Saturday, December 25, 2010

Room at the inn - Dec 25, 2010

There is a story about a parish putting on a Christmas pageant. It came to the point where the innkeeper was to say that there was no room at the inn for Mary and Joseph to stay. The part of the innkeeper was played by a young man challenged by Down Syndrome. He had only one line to memorize and he had practiced it over and over again with his parents. So the big moment came with Mary and Joseph making their way down the main aisle of the church. They approached , made their request and heard the loud response, “There’s no room at the inn.” So Mary and Joseph turned to travel farther. All of a sudden the young boy boomed out, “You can stay at my house.” Thinking quickly the priest said, “Amen” and the congregation said, “Amen” and the homily was finished as everyone broke into singing “Joy to the World”.

This young boy’s response truly is the miracle of Christmas. Like Mary and Joseph we need to make room for Jesus in our world, in our homes, and in our hearts. We need to invite him in so that he can transform our hearts with His peace and justice. I want to thank this parish community for the many ways we respond to God’s invitation to be a people of justice and peace. As we move forward may we continue our trips to Jamaica, our Mobile Loaves and Fishes outreach, our Giving Tree project, our visits to the homebound, our Christmas Cantata, our education of our young, and the many other ways we seek to evangelize. Let us work and pray together in the new year.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Mary: a model of the Advent Season - Dec 11, 2010

I am happy to announce that Catherine Carbone is our new bookkeeper here at St. Luke’s. She will bring competence and experience to this important position. Cathy has been a parishioner here for many years and will do a great job in her new position.

Today is December 8th, the day the Church reflects on Mary, the one filled with grace. I see her as a model of the Advent Season in her role as a perfect instrument for God’s birth in the world. For us to be like Mary we need to free ourselves from the trappings of sin. What attitudes need to be addressed in our lives so that we can better make Jesus known in our world? God can do the impossible in us if we but get out of His way. Advent is a time for grace and miracles.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

P.S. A special time for Confessions will occur December 23 from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Advent: prepare our hearts Dec 5, 2010

As always we approach Advent with all kinds of hopes and expectations. Paul urges us to wake from our sleep and seize the many opportunities we have to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ. So often we think of Advent as remembering the coming of Christ many years ago in Bethlehem. But Advent is even a richer season than that when we consider the coming of Christ in the present and also at the end of time. We look into our lives and try to name the many ways Christ comes to us in the people all around us: the elderly person in a nursing home, a little pre-schooler, someone we meet on the Mobile Loaves and Fishes Truck. Advent is a time to make room for Christ, to prepare the way in the world, to celebrate the simple presence, to climb the mountain of the Lord.
Fr. Bob Hawkins

Monday, November 01, 2010

Catechist of the Year - Oct 31, 2010

Last Thursday night at SS John and Paul parish in Coventry Joyce Dube was honored as Catechist of the Year by Bishop Tobin. For many years Joyce has offered her time and talent to the great work of sharing the Good News with young people. She even knew my uncle Monsignor Charles McConnell (my mother’s brother) when he was head of CYO for the Diocese. That was some 50 years ago. Thank you Joyce for fulfilling the words of St. Francis: “Preach always, occasionally use words.” May the Lord continue to give you the energy to teach as He himself taught.

A big thank you to all who shared their prayerful greetings with me after surgery. Each day my hearing improves which allows me to hear your concerns, your wisdom, your great testimonies of faith.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, September 18, 2010

An environment where fresh ideas can emerge - Sept 18, 2010

The challenge of being a pastor is to create an environment where fresh ideas can emerge. You can go to the well too many times with the tried and true. New endeavors keep everybody engaged. Years ago Father David Gaffney was the engine behind our parish auction. We have done several of them on an every other year basis. The committee thought this year we ought to try something different. On October 23rd from 7 to 11 p.m. we are presenting “Casino Royale” in the gym. Along with drinks and hors d’oeuvres there will be wheels, cards, raffles and, yes, even a live auction with one of my dinners for sale. Keeping it local might be a nice way to engage more people. Over the next few weeks there will be several announcements asking for your support. The funds realized from this event will go to ongoing capital improvements for the parish (roof on school and pre-school, school parking lot, church interior painting, sidewalks and curbs).

