2-11-2018 – Message From Father Jim

“Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel”
Lent 2018

1) This Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, we begin our Lenten journey with a mark of ashes on our foreheads and this challenge: Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel. Perhaps this year our season of Lent will give us an opportunity to work on uniting ourselves with our Lord Jesus and one another. It is my hope that we can all make this our sincere desire as we journey these forty days together. The Catholic Church asks each member of the faithful to preserve the penitential character and purpose of Lent. For this reason:

a) Catholics who have celebrated their 14th birthday are bound to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and each Friday of Lent;

b) Catholics who have celebrated their 18th birthday, in addition to abstaining from meat, should fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Hence, on those days they should eat only one full meal. Smaller quantities of food may be taken at two other meals but no food should be consumed at other times during those two days. The obligation of fasting ceases with the celebration of one’s 59th birthday.

I would also encourage you to take part in the different opportunities for prayer that are offered in our community. Morning Mass is a wonderful way to start the day expressing our desire to walk closely with the Lord during this season. Masses are celebrated on Mondays and Fridays at St. Mary, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at St. Charles and on Tuesdays at St. Joseph. All weekday Masses begin at 8:30 AM. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is held daily Monday through Wednesday in the chapel at St. Mary Parish. Stations of the Cross are prayed on Tuesdays at 7:00 PM at St. Mary and on Fridays at 6:00 PM at St. Charles. The Sacrament of Reconciliation also provides a renewal of faith and extraordinary sense of strength during this season. Confessions are heard on the 1st Saturday of the month at St. Joseph at 4:00 PM, 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month at St. Charles at 4:30 PM on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month at 3:30 PM at St. Mary. There will also be two Communal Reconciliation Services available: Saturday, March 17th at 10:00 AM at St. Charles and Wednesday, March 21st beginning at 7:00 PM at St. Joseph Church. Whatever form of prayer and penance we decide to do this Lent, I hope that we will open our hearts to Jesus’ presence in our midst and unite ourselves to Him and one another even more closely.

2) The Archdiocese has now begun the 2018 Catholic Stewardship Appeal. This past week you should have received a letter from Archbishop Listecki asking for your support to help reach this year’s goal of $7,700,000. Our parishes have a good tradition of being very generous to this most worthy appeal and I am truly grateful to all of you for this. The work and outreach of the Archdiocese continues primarily through the support of the Catholic Stewardship Appeal. Our parishes have benefited greatly in the past from the people and resources available to us through the Central Offices of the Archdiocese. Please be generous as we support the on going mission of the Church, the work of God, in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

As we begin our Lenten journey I pray that we may all be strengthened and renewed by His love and care for each one of us. A blessed and grace-filled Lent to all of you!

Father Jim Volkert

02-04-2018- Message from Father Jim

1) I want to offer a word of gratitude to all who participated in last week’s Catholic School’s Week activities. We can all be very proud of our Catholic schools and the efforts that are made to carry out the teaching ministry of the Church. Please continue to support our schools by spreading the news about the good things that are happening here. For all of these blessings, we give thanks!

2) Some people describe the month of February as a difficult month. I have even heard some refer to this month as a “curse”. The holidays are over and the sting of winter is a daily reminder. The “blah” sunless days sometimes have a negative effect on us and on our attitudes. In addition to this, there seems to be an unusually high number of people who are getting bit by the flu bug or suffering from nasty winter colds. The constant changing of world events also can cause friction and tension among families and friends. It seems that we have to ask the Lord for an extra dose of patience and understanding these days. Although there is not much we can do about the weather, and only limited things we can do in terms of any illness at this time, there is a lot we can do to help us stay positive and hopeful that the warmth of the spring season is just around the corner.
God bless you always!

Father Jim Volkert

1-28-2018 – Message from Father Jim

Today is the beginning of Catholic Schools Week. The entire week is one for celebrating the gifts and contributions that Catholic education brings to our community. We are fortunate to have a K-12 Catholic School opportunity for our families. I would like to take this opportunity to offer a word of acknowledgement and gratitude to all of the administration, faculty and staff of our schools who have made a commitment to carrying out a central mission of the Church, educating our young people. To our principals Mrs. Mary MacDonald, Mrs. Loretta Jackson and to Mrs. Bonnie Scholz at Catholic Central goes our sincere appreciation for their leadership. I also want to salute all of our teachers who share so selflessly their time and talents with our students and the support staff at our schools who ensure that all runs smoothly. We are fortunate to have such dedicated people at our schools and we thank God for them.

Finally, I want to offer a word of thanks to all of the parents of our students. Our Catholic schools would not exist without your sincere devotion and commitment. It is incredible to see the many volunteers offering their time in a variety of ways, all for the same purpose: the good of the schools. Thank you for the sacrifices you make to send your children to a Catholic school. May the Lord richly bless and reward you for sharing a most precious gift with your children.

Among the many activities scheduled for this week is a Mass on Wednesday that will be celebrated in thanksgiving for Catholic education at 9:45 AM in the gym at St. Mary’s. Students from all of our schools as well as from St. Joseph Grade School in Big Bend will participate. Please join us in our celebration!

God bless you always!
Father Jim Volkert

1-21-2018 – Message From Father Jim

Tomorrow, Monday, January 22nd is the 45th anniversary of the decision in the Roe vs. Wade case by the Supreme Court, which made abortion legal in our country. In these forty-five years, millions of society’s weakest and most defenseless members’ lives have been destroyed. I think it is important to ask ourselves as Catholics if we do all we can to help eliminate the climate that makes abortion attractive to some women who find themselves pregnant. For example, unmarried mothers need our sympathy, our support and our love. When we withhold this we contribute to the climate that makes abortion possible, and common.

To be Pro-Life people we have to make sure that the child is raised and supported properly. A child can die of neglect or malnutrition after two months of birth just as easily today as a child can be taken from the womb through an abortion. As Pro-Life people we must protect that sanctity of life both in the womb and outside of the womb. This is the type of respect for life that we are called on to demonstrate in our communities, a respect for that most precious gift that our Lord shares so freely with us.

Lord, our God,
You have called us to defend life in all its forms
from the unborn to the elderly in our society.
May we always have the strength and the courage
to speak out against those things that
degrade life in any way.
May we always uphold the fundamental dignity
and equality of every human being.

God bless you always!
Father Jim Volkert

12-17-2017- Message From Father Jim

Rejoice! – Gaudete Sunday
Today we celebrate a special Sunday of Advent called Gaudete Sunday. We heard this note sounded by the Prophet Isaiah in the First Reading: “I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul.” St. Paul continues this theme in his Letter to the Thessalonians when he says: “Rejoice always! Pray without ceasing.” And the Gospel also tells us that the people of the time were full of anticipation and joy, wondering whether John might be the Messiah. One commentary on today’s Gospel describes the people as being “on the tiptoe of expectation and joy”.

Would a visitor to our parishes here today find us “on the tiptoe of expectation”, radiating joy? Maybe yes, maybe no. Some people do find a great deal of joy in practicing and sharing their faith. Other people find the practice of faith boring or burdensome. I think this is a good Sunday to ask ourselves: “How freely do we show joy in professing our faith?” Each of us has been blessed in very unique ways and each of us has been given the gift of faith, although some make use of this gift more than others. All of us are called, however, to put God at the center of our lives.

Only when God is at the center of our lives will we be able to share that tremendous joy over our faith that our Readings speak of today on this Gaudete Sunday. Only when God is at the center of our lives will our practice of the faith cease to be boring or burdensome. Only when God is at the center of our lives will we begin to dismiss all anxieties from our minds. Only when God is at the center of our lives will we be able to present all of our needs to God in every form of
prayer and in petitions full of love and gratitude.

When we view our relationship with God and our faith lives as a gift – a gift that is to be treasured and rejoiced in – then we will be able to experience what St. Paul prays for at the end of our Second Reading: “May the God of peace make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”

Rejoice in the Lord always!

12-10-2017 – Message from Father Jim

On this Second Sunday of Advent Isaiah presents to us in the First Reading a tender image of God’s love, care and protection for each one of us. Isaiah uses one image that is familiar to us, a Good Shepherd. He writes: “Like a shepherd He feeds His flock; in His arms He gathers the lambs, carrying them in His bosom, and leading the ewes with care.” In these difficult times perhaps now more than ever we need to hang onto that image of God who watches over and protects us.

Many people in society continue to struggle – people without work, people without shelter, people without food or clothing. The St. Vincent de Paul Society and Love Inc. are busier than ever trying to assist those in need and at times struggles to keep up with the demand for help. With all of this going on, plus the continued violence and threats of terrorist activity in our world, we need the comfort and security of the Good Shepherd now more than ever. As we continue on the Advent road to the celebration of Christmas let us place our cares and concerns in the hands of our Lord and never stop dreaming of the perfect society that the Prophet Isaiah describes: a land where all will be whole and enjoy the fullness of health, a land where peace will reign and land of beauty and tranquility. This is the fullness of the kingdom that we long for and that we ponder these quiet days of Advent.

Please plan on attending the Advent Communal Reconciliation Service that will be held this Tuesday, December 12th beginning at 7:00 PM at St. Mary Church.  Following a brief Word Service, there will be the opportunity for individual confessions. This is an ideal way to prepare for the coming of the Lord into our lives in a new and deeper way this Christmas!

Peace to you all!
Fr. Jim Volkert

12-3-2017- Message From Father Jim

Today marks the beginning of the Advent season. I pray that this time will be a graced period for each of us as we prepare our hearts and minds for Christmas.

Perhaps some of you are asking yourselves what you might do as an “extra” for the Advent season. I would like to suggest weekday Mass. Masses are celebrated on Mondays and Fridays at 8:30 AM at St. Mary’s, at St. Charles Parish on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8:30 AM, and at St. Joseph on Tuesdays at 8:30 AM. Starting your day with the celebration of the Eucharist and reception of Holy Communion may be just what you’re looking for. Also, I invite you to consider attending adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in Good Shepherd Chapel at St. Mary’s Monday through Wednesday 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM. With the busy season swirling around us, spending some golden moments of silence in front of the Blessed Sacrament is priceless.

