PASTOR’S CORNER

 

LABORERS IN THE LORD’S VINEYARD

       ln the Gospel of today, Jesus tells us that the kingdom of heaven: or going to heaven, is like the laborers who are called at different times of the day by the landowner to work in his vineyard or farmland. The first group of laborers were called at dawn. They agreed with the landowner that at the end of the day, the landowner would pay each of them the usual daily wage. The landowner met another group of laborers at different times that same day and sent them to his vineyard. He did not discuss the wage with any of these groups, he simply promised them that he would pay them what is just, they agreed. Only the first group worked for the whole day. Some groups worked for some hours. The last group worked for only one hour. At the end of the day the landowner ordered his foreman to pay each laborer the usual daily wage, beginning with the last and ending with the first; and his orders were carried out. The first group, on receiving it, grumbled against the landowner, saying, “These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.” The landowner said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give these last ones the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’ He then added, thus, “the last will be first, and the first will be last.” One important lesson that could be drawn from this passage is that the landowner did not cheat those who worked for the whole day. They were grumbling because they were envious of those who worked lesser hours. and received the usual daily wage, they wanted them to receive less money. But they have forgotten that the money was not theirs, the money belongs to the landowner. If he decides to pay some of them more than what they deserve that should not constitute a problem for anybody. He has the right to help people with his money, the core message of this parable can be explained and summarized as follows; The landowner is God, the vineyard or farmland is the world. the laborers are God’s children on earth. God’s children are called by God at different times in their lives to serve God in different ways. Some were called when they were young, and others were called when they were old. But at the end of our lives our reward will be the same; that is, our reward will be eternal life or life without end or to live with God forever and ever which we normally call heaven.

      The patriarchal culture of the Igbo people of Nigeria and some other cultural groups in Africa and beyond allows the father of a family to share his properties among his male children only and give nothing to his female children, especially the land. This cultural practice is wrong! In fact, it is evil because it challenges and opposes the Gospel. No body, no tradition, no culture. and no society have the right to dictate for you how to share your money or your wealth to people. Learn this from the landowner in this parable. Remember that the landowner in this parable represents God.

       Pope Francis also reminds us that in this parable, Jesus wants to open our hearts to the logic of the Father’s love which is free and generous. The Holy Father maintains that it is about allowing oneself to be astonished and fascinated by the
“thoughts” and the “ways” of God which, as the Prophet Isaiah recalls, are not our thoughts and not our ways (ls 55:8). Human thoughts are often marked by selfishness and personal advantages, and our narrow and contorted paths are not comparable to the wide and straight streets of the Lord. Our merciful God forgives broadly. God is filled with generosity and kindness which is poured forth on each of us. God opens for everyone the boundless territory of God’ s love and grace, which alone can give the human heart the fullness of joy. May the Blessed Virgin Mary our Mother help us to welcome into our lives the logic of love which frees us from the presumption of deserving God’ s reward and from the critical judgement of others Amen.

http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/angelus /2017/documents/papa-francesco_angelus_20170924.html

Father Clement Ucbendu C.S.Sp., PhD.

THE DANGER OF ANGER

       Sirach makes it abundantly clear in the first reading of this Sunday that anger is an extremely dangerous vice. He regrets that unfortunately habitual sinners hold firm to anger (Sir 27:30). If we want to resolve the problem of anger, we must begin by eliminating the root cause of all evils. Saint Paul tells us that love of money is the root of all evils. Saint Paul is not saying that we should not love money; rather what he calls love of money here is excess desire for money or wealth or material things (1Tim 6:10). Another name for excess desire for money is PRIDE. A proud heart is like a fertile soil that germinates excess desire for money and wealth because it is thirsting to be on top always so that it can control and dominate everybody and everything at will. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16: 18-19) . There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue , hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers and sisters (Prov. 6:16-19).

      Everyone who is arrogant in the heart is an abomination to the Lord; and the person will not go unpunished (Prov. 16:5). “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble “ (James 4:6). The proud serpent took Adam and Eve to the school of pride and lectured them . The proud devil lured them and helped them to develop excess desire for power in their hearts by assuring them that if they ate the forbidden fruit they would become like gods. They listened to him attentively and after acquiring the necessary skills they followed the advice of the devil and ate the forbidden fruit. They wanted to become equal with God. This is an act of pride which led to disobedience. Sin begets sin (Gen 3:1-6). The best way to emerge victorious in the war against anger involves two major approaches. The first approach is to engage in a global and continuous war against the seven capital vices or sins. Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose. The Following seven vices are called “capital” vices or capital sins because they engender other sins or other vices. They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia (CCC 1866). We must remember that although sin is a personal act, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them by pa1iicipating directly and voluntarily in them; by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them; by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so; and above all, by protecting the evildoers. (CCC 1868). Sin can thus make men and women accomplices of one another and causes concupiscence, violence, and injustice to reign among them . Sins give rise to social situations and institutions that are contrary to the divine goodness. “Structures of sin” are the expression and effect of personal sins. They lead their victims to do evil in their turn. In an analogous sense, they constitute a “social sin”(CCC 1869). http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_ P6D.HTM

       The second approach in the war against anger is to engage in a global and continuous quest for goodness or virtues. A virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself or herself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his or her sensory and spiritual powers; the person pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions which include whatever ” is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious” or excellent or worthy of praise. The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God (CCC 1803). We must also strive to acquire the three theological virtues; they are: faith, hope and charity; the four cardinal virtues, they are: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance; the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; they are: wisdom , understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord, and finally, the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit; they are: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity.” (CCC 1803-1832).

https://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1cla7.htm

     Only a humble person can live a virtuous life, this is the reason why our Lord Jesus Christ makes a clarion call to us saying: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Mt 11:28-30). May the Holy Spirit inspire us and help to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ our model so that when we die, we live with him forever in heaven Amen.

Father Clement Uchendu C.S.Sp., PhD.

 

Our Lord’s Prayer

        In Our Lord’s Prayer Jesus urges us to ask the Father to forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. He then goes on to explain the implication of forgiveness saying: “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions (Mt 6: 12-15). When Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. He then uses the parable of the King and a poor servant (Mt 18:21-35) to explain what he means by seventy-seven times. The key message of the parable of the King and a poor servant can be explained as follows: The original sin is an extremely grave sin against God, but God has, in Jesus Christ, forgiven humanity this enormous grievous offence (2 Cor 5:18-19). God therefore expects us to extend that forgiveness to our brothers and sisters who have offended us slightly. We should learn to forgive like God. Seventy- seven times means unlimited. Jesus is not telling us to forgive our brothers and sisters seventy-seven times and no more. In Luke 17:4, Jesus says, “If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent’, forgive him. May the Holy Spirit inspire us help us to embrace forgiveness and reconciliation as a way of life in our relationship with God, with ourselves and with our neighbor so that we can become perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Mt 5:48), Amen.

Father Clement Uchendu C.S.Sp., PhD

 

TRUE DISCIPLESHIP

      True discipleship involves self-denial” acceptance of the cross and fidelity, (Mt 16:24-28; Mk 8:34-38; Lk 9:23-27). The will of God is paramount to everything. If I want to be a disciple of Jesus, I must abandon my will and accept the will of Cod in every situation. I must embrace my daily cross and I must remain faithful to God every day. Jesus makes it abundantly clear that anyone who does not place God above family ties and even his or her own life cannot be his or her disciple (Lk14:26). He also warns us that unless we sit down and calculate what discipleship will cost us? we are not going to win the race (Lk 14:28-33). Jesus is our model. He teaches in words and in practice. He tells us that his food is to do the will of his Father who sent him (Jn 4:34). He put this into practice when he was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before his passion. He says: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but as you will” (Mt 26:39). At the end. he abandoned his will and drank that cup in accordance with the will the Father (Gal 1:4).

Temporal and Eternal Reward

       When Simon Peter said to Jesus: “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” Jesus said to them. “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me. in the new age. when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last” and the last will be first (Mt 19:27-30). Jesus also said to his disciples: “Whoever serves me must follow me. and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me” (Jn 12:26 -27). We can see that we are not laboring in vain. All the sacrifices we make in order to do the will of God always and in every situation are for our own good because we are rewarded heavily for them in this world and if we remain faithful to the end of our life. God will receive us into external life (Mt 19:27-30. 25:31-46).

At the Hour of our Death

       The state of our relationship with God at the end of our life is extremely important. Jesus stressed that many who are first will be last, and the last will be first. lt is like a race. Someone may be coming first but towards the end he or she collapses. That person will receive no reward. But if someone was coming last and suddenly improved and comes first. That person will receive a big reward. If a virtuous person turns from the path of virtue to do evil. the same kind of abominable things that the wicked person does, none of his or her virtuous deeds shall be remembered” he or she shall die. But if the wicked person turns away from all the sins he or she committed and begins to do what is right and just, he or she shall surely live. he or she shall not die. Only the one who sins shall die. The child shall not be charged with the guilt of his or her father. nor shall the father be charged with the guilt of his child. (Ezk 18:20-24).

       May the Virgen Mary pray’ for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, and may the Holy Spirit inspire us and help us to follow Jesus always in our daily living so that when we die” we live with Jesus. The Father and the Holy Spirit in heaven forever and ever Amen.

Father Clement Uchendu C.S.Sp. PhD

 

JESUS CHOSES SIMON PETER

        When Simon was brought to Jesus by his brother Andrew, Jesus looked at him and said, You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Kephas (Jn 1:42). Kephas is an Aramaic language meaning Rock. When Peter confessed that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Jesus said to him “you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Mt 16:13-19). On another occasion, Jesus addressed Simon Peter again saying: Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers and sisters (Lk 22: 31-32). After his resurrection from the dead, before his ascension into heaven, Jesus again addressed Simon Peter saying: Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these? He said to him, Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my lambs. He then said to him a second time, Simon, son of John, do you love me? He said to him, Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. He said to him, Tend my sheep. He said to him the third time, Simon, son of John, do you love me? Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, o you love me? and he said to him, Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you. Jesus said to him, Feed my sheep (Jn 21:15-17). The Apostles and the entire disciples of Jesus knew that Simon Peter was the Head of the Apostles and the Head of the Universal Church. After the ascension of Jesus into heaven, the disciples were waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit. They were about one hundred and twenty persons in the upper room (Acts 1:15). Simon Peter stood up in their midst and initiated the election for the replacement of Judas. He led the election and Judas was replaced Matthias (Acts 1: 19-24). Wherever the names of the Apostles are written in the Bible, the name of Simon Peter always comes first. Each of the Four Evangelists writes the name of Peter first before writing the names of the other Apostles (Mt 10:1- 4; Mk 3:13-19; Lk 6:12-16; Jn 21:2; Acts 1:13).

       Jesus Christ, the Eternal Shepherd, established His holy Church, having sent forth the Apostles as He Himself had been sent by the Father (Jn 20:21), He willed that their successors, namely the Bishops, should be Shepherds in His Church even to the consummation of the world. And in order that the Episcopate itself might be one and undivided, He placed Blessed Peter over the other Apostles, and instituted in him a permanent and visible source and foundation of unity of faith and communion. Simon Peter is the visible Head of the whole Church. Together with the other Apostles he governs the house of the living God. The Pope is the Successor of Peter while the Bishops are the successors of the other eleven Apostles. Only the Pope is the Vicar of Christ and the visible Head of the whole Church (LG 18) Or (Lumen Gentium: http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen- gentium_en.html Just as by the Lord’s decision Saint Peter and the other Apostles constitute one College, so in a like manner the Roman Pontiff, the Successor of Peter, and the Bishops, the Successors of the Apostles, are united among themselves. The Bishop of the Roman Church, in whom continues the office given by the Lord uniquely to Peter, the first of the Apostles, and to be transmitted to his successors, is the Head of the College of Bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the Pastor of the universal Church on earth. By virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely (CIC 330 – 331). (Code of Cannon Law: http://www.vatican.va/archive/cod-iuris-canonici/eng/documents/cic_lib2-cann330- 367_en.html#Art._1  May the Holy Spirit inspire us and help us to believe strongly in the teachings of the Catholic Church, the only Church that is Founded by God, Jesus Christ our Lord, true God and true human person (Jn 1:1&14) Amen.

Father Clement chendu C.S.Sp., Ph .

 

AUTOBIOGRAPHY
OF FR. FRANCIS TANDOH C.S.Sp.

         I am Fr. Francis Tandoh. I was born to the parents of Mr. Andrew Tandoh & Mrs. Dorothy (Payne) Tandoh. I am the fourth child from a family of 12 children with ten surviving. I pursued my elementary and high school education in Kumasi, Ghana. I received my call to the priesthood at an early age. I attended St. Hubert’s Seminary in Kumasi. I left the seminary to continue my Sixth Form (at a time high school was seven years in Ghana) education in T. I. Ahamadya Islamic School, in Kumasi. I entered the teaching career and taught in St. Benedict Middle School, Kumasi, Ghana, from 1981-83.

