Fr. Owusu – Ghana

We’ll soon meet Father Owusu who is coming to us from Ghana, West Africa. In preparation, here are some things to know about his home country of Ghana… This country is located on the West African gulf coast of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean.320px-Música_y_Danza_Ghanéses_–_Cultura_de_Ghana_(Ghanaian_Music_and_Dance_–_Culture_of_Ghana) The official language of Ghana is English but they also speak many “national” languages. Their government is a constitutional republic much like the US with a president and vice-president. The country is divided into 10 administrative regions, which would be similar to our US States with each region having its own capital. Ghana’s geography and ecology range from coastal savannahs to tropical rainforests.Ghana_on_the_globe_(Africa_centered).svg In the 1900s, Ghana’s borders were established as the British Gold Coast. It became independent of the United Kingdom in 1957.

Over 67% of the population is Christian (13% are Catholic). 23% are Muslim. Over 95% of Ghana’s children attend school and there are 8 national public universities.

Ghana is a poor country, with almost 1/4 of the population living in poverty. Almost half their labor force is employed in agriculture. Cacao is their most important cash crop. They also grow rice, cassava, peanuts, corn, and bananas. Ghana also mines gold, bauxite, aluminum, and diamonds. They have increased their oil production in recent years.

Ghanaians take life in a relaxed manner. One of their common phrases is “take time” – in other words, no need to rush! Ghana is hot and humid all year round, so Father is going to “enjoy” winter in Iowa!

We are excited to meet Father Owusu, welcome him to our parishes and learn much about our fellow Catholics who live halfway around the world!

 

Father Says Goodbye

This will be my last bulletin column and I would like to take this time to express my deepest gratitude to you for eight of the most rewarding and challenging years in my priesthood. I think that I have done more classroom time teaching than ever before with Theology of the Body for Teens and presenting “A Family of Faith” program to our R.E. Families. Thank you MaryLou Goettsch for your guidance over the years.

I would like to sincerely thank those who have willingly served on the different committees and councils. I was impressed to see an active Adult Faith Committee and a High School Religious Education program. The generosity that families have shown the parishes is amazing. Just think of the Capitol Campaign several years back, both St. Mary’s and St. Patrick’s each pledged almost 200% over goal. The strength of the Knights of Columbus with their Golf Tournament shows the dedication the Knights have to help others. It was a dream of mine to have our young people attend N.C.Y.C over the last couple of years.

I want to say thank you to the Jane True, our secretary/bookkeeper, for her dedication to the parish. She has kept me on task at times and has provided important service when it comes to getting information to the Diocese. Jane’s friendship and encouragement even pushed me to have a meeting or two. “Father you have to have a meeting!”

The past eight years have been one of building on a good foundation established by previous pastors assigned to St. Mary’s and St. Patrick’s. It is my prayer for all parishioners that you will draw strength from the Holy Mass and the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. The grace that God offers through the all the sacraments can overcome all the difficulties that happen in parish and family life. Remember, God cannot be outdone in generosity. The more we offer our lives to the Lord, the more He showers down blessings on our parish, our families and our lives.

I pray that the Lord’s blessings will come upon these parishes in abundance as you welcome Fr. Owusu. May the message of Christ’s love be lived out in your home.

Thank you, and God Bless, Father Dooley

Sunday Mass

As my time here as pastor I have tried to make sure that Sunday Mass is celebrated well. The Mass should be an experience of mystery and love. First, our love for Almighty God and God’s love for us revealed in the Sacred Mysteries. Our prayers, our singing, our silence, our standing, and our kneeling draw us closer together into the Body of Christ, the Church.

You may also remember that I have on occasion stood on the same side of the altar as the faithful in the pews as allowed by the Rubric of the Mass, the red directives in the Missal which guides the priest during Mass. I did hear a few comments about having my back to the people but, in reality, we are all facing the same way, looking ahead towards the coming of the Lord who will come from the east, symbolized by the rising sun. (the back wall of the sanctuary is considered east no matter which true direction the compass points) Think of our pilgrimage as we are all walking together to meet the Lord. In the military group, the captain leads knowing that the troops are right behind him. So it is with the priest at the Altar facing the same way as the faithful in the pews. He knows that the faithful are following right behind.

Perhaps folks in the pews should not consider themselves an audience, but as a more supporting cast in the unfolding of the drama we call the Mass. It is the people in the pew who gather behind the priest at the altar. When I offer the bread and wine, you too are invited to offer your spiritual gifts to God our heavenly Father. So who might we consider the audience if it is not the people in the pew? To whom are all the prayers addressed? It is Almighty God and in some sense the rest of the world. When you as faithful members of the Church recognize your role to play in the Mass, it becomes more meaningful and important. If we are just spectators in the Liturgy of the Mass we do a disservice to Almighty God.

Blessings, Fr. Dooley

A Family of Faith

As many of you know this past year in Religious Education St. Mary’s and St. Patrick’s moved to a family-based model call “A Family of Faith” for the elementary grades, except for 2nd of course. Some have asked why the switch when our Religious Education program was well established.

close up view of text on wood at home
Photo by Inna Lesyk on Pexels.com

First, parents are to be the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith. The new family-based program provides support to the parents so that they can understand the faith and hand it on to their children. Second, we have been declining in the number of children in the Religious Education program. This coming year there will be approximately 26 students in grades kindergarten through sixth. Thirty years ago there were 101 students in those grades. Today most of the grades have 3 to 4 students, but some students do not attend class with any consistency making it difficult for the teacher. Third, it is getting more difficult to have people commit to being teachers. Again, the busyness of families. Fourth, it is my hope that those families who choose to participate in “A Family of Faith” will be renewed in faith and will participate deeply in the sacraments, especially the Mass, and become involved in parish life.

I know that people are busy and the demands on “Family Time” are varied. “A Family of Faith” program asked parents to commitment to a 90-minute session once a month for 9 months. That is 13 ½ hours out of the year plus whatever time to interact one on one with their child as together they complete the two monthly lessons. We had twenty-four families who were invited to participate, of them I would say a third were there for all the sessions, a third came occasionally, and a third came only to one or two sessions. I don’t know what the future holds but those things which we were able to do with a hundred students might not work so well with twenty-six students.

Whenever something new is tried there will be rewards and challenges. I pray that “A Family of Faith” will bring many blessings to families and the parishes.

Blessings, Father Dooley

Ordinary Time and Father’s Day

This Sunday is the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. The liturgical color is green as you can see from the vestments worn by the priest. The Church has completed the Lent and Easter Season and now moves into Ordinary Time which will lead up to the Feast of Christ the King just before Advent begins.

Ordinary Time as a liturgical season is anything but ordinary in the traditional sense. It is a season which reflects the cycles of life on earth and salvation history. We hear from the Gospel the teachings of Christ which are meant as encouragement to grow in faith. The green color chosen for Ordinary Time is reminiscent of our growing more faithful. Green becomes a sign of hope.

This weekend is Father’s Day. It is a time for cookouts, ties, and homemade gifts. As Catholics, we can also use the day to reflect on the Fatherhood of God, since it is the foundation of all fatherhood, the natural fatherhood of the family and also a priest’s spiritual fatherhood. As fathers, we are to reflect the compassion, love, and sacrifice of God our father, who is kind, merciful and strong.

sunset person love people
Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

This is a job that is not always easy, yet possible with God’s grace. It is especially appropriate to say thank you to God for the blessings of our fathers. We can also remember them in our daily prayers, especially those who have died. Sadly, if by chance, your father reflected a distorted view of fatherhood, excessive cruelty or abandonment we can use this day to pray for healing and strength.

Blessings, Father Dooley

QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT Do I have a sense of hope in God’s goodness when I hear the Sunday Gospel? Am I trying to learn more about my faith during this ordinary time? How do I invite Christ Jesus into my life daily? Do I have a positive understanding of God’s fatherhood?