What It Means to Me to be in the Choir – Doreen Jackson

In 2001, my husband and I moved to Milford and I began attending Mass at St. Andrew. After telling the new pastor, Fr. Rob Waller, I had sung with the choir at my previous parish he asked me what I was waiting for? Then he escorted me to the choir loft to introduce me to the Music Director, Dovile Krempasky.  I have been a member of the choir at St. Andrew’s ever since.

I  have had many opportunities to share the gift of song through our Music Ministry including singing at Mass on Sunday, Holy Days and other liturgical celebrations.  Adding music to help comfort others during times of loss at funerals is another way this ministry provides service.

St.Augustine is quoted as saying, “He who sings, prays twice.

Expressing praise, giving thanks and asking for God’s mercy have been a way of praying for me since I was a child attending a Catholic School.  As an adult I continued to join others in choirs as I moved to different parishes.

Last year in October, we were fortunate to host a concert at St. Andrew to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fatima.  Our choir was joined by several choirs from other local churches in addition to the choir from the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe in Orlando, Florida.  The event was open to the public, well attended and truly inspirational. As a member of the choir here I felt blest to be able to participate in this event. 

Our relationship with Dr. William Picher, the Music Director for the Basilica continues.  We recently were honored to welcome back the Basilica Choir for a Veteran’s Day Concert.  Nearly 500 people attended, the church was full of Patriotic Music and we were able to thank the many veterans attending for their service.  It was a beautiful and joyful evening.  

Doreen Jackson

So I ask, what are you waiting for?

Maybe the Music Ministry at St. Andrew is another way you are being called to praise and worship God.  It is for me.


Doreen is a Cantor with the St. Andrew Choir at the 9:30 am Mass.

What It Means to Me to be an Usher – Tom Schutte

When I began as an usher I did it because at the mass I attended they were short-handedTom Schutte Picture .JPG
and I was asked to help. I have an immense gratitude for the gentleman that asked for my help. I realized that I enjoyed it. I liked meeting people I worship with and trying to help them enjoy the Mass and getting as much out of it as I do.

Thirty one  years later I still enjoy being an usher as much now as I did when I began.

God bless,
Tom Schutte

What Being an Altar Server Means to Me – Harris Craycraft

Being an Altar Server for St. Andrew has a two-fold effect. First and foremost, it is a great opportunity to help out the St. Andrew community. There are many pieces to the puzzle to make the Mass run smoothly, and I am always grateful to be able to contribute to that through being an Altar Server.

Harris Craycraft

Secondly, it is a two-of-a-kind position on the altar that the congregation does not get to experience. Being closer to the Priest and eventually the Eucharist is another blessing that should not be overlooked. Being an Altar Server means serving the community, the Church, and God at the same time.

 

What It Means to Be an Altar Server – Jesse Hardin

Jesse HardinMy name is Jesse Hardin and I am a junior at Archbishop Moeller High School. I became Catholic in the first grade by choice and it was the greatest decision in my life. In the fourth grade I decided to become an Altar Server. It isn’t a requirement, but for me it was a choice that I love. It is a choice to serve the Lord. I feel more connected to the Lord while serving than any other time. I feel like I am directly helping the Lord while on the Altar. Servers are right there by the priest when the bread and wine are changed to the body and blood and I feel the power of the Lord working as I watch.

When you are serving at Mass or at a special liturgical service, you see things from a different viewpoint than the rest of the congregation. I was serving at the Easter Vigil and all the lights are turned off during the beginning of this service. The Deacon began to slowly raise the Bible at the Gospel. I was behind him with the thurible (a metal censer suspended from chains, in which incense is burned during worship services) and the other server was gradually turning the lights to full power. The lights are gaining in power and the Deacon is slowly raising the Book. The choir starts singing softly and then louder as the lights came up, I felt the power of the Lord working. This moved me enough that I smiled and I was filled with the Spirit.

I also am moved when I am using the thurible. I serve at many funerals and when we are sending the body from the church, the priest incenses the casket. Some priests put the incense right above the head of the casket. This is touching because you can almost see the soul rising to heaven. I love the experience of being a server, as I said, I feel so much closer to God when I do it. I am so glad I became a server. I love Sundays when I get to serve the Lord.

 

 

God Is Calling You, The Question Is

LogoGenesis implies that man from the very beginning was created for the sacred service of worship. It is no surprise then that public acts of worship appear in Scripture as early as primeval times. The instinct to serve God by the sacrifice of animals and the fruits of the ground is visible in the account of Cain and Abel in Genesis.

(Gen. 4:2-7) Abel became a herder of flocks, and Cain a tiller of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought an offering to the LORD from the ground, while Abel, for his part, brought the fatty portion of the firstlings of the flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So, Cain was very angry and dejected. Then the LORD said to Cain: Why are you angry? Why are you dejected? If you act rightly, you will be accepted; but if not, sin lies in wait at the door; its urge is for you, yet you can rule over it.

During the next few months, we will be examining the history of our Worship, special liturgical services, as well as the liturgical ministries at St. Andrew Sunday Masses, and Eucharistic Adoration; including, Servers, Ushers/Greeters, Music Ministry (choir, cantors and musicians), Lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, and Adorers. We will look at how these ministries began, what is involved in these ministries, the gifts or talents needed, and finally what you need to do to participate. We hope to provide you with additional information to allow you to explore different ways of participating at Mass. We are all given different gifts and are called to serve the Lord in different ways. Watch for the God Is Calling You logo with open eyes and hearts.

Whether we join a liturgical ministry or not, we are all called to fully and actively participate in the liturgy by uniting our offerings (prayers, works, joys and sufferings) to the Lord as he offers himself to his Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. Then we can all go out and sanctify the world – as at the end of Mass the priest can say – Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.

. . . are You Listening?

The Worship Commission

God is Calling You

LogoLiturgy is the public worship of the people of God. The shape and substance of liturgy has evolved from primeval history to our current time. Indeed, liturgy is the principal means of renewing and maintaining the promises between God and his people in the history of salvation. The word “liturgy” comes from the Greek leitourgia, which means “public service.”

In ancient Greece, this meant not only fulfilling civic duties but also religious duties to the gods. The word appears only six times in the Greek New Testament but is used over forty times in the Greek Old Testament, where it most often translates to the Hebrew meaning “service” or “worship.” In early Christian writings, the term “liturgy” referred to the sacramental worship of the Church with all its actions and dimensions. Related terms in Greek include leitourgia, “to serve, worship,” and leitourgos, “servant, minister.”

Source: The Catholic Bible Dictionary, Scott Hahn

In the months that follow, several times during the month, you will find information in the Bulletin, or on the Through the Open Doors Blog on the St. Andrew Church website, or on the St. Andrew Facebook Page, there will be information for you to read and maybe even some videos to watch to help you understand how God may be calling you to participate in our liturgy more fully. We will have information on the history of the Mass including where some the rituals and symbols originated, as well as information on the various ministries. While we are each called to worship in different ways, God may be calling you to serve your community in a particular ministry.

. . . are you listening?

 

The Worship Commission

Jesus and You – Living a Single Life With an Open Heart

Recently, St. Andrew Church hosted an evening program entitled, “Jesus and You – Living a Single Life With an Open Heart” for divorced, widowed, never married or otherwise single people from both St. Andrew and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parishes. This is the first program of its kind in our Pastoral Region and hopefully, from the feedback received, not the last.

Silhouette People Man Guy Sad Alone Trees

Over 30 men and women were present, as well as, the Holy Spirit.  Fr. Chris began the evening with prayer and a short talk, sharing his humor, family stories, and kind heart; drawing people in and putting them at ease. He opened the door wide to a wonderful evening of discussion.

Following his words, each person was assigned to a small group and each group received 2 different scripture passages related to leading a single life.  These passages were used as a basis for discussion on how these words related to their lives.  Many people shared stories  of the joys of single life, some pain and suffering, and even the aloneness of their lives and how they attempted to deal with this, using these scripture readings to help focus the discussion. Many others talked how adjusting to being single takes time and lots of prayer.

While we all knew we were in the same boat, many came to the boat for very different reasons, and we all had to learn how to live in silence, by ourselves.  As Fr. Chris said, “we all have the capacity to love and that is what we are called to do.  Living alone provides us with the time and availability to do just that.”

While sharing a personal story of pain and grief with strangers is never easy, there was a certain comfort when you realize that on this path, you are never really alone.  While the discussions from each of the 6 groups was very different, there was clearly a common thread – whatever your situation, you have to trust that God will care for you and if you do trust in his wisdom, you will live in peace.

I am with you always, even to the end of time. Lk. 24:29

Cathy O’Toole

Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta.

The above quote is from St. Teresa of Calcutta as she tells us to recognize needs in our own communities.

A friend of mine recently retired and was looking for a volunteer opportunity. She decided to help out at her grade school alma mater, St. Francis de Sales School in Walnut Hills. She began volunteering and realized as she observed the kids, they struggled with reading which would affect all of their other studies. While they read at school, many of them did not have any books at home to read.  Buying books for their children may not be a financial priority for parents who struggle to put food on the table. My friend saw a need and was determined to do something about it.

Child with books scuptureThe St. Francis de Sales Book Club was created out of a need to provide the school’s students with a variety of books to hopefully instill a lifelong love of reading, a curiosity of the world, and a foundation for success. St. Francis de Sales School is one of eight CISE (Catholic Inner-city Schools Education Fund) schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The demographics for the CISE schools include 93 percent poverty; 83 percent minority; and 76 percent non-Catholic. Although each classroom does indeed have a variety of books, and library time is part of each week’s curriculum, some students do not have access to books at home.

My friend decided to increase not only the classroom libraries but also the children’s personal library at home. She even started a weekly awards program for the best readers and gave them a book of their own.

Here is one of the Award Winners with her book.

Award Winner

In addition, she created the St. Francis de Sales Book Club on Amazon, which includes individual Wish Lists for each grade from Pre-K through grade eight, as well as a Miscellaneous Wish List and one for Black History Month. The teachers have provided titles they would like to have, and other books have been added. They have taken special care to include books that represent the demographics of the students, hoping that stories that reflect their lives in a positive way and will foster a love of reading and whet their appetites for more.

Can you imagine, as you look at this blog, to not being able to understand its meaning because you have not had books to practice and hone your reading skills. The work of Christians is to act where there is a need, just as St. Teresa of Calcutta told us and so it has been done in this situation. Jesus taught us to act when we see a need and to always help others.

. . . a skillfully composed story delights the ears of those who read the work. 2 Maccabees 15:39

 If you are interested in checking out the St. Francis de Sales Book Club, click on this link:   https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/26SHVBJ0868DY

Cathy O’Toole

 

Why Have You Forsaken Me!

crucifixAs I age, I have spent a fair amount of time over the years thinking about the Crucifixion during Holy Week, and particularly on Good Friday. Knowing that Jesus was fully God and fully human, I wonder how much he understood about what was to come in his final days on earth.  It makes me think about my final days. Will there be excitement at facing our Lord and the reward of a life well-lived or regret for all the failures?  Will I be aware of those last moments on earth? What will that very last breath be like?

I have been privileged to be with several family members and even some close friends as they faced their last days on earth and I realize that depending on the information shared by their doctor, their state of mind, as well as the knowledge of their body, and their faith; they do know the end is near. I have seen people who are tired of suffering and have gladly given their life over to God. And, I have also witnessed people who have fought for every last breath of their life.

Did Jesus know what his last few days would bring, all the suffering and pain?  Yet, he willingly and graciously accepted it!   He even forgave his persecutors with his last breaths.

Father, forgive them, they know not what they do. Lk. 23:34

And, then I read these words of his;

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Mk. 15:34  

Maybe even Jesus wondered, as do I.

Cathy O’Toole

 

God’s Plan for Me

I have 3 prayer books that were written by Mark Link, S.J. in the late 1990’s for the turn of the century. The series of books is referred to as the Vision 2000 series and there is one for each of the 3 yearly liturgical cycles. And yes, I have been reading these books and reflecting on them each evening for nearly 20 years.

The daily format consists of a scripture reading, a short story, a question for reflection and a quote from a famous and sometimes, not so famous person. I love these books because they allow me to relate my life to the scripture reading, in other words, they make me think. And the reason that I have been reading them for so long is because my thoughts on scripture have deepened over the past 20 years.

The other night I was reading; (Isaiah 65: 17-18) The Lord says, “I am making a new earth and new heavens. The events of the past will be completely forgotten. Be glad and rejoice forever in what I create.”

This reading was followed with the story:

The Italian sculptor Donatello rejected a block of marble because it was flawed. Michelangelo was offered the same block and accepted it. He looked beyond the obvious flaw to something potentially beautiful in it. He eventually carved from it his greatest masterpiece: David. God did something similar with us and our sin-filled world. God looked beyond our obvious flaws to something potentially beautiful in each of us. God is now “re-creating” all things in the image of Jesus.

The question for reflection was “How convinced am I that God has a plan for me and wants to make me into something special in spite of my flaws”?

After nearly 20 years of reflection, I have come to accept the fact that God has a plan for me and most of the time I see God’s hand in my life. I must admit though, sometimes he may have to shove me into something that I ordinarily would not consider doing. My flaws are countless. So, that is that! Yes, God does have a plan for me. And I will try to recognize it and follow him.

But, as I read this passage this year, particularly in light of the story included, I think I may often act like Donatello and become focused on the flaws of others, as well as my own.  Because of this I may fail to see the work of God in my life or in others.

Dear Lord, make me like Michelangelo so that I overlook my flaws, do not dwell on past failures and let me see your hand at work in not only my life but in others.  Do not allow me to step in the way of your plan for us all.

Cathy O’Toole  D29BF91F-326B-4778-8E20-A127888D1370.medium