          I decided to join the Missionary and Religious Order of the Holy Spirit Congregation and entered into the Postulancy in 1983. I completed my Novitiate and started my philosophical studies in 1985, at the School of philosophy Insukka, Nigeria. I took some time off reflecting on my vocation to the priesthood. During this time, I taught Social Studies in St. Anthony Junior High School, in Kumasi Ghana. At the same time, I was engaged in a rural ministry for young adults.

          I went to continue my studies for the Priesthood and missionary life in the Spiritan International School of Theology, Enugu, Nigeria. I was ordained in the Star of the Sea Catholic Cathedral by the late Most Rev. Charles Kweku Sam on July 24, 1993, in Takoradi, Ghana, my home Diocese, after completing my theological studies.

           I hold a degree in Religious Education; master’s in educational administration/Leadership. I hold a certificate in Pastoral Counseling; I am a certified Clinical Chaplain with CPSP. I suspended my candidacy as a student in licentiate/Doctoral degree with Marian Research Institute, University of Dayton, due to my parish workload, but I hope to take it up very soon. Before my ordination, I was the Publicity Officer for the Kumasi Diocesan Youth Council; Bursar Holy Ghost Pre-Novitiate, Ghana.

          In my Ministry as a Priest, I single-handedly founded a benevolent group called Spiritan Friends, who support the Spiritans and their ministries. I have served at Our Lady of Fatima Parish while in residence as Religion Teacher in St. Edward’s Middle School, Bwiam the Gambia and St. Peters High School; Pastor Star of the Sea Parish, an affluent Parish of 1000 families; Pastor St. Charles Luanga Parish of about 2000 in Sunday mass attendance. Rector St. Peters Seminary, all in the Gambia.

          I was transferred here to the United States in 1996 to serve as the Mission Coordinator for the Holy Spirit Fathers, West Africa Province, now Ghana Province, a position that I still served until 2016. My main work was to write grants and preach
in Catholic Churches to creating awareness about the missions, especially in Africa in soliciting funds to support the church’s activities in Africa, especially in training priest for the Spiritans coming from Ghana. To support myself I was employed to be the Religious Education Director in Resurrection Catholic School, now St. Benedict the Moor Catholic School, while still being the Parochial Vicar for St. James and Resurrection Parishes in Dayton Ohio until my appointment as the Pastor of St. James and Resurrection Parishes, in December 2000.

             In 2000 soon after my appointment, I led the parish community of 400 families through a church building campaign, Vision to Victory, which finally gave them a new church edifice, with a new parish, St. Benedict the Moor. The church holds 1050 people in the sanctuary and a hall which seats 600 people, I am the first pastor of this newly created parish. In that same year, I was appointed the Pastor of St. Augustine, Germantown and St. Mary, Camden with Fr. Joshua Otusafo as my Associate.

             In July 2009 in addition to the three Parishes, I was asked to be the Pastor of St. Mary’s and Holy Family in Dayton. In 2010/2011, Holy Family Parish was closed to the English Congregation due to financial constraints. I still have all these three Parishes. St. Mary’s Camden was given out to the Preble County Parishes in 2014.

          Recently in 2015, I led my parishes into accepting the only Catholic school in the West side of Dayton that was closing, reasons being poor Academic Standards and Financial Constraints. Today St. Benedict the Moor School is opened and thriving academically and raising good students for the future of our community and country. Advocacy has been my passion for the ministry. I believe the word becomes more meaningful when parishioners see it reflected in the community and their life. For
more than six years I was the Co-chairperson and Chairperson of Leaders of Equality of Action in Dayton (LEAD). LEAD is an interfaith Justice Group who work with City leaders and Congregations to hold the system and Politicians accountable to bring freedom and peace into the community. In my terms we were able to have victories with the RTA busing Board to be more inclusive, the City of Dayton to change its ordinance to be friendlier to Ex-Offenders (Bann the Box), City increasing the demolishing of dilapidated buildings and many more victories.

         As I celebrate this weekend the 25 years milestone today, it is my will to work together with all of you who are my flock to expand the missionary work of God with affection and love for the good of you, my parishioners, and the community that we serve. May the good Lord who has entrusted me with his flock help me with good health, courage and good directions that comes from the guidance of his spirit to bring it to a fruitful end.

Thank you for your support during all these years
GOD BLESS