Dear Parishioners and Friends,
The last time I wrote my letter I was getting ready to head to Florida for several days of meetings with our Franciscan Provincial administration. The best part of the week was the opportunity to see friars I hadn’t seen in a while, and it was also nice to finally see our friary in St. Petersburg and visit with some of the friars in retirement there. It didn’t escape me that St. Pete could also be my future home!
Fr. Bill and I returned to a chilly Hartford, just in time for the celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King and a special opportunity to thank three members of our music ministry who have recently retired: Gloria Lombardo, Irene Kramer and Susan Ahearn. Both Gloria and Irene sang in the choir for decades and Susan served as choir librarian equally as long. I wanted to make sure we had a public acknowledgement of their years of service and to present them with a “St. Cecilia Blessing.” Using the beautiful stained glass window of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music and musicians, we created personalized framed certificates with a prayer and blessing for each of them. Music Director Gabriel Löfvall joined me in making the presentation at the 10:00 Mass on November 20.
Thanksgiving Day was just around the corner and turkeys by the dozen were being made ready to be turned into take-away meals for the guests of our Sandwich Ministry. On Thanksgiving morning, the Franciscan Center was turned into an efficient assembly line of volunteers who made up turkey sandwiches while others filled the hand-decorated bags with all kinds of goodies for both our own guests as well as those who are served at the House of Bread.
The beauty of Thanksgiving weekend is that it often coincides with the start of Advent, so a sense of anticipation is palpable even before the last piece of pumpkin pie is taken!
A treasured tradition returned this year after a pandemic-enforced absence: families making their own Advent wreaths in the Franciscan Center after the morning Masses on the First Sunday of Advent.
With the assistance of Michelle White and the 7th and 8th Grade religious education students, families could gather at a table along with all the elements necessary to make their own Advent wreath. One of our students, Jack Sheehan, proudly displayed his family’s creation.
Thus, Advent is indeed a time of preparation – not just for Christmas as exciting as that is, but for our future destiny with God. Advent, is, in a sense, a yearly dress rehearsal for all that it means to be a Christian disciple. We are called to live in the present as people of faith, hope and love; caring for one another and for the earth, our present home. But we must also keep our gaze fixed on what lies ahead, whatever that future may hold for us.
During the season of Advent we are challenged to look at ourselves in light of the preaching of John the Baptist who called his followers to live more authentically. The folks you see in these photos do just that. As St. Paul tells us in today’s second reading: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another…that you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!”
Blessings on your week ahead!
Fr. Tim Shreenan, O.F.M.