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Christmas

Good News in 2018

Good News in 2018

Dear Parishioners,


Each year, I encourage our staff to write a bulletin letter about what good news happened in this past year. Looking back and counting our blessings is a way to remind us that God is very much involved in our lives and our community.  So, please take some time to read the articles from our staff and pray for the ministries in which they have been participating.  Who knows, maybe God is calling you to join in the good news too.

The most significant moment in this year and possibly in the last several decades was the construction of our new church building. September 1st, Archbishop Sample, Bishop Peter, some 15 priests, 6 deacons, and some 820 laity gathered to bless our new church. It was one of the highlights of my priesthood thus far. How our community gathered together to help make it all happen is simply miraculous!  It serves as a testimony to God’s grace working in our midst. I can hardly wait to see how beautiful the church will be adorned on Christmas and how our first Catechumens will be baptized on Easter.

The new building is a perfect example of what the Church documents call, “Noble Simplicity.” It mixes the traditional with the modern. More good news is still coming in the form of new stained glass windows and Stations of the Cross. We are working hard to get our video system online so families can see what is going on from the Cry Room and Day Chapel. When baptisms occur, we will be able to watch it live on our new 16 ft. projection screen.

Our Lord inspired us to raise the needed funds and dedicate ourselves to the ongoing work of sharing what he has done in our midst. This new building, like an ark, I pray, will guide countless people toward their heavenly home where Christ dwells with his Father and the Holy Spirit. May God be praised and given the glory through our new church.

Have a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year!

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Reconciliation Services this Week

Reconciliation Services this Week

Dear Parishioners,

Advent is a time of preparing for the celebration of Christ’s First Coming (Christmas) and Christ’s Second Coming (The Final Day). What better way to prepare than to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation? This next week, locally, we will be offering two different days for our Communal Reconciliation Services:

St. Patrick of the Forest on Monday, the 17th.  
St. Anne on Thursday, the 20th. 

If those days/times do not work for you, please know that there are two other Communal Reconciliation Service in our Vicariate this week:

Shepherd of the Valley, Central Point on Tuesday, the 18th
Sacred Heart, Medford on Wednesday, the 19th

All of these services start at 7 PM and will have multiple priests available to hear your confessions. Please mark your calendar and make an effort to prepare yourself for this sacrament of being forgiven of your sins, as we draw closer towards Christmas and Christ’s Second Coming in glory.  May these mysteries bring us joy and move us ever closer to our Savior. 

Blessings,

Fr. Wiliam Holtzinger
Pastor

Blessed Advent!

Blessed Advent!

Dear Parishioners,

Blessing to you as we begin the Advent Season (from, "ad-venire" in Latin or "to come to"). This time of year is a preparation period for the solemnity of Christmas. Advent colors are traditionally violet, expressing the penitential sense of the season. Advent is also marked with a sense of joy and expectation. 

Along with these underlying currents, the prayers and readings speak about the Israelites hope and expectation for the coming of the Messiah (savior), the Christ (anointed one) who will lead them out of their misery and shepherd them as a great nation. For us Christians, we know that these prophesies revealed that the Father was soon going to give the world his only begotten son, Jesus Christ. This would be Christ’s First coming. So, we are preparing for the celebration of Christ’s First Coming (Christmas) in the Advent Season. But, we are also being prepared for his Second Coming at the end of time.

As a church community, we will be changing our liturgical environments via color and a wreath, omitting the Gloria, adapting our music, and hosting reconciliation services. In addition, please see the Advent/Christmas Calendar that is part of our bulletin this week as well. I pray that this Advent will be one of conversion and joy for us all.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Thank You!

Thank You!

Dear Parishioners,

Merry Christmas and happy new year!  As I look back on 2017, I have much to be thankful for.

This year is one that has been dominated by our church building project, a project that has continued to amaze and inspire me. With the guidance of our Design Committee and Finance Committee, what was going to be a simple building with mostly reused items has now become a design of true noble simplicity and beauty. The capacity to make this happen is due to the faith and amazing generosity of parishioners and friends of St. Anne’s.  We set many goals that most of us doubted could become reality.  Yet, we now stand with over $4 million in pledges and donations. Some of our basic or simple ideas have blossomed into things we didn’t think were possible.  I am talking about the addition of a daily Mass chapel, bathrooms which meet code and ADA standards, a new statue of Mary which matches the St. Joseph statue, a new image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, beautiful doors throughout, new padded pews, a new altar and ambo, carpet and tile throughout the major parts of the building, confessionals, a children’s cry room, and… wait for it… stained glass windows!

