1927 - 2023
Saturday, March 18
Padre Serra Parish
As I reflected on the imagery in today’s readings, it struck me that light, literal and symbolic, is overwhelmingly present in our readings at least since Christmas:
December 25, Christmas Day – Isaiah: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” In Luke’s gospel, the shepherds suddenly see “a multitude of the heavenly host” in the night sky.
January 8, Epiphany – Isaiah: “Your light has come, Jerusalem! Nations shall walk by your light.” In Matthew’s gospel: “The star they [the Magi] had seen at its rising preceded them. It came and stopped over where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star.”
January 15, Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Isaiah: “I will make you a light to the nations.” John the Baptist, on seeing Jesus says “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
January 22, Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Jesus as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light.”
Those of you who pray the Liturgy of the Hours know that the Church wisely designated the Canticle of Simeon, also known as the Nunc Dimittis, as a part of Night Prayer or Compline. Christians all around the world pray before going to bed:
Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;
Your word has been fulfilled.
My eyes have seen the salvation
You have prepared in the sight of every people,
A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people, Israel.
These messages are comforting and inspiring, and we need to hear them. Even in winter in Southern California (somewhat colder and wetter this year than recently), somehow the contrast between darkness and light is so powerful that despite its constant repetition, it can revive hope. Jesus is the Light of the World. But for those who lack hope, for those who “walk in the darkness,” that may not be readily apparent, unless we make it so. The readings for the first weekend in February, I think, are the final piece of the beautiful puzzle being assembled week by week:
February 5, Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Isaiah: “if you give your bread to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted, then light shall rise for you in darkness .... gloom will become like midday.” And in
Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says that we are the light of the world — that we must
shine before others so that our good deeds may glorify our heavenly Father
Friends, let’s get to it.
We’re all in this together.
Worship and Music Minister
Dear Parish family,
If you are like me, every new year, I take the month of January to come up with a list of New Year’s resolutions. Areas in my life I wish to improve physically, mentally, and spiritually. There is always the one about adding more exercise or better eating choices to my daily routine. There is always one about self-care, to truly respect and make it a priority to have downtime and rest. And every year, I always seek an opportunity to grow in my knowledge and faith or in my outreach to others, sharing God’s love. I admit if I succeed in at least one of the items on my list, I feel I did well. I am a work in progress, and I try not to be discouraged when I fail or stumble; I get up and start again.
I bring this up because as I was meditating over the readings of this weekend, one phrase that stood out to me was our response to the Psalm, “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.” This phrase made me rethink my New Year’s resolutions; though it was a good list, it was all about MY will. I revisited them with God’s will as the focus. What do you want of me, Lord? I asked.
As I continued to read the Psalm, “he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God,” “ears open to obedience you gave me,” “It is prescribed for me to do your will, O my God, is my delight and your law is within my heart!” And finally, in our Gospel, “Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”
What this all means to me now is simply put: Allow God to work through me. He will place the song (words) in my mouth, but I must open my ears to hear his voice so that I may follow. God’s WILL, is my joy. And I will be able to fulfill my Baptismal mission, to testify to all that “He is the Son of God.”
Our openness to his will, our YES, is what Our Lord is asking of us. In this task, let us follow our Mother Mary’s example and say Yes, to the will of God. In her Yes, she allows God to work through her to reach all the ends of the earth.
God is the light, the source of all the good. If we let the light of Jesus shine through us, others might recognize Jesus for who he is, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
I pray that 2023 will be a year of health and blessings for all.
Faith Formation Minister
1937 - 2023
Saturday, April 1
Padre Serra Parish
1940 - 2023
Saturday, February 18
Padre Serra Parish
Dear Faith Family,
Today’s Gospel helps me realize that I am not alone in this mission of discipleship.
I think it is safe to say that we are all trying to live good lives and a good amount of us pursue holiness. While it may be more simple for me to find a list of what is right or wrong and act accordingly, I need to remember that worship is vital for a life with Christ.
In my past I always struggled with the idea of what worship is. Is it simply prayer? As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that worship is unselfish praise. The willingness to compliment our God, just because He is. The attempt to please the God we love. There are not many requirements or formalities to make worship authentic, but I would say the willingness to love God unconditionally is important.
How many times in our lives have we praised God without asking anything in return? There is nothing wrong with asking God for things, but how often do we talk to Him just to “compliment” Him?
In this Sunday’s Gospel, God appears, descending like a dove, to affirm Jesus: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” How powerful of a statement is that? It lets us know that God isn’t simply the one who holds all things together, but He loves us and is pleased with us when we do His will.
On the other hand, how many times have we heard God praise our commitment to Him? Are we willing to listen enough to hear how is He is pleased with us? God is always willing to give us the affirmation needed to continue this life.
While we don’t worship for our own affirmation, I guarantee that if we worship more often, we will know what God desires for us to do to strengthen His kingdom. Not only that, but we will also have more clarity on how God rejoices in our discipleship.
How does this Gospel passage help me in my journey? It helps me to know that this life that I’ve committed myself to, is not done simply because of a set of rules or an admiration for a certain culture or religion.
Rather, when I do what he asks, it pleases Him. What more do we
want to do, than please the ones that we love?
Youth and Young Adult Minister
1936 - 2023
Saturday, February 11
Padre Serra Parish
1933 - 2023
Tuesday, February 7
Padre Serra Parish
Tuesday, February 7
Dear friends on the journey,
Merry Christmas, Blessed Solemnity of Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, and Happy New Year!
The first of January ushers in a new year, a fresh beginning, and a time when we resolve to improve ourselves. Typically, these resolutions are focused on improving our body, our physical well-being through new diet and exercise routines, or perhaps we desire to expand our minds by trying a new hobby, reading more, or expanding our knowledge base. All good and necessary, but this year I invite you to consider a spiritual resolution, a commitment to attending to your spiritual life with the goal of deepening your relationship with God, understanding your Catholic faith better, seeking ways to encounter Jesus, and living as an intentional disciple here at church but in your daily living.
According to a New York Times article, resolutions will be successful if the SMART principle is used. They need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. If you choose to include a spiritual resolution for 2023, I think you’ll find we have just the tool to assist you.
Today as we usher in 2023, our Pastoring Team is happy to share a new parish covenant. Three years have passed since our last one so I’ll refresh your memory. Our annual parish covenant between the Pastoring Team and parishioners is meant to draw us into discipleship by committing to a level of engagement in a Catholic way of life and a closer relationship with Jesus. The document you received this weekend is the result of collaborative efforts between our Parish Council and Pastoring Team who spent the last six months brainstorming and crafting a fresh new document. Know that the Pastoring Team is committed to our promises, our guiding principles. And I hope you find the proposed parishioner promises to be just - simple, practical, yet challenging. Growth happens when we step out of comfort into the new, different, or unknown.
Please read the covenant prayerfully, sign it, keep a copy to post on your fridge, and return next week. I pray this new covenant will be a helpful aid in living your new year’s spiritual resolution all year long.
Our first reading from Numbers offers these beautiful words for the new year:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!
I love the Christmas story. There is so much heart and hope, so much promise amidst the straw and animals. Luke’s infancy connects with our love of our babies and with our sympathy for women’s swollen ankles, when well advanced in pregnancy. It playfully hints at the presence of animals and fodder. It fills our imagination with heavenly choirs, inspiring our Christmas carols.
Even so, for the second time in thirteen years, I’m preaching on the opening of John’s Gospel at Christmas Masses, and not the stories of the manger or the shepherds and the angels. John’s prologue is, not so much warm, as magisterial, a hymn to the eternal Son of God, second person of the Trinity, creator of all that is. The Church offers us this reading as an alternative. It can be good to move our vision to the bigger picture, serving, perhaps, as a corrective to all the fluff that has made its way into our Christmas consciousness.
Santa and elves on shelves are light and heartwarming. The Grinch teaches us about small hearts and generosity. Christmas canes and cookies both fatten and delight us. What is lovelier than a neighborhood all lit up with colorful lights? The giving of the perfect gift is such a sweet pleasure. All the sweet delights of the season captivate us and hold our attention ... perhaps at the expense of a greater truth.
When the shepherds, responding to the angelic message made haste to the place where Mary had given birth, they had been promised a savior, confusingly wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger (Luke 2:11). Even that word, “savior,” though, is far too little for whom they found. The shepherds will glorify and praise God for what they had heard and seen. It’s unclear if they had the slightest inkling that they were in the holy presence of God, Himself, all swaddled as He was.
Our theology is clear. We know that the Baby of Bethlehem is so much more than any other baby is, as precious as they all are. We use important words for the Baby: lord, messiah, redeemer, etc. They all help us narrow down on Jesus’ importance to us. Every now and then, even when swept away by all the warming hearts of our celebration of Christmas, it is good for us to remember. The lordly, anointed and redeeming Baby is the eternal self-expression of God, His Word, through whom all things came to be, God from God, Light from light, shining on in the darkness, which could not overcome Him.
He is the very Holy Presence of God with us.
Amidst all the joyful fluff of Christmas, do not fail to make your way to a nativity scene, and worship – not the images, but the reality they represent, of our God who enters into our history to teach and heal, to challenge and comfort, to redeem the fallen as savior. His is truly Emmanuel,
“God with us.”
May you and yours find joy in the stunning closeness of our God.
picture provided https://publicdomainvectors.org/en/free-clipart/Classic-nativity/59635.html
Dear Friends, Our Advent focus turns from the Second Coming of Jesus at the end of time to his birth into our world, our history, our joys and our sorrows. It is right that we should celebrate that arrival – and we are good at it, aren’t we, in our culture?
We begin our masses this weekend singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and “Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.” In our first reading the prophet Isaiah says “Therefore the LORD himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.” The reading from Matthew’s gospel makes clear that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of that prophecy and tells us that the name Emmanuel means “God is with us.”
What does this mean and why is it such good news? In the 4th Eucharistic Prayer we pray: “And you so loved the world, Father most holy, that in the fullness of time, you sent your Only Begotten Son to be our Savior. Made incarnate by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, he shared our human nature in all things but sin.” (emphasis mine)
Thinking back to the story of the little child who repeatedly woke his mother with bad dreams and was told to pray who then answered that he needed a God “with skin on,” we have been given just such a savior. Everything we experience in our humanity – love, anger, fatigue, joy, heartbreak, calm, worry, hunger, thirst, illness – has also been experienced by Emmanuel, God with us, Jesus Christ. When we pray, he knows our hearts, our weakness, our trials because he is one of us, one with us. This is truly something to celebrate and it is much more than a cute baby in a manger – as adorable as that baby is.
In Matthew’s gospel that we hear today the angel in Joseph’s dream who tells him to go ahead and take Mary as his wife because the child she’s carrying was conceived through the Holy Spirit and that “... you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
That we are all “his people” is made clear in the second reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans:
Through him we have received the grace of apostleship, to bring about the obedience of faith, for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles, among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ ... called to be holy.”
Yes, called to be holy. All of us. No one is exempt. The Universal call to holiness was recently affirmed in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. A tall order, perhaps. But worth it. And the One who calls us to holiness is Emmanuel – God with us, who knows our need and has shown us the way to get there – nourishing us along the way with his body and blood, and guiding us with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Let’s pray for one another this last week before Christmas!
Dear friends on the journey,
Each of today’s readings offer words of comfort. Isaiah’s message is “courage, do not be afraid.” In the second reading, James encourages us to “be patient, do not lose heart.” In the gospel, Jesus’ message to John the Baptist is “happy the person who does not lose faith in me.”
Sitting in a dark prison awaiting death, John must have felt hopeless, his faith tested. Surely Jesus’ words brought him comfort and strength. Well they’re meant for us today too and we need to soak them in.
Throughout our life, we find ourselves in dark places when we experience personal crises like serious illness, death, addiction, or family discord. Perhaps the crises are not ours personally but are happening around us. I have been deeply saddened lately by news of the sudden death of a 35-year-old woman, a toddler hospitalized with pneumonia, RSV and influenza affecting babies and the elderly and everyone in between, and a longtime friend just diagnosed with a brain tumor. In these moments, we have Isaiah’s words: have courage, do not be afraid. There is hope.
The news is filled with stories of continued senseless violence, anti-Semitism, racism, political division, war in Ukraine, natural disasters and we feel powerless and wonder if this world will ever experience true peace. Many of us worry about our children, especially in their adulthood, and their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. In these situations, we can look to James’ comforting words: be patient, do not lose heart. There is hope.
We can be the most faith confident people, working hard, doing our best only to be sideswiped by unemployment, car trouble, and unexpected expenses. Throw in the added stress and work of the holidays, as joyous as they are. Feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope we can wonder why God let us down and doubt his love for us and even his existence. In these times we can look to the gospel message: happy the person who does not lose faith in me. There is hope.
This hope is Jesus. In the Old Testament, God promised a savior. God delivered that savior in the person of Jesus. Jesus conquered death through resurrection, allowing us eternal life in the heavenly kingdom. This is hope. In these dark places of fear, overwhelm, and doubt, we have only to look back in salvation history to see that courage, patience, and faith have always conquered darkness. This is
hope that struggle does not last forever, that good will always come again.
This Christmas we celebrate the Jesus of history, the Jesus who is present in us and to us today, and the Jesus who will come again. This gives me great hope. How about you?
1965 - 2022
1928 - 2022
Wednesday, February 1, 2023
As has been our tradition for years, decorating for Christmas in our house begins just after Thanksgiving. After taking down and packing the Fall and Thanksgiving decorations, we move some furniture around to make room for the Christmas tree. The rest of the day is spent putting up and decorating the tree and the rest of the house. When we finish, we sit down to enjoy the newly decorated tree and think to ourselves, “our home is prepared for Christmas.” Our Gospel today teaches about a different kind of preparation.
While his followers are being baptized, John the Baptist is teaching them (and us) to “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 3:2). For John, repentance does not only mean acknowledging our sinfulness and whatever it is that keeps us away from God. It also means a willingness to live our lives in a new and different way. John scolds the local religious leaders who come out to be baptized for the sake of appearing repentant but are not willing to demonstrate their repentance by their actions.
When we hurt someone we love, we feel sorrow for having caused the hurt and if we truly love the other, we will experience a desire to right the wrong and restore our relationship with the one we hurt. But, if we don’t confront the root of what caused us to hurt, we are likely to repeat the hurt. A lasting change requires a conversion of heart.
In our relationship with God, the sacrament of reconciliation provides us the opportunity to encounter our loving God in a deep and personal way. In the sacrament, we acknowledge those times when we have fallen short and express our desire to do things differently.
If we can take that incredible moment of grace and really work on that constant relationship and conversation with Jesus, He will guide you toward being a more selfless, kind, tolerant, and centered soul. If we allow this time of Advent to truly prepare for Christ’s birth into our heart and world, we will experience the love of God in a new and transformative way.
As we near the celebration of Christmas and the coming of our LORD into our world, we can prepare by examining how we treat each other and making a genuine effort to remove that which prevents us from being disciples of Jesus. When we can do this, then we can say that we’ve prepared our hearts for Christmas.
Deacon Joe Torti
Dear Faith Family, Happy Advent to you all!
As our liturgical year begins anew, we set our sights on celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, the reason we have to celebrate the rest of the liturgical year.
Obviously, during this time of the year, it is easy to get caught up in the hubbub of the errands we need to run for our friends and family. All of these errands are necessary and do lead to something beautiful and necessary, but we do have to take a step back and truly celebrate the “reason for the season.”
Advent is very interesting to me, because it not only is a season of thanksgiving for our God who became man, but it is also a preparation for the same God to come again in the future. We put ourselves in the shoes of those who lived and died generations before Christ became man. The ones who eagerly anticipated a savior. We both learn to understand them and learn from them as we await our Lord to come again. We learn what true penance is and we are blessed with hindsight to complement our faith. We put ourselves in their shoes to help us yearn for our God more.
So what is the appropriate preparation and response to our Lord coming again? I would say it is anticipation with the absence of fear. If our God truly has conquered death by his life and Resurrection, what do we have to fear? I know it is a cliche we have heard throughout our faith lives, but it rings so true during this season. What does anticipation without fear look like? I would argue that it looks like our celebration in reaction to what is promised.
With death being conquered, we have nothing to fear and all the reason to celebrate. Eternal joy in the heavens is realistically in our reach. Because of this, our response realistically should be to worship. Again, not out of fear, but out of love/yearning. When we love and praise our God with no condition, we can’t help but to imitate that love for our family, neighbors, strangers, or even our enemies. If our God loves us so much to become one of us, it is most appropriate to be filled with joy.
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas this year, let’s remember to REALLY CELEBRATE. It is appropriate to take time off of work, to spend hours with family and to be joyous. It is also appropriate to celebrate at Mass and to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation in preparation for our God. It is appropriate to decorate, give gifts and drink gross eggnog.
When we surround ourselves with a joy, it becomes easier to worship. When we realize that our God longs to be with us, it becomes easier to worship and love.
Joy to the World!
Youth and Young Adult Minister
1961 - 2022
Tim Hanlon, son of Marg & Jerry Hanlon
Saturday, January 14
Padre Serra Parish
1929 - 2022
Saturday, January 21
Padre Serra Parish
We Americans have very happily lived for over two centuries without a King. We don’t kneel to any person. We have no majesties, highnesses, lords or nobles. When the president of our country enters the room, we don’t kneel. We stand! Few positions here are inherited. People are not elite or special because of their parentage. We happily dumped those elements of rule, and our successful changes were so appealing that most of the world followed our example. Now, most humans are no longer subjects, but citizens. We, in these United States, still celebrate that we are free.
Among our freedoms is our ability to find a path that answers our human longings for meaning, to have a purpose, to live a worthy and good life. Our answer to those goals, is the life and death of Jesus and the content of his teaching.
We don’t choose him because he acted like human rulers. In fact, he lived a life very contrary to theirs. He didn’t lead armies, although military leaders have chosen his cross over the centuries to cover their banners. He didn’t form political parties, although zealots, even in his own day were sure he supported their positions. He didn’t seek the overthrow of the Romans, even though revolutionary efforts throughout history since have tried to coopt his message. When thousands attended to his words, he didn’t speak about his achievements, but challenged them to avoid judgment, to be faithful, and to love (see Sermon on the Mount, Matt 5:1-7:29). He spent little time with the powerful, rather traveling among the peasants of Galilee and Judea. He never lived in a mansion, let alone a palace.
And yet, we freedom loving, American flag waving Catholics call Jesus “King.” It’s precisely because he wasn’t anything like prior human rulers that we dare to do so. He doesn’t subjugate; he leads by example. He doesn’t claim privileges or prerogatives; he lived in simplicity. He was honest about who he was, the Son of God, the Lamb of God, the eternal Word, the just Judge, but didn’t express entitlement. The moment of his greatest glory was, in fact, his act of utter self-giving on the cross – hence today’s Gospel.
And we love him for this ... for toppling our misunderstanding of God. The Father is not like the fickle, self-absorbed, fragile and jealous gods of the Greeks and Romans, not like the child immolating gods of the Phoenicians or the human-heart devouring gods of the Aztecs, but building on the Jewish understanding of a God who broke into history, over-and-over, to save them, a God who is love.
Un-subjugated, we choose to follow Jesus. Un-dominated, we model our life after his because we recognize the rightness of his example. Without coercion we study his teachings because they answer our hearts’ deepest desires. At times failing in our efforts and acknowledging his rights to judge, we yet confidently rely on his mercy.
I join with the Catholic people of Mexico, who when suffering from their own government, cried out, “¡Viva Cristo Rey!” or “Long live Christ the King!” Long may we live in his Kingdom.
Reflecting on the past and looking to the future. Nine years ago my wife Catherine and I visited Turkey. We spent several days in an area called Cappadocia which has one of the most surreal and strange landscapes on earth, formed by thousands of years of erosion. This area has more than six hundred so-called “cave churches,” hollowed out from the volcanic rock formations. We had the privilege to celebrate a liturgy in one of these very small churches that date back to the second century. While sitting around the small stone altar, I wondered what it would have been like to serve Mass in the early church.
In the very early church, Christians gathered to celebrate the Supper of the Lord in the larger homes of the towns and villages. With flickering oil lamps and a few wooden benches, the altar was a table normally used for the daily meals. What was an ordinary dining table became the altar of the Lord. The altar servers, girls and boys, helped the deacon to prepare the altar with fine linens and the sacred vessels. These young Christians understood table etiquette and would have been very helpful in many different roles: washing hands, lighting oil lamps, preparing the bread, and placing the sacred vessels. When it was time for the readings, they would have helped keep the scrolls from rolling up thus providing a firm platform for proclaiming the word. At the Last Supper, someone had to set the table and prepare the meal. Servers are not mentioned in the gospels, but unquestionably, the very first Eucharist would have relied on servers, both girls and boys.
Today, the altar servers can influence the atmosphere of prayer by their presence in the assembly around the altar of Our Lord. Rest assured that the assembly definitely admires the altar servers. As trained young ministers, they come to the altar of God to be close to our public prayer life. As I mentioned above, this ministry goes all the way back to the early church.
Serving is a privilege and with a privilege comes responsibility. Our altar servers have been called to serve during our liturgies. Padre Serra Parish is grateful that they have responded to this call with a real sense of dedication. They help the entire community celebrate the Eucharist by their humble service. They help the assembly thank God, and in doing so they show their love
At Padre Serra, we have 65 dedicated young ministers, ranging in age from 10 to 20. Half are high school students and there is an equal mix of girls and boys. It is my hope that our altar servers will spend a lifetime serving the Church in many other ways and remember this ministry as a time when God gave joy to their youth.
Altar Server Ministry Director
Come to the 9:00 am Mass on Sunday, November 20, for our annual Altar Server Installation!
Today's Scripture readings show us that our human curiosity is nothing new. Even in Old Testament times, people were wondering if there was an afterlife, and what it was like for those in it. The seven brothers in today’s reading from 2 Maccabees were convinced that there was and that it would be good. Their trust in God’s faithfulness was strong enough that they willingly endured torture and death rather than betray God’s law — in the hope that life, limb and more would be restored to them in the Resurrection.
But even for faithful Jews, the question was not yet settled in Jesus’ time. The Sadducees, those who deny that there is a Resurrection, tried to trap Jesus into making some kind of foolish statement in contradiction of settled doctrine by asking him whose wife a widow who married seven brothers in succession would be once they were all in heaven. I can imagine Jesus putting his hand to his forehead, shaking his head, sighing and thinking, “Oi vey — they just don't get it,” and going on to explain that everything is different in the Resurrection. So different, in fact, that we can’t even picture what it would be like. But Jesus assures us, and our faith tells us, that all will be well because we will be with him forever, and with those who have gone before us, in a place that he has prepared for us in his Father’s house. He further promises that we can get there through him — “I am the way, the truth and the life." Some may think that this means they’ve got a guaranteed spot in heaven, and that therefore there’s no need to do anything in this life to prepare except enjoy ourselves. I see it differently. I think that the promise of eternal life means that everything we do in this life matters greatly — that every choice we make has cosmic significance. St. Paul tells the community at Thessalonica in today’s second reading that his hope is that the Lord may “... encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.” And then there is that image in Matthew’s Gospel of Jesus the judge separating sheep and goats according to how they treated one another (and therefore treated him) on earth. It seems that what we do matters very much indeed.
Still, speculating about what heaven may be like can be a beautiful prayer. You may be familiar with Bart Millard’s song, “I Can Only Imagine.” The refrain lyrics say:
“Surrounded by your glory, what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you, Jesus, or in awe of you be still?
Will I stand in your presence, or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing ‘Hallelujah’?
Will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine, I can only imagine.”
On Saturday, October 15, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles presented Mrs. Catherine Shadduck with the Excellence in Catechetical Service Award for the Santa Barbara Region. Rev. Leon Hutton, Episcopal Vicar for the Santa Barbara Region and Pastor of Our Lady of Assumption Church, presented the award. This award recognizes catechists in the various deaneries who have served their parishes with marked excellence, dedication, and passion for their ministry. Individuals whose service and teaching have left an indelible imprint on the spiritual life of the religious education program and parish at large.
One of my favorite moments was to see the excitement of the children and their families greeting her on Sundays during their dismissal sessions. More than just teaching about the faith, she has the unique gift to make others feel welcomed and be met where they are in their faith journey — patiently encouraging and accompanying them, helping them receive their sacraments, and come into full communion with the Catholic Church — encouraging families to become involved in parish life and ministries. She is a fountain of information and is always willing to share her knowledge with all of us.
We are all so proud of Catherine, who is so deserving of this award in recognition of over 28 years of her service in Catechetical Ministries. During her time at Padre Serra, she has held many positions within the religious education program; Children’s Catechist, First Communion Coordinator, and Director of Religious Education.
She recently retired as the Coordinator of Initiation for Children and Adults and the Adult Confirmation Coordinator. In this capacity, she directed the processes through which school-age children, teens, and adults are baptized, adults become Catholic, and adults receive Confirmation. This work has given her much happiness and fulfillment. Catherine plans to continue to be actively involved in the parish; she asks the Holy Spirit to direct her where she can best serve the Body of Christ.
Our motto at Padre Serra is “Encounter Jesus, Be Disciples.” I truly believe she embodies it, and it is evident in the fruit of her labor. Those of us who have had the honor to be mentored and ministered alongside her have seen her in action. Seeing her joy and tirelessly giving her time and talent. It is inspiring
to witness the connections she has made with those who have come through the Initiation and Adult Confirmation programs.
Congratulations Catherine! May God continue to pour out his blessings on you. Siempre Adelante,
Faith Formation Minister