At the end of 11:00 am Mass last weekend, Fr. Joe O’Donnell made a comment that has remained with me all week. While seated after communion, Fr. Joe thanked the parishioners for welcoming him so warmly and specifically thanked all the people who “came up and talked to a complete stranger.”
Hospitality has long been a notable attribute of our parish. In fact, the mission of St. Noel lists “Gracious Welcoming” as one of its three pillars. Countless new parishioners have credited the welcoming nature of our parish as one of the key reasons they chose to worship with us. We can be thankful for the good job that we’re doing and, at the same time, recognize the call to do even better.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus asks his disciples, “For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Jesus is talking about hospitality, the way we love one another and welcome one another, and he calls us to be perfect which, in one sense, means to be whole, without gaps, completely together. Reflecting on this meaning, if members of this community are unknown, unacknowledged or in any way invisible, our parish is less than whole, less than perfect. To the extent that each of us welcomes another and strives to forge new relationships with those we see each week, our parish moves closer to wholeness, closer to perfection.
Perhaps a Lenten commitment could be to take your level of welcoming and “kick it up a notch.” Make it a point to find someone new and to introduce yourself. Stay a little longer after Mass and insert yourself into a conversation. Find the lector or cantor or server from Mass and let them know you appreciate their ministry. Tell the Confirmation candidate or person preparing for First Communion that you’re praying for them. Give someone a hug.
Hospitality is more than being nice; it is reflective of God’s very being, and the momentum of hospitality builds on itself: one gracious act feeding off another until God’s welcoming spirit has permeated the entire body. No one enters the church unnoticed, and no one leaves unrecognized. I hope you can imagine St. Noel becoming that parish. It would be, in a word, perfect.
NO ST. NOEL VBS IN SUMMER 2020 – Because of the major roof project this summer, Vacation Bible School will not be offered at St. Noel in 2020.
LENTEN FAITH FORMATION ITEMS – including Not by Bread Alone 2020 (daily reflection booklet for Lent) and March 2020 Take Out Magazine are available on the table in the narthex.
FISH FRY VOLUNTEERS NEEDED – Please support our Lenten Fish Fries. You can sign up on the kiosk to help. The first Fish Fry is this Friday, February 28 from 4:30-7:30 p.m.
STATIONS OF THE CROSS – will be held every Friday during Lent beginning February 28th thru April 3rd at 7:30 p.m. This Friday, February 28th will be led by Deacon Dave Nethery.
SPIRITUAL ENRICHMENT – March 4th – 11:00 – 2:30 in the Resurrection Room “Solidarity with the Suffering and the Rejoicing,” part one. Speakers will share wisdom gained from experience. Lunch is included. Sign up on kiosk or call Fran @ 440-625-1228.
PARISH OFFICE VOLUNTEER NEEDED – We are in need of additional evening volunteers to assist in the parish office. This is a great way to become involved in the parish and meet new people! Our volunteers greet visitors, assist with simple office tasks and answer the office phones. If you are a “people person” and are interested in this opportunity, please contact the parish office (440-946-0887.)
LITURGICAL MINISTERS – The new schedule for Ministry Scheduler Pro (MSP) is now completed through the end of May and available to view as assigned.
St. Noel Concert Series: Benefit Concert for Lake County Homeless Shelter – Join us on Sunday, March 8th at 4:00 p.m. at St. Noel Church for this special concert. The Choir of Hope (Agnieszka Bieniek, director) and the Lithuanian Community Choir Exultate (Rita Cyvas-Kliorys, director), soloists, and an orchestra will present the concert “Gabriel Fauré and Friends.” In part I, you will hear compositions of Gabriel Faure, Ola Gjeilo, and Clause Debussy, and in part II, a beautiful Requiem by Gabriel Fauré. The concert is free and open to the public. A free will offering will be collected, with 100% of it going to support the Lake County Homeless Shelter – Project Hope for the Homeless. A small reception with Lithuanian specialties will be served in the Narthex after the concert. If you can’t come to the concert but still would like to support Lake County Homeless Shelter – Project Hope for the Homeless, you can give a monetary donation or any items from the list below each weekend from February 8 to March 8 in the Narthex. Items needed for Project Hope for the Homeless: gift cards to Giant Eagle, Walmart, and gas stations ($5 and $10 value only); large size shampoo, hair conditioner and body wash; bath towels (new or gently used), 1 gallon zip-loc bags; 13 and 30 gallons garbage bags; coffee (regular and decaf); 8-12 oz cold/ hot cups. For more information please contact Agnieszka (Aga)Bieniek at [email protected]. Thank you so much for your support.
BLOOD DRIVES – Our blood drive is this weekend!! Donate on Sunday, Feb 23rd from 9-1pm in the Banquet Center. Walk-ins are always welcome! Thanks to Tom Repko, Wendy Zorman, and the Fullerman Family for their service.
FOOD PANTRY – So far in 2020, the pantry has served 278 people. Currently, we are in need of “Chunky” or “Progresso” soup, pasta, spaghetti sauce in jars, and strawberry jelly.
