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The seminarians from the Diocese of Springfield work hard and study even harder each day at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton. However, they also can cook. And they can appreciate the diversity of the group of men there who are preparing for the priesthood.
For a third year in a row, the seminarians, along with other “priests in preparation” at St. John’s celebrated Mardi Gras with an international feast.
Seminarian Kevin Vermette reported that there is an educational component to the night. Kwang Lee, a seminarian from the Archdiocese of Boston was the Master of Ceremonies for the night. Two videos of the Columbian Seminarians former diocese of Columbia were shown. They are now studying for Worcester. They also saw a video from the Vietnamese seminarians.
Nicholas Diorio from the diocese of Providence, R.I. and Springfield’s seminarian Sal Circosta snapped photos of the fun event.
The Irish food, especially the bread, was a big hit.
Take and Eat, Inc.
“People Feeding People”
Take and Eat, Inc. was founded in 2003 by Deacon Francis Ryan, Ed.D of Williamstown’s Catholic Community of St. Patrick & St. Raphael Parish, and his wife Kathleen as a Non-Profit organization to recruit, train and empower volunteers in various faith based community organizations to prepare and deliver, free of charge, hot nutritious meals to homebound seniors on weekends and three day holidays. Approximately 80 percent of the clients served are female, over the age of 65 and include all ethnicities and religions.
The government funded Meals-on-Wheels Program provides meals to seniors from Monday thru Friday. On weekends and holidays these elders in need, for the most part, have no access to a nutritious meal and in many instances no contact with another human being.
Take and Eat works from three basic assumptions:
1. That most churches have a functioning kitchen that is probably underutilized.
2. That there are elder citizens who receive Meals-on-Wheels in the Church’s immediate area.
3. That the members of the faith community want to “put shoes on the Gospel Message” and seize the opportunity to help those in need.
Take and Eat’s first meals were prepared and delivered to 80 elders on Easter Sunday 2003 in North Adams through St. Anthony’s Kitchen (now part of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish). Since that time, Take and Eat has enabled 1,700+ volunteers to serve over 1,700 clients in the preparation and delivery of over 140,000 meals through 2009…35,000 of those meals were provided in 2009 alone.
In 2010, as Take and Eat continues to expand the Areas it services, its initial estimate for meals preparation and delivery is 40,000, along with a continued increase of faith based community volunteer participation in the Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire Counties.
Take and Eat has received thousands of responses from seniors served by this Ministry over the past 7 years – a sampling follows of the reasons why everyone involved in this Ministry is so dedicated to insuring this Ministry continues to flourish:
“My Mother enjoyed the entire meal that she received from Most Holy Redeemer in Hadley…she loved the fresh salad and the tender chicken – she had some extra pasta and chicken she ate for supper. The dinner roll and cookies were a nice surprise – she said this was a meal prepared with LOVE! Thank you!”
“The food was a pleasant surprise – we are often ill prepared for weekend suppers. Can’t shop as much as we would like. The food was grand…I’ll be 89 on August 8 and my wife is 86. She was hospitalized for 3 months (Feb – April). Neither of us is spry. Many oldsters in area…various ailments. We try our best not to burden anyone. Daughters both work in Boston and are busy…help when they can. Thank all people in this measure to do good…God be with you all.”
“I am struggling with life right now. With your help, maybe someone will come into my life and help me. Trouble just seems to come my way. Could you see if someone could help me get back into the Church. Thank you for your love…P.S. I’m shy right now. Take and Eat’s Meals on Wheels is a wonderful organization. I went from 98 lbs dying to 135. Thanks and God Bless!”
“Thank you for your thoughtful idea for this program. I’m 84 years old. I’m afraid to use my gas stove now that I’ve been put on oxygen. So it’s wonderful for me. I used to have a summer place in Heath – I’ve been through Florida many times on the way to N. Adams. The meal was delicious. The portion is perfect. They make the best cookies. Their chocolate chip are so good and freshly baked. Bless the people who volunteer their time to cook the meal and those that deliver them. Thank you.”
At present Take and Eat’s major source of funding comes from the Annual Catholic Appeal of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield, MA. Without the ACA’s support, Take and Eat would be unable to continue to expand this program throughout the Diocese and achieve the nutritional and spiritual nourishment it enables its participants to provide to the homebound senior communities. We humbly ask for your continued support to our Mission and those other dedicated agencies funded by The Annual Catholic Appeal. We are all grateful, as are the recipients of these services, for your enabling us to continue our Ministries to the Community.
