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A Letter From Our Pastor Sharing Love in Different Ways

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Seminarian Daniel Gormley Reflects on His Path to the Priesthood

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Celebrating the Miracle of St. Blaise Feast Day, Feb. 3

7 The Origins of Our Parish Name The History Behind “St. John Before the Latin Gate”

FEBRUARY 2021

St.John

Before the Latin Gate Roman Catholic Church

A Guide For Your Lenten Journey

Don’t Miss Out on Our Faith Formation Opportunities — In-Person and Online

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ast year’s Lenten activities in our parish may have been hampered due to the pandemic, but this year we can experience our Lenten journey in-person and/or online at our parish. Fr. John is looking forward to in-person Lenten events, as well as being able to celebrate the Easter Triduum in-person. However, there will be opportunities for those wishing to take part in the activities online, as well. The biggest challenge last year was that Lent had a different look. However, while we as a parish missed being together, the time spent at home enabled many of us to grow in our relationship with God. “Lent is supposed to be a time to slow down and reflect, a time to prepare our hearts for the Paschal mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ so someday we can live with Him in eternity,” Fr. John says. “Even though we missed being together in many ways, we were forced to pull away from society. This allowed us to grow closer to God and be able to reflect on what is important in our lives. Many were grieving, and reflecting on that, we had an incredible time of intimacy with the Lord.” Other changes came from this experience, especially for our Youth Group continued on page 2


Lenten Journey

meeting time. It had been held on Sunday evening, but it became apparent that Sunday evening became “family night.” “It became family night for so many and that’s what it’s supposed to be,” Fr. John says. “So we moved Youth Group to Wednesday night and it has continued. So there was a loss last year, a real loss, but it allowed us to grow in intimacy and relationship to God.” This year, there will be a community penance service, March 16 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. “People are very responsive to it,” Fr. John says. “In Advent, we had four priests during a two-hour window. We had Adoration at the same time so everyone could pray before the Lord. It was a blessed time and so many got the sacrament and came to pray. This is our plan again for Lent.” There also will be increased opportunities for confessions on Sundays and Wednesdays. “The Sacrament of Reconciliation is important in Lent,” Fr. John says. “I hope our people will take advantage of the Grace received through it.” Our parish will also be promoting FORMED.org, which is free for our parishioners, and will offer several activities for families to help in their Lenten journey. If you haven’t signed up for FORMED, call the office for the code designated for our parish”. There also is a free three-day conference available online from Feb. 11-13, titled, The Word 2021 International Catholic Bible Summit. Speakers will include Fr. Mike Schmitz, Mark Hart, Scott Hahn, and Chris Stefanick, among others. “We will be promoting this so those interested can sign up,” Fr. John says. “If someone wants to hear a particular topic or a speaker, they can do it.” Other activities that families can do at home during Lent include writing cards to homebound parishioners, or choosing a homebound person for prayer.

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“Lent is supposed to be a time to slow down and reflect, a time to prepare our hearts for the Paschal mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ so someday we can live with Him in eternity. Even though we missed being together in many ways, we were forced to pull away from society. This allowed us to grow closer to God and be able to reflect on what is important in our lives. Many were grieving, and reflecting on that, we had an incredible time of intimacy with the Lord.” — FR. JOHN

“We worked with our school kids and the religious education classes last year, and they were writing cards to homebound parishioners,” Fr. John says. The Stations of the Cross will take place in-person with social distancing each Friday during Lent, with Holy Hour from 6-7 p.m., and the Stations at 7 p.m. The Spanish Stations will be at 8 p.m. Last year, Stations of the Cross were conducted online, and are still available to pray. There also are plans for a Lenten retreat to be held online and in the church. “It is so important to be able to gather as much as we can,” Fr. John says. “But we do have the technology to do it online, and do Facebook livestream and we plan to continue offering that.”

