Advent is a complex season. It is possible to identify three distinct “comings” of Christ present in Advent. The first weeks of Advent direct us to the coming of Christ at the end of time. These weeks call us to prepare for Christ’s arrival through the conversion of our lives. Yet Advent, unlike Lent, is not a penitential season. The latter days of Advent turn to joyful anticipation as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ. Therefore, the call of Advent for us to convert is overshadowed by the supreme gift of God’s Son becoming human.
This understanding of conversion is a healthy one to follow. Too often, as we think of how we should change, our focus is placed on our shortcomings and our attitude is one of discouragement. Advent reminds us that the power of conversion does not flow primarily from our own willpower, but from God’s grace made manifest in Jesus. Even as we admit our sins, our focus should be placed on God’s power. Our attitude should be one of hope and joy.
This week, on Wednesday, December 7th, at 7:00 p.m., we will hold our Advent Communal Penance Liturgy. I encourage you to participate. I ask you to come with an Advent spirit. As we look forward to Christ’s coming at the last judgement, we certainly need to change our lives. But as we look back at His birth, we should realize that there is always reason for hope and joy. If God so loves us as to give us Jesus as our Savior, then we certainly can change. We need not fear, because God’s love and mercy overshadow all or our sins.
I have described Christ’s first coming at His birth and the second coming at the end of time, but there is still one more coming which is just as important. That is the coming of Christ into our lives today. Participating in our Advent Communal Penance Liturgy is one way to make that coming real. I hope to see you there.
SOCIAL JUSTICE COLLECTION – This weekend our ushers will be in the Narthex to accept your donations to our Social Justice Fund.
RETIREMENT FUND FOR RELIGIOUS – Next weekend our ushers will be in the Narthex to accept your donations to the Retirement Fund for Religious. Help make a difference in lives of senior sisters, brothers, and religious order priests who benefit from the annual appeal.
LITURGICAL MINISTER SCHEDULES – have been emailed. If you have not received one please stop in the parish office or pick one up in the kiosk.
BULLETIN ARTICLES – Due to the holiday printing schedule, all articles for the December 24th-25th bulletin and January monthly calendar events must be in the office by Monday, December 12th. Articles for the December 31st-January 1st bulletin must be in the office by Monday, December 19th.
AUGUSTINE RAFFLE CALENDARS – are being sold to support the Hunger Center. They are $25 each and offer 365 chances to win throughout the year. They make good Christmas gifts. Calendars will be available after Masses the weekend of December 17th and 18th.
CHRISTMAS DECORATING VOLUNTEERS – We will be decorating the church for Christmas on Thursday, December 22nd at 4:00 p.m. If you would like to help decorate, please call the parish office at 440-946-0887.
2017 MASS BOOK – The Mass Book is open, and we are currently offering Mass Intentions throughout the year. Intentions are $10 per Mass. Please stop by the Parish Office if you would like to schedule Masses.
CHRISTMAS PROJECT BASKETS – are due back, unwrapped, the weekend of December 10th-11th. Sign up to help with cookie baking, basket wrapping or basket delivery on the kiosk in the narthex. Monetary donations can be placed in the basket in the narthex or sent to the parish office.
UPCOMING BLOOD DRIVE – Our next blood drive is scheduled for Sunday, December 18th from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the Banquet Center. Give the gift of life this season; signup to donate at www.redcrossblood.org/. Thanks to the Repkos for coordinating this blood drive.
JANUARY 2017 HOSPITALITY VOLUNTEERS NEEDED – The Hospitality Committee needs more volunteers to serve coffee, hot chocolate and doughnuts after all Masses. The commitment is for once every four or five weeks beginning in January 2017. Please call Betty Louis 440-942-4009 or St. Noel office 440-946-0887 if you are interested in helping.
ADDITIONAL USHERS FOR 9 AM MASS ARE REQUESTED – We could use additional ushers for the 9 a.m. Mass. Schedules are made for a rotational assignment. Ushers are assigned for 4 weeks on and then off for a time based on the total number of ushers. If interested contact Ed McKenna 440-944-6492 or [email protected]
BAGELS FOR THE PANTRY – Brueggers Bagels in Willoughby (near Heinens) has partnered with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and is donating bagels to the St. Noel Food Pantry 4 days per week. We’re looking for people willing to pick up bagels (5-6 dozen) in the morning and transport them to St. Noel. Pick-up days are Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The bagels will be bagged and ready to go. Please call Anthony (946-1128 x122) if you can help.
NOEL FOOD PANTRY – Now is the perfect time to support the pantry. Most needed items include: tuna fish, spaghetti sauce in jars, peanut butter, jelly, macaroni & cheese, toilet paper. Please pick up a blue grocery bag in the narthex, fill it with non-perishable food, and return it to St. Noel. Our pantry served 70 families during the month of October. Thanks to all who support the pantry. Remember, online donation is always available at https://stnoel.org/social-justice/.
