frmark_headshot_150x150To STM’s rising Juniors and Seniors and your friends: Ignatius House, and your friends: Atlanta’s Jesuit-sponsored retreat center that partners with STM and Cristo Rey High School to serve the Church in Atlanta, is offering a three-day retreat for rising high school juniors and seniors beginning on Sunday, June 4, and continuing through Tuesday, June 6. The retreat will be led by Andy Otto and Sarah Atwood, two young adults with extensive backgrounds in Ignatian prayer and spirituality and youth ministry.

I encourage you rising high school juniors and seniors to start your summer holidays with some time with Jesus and your peers in both private and shared prayer and reflection. The name we have given to this retreat is “Loving the Blank Page.” The idea is that you have time to consider, in the company of Jesus, what you have experienced in the past year, what do you imagine for yourself in the future, and what are the next steps that will get you there. How does Jesus fit into your plans? Begin to fill in that blank page.

STM, Ignatius House, Cristo Rey, and the Jesuits and their colleagues want the best for you, and it is our hope that this retreat will provide the occasion to imagine what might lie ahead for you, and to take concrete and specific steps to make that vision a reality.

You will like Andy and Sarah. They are a young, attractive married couple with a newborn daughter. They have studied Ignatian prayer and spirituality at Boston College; they write a blog for Busted Halo, a Catholic website for young people sponsored by the Paulist Fathers that aims to bring the joy of the Gospel to all people in innovative and creative ways (check it out at: www.bustedhalo.com); they have taught in Catholic high schools, and they have done young adult ministry in central California.

You will also like Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center. It is located on the Chattahoochee River in Sandy Springs, just 30 minutes from STM. The facility sits on a large wooded property set well back from any road. It is quiet and green – a perfect setting for a retreat. You will get a private room with a private bath and three cooked meals a day.

You may have heard about our parish-sponsored Edge and LifeTeen summer camps and mission trips and our Vacation Bible School. These have been regular summer programs at STM for years. You may even have participated in one or more of these in the past. But these programs are reserved for kids and teens younger than you. This Ignatius House “Loving the Blank Page” teen retreat is designed for just you, rising high school juniors and seniors.

On the Ignatius House website, the advertised cost of this teen retreat at Ignatius House is $200, but STM teens can do the retreat for $185. In addition, the parish will share the cost of the retreat, if finances are tight for you. We want you to be able to take advantage of this opportunity.

To all those who prepared our children for First Eucharist: Thank you, all of you who had a hand in prep rist: aring our children for First Eucharist and in organizing the many liturgical celebrations and receptions. We will be welcoming these children to the table of the Lord for several weeks to come at the various Sunday liturgies. The children were well prepared, and we are happy to share in their joy.

Those responsible for preparing them include our Religious Education catechists, our STM teachers, and parish staff, especially: Steve Siler, Andy Scantlebury, Jane Blackmon, Steve Smith, Margaret Becsi, Elizabeth Elliot, Ruth Murray, Brian Christopherson, and Elaine Phillips. I have heard a number of comments praising those who had a hand in preparing the kids.

But even more than these, I thank the parents and other guardians of these children. You parents are the first and best teachers of our children. The rest of us can assist, but it is you who make the definitive difference in your children’s faith lives. Let Jesus love your children through you, and bring your children to Sunday Eucharist as often as you can. Show them that Sunday Eucharist is an important part of your family life.

And finally, to parishioners who are interested in b to parishioners who are interested in better appreciating Scripture, join others of like mind for our Tuesday afternoon (1:15pm in the parish library) Bible study with Louanne Bachner each Tuesday afternoon at 1:15pm in the parish library, and the special study of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection with Dr. Jerry Pendrick on Wednesday, May 24, at 7pm in the Julie Room in the parish offices.

Fr. Mark