PASTOR’S CORNER


My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

      Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her. Often these words are used to justify the contemplative life, but actually they are not about that at all or at least not directly. Instead, Jesus is inviting all of us to choose the better part: Listen to Him and don’t get so caught up in doing everything else!

       The first reading today is from the Book of Genesis and is about hospitality and how God works in us when we receive others. This scene became famous in the icon of Rublev, and became of symbol of the Holy Trinity. We Christians should always be aware that whenever we receive anyone, we receive Christ Himself. We are happy to do that when the one we receive is not a problem! But when a guest becomes a problem, we have a real challenge to recognize Christ present.

        Abraham and Sarah received these three strangers. For their goodness in receiving strangers, finally Sarah has a son, a true gift of God. Abraham is our father in faith, Sarah our mother and their son, Isaac, continues the line of those chosen for God in a special way. Yet each of us is also chosen to give witness to our faith in God, no matter what happens.

       The second reading today is from the Letter to the Colossians. Here it is clear that there is another aspect to hospitality, to receiving others, and that aspect is to accept the sufferings that come to us because in that way we fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ. That is truly a strong statement! Yet, if we listen carefully to Scripture, we recognize this truth: we are one in Christ Jesus: it is Christ in you, the hope for glory.

       The Gospel of Luke today brings us back to the account of Jesus visiting Martha and Mary. Martha is frustrated because Mary sits and listens to Jesus while she, Martha, has to do all the work. We can wonder what would have happened had Martha simply stopped doing her work, sat down by Mary, and had listened to the Lord? That is the invitation to each of us: stop your business and be still and listen!

        So, all three readings today bring us back to God and the incredibly wonderful ways in which God is present in our normal daily life. God comes as stranger, God comes as Guest, God comes in suffering and God comes in being still and listening. Let us be attentive!

Your brother in the Lord, Abbot Philip

 

 

WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?

        Our faith is a very demanding faith. Our Catholic religion sets high standards. Just think of it. We must go to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation. We must always tell the truth and respect other’s property. We must protect every human life. We must be willing to die for our faith. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman. We must become a son or daughter of God. We must live as Jesus Christ himself lived. We must go out and transform the world. We must give our entire life to God.

       Yes, these are some of the demands of our faith. We are supposed to live up to them. Thank God for his mercy and forgiveness, because we all fail in living up to these demands, don’t we?

        Today, in the Gospel of the Good Samaritan, we are faced with another very demanding aspect of our faith: We must love God with all our souls, with all our minds, with all our strength, with all our being; and we must love our neighbor as ourselves.

       Yes, it seems impossible, doesn’t it? How in the world could our faith demand this from us too, in addition to all the other demanding aspects of Christianity?

       “Who is my neighbor?” Said plainly, we know who it is who is to do the loving: you, and you, and you, and you, and me. Each of us who have been baptized into Jesus Christ must love our neighbor. This is clearly defined. What we don’t know is who will be the object of our love, in other words, who we must love today, because no one is excluded from the list of possibilities. We cannot predict who our neighbor will be, because it could include anyone.

      Who is your neighbor? Your husband? Your wife? Your children? The person next door? The people in the nursing home? The person who is from the other political party? The atheist? The public sinner? The person who mistreated you in your childhood? What about the terrorist who has killed and maimed others? How about Al Qaeda? What about all those people in our prisons? What about that homeless person you saw yesterday?

      How can we possibly love these people? Only by God’s grace and mercy. Only if we can overcome our fear of loving. Only if we can overcome the unloving mindset of the world in which we live. Only if we allow God to work through us.

      When we see the sinner, or the atheist, or politicians and others who advocate an immoral agenda, or terrorists and madmen we want to call them “evil” and we want to distant ourselves from them, to not touch them in any way if we can avoid it. We have to overcome this way of thinking if we are to love our neighbor.

        A lot of us fall into a trap in thinking that out there is a great battle going on between God and Evil, as if two beings were competing and fighting to see who wins. No, it isn’t that way at all. God exists, and evil is simply the absence of God in a place or in the life of a person. That is a theological fact. Satan has been completely destroyed by Jesus Christ. We really have nothing to fear when it comes to loving our neighbor.

       Just as cold is only the absence of heat – and that is a fact of physics – and darkness is only the absence of light, so too evil is simply the absence of God. Yes, Satan exists, and he wields power, but he has been definitively defeated by Jesus Christ.

      So, do not fear, for God has conquered evil, and has given us the truth, and has cast light into the darkest of places.

      So, when we meet someone who is far from God, we must bring God to him. When we meet someone, who is “wrong” or living in darkness, we must bring God’s truth and light to him. It is God’s work that we do, not ours. He does the work; we just hand him on to those who need him. We do that by how we live and speak. That is our vocation, to bring light, truth and goodness – to bring God to our neighbor.

      To those who have shut him out, we must crack open the door.
     To those who have dimmed the light of faith, we must light a lamp.
     To those who live in error, we must speak the truth.
     To those who would hate, we must bring God’s love.

     Our faith, our religion, is a demanding faith. We cannot deceive ourselves or excuse ourselves by making it is easy or dumbing it down. We must love our neighbor as ourselves. We never know for sure who that neighbor will be on any particular day, but we know without a doubt that we are to be the people who must love him or her today.

      Do not fear the demands of our faith, for it is always all about God in the end. It is God’s work we do, not our own. It is God’s grace and our cooperation with that grace that wins the day. Nothing is impossible with God.

        Fear not to live out fully the teachings and the demands of our Catholic faith! Open wide your hearts to Jesus and remain attached to the Catholic Church, and God will work wonders with your life!

 

Deacon Bob Yerhot

               


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