Sacred Heart of Jesus Church - Serving the Communities of South Bend and Lakeville, Indiana
SCHOOL CHILDREN:  I should not have been at all surprised, but was taken back in hearing school confessions and how many students spoke of feeling so much stress due to Covid.  Of course, this is not “telling anyone’s confession” but simply speaking to an awareness of an overall concern with kids regarding the stress Covid has caused them.  It is one more reason—along with simple Christian charity the USCCB speaks of regarding everyone getting the vaccine (preferred: Pfizer or Moderna since no conflict with any Right to Life issues). 
       
If we are to ever be free of all the restrictions and stress connected with this virus, then it means ALL people stepping up and doing the right thing for the good of ALL.  It is NOT about you folks, it is for the good of all and the right thing to do, as best as any information tells us.  If you care about children and what they are going through, get the vaccine.  And that’s just a portion of the bigger picture.

SPEAKING OF CONFESSIONS:  One more reminder that the Parish Penance Service will be this Wednesday, March 24th beginning at 7:00 p.m.  There will be no gathering service as such, just priests in place to begin hearing Confessions as soon as people arrive.  They will anticipate being present till 8:30 (or till any last people are finished).  You might consider not all hitting 7 p.m., though I am not sure how you determine who and how many will be coming at what time.  Any lines for one or another confessor will have to regard all the rules of distancing and masks need to be worn, even when in the confessional space. There will be five priests hearing confessions. 
      
Because of using the overflow area, you MUST remember to not form a line or sit too close to that area to where you might over-hear anything being said. But then, that should be obvious.  Thanks for your consideration.  There will likely be one station in the sanctuary too, and just be careful of the steps up and down if choosing that confessor. That station will be set up near the sacristy door so people can use the handrail that is in place near the pulpit. Use it to be safe.  The other areas will be over-flow, cry room and two confessionals (the latter two offer face-to-face—distanced— or behind the screen).

At St. Jude:  Rebecca Laurent feels many of the greeters (now vaccinated) may want to begin greeting at the doors again.  To begin, maybe those who are comfortable doing so might simply come forward and do so at the Mass you usually attend.  Or, feel free to turn to Becky for further guidance on the matter.
The support group who had been meeting for those grieving losses in their life would also like to begin again, welcoming any new participants.  The group usually meets on Monday’s at 6:00 p.m. Mass, in the overflow room.  Again, one may contact Becky for further details. 
     
At St. Jude: we have begun again with two ministers present for Communion.  As you come down the center aisle, please keep the usual distancing (unless a family and then it doesn’t matter).  You can use both sides of the aisle as it has been determined that simply passing by someone momentarily poses no great concern.  Again, more and more are vaccinated too, at least among those attending church.  Divide at the front of the aisle and go to either side, depending on the side you are sitting in church—as has always been the case in the past. 
     
We have had some difficulty with sound on the    live-stream TV Mass from the parish, but that will have been corrected by the time you read this bulletin.  Don’t give up on being as much a part of your parish as possible by joining us for Holy Mass each weekend.~Fr. John
This Sunday is the half-way point and respite in this penitential Season of Lent, marked by rose vestments instead of the more somber purple.
Most will not notice, since it’s behind the altar, but please do:  We were gifted this past week with a beautiful area rug for the sanctuary, a gift from CKramer, Interiors (Chris as we all know him), in memory of his wife, Val. 
       
We had always thought an area rug would be a nice finishing compliment to the sanctuary when we did the extensive remodel of the church, but the cost was not in the picture at the time, needless-to-say. Chris and Kristine Bergman were instrumental in much of the interior color selections and other trims when we did the remodel.  The serene and prayerful space has been a true gift to the parish over these past 7+ years and so many helped make it all possible. 

The gifts, even in this difficult year of pandemic, have not stopped:  this now, and the new West entrance ramp, auto-door access, and a recent annual gift that has again lowered our debt significantly, all come from very generous and caring members of the parish at a time when Offertory income as a whole is down in all parishes throughout the diocese (the reason why Bishop encouraged all parishes to consider the increased Offertory program (Our Family, Our Parish) through OSV, as we’ve done a few times in the past.)  Even Bishop has generously offered to offset the cost of the program through his own contribution to each participating parish (75% of the OSV cost).

We are grateful to all who sacrifice for the parish in so many ways: time, talent, and of course, treasure.  All are important and deeply appreciated—not just by me but by all members and not just for us, but for the greater glory of God, always.  It is always at the heart of any gift of self and why the parish is so often referred to as part of the very Body of Christ.  Thanks again, Chris, and others, for all you do.

PARISH MISSION:  I hope you all enjoyed last week’s Mission (either live and in person or by live feed or by even a later viewing—still possible).  Fr. Michael Driscoll has been a guest with us many times over the years that I’ve been here, often filling in for me in my absence.  He is a retired professor of ND and taught Liturgy and related disciplines to students that include many seminarians for the Holy Cross Order.  We are grateful for what he provided for us last week.  Hope you enjoyed it too or will in the week or so ahead by going to our parish website and “tuning him in.”
By the time you read this, it will already be the Fourth Sunday of Lent.  How quickly it goes, especially for those still not yet attending Mass in person.  It is (sadly) difficult for those only watching from home to experience Lent or any liturgical season in quite the same way as when with their parish family and surrounding the Table of the Lord.  Please, God, bring us ALL back and soon!  Don’t give in to the temptation (and we know from whom) to become lazy and not return on a regular basis.  The Holy Mass was always intended by Our Lord to be a celebration of the Church, gathered together in prayer and praise, in support of one another’s deep faith and gratitude.
A slight change in wording:  To some this may seem petty, even annoying (I admit, having been through several major changes in my time as a priest—though all Masses before a change were valid and meaningful), but we are now being asked to eliminate the word, “One”, from the closing formula to prayers that end with “Through Jesus Christ, Who lives in unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit, (now) God, forever and ever.”  No longer “One God”.  I guess they felt the word “one” was redundant.
       
I know, we (clergy) have to kid too, that the liturgists at work in the Church seem to have to come up with something now and then to justify their position.  Mea Culpa for our thoughts on the matter.  At times it does seem laughable though; you are not alone if thinking so.~Fr. John
A big change for our office and staff: as of March 1st, we will begin the transition process of Mary Krisch’s retirement and her place being taken by Emily Nufer.  Mary’s many years of being with the parish and all that she did that many did not realize or fully appreciate will be a great loss and as gifted and qualified as Emily is, it will take time to fill Mary’s shoes. 
       
It is with great gratitude to Mary (and John and family, as no one works for a parish to where the entire family/household doesn’t “live” with the job too in many respects), that we thank her for the many years of service which began when Fr. Stoyle was pastor.  Mary has always been very careful to make sure the parish could pay bills on time, not spend beyond the means provided by the member’s contributions, and do all she could to still keep buildings and grounds in good stead.  She is not merely a bookkeeper or accountant, but truly a business manager.
       
When I first came to the parish and had a conversation at some early point with Joe Ryan, our Diocesan CFO, he told me how lucky I was to have one of the best business managers in the diocese—one who did not make mistakes when it came to accounting practices or transactions back and forth with the diocese.  If she ever questioned something in terms of where our finances were with the diocese, Mary was correct in her bookkeeping on the matter.  We will miss her for that and for her honesty and integrity when it comes to why she was in the role she was.  It is not always an easy role to fill. Critics abound at times who never know the full of why decisions must be made, but that doesn’t keep them from being critical.  That is true for any of us who hold decision-making roles within a parish.  Welcome to the world of leadership, whether parish or business.
Knowing how to do the difficult thing at times and still remain confidential about the facts was something we could always count on Mary doing.  It is so important but not always the strength of every office staff.
       
Mary and John can take time for themselves, as both will soon be retired, and travel plans are likely in the near future.  Mary has agreed (of course) to be available to help Emily learn the position and be there for any needed assistance along the way.  Mary will also remain on staff in a much more part-time, advisory role in some areas as well as taking on her desire to do more with the new AV equipment in the church, exploring ways in which we can use it to the fullest and hopefully bring more parish events to the homebound or nursing home residents who wish to follow their parish from the comfort of their homes.  Technology is a new and challenging area for the Church to explore and use to the best end for the good of evangelization. 
      
On the note of changes that come and are inevitable, we are so pleased how well Carol has been able to begin to fill the place of Fran when she retired.   Fran, as with Mary, knew more about the parish that I did at times and was invaluable in more ways thatn many fully appreciate, but Carol has been doing wonderfully and will continue to be the same wonderful asset to the parish office and staff as others have been in the past.
        
We are confident too, in selecting Emily Nufer, that the same will be true for her in her new position as Business Manager for our parish of St. Jude (and bookkeeper for Sacred Heart—another role that Mary has been filling for the years that I have been given responsibility for both parishes.~Fr. John