2-18-2018 – Message from Father Jim

Reflections on the First Sunday of Lent

“Come back to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12) This is God’s personal call to each member of the Church. God speaks in the first person: “Come back to me with all you heart.” This is His message every Lent and this is why Lent is such a powerful season. It is in this season more than any other that God speaks to us. He calls. He enters personally into people’s lives. He knocks at people’s hearts. God wants us for Himself. His love for us is very intimate for He knows each of us in the depths of our being. He knows that people cannot be satisfied unless they return and are converted to God alone. How can we return to God and be converted to Him alone? Conversion begins by taking a good look inside of ourselves and placing ourselves in God’s presence. Then our hearts and minds can begin to awaken. Conversion cannot happen in the midst of distraction. Hopefully, God’s holy presence and love, which calls us to come back to Him with all our heart, is the climate of Lent from Ash Wednesday up until the Sacred Triduum – which are the three great feasts of Holy Week: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil.

This holy season can also serve as a wonderful opportunity for us to evangelize. I’m sure we all know someone who is not quite as active in his or her faith as he or she could be. Now would be a perfect time for us to invite them to come back to the Church. It doesn’t matter what one’s past has been because we can always begin anew. It is important for us to remind those who feel alienated from the Church of this.

May the grace and peace of the Season of Lent be with all of you!

God bless you always!
Fr. Jim Volkert

Helpful info for the Catholic College Student.

Affordable Colleges Online recently shared some information providing Resources & Scholarships for Catholic College Students.  Choosing a School, Finding a Faith Community & Getting Financial Aid

While some Catholic college students have chosen to attend one of the 250 degree-granting Catholic colleges and universities in the United States, plenty of non-Catholic students choose to attend these schools as well. With total enrollment of over 800,000 students, these institutions have a basis in Catholic beliefs, but they also deliver a high-quality education. Catholic students who don’t choose to attend a Catholic university can still find a wealth of community and campus support dedicated to practicing and even strengthening their faith at many of the non-Catholic colleges and universities around the country.

Learn more here: Affordabe Colleges Online College Resource Center

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

1-14-2018 – Message From Father Jim

“Religious Life”
Not too long ago I read an excellent article in a Catholic newspaper that spoke about the need for Religious Vocation promotion in the Church. 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 know many of our 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 is 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. If you know someone who might be thinking about a
religious vocation, today is the day to ask them about it!

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

1-7-2018- Message From Father Jim

The Feast of Epiphany
1) Today’s feast of Epiphany is also known as the Feast of the Magi or the Feast of the Three Kings (or Three Wise Men). Who were these men? They were foreigners, traveling to a different land in their search for meaning, in their ultimate search for God. Despite their difference, they were welcome. Even Gentiles were welcome to take part in this great moment of time because the Christ Child was sent by God to be the Savior of the whole world. It was because of these three men that many others discovered God. Our bishops have designated this coming week (Jan. 7-13) as National Migration Week. In doing so, our bishops are asking us to reflect on how welcoming we are to the strangers or immigrants in our midst and how open we are to learning from their gifts and talents that they bring to our country. These three wise men were welcomed as brothers and children of God despite the fact that they were strangers to that land.

These three men that we celebrate today are people just like you and I. They are our fellow travelers on the road of life. We continue their legacy of searching and discovering. We have many things that we can learn from each other. We all have something to contribute in our ultimate search for the meaning of life, for the presence of Jesus Christ in our midst. Today’s Feast of Epiphany shows us in the midst of our own searching and questioning that the Three Kings also searched for and discovered Jesus Christ, the meaning and author of life. Today’s feast also shows us that Jesus Christ became human in order to be the Savior of everyone, that one day He would open His arms on the cross to embrace all, that He was the Savior not only of the Jewish people but of all of God’s people. This is certainly a cause for us to rejoice!

2) All three of our churches look beautiful this Christmas! I want to express a word of gratitude to all those who helped decorate St. Joseph, St. Charles and St. Mary churches for the season. I sincerely appreciate the time that was given to help create such beautiful worship spaces. I would also like to recognize all those who worked so hard to make our Christmas liturgies so beautiful. To all of the liturgical ministers, to our choirs and musicians and to all who lent a hand in any way to make our celebrations of Christmas so beautiful, I offer a sincere word of gratitude.

Finally, on behalf of Fr. Carlos and Fr. Gene, I want to offer a sincere word of thanks for the many cards, Christmas treats and gifts that you shared with us this Christmas holiday. We sincerely appreciate your generosity and your kindness!  Wishing you the peace and joy of the New Year,
Fr. Jim Volkert

12-24-2017- Message from Father Jim

Fourth Sunday of Advent
I know some people who are already tired of Christmas. For weeks we have been hearing Christmas carols: on the radio, in shopping centers, in the supermarkets and even over the telephone when we’re put on hold and Christmas decorations have been up since Halloween. We all know the reason for this commercialization of Christmas. It is “good for business”. Many retailers make a good part of their year’s profit in these final weeks of the year. We may say that we dislike the commercialization of Christmas, however, are we aware that it has a Christian origin? Do you know why we give gifts at Christmas? We give gifts to one another at Christmas because it is the time when God gave us the greatest gift of all: His Son.

Even though today is Christmas Eve it is first and foremost the Fourth Sunday of Advent. This morning the Church asks us to reflect on Readings that are very much Advent in character. The central figure in today’s Gospel is our Blessed Mother Mary. We hear that the Angel Gabriel appears to her to tell her that she was chosen by God to become the other of the Savior of the world. As Gabriel explains God’s plan to her regarding the birth of Jesus, Mary listens quietly. Then after some reflection she simply says, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

Many times during the course of our lives we have asked others to pray for us especially when we are in difficult circumstances, facing some crisis or suffering an illness. Priests receive this request all the time. How fitting it is then to ask, as we Catholics constantly do, the intercession of the saints who are now with God in Heaven. In particular, we can ask for the prayers of our Blessed Mother in the more difficult times of life. She never gave up when things may not have been that clear to her and she may not have fully comprehended the events that were unfolding. She is a woman who believed that God could accomplish the impossible. What better preparation could we make for Christmas on this final Advent Sunday than to imitate the trust and fidelity of our Blessed Mother Mary.

Merry Christmas!
Fr. 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!