Besides the financial and physical aspects of the building project, it is fair to say that most everyone involved have gotten to know more people in our parish. Having Mass in the Sky Room has brought us closer together. We have been more focused on that which is most important. For me, Mass and preaching have been so much more rich. Being so close to everyone at Mass has brought an intimacy that is akin to our mission churches. Sharing the Eucharist in our smaller space has brought a focus about the most important things and a detachment about those things that are less so.

I am thankful for all that God has been doing in our midst. It is beyond my full comprehension, but I am so glad to be part of this community at this time in our history. I pray that you and yours have experienced joy amidst the changes ongoing in our parish this year. Thank you for all you have and continue to do to make St. Anne Church what she is!

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

If It’s All About Sunday, Then What About Christmas? Part II

If It’s All About Sunday, Then What About Christmas? Part II

Dear Parishioners,

Last week, I wrote about how, as Church and evangelization, it is all about Sunday Mass.  Sunday Mass brings in the most people at any discrete time which leverages the potency and ability to evangelize, not just ourselves, but those who are new, visiting, or passing through.  No ministry of our parish does this, nor can it. The Liturgy, the Mass, is the “Source and Summit” of our faith according to the Second Vatican Council. So if it is true that it is all about Sunday, what does this mean about Christmas? Well, let me ask a few simple questions. Isn’t Christmas the single most attended set of Masses in the year? Doesn’t it bring in more people than any other time, many of whom we don’t know? Doesn’t Christmas also bring people to us from other Christian traditions, others who are not Christian, others who are seekers, others who are broken-hearted, others who are mourning, others who are in need? Doesn’t this time draw our family members to Mass with us, and even some when they would not otherwise attend Mass? The answer to these questions is, “YES!”  And because this is so true, all the more we should be mindful of our calling, as Church, when they come on Christmas, to put forward our best efforts to be hospitable, kind, generous, open, and loving. Of course, we should be this way all the time, but at Christmas, this is the most potent time to share the Gospel. Remember, we are called to be an alter cristus, “another christ” to our neighbors.

So, if it is all about Sunday, then in terms of evangelization, it is all about Christmas! Christmastime needs to be our focus and we should be thinking, “All Hands Aboard!” This is why we have so many Masses. Sure, we could cut down on a Mass or two and everyone might still fit. It would be very efficient, reduce our workload, and get us home faster.  But, this is what is called, “church-think.” We employees or leaders of ministries are most prone to this way of thinking. Church-think puts the focus on ourselves, the minister, volunteer, or dedicated parishioner in the pews, and not on others who are new or in need. It pays no attention to what is best for others nor considered the situations in which they live. It is essentially selfish and antagonistic to what it is to be Church, that is evangelizers who desire to share and spread the Good News. We could have one single Christmas Eve or Day Mass by renting the largest space possible which would hold all who will come to that Mass, but that would be evangelical suicide. By having only one time, one door, so-to-speak, for people to come to our Christmas Eve Mass, we are very likely going to lose many people who couldn’t make that one small window of time. In our mission of St. Patrick of the Forest, the same applies. We could have one Mass and the community could likely all fit, but then they would miss out on this potent chance to share the Good News with those who couldn’t make that singular time. In fact, by having two Masses, they double the chances to proclaim the Good News to the newcomer. Another way of looking at this can be seen in the words St. John Paul II spoke when, at his first Mass as pope in 1978, he challenged the Church to, “open wide the doors to Christ.” He challenged us all to get out of our shells, our narcissism, our fears, our tribalisms, and any other things which keep us, and the Faith, to ourselves. He challenged us not to fear. He asked us to help him to serve so as to help humanity know what its true calling is. And what is it?  What is all our calling? To be saints! We are being called to put our Lord first and proclaim the Gospel.

So what are some ways we can put this into practice? Here are some thoughts and recommendations. Consider parking further away than normal so that newcomers will be able to park closer. Sit in the center of a row instead of at the edges so that new people will more easily find a place at Mass. Thank someone for letting you sit next to them. Be willing to move aside to help someone else sit down. Give up your seat if you see others standing, especially those with physical issues and sacrifice yourself by standing at Mass. If you are a liturgical minister, make sure you sign up for a slot, show up early, and even consider helping out at an additional Mass since we will all be stretched thin in this regard. Do not complain or gossip about others. Guests hear this and make judgements very quickly as to what kind of community we are or are not. Smile even if it kills you. Be the first to apologize if there is a misunderstanding. Introduce yourself by name to anyone you don’t know sitting near you. Be gracious while in the parking lot or walking to and from your car.  Wish others a blessed Christmas. Bring some, pre-signed, Christmas cards with you and give them to others, especially those whom you don’t know. Thank others for their presence at Mass, especially if don’t know them. Compliment someone for their good singing. Pray for the person who appears distressed, or otherwise struggling. Be nice to the priests, for they have fourteen Masses to cover from that Saturday night to Christmas Day. Share how happy you are to be part of this faith community. Don’t share your personal pet peeves… honestly, nobody wants to hear them. Wish those around you a blessed Christmas. And I’m sure there are many more ideas each one of us could come up with, right? Please let me know if you have some creative ideas in this regard.

So, remember, in terms of parish evangelization, it is all about Christmas.  Do not give into thinking about yourself, rather be other-centered. Love, laugh, smile, and encourage. Nobody can challenge honest joy. And may this Christmas be one that gives God the glory for his faithful will have lived out out their calling. I look very much forward to celebrating this time with you all!

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

A Year of Gratefulness

Dear Parishioners,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! With all the bad news in the world that covers our headlines, it is important not just to be nostalgic, but to once again, root ourselves in those things that are truly good, beautiful, and true (cf. Philippians 4:7- 9). For in these things are true joy and peace. For in these things we encounter the Good News who is Jesus Christ.

This year, for me, I look back and I am thankful for the work of all our pastoral ministers who have tirelessly worked in the vineyard with equally passionate volunteers. Events such as Joe’s Camp to Summer Bible School to the events surrounding Our Lady of Guadalupe show how much God had been working in the lives of our people. For a second year in a row, those who entered the Church through the Easter Vigil celebration, made up a group so large that the room where their classes where held was moved to a much larger one in the Parish Center. This year our sacristan crew (those who help prepare for Mass), more than tripled in size! I am so humbled to see their selfless dedication to this important task each week.

I am grateful that the Lord has blessed our school with a large increase in students which has allowed us to spread the Good News to more children and their families. The school community continued to grow in vibrancy. I am also so grateful for our wonderful teaching and administrative staff at the school. The sense of camaraderie and morale is inspiring.

I am excited about the work and direction our Core Building Committee who have taken a year to explore all the options for a new church building. Please note that I did not say renovation. In the course of our explorations, it turned out not be a significant cost difference to rebuild versus renovate the existing structure. So, early on after making that decision, we explored almost every location and arrangement of a proposed new church. In the Spring, we will have a feasibility study done in order to determine what financial potential there is in this project. I am so pleased with the discernment that has been so seriously undertaken in this task. I believe you will love what will come out of it all.

Finally, I am so very thankful for all the people who have newly come to worship here at St. Anne’s. They have helped us have new people helping with ministries. They have brought fresh eyes and ears to help us with our mission. I hope that we continue to be that church where Jesus is prophetically preached, hearts are healed, and the Mass becomes ever-more the center of our faith, for it is there that we encounter the sacrificed and risen Lord, Jesus Christ. In all, there is much for which to be grateful. May all these things give glory to God!

May God bless you all!

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Merry Christmas

Dear Parishioners,

At this time of the year, it is good to recognize the Good News in our community. It is a time to look back with gratitude for all that God has done in our midst. It is a time for thankfulness and hope for the future.

For me, I look back on 2013 and see how the Year of Faith has helped us shore up our faith in the moral issues of our time. I give thanks for all who spent extra time to offer a daily Rosary, Fast on Friday’s, and attend our monthly Solemn Vespers with Adoration. I am also thankful for the concrete steps we’ve taken to begin the process of renovating our Church. We have a long way to go in the process, but we have a solid core committee who continue to discuss and explore ideas. I am also thankful for the work of Alan Crews who will be officially retiring as of this month. His joyful presence and work ethic has been inspirational for me, the staff, and parishioners who have worked with him. I am thankful for the arrival of John Becerra, our seminarian intern, who has added a view of hope for vocations to the priesthood. These are just some of the local happenings within our parish. But, there were some much broader events that also has effected the larger Church.

