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Fr. John Foley's Message Board

Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 6:00pm

I wish you all a blessed and happy Easter. It is a far cry from last year when the church was empty and we played to an audience somewhere out in the ether. I was so happy, and it truly made my heart glad, to see so many come to the Triduum. In this past year, priests had the fear of wondering if the people will come back and I believe we can readily say yes, they will.

Easter is a very special time in the church. At the Vigil Mass we baptized two people and confirmed three. A special day is set aside just for that, because it's the beginning of so much in our theology. It's the end of Lent. Lent this year seems like it lasted about a year and a half!

You have to look at Easter in terms of all three days - Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter - because they all come together and one doesn't make sense without the others. On Thursday, we were given the Eucharist, the priesthood was begun, it was a way of sustaining God's people, of bringing God's people together to pray. It sustained people, especially the apostles, who saw Jesus dragged through the streets and eventually hung on a cross.

Imagine what the crucifixion was to the disciples. All their visions were of Jesus as the Messiah who would lead them forth, a new Moses, who would reinvigorate the whole community of the Israelites, and once again bring them back to authority and power. In the crucifixion, those hopes were dashed and gone. But what the cross really symbolizes (too often we focus on the terrible suffering and death) and what we really have to see in the cross is the sublime act of love - Jesus' love for us, but most especially for the Father. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed "Can this be done any other way?" In His own way, the Father let Jesus know that this was the way it had to be. Jesus then simply said "Your will be done." Why? Because the Father would punish Him? No. Because the Father forced Him? No. But because He loved the Father so much. His whole life and ministry centered around doing the will of the Father. You hear Him say this time and time again. "I come to do the will of the Father." This is what we're supposed to be doing as well, and hopefully we do what we do not out of fear of punishment but out of love, love for God in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and love for the people in our lives.

So where does the Resurrection come in? The Resurrection is the evidence of God's love. That proved to everyone that this was the Father's will that was being fulfilled. The women arrived to an empty tomb believing that Jesus' body had been stolen. They saw the young man sitting with the folded up robes who said to them "Why are you looking for him here? He is risen." When Jesus appeared to the apostles in the upper room, they were frightened, thinking He was a ghost. And Jesus said "Be not afraid. It is I." Jesus was very gentle with them, He knew they wouldn't understand, but over time they would come to know more and more of the risen Christ. For us, we have the benefit of over 2,000 years to think, pray, preach, and teach about it, to come to some understanding that the cross was the fulfillment of the Father's love for the Son and the Son's love for the Father in the Holy Spirit. That was the promise. So this is a joyful day because He is risen, and we have our faith that we, too, will rise again. The promise of baptism is that we will have eternal life. We can't wrap our minds around that. It is so beyond us. What is eternal life? Jesus tells us that no man has ever begun to think about what it is. Baptism is our first real encounter with God. It's the first time we meet Jesus Christ formally. We have been touched by Jesus Christ. Once we have met him, we can never say "I have never met him." The promise of the Resurrection is the promise of baptism.

Let's look forward with hope that the pandemic is slowly coming to an end and that perhaps next Easter, we will have our candles and all the bells and whistles and be together with our families to truly celebrate the Risen Christ.

May you have all of the joy and hope of the Easter season.

Monday, February 22, 2021, 3:47pm

This is one of those notes you put off but eventually have to write. Late last year, after much consideration, I petitioned the Bishop to retire. I had planned to do so next year, as I would be 75 years old. However, my health has continued to decline and the icing on the cake (!) was a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis along with several other problems. As you may have noticed, it has affected my walking along with its many other side effects.

I will be ending twelve years at St. Anne's and I must say these have been some of the happiest years of my priesthood. St. Anne's is very much like the parish I grew up in, and so I almost immediately felt right at home. This was a difficult decision for me, but I believe that the time has come and the circumstances call for me to step down. I have told my staff and several others, but rather than having people hear rumors, I thought it appropriate to say so publicly.

The effective date is June 30. I do not know at this time who will replace me but hope to know this in a month or two. After 47 years, it is hard to suddenly stop doing what you've been doing most of your adult life, but I'm sure I will find ways to continue helping out here and there.

Please keep me in your prayers, as I will keep you in mine. I will continue to keep you informed as to any news of things to come.

With many thanks,

Fr. John Foley

Monday, December 21, 2020, 5:08pm

The song "I'll Be Home for Christmas" probably describes where most of us will be for the holiday this year, and the terrible thing about it is that many of our family members will not. I usually have 19 people for Thanksgiving. This year I had three. And it looks the same will be the case for Christmas and New Year's.

So what to do? We can become angry or depressed and realize what is missing from our celebration, or we can choose to understand how blessed we really are. So many in our society have no one to miss them, as they are alone, or have little food to share because they have no income. The situation for many will not change, as ours hopefully will (perhaps in just a few months). Life is not always fair and sometimes deals us a very difficult hand to play.

At Christmas, we celebrate the coming of the Christ, whose birth in that cold stable and then spending the following few years in a new country with strangers was anything but easy. I am sure that is not how Joseph and Mary pictured their first years together as a family.

Perhaps this year is a good time to dwell on how much grace God has placed in our lives - so many people care for us and love us, even if from a distance. We may mourn the loss of a loved one, as so many have died, but our love lives on in memories.

No, life is indeed not fair, but we never expected it to be. But God's love is constant. He redeemed us, He loves us and promises to always be with us - this is the true gift of Christmas.

May God bless you all this Christmas, and may the New Year bring a true promise of good health and happiness.

Monday, September 28, 2020, 1:20pm

Well, it's been nine months and most of us still like each other...at least there are no visual scars! We are finally able to get out a little bit, even if it is with caution. Although the next several months could be iffy, there is light at the end of the tunnel (vaccine?). I think the most needed quality at this time is patience. We have been asked countless times: have you traveled outside the country? Do you feel ill? Do you have a cough? Do you have a fever? And on and on. Be patient - they are just doing their jobs to keep us safe. We all feel the strain, those making the rules and those doing their best to comply.

What this pandemic has done is to take everyone out of their comfort zone. This makes us a bit anxious, to say the least, and so we must compensate. As I have suggested before, take a little quiet time for prayer, contemplation, take a little walk, anything that quiets us down and refreshes us. God is with us in many ways, but we are often too busy to experience His presence, and so a little patience with ourselves and others will go a long way in getting us through this.

We miss you all and hope to see you again soon happy and healthy.

Monday, August 3, 2020, 1:52pm

As we enter our seventh month of the coronavirus, I'm sure we are all a little bit sick of the considerable disruption, the sickness, the anxiety, and the separation from our friends and neighbors. I don't have the greatest memory in the world, so if I don't recognize you when I see you again, please don't take offense! Yes, it's been THAT long! Seriously, I very much miss so many of you and I hope you are doing well. This pandemic has certainly changed our lives for the time being, but this too will eventually go away. We live in hope, not in fear.

At the beginning of this whole mess, I asked you to keep St. Anne's in mind, as I was certain that with the absence of so many parishioners at Mass, our income would drop dramatically. I am happily surprised to say it has not!!! Your generosity and support have been remarkable. But then again, why should I be surprised? You have always been so.

As I begin my twelfth year at St. Anne's, I realize how blessed I have been with good people such as yourselves. So many of you have been doing, and continue to do, things for your friends and neighbors to make their lives a little bit easier, and for this, I would like to thank you.

We may be partially shut down, but we haven't gone away. If there is any way we can help you or if you know of anyone in need of help, please be sure to let us know.

Stay well and be hope-filled,

Fr. Foley

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