Pastor's Message

 

Fr. Tom's Message for January 19, 2020

The justified are endowed with theological virtues. By faith, they live in peace with God and have access to his grace; in hope, they long for the glory of God that awaits them; and through love, they show that the charity of the Spirit dwells in their hearts (CCC 1813). Equipped in this way, believers can become more like Christ through endurance and suffering. (CCC 618)

A Gospel reflection from - Br Michael Moore OMI

In this week’s Gospel, Jesus is being publicly acknowledged and announced by John; this is John’s role and vocation. He is the herald and witness who asks us to prepare a way for the Lord. John is a message in time; Jesus on the other hand is the Word for Eternity. John, while recognizing his own mission says of himself; I am not worthy to untie his sandals; he must increase and I must decrease. This is not about John thinking less of himself, but rather appreciating humbly his role in being the messenger of God who leads and points people and us today to Jesus.

The two titles that John gives Jesus; Lamb of God and Chosen One of God are important. They are not just names, that are what Jesus does and who he is. They describe his identity and his mission. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world because he is the Chosen One of God.

When we were baptized, we become one with Jesus in his life, death and resurrection which also includes the forgiveness of our sins. Through the waters and blessing of baptism we are washed, made new and cleansed. Then we, as his followers, like John are called to be the messengers and witnesses of Jesus. Being baptized gives us the right to call ourselves sons and daughters of God; it also gives us the responsibility of living as witnesses to Jesus and of being his followers and friends in our daily lives.

Pope Francis reminds us of this when he says; ‘Because of their baptism, all members of the People of God have now become missionary disciples…. We no longer say that we are missionaries or that we are disciples. But rather that we are always ‘missionary disciples’. (The Joy of the Gospel: 120).

Our vocation as disciples of Jesus is twofold; firstly to hear the word of God that he speaks to us and then secondly to live this word in our daily lives as his witnesses in the world. It is through the quality of our lives that we give witness to Jesus. It is said that we live our faith more through our actions and what we do rather than what we say.

What do my actions and the quality of my daily life tell and show others about relationship with Jesus?


Fr. Tom's Message for January 12, 2020

Dear Parish Family,

The Baptism of the Lord is the official conclusion of the Christmas season. For many, it may be a rather sad time. Gone are the brilliant lights that added warmth and lightheartedness to our lives; gone are the Christmas Tree, manger scene, and decorations; gone are the greetings of love, peace and joy. It is time to go back to ordinary life. However, we don’t go back the same as we were before. We are called to continue to live the Christmas spirit for the remainder of the year. We called to continue to be a people of joy, to bring the light of the birth of Jesus into the darkness of a world enveloped in sin and death. That light is not meant to be dimmed and put away until next Christmas season. It is meant to burn brightly for all to see for the entire year! The Baptism of the Lord is not the end, but a new beginning for us to bring the light of Christ to others.

Why is Jesus baptized? He is sinless and has nothing of which to repent. He does not need to be baptized. Nevertheless, at the beginning of his public ministry Jesus dramatically demonstrates his solidarity with sinful Israel by going into the same waters that the repentant crowds have been entering. In this way Jesus shows that he has come to unite himself with sinners, and he foreshadows how he will bear the sins of humanity at the climax of his mission on the cross.

According to the Catechism, Jesus “allows himself to be numbered among sinners; he is already ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Pope Benedict XVI in his book Jesus of Nazareth states, “Jesus loaded the burden of all mankind’s guilt upon his shoulders; he bore it down into the depths of the Jordan. He inaugurated his public activity by stepping into the place of sinners. His inaugural gesture is an anticipation of the Cross.”

Just as Jesus’ baptism inaugurated his ministry, so our baptism calls us to ministry as well. We can act as beacons of light to those who struggle in the darkness of fear, or ignorance, or despair. If we live in this way, God’s words can also apply to us: “This is my beloved son [my beloved daughter], with whom I am well pleased.” May the Lord gently whisper these words to you throughout this year.

AMDG, Fr. Tom


Fr. Tom's Message for January 5, 2020

Dear Parish Family,

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for your thoughtfulness and generosity during this Christmas season. It was a wonderful Christmas here in Lewiston and Youngstown.

Thank you Erika Conti and her team of elves that made our worship site at St. Peter’s so beautiful. I would also like to thank Helen Murphy and her team of elves in making the St. Bernard’s site so beautiful. Their time and talent made for a joyous and wonderful Christmas.

This weekend we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord. This feast is associated with the visitation of the three wise men who bring gold, frankincense, myrrh. These three gifts are believed to have a spiritual meaning: gold is for kingship on earth, frankincense is a symbol of divinity, and myrrh is an oil for anointing the dead.

We have been hearing throughout this beautiful season of Christmas about the gift that God has given us – the gift of his only begotten Son, Jesus, as our Savior. Jesus, who is God Incarnate, born a helpless baby. Today’s Feast of The Epiphany celebrate the public announcement that the gift of salvation is available to all, not just those of the Israelite covenant with God.

These Magi (kings) are not Jewish, but men from the east – Gentiles – who have traveled to Bethlehem to see the newborn king of the Jews. They are somehow drawn to the gift, and Matthew’s Gospel tells us how they respond. Their response is a beautiful example of how we ourselves should respond to Jesus and to any gift that God offers to us.

Matthew’s Gospel also gives us a completely opposite response to this gift, carried out by Herod. Herod, hearing of the newborn King of the Jews, responds defensively and in great fear. Rather than seeing the child as a gift, as the long-promised Messiah, Herod sees him as a threat. His response is to close his heart to the gift of God and plot evil in his heart.

We all want to think that we are like the Magi and not like Herod. Yet is helps to reflect on how open we truly are to the many gifts that God presents to us throughout our lives. Even things we may not see as gifts, could in fact lead us to God. Do we reject these gifts as Herod did, or do we follow the example of the Magi and accept them in humility, trust, and obedience.

AMDG, Fr. Tom


Fr. Tom's Message for December 29, 2019

Dear Parish Family,

As the calendar year comes to an end, I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of our parishioners for the many ways in which you bring the light of Christ to others. Most people think of Christmas as a time for receiving gifts, but here at our parish, it is truly about the giving of gifts to others, of sharing a part of us with those in need. Thanks to your amazing generosity, many families in our community enjoyed a better Christmas with your donations of food and money for the St. Vincent de Paul Society food baskets and your overwhelming response to our Christmas Angel Tree Project.

We are all deeply grateful to the members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the volunteers who assisted in the preparation and delivery of the gift baskets. I also want to thank Barbara Malinowski and her volunteers for all the great work in organizing the Christmas Angel Tree Project. It is a beautiful labor of love that makes a significant difference in the lives of others.

On behalf of all those who while unknown to us, have benefited for our parish’s generosity, I would like to offer heartfelt thanks for all that you have done to provide for those most in need.

I also wish to thank all our parishioners for your ongoing generosity and support during this year of transition. The sacrifices you make in the offering of your time, talent, and treasure sustain our parish community and make us a special place to worship and educate our children.

Please keep me in your prayers during the new year and know of my prayers for you during 2020.

This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. We are called to acknowledge the importance of family life. While families come in all different sizes, shapes, and configurations, they are still the foundational unit of our society and Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “the family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life… The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom.” (CCC 2207).

Pope Francis said, “The family of Nazareth is holy because it is centered on Jesus.” I urge during this new year, 2020, make Jesus the center of our family, so that your family may be a true path to holiness for all its members.

May God bless you and your family throughout the new year.

AMDG,

Fr. Tom



 

Msgr. David's Message for June 2, 2019

My dear parish family,

My heart is overflowing with gratitude from last Sunday’s Farewell Celebration and the Blessing & Dedication of our new outdoor Shrine to the Madonna. I wish to thank in a most special way Maureen Ingham and Joe Conti for co-chairing the Mass and Reception, along with the assistance of Connie Locey and Lauren Frosolone for their presentations after Communion. Thank you to all the members of the Parish Pastoral Council for all their good work and for everyone who made it a truly memorable celebration for me and our entire parish family.

I also wish to express my profound gratitude and appreciation for the many gifts, cards, notes, letters, and emails that I have received. You have truly etched yourselves into my heart and I will never, ever forget the warmth, the love and the generosity of our parish family of St. Peter & St. Bernard.

As I announced at last weekend’s Masses, Bishop Malone has appointed Fr. Thomas Mahoney as Administrator of St. Peter & St. Bernard Parish, effective June 10, 2019. Fr. Tom is 54 years old. He was born and raised in Western New York and grew up in Depew (my hometown as well!). Fr. Tom graduated from Lancaster High School and then went on to Niagara University where he graduated with a degree in Accounting. (Go Purple Eagles!) He worked in public accounting and was CFO of a small company in Amherst, NY. In 2007, Fr. Tom decided to sell his home in Lancaster and enter Christ the King Seminary. During his seminary formation, Fr. Tom was assigned to the following parishes to gain experience in pastoral ministry:

 St. John Neumann Parish in Strykersville/Sheldon (2 Worship Sites, 1 Parish)

 St. Mary of Lourdes in Bemus Point/Mayville (2 Worship Sites, 1 Parish)

 St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Niagara Falls for a Pastoral Year (2 Worship Sites, 1 Parish)

 Fourteen Holy Helpers Parish in West Seneca, where he served as a Transitional Deacon

 Fr. Tom also did a 10-week Clinical Pastoral Education assignment at Mt. St. Mary’s Hospital here in Lewiston.

 He was ordained a Priest on June 6, 2015 and was assigned as Parochial Vicar to St. Gregory the Great, Amherst (the largest parish in our diocese).

I know that you will welcome Fr. Tom with open arms and that you will love him, support him, collaborate with him and continue to grow together the wonderful spirit that is St. Peter & St. Bernard Parish.

I will certainly miss seeing you every week, but you will always be close to my heart in prayer, especially as I celebrate Mass. My new address and contact information after June 10:

Our Lady of Victory Basilica

767 Ridge Road, Lackawanna, NY 14218

Telephone: (716) 828-9449

Email: [email protected]

www.ourladyofvictory.org

You are always most welcome at Our Lady of Victory, the home of Fr. Baker! I would love to see you! Please pray for me and know of my ongoing prayers for you and all your loved ones. God bless you all! Our Lady of Victory, pray for us!

With my love and grateful prayers always,

Fr. David