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The following is Father Todd Dominque’s Homily

29th Sunday Ordinary Time – B

So I want to start with a story. It’s actually a story that I heard from Father Jim Pieffer a priest of the Diocese who everybody knows is from Fostoria.

Let me give it a shot:  Mabel was a wonderful church-goer. She was there every Sunday and really became fond of her pastor’s preaching…(obviously I’m talking about another church in another place, another church… maybe not even Catholic.) But not here!

So Mabel likes the fact that her pastor preaches about substantives things which she believes will help make the culture better. One Sunday the preacher decided that he was going to preach on pride. He spoke about how important it is that we are humble of heart like the Lord and not be proud. Mabel set up front in the front pew and turned her friends and then looked at her pastor and said “preach on preacher preach on.”

The next Sunday the pastor took up gluttony as a sin and spoke about how those who overeat are not feeding the hungry of the world. And Mabel was pleased again. She turned to her friends in the front row with her and she looked at the preacher and said, “preach on preacher preach on”.

The next Sunday the pastor began talking about gossip. He said gossip was harmful and tearing the community apart. And anybody that participates in gossip would be damned to hell.

Mabel turned and looked at her friends in the front pew and then look back at the preacher and then look back at her friends in the front pew and asked “when did the pastor stop preaching and start meddling?”

Well… in this past few days we’ve had some rumors and some gossip about our school and where we are at in terms of the strength of this particular ministry.

Our school is a wonderful opportunity for evangelizing all our families who are attending. I really believe, as we reflect on this World Mission Sunday, that this small mission, the mission of Catholic Education in Fostoria Ohio, is truly amazing!

In this ministry we not only serve the students to attend, but also all of the families and extended family members who are part of this important ministry. Sister Liz reminded me recently that our school ministry is a blessing because we have an opportunity to serve the poor too. The truth of the matter is, if the families at St. Wendelin School are like my family when I was growing up, we were poor… we never thought we were poor, but looking back…. at least poor in terms of money. We were rich in so many other ways.

In fact, as I look at all of our ministries in our parish, I believe that we are doing our best to make disciples of all we encounter and the majority of us wish to enhance our own discipleship in living out the simple Gospel mandate: To love our neighbor as ourselves.

I pray that you, my parishioners, will live your faith with the whole of who you are, at our parish, but just as importantly, in your own day-to-day lives. I want the parish to be a place that helps you to be all you are called to be as Christian disciples.
Sure…I wouldn’t be disappointed if, in the midst of that transformation, the parish’s bills got paid! But more importantly, we will be able to serve those in need in our community and in our world through living stewardship…. people simply giving from our hearts.

You have given very much from your heart. Whether it’s World Mission Sunday, where our prayers and donations go to the farthest reaches of our Earth, with missionary priests and religious who carry the Gospel to those who still have not heard of Jesus Christ; or whether its supporting the evangelical ministries in our parish so that we also can carry the word of the Gospel to those who still have not heard of Jesus Christ. There are so many, many in Fostoria who still need to be touched by the good news of the Gospel. It’s not their fault, it’s just the way it is…

On this World Mission Sunday, if we review the mission of our parish, we can see that there are challenges in all our ministries. In fact we could describe the early 21st century as not being “Catholic moment”. There are many challenges that have come to the worldwide church, and to the local church, even local parishes.

This last Monday I attended a celebration in Columbus at the Pontifical Seminary Josephinum. Two things that I heard caught my attention. The first came from a young seminarian, who I can’t remember his name, but he recognized that we are no longer Christ-en-dom, but we’re entering into a new Apostolic Age that is dependent upon evangelization…. Evangelization …not to the farthest ends of the Earth, but right at the kitchen table.

The second thing I heard was from Bishop Daniel Conlin, Bishop of Joliet, Illinois but, a former Seminary professor of mine in Cincinnati. Bishop Daniel was a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and became Bishop of Steubenville and now Joliet Illinois.

I had a great visit with Bishop Conlin. He actually remembered me! And frankly… I think he was surprised that I have made it close to 25 years of priesthood!

He talked in his remarks about two of our new Saints: Archbishop Oscar Romero who was martyred while celebrating Mass, and St. Pope Paul the VI. Bishop Conlin especially focused on Saint Pope Paul the VI, who was the pope who finished carrying on the reforms of Vatican II. Bishop Conlin talked about how important Saint Pope Paul VI felt it was that “we never lose a sense of the signs of the times”. We need to get the signs of the times right. And these are different times.

While we’re doing a great job in trying to complete our mission, there’s a lot of work yet to do. One of our most beloved ministries, our Catholic School Ministry, is still yet facing many challenges. This is what the recent gossip has been about.
I’m truly sorry about the gossip. I wish I could stop it. But that would be like trying to stop one of our trains from blowing their whistle in the middle of the night here in Fostoria. Which I hear all the time…like you. I don’t think it can be done.
The good part about gossip is that it reminds us that we’re a tight-knit community. People wouldn’t be talking if they didn’t care. I think that’s really important for us to remember. People care about what happens in terms of our mission here at Saint Wendelin. And we are in a difficult time where we have to try to figure out how we can fulfill our mission of making disciples of all those we encounter, while at the same time using our parish resources to achieve that end. The school is a great example of that kind of ministry.

You know, about a month or two ago one of the children asked me after Mass, “Father Todd, what do you say when you hold the collection basket up?” I told her, “I pray a prayer”. She said, “Really! What prayer?!” I said, “Yes… I say, “thank you Lord for your gifts, help us be good stewards of all you give us.”

Isn’t that what we all want to do? Be good stewards of all the gifts that God has given us, whether in our own lives… or here at our parish as we seek to achieve our mission?

You know, James and John were criticized in the Gospel for wanting to sit, one at the right and one at the left of Jesus. One perspective might see that what they were truly desiring was to be good stewards of the Kingdom that Jesus was leaving them. They didn’t want the power or the prestige, but rather they wanted to be so close to Jesus Christ that they would be sure to be good stewards of the Kingdom that they would inherit. They certainly would drink of the cup that Jesus drank. And they certainly have found themselves in the company of Our Lord.

So… on this World Mission Sunday, it has given me and others a great opportunity to look at our Parish Mission, and the ways that we try to fulfill it. Some Ministries certainly continue to be relevant as we look at the signs of the times. Some Ministries are not relevant as we look at those same signs. They’ve just gone by the wayside. And some ministries we still have to discern… how to be wise stewards of them. Like our Catholic School ministry.

Probably now more than ever, we need to look at the signs of our times and prayerfully discern how we can best worship, evangelize, and educate. These are the focused ways that we believe that we can achieve our Parish Mission to make disciples of all the nations including those in our neighborhood and families.

Our worship is excellent, and this week coming up we will celebrate how blessed we are as a Eucharistic community. We celebrate not only our parish feast day on Monday, the feast of Saint Wendelin, but we celebrate and meditate and give thanks for the fact that we are a Eucharistic community. Eucharist that brings us unity. Someone once asked, “Why go to Mass?” The answer…. Because it changes the world!

It’s the Eucharist that allows us to be energized to carry forward the proclamation of the Kingdom of God. These next days of our 40 hours devotion are a unique opportunity to focus… for us to give thanks to God that he has made us his body and blood… he has made us a people who reach out to the ends of the Earth, and to our neighborhoods to proclaim his love… his life… for the life of the world.

Fostoria can be different in many ways just by the choices we make as a faith community. Certainly we know the impact of our Catholic school ministry on our community. In fact, some might say that our school is more well-known then our parish is.
Thanks to all the energy of our teachers and families and students, who keep us always out there in the news and on the minds and hearts of those who are in our city. There is pride in having a Catholic School. And believe you me, people see our ministry of education, our Catholic School, far better than they see the works of our parish. What do you expect when our school is situated right in the heart of everything that matters in Fostoria!…?

I would love to believe that Saint Wendelin Parish is in the heart of everything that matters in Fostoria. But if you really look, it’s not our Parish, it’s not our school, it’s the McDonald’s! Is that place ever not busy?

Obviously we’re not McDonalds. But boy should we love to have the kind of business and loyalty they have…. cars wrapped around that building… all the time…

Well…who are we then? We are a strong, and good people, who want to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to our neighborhoods and to the ends of the Earth. As we look at the signs of the time, the way we do that will change.
I want… we want… all our efforts and ministries to be effective, efficient, and evangelical. Some ministries will be old and need to be renewed, some ministries will be new and improved.

So… back to our school ministry… we love our school very much, but there is cause for concern. It is filled with challenges. As your pastor, I want to explain these concerns and challenges so you can better understand them … Monday, November 12th at 6:30 P.M. we will gather as a parish family to learn about these concerns and challenges. If you want to learn more, please plan to attend.

Remember… everything we do is focused on doing God’s will. Doing what Jesus wants us to do. Being Guided by the Holy Spirit….

In our on-going work for our Lord… buildings will be built and be torn down…. ministries will come and go, for sure. But the mission that we carry out, the mission to our ZIP code 44830, is what our Lord has asked us to work with. It starts in our homes. It starts with our families. It starts with our extended family. It starts with neighbors and friends who we want to make friends and be friends with, and bring those friends to Jesus Christ.

Gospel values should cause us to re-think how we are living our lives. We are never “there”, having arrived at “Christian perfection,” with “nothing more to do”… Instead… the message of Jesus calls us to dig in deeper, question more, and change our lives to be more like His… the Master’s life… to be able to do His work of ministry.

Please take the words of Paul’s letter to the Hebrews to heart:

Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help. Amen