This past weekend I celebrated my 35th Anniversary of ordination. I traveled to Newport with two of my closest priest friends to celebrate. While away I missed the lead in to our annual school collection. A big thank you to Sue Moran for organizing our appeal this year. These are challenging times for Catholic Schools as we seek to teach as Jesus taught. Please be as generous as your financial situation allows.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Pet Peeves - Sept. 12, 2010

One of my pet peeves is noticing parents dropping off students for religious education classes on Sundays and then skipping Mass. Another pet peeve is celebrating First Communion for 100 children in May and then rarely or never seeing these children at Mass. A further pet peeve is preparing students for Confirmation and then noticing they are no longer active in our worship life. What gives? As Catholics we are a Eucharistic people. Weekly we gather so that our lives can be fed by the Bread of Life, by the wisdom of God’s word and the support we receive from fellow believers. When people are absent we are deprived of their gifts and their presence. As Catholics we form a community in an otherwise isolated and fractured world. During this year we have focused on Evangelization, a core teaching of our faith. We have had listening sessions, annulment workshops, developed a robust CD collection, and still our congregation has not grown.

As a pastor I try to be present not only at Church but in the community. On occasion I attend sporting events, plays, graduations, Blue and Gold dinners. I do this because of the value of presence and interest in people’s lives. As we begin a new year I invite you to take your participation in our parish life seriously. It all begins at the Lord’s table where we are reminded that we are called to be the hands and voice of Christ in the world.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Monsignor Wil Davis speaks to St. Luke's on CRS - Sept 5, 2010

This weekend we welcome one of my oldest friends to St. Luke’s. I met Monsignor Wil Davis in Louvain during my third year of theological studies. Wil was already a priest and came to do a sabbatical year. We became fast friends as we experienced student life in Belgium. Student life included basketball games, seminars, trips to the local bars, and more serious things like retreats and pastoral outreach activities. Simply put we bonded and have been close friends ever since. We have traveled to many places in this wonderful world: California, Hawaii, Canada, Greece, Australia, northern Europe, Chile and the major European capitals.

For five years Wil was a missionary with Maryknoll in Chile. I visited him in 1994 and went by horseback to his most isolated communities. He has a real sense of adventure and awe in the presence of God. This weekend he will speak to us of the work of Catholic Relief Services. Everytime there is a crisis in the world CRS is there to help and assist. In many countries it improves the living standards of the people. As a Church we are called to be on mission. The Mass ends with the challenge, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” This weekend we hear the story of a compassionate priest who for 46 years has responded to that challenge. Ministry has brought him to several parishes in Orange County, to seminary formation work, and now in retirement to further the missionary nature of our Church’s mission. Welcome to St. Luke’s, Monsignor Davis.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Exerciseing our faith muscles - August 1, 2010

It’s Friday afternoon (July 23) and our second week of Religious Formation classes have finished. Before going over to the assembly I read the Rhode Island Catholic. This week there was a terrific article about Fr. Luke’s Ironman Triathlon. So many of the same principles that go into being a good athlete apply to our lives of Faith. We need to be disciplined, focused, willing to endure suffering and pain. Yet when we succeed we feel a great deal of personal satisfaction. Thank you Fr. Luke for your great example. It is my prayer that your story will inspire us all to practice our faith; e.g., go to mass, receive the sacraments, perform works of mercy, pray. May all of us exercise our faith muscles and in so doing give praise to God.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Going to Mass on Vacation by Paul Turner - July 11, 2020

Good Catholics on vacation always make time for Sunday Mass. The locations for churches and the times of services are generally easy to obtain online. It doesn’t take much advance planning to include worship as part of one’s time away from home. When you enter the church as a visitor, introduce yourself to a greeter or minister. Let someone know where you come from. Most locals are happy to say a word of welcome, but they do not always know who is visiting and who is not.

Participate well. Pray sincerely. Sing the hymns. Contribute generously to the collection. Some people contribute sparingly. But the church you are visiting has generously provided you a place to worship. Its members would appreciate a spot in the budget you made to enjoy your vacation. If you know in advance that you cannot attend Mass some Sunday, you should obtain a dispensation from your pastor. If you are in your own church when visitors arrive, help them feel welcome; show them around. Above all, make an effort to worship every Sunday, even when you are away from home. God never takes a vacation from you.

(Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant’
Anselmo University in Rome.)

Friday, July 02, 2010

Fr. Bob's 5th Anniversary at St. Luke's

This past Thursday (July 1) marked my fifth anniversary here at St. Luke’s. As I look back I see so many positive developments: a nearly full parish school, mission outreach to Maine and Jamaica, active parish council with lots of active committees, ample stewardship opportunities for people to take ownership of their faith. By now I have had a chance to minister to a majority of our families through baptisms, funerals, hospital calls, home visits, First Communions, Confirmations. And so as I look back I say, “Thanks!” to the many ways you have welcomed me and responded so positively.

Life being what it is there are at times things that concern me. Engaging families after baptisms and First Communion to practice their faith on a regular basis is perhaps my greatest concern. Despite letters, visits, phone calls, homilies, many of our efforts have fallen on deaf ears. I do not see any increase in our mass attendance. As a leader I do not like to sugar coat things. A massive evangelization effort is needed in our Church today. St. Luke’s is not alone in this regard. I ask each of you to be an evangelizer. Encourage your neighbors to attend mass. Speak up when sporting events happen on Sunday mornings. It is all of our
responsibility to see that our parish continues to grow.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sensing God's presence in our lives - June 13, 2010

"We had the experience but missed the meaning" T.S. Eliot
This line from Eliot is on my mind this morning as I ponder the events of the last few weeks. So much happens this time of year that speaks of transition and moving on. High school graduates move on to college. Our eighth graders leave our school after being here for as much as 11 years (counting pre-school). A few weeks back 95 students were empowered by the Holy Spirit in Confirmation. I go to many anniversary and graduation parties during this time. In all of us do we sense the presence of God appealing to us to sense His presence in our lives? Are we thankful for God's gifts? Are we developing our God-given potential? In this year of evangelization are we inviting our fellow parishioners to a deeper involvement in our parish life?

A big thank you to Diane Comerford who did a fabulous job organizing our Baccalaureate Mass. Through her efforts may our high school seniors sense that God is near to them in all their endeavors. Also, thank you to Maureen Jannetta, our school principal, as we end another year of instruction. So many people, experiences, relationships enrich our parish life here at St. Luke's. Thank you to all who live stewardship each day.
Fr. Bob Hawkins

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Reflections on Catholic education

Recently the local press reports that two more Catholic schools are closing this year: St. Matthew’s in Cranston and Holy Ghost in Providence. Changing demographics, rising healthcare costs, weak economy are all highlighted as reasons. Catholic education is becoming less present in our cities and working class areas. With each closing I begin to ponder where will this all end. Here at St. Luke’s we are lucky with our excellent principal, dedicated teachers and active parent base. Our 270 students are exposed every day to Gospel values in a nurturing environment. But for this to continue we need to be vigilant. In past days the Church was rich in personnel. Plenty of priests, nuns and brothers taught in our schools for practically nothing. Treasure was minimal but religious talent was abundant. Now the situation has changed. The Catholic population has risen in status. We populate professions like medicine, law and business. We are richer in treasure, weaker in time and professional talent (fewer priests, nuns, brothers). This does in no way denigrate the talent and dedication of our lay teachers. Will those with treasure support the ministry of Catholic education? Every once in a while I see bumper stickers on cars that say, “I survived Catholic School.” Everybody laughs a bit and gets the joke. I personally did not survive Catholic school – I thrived! Perhaps if more people told their stories of thriving in our schools we will see a resurgence in this important ministry in our day.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

A fulfilling ministry - May 30 2010

I spent today doing some follow-up with families who have lost loved ones recently. I find it a fulfilling ministry to check in with people after funerals and hospitalizations. So often grief comes in waves for people. No two people grieve in the same way. Some people stay busy visiting lawyers and banks to change names in important documents. Others take a trip to be near an adult child who lives out of town. Some retreat into solitude and spend time in church or the cemetery. One of our vibrant ministries is our bereavement group that organizes luncheons after the funeral, knits a shawl for those who are ill, plan our Annual Mass of Remembrance at All Souls’ Day. In the future some members will accompany Fr. Luke and me to wakes. Many years ago I remember a seminary staff member telling us to be kind to people when they are sick, grieving, and in need of help. Somehow this gives me more joy and meaning than many of the administrative tasks that go along with pastoring. Pray that I never forget what my seminary professors said many years ago.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Neat or Messy? May 23, 2010

I’m writing on Tuesday morning amidst a sloppy desk with papers, memos, folders, and periodicals all over the place. A friend of mine said of a mutual friend that his desk is so neat you could do surgery on it. My desk, my friend said, looks like surgery has just been completed. Staying organized and being attentive to details is not my strong suit.

