From the Heart of the Shepherd
By Fr. David Hottinger, PES - Pastor
From the bulletin for the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time (October 29, 2023)
Stewardship: Part Five
When you come to Mass this weekend you will surely notice--or have already--the scaffolding around the Parish Center. A $72,000 tuckpointing project is underway! Really couldn’t wait. As the plastic wrap over that bay of windows had witnessed, we had water flowing right into the main office whenever it rained. Our Office Manager is curiously immune to Chinese Water Torture. But for the many who wait in the office there for meetings with the associate pastor, the dripping is unbearable. So too for Randy and Larry, whose thumbs have been plugging leaks since the spring thaw.
The same day the scaffolding went up, I paid a visit to the preschoolers. The topic of the day was Introduction to Angelology. We got much further than I anticipated. You know it’s a bright bunch when one asks, “Father, how can one angel talk to another if they don’t have mouths?” Perfect opportunity to affirm our parents as primary educators in the faith and recommend that he ask his daddy that at the dinner table that evening!
Afterwards it was my turn to hear confessions before and during the 10am Mass. If only I could share the beautiful things that happen there! Suffice it to say that the Lord is rich a mercy, and here we are blessed with many thirsty souls who know where they can come to drink, to be renewed, and set aright.
Later that morning our staff gathered for its monthly formation retreat. What a joy it is to have such a talented team of dedicated Catholics united in the mission! After a rousing group reflection on the mission and contemporary state of the Church, we had Rosary, Mass, an art tour by Kathy, and cake for “MagnifiPat” Hartshorn’s 38th birthday (numbered according to the biblical “40 years” motif). Paying our parish staff (some of whom are volunteer, many of whom are part time, all of whom are underpaid) accounts for just under half of our annual budget. When one considers how these people give so much of themselves and their lives to the parish, I assure you that we are getting an almost unconscionable bargain.
After the retreat I sat down with a pair of newly betrothed to start the marriage prep process. This has been a bumper year for weddings at the parish, and the couplings continue. St. Mark’s has become a landing pad for young Catholics searching for Christ and community. Beautiful to see that although culture of death and selfish individualism are dominant according to so many metrics, here in our little corner of the world young people are opting instead to embrace their God-given human nature and calling, eager to give themselves to another out of love.
Evening Holy Hour over in the adoration chapel. So many people are coming after each workday to spend time with the Lord of the Universe! Of course, it is only right and just. And I’m sure our adoration team would love for some of these to make that leap of faith and sign up for a nighttime hour. Even so, if anyone is searching for the engine that powers this parish, look no further than here.
That night we had our last installment of the series on Salvation that the Christian Initiation Ministry (you knew it as “RCIA”) has been hosting. If you are wondering where in the parish the Gospel is being proclaimed to those who have not heard it (fully) for the first time, this is the place! (As well as Family Faith Formation and Confirmation class, going on at the same time over in the School). Oh, just imagine if just 1% of the 18,000 souls in Merriam Park came into the Church each year at St. Mark’s! Where would we host 180 participants? But perhaps the lower church will be renovated by then…
Choir practice was going on at the same time up in the Church. While there is space for many more up there in the loft, it is impressive to see what our Music Director is able to do with so little. Encouraging, too, to see how God both endows our parishioners with gifts and inspires them to employ them at the parish despite the at times enormous demands they already have on their time.
What a day! Hardly any time for emails. And that’s just a regular Wednes-Day-in-the-life of St. Mark’s. The Month of Stewardship is drawing to a close. Our efforts to use all that God has bestowed upon us in gratitude for His glory has just begun. Or rather, it has never stopped, but is always “just beginning” relative to what He deserves and what we wish to do. So grateful to have all of you with me in this most glorious of undertakings