frmark_headshot_150x150Most parishioners know Marie Diebold. Marie has been serving as the parish secretary for 17 years. She will be retiring the end of this month, and we on the parish staff will miss her.

Marie, along with her husband, Bob, will remain actively engaged in the life of the parish notwithstanding her retirement from the parish staff, but parishioners will undoubtedly miss her contribution as a staff person to our community. Since she was hired by Fr. Frank Richardson, Marie has been largely responsible for making the administration of the parish move smoothly, keeping a succession of pastors out of trouble, and being the “go to” person whenever there is some task not clearly assigned to anyone else. She has done so with grace and good cheer and without complaint.

I encourage parishioners to approach Marie and express your gratitude to her for the care she has shown to all of us these many years.

Other matters:

I encourage parishioners to take advantage of the occasional Sunday morning CoffeeHouse after the 9:30am Mass. While our younger children are in religious education classes, parents and other parishioners can gather in the Julie Room in the parish offices for coffee, donuts, and conversation on a topic of general interest. The conversation is typically led by a parishioner who has extensive education, training, or experience in the topic at hand. Recently, we featured a succession of persons who addressed issues related to end-of-life issues, e.g., financial planning for end-of-life, elder care, and living wills. We have had a conversation about the Cristo Rey educational model, and this past Sunday, there was a conversation about the ministry of hospitality to the strangers in our midst and the spiritual conversion that this ministry can prompt.

The CoffeeHouse does not happen every Sunday, so parishioners will have to watch the bulletin and listen to the announcements after Sunday Masses to know when one is scheduled. When it happens, the CoffeeHouse is an enjoyable and productive way to pass a Sunday morning, especially if you are waiting for your child to finish religious education.

For the past couple weeks, parishioners have been returning the gifts they purchased for our Giving Tree program. Lisa Cranwell-Bruce, who manages the program, has almost single-handedly been organizing the gifts for delivery. A week or so past, members of our SFactor ministry, led by Cass Catroppa, delivered several of the gifts to homebound parishioners, and Betsy Walker, who directs STM’s St. Vincent de Paul program, saw to the delivery of gifts to families served by St VdP. Other gifts have been delivered to our neighbor parish, Sts. Peter and Paul, the Gift of Grace home, and Jerusalem House.

The Giving Tree is a wonderful holiday effort, and I thank all of you who have participated.

Parishioners at the noon mass will surely have noticed that our adult choir has been enhancing our prayer by their own singing and their support of the Assembly’s singing. The director, Brad Meyer, has done a great job pulling choir members together, rehearsing them, and directing them.

I encourage parishioners who like music, who like singing, and who are looking to be more involved in our community prayer to join the choir. If you are interested, email Joe Messina (jmessina@stmga.org). Our worship will be better for your participation.

I hope your Advent season is going well. As we near the end of Advent, you might plan to participate in our Advent Taize evening prayer this coming Monday evening at 7pm in the main church. I am expecting a beautiful service with music and singing. I think parishioners will like it and be inspired by it.

Also, Jerry Pendrick’s Scripture study of the infancy narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke continues Wednesday evening at 7pm in the parish library.

Fr. Mark