We are in the midst of a whirlwind of activities. One priority presently is to entice more people (especially males) to be involved in Parish Council. Complacency can settle into any organization. We can assume so easily that other people will step forward. Presently we need interested people to offer some time and talent to this important ministry in the parish. Any takers?

Please pray that the Holy Spirit will enter the hearts and minds of our Confirmation class. This Saturday 95 teens will be confirmed by Bishop Mulvee.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Annual retreat - May 8, 2010

One of the most important weeks in a priest’s life is supposed to be his annual retreat. It has been over two years since I made a retreat. This means it is confession, “mea culpa” time for me. I picked this time of the year because of the spring weather and the need to find some balance with the busyness of this time of the year. Yesterday we had three beautiful First Communion celebrations which were so well organized by Pat Grattan. It was a joyful time to witness the excitement of the children receiving Jesus for the first time. In this year of evangelization I encouraged the parents to bring their children often to the table of the Lord. You can have the best religious education program but it means little without parent cooperation. In the weeks ahead we will have Confirmation, the Mass for the high school graduates, the healing mass, school graduation, appreciation night and, by the way, the wedding season will start. Yikes!
Fr. Bob

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Hear the voice of the shepherd May 1, 2010

Last Sunday I reflected on the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd in my homily. I only preached at two Masses (5 p.m. and 7 a.m.) and at the 8:30 I did a children’s homily. Several people asked me to ponder further on the homily. My general theme was the need to hear the voice of the shepherd. When we really listen we take on the heart and vision of the Good Shepherd. As a result we minister by affirming. serving, and protecting others. Then I went on to say we have been painfully reminded in the past few months of so many tragic examples of poor and abusive treatment of young people by our Church leaders.

Recently I read a letter by Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. to the people of his diocese. In the letter he spoke of the beauty of stain-glass windows. So many of our sacred stories and people are depicted in windows. “Yet if even one small part of the window is broken our eyes are immediately drawn to the wound. Much of the beauty of the entire window, its integrated wholeness and message, can be temporarily lost because we concentrate on the broken piece. Years ago we recognized that some of the glass was broken. Some who were called to serve as an icon of Christ and ordained to be his presence in the midst of the community had failed in their ordination promises. Through the damaged glass there poured a harsh glare that caused not only the Church but the wider community to focus on what was broken.”

As a Church we are now called to penance and purification. We are a sinful Church in need of God’s mercy to renew us in the image of Christ the Good Shepherd. Our Church’s credibility and essential mission has been tarnished. Trust between clergy and people is an essential ingredient to effective pastoral ministry. I pledge to you as pastor my renewed commit-ment to be of service in an open and humble manner. May the healing process begin and continue under the banner of God’s grace.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My banner will be clear - April 17,2020

Easter is a 50-day season filled with stories of people living their faith. Here is a witness of a young preacher in Zimbabwe. Imagine if we had this kind of faith.

“I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit’s power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made; I’m a disciple of Jesus. I don’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

“My past is redeemed; my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, small plannings, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving and dwarfed goals.

“I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded. I know life by faith, lean on Jesus’ presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer and I labor with power.

“My force is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander
in the maze of mediocrity.

“I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go until he comes, give ‘til I drop, preach ‘til all know and work ‘til he stops me. And when he comes for his own, he will have no problem recognizing me…my banner will be clear.”

Fr. Bob

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Easter is a verb! - April 3, 2010

One of Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.’s greatest poems is entitled, “The Wreck of the Deutschland”. The poem recalls a shipwreck in the North Sea in 1875. Among the victims were five Franciscans sisters on the way to the missions to teach. As the ship was sinking they sacrificed their lives by remaining below the deck. Hopkins was so inspired by the story that he wrote a poem about the experience. The last line reads, “Let Him Easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us.”

