With this weekend’s Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the Christmas season officially comes to an end. Monday morning, the white and gold vestments will be hung up and be exchanged for green – the liturgical color that signifies hope and new life. This begins a short period of Ordinary Time, before Ash Wednesday (February 26) marks the start of Lent. With the conclusion of the Christmas season, I want to take this opportunity to thank the very many who remain so dedicated and devoted to our parish family. Your efforts help to maintain the welcoming atmosphere and dignity of our celebrations, which continue to be the hallmark of Saint Noel.
Our music ministry, under the most talented direction of Agnieszka Bieniek (with us now for ten years), heightened the solemnity of every celebration, providing us fitting worship of the Living God! In collaboration with Elke White, assisted by Greg Eastridge, their direction of the bell choir offered at the same time both that solemn and joyful ringing, distinctive to Christianity. To every choir member, cantor, and instrumentalist: the giving of your time and talent fostered our full, conscious, and active participation, and we thank you!
To our florist, Chris Amos, members of Art and Environment, and to those who assisted with the decoration of the church: your planning and implementation complimented, not only the sacred space of the sanctuary, but of our narthex gathering space. The use of color, texture, and the beauty of nature always seeks to pay tribute to the liturgy and never detract from it. Thank you for executing all things well.
To our sacristans, Mass coordinators, ushers and greeters, Children’s Liturgy of the Word leaders, those who serve on hospitality, and to all our liturgical ministers; whether as an altar server, lector, or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, your exercise of ministry or volunteer position, again, ensures the dignity of our celebrations.
Words of thanksgiving and gratitude are in order to Chef Randy, and all who collaborate and work with, for, and beside him. This year marks his thirtieth year with the Saint Noel Banquet Center! Our guests, as well as our own staff, have benefited from his own gifts, talented crew, and accommodating nature, not only this holiday season, but all throughout the year. Be sure and remember to think of utilizing our banquet center for your next celebration, which remains a tremendous asset to our parish!
Thank you for the many cards, kindly-written words, gift enclosures, and homemade bakery that made their way to the office and rectory. I am most appreciative and diligently at work with my thank you notes! Please forgive me, if I unintentionally forget you in these weeks ahead. The financial support reflected in the Christmas collection demonstrates, significantly, your unwavering endorsement of Saint Noel, making it possible to sustain the way in which the liturgy is celebrated, and parish life is preserved. The printed word, liturgical books, vessels, musical instruments, accompanists, and the maintenance of our grounds all come at a cost. I am the first to recognize that many parishes are not in the position, financial or otherwise, to honor the manner in which we are able celebrate. With the gratitude of a shepherd’s heart, I thank you.
Finally, a kind word of thanks to the pastoral and support staff of Saint Noel, those who volunteer their time in the parish office, our collection counters, and those who maintain our buildings and grounds: you collaborate with each other and nearly all (if not all) the above mentioned. This is what it truly means to be a parish family: to give of our time, talent, and treasure, and to live out our respective vocations and ministries within the Church. “There are different gifts, but the same Spirit” (1 Cor 12:4). You continue to assist me with this transition and have all contributed greatly to the meaning and beauty behind my first Christmas as pastor. May each of you know the reward of your goodness.
Every good wish and prayer be granted you and your loved ones in the New Year ahead!
COMMUNAL BLESSING AND INVITATION – This weekend at all our Masses, children who are preparing to celebrate First Communion this Easter season will come forward and receive our prayers and support. We will encourage them to participate in actions of love and service in the upcoming months and to follow the example of those in our community who make that love and service a regular part of their lives. Look for these children, who will be wearing special name badges, and take time to share with them what your faith means to you. Please keep all of them in your prayers. In this way, we as a community can help prepare these children to grow in their lives of service as Christ’s disciples.
POINSETTIAS – After the 11:00 a.m. Mass this Sunday, January 12th we will be taking down the Christmas decorations in the church and will be giving away the Poinsettias afterwards in the Narthex to anyone who would like them.
FAMILY FAITH FORMATION RESOURCES – Copies of the January 2020 Take Out Magazine and Celebrating Sunday are available (one per family) in the kiosk and on the table in the narthex.
JUST 4 FUN – is hosting a night of Rumba Dance Lessons and Dinner on Saturday January 18th in the Banquet Center, following the 5:00 p.m. Mass. Individuals or couples, friends or youth are welcome! Instruction will be taught in part as a line dance by our parishioners, Bill & Pam Ungar! After the lesson we will rest, enjoy our meal together and then open the floor to practice our Rumba! Please wear smooth soled shoes, no tennis shoes allowed! Call the Parish Office (440-946-0887) to make your reservation by Monday, January 13th.
There will be a minimal cost associated with the dinner, and we will calculate that once we have a final headcount.
JAIL MINISTERS NEEDED – 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 for 2020. We always serve in pairs and training is provided. Please consider God’s call to this important ministry and contact Anthony if interested (440-946-1128).
