ministries of the Archdiocese.
Please prayerfully discern how God is calling you to support the UCA and bring the completed pledge card with you to any of the Masses next weekend, mail it in directly if not yet attending Mass in-person, or donate online: www.archindy.org/uca
Last year 35% of Holy Family households made a pledge and the parish pledges exceeded our goal. Holy Family’s local goal for this year is $72,175. I encourage every household to make a contribution, while I expect every household to submit a pledge card. I realize 2020 may have changed your outward ability to support the UCA, please don’t let it change your inward desire to be part of the Church United. I’ve already made a pledge, and I invite you to do the same.
Holy Family, The First United Church Family, Pray for us.
~ Fr Jeremy M. Gries