from the pastor…Fr. McHugh

2nd Sunday of Advent

Theme: Preparing for the Coming of the Lord

Last week’s readings spoke of the coming of the Lord at the end of time. Today’s readings speak of new beginnings. The prophet of Advent, Isaiah, speaks to the people, telling them that their Babylonian captivity is at an end, and that God will offer them comfort. The highway referred to is the return road to Israel from Babylon. Isaiah exhorts the people to announce this joyous event. The prophet also refers to the Lord as a shepherd who takes care of His people. The second reading is taken from 2nd Peter which is likely the last of the New Testament books to be written. Likely, a disciple of Peter wrote this book since it is written about 45–50 years after Peter’s death by crucifixion. The reading counsels people to be prepared for the Lord’s Second Coming by avoiding sinning. The Gospel from Mark quotes Isaiah and introduces the figure of John the Baptist, who with Mary and Isaiah are the three key figures of Advent. John urged repentance and a symbolic water baptism, which attracted many people to see him in the desert. Like all the Gospels, Mark states that John the Baptist is inferior to Jesus. It is likely that even when the Gospels were composed – Mark around 70, Matthew and Luke in the 80s, and John in the 90s – that John the Baptist had his own adherents; after the Baptist’s death, only some of his followers became disciples of Jesus.

Children’s Mass

The third grade class will participate in the 10:00 AM Mass, for the second time this year, on December 17th. The 7th grade class (Confirmation class) participated in the 10:00 AM Mass on December 3rd.

Penance Services

Good Shepherd’s Penance Service will be held on Thursday, December 14, at 7:00 PM. A couple of priests will be present to assist Fr. McHugh. St. John Bosco’s Penance Service will be on Wednesday, December 13, also at 7:00 PM.

Other Penance Services

Holy Rosary Parish, South Poplar Street, Hazleton, will have their Penance Service on Monday, December 18, at 6:00 PM. Annunciation Parish, South Wyoming Street, Hazleton, will have their Penance Service on Friday, December 22, at 7:00 PM.

Christmas and New Year (Solemnity of the Mother of God) Mass Schedule

The Solemnity of Mary is a Holy Day of Obligation, and it is a good thing to start off the New Year by attending Mass.

The regular weekend schedule of the 23rd and 24th of December and December 30th and 31st will remain the same – vigil at 4:00 PM and Sunday at 8:00 and 10:00 AM.

Confession for Faith Formation Parents

The Sacrament of Penance will be available for Faith Formation parents at the regular class period on Monday, December 11, from 4:30 to 5:30 PM. This is not open to other people. Students who were absent the previous week may also go.

Praying With Scripture

  1. What can I do to prepare the way of the Lord this Christmas?
  2. Try to appreciate the beauty and message of hope contained in Isaiah’s Advent passages.
  3. Why do you think quite a few of the disciples of John the Baptist did not become disciples of Jesus?

Baptism Sunday

December 10th will be the Sunday for baptisms this month. In the past, I have performed baptisms on the Christmas weekend as favors, but I cannot do that this year with Christmas following on a Monday. Don’t ask for baptism on December 24th.

Breakfast

We thank all who decorated for the breakfast, prepared and served it, and all those who attended. 269 adults and 48 children attended. There will not be a breakfast in January.

Homebound: (Parishioners Only)

Please notify the office if you wish to receive Holy Communion before Christmas. We will try to accommodate you. If you live 10 miles or so from Good Shepherd, we may have to wait until after the holiday season. If I take the call, I would like it to be no later than December 15th because of the heavy Mass and confession schedule. It would be much too difficult to take anything other than emergencies in the 10 days before Christmas.

Oplatki Wafers

Packs of Oplatki wafers are available on the table in the church vestibule. The cost is $3.00 per pack of five wafers.

2018 Calendars

2018 Calendars are on the table in the church vestibule.

Reminder

Those who plan to be confirmed in 2019 must attend our 7th grade sessions this year. We will not allow Confirmation candidates to skip grade 7 and jump into the Confirmation class.

Attendance and Contributing Trends

For countless years, Joe Yamulla has faithfully counted the attendance at each weekend Mass. Since July, Joe Dvornicich has averaged out these figures. From the beginning of July through the 2nd week of November, the average attendances are: 4:00 PM – 207, 8:00 AM – 158, and 10:00 AM – 249, for a total average of 614 per weekend. The highest attendance for 4:00 PM was on the weekend of November 12th with 237, and the lowest was on August 27th with 182. The highest attendance at 8:00 AM was on August 6th with 174. 10:00 AM has taken over from 4:00 PM as the best-attended liturgy with a 249 average. The highest attendance was on November 5th with 358 people. The lowest was on July 9th with 181. This year has also shown a decline in weekly collections. The offertory through November 12 has averaged $3,449. We averaged $3,722 for the previous year. Again, we have to reverse the downward spiral.

Areas That the Diocese Scrutinizes With the Ever-Dwindling Number of Priests

  1. Is the parish solvent?
  2. The number of parishioners
  3. Does the parish support the Diocesan Appeal?
  4. Parish activities and outreach ministries
  5. The baptismal rate in comparison to the death rate
  6. Mass attendance – some dioceses have a policy that weekend Masses should not be offered if they do not average 200 or more people

What You Can Do to Help Prevent the Reduction of Services

  1. Attend Mass regularly and financially support your parish
  2. Register as a parishioner if you have not already done so
  3. Volunteer for some ministry or be active in parish projects
  4. Support the Diocesan Appeal
  5. Participate in outreach projects

If you do these things, you are casting a vote for not having services reduced. If you don’t do the above, you are voting for a reduction in parish services. It’s your choice!

Fr. Connell's Trivia

  1. What baseball player was on the cover of the first issue of Sports Illustrated?
  2. Who was the first Major League player to win a batting title in 3 different decades? Hint – the player is still living.

Last Week’s Answers:

  1. On their 1962 cards, Richie Ashburn was a Met, and Robin Roberts was a Yankee. (Question: Phillies’ greats Richie Ashburn and Robin Roberts appear on 1962 Topps cards of baseball teams in the same city. Can you name what teams they were members of on their 1962 cards?)
  2. Longtime Phillies executive Paul “Pope” Owens got his nickname because of his resemblance to Pope Paul VI. (Question: Longtime Phillies executive, Paul Owens, who also filled in as field manager, and actually won a pennant, was nicknamed “Pope.” Most people think he got that name because he wielded such power in the Phils’ organization, yet he got the name due to a resemblance to a religious leader. Can you name the religious leader?)

That Strange Duality Called I

That strange duality called I
At once filled with love and hate
Capable of great dreams
Of great depression
Generously reaching out to others
Brooding in unhealthy isolation
Yearning for the mountains
Longing for the stars
Then content with the earth
Satisfied with the gutter
Desiring to be totally free
Choosing to be captive of myself
Helpless self overwhelmed by reality
Wanting to be totally integrated
Wanting God forever
But taking no step toward him.

~ Rev. Connell A. McHugh

Communion Ministers and RCIA Team Members Needed

One of our prime needs currently is that of communion ministers. Several ministers want at least a temporary break and a couple can no longer be ones or have decided not to be a communion minister any longer. Call the office or mention it to me if you wish to be a communion minister. One has to be a good practicing Catholic. If anyone is divorced and remarried, an annulment should have been attained and the marriage blessed (convalidated in church). Although we do not have any RCIA candidates at this time, we are in need of an RCIA coordinator and RCIA team members.

Sponsor Requests

Recently, we had several requests for sponsors from people who have no affiliation with the parish. Please do not request a sponsor letter if you do not belong to Good Shepherd.

Parish Life Coordinator (PLC)

Unlike deacons, Parish Life Coordinators are usually assigned to parishes other than their own. Becoming a Parish Life Coordinator does involve considerable work. People with a strong background in ministries make the best candidates, such as parish Directors of Education, liturgy planners, RCIA personnel, parish finance administrators, etc. People who have a strong theological background also have an advantage.

Diocese of Scranton Certificate in Lay Ministry

I have applications for this. The Diocese is offering, through the Parish Life Office, in conjunction with Dayton University Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation, certificates to persons serving as DRE, RCIA personnel, Directors of Music Ministry, Parish Council members, catechists, outreach ministers, and Finance Council members opportunities to obtain these certificates.

Sunday Meetings and Activities

Please try to avoid Sunday meetings and activities if you wish me to attend. If one is to consistently offer all the weekend Masses, hear Confessions, conduct baptismal classes, perform baptisms, etc., other activities are just a bit too much. In addition, during the past year, I was involved in teaching Confirmation students.

Cry Room Usage

This is just a reminder that the Holy Family Room (Cry Room) is to be used only by people with babies or small children at the Saturday 4:00 PM and the Sunday 10:00 AM Masses.

Help Wanted

Good Shepherd Parish is looking for lectors, Eucharistic ministers, greeters, and also people to join our Building and Grounds Committee. You may contact the parish office if you are interested or complete the coupon and drop it in the collection basket.

VOLUNTEER RESPONSE FORM

Name ______________________________________

Phone Number _______________________________

Area(s) of Interest _____________________________

____________________________________________

~ For a printer-friendly version (PDF) go to the “Downloads” page of our website.

Do You Want to Know More about the Annulment Process?

In the Diocese of Scranton, the annulment process is now more “user friendly” than you might expect, and there is no longer a processing fee. Please contact your pastor or the Diocesan Tribunal Office (570-207-2246) to begin a conversation. It is possible to get clear answers to these questions and to renew your connection with the Church.

Presentation of the Gifts

If the Mass is for your intention, you are more than welcome to take up the gifts. For weekday Masses, simply go to the table in the back after the Intercessory Prayer of the Faithful. For weekend Masses, just tell Joe Yamulla that you will bring up the gifts.

Regarding Bulletin Inserts

I ask all parish organizations and individuals to try to use the bulletin rather than an insert for most programs and events we have. Things like the calendar, the financial reports, and the festival are necessary. Other things could just be placed in the regular bulletin which is three pages most times, in relatively small type. I help those who stuff the bulletin almost every week and last week, we had four inserts in addition to the third page of the bulletin. Fortunately, we had 10 people, myself included, who worked on this tedious project, and we finished within a half hour. Sometimes, however, there are only 4 or 5 people and on occasion, 2 or 3. We have to economize in this area. Positively, I do not want more than 2 inserts in any one bulletin, and hopefully, only one. This will be on a first-come, first-served basis. We have driven up our bills for paper to a high degree. Certainly, I am grateful for all the projects initiated by parishioners, but not for the countless inserts which most people do not use.

Bulletin Articles

Please submit all bulletin articles to the parish office by 9:00 AM on Tuesday mornings. Articles submitted after the deadline will be published in the next week’s bulletin.

Bulletin Sponsors

We thank recent bulletin sponsors Bonomo’s Carpet and Flooring, JMJ Catholic Radio, Dr. David Portonova, Providence Place, The Knee Center, Tunnessen Radiator Inc., Tunnessen Supply, and long-standing sponsors All Care Home Care, Catholic Match, Patricia Spivak CPA, Sugarloaf Child Care and Valley Pharmacy. The sponsorships do pay for the bulletin covers from Bon Venture which I feel are well done. More sponsors would be needed if Good Shepherd were to receive periodic rebate checks. Again, we thank sponsors new and old.

The Building or Purchase of a Rectory

The building of a rectory on the parish grounds or the purchase of a home will not guarantee a pastor for Good Shepherd – an increase of vocations will. Some parishioners seem to feel that once we have a pastor’s residence, this will assure us of having a pastor. Certainly, we should continue to collect money for building on site or purchasing a home. We also have to take into account maintaining the residence, which at the current level of collection average, would not be easy. The facts that we only had four seniors participate in the Graduation Mass and no one responding, as of this writing, to the call for altar servers does nothing to foster optimism in the area of vocations.

Remaining to Mass Completion

Please make it a point to stay for the entire Mass unless you have an emergency. Mass is almost always 50 minutes to an hour. Certainly, we can afford to give this time to God.

New Parishioner Coupon

We need people who attend Good Shepherd and are registered in another parish to join ours. Please consider joining Good Shepherd if you are not attached to another parish. Fill out the coupon and you will be contacted. You may also come to the office on weekday mornings to register.

New Parishioner Registration Request

Name _______________________________________

Address _____________________________________

____________________________________________

Telephone ___________________________________

*For a printer-friendly (PDF)version, go to the “Downloads” page of our website.

Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA)

If you or anyone you know wishes to join the Catholic Church, please call the parish office and leave your name and phone number. Adults who have been baptized or not baptized are welcome. We will start the RCIA program any time we have candidates. The program meets every other Wednesday night for one to two hours and at Mass every weekend for a discussion of the readings for that Sunday. We also welcome anyone who wishes to join as a catechist and help with our program which culminates at the Easter Vigil with the administration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. You need only be a practicing Catholic in good standing to help.

