From the Pastor: Who Likes Donuts?
Who likes donuts? What kind of a crazy question is that? Who doesn’t like donuts? Heck, even people who don’t eat them generally like them but simply refrain for purposes other than a lack of enjoyment in eating them. The best donuts, of course, are Sunday morning donuts. There is nothing like a fresh donut after Mass. There is just something special about participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, where Jesus offers Himself to the Father in atonement for our sins, that naturally gets us thinking about eternal life and all of the joys of being in the Beatific Vision, which naturally makes the indulgence of consuming fried dough with icing on it seem like, maybe, a little peek into the joys of Heaven itself. Ok, maybe I exaggerated just a little bit there. But there is no denying that staying after Mass for coffee and donuts leads to stronger relationships among old and newfound friends. The young children eat and drink quickly so that they can (finally!) run around, yelling and playing; the young adults stand to eat their donuts and make plans for the week; and the “old” geezers—everyone over 30 and oh, so boring to the youngsters—enjoy just sitting and talking while leisurely consuming the one breakfast sweet that they will allow themselves all week. If you are following me so far, you can see just how important donuts are to parish life. And right about now it is dawning on you that you heard an announcement a couple of weeks back that the two families who have been “religiously” ordering and picking up the donuts for the past few years are ready to pass the torch to the next families who are willing to take on this grave responsibility. NO, WAIT! DON’T STOP READING YET!
The people who attend the 10:30 Mass generally have rotating groups that help make fresh coffee, set out drinks, serve the donuts, and clean up when things start winding down. As far as they know, the donuts milk, juice, cream, and other foods just appear in the kitchen, brought by angels when nobody is looking. Because multiple groups take on these tasks on a rotating basis (the groups that work the donut counter get to keep any donations over and above the cost of the food, and the parish picks up the tab if the donation jar is, ahem, light), none of the people helping out become overwhelmed with the burdens associated with occasionally working while everyone else socializes. But the people helping at the 7:30 are the ones charged with bringing in dozens upon dozens of donuts, enough for both Masses, plus stocking the refrigerator and pantry with the rest of the needed items, then getting everything set up, all before Mass begins! Then, after Mass, while everyone else is enjoying themselves as described above, the same people who brought everything in and set it all up, are the ones dishing it out and cleaning up. They also coordinate who is bringing in the extra homemade goodies (shhh, don’t tell this part to the 10:30 Mass people!) every couple of weeks when these delectable treats are made available. But there has been no rotating schedule for doing all of that, and they are ready to pass the torch to somebody else. if you remember, when the Traditional Latin Mass first started here in 2015, I was the one picking up the donuts and drinks before Mass started and I got to the point of needing others to take over for me, too. If you help take over, you will need others to pick up where you leave off at some point as well. It need not be a lifetime commitment!
It would certainly help if many families volunteered to take over so that nobody would have to bear such a heavy burden each and every week. It is really a great “ministry” and should be one that everybody wants to take turns doing. Ask those working the donut hour how they were able to do so much for so long and the answer will be something like, “Just look at the face of that young lad as he chooses his donut. It’s all worth it just for that!” They truly have enjoyed working so hard and the reward of helping others at church is just a foretaste of the reward awaiting them in Heaven. (I am not exaggerating here. This is truly an act of charity worthy of a reward for such a sacrificial and virtuous deed.) You get to know everybody and everybody gets to know you, at least by sight. And it certainly is something that helps strengthen the bonds of solidarity amongst the Faithful. If you attend the 7:30 Sunday Mass and would like to assist in this, please speak with either the Beards or the Owens’ (you know where to find them!) and let them show you what they do. Remember, that you can also, if you chose to make this a part of your parish life, change things up if you have a different vision of how things should/could be done. So if you are an “idea person” and have been thinking, “If only they would do thus and so it would be so much better” now is your chance to see your dreams come to fruition!
