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