I. Merry & Blessed Christmas to Everyone! The mystery of Christmas/Incarnation invites us to open our senses to the Word made flesh–Jesus. Let this Christmas not only be a time for family and friends but also a time for the Lord to be born more deeply into our hearts and lives. What a difference it makes to see and experience everything through the lens of faith. Invite a friend and share the good news! On behalf of the Parish Pastoral Team and Council, I wish you a Christmas season that sinks deeply into your soul!
II. Welcome College Students, Visitors! On behalf of our St. Stephen Cathedral faith community, I welcome everyone home, whether geographically or spiritually, for this significant Feast of the Incarnation, God becoming one of us through Jesus. It’s always good to celebrate Eucharist with you at St. Stephen Cathedral! Regardless, everyone is welcome!
III. Is It Time To Re-Connect? There are many reasons, I find, why people have left or wandered away from the Catholic Church: some have been hurt, some are disillusioned, some lack information or formation, some simply have grown slothful (spiritually lazy), etc. Whatever the reason, it might be time for you to re-connect with the Catholic Church. If this might be the right time for you to join us, do not hesitate to contact Fr. Jamie Dennis (assistant pastor), Donna Murphy (Director of Faith Formation), or myself. We would consider it a privilege to sit and listen. Think about it. Talk about it. Pray about it. 270/683-6525. Please join us January 4, 2017, at 6:00 p.m., in the Community Center for an information gathering and Q & A!
IV. Open House at the Cathedral Rectory: people have many different traditions for New Year’s Eve and how to “ring in” the new year and thank God for the year past, 2016! Fr. Jamie, seminarian Corey Bruns, and I invite you to a Rectory Open House on Saturday, December 31st, from 6:30—8:30pm. We will serve heavy hors d’oeurves and assorted beverages. Drop by; toast in hope for blessings galore!
V. Wedding Bells Are Ringing! Congratulations to those who became engaged this Christmas season. It’s an exciting time for you! If you choose to be married within the Sacrament of Marriage, the best response is to call your parish immediately after you are engaged to ask for an appointment with the priest. Even though our official Diocesan policy states a 6-month preparation period, that is the minimum, and it is much better to contact the Church sooner, so that you are not rushed in preparing for the most important commitment in your life. You may also the following website helpful: www.marriagepreparation.com. Congratulations!
VI. Epiphany Vespers and International Potluck: everyone is invited to our third annual Epiphany celebration on Sunday, January 8th, at 4:00pm for Vespers (Evening Prayer) lead by our music ministry, followed by a potluck at 5:00pm in the Community Center. We ask you to bring a dish from your country of origin! The parish will provide the drinks (unless you would like to bring your own bottle of wine)! We will be visited by three Kings with a traditional King Cake! If you would like to assist in this fun gathering, contact Lupe Ellis, 270/240-2153.
VII. Cathedral Restoration and Renewal: we still have visitors who tell us how much they appreciate the beauty of our renovated and restored church building. Hopefully, this beauty raises our hearts and minds to God, and enhances our faith is such a way that it impels us to give inspiring witness throughout the week. The entire debt of $2.8 million has been retired, thanks to the generosity of so many! Recently we re-plastered and re-painted four spots in the apse, two areas in the church proper, and tended to needs of the rose window in the choir loft. The next step is to take care of the porch which is demanding our attention, add more rest rooms downstairs, and possibly add an elevator from the worship floor to the choir loft. Though we do not have an approximate cost of these needs, we have established a Restoration and Renewal Porch/Landing Fund to meet the expense. Again, I am inspired by your generosity! Any gift before the end of this calendar year or after January 1st will assist in this effort!
VIII. Heartfelt gratitude! What a joy to experience all the Giving Tree tags taken so quickly and the gifts returned for someone less fortunate. Inspiring as well are parishioners who, aware of their abundant blessings, chose to share those blessings with the needy in various ways. “We never become poor by sharing what we have with others.” As your pastor at St. Stephen Cathedral, I am grateful for your faithfulness to Sunday Eucharist, your involvement in liturgical ministries and committees, and your unselfish outreach–all of which are expressions of your solid commitment of faith. In a special way I thank Lupe Ellis for once again organizing and making sure this event happens. But also, her helper “elves;” Audrey Bowlds, Cindy Bornander, Claudine Blanford, and Glenda Crum. Together we can build a strong community of faith!
IX. Arts at the Cathedral: the original purpose of a cathedral was to draw people to God through the sacred Liturgy (Sacraments, Liturgy of the Hours, Prayer, etc.), and Sacred Art. Art is created with imagination and skill. Art that is noble can also lift the heart and mind to God, whether it involves the human voice or the work of a skilled instrumentalist. Our Marketing/Communication Committee has created an Arts at the Cathedral Fund to sponsor concerts (e.g. the Owensboro Symphony, etc.) and like events. If you are interested, contact the parish office and speak with James Wells, our Director of Music, [email protected]
X. Patron Feast of our Cathedral, December 26: Stephen was arrested and tried by the Sanhedrin for blasphemy. His fate was sealed when he had a vision during his trial and cried out, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts of the Apostles 7:56). Stephen was taken out to be stone to death by a mob, which included Saul of Tarsus, who would soon experience a radical conversion and become a zealous apostle to the Gentiles. Stephen was the first martyr, the first to give his life as witness to the faith! He is often shown in art with three stones and a martyr’s palm, sometimes wearing a dalmatic, a deacon’s vestment. Have you noticed the painting of St. Stephen near the Baptismal font, or the stained glass windows (on the Blessed Sacrament side of church), or Stephen’s life depicted in the reredos behind the altar? Saint Stephen, protomartyr, pray for us!