“Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life;
wherefore the servant of God ought always to be in good spirits.” -- St. Philip Neri
Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord
Dear members of St Philip Neri Catholic Church:
It is my honor and privilege to put down a few thoughts on paper about this vibrant Community of faith; St Philip Neri Catholic Church, Houston, Texas especially in this New year and also as we begin another Liturgical Season called Ordinary Time. According to our Liturgical Calendar, the Feast of Baptism of our Lord that marks the end of Christmas season and ushers us into the Ordinary Season, where we see our Lord Jesus beginning His earthly ministry as sent by the Father, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew Gospel 3:13-17
First of all, I wish to humbly acknowledge the wonderful coincidence of being installed a pastor on this memorable day. I never expected an installation ceremony but like John the Baptist, I tried to prevent it but I was consoled by profound response our Lord to John the Baptist, “allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”My special thanks to our Archbishop of Galveston – Houston Archdiocese, His Eminence, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo who was represented by his Episcopal Vicar of the Central Vicariate, Fr Albert Zanatta, CRSto carry out the ceremony on his behalf, January 12, 2014. As I was commissioned to carry out the pastorate of this parish, I was overwhelmed by the presence of so many people at the celebration. May the awesome lesson of humility, obedience and service of our Lord lead and guide me. Amen!
Since my appointment on Friday, November 15, 2013, I have experienced viable and warm community stepping out in faith to carry out what our Lord commanded us to do. So far from my experience of this community in South Park is that, it has a rich tradition and history which makes it a force to reckon with among other churches here in this area. It is like a corner stone that should not be taken for granted. In the half century of St Philip Neri Catholic Church existence, many have been touched, trained and formed to become great and productive men and women of our Country. To overlook or take for granted God’s blessings, the sweat and labor of her members both living and dead will be unfair to our history. For this I say, to God be the glory and honor for the great things He has done.
As the current pastor, I wish to use this opportunity too to invite you to take some time and visit our website and if possible come and join or celebrate our faith. There is a lot to be thankful to God for especially for the grace to see a new year. In the words of the Psalmist, we can say, ‘how shall I return to the Lord for all He has done for me? The cup salvation I will take up, and I call upon the name of the Lord.’ Psalm 116: 12 - 13
Historically, St Philip Catholic Church is struggling to respond to the needs of the Community. We can do more if we can take a little moment and respond or commit to helping the less privilege around us. Under South Park Area Community Service with Saint Vincent de Paul Society program situated here, St Philip Neri Catholic Church has made tremendous efforts to reach out to our brothers and sisters in this Community. Nevertheless, more support is needed for the labor is plentiful. Come and share with us ways to extend in a spirit of true Christian love to Community as a whole. We want to promote and expand the mission of Christ in the best way possible because ‘we have come thus far by faith.’
Before I conclude, I wish to pay tribute to all those who worked tirelessly for this vision of Love, Unity and Service with all cheerfulness like our patron Saint recommended. Their active involvement and participation is a shining example to our future Church. Their wealth of knowledge and wisdom is what we rely on as we push forward in our work of faith. God bless them all for us. As our Holy Father, Pope Francis puts it, “the New Year will be brighter only if everyone steps outside their safe heavens, get involved and works together to solve local problems with generosity and love”.
For our future leaders, our youth, we appreciate your understanding and patience but we implore your active participation, your support and willingness in discerning what the good Lord has for you in this life. As we pray for vocation to the priesthood and religious life, we beg all of you to make yourselves available and disposed to the call of God despite all distraction in this fast paced Society so that you can hear and answer the call to serve. True spirit of discernment is what I pray for all our youths and the willingness to respond faithfully not minding the cost of discipleship. The reward is great!
For our dear deceased parishioners, our former pastors and religious men and woman, we thank God for the good work you did. What can we say, ‘the soul of the righteous are in the hands of God, and no torment shall touch them. Book of Wisdom 3:1. So, “let them rest from their labors for their good deeds go with them”, Book of Revelation 14:13
As we sing lead us and guide us, Lord, who has brought us a long mighty way, we as a Church family which our Holy Father has declared this year2014 to be, Year of the Family, we need to look at ways to restore our domestic Church in the spirit of perseverance and good life so can love Him more dearly and serve Him more faithfully day by day.