Volume 10, Issue 2
WELCOME to . . .
IMMACULATE CONCEPTION - ST MARY
visit us on the Web at www.stmaryflorence.org
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 166, Florence, WI 54121 St. Mary’s Pastor: Fr. Timothy M. Brandt
Street Address: 308 Florence Ave., Florence, WI email: email@example.com
Parish Office Telephone: (715) 528-3310 cell phone: (920) 615-6600
Parish e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Parish Secretary: Joanne Leffler
Religious Education Facilitator: Carolyn Lemanski
(715) 528-3008 or email@example.com
* If you are interested in joining our parish, becoming Catholic, marriage prep, baptism prep, confirmation, funerals, returning to the Church, spiritual direction, getting an annulment, or have other concerns, contact Fr. Timothy.
* Questions regarding religious education and registration can be addressed to Carolyn Lemanski at (715) 528-3008.
* To schedule a Mass intention, have someone put on our prayer line, volunteer for a parish ministry, rent the parish hall, request a prayer shawl or to have communion brought to your home, call or e-mail the parish office.
Live the Gospel! Whatever it Takes.
Called to be holy, fully engaged, fully alive
Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming . . . With these words of the Opening Prayer of the First Sunday in Advent, we set forth upon the journey once again, a journey to meet our Risen Lord. Just think about those words . . . that we may resolve to run forth . . . it’s not a time of sitting back and waiting for Jesus to come, but rather a time of action, of determination, of purpose.
I remember it like it was yesterday, the anticipation of Christmas in the home that I grew up in. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we would have already had our first snowfall, and with that first snow, we as children would literally run to the sledding hill, jump on our sleds, ride down and then come running back up the hill to do it all over again. We would decorate the front yard with lights and displays, then the inside of the house with the tree, Nativity scene, and various candles and decorations. And then, the morning arrived … Christmas was the grandest of celebrations for our family … and as soon as the first rays of light from the Christmas sunrise hit our eyes, us kids leapt out of bed and came flying down the stairs . . . and there it was, the Christmas tree all aglow, presents piled high, and the sense of anticipation bursting forth. In the blink of an eye, with Mom and Dad’s permission, that wrapping paper was tore off that first present, and each subsequent one after that. What memories!
Our season is a time full of action – running here and there, sending greetings, caroling, shopping and wrapping, then unwrapping, cooking and baking. But as our opening prayer reminds us, there is a sense of purpose to who we are and what we are busied about as Advent people – that we may meet our Lord with righteous deeds at his coming. This sense of righteousness means to be without guilt or sin, acting in accord with moral or divine law. It is a time where we examine our lives, and consider how ready I am for not just another Christmas morning, but the day when our Lord will return, and when he does, will I be prepared to run and meet Him? Maybe it is a time when I acknowledge my sins, come to the sacrament of Reconciliation, and open myself to the greatest gift of all . . . Christ’s mercy and love. Maybe I take a bit more time for heartfelt prayer or spend time with our Lord in Adoration at church. Maybe it means I reach out to a neighbor or friend who is lonely or isolated, especially amidst the times in which we live, and offer a greeting or a sign of fellowship. Whatever it may be, wherever Christ is calling me, may I resolve to run there.
The world was too busy on that first Christmas morning to even realize the great gift that had been given to the world, when in a cold, dark manger, the Son of God took his first breath. Our lives over the course of the next weeks will be busy as well, even this year. May we not miss the opportunity to share the light, the love, and the joy of Christ with all those we meet!
May God bless you! Fr. Timothy
Testimonial by: Judi Bjork
I want to start by thanking God for His many blessings at this time of Advent, and always. I want to say thank you to all of you, my parish family, which for me is an extension of Heaven on earth. I will share that I was very hesitant to say “yes” when asked to write something for the Advent newsletter. It’s not that I didn’t want to contribute, but it’s intimidating to write something others will read, especially if it includes personal feelings about faith. Also, a confession, although I know it’s so important to reflect on and share how much Advent, my church family and God means to me, the reason I actually ended up saying “yes” was because I could not say “no” to our dear sweet Joanne when she asked.