What strikes me is that Hopkins uses Easter not as a noun but a verb. Easter is something we do, think and feel. So let Jesus Easter in all of us as we live stewardship. Let Jesus Easter in our candidates – Mora, Kristel, Andrew, Michael and Alexia. Let Him Easter in our young missionaries preparing for their trip to Jamaica. Let Him Easter in our church as we seek to repent from the sexual abuse crisis. Let Him Easter in our world as we turn away from violence to commit ourselves to peace. I cannot believe that this is my fifth Easter here at St. Luke’s. Thanks to all of you for your enduring faith in the Resurrection. I am confident in the God who calls us all to new life in His Son.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, March 13, 2010

St. Luke's Lenten Parish Retreat - March 13, 2010

Perhaps the most important week in the year, besides Holy Week, is the parish retreat or mission. Parishes offer a wide variety of activities that bring people together. We have pasta dinners, picnics, dances, trip sand other assorted events. But the most important events are the ones that foster spiritual growth. This year Father Peter Andrews, the pastor of St. Christopher and St. Theresa parishes in Tiverton, is our mission giver. He comes to use with a wealth of experience in offering retreats and workshops. For several years he was the liturgy director for the Diocese. Fr. Peter was ordained in 1988 and has served the Diocese well wherever he has been placed.

His theme will be the words heard on Ash Wednesday, "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel." Monday night his talk will be in the context of a prayer service. On Tuesday he will speak on the theme of reconciliation and the Sacrament of Penance will be offered. On Wednesday he will talk about the gift of the Eucharist in the context of the Mass.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate and people will come to have their faith renewed. Please pray that God's wise spirit will guide Fr. Peter in his reflection.

Fr. Bob

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Two dimensions of leadership - March 7, 2010

As I conclude these reflections on the priest I now focus on the leadership role of the pastor. Here perhaps I need to ask for your patience because I am no Alan Greenspan when it comes to finances or Mother Teresa when it comes to spirituality or Billy Graham when it comes to preaching. Yet a modern parish does demand a great variety of skills from its leader. Funds need to be raised, facilities to be maintained, classes to be taught, service projects to be organized, supplies to be purchased. Thank God St. Luke’s doesn’t ask me to do all these tasks. However, it does expect me to elicit the gifts from this congregation. I need somehow to marshal the talents present here and move St. Luke’s toward accomplishing its mission. Of all the qualities of an effective leader communication is right there at the top. You need to stand with the people and experience together the glories and tragedies of life. Together we experience mercy, pain, loss, disappointment, success and all other dimensions of the human drama.

The second dimension of the leader is to be attentive to the whole and not just to the individual parts that make up a parish. Like any community, a parish represents people with disparate interests. It is the role of the leader to remind people they belong to something bigger than themselves. A leader is called to create forums of all sorts where competing ideas can be brought together. At times the ideas are clear; other times there can be a cacophony of opinions and strategies. A further need is to know how to delegate tasks to others. Leadership needs to be shared if it is to be effective. It is the insecure leader who cannot let go. Part of leadership is vulnerability which allows him not to be in control of every situation. Edwin Friedman captures what is required of the leader’s “non-anxious presence.” This allows the leader to be engaged in the life and tensions of the community. As a leader I am confident in people’s abilities to be mature adults. Constructive solutions and strategies can emerge from our relationship together. God’s good spirit is in our midst and will lead us in ways that foster peace. I welcome any feedback to these reflections.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Consulting trained counselors and spiritual directors - Feb 28, 2010

In this third segment I will reflect on the priest as providing guidance to individuals in their lives of Faith. After 9/11 I had numerous conversations with people trying to understand where God might be found in this horrible event. Similar conversations happen during times of illness, job loss, grief, divorce and other family issues. It is always my fear that all I will have to offer is pious platitudes or some theological gibberish. Pat answers are inadequate as people are expressing their deepest thoughts and feelings about life’s difficult issues. Listening to and discerning the movement of the spirit is a struggle. Often times the priest needs to refer people to trained professionals who have more expertise than he possesses. Yet in making these referrals he does not abandon the individual.

