October 20, 2019 – Autumn Reflection

Autumn Stirs Interior Reflection

By Denise Gorss

Autumn brings with it changes in weather, sending many of us indoors more regularly. We experience bright, sunny days that are quickly followed by torrential rains, cooler temperatures, and even the first flakes of snow. As we move to the interiors of homes and workplaces for refuge from these weather events, it’s a good time to consider the interior of our hearts.

God is present with us at all times, of course, but autumn invites a new look inside to see where God stirs. As the leaves fall from the trees, I am prompted to watch their slow descent to the ground, knowing that at other times, a burst of strong wind can blow off half the leaves from a tree in an instant. How well do I watch the movements of my interior being, reflecting on what the slow breezes or strong gusts of wind signal?

Ignatian spirituality counsels that we pay close attention to the movement of spirits within us. Can we find the quiet time this season to make a new effort to attend to the movements within and discern where God calls us to go?



September 29, 2019

Pastor’s Column:

Fall is the time of year when most people begin to feel the start of life getting more and more hectic and busy.  It’s a time when you know the holidays are just around the corner.  Already, the stores are selling Halloween candy, costumes, and decorations.  In a week or two I’m sure I’ll see a Christmas tree arise in some store nearby.  The temptation is to already begin to stress over that which I need to get done before the big days ahead.  Certainly, we should plan, we should prepare. But if we should always live in the future we would forget to live today.

After all, we have all been given the gift of today and it may not be granted to us tomorrow.  The fall leaves remind us of this. Today, many of the leaves are shinning bright and beautiful in full stereo color while others have died prematurely and have fallen to the ground, never to arise in this life again.  Does this not happen every day? We arose today and have the opportunity to appreciate the beauty and goodness of life today, while others have been called away and did not arise today.

Fall is a great time to appreciate even more this beautiful world the Lord has given us.  The opportunities we have to live lives that shine forth with charity, love, kindness, and all the other virtues that makes a soul and a life radiate God’s Goodness.  In this way, we prepare best for the time when we will not arise in this world but in the world to come.  The world tempts us to focus so much on tomorrow we miss today, so much on preparations for future holidays that we forget present blessings.  Let us not miss the gift of today, given to us by God Our Father, that we may live it with purpose and allowing His light and grace to shine out in all we think, do, and say.  In this way the world becomes even more beautiful and we are made ready for the journey home whenever we are called.

Your Brother and Father in Christ,

Fr Scott

September 15, 2019

Pastor’s Column: Good news from St Mary’s College of Maryland!

This past Sunday was the first 7:30pm Sunday Mass at the college, and we had the largest turnout of kids that I’ve seen in my almost 12 years as Chaplain to the Catholic Community (nicknamed “The Catholic Seahawks.”)  A lot of freshman and returning students came out for the Mass.  We also had a good number of students singing in the choir and playing instruments.  It was good to see the church feel so young!

Our new campus minister, William Bolin, spent a lot of time preparing and reaching out to returning students over the past month in preparation for their return.  This week they had Bible Study, a catechetical night, and Eucharistic Adoration on campus!  We have already had two students who attended the Mass express an interest in becoming Catholic.

After the Mass, we planned a pizza social and reception in one of the lounges, which most of the students stayed for. The returning students were shocked to see such a large turnout, and the freshman were happy to see so many others on campus also take their faith seriously.  Of course, this was just the first of many Masses, and many of the students live in state, meaning they can easily go home on weekends.  Yet, at least they know the many opportunities to receive the sacraments and receive formation through our ministry. Our ultimate goal doesn’t just lie in mass attendance or pizzas eaten; rather, the ultimate goal remains to lead the students to a relationship with Christ!

This year, we will see your Archdiocesan Appeal dollars at work in a particular way, for it is the appeal which funds William Bolin’s full-time position as Campus Minister!  As a priest with five ministries, I cannot do nearly the work that is required, but William can be there most of the week planting and watering the seeds of faith.  Please pray for the students at St Mary’s College and CSM; please pray for William and the good work he is doing; finally, please pray for me as I seek to minister to these young disciples of the Lord, meeting them where they are at– but not leaving them there.

Your Brother and Father in Christ,

Fr Scott

September 8, 2019

Pastor’s Column: Years ago, as a young priest still in his twenties I was asked by a young husband and father if I would be his spiritual director.  This meant meeting with him one on one once a month to help him grow his prayer life, so that he could grow in closeness to the Lord.  I hesitated having received little training and because I knew my own fears and weaknesses.  I was always a talker and struggled to listen well, this would require a lot of time and patience and I was already lacking in both.  Later as more people (men and women, old and young) came to ask me to be their director I saw how God used this call to stretch me in areas where I too needed to grow,  and he continues this in all the many ministries he has called me too.

Some years ago, at the height of my spiritual directing, Fr. Mark Ivany came to me and said we needed to recruit more laity to be directors.  After all, most priests have not been trained and lack the time to direct.  I was against it at first believing only priests were called to this particular ministry.  Then I went on a silent eight-day retreat (I highly recommend silent retreats to all of you) and I was feeling overwhelmed by all the requests for spiritual direction coming to me.

The Lord had me meditate on a passage of scripture in the Old Testament where Moses was feeling overwhelmed and his father in law Jethro came to him and said, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. “. He then instructed him to recruit people who could help him.  The Lord made clear that is what he wanted me to do.  He then started to show me people he wanted to use in this ministry who He had already placed in my life.  It was beautiful and I was given Peace and Joy!  The two signs of the working of the Holy Spirit.

This week Fr. Ivany will run a program to train lay and clergy spiritual directors. He already did one in DC.  He was hoping for 15 or so people and got about 50.  The same program is now going to take place this week at St. Mary’s Ryken and the numbers are near 50 again.  Pray for those who are generously taking three days out of their schedule to train and who will help share this beautiful transforming ministry with us priests and deacons in the coming years.  The Harvest is indeed abundant, and the laborers are few.  Pray that God sends us more!

Your brother and father in Christ,

Fr Scott

September 1, 2019 – Pastor’s Column

Pastor’s Column: When I first arrived at St. Cecilia and St. Peter Claver I felt like a deer in headlights. I had never been a pastor of souls before, and I had never been responsible for a parish. I was feeling overwhelmed. Amid the interior storms that swirled about in me, there was one person I felt I could always turn too, her name was Ada. At both parishes, there were people ready to set up and help but they had lives, families and jobs.  Ada was there almost every day, or at least a phone call away.  Having gone from high school to college seminary, I had never learned how to cook. And soon with many, many people trying to meet with me from early in the morning till late at night, I didn’t have time too.  Ada always made sure that I had food in the rectory and often insisted on making me food with her own hands.

When people called from either parish, Ada could not only tell me who they were, but she could tell me about their family, personality and why they might be calling.  She knew most of the parishioners of both parishes and would often stay far later then the hours she officially worked to help those in need. She truly saw her work as a parish secretary as a ministry to the people of God.

Ada almost always had a smile on her face and infinite patience with those who called, even those upset because we could not always fulfill their requests.  She was often the one who would tell me I needed to take a day off or go on vacation, though she very rarely took vacation herself.

Often when I was unsure about a decision I had to make; I would consult Ada.  Even on her few days off, she and Joe would usually be at daily mass at St Cecilia’s or St. Peter Claver’s on Saturday mornings.

A few short years ago, she expressed the desire to retire so she could spend her remaining years spending more time with Joe, their kids and grandkids.  She was there for all her successors whenever they needed help.  She still stayed very active in parish life in so many ways.  Ada was a woman filled with faith and love.

Everyone who has spoken to me since her passing has talked about the huge hole that we all feel in our lives with her absence.  Yet everyone has expressed that while they feel sadness for Ada’s family and friends, they don’t for Ada.  She lived a good and holy life filled with joy and grace.  She always said when it was her time, she wanted it to go quick, and that she got. But an added blessing to us all was that she left us on the feast of the Queenship of Mary, which was perfect as she had a huge devotion to Our Lady.

We were blessed to know her, blessed to have seen her example of love, marriage, motherhood, and discipleship. Well done good and faithful, Servant. Go home to rest in the Fathers arms. Pray for us!

Your Brother and Father in Christ,

Father Scott

August 25, 2019 – Campus Minister’s Corner

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

My name is William Bolin, and I’m the new Campus Minister at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Additionally, I will be starting a Catholic ministry at the College of Southern Maryland. I was born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, and was homeschooled through high school. Previously, I was in Seminarian for the Archdiocese for five years, studying philosophy at Saint John Paull II Seminary, and theology for a year at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. When I discerned out of formation, the opportunity to serve Southern Maryland under the guidance of Fr. Scott proved incredibly attractive! By God’s grace and timing, here I am.

Firstly, I would like to offer you all my sincere gratitude. As Fr. Woods told many of you last Sunday, I am blessed to be the FIRST full time college minster in this area! This blessing is the direct effect of your generosity in the Archdiocesan appeal, and your openness to growth in college ministry. I look forward to continuing the growth of the Catholic community at St. Mary’s, and to start a foundation of one at CSM. Being full time, I will get to spend ample time striving towards our goal: bringing the students to Christ!

Secondly, I would ask for your prayers and support as we begin this ministry. There is lots of room to grow in both colleges, God willing! In the few days I have been here, I have already been blown away with your generosity. Please, if you think you may have something to offer our ministry —ideas, places to meet, volunteering, food, etc.—let me know!

I look forward to meeting you all around the parish this year. Please keep the ministry and me in your prayers! You’ll be in mine.

God bless,

William Bolin

August 18, 2019 – Catholic Comments

Queenship of Mary

August 22

In this feast, particularly cherished by the Popes of modern times, we celebrate Mary as the Queen of Heaven and Earth.

Pope Pius XII in the Papal Encyclical Ad Coeli Reginam proposed the traditional doctrine on the Queenship of Mary and established this feast for the Universal Church.

Pope Pius IX said of Mary’s queenship: “Turning her maternal Heart toward us and dealing with the affair of our salvation, she is concerned with the whole human race. Constituted by the Lord Queen of Heaven and earth, and exalted above all choirs of Angels and the ranks of Saints in Heaven, standing at the right hand of Her only-begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, she petitions most powerfully with Her maternal prayers, and she obtains what she seeks.”

And Pope Pius XII added the following: “We commend that on the festival there be renewed the consecration of the human race to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Upon this there is founded a great hope that there will rejoice in the triumph of religion and in Christian peace…

…Therefore, let all approach with greater confidence now than before, to the throne of mercy and grace of our Queen and Mother to beg help in difficultly, light in darkness and solace in trouble and sorrow…

. . Whoever, therefore, honours the lady ruler of the Angels and of men – and let no one think themselves exempt from the payment of that tribute of a grateful and loving soul – let them call upon her as most truly Queen and as the Queen who brings the blessings of peace, that She may show us all, after this exile, Jesus, who will be our enduring peace and joy.”