Saturday, December 03, 2011

The comfort zone - Dec 3, 2011

I have a favorite St. Luke School sweatshirt which was given to me when I first arrived in 2005. It’s my favorite sweatshirt because after so many washings it is soft and warm. I have received sweatshirts since 2005, but rarely wear them. I just like the old one that is faded and has coffee stains all over it. My love for this old sweatshirt is like my love for the old liturgy. I could do those Eucharistic prayers, prefaces, orations by heart! Now my head is in the Sacramentary and I have to get my tongue around these new prayers. I am going through a grieving process that Kubler Ross reminds us has stages that include denial, anger bargaining, depression and acceptance. Will we make mistakes as we transition from the old into the new? Of course we will. Will we survive those mistakes? Of course! After all, the key ingredient to our worship is active involvement. Maybe we will pray more consciously, listen more attentively, sing more fervently, and then “go in peace glorifying the Lord by our lives.”

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Distinction between marriage and wedding preparation - Nov 26, 2011

Recently we learned of the end of Kim Kardashian’s marriage. The media reported that the union lasted 72 days. In my working with engaged couples I make a distinction between marriage and wedding preparation. All too often the focus is on the wedding. Lots of attention gets paid to the flowers, the length of the aisle, the dresses of the bridesmaids, the location of the reception, the photographer, the honeymoon. I wonder how much time actually gets directed towards marriage preparation. Ideas like spirituality, shared sacrifice, healthy human sexuality, communication, strategies around problem solving need to be explored. Pray that our couples married here at St. Luke’s are properly prepared for a relationship that will last for life.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, November 19, 2011

If at first you don’t succeed try, try again - Nov 19, 2011

“If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.” I remember this wise saying from my youth. It is this montra that needs repeating as the Parish Council grappled last night with what to do about the Nayatt Day of Evangelization. Less than half of the families were home on October 29th. When we tried to update our records after all the Masses on the weekend of November 5-6 a grand total of eight (8) families responded. We left packets of material at all the homes on visitation day but few people ever acknowledged receiving the material. What’s a parish council to do? In another effort to reach out we are sending via mail the registration form with feedback questions on the back. Maybe this will get the response we are looking for.

At the meeting I shared a reflection from a talk I heard at a seminar a few years back. The speaker compared the Church to our relationship to the utility company. When Hurricane Irene hit all of a sudden we thought of National Grid. When things are normal we never think of our phones, lights and other utilities. Is this how people think of the Church? When we need you we’ll get in touch with you; otherwise you are off the radar screen. A baby is born, a job is lost, a relative sick, a love one dies, a child reaches 7 years of age – we call the Church. While I certainly hope that people call the Church at important times in their lives, I also hope that the Church can be more a part of the ordinary rhythm of people’s lives. Trying to foster good habits and practices is something I am about as your pastor. “If at first you don’t succeed…” I invite you to join me in devising strategies to make the parish a more vibrant part of people’s lives.
   Fr. Bob Hawkins

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Changes in the liturgy -Nov 13, 2011

The first Sunday of Advent is quickly approaching and with it all kinds of changes in the liturgy. Let’s face it, we all resist change. We like things the way they are. In the liturgy we get used to the wording of the prayers so much that we can recite the prayers by heart. For the first few weeks my head will be in the text. In this pondering I will share some of the changes that will affect you.

- “the Lord be with you – ALL “And with your spirit.” Why the change? When someone is ordained a priest, the Holy Spirit comes upon him in a powerful and unique way. So instead of a personal greeting we are acknowledging the working of the Holy Spirit through the - gift of Holy Orders.
- At the Creed we will say “I believe”, instead of “we believe”. Why the change? The literal translation of “Credo” is “I believe”. Also “Credo” reflects the profound truth that I can’t believe for you nor you for me. The Creed goes back to the Baptismal rite of the early  Church.
- The most unusual change is from “one in being with the Father” to “consubstantial with the Father.” Why the change? We are acknowledging that Christ is of the same  substance as the Father.
- At the Lamb of God you will now respond, “Lord I am not worthy that you should come under my roof”. So much of the new translation goes back to the biblical roots of our liturgy. Here we recall the Roman Centurion who comes to beg Jesus to heal his servant who is dying. This new response reflects this great statement of faith of the Roman leader.
There will be more reflection in the weeks to come. Already we have sung the new Sanctus and Memorial Acclamations. It is my hope that the new translation will lead us to be a more vibrant worshipping community.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Break open the word of God

