Our Holy Father Francis surprised the world community again when at the conclusion of his missionary visit to Egypt, instituted a common declaration, signed by Pope Francis and Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, declaring for the first time that they will recognize each other’s sacrament of baptism. Previously both communions of faith insisted on a second baptism for Christians who convert from one Church to another. Monumentally, the two popes declared, “we will not repeat the baptism that had been administered in either of our Churches for any person who wishes to join the other.” For years the Catholic Church has recognized and accepted Baptism as valid for those Christians who have first come to Christianity through one of the separated Churches of the Protestant Reformation. Even at Nativity, on Holy Saturday, three of our sisters and brothers of other churches came forward; we did not “re-baptize” them but professed our common shared faith and accepted their willingness to join us. The Orthodox separation from the Catholic Communion though is centuries older than the Reformation. On this fourth weekend of Easter, the Gospel of John is proclaimed and Jesus says: “All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture” John 10:8-9. Jesus was of course referring to those “opportunist messiahs” who rode the wave of expectation for their own enrichment and fame. However even His contemporaries recognized that He may have been referring to those in Religious Authority at His time as well. They too profited from their positions of authority and felt threatened to relinquish it in light of Jesus’ proclamations. Jesus is the Gate. All who follow Jesus need to accept that we are on the same team and need not compete with one another for importance, finance and even disciples but work together to bring the Salvation of Jesus to the ends of the earth.
GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY, usually the fourth Sunday in the Easter Celebration, is always World Day of Prayer for Vocations. We pray in Thanksgiving to God for all our priests, deacons, women and men of consecrated life. We also pray that God give them and all of us the boldness to search out, solicit and support those whom we can envision as having that unique call to serve the Lord. The Lord needs all of us to lend our voice to His and ask our youth “Have you ever considered a Religious Vocation as a Priest, Sister, Brother, or Deacon?”
ROOF PROGRESS UPDATE - We have all the necessary Resolutions of the Board of Trustees of our Church that gives us permission to sign the work contract for our roof replacement. We have been approved for a loan from Northwest Bank that will cover most of the cost of the work. Currently we are on the calendar of the contractor that is to begin work later in May. We have raised just under $55,000 of the $95,000 that we need thus far. Thank you to all who have stepped up to the plate and contributed.
ANOTHER COMMUNION OF FAITH WORSHPPING AT ST. LAWRENCE – Mid March we welcomed Pastor Dillis Wall and the “Manna From Heaven Ministry” that has agreed to utilize our beautiful church space. Pastor Wall and members of her family joined us for our “Good Friday” pilgrimage around the neighborhood. Currently they meet each Sunday at 1:30PM in the Church and Parish Hall. Another small communion of faith is in dialogue with us. They wish to come in on Sundays from 9AM to 11AM as well as conduct a public Bible Study program in the Church and other activities. Both of these groups, by their contributions for the use of our space, will enable us to better manage our loan payments for the roof replacement over the next few years. If and when we have occasions to meet each other and cross paths, please welcome them to St. Lawrence.