From the Pastor's Pen

DECEMBER 2nd

Happy New Year! Are you surprised? With the first Sunday of Advent, we begin the New Year in the Liturgical Calendar of the Church. We begin it with expectations running high for the arrival of the Savior. Everything in the Liturgy- readings, music, decorations- bring alive the spirit of
expectation and longing for the Savior. The singing of "O Antiphons” is a great Advent tradition. They are drawn from the ancient biblical imagery of the messianic hopes of the Old Testament found in prophet Isaiah. Their repeated use of the imperative "Come!" embodies the yearning of all for the Messiah. You will find these antiphons inscribed on Purple banners hung on the side of the Church. Take a moment to reflect on the O antiphons; and allow your hearts to experience the desire for the savior who comes. Thanks to the Quilting group who did an excellent job in getting these banners ready. Special thanks to Mary Flynn for taking on this project.

Advent is a holy season of preparation. Joining the whole church, we too enter into that spirit of preparation to welcome Jesus. Often in our families, we start this journey with a lot of external preparations- food, decoration, gift giving-  which are necessary. However, let us not forget to include spiritual preparation, such as, confession, family prayer, reading of the scripture, and acts of love. To help everyone in their spiritual preparation, we hold a Penance Service at our parish. The details are found in the bulletin. All priests from the Eau Claire deanery would be available for hearing confession. I invite all of you to participate in it wholeheartedly.

I was very glad to see a group of interested folks at the Presentation on our missionary work in India. I enjoyed sharing about the missions and people. As I get to know more of you, I also learn more about the life and activities around the Parish. It is certainly edifying to see many of you getting involved in the life of the community. I thank God for your faith and the courage you show to live that faith in action! As I see it, we need to strengthen all our services to the Community with more people in one or the other service opportunities within the parish. Soon, I hope to approach you with a list of Stewardship opportunities available here at Immaculate Conception. Please get involved, I ask of you! I welcome you. We have had the tradition of putting up the Angel Tree during Advent. Make a donation to one or more of the listed charities and hang an angel on the tree. The tree will be extremely happy to have angels on all of its branches!

The various meetings- Education Commission at Regis, Parish Pastoral Council, Sacred worship/Liturgy and a joint meeting of the Pastoral and Finance councils- continue to educate me on the life and activities of our Parish. These provide me also the opportunity to share my thoughts and plans for the Parish. I am grateful to the members of these Councils who show unstinting support. I hope to initiate some changes with a view to providing more of a spiritual ambiance to all our celebrations. Watch out for the next bulletin which will carry some details of the proposed changes.  

Although the Advent is not strictly a penitential season, we cannot rule out the sacrificial aspect. Expecting a baby’s arrival in a family certainly involves a lot of material and spiritual preparation that are sacrificial in character. Let us also not forget this sacrificial aspect as we get ready for Christmas!  

United in prayer,

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DECEMBER 9th

Advent journey is made in expectant hope. It’s a journey of child-like hearts that long for someone who comes- Christ the Lord. The Wreath,  Advent candles, O Antiphon banners, and violet-colored vestments are Advent symbols that catch our attention. The Gospel passage of Second Sunday of Advent presents to us John the Baptist- the greatest of the prophetic voices, with his clarion call: “prepare the way for the Lord” (Lk 3:4). Making our pathways straight is a task that we got to be serious about. Waking up from our ‘Christian slumber’ is the call of Advent season. Good to check on our progress because we are already into the Second week of Advent. The Penance service on Dec 4, was one of those efforts on our part. What a joy to have had the Deanery priests assisting us in our spiritual preparation!     

The Installation ceremony on last Sunday was impressive. A number of parishioners told me that it was one of their first-experiences! You all made the event truly special and awesomely memorable for me too! Thank you for accompanying me with your presence and prayers. Some of those who were out of town were even so gracious to send me congratulatory notes!  Lovely and very thoughtful! I love the big Welcome board from the school too! Thank you children. Sincere thanks to the Parish and School staff who organized the Gathering and the Social. Truly a wonderful gesture of love! Thanks to everyone! The occasion gave me another chance to know more of you. Our gatherings in Fr Klink Hall are always wonderful. Let us join our fellow parishioners, as often as possible, for sharing time and fellowship together.

Did you get the Advent booklets with reflections? Put them to good use for your prayer and reflection.  What about the leaflet on Masses, Confessions and Devotions here at Immaculate Conception? I would love to see more of you at these spiritual moments. Make it a point to join the daily masses, if that works for you. It would be great if you can come to Saturday morning mass and participate in the Devotion to Blessed Mother.

I am extremely glad to place an insert in the bulletin this week, which cites the opportunities for involving in the Parish life and activities. Please consider giving time for something that interests you the most. Kindly fill in the sheet and get them back to the Church at your earliest convenience. Please know that you are important to this Parish! Let’s keep growing in our Christian living! The Angel tree at the back of the Church is waiting patiently and expectantly! Every time I walk by the branches speak to me! I tell them: Be patient, its coming!!

Fr Biju and I are enjoying our stay here at the Rectory. He is a delight to be with! We have time for prayer, conversation and once a while cook food and have dinner together. If any of you would like to have masses offered by him, please get in touch with the Parish office to set up the dates. The masses would be celebrated at the hospital but we can make a mention here in our bulletin, if so desired.  

Well, Snow has come and I’ve been installed!! A double Whammy!! So, I will be here. See YOU ALL every Sunday….