As I write I have just celebrated the School Mass for All Saints. It is an easy Mass to celebrate because it celebrates people who took the light of Baptism and shared it with others. Whether it was Katherine Drexel who gave most of her wealth to build Catholic schools in Philadelphia or St. Julie who started the Sisters of Notre Dame these saints made a difference with their lives. Now I am on to what I’m going to preach about at the All Souls Mass on Wednesday evening. What a privilege it is to break open the word of God for people. Making the word of God relevant for our lives gives me great joy and meaning. It is how I in my limited way attempt to make a difference. I leave you with these words from Rabbi Howard Kushner:

“…The need to know that we are making a difference motivates doctors and medical researchers to spend hours looking through microscopes in the hope of finding cures for diseases. It drives inventors and entrepreneurs to stay up nights trying to find a better way of providing people with something they need. It causes artists, novelists, and composers to try to add to the store of beauty in the world by finding just the right color, the right word, the right note. And it leads ordinary people to buy six copies of the local paper because it has their name or picture in it.”

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, October 29, 2011

All you have to do is ask

I am writing on a Monday morning with concerns about how the upcoming week will unfold. Will the
mission be well attended? Will we get enough volunteers to make the Day of Evangelization a success? Pastors do worry about many things. To top off the list our St. Vincent de Paul fund is low and we have a collection coming up on November 5th. Will we get enough funds to enable us to reach out to the needy in our community? These difficult economic times have challenged us to respond. When I first arrived here at St. Luke’s a few people said to me, “Father, all you have to do is ask us and we will respond.” Well I am taking you up on this offer. Please respond to the mission, to outreach to your fellow parishioners and to this important collection for St. Vincent de Paul. Our St. Vincent de Paul society has 30 members and once a year this collection is the major way we fund our outreach activities.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Friday, September 23, 2011

School Annual Appeal & New Room Names- Sept 23, 2011

This weekend the School will conduct its Annual Appeal. Running a parish school these days is a huge challenge. Between the economy, our secular culture, rising health care costs and myriad other factors, Catholic schools are in peril. However, we here are holding our own with our excellent principal, Maureen Jannetta, her dedicated faculty and staff, and involved parents, all doing a superb job. St. Luke’s has been in existence for 53 years which is quite a feat. With your contributions and prayerful support we will not only survive, but thrive.

At our recent staff meeting we talked about the necessity of organization in the parish. More ministries and groups need space for their meetings. To facilitate our activities, we are trying to get maximum use out of our meeting rooms. One way we are trying to do this is by naming our rooms in the parish hall. The following is what we have come up with:

  Small Conference Room - Jenkinson Room
  Classroom - Conference Room
  Former Youth Ministry Room - Gathering Room

We are having signs made so they can be posted. In addition, in the main room a stand will be created that will list all the meetings taking place during a typical week here in the parish. If you have any questions concerning the use of the parish hall meeting rooms please contact Ann Marie Beccue

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Parish Census (Nayatt) continues Oct 15, & New Mass Translation Mission

There are many programs and ministries presently underway here in the parish. I want to draw your attention to two of them. The first is to complete the work of evangelization which was begun in May. There are still two more areas (Nayatt and Sowams) that need to be completed. The date of October 15th has been set for the Nayatt Day of Evangelization/Census. Presently, the Parish Council is organizing these outreaches. Also from October 24 to 26 Father Jeremy Rodrigues from St. Philip’s in Greenville will conduct our parish mission on the new Mass translation. Slowly we will be introducing the various Mass parts to you. The important part of this renewal will be to instill a more active and conscious participation in the Mass. Liturgy is a word that means work. To have good liturgy we all need to be engaged in our responses and singing. Please mark these important dates on your calendar. Fr. Bob Hawkins

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 11th, 2011

This weekend marks the tenth anniversary of the awful events of September 11th. At the time I was ministering at St. Kevin’s in Warwick. What I remember so well were the prayer vigils we had for the victims. So much emotion and faith were on display. In the face of unbelievable evil I made a commitment to do what I could to bring light and hope to others. Over and over the words of Paul kept coming back to me, “Where sin abides, grace abides the more.” We certainly saw so many signs of grace and goodness at Ground Zero. We saw the love of God in the firefighters rushing into burning buildings to save people. So much compassion was displayed by first responders, rescue workers, volunteers, nurses, clergy. This place of death was also a place of grace and even resurrection. For me it demonstrated the depth of the Christian mystery. The place of death became a location for new life. Some called Ground Zero an American Golgotha. So much has changed in our world since 9/11. We are reminded of this every time we fly and have to remove belts and shoes. Security has become a top priority for all Americans. Yet we are only truly safe when we trust in God. In God’s will is our peace as St. Theresa reminds us. As we have started a new parish year may we dedicate ourselves to making our faith community here a better place. We have so much in the way of treasure and talent. Let us not waste it as we take the lessons of 9/11 and bring God’s light to the world. Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Building up the Body of Christ - July 1, 2011