This past year we witnessed two major leadership changes in the Church, one locally and the other globally. First was the significant appointment of Archbishop Alexander Sample as our new Archbishop coupled with the retirement of Archbishop Vlazny. Then shortly after that, Pope Benedict XVI stunned the world by his humble resignation, thereby setting into motion a conclave which elected Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope and the first pope to take a name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. Instead of the common news cycle of criticism of the Church, it was refreshing to hear and watch reports of these events set in a positive light. Since then, Pope Francis has continued to surprise and shock the world by his humble living and colloquial way of speaking. His actions of kindness and compassion have inspired many. I highly recommend reading the encyclical that he and Pope Benedict wrote, Lumen Fidei, as well as Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. While some in the secular press have been negatively critical about the latter document, I recommend that you read it for yourself and do not depend on the secular media to digest it for you. It is an amazing exhortation to be more evangelical in living out and sharing our faith. It would make a wonderful new year’s resolution to get a copy and prayerfully read just a few pages each day. We will be reading it as part of our weekly staff meetings in the new year.

We live in amazing times. 2013 was full of wonderful outpourings of the Holy Spirit locally and globally. Please continue to ask God to pour out His Holy Spirit upon us. Pray that we will be, as a community, a beacon of faith, hope, and love to our civic community as well as to the larger global community.

Finally, I want to express my thanks to all of the parishioners of St. Anne’s, St. Patrick of the Forest, and Our Lady of the River for their faith-filled example to me. Serving you as your pastor has fed me deeply. Thank you, especially, for being patient with my mistakes and helping me get up when I have fallen. I give thanks for being here with you as we, together, journey on this path of faith.

Merry Christmas!

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Advent Distractions


Dear Parishioners,

Blessed Advent! I hope that this year, Advent will be a time of renewal in faith. Even as we have now closed the Year of Faith, I am impressed with the need to continue the call to deepen our own Catholic Faith within our own church communities and beyond. There are many things that can become obstacles to living our faith, some of which I would like to address here.

Commercialism
Advent and Christmastime have been overrun with a commercialism that can really distract us from what it is all about. On may way back from a visit to the hospital, I was delighted to see the Knights of Columbus billboard which read, “Keep Christ in Christmas.” Amen to that! It is not that we can’t enjoy some of the secular festivities that also surround us at this time, but the Incarnation of Christ is truly the reason for this season. During this time, the college football bowl season begins. There is nothing wrong with enjoying such entertainment. We simply need to make sure that it doesn’t become our focus or a distraction from our Christian preparation that is Advent. Personally, I enjoy watching football, but must be clear that it is just a game and not let the outcome of such events determine my mood. In fact, the best part of these games are when displays of faith are made and good sportsmanship is present. Yes, I hope for the Beavers, the Ducks, and other favorite teams, but let us set about being Christians first, especially when with our friends enjoying these forms of entertainment.

Skepticism
Often during this season as well as around Lent and Easter, various TV programs air which presuppose doubt about the things of the faith. Just this past week, Pope Francis called for the public display of the bones of St Peter to be made available for the first time ever. Initial digs below the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica in the 1930’s revealed various human and animal remains. There was some evidence of the presence of St. Peter’s bones, but it was not clear at that time. However, when further archeological research was done in the 1940’s and 50’s, it came to light that some skeletal remains were transferred in the initial dig and were then being re-examined. The studies that followed led Pope Paul VI to declare that they had truly found St. Peter’s earthly remains. This discovery was highlighted in the March 17th, 1950 edition of Life Magazine. This amazing discovery was held with high esteem among many scholars at the time and since then. However, with the recent event of Pope Francis’ exposition of these relics, the reports I saw and heard mostly revolved around their dubious identity. It is amazing how far we have come in our culture to become so skeptical. It just reminds me of how we need to be careful of how the mainstream media reports issues of our Catholic Faith. Personally, I have found their ability to accurately report on the things of the Church to be sketchy at best. So, be ever mindful of this assumption of skepticism that so often permeates our culture surrounding issues of faith, especially during this season.


Religious Misdirection
In the coming days, we have the distinct opportunity to give praise to God for the person of the Blessed Virgin Mary on four different occasions: the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 9th this year), Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec.12), the granddaddy of them all, Christmas itself, and finally, the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God (Jan. 1). A non-Catholic visitor may critique us for giving Mary so much attention and even distraction and misdirection in our faith. So, it is very important that we all understand that while these celebrations bring an opportunity to venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary for all the roles she has played in salvation history, she is, ultimately not our focus. Yes, Mary is the pre-eminent member of the Church and model for us all. Prayer to her and her mediating support has brought about miracles. However, she is not an end unto herself, nor is she competitive with Christ. Rather, all these festivals involving our Blessed Mother are meant to focus us on the things that are critical. Mary, herself, does not desire misdirected attention to be given to her, but rather through the celebration of these mysteries, we offer greater praise to God.