For additional information about Take and Eat, Inc. please refer to their web site: www.takeandeat.org or contact either Deacon Frank Ryan or Kathleen Ryan at email@example.com or call them at 413-664-1041.
Beware the “E” Word
By Carolyn Vogt Groves, consultant for the Office of Religious Education for the Diocese of Springfield
The pastoral letter recently released by Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio calling Catholic laity to their “duty” to evangelize is not news to many of us. Coming of age during the Second Vatican Council, my own faith and life’s work has been definitively influenced by the council documents. One of them, the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity describes our role in this way: But the laity, too, share in the priestly, prophetic, and royal office of Christ and therefore have their own role to play in the mission of the whole people of God in the Church and in the world.
They exercise a genuine apostolate by their activity on behalf of bringing the gospel and holiness to men, and on behalf of penetrating and perfecting the temporal sphere of things through the spirit of the gospel. In this way, their temporal activity can openly bear witness To Christ and promote the salvation of men. (c.2) It is only recently however that our church leaders have begun to use the term “evangelization” with reference to this expanded role Vatican II envisioned for the laity.
There are good reasons to use the “e word”. Since Vatican II there have been many changes which have inaugurated the “new evangelization” movement among the Catholic hierarchy. The various statistical studies done by the PEW Foundation and CARA tell us that Catholics in the United States have left the church in unprecedented numbers; that young people are leaving and not coming back when married and having children as they have in the past; that practice of the faith among those staying is more occasional than weekly and that Pentecostal and Protestant mega churches are havens for former Catholics. Cultural Catholicism, our usual method of evangelization (where being Catholic seemed to come through our mother’s milk) is no longer effective for many reasons — the breakdown of Catholic ethnic and neighborhood groups, and loss of large and extended families living in the same vicinity; the decline in numbers in Catholic elementary and secondary schools; the general breakdown of a Christian culture and its replacement by a secular one. We counted on all of these realities to evangelize and catechize; it was our way of “becoming Catholic.”
With their demise it is now up to us as Archbishop Gomez states. There is a problem though in using the term “evangelization”. It does not have “brand name” recognition among most American Catholics – it is what Protestants do, not Catholics unless we are talking about the “missions” far away.
A few years ago my pastor in Chicago suggested to the parish Outreach Commission that they make evangelization one of their goals for the year. This did not go over well. “What does he want us to do – meet after Mass on Saturday morning, be given a bag of rosary beads and go throughout the neighborhood ringing doorbells before the Jehovah witnesses arrive with their Watchtowers. Catholics do not do this,” responded a commission member. Most Catholics I have met have similar reactions and visual scenarios with the term “evangelization.”
On the other hand we are more than willing to witness to our personal faith given the right circumstances and a comfortable atmosphere. As I visit parishes to present evenings of adult faith formation, I often begin with a question such as “what difference has the Catholic faith made in your life or what does it mean for you to be Catholic? There is first the silence of surprise, never having been asked the question and then the responses begin to come. “I know I am never alone,” a gentleman began one evening recently. “I know that God became man in Jesus so He would know what human life was like so we would never need to feel alone.” A woman continued, “I know that I can always turn to God and be forgiven, make a fresh start. That is why Jesus died, so we would know we could be forgiven.”
After a few moments of quiet, a third person spoke. “Through being in the church, I know it can never be just about me. We are called not just to think of ourselves but to respond to the needs of others. Without the church I would be a selfish person.” What happened that evening is that through our stories, we evangelized each other. The stories were about our beliefs, operating at a deeper level in our lived experience.
As the Spirit would have it, there was a woman who attended that night who had been away from the church for thirty years; she had been invited by a friend and decided to come. Afterwards, she shared some of her story with me concluding that “it was time to come back.” She was planning to join that parish. Catholics have their personal faith stories; I never cease to be “wowed” when I hear them. But they don’t come if people are afraid of saying the wrong thing or feel they don’t “know” enough to speak. We have to find ways in the context of adult faith formation gatherings that are open, accepting and welcoming, where people can explore what the Catholic faith has meant in their lives, how they have encountered God, how the sacraments have fed them, what they want to pass on to their children, how living the Catholic faith has transformed them?
These are the evangelizing questions, the places for reflection to start. The responses will come from people’s minds and hearts, out of their experience. It will bring people back home, it will intrigue others who are seeking, it will challenge those of us in the church to deepen our encounter with Jesus. But Shh, don’t start with the “E Word” too soon; it might scare them away.
Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Springfield are one of the many agencies who benefit from the Annual Catholic Appeal.
They are grateful for the support and share their appreciation. Here are the smiling faces of some of those students. Enjoy reading what they say about why they like attending a Catholic school!
From Cathedral High School in Springfield….
“Catholic schools cultivate a passion to serve others.”
James Kelliher, class of 2010
“Catholic schools instill a sense of identity within each student.”
Caroline Heafey class of 2010
From St. Stanislaus School in Chicopee:
They wrote “Why Catholic Schools Are Important!”
I love St. Stanislaus because we go to church every week. I love St. Stanislaus School because it is holy.
- Jordan Guthrie, Grade 3
A Catholic school is a family-environment, and a safe and fun place. Not only do we have high standards, we also learn about God. Along with this we learn how to treat other people in a nice, respectful way. These teachings guide us closer to God and help us to be better people.
- Amanda Shlaferman, Grade 5
I am very happy to be in such a perfect Catholic school! There are many special events such as Math-a-thon, a turtle tour, field trips, Catholic Schools Week, lollipop sale, book fair, and many others. So if I were you looking for a school, I would pick St. Stanislaus School.
- Michelle Tran, Grade 4
I like my school because we get to do a lot of activities and people get to know other people. Everyone is always involved. I love all the Specials because you are able to work on projects and do fun things. My favorite is when we have Catholic Schools Week. We also have Religion class, and that is when we learn about Jesus and what He did for us. That is what I like about my school.
- Amber Lempke, Grade 5
It is fun here. They have good food to eat. The teachers are wonderful. They have fun games to play. They have fun art to do.
- Jordan Cao, Grade 2
I think Catholic education is important because children learn about the Good News of God, and learn about the miracles performed by Jesus. I think it is important that we wear uniforms so that no one feels left out. We have many fun activities at our school, such as choir, newspaper, and we run fundraisers to help our school. St. Stanislaus School is very supportive and helpful to students.
- Melinda Hurteau, Grade 6
I like St. Stanislaus School because we have a very good education. We take extra classes like Art, Spanish, and Music. During the school year, we have many fun fundraisers that help the less fortunate and our school. Our school is a no bully school, so we have very few people that get bullied. No one is left out and all the students are very kind. I am very lucky to go to a school like St. Stanislaus because it is a wonderful school.
- Lexis Dotson, Grade 6
Catholic Schools Week was awesome. I loved all of the dances on Thursday.
- Julia Niemiec, Grade 3
And Students from St. Agnes School in Dalton just want to show how much fun they have at their school. Here are some scenes from “Catholic Schools Week.”
Deacon James Conroy and his wife, Mary, head up the office of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Springfield.
The office receives support from the Annual Catholic Appeal.
He said, “The Annual Catholic Appeal is truly neighbor helping neighbor and in my case as Director of Marriage and Family Life the appeal becomes families helping families. The funds that come to this ministry assist in strengthening marriages which in turn goes on to strengthening families. These funds help with the growing expense for providing up to date materials and being able to offer workshops, seminars, and speaker forums for marriages and families. Marriage and Family life office also provides referrals to so many organizations, programs and groups and counseling services. There are such groups as Marriage Encounter, Cursillo that help enrich marriage and family life in already good situations and such groups like Retrouvaille that has been a life line for troubled marriages. We are dedicated in strengthening marriage as a vocation, as a sacrament, as well as an institution that serves as Domestic Church that can be and is truly what the Gospel refers to as” the leaven” to our society.
Our office hopes to bring our ministry into many of the parishes. My wife and I have already visited a number of the parishes and have spoken on marriage, on family issues and hope to do many more program such as ‘The Four Seasons of Marriage” which is a talk on the four major phases of marriage, on parenting, bereavement, and family issues such as Natural Family Planning, needs of the modern family, annulments, and healing ministries for the separated, the divorced and the widowed. The funds help us to also carry out the outlines given us by the Bishops in the U.S. and to present the wisdom, guide lines and the teachings of the Church concerning the family.
Without the generosity of so many of our contributors to the Annual Catholic Appeal our ministry and that of so many other very needed ministries that help serve God’s people just could not be financially possible. To those who are able contribute to the appeal through their prayers and some by both their prayers and financial gifts may God bless you all abundantly and meet your every need!”
In the most recent issue of The Catholic Observer, Deacon Jim and Mary offered some advice on how to strengthen one’s marriage. Here it is!
This year Feb.14 gives us a double reason to celebrate. Not only is it Valentine’s Day, it is also World Wide Marriage Day. So put on your party hat and get ready for some fun. Happily married couples make healthy, joyful families, and strong families benefit society.
Our married life is in the 28th year, but still our relationship continues to evolve. The sacrament of marriage, as grace-filled as it may be, is not the “EZ Pass” to wedded bliss. Each day, we decide to love and respect each other. Here are a few ideas that have helped us through the tough times and brought us together as a married couple:
1. Accept your own and your mate’s shortcomings as well as the strengths. Every man is not mechanically inclined and every woman is not a gourmet cook. It did not take us long to determine that neither Mr. Fixit nor Julia Child lived at our house. It’s okay; we call for help if something breaks and dine out if we want a really nice meal. Actually, our failures have brought us closer and left us with a treasure trove of hysterical stories of our attempts to overcome our shortcomings.
2. Be grateful every day. For example: Our boys were getting to an age where they insisted that they were just too old for a babysitter, so we put their guardian angels on “full alert” status and went out for a few hours. We returned home to find two happy boys who had obviously spent some time making the house sparkling clean. The only sign that anything out of the ordinary had happened in our absence was the chocolate syrup dripping from the ceiling fan.
We were grateful that there had been no injuries and that they had formed a brotherly bond, even if it was to keep a secret. Some things you just don’t want to know.
3. Give yourselves a gift. Even good marriages are subject to the stresses of daily life. The pressures of jobs, children and household activities drag you further and further away from the joy and romance of those newlywed days. Take time for “date night,” even if it takes place in your own home after the kids are in bed.
Take time to reconnect with each other. We recently attended a Catholic Marriage Encounter Weekend. What a pleasure it was to spend that time reconnecting as a married couple. It was inspiring to spend time with other likeminded couples and reaffirm our commitment to each other. This weekend experience gave us the tools to deepen our relationship and the strength to face the world with a united front.
4. Finally, pray. Morning Mass and formal prayer are wonderful, but the business of daily life does not always allow for this luxury. Quick aspirations and prayer requests are good with God.
We often saw our mothers look heavenward and pray, “God, give me strength!” This little prayer request served the dual purpose of warning everyone around to shape up. Think of it as a short “instant message” to God. He is always “online” and available for your prayers.
Here is a marriage blessing to get you started:
By Mary Jo Pedersen
On the day when your promise of commitment weighs heavy on your shoulders and you stop beneath its burden, may the promise dance within you to strengthen you.
And when your embraces lose their warmth and become like rituals of duty, and the ghost of romance disappears behind a long day’s toil, may the promise wrap around you and hold you close and surround you with love from its Source.
When the bitter winds of change transform your early loveliness into roughened hands and smile lines, may there come across your faces an easy knowing, a comfortable peace, a deep rooted-ness that connects you to the eternal promise of Love Beyond All Imagining.
May the new life of creation be yours. May the comfort of sunshine be yours. May the soft earth nourish you and make you strong for one another and for your children and restore your resolve for promising.
And so may a soaking rain work these words of promise and peace into you, protecting you from harm and harboring you in the presence of one another for eternity.
* Deacon Conroy also serves at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in West Springfield. He and Mary may be reached at 452-0614.
Editor’s note: Franciscan Sister of St. Joseph Andrea Ciszewski, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Springfield, gave a special message on “Chalice of Salvation” on Jan. 31. The following are her remarks.
I am most grateful for this opportunity to speak with you about the ministry of Catholic school education which has existed in the Diocese of Springfield since 1867. Since that time the message of the Gospel and the basic tenets of our Catholic Faith have been taught to many generations and thousands of graduates Undoubtedly, many of you who view this program, along with your children, relatives and neighbors have reaped the benefit of the investment by parishes, parents, members of religious congregations and lay teachers and staff members. Throughout most of those years, you may have also experienced a steadfast and active practice of faith in your family and neighborhood as well as among those with whom you played or worked. Sacramentals such as Crucifixes, medals, Family Bibles, Blessed candles and Rosaries, were hallmarks in each Catholic home. Weekly attendance at Mass as well as feast days formerly celebrated in native homelands, provided strength for family and community living. Common ‘Church’ songs which taught some theological truth were sung or hummed in homes and gatherings, Sodalities, church organizations and retreats provided opportunities to practice faith with people who knew one another.
As time progressed, those common threads disappeared in great measure. Adult and faith formation classes developed and, more than ever, we realized that the Holy Spirit worked within each of us and that we were not to confine the treasure of our Faith to our personal life, but rather, share that reality within the daily encounters and activities of each of our lives.
