Today we celebrate the great Feast of Pentecost -one of the three most important feasts in the Church calendar- when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and breathed into them the power of Jesus. Also called the “Birthday of the Church,” this day marks the beginning of the missionary efforts of the Apostles as well as the roots of ‘Apostolic Tradition.’ The 12 Apostles, assisted by 72 disciples, went out to the world, no longer paralyzed by fear or worried about what the crowds would say or do to them. They were the first graduating class in the history of the Church, and their mission was a success because they really loved Jesus and allowed his Spirit to lead them.
Regarding more recent graduations, in our parish 40 Graduates from our middle school will receive their diplomas this Sunday at the conclusion of the 11:30 a.m. Mass. Many of them are graduating with honors, and lots of scholarship money has been awarded to a good number of them (you can read about the particulars in greater detail in the Principal’s weekly newsletter). What will become of them in the future, only God knows, for sure. But if they stay faithful to Him and his teaching, observing the commandments and the message of the Gospel to “Go out to all the world and spread the Good News….”, then they will become the success story that we as Catholics hope and pray that they would be. If they forget about or ignore God in these next years of their life, they may find the road ahead fraught with difficulties, and find themselves subjected to influences that are far more powerful than they can imagine or handle alone. I will pray that the good example of faithful parents and sincere teachers will help them through the pitfalls and dangers that lie ahead of them. May they invoke the power of the Holy Spirit often to guide them.
We also congratulate the many parishioners graduating at other levels. Among them are our seminarian Marc Gustinelli, who recently received his Bachelor of Philosophy degree – “summa cum laude” (“with highest honors”), from St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami; and the Deacon Matthew Hawkins, who worked in our parish on weekends this past year. He received his Master of Divinity degree, (also “summa cum laude”) in ceremonies at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary the following day. I will attend his Ordination to the Priesthood in St. James Cathedral in Orlando next weekend and concelebrate his First Mass of Thanksgiving in his parish church. Father Matthew has just received his first priestly assignment and will report to St. James as Parochial Vicar shortly after finishing his pertinent celebrations. Keep them all in your prayers.
Our closing of the school year will take place in about two more weeks. I keep wondering, “where did the time go?” It seemed like only yesterday that we began our academic year and were anticipating the upcoming renovations and addition to our school. As you drive to church, you can see that the progress on the construction projects seems to be pretty much in keeping with the projected time-line of completion. So many of our generous parishioners are trying to make our dream come true. But, I also noticed that quite a few parishioners haven’t committed themselves by getting involved in this most important role of “pitching in” to make the load-carrying easier for all. They have not made a pledge for the capital campaign; or, if they did, they have not yet honored their commitment. I wonder why they hold back on such an important a project, depriving us of funds that are badly needed for completion of our building. Our children deserve the chance to obtain the best Catholic education possible, and we should all help each other to achieve that goal.
Coming up soon, there are a few priestly anniversaries involving priests who serve our parish. Monsignor Stephen Bosso (40th), Father Hawkins (40th) and Father Danis (51st) will celebrate their anniversaries in the Priesthood of Jesus Christ in June. I celebrated my 47th this past week. Father Jay will celebrate his 51st in December. Please pray for us to have the strength and zeal to continue doing God’s work. Pray, too, for our new priests and for more men and women to answer the call to serve as God’s ministers. Currently, one young man has been discerning the possibility of entering the seminary in the near future. May we be blessed with more vocations coming forth from our parish.