In a way of speaking, all Marian feasts are essentially christological feasts, meaning they are ultimately about Jesus Christ. And we all know that all christological reflections draw us to the Father and the mystery of the Trinity. We seek out Christ through the aid of our Blessed Mother Mary, the model of the Church. Sometimes, this is offered as, “To Jesus through Mary.” Mary is the most pure and blessed “pointer,” if you will, to her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. So, be fervent in your prayers. When offering a Rosary, we know that Mary desires that we imitate her example of focus on her Son. When participating in these liturgical feasts give praise to God, thank Mary for her “yes” to God’s plans, and give God all the glory. And when someone challenges you about all this focus on Mary, be prepared to give a clear christological reason for Mary’s presence in our prayers.

Reconciliation
Advent, as a preparation time for Christmas, is a perfect time to re- move the obstacles of sin in our lives. This month, we have many opportunities to receive this Sacrament. At St. Patrick of the Forest we will be offering a communal reconciliation service on Monday, the 16th, followed the next day at St. Anne’s on Tuesday, the 17th. Both are at 7 PM. We will continue to offer the Sacrament on Saturdays between 4 PM and 5 PM. We will also offer a special time for those who cannot get out when it is dark on the Wednesday, the 11th, from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM. Our sins are the biggest and most dangerous obstacles to faith. I urge you to make a concerted effort to come and celebrate God’s forgiveness in your life. With our hearts cleansed of sin, we will be more open to the awesome power of God in our lives. This can be the most dramatic form of preparation you can do next to Mass itself.

Finally, know that I hold you all in my prayers during this time of Advent. I pray that these feasts will help you to prepare your hearts for the Light of the World. Put up your lights, creche scenes, swags, stockings, Christmas tree, and the like. Make all these things remind you that the darkness has not overcome the light, that Jesus has con- quered sin and death, that Mary is a great advocate in our faith jour- ney, and that Advent is a wonderful time to, once again, make room for God to dwell in our hearts even more than before.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Thanksgiving & Advent


Thanksgiving
Give thanks! Being thankful is a key essence of what it means to be a Catholic Christian. This coming Thursday, our country will celebrate Thanksgiving Day. As such, we will have a special Mass of thanksgiving where I will be asking you to share what you are thankful for. Also at that Mass, I will invite everyone to come forward at the Preparation of the Gifts to donate nonperishable food items and money for our local St. Vincent de Paul. Such a gesture is a wonderful way to show God our thanks and express our desire to help those in need.


Advent
Now is also a time to discern what you will be doing for Advent. How will you prepare yourself for Christmas? Many of us put up lights on our homes. Some decorate the interior of our rooms. We put up manger scenes and even the Christmas tree. But, why do we do these things? We do them to show on the outside what we hope for on the inside. We hope that Christ will be born-again in our hearts. We hope that the darkness that can sometimes pervade our hearts and minds will be removed by the light of Christ. The Church has given us Advent in order to simply look at these things and prepare to celebrate the most amazing event in history, the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.


Reconciliation
Finally, a way to give thanks and prepare our hearts is via the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We will be hosting the communal reconciliation services at St. Patrick of the Forest on Monday, Dec. 16th at 7 PM and then again at St. Anne’s on Tuesday, Dec. 17th at 7 PM. I expect many priests to come to our Advent service, so there will be many options for all. Please mark your calendars now. Prepare for Christmas by preparing for Advent, the advent of Jesus Christ in your heart.


Blessings,


Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Merry Christmas!

Dear Parishioners,

Merry Christmas! It is my prayer that the amazing love of God who gave his only begotten Son to us will rest upon your hearts. By this, may your Christmas be full of the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Among the many things that have blessed us is the presence of our new Coordinator of Youth Ministry, the addition of many new Catholics during the Easter Vigil, a hugely successful Spring Clean-up Day, the creation of a new liturgical Environment Committee, the beginning of a new Grounds Maintenance Committee, and so many other moments where the community came together to help those in need. Again, looking back, I consider it a true privilege to be your pastor.

I now begin to look forward to the, yet to be seen, miraculous happenings of God in our midst as has been the case this past year. Thank you to all who have been part of the incredible things that have been part of the life of St. Anne.

If there is anything I can do, anything that I need to apologize for, anything where I have fallen short, or any way that I can help, please let me know. Let us then pray for each other now that Christmas is upon us. May the remembrance and celebration of the birth of our Savior bring you joy and peace.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor