Dear Brothers and Sisters, Today is the First Sunday of Lent. (February 26 was Ash Wednesday, which began a four-day introduction to the traditional 40-day season of Lent which ends on Holy Thursday, April 9, this year.) The primary purpose of Lent is for the catechumens to intensify their preparation to receive the life-giving sacraments of Christian Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist) at the Easter Vigil at night on April 11. By extension, the Candidates for Full Communion, already baptized Christians, intensify their preparation to be received into Full Communion with us in the Catholic Church as they receive Confirmation and the Eucharist.
We should all be supporting our Catechumens and Candidates for Full Communion with our prayers and fasting. Secondarily, the season of Lent is a time for the rest of us to prepare to renew our baptismal promises at the Easter Vigil Mass. The Easter Vigil Mass is the most important Mass of the entire year, and all Catholics are asked to try to attend it. For those who cannot make it, we will also have other Masses later on Easter Sunday morning and afternoon.
Our Catechumens have been preparing formally for the last six months (and have been on a spiritual journey their entire lives). Next Sunday we will send those who are ready to be “chosen” (or “elected” from the Latin) by our Bishop to receive the Sacraments of Christian Initiation. The Rite of Election will take place for our area at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton church in Lake Ridge. We will have a Rite of Sending them to our Bishop at the 11:30 AM Mass.
About 20 parishioners gathered in our Parish Hall on Saturday, February 22, to look at the possibility of putting a crucifix in the sanctuary. There seemed to be a consensus on putting a traditional crucifix permanently somewhere in the sanctuary, and also to leave the current crucifix with Christ vested in priest’s vestments where it is currently located above the door that exits to the lower floor beneath the church. There were different opinions expressed about the size and placement of a crucifix, so we formed an advisory committee to make concrete proposals. Michael O’Brien graciously agreed to chair the committee. If you would like to attend any committee meetings, please contact the rectory office for details.
As I write this, we are getting ready to receive Bishop Burbidge for Confirmations on Saturday, February 29. I would like to thank all of those who helped make this year’s Sacrament of Confirmation meaningful and beautiful. I hope to have more information about the Confirmation in next week’s bulletin.
As we prepare for the next CCD year of faith formation, we will be offering a three-year confirmation preparation program, starting in the sixth grade. CCD registration begins March 15. Forms are available in both the CCD office and the rectory office. Please note we will have an early-bird registration until May 17. During this time the discounted fees will be $60 for the first child, $50 for the second and $40 for the third. Any child beyond three children is free. This fee has not increased for a few years.
May 18 begins our regular registration, when the fees will be $80 for the first child, $70 for the second child and $60 for the third child. Regular registration ends on June 30. As of July 1, there will be a late fee for registration. At that point the fee will be $100 for the first child, $90 for the second child and $80 for the third child. Registration for next year will end on August 16. I strongly encourage you to register early and take advantage of the early-bird discount. The CCD program is subsidized, and the fees do not cover all of the costs of our staff. We estimate that the cost per student will actually be $121.62 next year; the parish will cover what the fees do not.
We continue to fundraise for our third parish/school activity bus. Every day it brings 14 children to and from our school who would otherwise not be able to attend. It is great to be able to offer transportation for our community, not only for attending school, but also for Mass attendance and outreach activities such as field trips and visits to assisted living facilities. So far, we have raised $18,416, so we have $31,584 left to raise. Thank you for your support for our school, and this future generation for the world and the Church which our school educates.
The 2020 Bishop’s Lenten Appeal (BLA) has been mailed to all homes registered in our diocese. The BLA supports many different organizations and ministries in our diocese. Please consider supporting the BLA if you have not done so already.
For the March for Life we sent two full buses with a total of 102 participants. The cost to the parish for chartering the buses was $2500.00. A freewill collection was taken up which gathered $612.26. If there is anyone willing to contribute to offset the remaining cost, please contact the rectory office.
Please consider serving in our parish as a lector, usher, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion or altar server. We will be hosting a workshop here in the Annex on March 14, starting at 9 AM and finishing by 3 PM for EMHCs (the workshop is mandatory for someone wanting to serve in this way), and all those who wish to serve in any way in the Liturgy. More details will follow as we get closer to the event. In the meantime, if you are feeling called to serve, please complete the red sheet located in the vestibule by the literature rack and submit to the rectory office.