In November of 2000, inspired by Saint Pope John Paul’s earlier celebration of Mass in St. Peter’s Square with over 50,000 immigrants and refugees from all over the world, the U.S. Bishops published a powerful statement entitled, Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity. The Bishops recognized that “As the new millennium unfolds, the “new immigration” from all the continents of the world calls attention to the reality of the United States as largely a “nation of immigrants” …… In this new context, the Catholic community is rapidly re-encountering itself as an “immigrant Church,” a witness at once to the diversity of people who make up our world and to our unity in one humanity, destined to enjoy the fullness of God’s blessings in Jesus Christ” (p.7).
This “new immigration” continues to our present day, and the words of our U.S. Bishops remain as timely as when they were published almost 20 years ago. As people of faith trying to make sense of the current immigration climate in our country, the Bishops’ call to unity is instructive: “We reject the anti-immigrant stance that has become popular in different parts of our country, and the nativism, ethnocentricity, and racism that continue to reassert themselves in our communities. We are challenged to get beyond ethnic communities living side by side within our own parishes without any connection with each other. We are challenged to become an evangelizing Church open to interreligious dialogue and willing to proclaim the Gospel to those who wish to hear it..… The call to communion goes out to all members of the Church—bishops, priests, deacons, religious, lay leaders, and parishioners—to prepare themselves to receive the newcomers with a genuine spirit of welcome.” (p.2).
The call to unity in Christ is paramount to the Bishops, and they encourage everyone to take that call seriously. “As Catholics we are called to take concrete measures to overcome the misunderstanding, ignorance, competition, and fear that stand in the way of genuinely welcoming the stranger in our midst and enjoying the communion that is our destiny as Children of God” (p.31)
Unity does not mean lawlessness, and the Bishops also recognize the importance of law; however, civil law does not transcend or neutralize basic human rights. “Without condoning undocumented migration, the Church supports the human rights of all people and offers them pastoral care, education, and social services, no matter what the circumstances of entry into this country, and it works for the respect of the human dignity of all—especially those who find themselves in desperate circumstances. We recognize that nations have the right to control their borders. We also recognize and strongly assert that all human persons, created as they are in the image of God, possess a fundamental dignity that gives rise to a more compelling claim to the conditions worthy of human life. Accordingly, the Church also advocates legalization opportunities for the maximum number of undocumented persons, particularly those who have built equities and otherwise contributed to their communities” (p.11).
As Catholics, we must enter into the current immigration debate and not resign to a comfortable place on the sidelines. Entering into the debate, however, comes with responsibility. We cannot simply throw ourselves into the fracas shouting without listening or arguing without thinking. We enter the conversation as people of faith armed with the Good News of the Gospel and the wise teachings of our Church.
I encourage you to read the Bishops’ statement, posted on the website (stnoel.org), and take to heart the wisdom of the Church we claim as our own.
TAKE OUT MAGAZINE – The February issue of Family Faith on the Go, “Pit Stops for Peace,” is in the kiosk. Please pick up a copy for your family.
HOLD THE DATES – Plans are being made for our Lenten series to be held on Tuesdays, March 12, 19 & 26 from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. The theme is wholeness/holiness. Our presenters are members of our parish. Watch the bulletin for more details.
YOUTH MINISTRY – Thank you for your support of our Youth Ministry’s Pancake Breakfast last weekend. After expenses, we collected $927.95.
BAPTISM PREPARATION – Parents and parents to be who plan to present a child for Baptism in the next six months should call the parish office (440-946-0887) to register for a baptism preparation session.
THE CLEVELAND ECUMENICAL INSTITUTE – Winter programs continue.
Fr. George Smiga – The Mystery of the Cross: Exploring the Gospel of Mark.
Saturdays, through March 2nd, from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Additional information can be found on the kiosk or online at ceirs.org.
SOCIAL JUSTICE/ST. AUGUSTINE – On Sunday, February 24th, our volunteers will be serving the meal at the St. Augustine Hunger Center. There is a sign-up sheet on the kiosk if you are able to lend a hand.
SACRISTANS – are needed to serve for our weekend liturgies. Please contact the parish office if you are interested.
2019 MASS INTENTIONS are available throughout the remainder of this calendar year. This is a wonderful way to remember our special intentions, while having our church community come together in prayer. Please stop by the parish office to schedule a mass intention.
LUNCH WITH FATHER GEORGE – High school teens are invited to attend lunch with Father George on Sunday, February 24th following the 11:00 mass. This is a great opportunity to spend time with our beloved pastor and to seek answers to questions you have about the Catholic faith. Please RSVP and submit questions by February 17th to Kaitlin at [email protected].
JAIL MINISTRY – St. Noel is part of a 5-parish team that leads Sunday night communion services in the Lake County jail. We are in need of additional ministers. We always serve in pairs and training is provided. Please contact Anthony if interested (440-946-1128).
LEAF – Our next LEAF meeting is this Monday, February 18th at 7:00 p.m. in the Nativity Room. If you have a loved one who is incarcerated, consider attending LEAF (Listening, Empowering, Assisting Families). LEAF is a non-denominational ministry where relatives and friends of those incarcerated can join with others in conversation and fellowship. Meetings are anonymous and registration is not required. Visit www.leafministry.org or call the St. Noel parish office at 440-946-0887 for more information.
FREE FRESH PRODUCE – Our next senior market is scheduled for Monday, February 25th from 2-4 p.m. in the Banquet Center. We moved to the 4th Monday due to President’s Day and will return to the 3rd Monday in March. Please spread the word. Our January market served 118 people.
FOOD PANTRY NEEDS – We are currently in need of condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayo, etc), and baking items (jello, pudding, flour, sugar, oil, etc). The pantry continues to thrive because of your generosity. Thank you!
UPCOMING BLOOD DRIVE – Our next blood drive is scheduled for February 24th from 9 a.m. -1 p.m. in the Banquet Center. Make an appointment to donate online at: redcrossblood.org. Volunteers are needed. Please sign the sheet on the kiosk if you can help. Thank you!
2018 HUNGER MINISTRIES REPORT – The Greater Cleveland Food Bank recently released stats for FY2018 regarding the St. Noel Food Pantry, Senior Market and Neighbor to Neighbor Meal. The reports are posted on the kiosk and are having a positive impact on the community. To all the volunteers that make these ministries possible, THANK YOU!!
EUCHARISTIC ADORATION – has made a difference in the lives of the men and women who spend time before the Blessed Sacrament on Mondays between 1-9 p.m. Each holy hour that you make in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament releases his grace and power upon you, your family and your parish. We are looking for an additional person to fill in the 6-7 p.m. time slot. If you are free and would like to experience this, please call Jan at 440-951-5593 or the church office. If you are unable to make a definite commitment, please stop in anytime during Eucharistic Adoration and you will be richly blessed.
COMMONWEAL LOCAL COMMUNITIES – The next Commonweal gathering on Monday, February 25th at 6:00 p.m. in the Resurrection Room will discuss the recent issue on Why We Came. Why We Left. Why We Stay. You do not need to be a subscriber to attend, but you must pre-register. If interested, email your name and parish to Jack Rakosky ([email protected]). Links for coming meeting including podcast interviews with three authors at: http://clcnetcleveland.blogspot.com/
SAINT MARY SEMINARY SEMINARIANS – Are putting on a Winter Festival Fundraiser in order to have monetary resources to use for various activities throughout the year. The fundraiser will be held at the Center for Pastoral Leadership and features great food, raffle opportunities, and an overall good time. Join us on Friday, February 22nd, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. Adults – $10, Children under 12 – $5. For more information call 440-943-7600.
INSTITUTE OF CATHOLIC STUDIES – invites you to join the Augustine Lecture: Exegesis of the Human Heart: narrating the Emotional Life of Christians with St. Augustine and Maximus the Confessor. Presented by Rev. Andrew J. Summerson, S.Th.D., JCU ’09, from St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church, Whiting Indiana. The lecture is February 28th at 7:30 p.m. at John Carroll University. The lecture is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 216-397-4558.
TETELESTAI – will be performed at Saint Paschal Baylon Church on March 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Performances will be at 8:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. Doors will open approximately 1 hour before. There is no charge, but free-will offerings will be accepted. For more information, please visit www.livethepassion.org.
DIVORCE RECOVERY FOR CATHOLICS – an 8-week support group designed to meet the needs of those who are divorced or separated. The group will begin Tuesday, March 12th and conclude on April 30th, from 7:00-9:00 p.m., at St. Mary Church in Chardon.
Sessions are designed to offer direction, support, and the tools for coping and moving on. Each group is tailored to meet the needs of the participants. For more information or to register, please call Catholic Charities at 352-6191 or 1-800-242-9755, or email [email protected] There is no charge for this program, all materials are provided, and it is open to people of all faiths.
CHARIS RETREAT – The Sisters of Notre Dame are sponsoring a Charis Retreat experience for young adults on the weekend of March 8-10. This will be a wonderful time of prayer and spiritual renewal. See the kiosk for details or to register, visit charis.org/choosingchrist_2019_cleveland, or contact Sr. Kate Hine, SND, at [email protected].
NATIONAL CATHOLIC SISTERS WEEK – During the week of March 8-14, we celebrate the vital contributions women religious women have made to the Church and to our communities. In that spirit, the Conference of Religious Leadership in the Diocese of Cleveland is co-sponsoring a workshop on Sunday, March 3rd from 1-4pm at Magnificat High School entitled, Civil Discourse: How to Have Difficult Conversations. See the flyer on the kiosk.