The Branch - December 23 & 25, 2018

Dec 25, 2018

Welcome to Our Lady of the Woods… Welcome Home!

What a wonderful time of year! Christmas music is in the air. The church is decorated. The musicians and choir have been rehearsing to praise God. And everyone is wishing people they pass by Merry Christmas (or at least Happy Holidays).

For those of you who are coming to Our Lady of the Woods for the first time, or who are coming back after a time away, I wish to welcome you home! The Catholic Church is like an old friend that you haven’t seen for a while. When you come back, it is like no time has passed at all. Sure things may look different (I know I have gotten a little grayer since I have seen friends from school), but deep down, where it matters most, it is the same. We are all part of the body that makes up the church. We are all part of the body of Jesus Christ.

So, don’t worry if you accidentally took someone’s favorite pew, were talking during the Mass, or didn’t know the responses to the prayers. The Catholic Church welcomes you home exactly as you are. And we are grateful that you are here to celebrate this special time of year with your faith family. And you know what the best part is? It doesn’t end here! While the retail world has been celebrating Christmas since before Thanksgiving, we, the Catholic Church, will be celebrating the birth of Christ until January 13th which is the Baptism of the Lord.

It takes a lot of effort to have a successful Christmas, just like at home, there is a lot of work that has to be done here before the guests arrive! I want to thank all of the volunteers, led by the Men’s Group, who helped decorate the church this past Tuesday. You did an amazing job & there’s no way that we could have gotten everything done without your help! I also want to thank all the musical talent from the Adult Choir, Voices in Praise, New Spirit Singers, & Instrumentalists who offered up their talents. The sounds of the season echoed throughout the church and I am sure that it will echo in the hearts of everyone through the day. Thank you also to Fr. Ben Luedtke who celebrated Mass with us at 4:00PM on Christmas Eve. And of course, thank you to Fr. Andrew Czarnecki who shepherds the parish and leads us in our ongoing journey of faith. Thank you, Knights of Columbus, for the $2,000 contribution to the Catholic Services Appeal on behalf of Our Lady of the Woods.

If you attended the 4:00 PM for the Third Sunday of Advent or the 4:00 PM Mass for Christmas Eve, you got to experience our newest addition to the Music Ministry: Voices in Praise. This group is an allmale group assembled by our Music Director to contribute their talents at Mass when the Adult Choir or New Spirit Singers are scheduled at another Mass. The founding members of the group are Sean Pigott, John Michalski, Bob Amore, and I. We have had so much fun forming the group and rehearsing different pieces that we will perform at Mass in the coming weeks and months. From the copious amount of feedback that I have received, it sounds like we were a hit! Your praise both honors and humbles us. We look forward to continuing to join you in raising our voices in praise to God , our Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ. Pray for us as we continue this musical praise journey together.

Preparing this edition of The Branch was particularly difficult as it spanned two celebrations on our calendar and would be distributed to parts of our faith family who do not frequent the church. I can only hope and pray that it lives up to your expectations. For guests to Our Lady of the Woods, or those who have returned from a time away, once again I would like to say WELCOME HOME! For our “regulars”, I would like to say WELCOME BACK!

Regardless if you consider yourself a visitor or a regular, on behalf of the Staff at Our Lady of the Woods and our pastor, Fr. Andrew, I would like to wish you a very merry and blessed Christmas! I would also like to offer our prayers for a happy, healthy, safe, & prosperous new year! We look forward to seeing you again soon (perhaps next weekend?).

God bless,

Jason

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