COOKIES FOR THE PANTRY – Join members of the parish on Saturday, December 10th at 9:00 a.m. in the Small Hall to create trays of homemade cookies which are distributed through the St. Noel Food Pantry. Please bring your cookies already baked and ready to go. We will have all the necessary materials to create beautiful trays for our pantry guests. Families are welcome. Thanks to Ada Gornik for organizing this yearly event.
PARISH DAYTIME RETREAT – will be on Wednesday, December 7th, from 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. “The Incarnation: Living in the Awareness of God’s Greatest Gift” will be facilitated by the Retreat Community. Sign up on the kiosk or call Fran at 440-625-1228. A suggested donation of $6.00. All are welcome!
ADVENT COLORING PRAYER – Do you want some time for quiet reflection in the week before Christmas? Do you like to color? Join us on Monday, December 19th from 7-8 pm in the Small Hall to color and pray. Materials will be provided, but if you have a favorite set of colored pencils you can bring them along. All ages are welcome. Contact Michele ([email protected] or 440-946-1128 x121) to reserve your space.
GIRLS’ BOOK CLUB – will meet again on Tuesday, January 24th at 6:30 p.m. The book we will be discussing is “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen. Copies of the book will be available to sign out in the parish office. Sign up on the table in the narthex. This event is open to all girls in grades 6-12.
CATHOLIC UPDATE – is available in the kiosk. The theme of the December issue is “Being a Permanent Deacon: WORD, ALTAR, AND CHARITY.”
NOEL FELLOWSHIP – Meetings are held on Thursdays at 12:00 Noon in the St. Noel Banquet Center Small Hall. Activities are: On December 8th, Bingo. On December 15th, socializing meeting; 12:30 p.m., Christmas Luncheon Menu: Sirloin filet w/ mushrooms, baked potatoes w/ sour cream, salad, green beans and carrots, rolls and butter, cheese cake w/topping. For tickets call Theresa Durik at 440-585-9088. Cost is $12.00. Deadline for tickets and payments is December 12th; also will be Birthdays and Anniversaries. Bring something for the food pantry and get a free 50/50ticket. NO MEETING on December 22nd and 29th. Everyone is welcome!
YOUNG ADULT LEADERSHIP POSITIONS AVAILABLE – Our college-aged parishioners (18-21) are encouraged to apply to be on the Camp YAC Leadership Team. This team will work together to plan and facilitate Camp YAC in June 2017. This paid opportunity will provide young adults an exciting and meaningful way to develop leadership skills and make a positive impact in our community. Contact Erica Zalar (946-1128 x120) to apply.
LOOKING AHEAD TO LENT – The Jesuit Retreat House invites you to participate in “Embracing the Mystery,” a four-part series designed specifically for St. Noel Parish. The series will be held at St. Noel on Mondays, February 6, March 6 and April 3, from 6-9 p.m. and conclude with a retreat on Saturday, May 6 from 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Cost for the series is $40, which includes Henry Nouwen’s book, “Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World.” Participants will explore landmarks on the spiritual journey, including suffering and death, grace and redemption, enhancing their Lenten and Easter experience. The series will be led by parishioner Emma Krueger, a certified spiritual director, graduate of the Ignatian Spirtuality Institute at John Carroll University, and certified leader of Contemplative Prayer and Retreat through the Shalem Insitute. You can find more information and a registration form on the kiosk in the Narthex or on the parish website (stnoel.org).
ALWAYS OUR CHILDREN – The parents support group for families and friends of gay and lesbian Catholics welcomes you to join us at our next meeting, Sunday, December 11th, from 2:00-3:30 p.m. in the SJV Philomena Center of St. John Vianney Parish on Bellflower Rd., Mentor.
GIVE HOPE TO SOMEONE IN NEED: Donate Your Car to St. Vincent de Paul Society. Your car can become food, medicine and rent for the poor in our community. Donate your car, truck, RV or boat to the St. Vincent de Paul Society and receive a tax donation. It’s quick and easy. Call 800-322-8284 or donate online: www.svdpusa.org.
DIVORCED OR SEPARATED – and struggling with the holidays? Join us for a special 4-week mini support group for those having difficulty facing the holidays as a result of separation and divorce. This special program is intended to offer practical advice, support, and the skills to get through the holidays and move forward. Building new holiday traditions, identifying and managing the emotions of divorce, opening opportunities for growth and new beginnings, and turning a corner and facing a new year are some of the topics that will be covered. Attend one session, all four, or anything in between. We will meet Tuesday evenings from 7:00-9:00 p.m., on December 6th and 13th and January 3rd and 10th, 2017, at St. Noel Church, 35200 Chardon Rd., Willoughby Hills. To register or for more info: call Karen @ 440-352-8282 or email: [email protected]
WILLOUGHBY HILLS RECREATION DEPARTMENT- will be hosting their Annual Willoughby Hills Winter Fest and Lighting Ceremony on Sunday, December 4th, 5:00 p.m. at the Willoughby Hills Fire Department. Join us for a night filled with fun, raffles, food, music, the lighting of Christmas Card Lane & much more. Our Mission: Fill an ambulance with Toys for Hallum’s Heroes. Bring a new, unwrapped toy and receive an entry for a special raffle (toy donations are not required to attend.) This is a free event.