From the Pastor: Follow-ups to Last Week's Items
1) Because this item was the last of four items of note last week, it seems that nobody read it, so here goes one more shot at this. Every year the priests of the diocese get together from Monday afternoon through Thursday afternoon during the first full week of October in what is officially called the Convocation for Priestly Renewal. For as long as the Bethany Center has been open as our Diocesan Retreat Center, we have met there. We pray together, we share meals together, we hear some talks, we shoot the breeze, and enjoy priestly fraternity. Late nights are a given, especially when the Rays are in the playoffs and have night games. Sometimes the people giving the talks and are worth listening to and sometimes not so much, just as in any organization. But the main attraction is just having time to spend with other priests. Many of us only see each other on rare occasions when we are at meetings or large diocesan Masses, when there is no time to do more than just say “hello” or wave a greeting across a room. Some parishes cancel Masses during the Convocation. I choose not to do so. I used to get up early (after the late night) to drive back to celebrate Mass and then drive back for the morning talk. It was not ideal. So I started having parish missions held during that week so that the mission preacher could celebrate the morning Masses and I could more fully enjoy the convocation. Covid threw a monkey wrench into that plan a couple of years ago as the Mission preachers were put under travel restrictions by their Bishop. This year we have our parish Mission already scheduled for November 11-16, so I didn’t schedule a Mission for the Convocation. You may recall that the Bishop wants me to show up at more diocesan functions so I will once again travel back and forth. But I will not be able to stay long enough to offer confessions and Adoration on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. So please note this and don’t call me or the office or write questions about it on farcebook: The Monday and Friday schedule is as normal but on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (October 3, 4, and 5) there will be Mass as normal at 6:30 am and 8:00 am but without confession or Adoration following Mass on those three days, as I must return to the Bethany Center for the mid-morning talks. I highly recommend that you don’t ask anyone in the office if there will be Adoration or confessions next week, for physical harm may come to you as one or more staff members smack you upside the head with a rolled-up bulletin while yelling, “DOESN’T ANYONE READ THIS THING?”
2) Bishop Parkes was at our Deanery meeting this week. (The diocese is broken into “deaneries” much as Florida is broken into counties.) He made a point of telling me in person what he recently emailed, that he is still receiving, on a near-daily basis, letters and notes of support and encouragement from our parishioners, including from our children. He also saw that our parish contributions to the Catholic Mission Appeal are going up and he was pleased with our continuing progress on that. Keep it up! Your letters are allowing him to see that we appreciate his work as our Bishop, not only, but especially, as he works to keep the Traditional Latin Mass to remain at a time when they are being canceled in other places.
3) I wrote about a petition being put forth to change the Florida State Constitution in such a way that all abortion restrictions would be eliminated, making us one of the “abortion tourist destination states” that so many despicable and evil people are desperately trying (and sometimes succeeding) to make a reality. Bishop Parkes and the Florida Bishops’ Conference have been sending out warnings about this, asking people to refrain from signing their petitions to get it on the ballot. It seems that many people sign such petitions without even bothering to read what they are supporting. But the day after I wrote and sent the article to be printed in the bulletin, a parishioner came in and showed me another—polar opposite—petition being circulated to change the Florida State Constitution in such a way that the right to life shall be recognized and protected for all preborn humans. It seems to have been drafted specifically in opposition to the anti-life petition. Should the petition gather enough signatures to be put on the ballot, the ballot title for this one will read, “Human Life Protection Amendment.” Please remember that the evil ballot initiative is called “Amendment to Limit Government Interference with Abortion.” They are competing with each other as good vs. evil and, if you are not aware that there is a “good” one as well as an “evil” one, you may immediately dismiss the people trying to get you to sign the one protecting the unborn children. A website where you can see the complete petition, sign it yourself, and even print out copies for others to sign is, “https://humanlifefl.com/”. The ballot summary (the short version that voters will see should it make it on the ballot) sums up the proposed Constitutional Amendment thusly, “An amendment recognizing the God-given right to life of the preborn individual. Defines ‘preborn individual’ as a preborn human person at any stage of development. Affirms that life-saving procedures to save the life of the mother shall not be construed as a violation when accompanied by reasonable steps to save the life of the preborn individual. To be added to the Declaration of Rights under Article I of the Florida Constitution.” Be sure to sign the right one!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka