Out and about, it is already Christmastime, but it is not yet even Advent in our Church! Today is the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe. It is the final Sunday of the liturgical year. Next Sunday, our Church year begins anew with the First Sunday of Advent. Today, on the Feast of Christ the King, we honor the unique kingship of Christ. His kingdom is not here; his kingdom is with his Father, and yet it is mysteriously being built up in our very midst! As we hear in the Mass today, Christ’s is “an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.” Is Jesus Christ king of your life, king of your heart? Today, invite Jesus to rule your heart forever.
Next weekend we light the first candle on the Advent wreath. During the coming busy days of Advent, take the time to reflect on the true meaning of the season: anticipating Jesus Christ not just at Christmas, but every moment of our lives and eventually at the end of time. Take time to pray and reflect. Take a Little Blue Book for your personal prayer and reflection. Schedule a time for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Donate to the St. Vincent de Paul Christmas Outreach collection. Maybe most importantly during these days, be patient and be kind to one another.
As the liturgical year comes to a close, it is fitting to look back on this year with gratitude. I am most grateful that our parish family is committed to Sunday Eucharist in such strong numbers. Every year in October, parishes count the number of people attending Mass and submit those numbers to the Archdiocese for tracking and demographic purposes. This year, an average of 516 people attended weekend Masses at St. Margaret, up from 437 in 2022, 390 in 2021, and 250 during the first Covid year of 2020. In fact, attendance at Mass at St. Margaret is the highest it’s been since 2013! Let’s keep showing up and inviting others to experience the liturgy and community at St. Margaret.
This autumn, we had a successful Stewardship season to reinvigorate our parish community, which included Nametag Sundays, various speakers, Ministry Fairs, and our Increased Offertory program. I hope and pray that we continue that spirit of hospitality and welcome, participation in our parish life, and financial generosity. As part of the Increased Offertory program, our parishioners pledged what could be an additional $100,000 annually in our offertory collections. Thanks to all who made a pledge, as this will make a substantial difference, enabling us to consider new initiatives and opportunities for the growth of our parish community. Please follow through on your commitments to St. Margaret, and consider an end of the year gift to the parish as 2023 comes to a close.
Our Feast Day celebration earlier this month was a great success and a wonderful tribute to our patroness. St. Margaret of Scotland. The Mass was festive and joyful; the vignette about St. Margaret was poignant and inspiring; the music was especially festal and jubilant; and the Feast on Flad was filled with adults and children strengthening the bonds of community and friendship with hot dogs, cakes, s’mores, and scotch!
Our parish school is having a great year under the leadership of our new principal, Mr. Patrick Holley, as our young people grow in wisdom, knowledge, and faith. Our St. Vincent de Paul Society, our Living Justice Ministries, and our Respect Life Apostolate continue to challenge us to greater participation in the works of justice and to provide opportunities for our parishioners to make a difference to those most in need. The Ladies Auxiliary, the PTA, Young Professionals, Youth Ministry, the Scouts and so many other parish organizations provide opportunities for friendship and fellowship and offer wonderful support and assistance to so many parish initiatives.
On this Thanksgiving weekend, I’m grateful to our Parish Staff – Carmela, Deborah, Ruth, Michael, and Orin – who collaborate so well with me to lead and serve our parish. I’m grateful to each of you for the many ways you participate in the life of our parish. And I’m most grateful to God for the privilege of serving this vibrant parish as his priest. May God continue to bless all of us!