NOW IT CAN BE TOLD—Early bulletin deadlines prevented me from timely comments here since well before Christmas, and after then too. Now I can remark on our beautiful services and devout, joyful celebrations. Different than last year, the church was at near capacity, which was a joy. Most striking first were the “decorations”, really referred to as Environment. Each year familiar elements reappear, like the bunting down the sides and the back; and always some new elements. This year a double set of risers was built to lift the Nativity scene higher for better visi- bility. Where it is provides a beautiful little shrine scene, for standing or kneeling. Thanks to those who again worked to provide all this, and many flowers too.

Of course so much of the work for these celebrations is done by our music ministers. Various choirs and cantors and musicians put in much more time rehearsing ahead of time than the time the services actually last. Behinds the scenes Heather Martin Cooper made excellent Mass pamphlets for every Sunday, every Christmas feast, and several funerals too. The music during our services then was quite outstanding, and I’ve been to seven other parishes in the Archdio- cese. Our gratitude goes out to these Music and Environment groups, as well as the ushers, servers, and liturgical ministers who did outstanding and generous service.

For Christmas preaching I’d been caught up by the growth of children I know, within the parish and elsewhere. This led me to a Sense of Wonder, in children, music, art; and especially this day in the Son of God choosing to be born is such a humble human state to save us. I hope we’ve enjoyed some times in the unity of Christmas wonder this season, rather then the contentious spirit that seems more prevalent. Now today (Sunday) we celebrate the great feast of the Lord’s Baptism. As he grows into maturity in h is mission, so are we meant to.

In the fulness of time divinity appeared. These words by St. Bernard appeared at the head of a reading in our Breviary book on Wednesday December 29th. That day Monsignor had contacted me that there was still confusion over where our Jesus statue for the outdoor crib was. By the time I got back in town Saturday, we talked about it and the statue had appeared, as St. Bernard said. There had never been any malice, just miscommunication and lack of it. Sorry for the confusion; our property had never been in peril.

I made a whirlwind trip up east to see siblings and their families—2 nights in New Jersey, 3 in New Hampshire. I met some new child family members, and got good winter weather and snow to cross-country ski on in NH. I’m not done with that this winter either.

That leaves a topic you know is close to my heart. Our VISIONING DAY is Saturday January 22, just a few weeks away (from 9 to 3 in the Parish Hall). An extensive letter has gone out–please call if you didn’t get it. It starts our whole year-plus Strategic Planning. I get many comments on things the parish needs, what could be improved in someone’s mind. This is the place to bring those thoughts. In fact, until we get a comprehensive growth plan for the parish some months from now, no substantial new practices or programs will be undertaken. We want to make sure that growth into any new areas is what most people of the parish want, not just one person’s idea. So Come! Unfortunately, this event doesn’t lend itself to participating by livestream or Zoom, because it’s at tables with times of moving around the hall. There will be ways to partici- pate later if this just isn’t practical for you. But I encourage all who can to sign up and come. Can we break the average of about 100 people I’ve had for this day in previous parishes?

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