We recall the Gospel story of how Jesus was displeased with the disciples who tried to keep children away from Him. Jesus knew how it was important to instruct the young and to ensure practice of their instruction. He personally modeled personal prayer, the study of Scripture and common worship.
You and I live in a time and space of constant and instant messages. We are often overpowered by messages that challenge, clash with, or seek to eradicate our basic Catholic teachings. How much more do our youth need teaching and guidance to assist them discern what is true, right and just.
Within an environment wherein Christian signs and symbols are prominently displayed, our Catholic school students begin and end their day with prayer, experience the integration of Gospel values throughout their studies, attend scheduled Masses and liturgical services, and participate in community and mission outreach programs.
Administrators, faculty and staff members teach and model Gospel values and Church tenets within a quality 21st century academic program with the goals of forming individuals who will reap the dividends of strong Christian vocations and strong Christian leadership in homes, at work and in communities.
I know that each of you who faithfully watch the Chalice of Salvation treasure your friendship with Jesus. We ask that the Holy Spirit inspire you to assist us with this ministry by becoming a partner with us in your prayers and promoting Catholic school education. Your investments- spiritual and/or financial will definitely reap benefits that no other investment can because the tenets of Catholic education address this life and eternity. Should you wish to donate to financial assistance for families struggling to with tuition costs, you may contact us through the diocesan website or call the Catholic Schools office at 452-0850.
In the name of our students, administrators, faculties and staff members, I extend gratitude to Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell, pastors, parishes, board members, benefactors, parents and you for trust and support. I likewise thank the Catholic Communications staff for their faithfulness to reporting our school endeavors.
Together with you, I offer this prayer,
Be with us always, Lord, so that we may make disciples whose holiness will be worthy of your house.
Editor’s Note: Recently some of the students in Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Springfield were asked why they like going to a Catholic school. The following are their responses and smiling faces!!
“I like going to a Catholic school because we are all a family here. We look out for one another and are pushed to our fullest potential. It is also nice that we can pray together and for each other. Nothing can get better than that!”
Rachel Mahoney, Grade 8, St. John the Baptist School, Ludlow
“I like going to a Catholic School because I think that there is a feeling of family that you wouldn’t get at a public school. There is a sense of belonging. No-one is judged. We also have the advantage of Religion class. We can put our faith into practice.”
Amelia Bailey Grade 8 St. Joan of Arc-St. George, Chicopee
“I like being in a Catholic School because it is very family-oriented. We are all treated the way we would want to be treated. Also, because it helps me get closer to my faith. We are alll one big family!”
Mariah Paulo Grade 8 St. Joan of Arc-St. George, Chicopee
“I like being in a Catholic School because my relationship with God has grown stronger over the years. I also, feel that I was blessed with many wonderful teachers who have helped me in my journey through Catholic School. I have really enjoyed my time here. I have made wonderful friends. And I have learned life long lessons that will stay with me forever.”
Kelsey Kreminec Grade 8 St. Joan of Arc-St. George, Chicopee
“I like being at a Catholic school because I get a chance to learn about Jesus. I have friends who go to public schools where they aren’t taught about Him and it makes me proud that I am. Growing up at a Catholic school, I know that they are smaller than most public schools, but because of this, the students and teachers get to grow more as a family because everybody knows each other.”
Ciara Sheltra Grade 8 St. Joan of Arc-St. George, Chicopee
“I like attending a Catholic school because I feel very safe and comfortable. You can’t really get that at a public school. I like how everyone knows each other and how we all love each other.”
Brett Malikowski Grade 8 St. Joan of Arc-St. George, Chicopee
“I like being in a Catholic School because the teachers are nice. I also like being in a Catholic school because you get to learn and know about God and Jesus and his twelve disciples as well as the saints. The last thing I like about a Catholic school is you don’t get bullied like you do in public schools. “
Corrine Menard Grade 8 St. Joan of Arc-St. George, Chicopee
It was a great night for Catholic Schools as students, faculty, family and friends packed the MassMutual Center to attend the Springfield Falcons game.
There was a lot of action both on and off the ice.
The three Moraitis sisters – Ellen, Anna and Julia — from St. Mary’s Academy in Longmeadow performing the National Anthem.
Different organizations had informational booths outside the rink.
There were smiles everywhere, even though the Falcons lost.
And Franciscan Sister of St. Joseph, Andrea Ciszewski, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Springfield, was a special guest between periods with with Mike Kelly, the “Voice of the Falcons” during a radio interview.
Read more about the game and the special Catholic Schools celebration there by logging onto www.iobserve.org. And you can watch coverage of this event on “Real to Reel” Feb. 6.