HOSPITALITY COMMITTEE – needs volunteers to serve coffee and doughnuts on Saturday at the 5:00 p.m. Mass. The commitment is for once a month beginning in January 2020. Anyone interested in helping, please call Betty Louis (440) 942-4009 or the St. Noel Office at (440) 946-0887.
FOOD PANTRY – 2020 has begun well with many donations from community organizations. We are still in need of mac-n-cheese & strawberry jelly. Did you see the article in the News Herald? Check out the 2 posts on the St. Noel website.
BAGELS – Since December 2016, we have picked up and distributed over 9 tons (18,085lbs) of bagels from Brueggers in Willoughby. Many thanks to Brueggers and to Steve Cesar, Rich Beckwith, and Karen & Bruce Fraley for their dedicated service.
HELPING HANDS – On Saturday January 25th we will be hosting our CRS Helping Hands event to help feed the people of Burkina Faso. We are in need of 75 more volunteers to do the meal packing. Check-in for the event is at 11:30 a.m. Packing and clean up should be completed by 2:30 p.m. If you signed up online then you are already registered for the event. If not, then you may sign up this weekend after Mass. Sign-up sheets are on the table in the Narthex. You need not have made a donation in order to volunteer. Thank you for your generosity. We are very close to reaching out goal of $5000.
WORLD DAY OF PEACE – For the last 53 years, on the 1st day of the year, the Vatican releases a message of peace from the Pope. In this year’s message, Pope Francis emphasizes that the road to Peace is a journey of hope, rooted in dialogue, reconciliation, and ecological conversion. Read the entire message on our website, stnoel.org. Thanks to our CRS Ambassador, Martie Matuska, for posting this wonderful message.
BLOOD DRIVE – our December blood drive was the most successful of 2019 with 31 total units donated. Thanks to all who participated and to Maureen Witucki for staffing the welcome table. Our next drive is scheduled for February 23, 2020. Please contact Anthony if interested in helping with blood drives.
PARISH SPAGHETTI DINNER/TALENT SHOW – The parish spaghetti dinner, featuring our Balloon Artist, Swifty the Clown, is scheduled for January 26th. This means another year of first-rate entertainment at the talent show. Any parishioner, including adults, are invited to perform. We’ve had musicians, poets, comics, gymnasts, dancers, singers, cup stackers, checkers masters, and more. Please sign up on the kiosk to register your act!
EUCHARISTIC ADORATION – We are looking for someone who can come to Eucharistic Adoration on Mondays between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. Many parishioners are richly blessed each Monday as they spend time before the Blessed Sacrament. 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. If you are free and would like to experience this encounter with Jesus, please call Jan at 440-951-5593 or the church office.
GREETINGS FROM THE PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY – Do you know of a loved one, friend, or co-worker who is experiencing difficult times for any reason? Mary’s Hands has a number of Prayer Shawls and Pocket Prayer Squares which are woven with our prayers and love for their spiritual healing of mind, body, and spirit. You can pick one out free of charge from the parish office during office hours. When you fill out the request form, our entire ministry prays for the intentions of the one to whom you gave the shawl. Together, let us bring God’s healing love into another’s life this New Year. As a reminder, our next meeting will be Saturday, Jan. 25th, from 9:30-11:00 a.m., in the Resurrection Room. Hope to see you then.
COMMONWEAL LOCAL COMMUNITY – On January 27th at 6:30 p.m. in the Resurrection Room we will discuss the relationships between religion, culture and nationalism including two articles from the November Commonweal issue. Background articles on Consumerism and Christianity are available at our display in the kiosk area. For links to the recent articles, check out https://clcnetcleveland.blogspot.com E-mail your interest to Jack Rakosky, [email protected] gmail.com.
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, January 12th, from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. in the SJV Philomena Center of St. John Vianney Parish on Bellflower Rd., Mentor.
THEOLOGY ON THE ROCKS – Join us on Monday, January 13th at 7:00 p.m., 1414 Riverside Dr., Lakewood, for our speaker, Fr. John Manning, who will discuss the History of the Diocese. Fr. Manning is a judge in the Tribunal office, a delegate for retired priests, and is part of the faculty at Saint Mary’s Seminary where he is the Associate Professor on Church History. Register in advance – $12 per person www.theologyontherocks.wixsite.com/west
CATHOLIC CEMETERIES ASSOCIATION – FREE MONTHLY GRIEF SUPPORT GROUPS – God has seen your tears and heard your prayers. You are not meant to walk this journey of grief alone. Please join us in our friendly, safe, and comforting groups that meet at 3:00 p.m. on the 3rd Sunday of each month in six of our cemetery office locations throughout the diocese. Find comfort, enlightenment, fellowship. Next meeting is January 19th Topic: “He Makes All Things New”. For more details, visit www.clecem.org or contact Rhonda at [email protected] or 216-930-4866.
SEEKERS RETREAT – The 2020 Seekers’ Retreat for Young Adults is scheduled for January 31-February 2 at the Bethany Retreat Center in Chardon. See the flyer on the kiosk or contact Sr. Kate Hine ([email protected]) for details. This beautiful retreat would be a wonderful gift to yourself or the young adult in your life.