An Advent Communal Reconciliation Service will be held on Tuesday, December 12th beginning at 7:00 PM at St. Mary  Parish. This service provides a short prayer service and then an opportunity for the individual reception of the sacrament of reconciliation.

Realizing that the pace of every day life picks up at this time of the year it is my hope that all of us will take time to fittingly prepare ourselves for the celebration of Christmas by quietly reflecting on the meaning and gifts of the Advent Season.

May the grace and patience of Advent be with all of you!
Father Jim Volkert

11-26-2017- Message from Father Jim

Our Lord Jesus Christ the King

Today we celebrate the Solemnity Jesus Christ the King. In a day when political leaders are not always morally or ethically upstanding, as Christians, we take great pride in our celebration today of a King who is what He says He is. In Jesus Christ the King we have no false perceptions, no false images, no illusions – Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the King is of an eternal and universal Kingdom, a Kingdom of truth and life, a Kingdom of holiness and grace, a Kingdom of justice, love and peace. Today we celebrate a King who became like us, in all things but sin, so that He could love us and serve us. “The Son of Man,” Jesus said, “did not come to be served, He came to serve and to give His life to redeem many people.” Jesus humbled Himself to share in our humanity. Jesus learned firsthand what it is like to rub elbows with the poor and the outcast. He knew and understood what it meant to be poor, to be treated badly, and to be rejected by those who He loved. Jesus died at the hands of His own subjects, but rose from the dead and now reigns as King of heaven and earth. This is the great mystery that we rejoice in today. We celebrate the fact that Jesus understands our situation in life. He became one of us, and experienced what we often experience. He did more; He suffered and on Good Friday He died for us. This is the type of King that Jesus is. We share in His victory over sin and death because of the Father’s great love for each one of us. If the King of the universe died for us, imperfect, flawed, sinful people, what should we do for Him in return? We should become His messengers to a needy world. We should become His loyal subjects and continue the work He began. We should make His Kingdom known and help it to flourish in every corner of the world. We should do what we can through prayer and good works to bring to the world His Kingdom of justice, His Kingdom of Love and His Kingdom of Peace.
To Jesus Christ, our Lord and King, be praise and glory now and forever!

God bless you always!
Fr. Jim Volkert

11-19-2017-Message from Father Jim

1) This Thursday we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day. As we pause to reflect on the many gifts that we have been given, it would be most appropriate to begin Thanksgiving Day with the celebration of the Mass. Please consider joining us for Mass at 8:00 AM at St. Charles Church in order that we can give thanks to God who makes all things possible. At this Mass a collection will be taken up to be shared with the local St. Vincent de Paul Society to help them continue the tremendous work they do to assist those who are truly in need.

It is my hope that this Thanksgiving Day we can say “Thank You” to those people who always seem to be around just when we need them. Those people who do so much for us and never seem to want anything in return. I hope that we can express our gratitude to those people who mean so much to us. Please allow me to offer a word of thanks to all of you for your love and dedication to St. Charles, St. Joseph and St. Mary Parishes. On this Thanksgiving holiday I find myself particularly grateful to God for allowing me to be a part of this faith community.

2) I want to offer a very special word of recognition to our high school students who are part of Life Teen. This year they raised over $21,000 for the Transitional Living Center, which is a local homeless shelter. This is an incredible achievement and definitely and expression of their putting the Gospel in action. I was privileged to celebrate Mass with those involved the evening they were going to spend outside sleeping in cardboard boxes. It was a beautiful experience and I was moved by our young people’s commitment to learning more about their Catholic faith and the power they have to witness to it. We can all be very proud of them!

3) Along with remembering our faithful departed in particular during the month of November let us also remember all of those service men and women who protect the right to freedom around the world. May the Lord graciously hear our prayers.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Father Jim Volkert

Heart for Africa Ornaments to benefit Summer Mission Trips

The Mission groups will be selling Heart for Africa Ornaments made by the Khutsala Artisans of Swaziland.

Ornaments available are the Snowy Star, Red Bell, Multi-colored Tree, Purple Ornament, and Snowy White Angel.

Each ornament sells for $20.00

Khutsala Artisans is a HFA initiative designed to provide training and FAIR TRADE employment to local Swazi people.  They currently employ 100+ Swazi women and men, training them in the art of jewelry making, bead craft, pottery and woodworking.

In a country where the unemployment rate can reach 70% their desire is to provide HOPE and help the people of this nation break the cycle of poverty and provide for their families.  $12.00 of each ornament sold goes to the care and education of the orphaned and vulnerable children that HFA has rescued and now live at Project Canaan.

The profit from every 25 ornaments sold provides one orphan with food, shelter, care, education, and love for an entire month.

The remaining $8.00 of each ornament sold will help defray the cost of our Middle School and Adult Mission Trips scheduled for June 2018.

The ornaments make great gifts for teachers, secret santa gifts, friends and family!

Contact a Mission Trip participate or call Rita at 262-763-2050 to purchase today.