Over the years I have found it helpful to consult with trained counselors and spiritual directors. I do not heal alone or minister alone. So many times a fellow priest or a counselor has given me valuable insights into the affairs of the heart. Often times I am asked to refer them to retreat centers, monasteries, spiritual directors. Knowing local resources is an important part of a priest’s ministry.
Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The priest’s role to evoke a spirit of prayer - Feb 21, 2010

In this ongoing series on people’s expectations of priests, I focus on presiding prayerfully at liturgies. I have spoken previously that the priest is the presider and not the celebrant. The Mass is something the people of God celebrate together. It is the priest’s role to evoke a spirit of prayer from the heart of the congregation. The people in the pews are not observers or passive participants. All are invited to be engaged actively and consciously in prayer. This engagement is aided if the people sense the presider is standing in the holy presence of God. Does the community experience a person caught up in the praise of God? Do they sense the genuineness of the priest crying out for God’s mercy? Do they see someone rejoicing in the God who liberates and calls to life? Do they sense that this man is at prayer? One common complaint is that at times a priest resembles a runaway train rushing through the prayers of the Mass.

Perhaps the greatest challenge of all is not to allow the worship to become routine. Rote recitation of prayers can lead to lifeless celebration of the Eucharist. Liturgy challenges the presider to be present to the workings of God in his life and in the experiences of the people in the pews. The ultimate sign of an effective presider is when he leads the community into the presence of the living God. By so doing he helps people to pray in an authentic way. On the day of my ordination Bishop Gelineau handed over the paten into my hands and said: “Receive the sacrifice of the holy people, to be offered to God. Understand what you do, imitate what you celebrate and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s cross.” for the past 35 years these words echo in my mind as I preside at liturgy.

PS. Much of the inspiration for these recent columns has come from the writings of George Wilson, S.J. His book is entitled Clericalism: The Death of the Priesthood. (Liturgical Press)

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Priesthood from the perspective of the people Feb 14, 2010

This year merges together two important themes: evangelization and the priesthood. In this pondering I would like to focus on the priesthood from the perspective of the people in the pews.

What practices can the people of God expect from their priests? I can think of four expectations:
1) The priest will proclaim the Word of God effectively.
2) The priest will devoutly preside at the public worship of the community.
3) He will provide guidance to individual believers in their lives of faith.
4) He will lead a Christian community on the journey of faith.

Today I will focus on the first expectation. Indeed the Word of God is spoken in Scripture and in the signs of the times (contemporary experience). For the priest to effectively proclaim the Word of God a strong interior life is a necessity. The Word of God has to take root in his heart, mind and imagination. For the Word to come alive in any homily it first has to take root in the homilist. I have to be excited if I am to move and inspire a congregation. Preaching is not like reading a bed time story to a child. The preacher himself is personally engaged in the story. Like Mary, the preacher ponders in his heart the ways of God. He takes on the mind and heart of Jesus as he empties himself so that he can be filled with the wisdom of the Lord. George Wilson wrote, “The Scriptures for the preacher is not a book of recipes for soothing or even for moral guidance. The words must burn and sting and confound and convict as much as they inform. The psalms are not Hallmark cards to soothe the faithful.”

A homily is a “we” experience meant to connect us all in our journey of faith. The homilist invites people to search for the presence of God in the world around us. Along with the Bible, the presider holds the daily newspaper in his hands. The aches, pains, struggles, joys of the human family are not foreign to the preacher. Wilson goes on to write: “The widows and orphans and aliens, the pharaohs and scribes and Pharisees, the tax collectors and prostitutes, the Pilates and Marys and Zacchaeuses – these are not cardboard cutouts from a Sunday school workbook. They walk on our streets.”

In short, in presiding the Word the priest asks the congregation where God is present in our world today. Indeed “the word has become flesh and dwells among us.” Because of this, preaching is a daunting, but fulfilling task.

