Saint Francis Solanus D E C E MB ER / J A N U ARY
Altar Servers Embrace Opportunity to Grow in Faith and Stewardship I
Altar server Allie Vranjes with her younger sister, Mia
n every parish, there are many different ways that people can serve. Some serve visibly, and some are behind the scenes. There are big tasks and little tasks. And what better time to instill the importance of service than at a young age? Here at St. Francis Solanus, any child in fifth grade or older who has been confirmed and received the Sacrament of First Eucharist may become an altar server. Those who want to become servers are trained by Deacon Wayne Zimmerman. The training includes a tour of both the sacristy and the sanctuary so that the servers are familiar and comfortable with the responsibilities and setting in which they will be serving. Parishioner Allie Vranjes is an eighth-grader at St. Francis School and has been serving our parish as an altar server since fifth grade. For Allie, serving at Mass has been an opportunity to grow in her faith and appreciation of the Mass, while also playing an active role in the liturgy. â€œI like the ability to be present in the Mass and knowing that I am doing my part to help,â€? she says. â€œWhen you are right there, seeing the bread and wine continued on page 2
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“I like the ability to be present in the Mass and knowing that I am doing my part to help. When you are right there, seeing the bread and wine turning in the Body and Blood of Jesus, it really helps you know and appreciate His sacrifice for us.” — Allie Vranjes
turning in the Body and Blood of Jesus, it really helps you know and appreciate His sacrifice for us.” Although she has regularly attended Mass for her whole life, Allie found that becoming a server gave her a better understanding of everything that happens at Mass, and enjoys having a part to play in the liturgy. “Something that surprised me was how much the servers have to do with the Mass,” she says. “I never realized how much the servers did behind the scenes — I never really noticed all their actions until I became one.” She assures those who may be considering being an altar server that there is nothing to be afraid of and that there will always be others there to help and guide you. “There is absolutely no reason to be nervous,” Allie says. “Your first few Masses, there will always be older kids to help you understand what to do and when to do it, and like the old saying, ‘Practice makes
perfect.’ The more you serve, the easier it will become — like second nature.” Having experienced service in the Church from a young age, Allie wants to continue her involvement in the future. “I hope to always be present in the Church through participating in the Mass,” she says. “Becoming a reader or sacristan both seem like good options for when I’m older.” For children who want to become involved as servers, the parents’ role of service is also significant. Whether it’s making sure that they arrive early to Mass when they’re serving, or simply encouraging them for this important ministry role, supporting their child as an altar server is a beautiful service in its own way. Director of Religious Education Mike Holbrook hopes that regardless of the sacrifice it may entail, parents will encourage their children to grow in their faith by becoming an altar server. “I know families are busy and being pulled in many directions, which is why some parents are hesitant to allow their child to serve at Mass,” Mike says. “But I would say to the parents that being an altar server is a privilege and a spiritual experience their child won’t likely forget. Please don’t deny them this chance to grow in their faith and to experience serving at the altar of sacrifice.” Allie also encourages her peers to consider becoming involved as altar servers in our parish community. “Serving is an experience that will last you a lifetime,” Allie says. “It will help you grow in your faith while you learn all about it, by watching the center of our faith take place before your eyes.”
If you would like more information about this ministry, or to sign up for altar server training, please contact Mike Holbrook at 217-222-2898 or email@example.com. Although delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognize our Class of 2020 graduating seniors who have been involved in our parish community as altar servers — Danica Clarke, Sam Hea, Julia Liesen, Jonathan Ohnemus and Bo Paxton. Thank you for your years of service in our community! 2
St. Francis Solanus A Letter From Our Pastor
Unwrapping the Gift of Dear Parishioners,
ost people associate stewardship with giving. Some think it is a desperate plea by the church asking parishioners to give some of your time, talent and treasure to a worthy cause. Some think it is a noble gesture that identifies a faithful steward, a common occurrence this time of year. And for some, it is an understanding that the stewardship way of life brings joy and blessings to the giver by returning a portion of the gifts he or she has received from God. At Christmas, when it is most common to give or receive gifts, should this not also be a time when the stewardship way of life becomes the gift that is unwrapped by our consciousness and treasured by our faith? After all, the first gift of Christmas was the gift of God’s own Son. For those who may still be struggling to truly understand the stewardship way of life, that may be a concept that is difficult to accept, even at this time of year. But by living the stewardship way of life, it makes perfect sense to me. And during this season of faith, the gift of stewardship remains one of the blessings of my life as a Catholic, as a priest and as a pastor. Before fully embracing a life of stewardship, I could justify wasting my time with less-than-worthwhile activities. I could rationalize withholding my talents, because I often thought somebody else would always step up and take care of things instead of me. I restricted or limited sharing my material resources, thinking it wouldn’t make a difference — or worse yet, I thought others could afford to give more than me, because I believed I had already given enough. As each day passes, I remind myself often of how wrong I was in what I did with my time, talent and treasure. But the days for regretting my misunderstanding of the stewardship way of life are over.