On July 1, 2005 I began my pastorate here at St. Luke’s. It is hard to believe that I am embarking on a second six-year term. Over the past few weeks I have receive many supportive notes, calls, and comments from many of you. As Christians we enter into a relationship with one another. We both receive and give, listen and speak. In all of it we try to build up the Body of Christ, the Church. Thank you for making this parish such a special place. May we grow in the ways of the Lord.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Sunday, June 19, 2011

So much to do & Welcome to Msgr. Kenny - June 19, 2011

Recently I received a letter from Bishop Tobin appointing me to another six-year term as pastor here at St. Luke’s. As you might expect, I received the news with joy and a deep sense of thanksgiving to God and all of you. There is still so much I want to accomplish here at St. Luke’s. I want to extend our evangelization efforts. We still have two more sections of the parish to visit. Secondly, I want to work hard on the new translation of the Mass which begins the First Sunday of Advent. More importantly, I want to improve our worship life here at St. Luke’s. Active and involved participation is the goal of our worship life here at St. Luke’s.

At the end of the month Reverend Monsignor Albert Kenney will take up residence here at St. Luke. His position of Moderator of the Curia is an important one. Daily he will be off to work at the Chancery office. On a part-time basis Msgr. Kenney will offer his time and talents to our parish family. For more than 10 years he has worked as Rector of the House of Formation and Chaplain at LaSalle Academy. We are so happy to welcome Msgr. Kenney here at St. Luke’s.

June is a month of comings and goings. We bid farewell to Chris Pichette as our Youth Minister. Also, after 20 years Pat Grattan will now enjoy the fruits of a well-earned retirement at the end of the summer.. We thank these individuals for the talents they have shared with our parish family.
Fr. Bob Hawkins

Reflecting on All These Things - June 12, 2011

As I write on this Monday afternoon I am thinking of Mary who after the event of Jesus’s birth is pictured “reflecting on all these things in her heart.” Somehow I feel I need to do more reflecting in my heart. These past weekends have been jam packed with events. And, since our church is rather small and our classes big, we have need for multiple ceremonies. I often wonder what people take away from First Communions, Confirmations, Graduation Masses, Anointing services, funeral liturgies, etc. More important perhaps is what do I as a priest, preside, leader take away from them. The Church is there to mark the essential moments and passages in human life (birth, graduations, weddings, sickness, deaths). Yet somehow I want these to be more than singular moments. I am thrilled when rituals lead to a more vibrant practice of faith. Where there is a carry over into the regular, ordinary flow of liturgical life. We have lots of people who have been sacramentalized, but how many have been evangelized? Just some thoughts on a Monday afternoon after yet another busy weekend.
Fr. Bob Hawkins

Parish Census (part 1 of 3) Primrose - May 22, 2011

Last Saturday 60 Parishioners visited over 400 homes in the Primrose Area. The purpose of these visits was simply to listen to people's impressions of St. Luke's, update our records, and elicit feedback. After the visits the group gathered for a simple lunch followed by a wrap up session where we shared our experiences. For the most part people had a positive experience. Now we have to follow up on people's questions and needs. This day would not be possible without our Parish Council. Under the Leadership of Kathy Kwolek many people used their organizational skills to reach out to others.

I'm happy to report that data shows that our increased Mass attendance is the fourth best in the Diocese (262 more people than last year). I credit this to our Religious Education Program that has started to do class Masses. Look for more of these Masses (especially at 8:30 and 10:00) in the future. By focusing on making Sunday the Lord's Day we are starting o see some positive trends. Thanks to our music ministry members, ushers, lectors, Eucharist Ministers and altar servers. All of you do such a great job in adding vibrancy to our worship. Thank you.

Friday, April 22, 2011

St. Luke's Easter Message - April 23, 2011

Leading up to the Good Friday peace accord in Ireland back in 1998, several ads appeared on TV. One ad had black and white images of guns, coffins, and mourners and the number 3,248 (those killed since 1969). In contrast an ad ran next to it with color pictures of children at play. Two questions then appeared on the TV scene: Do you want to go back? Or do you want to go forward? These indeed are Easter questions. Do we want to go back to the grave – to our old patterns of resentment, hurt, anger, and violence? Or do we want to move forward to a resurrected life with Jesus? Easter is all about rehabilitation. Peter, the denier, become Peter the apostle. Paul, the persecutor, becomes Paul the great missionary. From a dubious past Mary Magdalene becomes the first messenger of the Resurrection. Paul at Easter urges us to throw out the old yeast of malice and bitterness and take on the new yeast of sincerity and truth.