What is a Parish Life Coordinator? Read This and be Informed

What is a Parish Life Coordinator? In recent months, we have heard a great deal about Parish Life Coordinators and the shortage of priests. At a meeting of the deanery with Bishop Bambera at St. John Bosco on June 29th (2015), the bishop explained the role of a Parish Coordinator. Basically, a PLC is in charge of running a parish in the absence of a pastor. The bishop stated that a PLC should have a college degree and be a generally well-educated person. A short period would be necessary for learning the role, probably several months. PLCs would, at this time, basically be appointed to city or suburban parishes that are not at a distance from other ones. A priest would be assigned as a Sacramental Minister to the parish, providing full weekend services and confessions. Another priest would serve as a Moderator helping the PLC. The sacramental priest would likely be one who currently is a chaplain, one involved in school work or a retired priest in reasonable health. The priest may or may not live close to the parish of which he is the Sacramental Minister. This is why, at present, the bishop would not appoint a sacramental priest to a parish that is at a distance from others. A PLC, at present, would not be assigned to a parish a good distance from others since a priest would not be available for emergencies. A PLC would be appointed to parishes that are in reasonable distance of other ones. Priests from other parishes could handle emergencies. This would include anointings and perhaps funerals and interments. The cost of a PLC would not exceed the cost of a pastor, and a PLC would be appointed by the bishop just as pastors are. The bishop stressed that he would not be in favor of a PLC remaining indefinitely at a parish. A parish that had a PLC for a time would ideally go back to having a regular pastor. A parish is not a “PLC parish” for life. Those accepted into the PLC program would not necessarily serve in their own parish. The PLC is not something that should alarm any of us. It is common in dioceses throughout the country. Priests will not become “circuit riders” offering Masses in multiple parishes in Bishop Bambera’s plan.

Baptism Preparation

Parents are required to attend the Baptism preparation class for their first child or if it has been three years since the birth of their last child. If you see that your child will be born shortly after a scheduled class, you may attend during your pregnancy.

Meetings

I would appreciate it if some meetings could be held in the morning since I am at the point now where I just can’t keep running back and forth so frequently to Good Shepherd. I know some meetings do have to be held at night, but not all.

Tables and Chairs

These will no longer be available for parishioners and non-parishioners alike for family reunions, graduations, etc. Over the past summer, people who have borrowed them have returned them in a lesser condition than when they were taken out. Some of the tables were even left out in the rain. While we don’t give out our better tables and chairs, we still use the ones we have given out for larger gatherings. We are sorry, but due to the lack of care for our tables and chairs by a few, they no longer will be given out. I looked at the way our equipment was returned at the request of the janitorial staff and Buildings and Grounds personnel and could clearly see how the tables, especially, suffered considerable damage.

Bulletin Sponsors

We thank those who currently are sponsoring our parish bulletin: All Care Home Care, Booty’s Place, CatholicMatch.com, Patricia Spivak CPA, Sugarloaf Child Care, The Knee Center, and Valley Pharmacy. Currently, sponsorships pay for the bulletin covers. If we had a greater number of sponsors, the parish would receive rebate checks as well. If you are interested in advertising in our bulletin, please call Karen Owens at 1-800-364-0684, extension 92. The number of bulletin advertisers is low considering our parish membership.

Eulogies at Funerals

Since we have had involvement in 20 or more funerals to date, counting interments, and have had eulogies at approximately 40 to 50 percent of the Masses, now is a good time to comment on eulogies. The Church, in the past, has had a long-standing prohibition of giving eulogies at funerals. The Order of Christian Funerals states, “A brief homily based on the readings should always be given at the funeral liturgy, but never any kind of eulogy.” The homilist is to keep in mind the identity of the deceased, the circumstances of death and the grief of the family. The homilist is to preach on the saving mystery of Christ’s death. Today, the Church allows a family member or friend to speak on behalf of the deceased before the final commendation begins. The words are to be brief, highlighting an aspect of the deceased’s life of faith. If there is a desire for a lengthy eulogy or sharing of memories, this should take place at the funeral vigil and not in church. Priests have the right to read ahead of time the text and outline of any eulogy and make changes in length and content when necessary.

To Advertise in Good Shepherd Bulletin

Please call (800) 364-0684, extension 92. We are grateful for those who are already advertising.

Funeral and Wedding Costs

We will follow the Diocesan recommended fee of $300 for both funerals and weddings. Baptisms remain a free-will offering of your choice.

Lehigh Valley Hospital – Hazleton

If you are a member of Good Shepherd Parish and are hospitalized at Lehigh Valley Hospital – Hazleton, please list your parish as Good Shepherd. Quite a few of Good Shepherd parishioners claim as their parish one that has been closed. Some people from Good Shepherd and other parishes are not visited because their parish priests, myself included, do not think to look under closed parishes for their own parishioners, and understandably so. A way to assure that you will be visited, if you so desire, is to notify the parish office.