TEATIME FOR PEACE – celebrate the 4-year anniversary with a wonderful interfaith dialogue on Saturday, February 29th at West Shore UUC Church in Rocky River. See the kiosk for details.
RECYCLE OLD RELIGIOUS ITEMS – St. Mary Mission from Lancaster, PA will be in the Diocese of Cleveland the week of March 2nd collecting used religious items that are no longer needed. Items accepted include: vestments, crucifixes, statues, rosaries, chalices (not pottery), medals, relics, prayer books, bibles, linens, candle holders/racks, altar ware, wall hangings/banners, etc. They will not accept: hymnals, furniture, holy cards, and textbooks. Please bring your used items to the parish office. Deadline is March 1st.
COMMONWEAL LOCAL COMMUNITY – Monday, February 24th at 6:30pm in the Resurrection Room. Two articles from the January issue will be discussed. Strange Gods: Idolatry in the twenty-first century and a review of The Enchantments of Mammon: How Capitalism became the Religion of Modernity. A discussion guide is available at the kiosk, and links to the articles are at https://clcnetcleveland.blogspot.com E-mail your interest to Jack Rakosky, [email protected] gmail.com to be on our mailing list.
WE ARE CALLED – Join our parish – and more than 14,000 parishes across the US – in a life-changing Lenten journey with CRS Rice Bowl. Pick up your family’s Rice Bowl from the narthex this weekend. During the 40 days of Lent, we will reflect on the challenge of global hunger and how it affects our human family.
LENTEN BAGS & TAGS – We will again be collecting bags of items for Forbes House (the Lake County Women’s Shelter), Project Hope (the Lake County homeless shelter), Birthright, St Augustine Hunger Center, and the St. Noel Food Pantry. Plastic bags, tags with the items needed, and information on the various agencies will be available on the table in the narthex beginning next weekend. These works of mercy are a tremendous benefit to the agencies; please consider making the bags a part of your Lenten devotion.
FOOD PANTRY BAGS – Over the last 4 years, we’ve distributed close to 500 St. Noel Food Pantry bags. If you have a bag lying around your home, please return it to the parish (with some food ☺) so it can get back into circulation. Thank you!
FREE FRESH PRODUCE – Our next senior market is scheduled for Monday, February 24th from 2-4 in the Banquet Center. Because the Greater Cleveland Food Bank was closed on February 17th, we needed to reschedule the date to February 24th. Please spread the word. We will return to the 3rd Monday in March.
GREETINGS FROM THE PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY – The LIGHT of Jesus shines within all of us. Perhaps you can bring LIGHT to someone who is in need of spiritual, physical, or emotional healing by bringing them a Prayer Shawl or Pocket Prayer Square. These items can be picked up free of charge at the parish office during office hours. We are in great need of people to crochet and knit as well as monetary donations to continue our new ministry. Please give prayerful thought to answering our call for help. Come to our next meeting on March 3rd, 11-12:30pm, in the Resurrection Room, to see what we’re all about. For information or to make a monetary donation, contact Candice Minello at 440-336-0991 or by email at [email protected].
SERVERS NEEDED: We are in need of servers for all of our weekend liturgies. Altar serving is open to anyone age 10 (or in 4th grade) and older: kids, teens, adults. Parents can even serve with their children. Anyone is welcome. Serving is a wonderful way to fully participate in liturgy. Why not give it a try? If interested, please call the parish office, 440-946-0887.
LENTEN SERIES– Bethany Retreat Center — Experience the transforming power of the PSALMS as we reflect on what the psalms tell us about God, ourselves and others. 5 Thursdays during Lent: Feb. 27 – March 26, 9:30AM -11:00AM. Facilitated by Sister Mary Theresa Betz, SND spiritual director and retreat director. $25.00 for the series. For further information or to register contact Sister Jennifer Kramer, SND 440-279-1143 or [email protected] Register by February 17.
NOTRE DAME YOUNG ADULT RETREAT – A retreat for young adults in their twenties and thirties: Are you interested in taking time away with God? Perhaps the Encounter: Ignatian Silent Retreat weekend designed to help young adults personalize and deepen their relationship with God is for you! The retreat will be held at Bethany Retreat Center in Chardon, OH. It starts on Friday, March 6 at 7 p.m. and concludes at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 8th. Mass is included in the retreat. The cost is $50 and includes private accommodations, meals and supplies. Scholarships are available. For more information or to register, contact Sr. Kelley Rush, SND at [email protected] or 440-241-3124.
WILLOUGHBY HILLS COMMUNITY PANCAKE BREAKFAST – Willoughby Hills Recreation will hold their annual all-you-can-eat Pancake Breakfast on Sunday, March 8th from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Willoughby Hills Community Center. Pre-sale tickets can be purchased at Willoughby Hills Community Hall. Please call the Recreation Department if you need additional information 440-975-3540.
PRE-PLANNING SEMINAR – Please join us on March 7, 2020 for a burial pre-planning seminar. The seminar will be held at All Souls Cemetery 10366 Chardon Rd. Chardon, OH 44024. Attendees will receive a personal reference file and special discount coupon. Reservations are appreciated. Please contact 216-641-7575 Ext 4 or [email protected] with any questions.