We have had an excellent Lent here at St. Luke’s. Daily Mass attendance held strong throughout the season. The mission with Tom Kendzia was also well attended. A renewed sense of participation in the liturgy (especially singing) is emerging. Our missionaries hosted successful fundraisers. The Mobile Loaves and Fishes truck makes its regular rounds. Plans are coming together for our Day of Evangelization on May 14th. Let us move forward as a parish during this glorious Easter season.
Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Central mysteries of our faith - April 9, 2010

Easter is drawing near as we focus on the central mysteries of our faith. One of the fruits of this year’s mission has been the renewed sense of liturgical participation here at St. Luke’s. More and more I will be inviting you to pray more fervently and sing more frequently. As we pray let us remember our adult candidates for Confirmation: Doug Johnston, David Urbahns, Julie Simone and Susan Nestell. Please also remember our 10th Grade students preparing for Confirmation and our Second Graders preparing for First Eucharist. A big thank you to Ed and Mary Fitzgerald who are doing such a great job with the Mobile Loaves and Fishes ministry. I saw it first-hand last Saturday and it was so impressive.
Fr. Bob Hawkins

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lenten Mision Mar 22-24, Tues thru Thurs - March 20 2011

St. Luke’s sponsors and promotes a myriad of activities to deepen spirituality. Perhaps the most important initiative of all is the Lenten mission. I just want to invite each of you personally to come and hear Tom Kendzia speak this coming Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening at 7 p.m. You will not be disappointed. Weekly worship is the source and summit of all we do here at St. Luke’s. Good liturgy builds faster, while poorly celebrated liturgy weakens it. As Catholics we believe Christ is really present in the word, in the bread and wine, and in the assembly. Come and deepen your worship life during the Lenten season.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

From the sacred to the profane March 13, 2011

The Vatican Council stated that the liturgy is the source summit of our Catholic life. One way we live out our faith is through our conscious, active, and attentive participation. Jesus once said, “Whenever two or three gather in my name I am in your midst.” This Lent we are devoting our Mission to developing a more lively and spirited liturgy here at St. Luke’s. Tom Kendzia noted composer, recording artist, author, and music minister at Christ the King will be our presenter. I am very confident that those who participate will be uplifted on their Lenten journey.

Many people are involved in our liturgical celebrations. We have 39 lectors, 63 Extraordinary Ministers, 40 involved in our choir and contemporary group, 15 greeters. The mission will enhance their ministries. However, everyone involved in the assembly is encouraged to participate. When I arrived at St. Luke’s the priest was introduced as the celebrant. Now you notice the priest is introduced as the presider. After all we are all celebrants of the Mass and we need a presider (the priest) to lead and hopefully inspire us to pray. I look forward to seeing many of you as we gather on March 22nd, 23rd, and 24th.
Thank you,
Fr. Bob Hawkins

P.S. From the sacred to the profane: This weekend we have the building and maintenance collection. One item where we are way over on the expense side is snow removal. While our service provider is excellent it has been expensive to clean up after all these storms. Any extra dollar or two into this week’s collection would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lent 2011, Parish visitation, Jamaican Mission - Mar 6, 2011

With Easter being so late this year, there has been a bit of a lull lately in the parish. But this quiet period will soon give way to a flurry of activity. As you know a new translation of the Mass will commence on the first Sunday of Advent. With this in mind, liturgy seems to be a good topic to explore during this year’s Lenten Mission (March 22-24). Tom Kendzia from Christ the King will be our speaker. He has composed many hymns and has been music director in Kingston for over 25 years. This mission will be especially geared toward our lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, greeters and choir members. However, this mission will benefit all who make up the worshipping community here at St. Luke’s.

Another area in the planning stages is a day of visitation (evangelization) on May 14th. Parishioners will be asked to attend the 9 a.m. Saturday Mass and then go out to visit members of the parish. We look to update our census records, elicit feedback about the parish, and listen to the concerns of the people. To accomplish this noble goal we will need hundreds of volunteers. This approach has been taken by several parishes with a good result.

I would like to welcome back our teen missionaries from Blessed Assurance. I am sure you have all benefitted from your time of service. A big thank you to Dave Renner who organized our adult witnessing weekend. I found the faith sharing testimonies and the video very moving. Please pray that all of our endeavors will be blessed by the Lord.

Fr. Bob Hawkins