08-06-2017- Message From Father Jim

“Lord, it is good that we are here!”

This Sunday we take a break from our celebration of “Ordinary Time” to celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.  This feast offers us an opportunity to once again reflect on this great event and the transforming experience it was.  Not only was it such an experience for our Lord, but also for Peter, James and John who were fortunate enough to be up on that mountain with Jesus.  Witnessing the transfiguration of Christ was a moment that strengthened their faith in a remarkable way.  It was a moment they never forgot as long as they lived.  For these chosen apostles, this was a moment of grace.  This was a moment when they felt the presence of God in their lives in an unmistakable way.  Peter’s remark, “Lord it is good that we are here” captures his sentiments at that moment.

Moments of grace are gifts from God.  They are given to us not because we merit them or can buy them, but because they are a sign of God’s love for us.  These remaining weeks of summer can offer a perfect opportunity to open our hearts and minds to moments of grace.  One way we can do this is to set aside a little time each day for prayer.  During this time we open our hearts to God and invite Him to enter them.  It is my hope that we may all experience moments of grace to strengthen and inspire us on the journey.

God bless you always!

Father Jim Volkert

7-30-2017- Message from Father Jim

Promoting Religious Vocations

Every once in a while I receive an email from our Archdiocesan Vocation Director asking me to help him in promoting religious vocations. Perhaps now more than ever we need to encourage the young people of our communities to explore the possibility of serving the Church as a sister, brother or priest. I realize the prospect of becoming a “religious” in the Church is not that appealing today to our young people. As I look back on my own vocation, I realize that the seed for that vocation was planted at home. When I first thought of the priesthood as a way of life, my family was there to help and strengthen me as I pursued this goal I had set for myself. I could not have done it without my family! I would encourage parents and families to foster a spirit of encouragement for religious vocations at home. I realize young people may shun the idea of this type of life style, but has the invitation ever been made to think about it? Not everyone has a vocation to religious life, and that’s okay. However, I think it’s important that we at least bring up the subject. It would be a tragedy if a young person had questions about serving the Church as a priest or sister but forgot about it because no one ever asked them about it. The one thing we can all do is pray. Please include in your prayer intentions a petition that more young people will consider the call to a life as a priest, sister or brother.

God bless you always!
Father Jim Volkert

7-23-2017- Message From Father Jim

“The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness.”

These words from our Second Reading at today’s Mass from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans perhaps take on a deeper meaning for us having gone through some hard times. The flooding and aftermath have tested us in ways that perhaps we have not been tested for awhile. The devastation that our communities endured is a reminder to us that in many ways we are still vulnerable people. All of the advances in technology and the sciences cannot spare us from natural disasters. Although our parishes had some damage we were blessed compared to others. The worst damage was at St. Joseph where the Parish Center basement had quite a bit of water in it.

It is at times like these that we turn to God for strength, direction and peace. We also turn to our community: our parishes and our brothers and sisters in the larger community. It is here that we also receive strength and support. I am very heartened by the way our communities came together in many different ways to offer assistance to those in need. The offers to make and serve meals, share available electricity, clean basements and other affected areas, share homes and kitchens, as well as willingness to help out in any way possible demonstrated the generosity and compassion of our communities. Clearly, the teaching of Jesus was evident: What you do for the least one of mine, you do for me.

Tomorrow (July 24) is the 40th Anniversary of the tragic fire at St. Mary’s. For those of you who were living here at that time I’m sure it is a day you remember well. This was another time when our community rallied during a horrific event. From this awful event also came God’s assured blessings and strength.

At times one is tempted to begin to lose hope. Yet, St. Paul reminds us in today’s Reading that both in good times and in difficult times we should never lose hope. Rather, we should be assured of the presence of the Spirit to inspire and guide us. During those times when we feel overwhelmed by the events that take place all around us we are challenged to have hope in the Lord’s presence in our lives, hope in His promise to never leave us alone. We also get a sense of hope in the way that many good people have responded to the cries of those in need.

Like it or not, we encounter difficult times during the course of our lives. We must not lose hope! Rather, we should be inspired and strengthened by the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives and in doing so become a source of hope for those around us.

God bless you always!
Father Jim Volkert

7-16-2017- Message from Father Jim

A Beautiful Sunday celebration!
Last Sunday’s Mass in Echo Park was once again a very moving and memorable celebration. What a beautiful expression of our faith! It was wonderful to have over 600 of us gather to celebrate the Eucharist. The presence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit was definitely apparent.
I want to express my gratitude to the many folks who helped make this experience the great success it was. To Bob O’Neill and the committee he formed to plan the event, I am most grateful. To our choirs, musicians, communion ministers, greeters, ushers, readers, servers and to my brother priests

– thank you! Also, to all of the folks who arrived very early to set-up the altar area, choir risers and the tremendous sound system – thank you! It is a pleasure to have Fr. Carlos joining our community. Along with his new beginning, I want to share with you a change I will be making. Starting this week my office will now be located at St. Charles in the Parish Center. Fr. Carlos also has his office here. I think it will help to have both us priests in one location so you know where to contact us, meet with us, etc.

I hope you enjoy these summer weeks…they’re going fast!
God bless you always!

Father Jim

7-9-2017 – Message from Father Jim

“Open O Lord, our hearts, that we may carefully hear the words of your Son.” This simple prayer is always relevant for us as a people of faith devoted to following the Gospel. Perhaps, however, it can take on an even greater importance in our daily lives during this summer and in the course of vacations. Taking a rest means leaving one’s daily occupations behind, breaking away from the normal tasks of the day, the week and the year. It is important for such a break not to be wasted. It is important for the period of rest to be filled with meetings, but not the “business meetings” that take up so much of our time throughout the year. I am referring to meetings with nature, with the mountains,
with the country side, with the lakes and with the forests. When we are in contact with nature we recover the inner quiet, calm and peace that we desire.

The summer months can also be filled with another meeting and this is meeting with Jesus Christ. A vacation can offer a time to open one’s mind and heart to the Word of His truth and allow that Word to give us greater insight into our futures and the paths we are heading down. I know that among you there are many who are using this time to meet the Lord in a deeper way. Such encounters are as precious as are the vacations themselves.

May God grant you a safe and refreshing summer holiday!
Father Jim

7-2-2017- Message from Father Jim

1) At the June meeting of the Tri-Pastoral Council the discernment process for selecting officers took place. I am pleased to report the leadership discerned: Brian Daniels- Chairperson, George Whitehead – Vice-Chairperson, and Marilyn Putz – Secretary. I would like to offer a word of appreciation to these folks and to all who serve on Tri-Parish Pastoral Council. We are fortunate to have such a good group of people offering their time and talent to our parishes. I also would like to thank those who are going off the Council for their past service.

2) As we prepare to celebrate our country’s Independence we should all pause for a moment and thank God for the gifts and freedoms we treasure.

A Prayer for Independence Day

Father of all nations and ages,
we recall the day when our country
claimed its place among the family of nations.
For what has been achieved we give thanks;
for the work that still remains we ask your help.
Grant that under your providence our country may share
your blessings with all the peoples of the earth.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

There will be a Mass on Monday, July 4th at 8:30 AM at St. Joseph Church to celebrate this holiday. As Americans we give thanks to God for our country and ask for His continued blessing for our peace and security.

Have a good holiday!
Father Jim Volkert

6-25-2017-Message from Father Carlos

A Message from Father Carlos . . .

My name is Carlos Zapata, I´m from Colombia. I am from a huge family: I have a father and mother, three sisters and four brothers. I have also one nephew and ten nieces. Now I have two grandnephews and three grandnieces. My family is very close to me and is my big support for my vocation.

In 2008 I arrived in the United States. I was studying ESL program in Sacred Heart School of Theology and in the UWM as a seminarian of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. I was ordered as a deacon in November 5th, 2011 and as a priest in May 19th, 2012 in Milwaukee. My first assignment was at St. Clement and Holy Name parishes in Sheboygan. I was working in the south side of Milwaukee last year and now I am very happy and excited to work with Fr. Jim in Burlington. Fr. Yamid my classmate has told me many good things about St. Charles, St. Mary and St. Joseph communities. I am very grateful with God for this beautiful experience to share my faith and my ministry with all of you.

I am very far away from my family, but very happy for my answer to God´s call and for my life now with all of you, because you are my family as well, my community.

Thank you for your friendly support to all of us and thank you so much for the prayers for all seminarians, because Jesus said:

“The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few:
pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.”
-Lk. 10:2.

See you at Mass. Thanks my friends!!!
Fr. Carlos Zapata.

2017-06-18-Message from Father Jim

Cardinal John Henry Neumann once said, “Many an excellent father is tempted to forget that the best offering he can make his children is the gift of himself.” Those words ring so true for us today as we honor our FATHERS. Because it can be so easy to take people for granted, I think it’s a great tradition that our country has of setting aside a day each year when we stop and think about how much our fathers mean to us. Sometimes we don’t always express our appreciation for the many “unseen” things our fathers do. Fathers have a special way of demonstrating and sharing their love and support, their carefulness and gentleness, their energies and enthusiasm. Let today be the day we tell our Fathers how much they mean to us. Let us thank them for the way in which they touch our lives. And most especially, may the Lord continue to bless them and give them many good years filled with good health, much happiness and wonderful memories that we will cherish for years to come.

Today we also thank God for all of our deceased Fathers. May we show our love and appreciation for the gift of Fatherhood they shared with us. May they enjoy their great reward in heaven for helping us become the people we are today.

Happy Father’s Day!

God bless you always!
Father Jim Volkert

2017-06-11-Message From Father Jim

Goodbye and thank you, Fr. Yamid and Fr. Sergio!

It hardly seems possible that three years have gone by since Fr. Yamid arrived in our communities and now it is time for him to leave us. On behalf of all our Tri-Parish Parishioners I want to offer a sincere word of appreciation to Fr. Yamid. In the time I have known Father, he has demonstrated to me a sincere love and devotion to God and His Church. The many gifts and talents he has brought to our communities will continue to grow and serve as a testament to his dynamic ministry which we were privileged to benefit from. He will be missed.

Also, we offer our gratitude and best wishes to Fr. Sergio who will be moving on to full-time parish ministry. Father has served our Hispanic Community the last seven years. Fr. Sergio has touched the lives of the many people he has ministered to over the years and for this we are very grateful.

As we say “good-bye” to Father Yamid and Father Sergio, we do so with the knowledge that we are much stronger communities of faith because of their priesthood.

Please stop in for a reception this afternoon at St. Charles’ Andre Hall from 1:30 – 3:30 PM. Let’s show these special priests how much they have meant to our parishes.

God bless you always!
Father Jim Volkert