I am never more alive than when I’m proclaiming the Word of God.
Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Four non-negotiables - Feb 7, 2010

The Year of Evangelization has afforded us the opportunity to do some reading. Recently, I came across one of my favorite writers, William O’Malley, S.J. He has been a high school teacher for many decades and has a wealth of experience. About ten years ago I heard him speak at a Convention for Catholic school teachers. Often he speaks about the four non-negotiables of the Catholic faith:
1) Jesus is the embodiment of God. In this capacity he is the greatest sign of God’s love. He became one with us so that we could be one with our God. In his living he displayed compassion, forgiveness and integrity. With him there is no pride or ego. He is a model for all of us.

2) Jesus’ death is followed by resurrection. Therefore we are not destroyed by death and even now we experience the aliveness of God in our human living.

3) Since we belong to Jesus his values of the Kingdom (God and neighbor) are more important than the values of the world (me first). We are charged therefore not only to change ourselves
but others as well.

4) We are members of His Body, the Church. We celebrate this membership at a weekly meal of thanksgiving. This demonstrates our commitment to one another and to worship.
It is good often to be reminded of the basics. It is my hope that this special year will return us to our own roots.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Time to take stock - January 16, 2010

This time of year people take stock and are full of resolutions - go on a diet, be a better neighbor, volunteer more, be a better wife or husband, and so on. It is also a time of year when we look back and review such mundane things as finances. We all realize this past year has been one of financial hardship for many of our parishioners: loss of a job, foreclosure on a home, etc. But though it all many of you have still found it possible to support St. Luke's parish in so many different ways. This year the members of the Finance Committee have made a resolution to use the automatic withdrawal system as a way of fulfilling their financial obligation to St. Luke's. More and more people are managing their money electronically for convenience - why not add St. Luke's to your list! You just decide on your monthly given and haven it take out once a month. Many people use this type of system for their monthly bill payments. Also, you don't need to worry about bringing that budget envelope every week or worry about your obligation while you're away. APS will take care of it for you. There are yellow forms on the pews and on the table at each entrance for you to take. Please return the completed form, along with a check marked "void", to the rectory with APS written on the envelope. You will be sent a statement at the end of the year. If you don't feel comfortable using APS, you can use your online banking system. Please consider taking advantage of the automated giving. It's so easy!

We are so fortunate here at St. Luke's to have been able to maintain not only the physical plant but also our outstanding school with its dedicated staff, as well as the many projects of St. Vincent DePaul, the Religious Education program and all the other St. Luke Ministries which touch the lives of so many people. It is through this generosity and dedication of our parishioners that make all these things possible.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Reflection on the Feast of the Epiphany -- Jan 9, 2010

I am writing this reflection on the Feast of the Epiphany. This morning the adult missionaries gave moving reflections of their Jamaica experience. All through this season a phrase from the Christmas carol “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” has spoken to my heart. In the third verse it says: “Born that we no more may die, Born to raise us from the earth, Born to give us second birth.”

At the beginning of this year of evangelization may this description of the ministry of Jesus truly inspire us. So many people need the experience of a second birth. Day after day I encounter people dealing with depression, job loss, relationship difficulties, grief. The list can go on and on. Jesus calls us to be the light of the world. Part of being a light is to let it shine and not hide it out of some false service of humility. It is time for us to step up and make a difference in our town and state. There is so much talent in this parish that needs to be unleashed, so much potential untapped. Let us find creative ways to reach out and include others. Building Christian community is what my vocation is all about. I implore you to work with me to see this dream come true.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Friday, January 01, 2010

Bless this house -- Jan 1, 2010

One wonderful ancient custom on the feast of Epiphany is that homes are blessed. As we begin a new year with all its promise here is a blessing from Ed Hays.

“Lord our God, you whose home is in heaven and on earth, come and bless this house…Surround this shelter with your Spirit, encompass all its four sides with the power of your protection…Bless here this doorway. May all who come to it be treated with respect and kindness. May all our comings and goings be under the seal of God’s loving care…Blessed be all the rooms of this house…May we truly live in it as people of peace…Bless this place where we eat. May our meals be sacraments of the presence of God…Lord our God may your name always be holy in our home. May God’s blessing rest upon us all. Amen.”

As we begin this year of evangelization, may we welcome all people to our church. It is my hope that this year the Gospel message will take root. May we discover common ground in our efforts to pursue a just and peaceful world. It is my hope that we can overcome obstacles, heal divisions and bring Christ’s light to others.

Fr. Bob Hawkins