Stewardship conversion changes all of that, and the reverse is now true. The more time, talent and treasure that I can give, the more content and joyful I truly am. When is the last time you unwrapped a gift that gave you so much peace of mind and heart? Maybe you have never been aware of receiving such a gift, or maybe God is just waiting for you to unwrap what He has always wanted you to have. Perhaps it is the gift God wants you to have this year for Christmas. The catalyst for stewardship is gratitude. And, as we recognize that all we have is a gift from God, it lights up our gratitude as if it were a large Christmas tree with too many lights on it to be counted. All we can do is look at it with wonder and awe, thankful for what we see, what we have, and the opportunity to give back something in gratitude. It is more than just a spirit of “holiday stewardship” that seems to be so common this time of year. It is the core of the stewardship way of life, and once that gift is unwrapped, our conversion takes hold and our lives are transformed into faithful stewardship intended by our God. I hope and pray that you and your family will be blessed during this season of God’s grace, unwrapping the gift of stewardship in your lives and finding joy and peace — both during this season of grace and all year long. Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Steven Arisman Pastor
Community Assistance M
Our Community Assistance Ministry has found a variety of ways to creatively serve our community in these difficult times.
any of us are familiar with the Scripture passage of Matthew 25. It’s where Jesus instructs His followers to care for the needy, telling us that whatever we do “for these least of these,” we do unto Him. It’s a powerful challenge — one that all of us, as Christians, are called to take to heart. For those who are involved in our Community Assistance Ministry, the opportunities to live out this call are abundant. “Our parishioners have been extremely generous in supporting this ministry, they’re amazing,” says Mary Beth McGee, who has served as the ministry leader for
the past six years. “We’re serving others as Jesus asks us to do.” The St. Francis Food Pantry, which is operated from the parish center basement, is probably the most wellknown aspect of the Community Assistance Ministry. The Food Pantry serves 20 parish families regularly, as well as over 900 other households in the community who use it throughout the year. The Food Pantry also prepares holiday meal boxes for the parishioners it serves. Some of those who are served come every month, while others take advantage of the services provided on a short-term basis, following an immediate crisis. Our 100-150 volunteers serve in a variety of different ways, from making donations to preparing and delivering the food to those who are homebound, to answering the phone. Amazingly, with a bit of effort and creativity, all of the food services offered by our Food Pantry have been able to continue throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the Food Pantry is by far the most extensive effort of this ministry, there are also several ways that Community Assistance serves those in the community. When possible, ministry members visit parishioners in nursing homes, as well as write sympathy cards and offer Mass intentions. Some send birthday cards to parishioners who are 80-plus years old and, at Christmas, deliver poinsettias to parishioners who are 90-plus years old. Volunteers also help serve meals at New Horizons Soup Kitchen and prepare “homeless packets” which can be given away to those in need. Through the years, Mary Beth has found that her faith and trust in God’s provision has grown, as she’s been involved with the Community Assistance Ministry. continued on page 5
“Whenever we’ve had a need, it always works itself out and it’s pretty amazing. My faith has grown in doing this ministry. When we have the needs, I’ll think, ‘God, I don’t know how we’re going to do this,’ and He just provides. We get to see so many little miracles.” — Mary Beth McGee 4
s’ Call to
Our Community Members in Need
Whether you’re called to donate food for our Thanksgiving and Christmas food boxes, sort and distribute bags of food, or answer the phone, there are several different ways people can serve based on their interests and abilities.
“Whenever we’ve had a need, it always works itself out and it’s pretty amazing,” Mary Beth says. “My faith has grown in doing this ministry. When we have the needs, I’ll think, ‘God, I don’t know how we’re going to do this,’ and He just provides. We get to see so many little miracles. “The Corporal Works of Mercy bring us closer to God,” she adds. Mary Beth encourages fellow parishioners to consider becoming involved in this important ministry of our parish. Whether you’re called to donate food for our Thanksgiving and Christmas food boxes, sort and distribute bags of food, or answer the phone, there are a number of different ways people can serve based on their interests and abilities. “Come by and see what different groups do,” Mary Beth says. “If you’re not finding what you like to do, don’t get stuck in that one thing. Our volunteers are fun — you will be welcome and you’ll enjoy volunteering. We’ll find something that fits you.”
For more info, or to become involved in the Community Assistance Ministry, please contact ministry leader Mary Beth McGee at 217-430-1533 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also learn more about this ministry by visiting www.stfrancissolanus.com/ministries/ community-assistance-food-pantry/ 5
t is not uncommon to give gifts during Advent and Christmas, but it is never enough just to leave it at that. True, Jesus gave Himself to us at the first Christmas. And, as always, we should strive to imitate Him by giving of ourselves in some way as we celebrate the anniversary of His birth. But there is a way to give even more than just ourselves — by giving the gift of Christ to others. The seasons of Advent and Christmas are perfect opportunities to share the love and message of Jesus with others in a beautiful way. Of course, giving of ourselves in imitation of Jesus is a beautiful thing. But it is just as important to remember that, as human beings, we bear the likeness of God. As Christians, Jesus Himself inhabits our very souls. As Catholics, our Lord literally dwells within us when we receive Him in the Eucharist. Based upon this logic, we do so much more than imitate Jesus when we selflessly give of ourselves to others. Indeed, just as Mary carried Christ in her womb when she visited her cousin, Elizabeth, and just as she brought Him in her arms to Simeon as a newborn child, we can also literally bring Jesus Christ to the world. What a profound task Our Lord has laid out for us this season! As He grew in Mary’s womb, Jesus could only go where Mary chose to take Him. Of course, He couldn’t do anything — He couldn’t even speak. Mary became His hands and feet, and even His voice. Mary could have stayed at home during her pregnancy, resting and preparing for life with a newborn, as most mothers do. But instead, the Blessed Mother helped her Son begin His mission by bringing Him to her cousin, Elizabeth. Today, in much the same way, Christ invites us to share Him with the rest of the world. He chooses to make His presence known through us. And so, as the spiritual writer Caryll Houselander beautifully stated, “We must carry Jesus in our hearts wherever He wants us to go, and there
are many places to which He may never go unless we take Him to them.” How do we bring Jesus to those in our parish and community? There are many ways. We might visit with a sick parishioner over the holidays, providing fellowship and support in their time of need. We may consider serving a local soup kitchen or food bank, and doing our part to make sure that the hungry are fed. We can sing Christmas carols for our neighbors, bringing true joy and love to their homes. Perhaps we could help a tired friend clean her house, making her life a little bit easier during this busy season. Or we can share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others. We might even try going to work with a cheery disposition, or donating money so that a starving child in a poor country can have something to eat. These are just a few examples of how we can practice stewardship. We may sometimes feel as if our efforts are in vain — especially when it is hard to see the effects of our evangelization. This temptation is particularly strong when we offer our treasure as a gift to God. The positive effects of monetary gifts aren’t always as visible as gifts of time or talent. But when we give of our treasure, the love of Jesus can travel to places we could never go. While our gift may not directly affect someone in a positive way, it very well may enable someone else to do it for us. Sometimes, God doesn’t just ask us to be His hands and feet, but to enable someone else to be them, as well. Advent and Christmas give us the opportunity to reflect on Jesus’ call to live as stewards and disciples of His Word. God has put us in a particular place, given us a certain amount of time, and asked us to perform particular tasks and selflessly share a portion of our gifts. This is all for a singular purpose — to bring His Son into the world, and make Christ’s presence just as real as when He first became man more than 2,000 years ago.
A Note From Our Parish Office About Attending Christmas Masses Due to COVID-19 restrictions, if you plan on attending Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Masses, you must first reserve a spot by registering on the parish website at www.stfrancissolanus.com and clicking on the "Sign Up for Weekend Masses" link on the home page, or by calling the parish office at 217-222-2898. 6
St. Francis Solanus Our Hospitality Hosting Ministry
as We Gather at St. Francis Parish Events
s a parish committed to forming intentional disciples, the four pillars of stewardship have long been a point of reference for the St. Francis Solanus community. We know that hospitality, prayer, formation, and service are not mere buzzwords — they are a way of life. Often, hospitality paves the way for the other three pillars to take place. With this in mind, our Hospitality Hosting Ministry seeks to extend a warm welcome to all who participate in our parish events. “When our parish started with stewardship, the very first pillar that we worked on was hospitality,” says Marcia Steinkamp, who assists ministry coordinator Linda Zanger with the Hospitality Hosting Ministry. “It is different than just having an event — hospitality means a lot more. It is inviting and welcoming with a smile, drawing people in to be a part of the church family.” In 2013, St. Francis Solanus held a dedication dinner for the opening of the new parish center. Knowing the importance of hospitality in the stewardship way of life, the planning committee made sure that people would truly be invited to come in, sit down, and spend some quality time together at the dinner. Following the success of that event, the Hospitality Hosting Ministry became a dedicated ministry in the parish. Over the last seven years, this ministry has helped with various events and special occasions in parish life. Often, ministry members work together with the men of the Holy Name Society to host parish-wide lunches and dinners. Shortly after the dedication of the parish center, another event was held to commemorate the anniversary of Fr. Duc Pham’s ordination. In 2017, a lovely dinner reception followed Fr. Bob Barko’s First Mass of Thanksgiving. The ministry has also helped organize Palm Sunday dinners, RCIA and First
Communion receptions, the celebration of the feast day of St. Francis Solanus, and more. Parishioners volunteer with the Hospitality Hosting Ministry in a variety of ways, including decorating for events and providing or serving food. There are no regular meetings held for this ministry, and participants can choose when and how to help with each event. For those who are seeking other ways to grow hospitality in our parish, the possibilities are endless! continued on back cover
“When our parish started with stewardship, the very first pillar that we worked on was hospitality. It is different than just having an event — hospitality means a lot more. It is inviting and welcoming with a smile, drawing people in to be a part of the church family.” — Marcia Steinkamp 7
St. Francis Solanus R O M AN
CATH O L IC
PA R IS H
1721 College Avenue Quincy, IL 62301 (217) 222-2898 stfrancissolanus.com
Our Hospitality Hosting Ministry “Hospitality is also [at the center of] some of the other ministries, like the greeters and the coffee and rolls,” Marcia says. “Relationships should form out of meeting someone at breakfasts or an event or things of that nature, and then you check in with them or invite them to some other things. It’s that opportunity to get to know more people.” With the global pandemic making large gatherings impossible for much of 2020, Marcia knows that many parishioners are missing the events that usually bring our faith family together. She hopes that moving forward we will soon be able to gather again and provide everyone with a warm welcome and loving invitation to become a part of our vibrant church community. “We want to promote community and build a church
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family,” Marcia says. “When people feel welcome and part of a community, it leads to the other pillars, where they find themselves in prayer together, where they find themselves doing more study and spiritual growth together. That’s my prayer for the parish — that the enthusiasm continues to grow and build on all these pillars that are a part of stewardship.”
Are you interested in learning more about the Hospitality Hosting Ministry? For more information, please call Linda Zanger at 217-257-8227 or Marcia Steinkamp at 217-440-9581.
Saturday Vigil: 4:30 p.m. │ Sunday: 7:00, 9:00, 11:00 a.m. Weekday Mass: Monday - Friday, 6:30 a.m. │ T, W, Th 8:35 a.m. │ Saturday, 8:00 a.m. Confessions: 8:30 a.m., 3 - 4 p.m. Holy Days of Obligation: Vigil 5:30 p.m.; Holy Day: 6:30 a.m., 8:35 a.m. on school days, 5:30 p.m.