Truthfully, for me, most of the time in years past the real meaning of Advent and Christmas got lost in the preparations such as gift buying, menu planning, parties, shopping to find the perfect gift, being busy “doing good”, etc. Although this year is really, really hard, the forced time at home has allowed for more prayer time and reflection on my faith. Being asked to contribute to this newsletter led me to do some research about Advent and what the church is. Despite these trying times, I am thankful to God for “changing my routine” this year. Rather than just write about what Advent and my church means to me, I decided I should look up what our Catholic faith teaches about “Advent” and “church”. I thought I should reflect on the church’s teachings and prayerfully apply this to my life.
One of the sources I used was the Catechism of the Catholic Church. How educational and exhilarating this activity was. I was reminded that Advent is a time for us to be expectant, hopeful and confident in God and His promises. We don’t need to be afraid or disillusioned even in these troubling times. When looking up references to “church” in the Catechism, I read about the mission of the church and its communion of faith to spread Christ’s kingdom on earth. I feel our parish family at St. Mary’s is a great example of this. My husband and I, although not natives of Florence (and not even Packer fans!) were welcomed with open arms into this parish when we joined 7 years ago. Since that time, we have only grown in our love and gratitude for our parish, Fr. Timothy, and all of you.
Thank you, all. We will hold you in prayer as together we celebrate Advent and Christmas as a parish family.
OUR PARISH WELCOMES YOU! Warmest greetings to St. Mary’s newest parishioners: Jennifer Phelps; Bob and Debbie Gibson; Jan Romaker; and James and Denise Brandt! THANK YOU for registering at St. Mary, and we look forward to sharing many years of faith, hope and love together in our church!
The Heavenly Waiting Room by: Carla Kramer
When you have an appointment with an important person, perhaps your doctor, dentist or lawyer, you expect to have to wait for a bit to see them so you sit patiently in the waiting room. It's a similar case with God and with Heaven. After a person's earthly body dies, the soul begins its journey toward Heaven or Hell. If it is headed toward Heaven, in most cases it will send some time in the Heavenly waiting room. Is this because God is too busy to welcome the soul to Heaven? No. Is it because God has more important souls to welcome to Heaven? No, again! It's because God is so pure and clean and all light that the soul is not prepared to be in His Presence yet. The soul needs to spend some time getting purified, according to the Saints, this can last anywhere from a few days to many years. We call this Heavenly waiting room Purgatory, as it is the place where, as St. Catherine of Genoa said, the rust stains from sins are removed.
If we pray for our relatives, friends or even strangers who are in Purgatory, it is said that they also pray for us and help us on our journey to God. Having a Mass celebrated for a deceased person is also very beneficial for their soul's journey.
Would you be interested in learning how to reduce your own time in Purgatory? If a person wears a Brown Scapular, consecrates themselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and prays the rosary daily, one of the promises She gives is that She will deliver your soul from Purgatory to Heaven on the first Saturday following your physical death. This is a wonderful promise! If you would like to learn more about the Brown Scapular, you can look it up on-line or contact me. May God bless each of you!
Please join us at St. Mary’s Church
in Florence where all are welcome!
—Feast of the Immaculate Conception Mass—
Tuesday, December 8th, at 5:30 pm
—Christmas Eve Masses—
Thursday, December 24th, at 2:00 pm AND 4:00 pm
—Christmas Day Mass—
Friday, December 25th, at 8:00 am
—Vigil Mass in honor of Mary, Mother of God—
Thursday, December 31st, at 6:00 pm
Carrying a Burden by: Carla Kramer
When we've been emotionally or physically hurt by another person or event, it can seem like we carry the burden or weight of that hurt for a long time, even after any physical injuries are healed. This is a type of spiritual woundedness which can weigh us down and prevent us from experiencing the full joy of life which God intended for us.
One way to lighten this burden is to ask Jesus to carry it for us. Does this seem fair since He carried His Cross to the Mount of Calvary and was crucified for us? No, not fair, but He has already paid the price for our freedom and is willing and eager to take that burden from you.
Say to Him: “Jesus, I've been carrying this burden, this grudge, or this unforgiveness for a long time, I'd like to hand it over to you now. I'm having a hard time forgiving _______ for what they did and I'm going to give that to you. Knowing I cannot forgive them on my own, I ask you to help me, can you take this burden from me and pour the grace of forgiveness into my soul?”
Another option is to take a burden like this to talk with Fr. Timothy in pastoral counseling or confession. That's what helped me get over my own unforgiveness and receive spiritual healing. Please know that Fr. Timothy is available for pastoral counseling and confessions on Tuesdays from 4:30 pm — 5:20 pm prior to the 5:30 pm, Mass.
May God bless you on your spiritual journey!
My name is Lacey Bomberg-Enders, and I’m currently 17 years old and am a senior in high school. I’ve been a member of St. Mary’s Parish my whole life. I was initially introduced to the Catholic faith by my family through my baptismal sacrament. In 2011, I began serving as an altar girl and sometime in middle school, I made the transition from serving into reading at Mass. Being an active member of the church, I take great pride in my faith and each day growing closer in my relationship with God.
Throughout my life, I’ve faced many difficult situations, but my relationship with God and my faith have guided me through them. Although, it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I truly began to understand what it meant to have a strong relationship with God and to trust my life in Him. To elucidate, when I was 12 years old, I experienced, still to this day, the most tormenting challenge of dealing with the sudden loss of my dad from a traumatic brain injury. For a week’s time, my dad was hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit, fighting for his life. During this unimaginable time, my heart, my mind, and my life transformed completely, rather than blaming Jesus for not protecting my dad from this accident and not performing a miracle to save his life, I turned to God to shed light upon my life and guide me through those difficult times. This experience made my relationship with God strengthen and flourish, and I now know that my dad is in an exceedingly better place and I know that one day I will be reunited with him, in the kingdom of heaven. In addition, I know that God, along with my dad, are by my side with every step I take, guiding me on a virtuous path.
In closing, I’d like to share a verse from the Bible that has greatly impacted me, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
News from the Vatican by: Ewa Papciak
We sure live in strange and difficult times . . . It is precisely in times like these we need leadership and inspiration from the Holy Father. He is there for all of us, praying, working, addressing the concerns of the church, shining a light in a dark, troubled world, calling us to love God and our neighbor with more zeal each and every day. It is definitely harder to hear his voice, it gets lost between politics and health care reports, with an absence of public appearances, no international trips, no big religious celebrations and gatherings. But I assure you, it is worth searching for and listening to, it has substance, hope and gives us direction for the future. Pope Francis has been and is very active on social media, posting his thoughts and prayers daily on Twitter. It is easy to be connected that way!
He constantly advocates for the poor, oppressed and marginalized, reminding us that we should extend to others the love and mercy we ourselves have received from God.
During November 19th—20th, 2020, Pope Francis plans to reach out to young people in a special way by holding a conference on "the Economy of Francis". The Pope wishes to engage young people from all over the world in planning and building a future economy. He acknowledges that our world in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic is one of "anxiety and hardship". He wants to inspire all of us to think about the project for integral human development that we long for and that is based on the central role and initiative of all the people in all their diversity as well as universal access to work, housing, land and food. But, Pope Francis does not stop there. On October 3rd, 2020, he signed a new Encyclical, "Fratelli Tutti", which challenges us all to live as a single human family in which we are "brothers and sisters to all". It is a loud call to love, cultivating fraternity and social friendship and saying "no" to war and to globalized indifference. This time of pandemic truly demonstrates that "no one can face life in isolation and we should look at others as brothers and sisters to save ourselves and the world". In addition, Pope Francis helps us by pointing us to the Blessed Mother. He said recently that the times we live in are the "times of Mary". He is asking us to contemplate on her life, call for her help and pray the rosary. The Holy Father wanted to help us in a special way by adding 3 new invocations to the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Mother of Mercy, Mother of Hope, Comfort of migrants—pray for us.
Pope Francis also recently appointed 13 new cardinals, which on November 28th, 2020, will start helping the church around the world. He continues to inspire the faithful with new saints, which he gives us as an example how to follow the Lord in these difficult times we live in. I think that especially the church in the United States will receive many needed graces from the upcoming beatification of American priest, Fr. Michael McGivney, who lived a life of service before dying in a pandemic.
I hope you will take time to listen to the Holy Father, dream about the vision he has for the church and the whole world. The Encyclical is an important read! Get energized by the life of the saints and at the end of the day, rest all your concerns in the arms of Our Blessed Mother.
Spotlight on Saints by: Ewa Papciak
On October 31, 2020, beatification of Fr. Michael McGivney will bring much needed joy and timely inspirations to all of us! Fr. McGivney was an American priest who lived a life of service during the pandemic of 1889-1890.
He was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1852. He played a critical role in the growth of the Catholic Church in the United States in the latter part of the 19th century.
After his ordination in Baltimore in 1877, he served a largely Irish-American community in New Haven. During the pandemic, he became seriously ill with pneumonia and died at the age of 38. He is remembered for his charity towards the poor and his sympathy to those who suffer. His care, particularly for widows and orphans, is the constant reminder that the most vulnerable always need our help.
His example should help us remember what we are called to do and his intercession will aid our commitment to following Jesus in our daily lives. When we look at the life of Fr. McGivney as an example of Christian discipleship, we can all see that the life that he lived, as Catholic, a child of immigrants, a priest, and a son of a deceased father, has plenty of connections to each of us. Fr. McGivney is called an "apostle of Christian family life" and the one who always cared for "the needy and the outcast". Lastly, Fr. McGivney was an idealist whose youthful vision and commitment to families led to the creation of his legacy—the Knights of Columbus. Fr. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882 with the intention to provide spiritual aid to Catholic men and financial help to the widows and orphans of its members. Today, it is the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization with close to two million members worldwide.
I think that we all can relate to Fr. McGivney on so many levels and his example is especially relevant and valuable at our present time: he was rooted in love of God and neighbor, devoted to service, he lived during a pandemic, and he followed the path the Lord set for him. What a wonderful reminder to us that we, too, should work towards becoming saints! God bless!
Ongoing Parish Events
Fr. Timothy’s Schedule
Tuesdays and Fridays at St. Mary in Florence
Wednesdays/Thursdays at St. Stanislaus-Kostka in Armstrong Creek
and St. Joan of Arc in Goodman
Sunday Mass - 8:30 am Saturday Mass - 6:00 pm
Tuesday Mass - 5:30 pm Friday Mass - 8:30 am
Service Schedule at Florence Health Services (nursing home)
Liturgy of the Word with Communion: Fridays at 10:00 am
Mass: 2nd Friday of each month at 10:00 am
Tuesdays from 4:30 pm—5:20 pm, or by appointment
Eucharistic Adoration, Reconciliation and Benediction:
Tuesdays from 4:30 pm–5:20 pm
Rosary: Sundays at 7:00 pm, in the parish hall
“Walking with Purpose” (women’s evening Bible study):
Wednesday evenings from 5:45 pm—7:30 pm, in the parish office center
“Alpha” (weekly discipleship series):
To resume when COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
Religious Education Classes
Virtual/distance learning continues
during the COVID-19 pandemic until further notice.
Please refer to weekly bulletin or the parish website
at www.stmaryflorence.org for the latest updates
DID YOU KNOW? Advent is a Latin word that actually means “coming”. In the Christian church, Advent is a time of preparation and waiting for the birth of Jesus. Advent officially begins four Sundays before Christmas, which means it often begins the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
The four traditional Advent themes for the four Advent Sundays are:
1) God's people—the candle of HOPE! Hope is like a light shining in a dark place.
2) The Old Testament prophets—the candle of PEACE!
3) John the Baptist— the candle of LOVE!
4) Mary, the mother of Jesus—the candle of JOY!
What do the 4 weeks of Advent represent?
Each week of Advent on Sunday, a particular Advent candle is lit. Catholic tradition states that the four candles, representing the four weeks of Advent, each stand for one thousand years, to total the 4,000 years from the time of Adam and Eve until the birth of the Savior.
The purpose of the season of Advent is to prepare one's heart for the coming of Christ at Christmas. The three Advent candle colors—purple, pink, and white—symbolically represent the spiritual preparation that believers undergo to prepare their hearts for the birth (or coming) of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Have a very blessed Advent season!