Together in Spirit

Browsing From the Desk of Fr. Mike

Making Jesus Real in our Local Community

Sep 12, 2016

The Catholic parish exists to make Jesus Christ a reality for the particular area in which it is established. For us that means we exist to make Jesus Christ real for the residents of Lino Lakes, Blaine, Circle Pines, and Lexington. We are empowered to do this by encountering Jesus in a real way through the sacraments, most especially the Eucharist. This is why we gather each week (and in fact every day except Monday) to encounter Jesus in His Word and in His Body and Blood. As we meet him there we are called to bring him into our world. We are to be his hands and feet, his ears and heart for every human being we meet. This was lived out in the very strong presence of Saint Mother Theresa. She made no distinctions in who she extended care to. They could be any religious denomination or none at all but if they had a need that she could meet, she did.

Over the course of years I think many lost track of this understanding of the Catholic parish. Instead many saw it as almost a service station where they received their spiritual food and found a community that would help them raise their kids. Too often I have seen parishes guard their resources for the sake of the local community and they would grow uncomfortable extending themselves beyond their particular parish boundaries.

What I absolutely love about Saint Joseph's is that there is an embrace of the classic understanding of a Catholic parish. I see and experience many of you making Jesus real in our local community. Last week the Knights of Columbus went to Feed my Starving Children to help prepare meals to send off to the hungry throughout the world. Others went to help out at the local food shelf while still others are involved in Hope 4 Youth which is an outreach to homeless youth 17-24 years old.

We are going to be participating in a fund raiser for Hope 4 Youth in the next few weeks. Deb DeMarais, one of our parishioners, gave me some information about this project:

HOPE 4 Youth opened its doors as a drop in center 3 years ago in response to the epidemic of homeless youth in Anoka County. It serves clients 17-24 years of age. The center is open 5 days each week and provides basic needs of food, clothing, showers, computer use, laundry ext. But more importantly it provides caseworkers as well as resources for employment, housing, education and whatever the youth needs to improve their situations. Many youth have left home because of physical, sexual or verbal abuse. Some have been thrown out because their parents don't want them in the home and some struggle with drug and alcohol addiction.

St. Joseph's Church has committed to support the next phase of HOPE 4 Youth - called HOPE Place. This is a transitional housing location with 12 studio apartments. The young adults who live at HOPE Place will be making progress in school and/or employment and saving to one day live independently of all services. HOPE Place will provide programming so each resident will have the skills to live independently.

HOPE 4 Youth wants HOPE Place to be open for 12 residents by Thanksgiving. The Wall of Hope is a campaign to fund the housing site which is located near Northtown. The kitchens of each apartment need some basic start up equipment. We have also committed to stock the basic needs of the kitchens. Denise Walsh and Steve Robach are coordinating the fundraising with HOPE 4 Youth.

The Wall of Hope has envelopes of varying donation amounts that you may pick and help HOPE Place become a reality. On two separate notes:

1. Some of you heard the story of my sister Mary and her camper (she went from a very small pop-up to a pretty large camper in less than three months.) She lives in a small lot in St. Paul and she asked if she could store it here. Right now it is in the back parking lot, but it will be moved to my backyard. I do not and will not have a key to the camper, only to the tow hitch.

2. The Men's Group and the Knights of Columbus have generously contributed to a show case for displaying historical artifacts of Saint Joseph's parish. This will be placed in the gathering area on the East wall next to the library. I am looking for someone who is interested in collecting and organizing those artifacts. (We will be asking all of you to search your storage areas for historic "stuff" once we find someone who can keep track of it.) Then I will be looking for someone who would be willing to create displays within the showcase once we have collected some things to display. We have a long history; it is good for us to be able to know more about it. 

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