frmark_headshot_150x150A few unrelated, but important, items for your consideration.

First, at all the Masses this past weekend, I introduced to parishioners the draft Parish Identity and Mission Statement that the STM Parish Council and I have been working on for the past several months.   This draft Statement is the Council’s and my tentative (at this point) summary of how we believe Jesus sees our parish, and what we believe he is asking of us.  I asked parishioners to prayerfully and carefully consider the draft statement and to offer feedback to me and the Council over the next couple weeks either in writing or by meeting with me and members of the Council personally.  We have already received some very constructive written feedback, and we hope to hear from more of you in the days to come.  As I promised, I and members of the Council will be in the Family Room after all the Masses this weekend to receive your comments and suggestions.

The Council and I will carefully consider parishioner feedback and make appropriate changes to the draft Statement before adopting a final Statement.  Once adopted, we hope that the Statement will be something all parishioners can make their own, and that it will be a further basis for our communion with one another and guide our parish life for years to come.

Second, our STM Faith Formation staff and the committee of parishioners who advise them have assembled a wonderful program of events and activities this fall.  For instance, beginning today and continuing over the next three Sundays, parishioners will have the opportunity to discuss various “end-of-life” issues with persons who work every day in this field.  This Sunday, October 15, beginning at 10:40am in the Julie Room in the parish offices, parishioner Matt Kirk, an attorney specializing in estates and trusts law, will lead a conversation with interested parishioners about how to provide financially for your family through prudent planning, regardless of your financial resources.

Next Sunday, October 22, also at 9:40am in the Julie Room, Dr. Karen Scheib, an Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, will lead a conversation with interested parishioners about how our Christian tradition can help us approach our own and others’ death and dying, and how to care for family members and friends who are nearing the end of their life.

On October 29, Lisa Pierson, a professional advisor on care of the elderly, will continue our conversation about how to care properly and compassionately for aging family members.  Then, on November 5, Sarah Kothe, a theology graduate student at Emory who is specializing in pastoral care of the elderly, will lead a discussion about Advance Directives and Power of Attorney from a Catholic perspective.

Each of these four events is part of a new STM program we call “The CoffeeHouse.”  The purpose of “The CoffeeHouse” is to create opportunities for parishioners to talk informally with one another – over coffee – about issues of common concern.  We do this on selected Sundays between the end of the 9:30am Mass and the start of the noon Mass, a time when adult parishioners may be looking for some intellectual stimulation while their children are in Religious Ed.  I hope you’ll check out “The CoffeeHouse.”

Looking further into the future, we will welcome an internationally known Catholic theologian, Dr. Cory Labreque, to STM on Monday evening, November 6.  Dr. Lebreque will help STM parishioners grow in our understanding of the Church’s developing “theology of the body” which informs the Church’s teaching on bioethics.  This is a hot topic in the contemporary Church.  Save the Date.

Third, I encourage all STM young adults (aged 21-39) to sign-up for a day of prayer and reflection and conversation with their peers at Ignatius House Retreat Center on Saturday, November 4. Check the bulletin and website for more details, or email Andy Otto at aotto@stmga.org.

And finally, STM parishioners can be proud of our parish’s growing involvement in the Habitat for Humanity program.  A couple weeks ago, I did the invocation at the dedication of two new houses – one in Lithonia and one in southeast Atlanta – that STM parishioners helped to build over the past several months.  Parishioner volunteer labor and financial contributions made this happen.  Thank you!

Fr. Mark