If you would like more information about Lenten opportunities, please visit our parish website at www.stjohn-bartlesville.org. 2


A Letter From Our Pastor

SHARING

Love IN DIFFERENT WAYS

Dear Parishioners,

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hat’s the most widely observed saint’s day in February — the one that’s kept even by those who aren’t practicing Catholics? Undoubtedly, it would be St. Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. The irony is that his feast isn’t even on the General Roman Calendar of feasts to be observed throughout the world. That doesn’t mean that he’s not recognized as a real, historical person, or as a genuine saint, but only that his influence throughout the Church has not been as significant as that of other saints. So who was St. Valentine? There are several St. Valentines, as the name was not a rare one in the ancient Roman Empire, but the saint we celebrate was a priest of Rome martyred in the late third century. Still, that doesn’t explain how his feast came to be celebrated as the day one sends letters, cards and presents as expressions of romantic love. The truth is that the custom of sending tokens of love comes not from any direct connection with St. Valentine, but from the ancient belief that birds begin to pair off on Feb. 14. And if courtship in the natural world occurred then, it must be appropriate for humans, as well. The association between St. Valentine and love notes is a later development. Nevertheless, it’s not wrong to connect the two. Love has many aspects, and our conception of it is richer if we keep more than one of them in mind. Martyrdom is the result of loving God more than our earthly life. St. Valentine was a martyr because of his love — his love for Jesus Christ and His Church. If he had not loved God so much, he could have repudiated his Lord and saved his life. We, in turn, express our love by sending cards and gifts on St. Valentine’s Day.

But isn’t that what stewardship as a way of life is — a little martyrdom? Not to push the image too far, but when we are faithful stewards, we give up a little portion of our lives out of our own love for Christ. Most Christians will not be called on to be martyrs, in the sense of forfeiting our physical lives for God. But we are called to give up some of our comforts, indulgences and riches because of our love for Him. So then, as you prepare to celebrate and share your love with your Valentine this month, remember St. Valentine and his love for Christ. As well, keep in mind that God loves us, and return that love with your own toward Him. Loving God will be reflected in how you prioritize your use of the time, talent and treasure God has entrusted to you. As St. John wrote (1 Jn 4:19), “We love because he first loved us.” Happy St. Valentine’s Day! Sincerely yours in Christ,

Fr. John O’Neill Pastor

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Seminarian

Daniel Gormley

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s lifelong parishioner Daniel Gormley prepares for his ordination to the transitional diaconate in May, he reflects on the path that led him to pursue a vocation to the priesthood. From the strong example in the faith provided by his parents during early childhood, to the witness of his older sister who maintained an active faith life in her college years, Daniel has always been surrounded by models of intentional discipleship.

Daniel Gormley (far right) with Archbishop Dennis Schnurr (second from right) and fellow seminarians, Gabriel and Leo

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Describing himself as a St. John Before the Latin Gate parishioner “from birth,” Daniel also credits our faith community with helping him discern a call to serve the Church. “Having a healthy parish life was really important, especially when I was growing up,” he says. “The Knights of Columbus was huge and my dad was involved with them. I remember putting up and taking down chairs for their events and that was good, it was really fun. We were within 10 minutes walking distance to the church, and they have a school attached, so it was really cool to float back and forth between the two. It always felt like one organism, one team.” For three years beginning in the eighth grade, Daniel attended the Totus Tuus overnight camp in the Diocese of Wichita. There, he felt his prayer life come alive in a new way and first had an inkling that he might be called to the priesthood. Leaving home to attend Pittsburg State and the University of Kansas, Daniel was equally blessed by the quality of spiritual care on campus. With the encouragement of some dynamic and inspiring priests, he began contemplating a vocation to the priesthood in his sophomore year. By the time he became a senior, he had discerned a call and applied to seminary. Daniel completed his two years of minor seminary at Conception Seminary College in Missouri. In addition to the profound spiritual growth he experienced there, the camaraderie he found among the seminarians was a great blessing. “The fraternity among the guys there was phenomenal,” Daniel says. “We were in the middle of nowhere — there were literally windmills on the property — so when we weren’t studying, we just hung out a ton and there were talent shows and banquets and team sports. We would go out


Reflects on His Path to the Priesthood there and play, and it was the worst soccer I’ve ever seen, but it was fun!” Daniel is now in his third year of theology studies at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio. As he comes ever closer to the conclusion of his seminarian studies, he looks ahead to the priesthood with enthusiasm. “I think I’m most looking forward to really helping people be closer to Christ and His Church,” Daniel says. “I hope to help them connect to Christ in prayer, get to know Him in a really personal way, and receive the love that He wants to give everyone. I want to share the gift of faith. I was lucky to be born into a Catholic family and to have had 2,000 years of people figuring it out for us and establishing the Church. I feel really blessed to be born into the Catholic faith and want to pass that on to others.” Daniel will be ordained a transitional deacon at Holy Family Cathedral in Tulsa on May 28. As this exciting milestone in his path to the priesthood approaches, he would like to express his deep gratitude to the people of St. John Before the Latin Gate for their continued prayers and support. “It is awesome to go back to the parish and hear

Daniel Gormley (far left) at Thanksgiving dinner in seminary

people say that they are praying for me,” Daniel says. “They are also very generous monetarily with the basket at the pancake breakfasts. I just want to say ‘thank you’ for the prayers and contributions. Thank you for being such a great example to me growing up, for being so welcoming to me and my family, and for helping to form me into the man I am today.”

“I think I’m most looking forward to really helping people be closer to Christ and His Church. I hope to help them connect to Christ in prayer, get to know Him in a really personal way, and receive the love that He wants to give everyone. I want to share the gift of faith. I was lucky to be born into a Catholic family and to have had 2,000 years of people figuring it out for us and establishing the Church. I feel really blessed to be born into the Catholic faith and want to pass that on to others.” — DANIEL GORMLEY 5


Celebrating the Miracle of St. Blaise Feast Day, Feb. 3

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his month, we reflect on the life of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, who is one of the “Fourteen Holy Helpers” — a group of Catholic saints whose intercession is believed to be effective against diseases. Every year on Feb. 3, we celebrate the feast day of St. Blaise, during which parishes around the world bless the throats of the faithful. So, as we continue to navigate the ongoing challenges brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic, we may look toward St. Blaise’s example and pray for his intercession during these difficult times. Though we do not know much about the life of St. Blaise, tradition tells us that he was born to wealthy, saintly Catholic parents. Born in Armenia, he devoted his life to medicine and helping the sick. He was a physician, until he was begged by the people to become their bishop. He was appointed by the Church as bishop of the Diocese of Sebaste. Around the year 313, when the Roman Emperor Licinius was persecuting the Church, Blaise lived as a hermit in the woods among animals that he befriended. One day, a group of hunters found Blaise and seized him. Upon their trip to the governor, they encountered a woman whose pig was being attacked by a wolf. Blaise commanded the wolf to leave the pig alone and, upon his command, the pig was freed unharmed. Blaise was then taken to prison, where he miraculously healed a boy who was choking to death on a fishbone. While Blaise remained in prison, the woman whose pig he had freed brought him two candles to serve as his light so that he could read the Scripture. It was from the miracle of saving the choking 6

boy that the custom of praying to St. Blaise to cure all ailments of the throat was born. And, so, after still refusing to recant his Christian beliefs, he was suspended from a tree and his flesh was torn with iron combs or rakes. Blaise was then thrown into a lake to drown. To the surprise of his persecutors, he surfaced and walked upon the water, and he invited his persecutors to join him. They should do this, he said, to show the power of their gods. The pagans took him up on his invitation, and ultimately they were drowned. Blaise was then told by an angel to return to dry land to receive martyrdom. He was beheaded on the shore and immediately went to heaven. Because of his prison experience and his great reputation as a healer, St. Blaise’s intercession is invoked for the healing of diseases affecting the throat. The candles that the clergy place upon our throats while blessing them symbolize the candles that enlightened St. Blaise’s cell as he studied Sacred Scripture — connecting his spiritual life to the physical healing. Let us remember to invoke the intercession of this great healer upon any ailments that might be affecting us, either physical or spiritual — especially those pertaining to the throat. The blessing of the throats is done by the priest holding two blessed candles near the throat in the form of a cross. The priest says, “Through the merits and intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver thee from all diseases of the throat, and preserve thee from every other evil. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”


The Origins of Our Parish Name The History Behind “St. John Before the Latin Gate”

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everal years ago, former pastor Fr. Michael Pratt made a discovery about our parish — one that continues to provoke wonder and a desire for sanctity in the souls of our parishioners. “The first few pastors we had at our parish were from Belgium,” Deacon Joe Richard says. “They all called our church St. John the Evangelist Parish, and it just remained that way until Fr. Pratt came. Soon after he became our pastor, he went into the historical diocesan archives to research our parish name. He found out that — it was actually named St. John Before the Latin Gate when it was dedicated in 1906 by the archbishop.” About six years ago, Fr. Pratt helped bring this discovery to life when he led a pilgrimage to Rome and visited the original St. John Before the Latin

Gate Parish. “Fr. Pratt served Mass along with the pastor there, who gave him a granite rock from the Latin Gate,” Deacon Richard says. “This rock is now on display in our parish gathering area along with pictures of the original church. It is a very nice display which shows who we really are as a parish, and helps our parishioners learn the foundational story.” Taking this information to heart, our parish made some refreshing changes. “When he first came back, he had all this amazing information,” Deacon Richard says. “Therefore, Fr. Pratt changed the words above the entrance doors of our church from St. John the Evangelist Parish to St. John Before the Latin Gate Parish. I’m so glad he did this!” continued on back cover

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715 S. Johnstone Ave. | Bartlesville, OK 74003 ​ Office: (918) 336-4353 | www.stjohn-bartlesville.org

The Origins of Our Parish Name continued from page 7 Although this change may not seem incredibly significant, it truly is. It defines who we are as a faith community, lending us fortitude along the way. “A lot of blessings, hope and courage come from us being named after St. John Before the Latin Gate,” Deacon Richard says. “As far as we know, our parish is actually the only church in the world that is named directly after St. John Before the Latin Gate, besides the original church.” The story of St. John Before the Latin Gate goes back to the year 95 A.D. when St. John the Evangelist was governing all the churches of Asia Minor, and was apprehended at Ephesus and sent in chains to Rome. The emperor at that time, Domitian, did not relent at the sight of the old man but condemned him to be cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. The martyr was overjoyed at this barbarous

sentence because he hoped that these cruel torments would help unite him forever to his divine Savior. However, God chose to spare him from being burned by the oil, just as He once preserved the three children from being injured in the Babylonian furnace. Miraculously, the seething oil was changed into an invigorating bath, and St. John came out more refreshed than when he had entered the cauldron. This glorious triumph of St. John happened just beyond the gate of Rome, called the Latina, and a church was consecrated there in memory of the miracle. Domitian later banished the Apostle to the little island of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. May 6 was the Feast day of St. John Before the Latin Gate in the pre-1962 Roman Missal. Since Fr. John has been pastor we have been celebrating this feast day as a community.

LITURGY SCHEDULE Saturday: 5 p.m. | Sunday: 8 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. (en Español) Tuesday: 7 a.m. | Wednesday: 5:15 p.m. | Thursday: 7 a.m., 11 a.m. (vulnerable population), 7 p.m. (en Español) Friday: 8:15 a.m. (School only Mass), St. James at 8:30 a.m., Our Lady of Guadalupe in Dewey at noon Reconciliation: Saturday: 4-4:45 p.m. | Sunday: 12:30-1:15 p.m.

Profile for Catholic Stewardship Consultants

St. John Before the Latin Gate Catholic Parish Newsletter — February 2021