Disciple Maker Index Survey
Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish will be participating in the diocesan-wide Disciple Maker Index (DMI) Survey between now and March 22. This nationally-recognized survey has been administered at parishes around the United States and Canada since 2013. Saint Thomas Parish, as part of the Diocese of Columbus Real Presence Real Future planning process, will participate in this survey during Lent. The results from our parish survey will not only be used for information and planning for our own parish, but will also be included the in national results which track trends, growth and Church-related opportunities nationwide. You can take the survey online at https://portal.catholicleaders.org/dmi/survey/kk8762k87x through March 22. This is an exciting opportunity for our parish, and I hope you will participate!
The DMI survey was developed by the Catholic Leadership Institute in conjunction with advising US bishops and Catholic lay leaders in 2013. The DMI Survey was created as a tool to help more Catholics to grow along their faith journey with Christ and to become more engaged in the community life of the parish. The DMI Survey seeks to provide parishioners an opportunity to reflect on their spiritual growth as well as provide parish leadership with invaluable insights regarding a parish’s strengths and opportunities.
By Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish participating in this survey, the results will provide meaningful input about our parish as we begin our own planning process as part of Real Presence Real Future. The information from the DMI Survey will give insight into our priorities and into the allocation and realignment of resources over the next few years as our parish strives to more effectively help parishioners along their personal journey of faith.
Please check our Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church Facebook page for all our Lenten activities!
Letter from Father Sullivan
I went to Lourdes for the first time at the conclusion of my second year in seminary. In those days the foundation of the second year of theological preparation was service to the sick. As part of my preparation for priestly ministry I had been assigned to Washington Hospital Center as a student chaplain and participated in weekly Clinical Pastoral Education courses. The courses were grueling, self-reflective group sessions which could often be quite brutal—so much so— that going and visiting serious and terminally ill patients in the hospital was a bit of a relief.
It was during those hospital visits that I came in contact with a wide range of human illness and suffering. From simple surgical procedures to chronically and terminally ill cancer patients. I visited them all during that year and offered to pray with them. I was only thrown out of a room once, presumably because of the Roman collar I was wearing.
As the culmination of that experience I had the opportunity to go to Lourdes and make a retreat reflecting on my year ministering to the sick. One of the religious sisters on the seminary faculty encouraged me to go, and insisted I be sure to take the bath in the famous spring waters flowing from the grotto of the apparition. Her enthusiastic recommendation I found rather surprising as she wasn’t the type of nun who would seem otherwise enthused about apparitions and miracles.
I arrived in Lourdes mid-May, really before the pilgrimage season had begun in earnest, and remember the sense of quiet and solitude that enveloped the entire area devoted to prayer and care for the sick at the great shrine. I stayed for several days, taking up residence in the City of Saint Peter, a youth camp/hostel, where young people from around the world visiting Lourdes could stay at a very reasonable rate, with dormitory accommodations and mess hall type cuisine.
Practically by myself, the days were filled with Masses, rosaries and solitude. The other sites associated with the life of Bernadette formed a type of walking pilgrimage through the town, so during my stay I made my way to the old, abandoned jail that was her family’s home at the time of the apparition, the mill where her father had worked and where the family had spent her early years, the site of her birth, the parish church, the school Bernadette had attended and the convent where the sisters lived and where Bernadette took refuge after the apparition and whose community she would eventually join. Each site had its own charm, and the spirit of the very simple, sickly, pious young girl who had difficulty remembering her catechism seemed to fill every space.
Each day was highlighted by several visits to the grotto where the Immaculate Lady appeared to Bernadette. The ground before the grotto is covered with a terrazzo floor, decorated with crosses and stars, as I remember. The pattern is interrupted by a simple square, whose mosaic inscription reads, “Place Ou Priait Bernadette le 11 Fevrier 1858” —The Place Where Bernadette Prayed the 11th of February 1858— Each visit I tried my best to get nearest that spot to meditate upon the rosary, as Bernadette had done, and gaze up at the little opening in the cave to rest my eyes upon the place where she had seen the Lady who is the Immaculate Conception.
Coming to the last day of my retreat, I still had not yet taken the bath, as Sister had so unexpectedly recommended. Finally making my way past the grotto to the baths, I entered the section for men and waited for only a short while before I was admitted to the preparation room. Removing my clothes, and wrapped in a very large and wet towel, I was led into the private area just before entering the bath itself. Several men, speaking only French, ushered me inside and gave me instructions as to the procedure. Taking me by the hands, they led me into the waters. I was handed a small statue of Our Lady of Lourdes and asked to say a prayer. I prayed the “Our Father” in French as all the gentlemen joined in. In my heart, I was remembering all those sick and ill patients I had visited throughout the last year. I remembered their sufferings and fears as I brought it all to the Mother of Jesus asking her intercession as I entered the waters of healing. Quickly plunged under the ice-cold waters by my new sympathetic French friends, I was just as quickly placed back on my feet, then ushered to the dressing room where I dried off, retrieved and put on my clothing and was led back outside. It all happened so quickly, but almost instantaneously a sense of great peace and love descended upon my soul.
Today, February 11, 2021, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and commemorate the World Day of the Sick. It has been 163 years since Mary appeared to Bernadette eighteen times from February 11, 1858 to July 16, 1858. This year’s celebration occurs during the pandemic which we have all been enduring for almost a year. The changes we have had to adjust to. The new priorities we have put in place. The illness and death which has touched so many of us. All of these we bring to the Lady who, when informing Bernadette who she was said quite simply, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
Today I receive my first vaccination, how coincidental—no, Providential—I should receive it on this day.
From my heart to yours, in the hearts of Jesus and Mary,
Weekly Update 2/11/2021
Important events happening at the parish during lent are as followed:
- Ash Wednesday Masses:
9 am Saint Nicholas Church
12 Noon Saint Nicholas Church
7 pm Saint Nicholas Church
7 pm Saint Thomas Activity Center (Livestreamed on Facebook for those who cannot attend)
- Pray the Stations of the Cross with Father Sullivan on Fridays of Lent livestreamed on Facebook at 7 pm.
- 40 cans 40 days
As you prepare for Easter, remember the 40 days and nights that Christ spent in the desert without food or water, praying and preparing for His sacrifice on behalf of all mankind. Your small sacrifice can make a big difference in the lives of others. Proceeds will benefit both our food pantry and other local pantries. Place items at the designated space in the Activity Center or bring them to the parish office M-Th 8am-3pm SOME CONSIDERATIONS: Cans with pull-tops are preferred (if regular cans, please also supply a can opener). We have plenty of canned vegetables at this time. Please check expiration dates. 6 months ahead or more is appreciated. Homeless do not always have a heat source so pre-cooked items are a great option. NEEDED FOOD ITEMS YOU MAY NOT HAVE THOUGHT OF: Powdered milk Small water bottles Powdered eggs Small boxes of cereal Stuffing Picnic salt/pepper packs Tea/coffee bags Pre-mixed mac and cheese Pre-cooked packaged meats Tuna/cracker, PB/cracker, Cheese/cracker packs Cooking oil OTHER ITEMS TO CONSIDER: Hand-warmers Gloves Small dishwashing liquid Dry shampoo Travel-sized toothpaste/toothbrush/deodorant Toilet Paper Feminine hygiene products This Lent, we ask each family to donate one non-perishable item per day, beginning on Ash Wednesday, for each of the 40 days of Lent
- We will be holding Eucharistic Expositions & Adoration at Saint Thomas Activity Center on Friday February 26th beginning at 7 pm. Please call the office @ 740-435-3301 or email email@example.com to signup to spend an hour with the Lord.
Letter from Father Sullivan
Christmas Eve 2020
Deep beneath the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is a small cave where an altar has been built to commemorate the exact spot where Jesus was born. This spot has been venerated since the earliest days of Christian faith. Over the centuries several churches have been built over that cave where Joseph and Mary found refuge awaiting the birth of the Word made Flesh. “There was no room for them in the Inn,” as the Sacred Scriptures recall, but the cave where the animals found shelter was sufficient.
The animals have long departed that little cave and the altar built over the holy place is beautifully decorated with silks and linen, multiple candlesticks and hanging lamps with flickering lights illuminating the place where the Son of God was born.
Several worn marble steps lead down into the cave from the nave of the Crusader era church. A certain dexterity is necessary to maneuver the descending steps, crowded with pilgrims …not always devoutly…making their way to the sacred spot. Coming to the altar of the Incarnation many kneel and bend to venerate with a kiss or a tender touch the silver star which marks the place where the Eternal God came to dwell among us in human flesh.
Christmas Eve never comes that I don’t recall the treasured moments I have been blessed to venerate that same spot, to kneel and kiss that silver star, recalling that this is the place where Jesus was born. This is the spot where God came down to earth. This is where our human flesh took on the dignity of the Divine, and the hope of eternity shone forth commemorated by that silver star.
The great pandemic which continues to seize us all has made us rethink everything, perhaps even our faith. But the celebration of Christmas reminds us of God’s presence, of Jesus’s love and the humble…initially indiscernible way…in which He comes to be with us.
May these Christmas days, as unusual as they are, be an occasion for all of us to consider—even in the midst of such uncertainty—the many blessings we have received, the reshaped priorities we have set and the graced encounters we have had with the presence of God and the joy He surrounds us with in one another.
Peace and blessing,
From my heart to yours in the hearts of Jesus and Mary,