June 25, 2023
Dear Parish Family:
A million thanks to everyone who made this year’s Vacation Bible Camp an absolute success!!! Our “campers” looked more eager and excited as they arrived each morning as the week progressed. They couldn’t wait for the day to begin. That speaks volumes! Congratulations and deep gratitude to Helen Kantes (our Director of Student Ministry) and all our catechists, assistants, and student volunteers. Special thanks to the parents and grandparents who brought their children each day!
This Thursday (June 29) is the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles. Simon was born in Bethsaida, near the Sea of Galilee. He and his brother, Andrew were fishermen. Matthew’s Gospel records that Jesus called to them saying, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men”. Matthew’s Gospel also relates that Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter when He said to him, “I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church”. Peter emerged as the central leader of the Church after Pentecost. He spent ten years in Jerusalem, preaching powerfully and performing miracles. He traveled to Rome where he established the Church, becoming its first bishop. Around the year 64, he was martyred during the persecutions of Emperor Nero. Tradition states that Peter requested to be crucified upside down because he did not consider himself to be worthy of dying the same way Jesus died. His tomb is located under the main altar of Saint Peter’s Basilica.
Saul, a Roman Citizen, was born in Tarsus, modern-day Turkey. He studied at the renowned school of the rabbi Gamaliel. After Jesus’ ascension, Saul was one of the fiercest persecutors of the early Church. As Saul was traveling to Damascus, he was knocked to the ground and struck blind. He heard Jesus say to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Jesus directed him to a disciple named Ananias who baptized Saul. Saul spent three years in intense prayer and study, eventually returning to Jerusalem where Barnabus introduced him to the other disciples, testifying to the veracity of his conversion. In Jerusalem, Saul began to use his Roman name, Paul, and then spent the next ten years as a missionary. Back in Jerusalem, he was imprisoned and sent to Rome for trial. According to tradition, Paul was beheaded just outside the city limits. When his head fell to the ground, it bounced three times, each time giving rise to a spring of water. The place is marked today by the Abbey of the Three Fountains.
Saints Peter and Paul are considered foundational pillars of the Church. Peter represents the stability of the Church and the office of the Vicar of Christ. Paul represents the mission of evangelization that was entrusted to the Church by Jesus Himself. Their martyrdom reminds us the Church must remain grounded in the Truth, yet grow with an ongoing understanding of the mysteries of faith. As we honor these two pillars, recall the fact that, though they are great saints, they were ordinary men called to extraordinary vocations.
Love and prayers,
Father Neil Sullivan