Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
In case you weren't at Mass this past weekend at Sacred Heart Church, you may not know that I announced that our parish, as of August 21st is blessed to have a new employee, Cathy Silk, who will serve as a "Pastoral Associate," focusing on the "Parish Life" ministry at Sacred Heart Church.  Cathy and her husband Jeff (who is a sheriff's deputy in Saline County) have been active members of our parish for around two years.  Cathy has served for over a year in the area of Parish Life and has been a Parish Life representative on the Pastoral Council.  As a volunteer, she has given many hours to planning, organizing and seeing through a number of large activities including our marriage anniversary reception (in February), the reception for Deacon Nelson after his ordination to the diaconate last December, and receptions to say farewell to Deacon Bernie and Marilyn and the one following the Memorial Mass for Monsignor Malone. Her efforts have been commendable in these instances and in behind-the-scenes work in other happenings in the parish. It is hard to ask a volunteer to do so much so often, so the decision was made to hire Cathy and let her continue to work on these kind of activities, as well as other areas that need more attention than they are now receiving.  I believe Cathy will be offering new opportunities for our parishioners (and others) to gather for fellowship and to hear speakers who make presentations that will hopefully appeal to many.  I am hoping that Sacred Heart can, through Cathy's leadership, connect our parish and parishioners even more with the larger community here in the Village - and maybe beyond, as we seek to be witnesses of who we are and what we believe to the world outside of our parish.

Cathy has much enthusiasm and drive to get things done and recruit others to help.  She and her husband, Jeff, have four adult children, one of whom, Sarah, lives in the Village and is a member of our parish, along with her two-year-old Abbi.  Please welcome Cathy in this new position and don't hesitate to share your ideas with her.
In the world of professional sports there is always excitement in a city that accepts a team that they can support and encourage to do well, and hopefully, win a championship in that sport.  The excitement of winning a championship after much effort and perhaps years of waiting, will usually be over-the-top for some true fans of that team.  There was, no doubt, much excitement last Sunday at the 10:00 a.m. Mass when Jonathan Semmler made a commitment to be a seminarian for the Diocese of Little Rock with Behop Taylor presiding at Mass and Monsignor Friend being present to affirm the diocese's decision to accept Jonathan as a seminarian.  I wish every parishioner could have been present to witness this happening and the joy that was felt by Jonathan, his family, and his parish family.  Of course, unlike a professional football team's fan base that never knows when or if they will ever experience the joy of their team winning a championship, our parishioners can anticipate that, in about seven or eight years, we will experience tremendous excitement and joy when Jonathan is ordained a preist.  I honestly should have used the words "can anticipate" when it comes to Jonathan's ordination.  We cannot say for certain that he will be ordained a priest in the future.  The years ahead will be a time of formation, ministry, and discernment for Jonathan, and I'm sure most, if not all of us, hope and pray that it will reach the point where he and the bishop decide he is ready for his ordination to the priesthood.  In the future, he will continue to need,  and I'm confident will receive, the support and enouragement of our parishioners and others.  If, however, he and/or the dioese decides at some point that preisthood is not God's calling for his future life, I (and hope many of you who know Jonathan) am confident that he will be open to God using him in a way or ways that will be a blessing to the Church and to others.  I say this, not to throw cold water on anyone's enthusiasm about Jonathan being the first "native born" parishioner of Sacred Heart to be a seminarian (and maybe one day a priest), but rather to be realistic that just as a city getting a professional team to back, does not know with any certainty that they will, at some point, win a championship; so the journey to priesthood that many start (especially those who are young like Jonathan) does not always end in ordination to the pristhood.  I have been surprised over the years at how many men I have met who once were seminarians, and did not finish and become priest, but rather became successful in their careers, good husbands and fathers AND active members of their Catholic faith and the church communities in which they lived.  I thank our parsihioners who, in any way, have affected some or all of our young people who have grown up or are growing up in this parish in the ways of Christ, especially His love, charity and mercy.  We have much to thank God for in this and in other areas as well.
It's hard to believe that the "Back To School" commercials already started playing in mid-July.  The fact is that school in many places now starts in early to mid-August, so I guess the timing of those sales is appropriate.  Also appropriate is my encouragement of people who might be interested in the Catholic Faith to make themselves be known - or you make them known to me if you are aware of people who could be encouraged and/or persuaded to step forward and start looking into the Catholic Church community and beliefs.  While I have to say we haven't produced many "new" Catholics either through Baptism or a Profession of Faith since I've been here, we need to always have the door open, and not be hesitant to invite people who are not practicing any faith to come to us to find out if the Lord is calling them to life as a Catholic and a member of our wonderful faith community.  We will offer an "inquiry session" sometime in August.  Please keep an eye on the bulletin and even more so, keep an eye and ear out for possible candidates who are at least open to discovering what it means to live as a Catholic.  Please call me at 501-209-2502 with any names and contact information you might have for people who I can touch base with in the weeks ahead.