From the Pastor: Change of Venue and AHG
Last week I asked you to note on your calendars a change of morning Mass time for Saturday, December 15. That morning, instead of Mass beginning at the normal Saturday Mass time of 8:00 am, we will be celebrating the annual Rorate Coeli (also spelled Caeli) Mass (which always begins in the dark) at 6:30 am. If you show up at 8:00 you will miss it (but you could still attend the Novus Ordo 8:00 Mass in the rectory chapel). But I failed to include a very important bit of information. If you show up at Epiphany at 6:30 am that morning, you will miss the 6:30 am Rorate Mass, too. Why, you ask? Because we will be celebrating it as a Solemn High Mass at the new and quite beautiful chapel at Jesuit High School. So please make a note of that address, 4701 N Himes Ave, Tampa. It is so close to us that Fr. Vincent rides his bike from there to here when he celebrates Sunday Mass for us. From here, take Hillsborough Avenue past interstate 275 a couple of miles and turn left at the light at Himes. A few blocks in you will see St. Lawrence Catholic Church on the left. Go past it a few more blocks and the High School is also on the left. The Chapel is the large building in the center of the campus and it actually looks like a church (yes, I know that is hard to believe). Park in one of the lots and walk into the middle of all of the school buildings and you cannot miss it, even early in the morning in the dark. If you are worried at all about not finding it, just get there early!
We decided to make this one-day change for several reasons. We are very interested in showing off the new chapel at Jesuit in case we get to build one. You should all have the opportunity to see that, unlike what we have been led to believe for decades now, it is still possible to build a church that looks like a church both inside and out and has the functionality of a church, being built first and foremost for offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This new chapel even has fully functional (as opposed to either non-existent or simply decorative) side altars so that multiple priests can celebrate Mass without conflicting with other ongoing Masses. We are also hopeful that once you visit this chapel you will want to come back and encourage others to come. At this time we are training several Jesuit boys to serve the Traditional Latin Mass, which Fr. Vincent celebrates several times a week before school starts. Yes, a TLM is available at Jesuit in the mornings! I am not publishing days and times because the school calendar and Fr. Vincent’s calendar don’t make it as reliable a schedule as a parish schedule normally is (I write this as I announce a major change--for a day--of our own parish Mass schedule!) and I don’t want you to just assume that there will always be a Mass there. But ask Fr. Vincent and he will tell you what the schedule is and when he will be available to celebrate it. As a bonus for the school, it may also get some of you to seriously think about sending your boys there even if you have already written it off because it is run by the the, well, you know, Jesuits.
Now on to something else of note. A number of weeks ago our American Heritage Girls took up a collection of things and money to send to St. Dominic, a parish in the panhandle which had been wiped out by Hurricane Michael. You were so very generous that the girls were able to send a check for about $2000 plus the goods which you donated. Then Mark, the business manager of that parish, came to our parish (his sister Becky is a parishioner here, which is how we had a direct connection to the parish and the AHGs could be assured that the money was both needed and would be spent wisely) for a quick visit and to offer heartfelt thanks. He shared with us some stories and photos of the devastated church and community and the people attending the 10:30 Mass that day got a chance to speak with him in person after Mass. What powerful and riveting stories of destruction and cleanup and loss he had to tell, but also what great stories of people coming together to assist each other in time of need. Another $1100 or so was given to the AHG troop to send to St. Dominic! I loved the fact that he didn’t want to accept money directly from the many parishioners who tried to hand him a few dollars that day, but rather asked them to give it to the girls so that there was accountability for it. Thank you all for your generosity. A special thanks to the American Heritage Girls for making this a project, for making the project work, and for being so enthusiastic about helping a parish in time of great need. It touches this pastor’s heart to see the Catholic Faith in action among parishioners of all ages and means. Please continue to pray for the people of St. Dominic and that whole region, for they are far from back to normal even as we have long since forgotten about having a storm pass by.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka