Dear Sisters and Brothers of Saint Therese Parish Community,
On October 4th, the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, our Holy Father Pope Francis issued an encyclical (a pastoral message to the Church and the world) entitled “Fratelli Tutti”. For those of you who speak Italian you know that means “we are all brothers and sisters”. Pope Francis obviously labored in love writing this encyclical over a very long time. I began reading it this week and, like many of our Holy Father’s writings, I found it to be inspiring and filled with food for thought. If you have a chance, give it a read. Pope Francis writes a great deal about “social friendship”, those bonds of caring that inspire us to reach out to one another, to care for each other, feed each other and keep each other safe emotionally and physically. He also encourages us to befriend nature, caring for our Mother Earth in order that many generations to come might have good food, clean water and a place to live safely. Remember when Jesus said “I call you my friends”? It is how Pope Francis sees all of us and how he encourages us to be Church -a community of friends.
I have been very blessed in my life with friends -that close group of people with whom I can say anything, be myself, even fail. It doesn’t matter to them how many trophies I have, or what I have (or don’t have) in the bank, or who I’m going to vote for. The love of a friend comes from a deeper place and I know I can count on them well into old age. Friends are there for each other, no matter what. It’s where the word “companion” comes from (“com pan”): the “one with whom I share my bread”.
One clear sign of friendship is how we are trying to protect each other during this pandemic, keeping each other safe and healthy. I know my hands are raw sometimes from washing, and my glasses stream up from the mask, and I miss hugs, and I sure would love to get to know what all of you look like! But that can wait. The important thing is that as a community of friends we give each other a safe space and the right to life.
It is also about continuing to create a welcoming community here at Saint Therese. Most of us gather here on weekends for one or another Mass. Besides creating a safe environment we also want to create a welcoming one, a community of friends who gather to support and encourage one another. Pope Francis says that “the Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect but is nourishment and medicine for those on the journey”. So we welcome you, wherever on the journey you are. If you feel so moved, please make Saint Therese Parish your spiritual home.
These next weeks before the Presidential election are a time of discernment for each of us who are eligible to vote. In the quiet of our own hearts and minds we will choose to vote for that person whom we believe is best for the common good of our country and its citizens in the next four years. We vote not only for ourselves but for our children and grandchildren, and those most vulnerable in our society. Let us respect and pray for each other in this process and for the candidates which each political party has chosen to stand for election.
See you around town!
Blessings and peace,
Father Bob Joerger, C.P.