If nobody steps up to take over, that will be a sign that it is time to stop serving coffee and donuts at the early Mass and I will ask for volunteers at the 10:30 to pick up their donuts later in the morning. That would not be the end of the world. Even good things come and go. But if you want it to continue, don’t expect the angels to do all of the work!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A Meeting With Bishop Parkes
Last Monday I received a phone call from Bishop Parkes’ secretary. She told me that Bishop Parkes wanted to see me as soon as possible. Could I come to his office tomorrow at 2:30? The timing was actually quite good. Because Tuesday was my “day off” (after morning Masses, confessions, and Adoration) I didn’t have any appointments scheduled except for a visit to my dad, who lives only about thirty minutes away from the Chancery offices. So, at the appointed time I showed up for our meeting. I was greeted quite warmly by both Bishop Parkes and his always-amiable Vicar General, Msgr. Bob Morris, and sat down for business. I fully expected that I would be told the fate of Epiphany and the other two parishes where the Traditional Latin Mass is celebrated. Why else would the Bishop request a rushed meeting? Two Roman documents had forced Bishop Parkes to ask permission for such Masses to continue and, up until now, I had heard nothing of a response. Do we all get to continue offering the TLM? Have only one or two of us been given permission? Have any of us been given permission to continue celebrating the Mass but not in the parish church, meaning that we have to rent a tent or barn or find some other place to continue? I was sure I was about to find out. No matter what the outcome, at least we would no longer be held in suspense, for we have been like Isaac, filled with trust that God’s will be done, patiently waiting for either his father Abraham’s knife to plunge deeply into his heart or for the angel to call off the sacrifice at the last second.
Alas, that was not to be the case. The Bishop simply wanted to give me three messages. The first, and the one directly related to the paragraph above, is that he has not yet received an answer to his request that all three parishes continue as usual. He assured me that he fully supports us and that in his letter to Rome, which he sent a couple of months ago, he had laid out good arguments for keeping the TLM going in all three Diocesan locations. He has told me several times now that he supports us (specifically, Epiphany) and that he wants us to prosper. I have passed that message on to you before and I hope you know the sincerity of his words.
The second message was that he is not sure if we—Epiphany—support him in return. The main thing he has to base such support on is the CMA, the Catholic Ministry Appeal. As he reminded me, the CMA has replaced the old APA (Annual Pastoral Appeal), which previously assessed each parish approximately 20 percent of all donations and used the money for running Diocesan programs and paying Diocesan bills such as staff salaries, insurance, electricity, and whatnot. The APA assessment was obligatory and, if not paid through parishioner donations directly, would be collected forcibly by the Diocese taking it directly from our savings account. The CMA, on the other hand, is used for the same purposes but is completely voluntary in nature. I wrote about it last year about this same time as we were in about the same situation. If the Bishop thinks that the pastor is not doing his best to encourage support for the Diocese, the CMA goal will revert back to “compulsory” instead of “voluntary.” If he believes that the best effort is being made, even if the goal is not met, he will accept whatever is willingly given and call it a done deal. Our current CMA goal is approximately $123,000 of which only 12% has been paid by only 6% of our parishioners. He sees this as a lack of support from you, the parishioners, which, in turn, shows a lack of support from me, the pastor. He asked if it would help if he sent one of his staff to explain how the program works (for instance, you can choose where you wish your donation to be used if you wish) and why it is important (the Bishop doesn’t have the ability to “pass the hat” as we do every week). I answered truthfully that while I would welcome that, the man he sends must be willing to answer the question, “Are we being shut down?” He was a bit put off by that answer because it is not him that would shut us down should such a terrible thing happen, but rather the Pope. Bishop Parkes supports allowing Traditional Latin Masses to continue. Pope Francis has been clear that he wants us “backward” TLM people eliminated from parish life. I hope nobody objects to me stating that truth so bluntly and clearly. So here is another reminder that the Diocese needs funds and the people have an opportunity, through the CMA, to supply for her needs in a manner that is much better than the previous method.
The third thing Bishop Parkes wanted to tell me is that I am not present at many Diocesan functions. I certainly cannot argue with that statement. I attend all Diocesan meetings that are mandatory or seem informative, but that number is not large. I had no priest to take over for me during the annual Priest Convocation last fall and I stubbornly refuse to cancel Masses at the parish just so that I can enjoy the company of my fellow priests for the week. I skipped the Chrism Mass during Holy Week, and I have even been unable to attend several large fundraising dinner/speaker events that I normally attend. But I certainly can try harder.
At the end of the day, though, the sad reality is that we are still in Limbo.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Taylor Marshall and Bishop Schneider’s Visits
I wish we could have many more weeks like we had during the first week of May. At the same time, I hope we never have any more weeks like we had during the first week of May! What a blessing it was for both Dr. Taylor Marshall and Bishop Athanasius Schneider to be here back to back. But the amount of planning, physical work, preparation, and so much more was astronomical. I extend true thanks and gratitude to all of you who put this together, and who worked so hard before, during, and after the visits. Although I cannot possibly list everyone who sacrificed so much for these two men to be here almost back to back (and the extra priests, subdeacon, and brother who assisted us at either one or both events by hearing confessions and/or giving instructions and prayerful service at the altar), I would be remiss if I didn’t call out the Fraternal Society of St. John the Apostle.
This relatively new group in our parish has this mission and vision: “We call upon all Catholic men to become St. Johns: courageously standing with Christ and taking Holy Mother Church into our homes and into the world. We seek to inspire men of all vocations to live liturgically in their personal and professional lives by providing events centered around Adoration, Confession, fellowship, tradition, and spiritual enrichment. Finally, we seek to invite all Catholics to experience and restore the Traditions of the Church as lived by our ancestors and Saints.” If that mission and vision is appealing and you would like to be a part of this group, please reach out to Don Orrico, Jay Kelley, Matthew Coughlin, or Luca Hickman via 813-720-7002, email@example.com, or via fssja.substack.com.
Beyond that group, though, are countless more people who sacrificed so much to make this such a spectacular week. The parish staff really worked their tails off in many and various ways to get things ready. Answering phones and emails and flocknotes and other media monsters was enough to drive some of them insane. Trying to clean and rearrange and beautify the church, hall, classrooms, and rectory took superhuman strength. How they were able to complete such tasks with such large events as bookends to an already packed “normal” week’s schedule shows the supernatural power of prayer and faith. Arranging to have enough, but not too much so as to have it go to waste, food and drinks took some mighty fine guesswork as well as back-breaking labor. Arranging flowers, killing ants, fixing plumbing and electrical issues, and setting up tents took even more people away from whatever else they would normally have been doing. And there is no way of forgetting how many people sacrificed even being able to attend the Bishop’s Mass so that they could do all the work that was required to be done while the rest of us were inside praying and listening to such a holy successor to the Apostles. (I hope it wasn’t all of the same people who sacrificed attending Cardinal Burke’s Mass who did so again for Bishop Schneider, but I have a feeling that there was a lot of overlap. If you were able to participate in both of those Masses, perhaps you would consider trading places with one of them for the next exalted visitor?)
When Dr. Marshall gave his talk, we had a lot of female “infiltrators” who figured out that, although this was a male-only event, if they volunteered to work setting up and serving food and drinks, they could “clandestinely” listen in as he spoke. Fortunately for them, we were all so focused on spotting the undercover FBI agents that I don’t think anybody even noticed that the women were there. Wink, wink. But even if we had noticed, his talk on St. Joseph had captured our attention to such a degree that nobody would have wanted to break away from it long enough to kick out the imposters, anyway.
Our altar boys also had to undergo extra training once again and they did a phenomenal job serving Our Lord. I saw many of our Troops of St. George working with boyhood energy, going far beyond their “highlight” event of Presenting the Flag and singing the National Anthem. Many of those working these events were members of the American Heritage Girls, our Epiphany Council of Catholic Women, the junior and senior high youth groups, the young adult group, Knights of Columbus, and the Holy League. I don’t know which, if any, of them were recruited specifically because they were part of the group or how many were there on their own initiative, for those who are active in one area are also the ones who volunteer for everything else as well. But it was still great to see. I don’t think there was a single Epiphany group without representatives working hard to make the week a success in both worldly and Heavenly ways.
Finally, I wish to point out, as if you didn’t already know, how blessed we are to have such a fine schola. The assisting priests from the FSSP and ICKSP, both of which have the specific ministry of celebrating the Mass and other sacraments according to the older Rites, had high praise for the choir as they sang and chanted Compline, the Mass, and Vespers. I won’t mention how high was their praise, if only so that their own choirs won’t get jealous!
Now I conclude by stating, almost unbelievably, that I have already been fielding this question over and over. “So, Father, who is coming next?” Whew! I am still exhausted and you want to know who and when another great speaker or holy Bishop or Cardinal will come and wear me out again? Let me just say, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka