PASTOR’S CORNER

GOD COMES TO US. WILL WE GO TO HIM?

        Imagine two scenarios and two different voices. First, I’d like you to think of the voice of the oddest member in your family, maybe your uncle or cousin. Imagine that family member being gone for a few years and then all of a sudden returning looking pretty ragged and out-of-sorts, speaking directly to you and going on and on about God coming soon and how we all have to repent and get ready.

         Now, imagine another scenario and another kind of voice. You are walking through a mountain range. Big tall mountains that seem to speak to you with their size and beauty, and the deep valleys that repeat back to you every word you speak. This voice seems to pull you farther and farther into the mountains, mesmerizing you by their grandeur and beauty, only to find that you are lost and can’t find your way back home because the mountains block your exit and the valleys are too deep to escape.

        Now, my question is to which of these two voices will you listen to in your life? Is it the call of the mountains of resistance and the echoes of the deep valleys of temptation? Or, will you listen to the words of John the Baptist in the Gospel? The word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness; and he went into the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Make ready the way of the Lord! Clear him a straight path! Let every valley be filled, every mountain made low! Let all mankind see the salvation of our God, for he comes! Smooth out the rough patches John said, and straighten the crookedness of your life. Fill in what is missing!

        God wants to make our lives smooth. He wants to remove the mountains of distress in our lives and he wants to fill our valleys of despair with his presence, with his peace, with his justice, with his glory. Yes God comes to us! He comes so that we might not be held captive by sin and death. He comes so that we might be free from all that would tear us away from him. God comes to seeking us out.

         God comes to level our mountains of resistance. He comes to fill the trenches of temptation. God comes to strengthen our hands and make firm our knees, so that we might stand tall upon the heights and declare before all the people, “The Lord has done great things for us! We are glad indeed!”

         Yes, return to the Lord with all your heart. Go to him. Ready yourself, for Jesus is coming! He will complete in us the good work, the good news, which he began so long ago.
Ask yourselves, “What are the valleys of temptation in my life? Where are the mountains of resistance that impede my progress? What has led me away from my God?”

My friends, John the Baptist outlines three steps we must take to find our way out of those mountains and the valleys of life.

        Step one: we must go into the wilderness, into the desert, into those mountains and valleys. We must find time to be with God. We must find time to pray. In the wilderness we must struggle to admit our sinfulness and our need of forgiveness. We must admit we are lost and in need of guidance and direction.

        Step two, we must let the God come to us and lead us out. God comes to us when we pray. God comes to us when we read Scripture and hear it read. Yes, God wants us to seek him out by going into the desert, but he also wants to lead us out of that wilderness; he wants to free us from whatever holds us captive. He wants to give us his Spirit who guides us out of the mountains and valleys that surround us. He comes to give us the hope of rebirth! On his own initiative, God comes searching our souls, searching our hearts that have been held captive by the addiction of sin and the temptations of the world around us. Yes, God comes to forgive us. When does that forgiveness come to us in a very personal way? When we go to confession and receive absolution. We all need to confess our sins, admit our guilt and receive the Lord’s forgiveness. We must go frequently, on a monthly basis, to the sacrament of Penance. It is our way of being prepared for his coming. It is our way to ready ourselves for the coming of Jesus.

         Step three, we must go out and proclaim the faith. He sends us out to announce to the whole world that God is good and that he has done great things for us. He sends us out in joy and peace so we might give witness to his presence and his love, so that we might lead others to him. He sends us out so that others may learn the faith, and know God. He sends us out to proclaim the truth that God is found in the Catholic Church, in her teachings, in her living Tradition and Apostolic ministry.

         In a nutshell, Advent is a time to go into the wilderness in order to listen and hear God’s voice, to be open to his coming into our lives, to seek his forgiveness, and then to become witnesses of his coming into our world.

           God will lead us. He will level the mountains of sin and fills the trenches of temptation. He will bring to completion the work he has begun. He will grace us with his presence. Look for him! He is coming soon! Go to him! As the Scriptures say, “Let all mankind will see the salvation of God!”

Deacon Bob Yerhot

The Holy Season of Advent

        Today we begin the holy season of Advent – the season of hope. Yes, we are in the holiday mood and the commercialization of the season does not always help us to reflect on the deeper realities. Yet, the scripture readings are unceasingly inviting us to go deeper. I would like to suggest some ways to make this advent meaningful.

      1. Pondering Hope! Today’s first reading and the gospel carry two realities – the ‘existing imperfections’ coupled with ‘what could be.’ Jeremiah, in the light of the existing infidelities and injustices prophecies about the days when justice and right will reign. “The Lord is our justice,” he proclaimed. In the gospel reading, Jesus, as he describes the last days, says, “But when these things begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” These readings describe life as we know it. On the one hand, sin, death, illness, uncertainty, broken relationships, selfishness, injustice, violence and a million other imperfections plague us. On the other hand, our hope never fades. Jesus Christ is our hope! No other event in the history of the universe brings us the kind of hope that Jesus did. He did not come to a perfect world for wait for the world to be perfect. Rather, he embraced our imperfections. In the manger and on the cross Jesus taught us that no matter how dark things might become around us, hope never fades. There is tomorrow. There is eternity. I suggest that this advent more than anything else, we connect deeply with Jesus who is our hope.

          2. Hope Comes from Love. Paul says to the Thessalonians: “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all.” Paul, like you and I knew the power of love! He, like you and I, knew that God’s abounding love at Christmas and on the cross is the very reason for our hope. Today, Paul urges us to let Christ-like love increase and abound so that hope may abound. In the midst of all the imperfection, like Christ, let love increase and abound. I invite you to 25 days of love; 25 days without hate, resentment, unrighteous anger; 25 days of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace; 25 days of bringing love to the grieving, the poor, the lonely, the hungry, the distressed and overburdened! If we can commit these 25 days to increasing and abounding Christ-like love, then we will also increase and abound hope.

        May our participation in the Eucharist strengthen our hope – the home that comes from the long-awaited Jesus. Amen

Fr. Satish Joseph

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