Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 7, 2023

Dear Friends,

Hurray, the electricity is restored at the Grotto. Praise God! You can now enjoy the full splendor of this oasis of prayer and peace. Please come - bring your chair, relax, and pray.

We are also happy to share the good news that one of our A/C units supplying air conditioning to the Hall and classrooms has been fixed. It took more than 7 months to be delivered. Praise God again – it came in time for the summer heat.

What a special gift it was on Saturday, May 6, to celebrate the First Communion of 87 of our children. These children had the distinct honor of receiving their First Communion at a special Eucharistic Celebration. This was one of our biggest groups of First Communicants. My heart leapt for joy to see them in spotless white – they looked like angels in the presence of the Lord.

I am so grateful to our children and their parents for their dedication and commitment. They showed up for all the classes and worked hard, learning many lessons and prayers, and attending a lot of practices. Kudos to them!

My very big request is to their parents: Please bring them to church every Sunday so that they can satisfy Jesus’ tremendous hunger for them to receive Him in the Eucharist. Jesus makes it amply clear, in John 6:53 ff, that : “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. I am the true bread that came down from heaven.” What better gift can you give your children than this, to live in Christ forever? Whatever your hectic schedule, please make room for just one hour for Jesus every Sunday. All other gifts you give to your children will fade away, but Jesus’ offer is unbeatable, and his gift of eternal life is a forever gift.

I am grateful to Kelli, our Director of Faith Formation, for coordinating and orchestrating the classes, and I extend a huge thanks to our sacramental preparation catechist team, Kathy Drake, Jon Ross, Jennie Fine, Sonia Santiago, Monique Rivera Vargas, and Janie Rodriguez, for sharing their time and talents and for their fervent faith. Without them, we could never make our sacramental program work. We are blessed because of you.

Thanks to all those who helped with the First Communion Mass itself, such as the catechists, photographers, media team, the choir, the sacristan, and the many others who pitched in.

Congratulations are due to Frank and Kathleen Badgers, the recipients of the Family of the Month Award for the Month of April 2023. What a blessing they have been and will continue to be to our community. May the Good Lord Bless them abundantly.

Please remember to pray the rosary frequently during May. The Month of May dedicated to our Mother Mary. Here is something that I just came to know about Mary: even our own bodies have something to remind us of her. Look at the palms of your hands: you may find an "M" there in the major lines. This is so wonderful! During this month and even after, please remember to look at this “Monogram of Mary.” Let it remind you that our Mother Mary is always willing to guide us to her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Perhaps you also will join me in praying the Memorare often this month, asking Mother Mary to reveal her Son to us:

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word incarnate, despise not my petitions, but, in your mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.

Today we celebrate the 5th Sunday of Easter. The First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 6:1-7) speaks of the origin of the Diaconate: how the Apostles chose seven reputable men filled with the Spirit and wisdom to help them in their task of shepherding the people. They were chosen to fulfill the role of “serving at table,” that is, caring for the physical needs of the people. Thus, serving became the hallmark of the life of a deacon. Take a moment this week to thank our deacons who help us by serving. And pray for more of men from our parish and throughout the diocese to join in the diaconate program.

In John’s Gospel this Sunday, Jesus again asserts his divinity when He says: “I Am the way and the truth and the life” and “Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.” Jesus is already hinting his Ascension. He thus points out that his project of building the kingdom of God will not end or be botched but will continue through us who believe in him. What a privilege!

Have a Blessed Week! With love,

Fr. John