CELL PHONE SCAM: Several people have contacted me today to alert me that someone pretending to be me keeps contacting people’s cell phone asking for a favor. AVOID CALLS AND TEXTS FROM ANYONE CLAIMING TO BE ME ASKING FOR A FAVOR, GIFT CARDS, MONEY, ETC. The scam today is coming from 512.584.9099. According to Google and Facebook, that is Jim’s Junk Removal in Austin, TX.
The local pastors and I have discussed this. Each of us has fallen victim to this many times. These scam attempts do not come from our/my real phone number or email address so it is not a hack in the strictest sense of the term. As best as we can surmise, someone reads church bulletins online and tries to collect names and numbers of people. They then try their luck at seeing who they can convince to buy gift cards for the pastor. It is shameful and ridiculous. I am so sorry it happens so much, but I hope you can also understand that because it is not coming from my contacts, there is little I can do when this happens other than to warn people that it is happening, that it is not real and that you should never fall for these scams.
CHRISTMAS GRATITUDE: Our celebration of The Birth of Jesus continues this weekend with the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God to ring in the New Year 2023. Next week weekend we will celebrate The Epiphany and the three kings who came from afar and followed the light of the star to the manger where they opened their treasures and gave thanks to God.
It is with that same spirit that I wish to give thanks to many people who helped to make Christmas at Queens another inspiring success. Thank you to Betsy Youngdahl, Dave Goble and their team who worked so hard to decorate the church and make it look better and more beautiful than it ever has before. To Carol Hatch, Chet Czubko, the Adult Choir, Anne Fleming’s Contemporary Ensemble, the Let it Shine Children’s Choir, Lynn Kotcher and her Bell Choir and to all of our cantors for providing inspiring carols expressing our shared Christmas joy. To all of our ushers and ministers of hospitality, lectors, Extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist and to our altar servers for making the Masses run smoothly. To Rob Gamble and Ben Sexton for setting up the gym for Mass, hanging the banners in Church and clearing snow in the early morning frigid temps. Speaking of cold, a big ‘Thank You’ to the Boy Scouts for standing in the cold for two hours on Christmas Eve to park cars!
I am also grateful to John and Estelle Clary, their many co-chairs and all the volunteers who donated and assisted with the 24th Community-Wide Christmas Dinner. The weather made it hard for some of the guests to get there, but you could feel the true Spirit of Christmas alive and well that day. Chef Ted Brzezinski and his wife Linda were recognized for his 20 years as lead cook for the dinner. This will be his last. ‘Thank you’ Chef Ted and Linda for all you’ve done to feed the hungry at Christmas and Easter for so many years. Their son Steve is the heir apparent and we wish him well as he takes over the reins from the dad who trained him so well.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: Finally, I want to thank the many parishioners who expressed their Christmas joy to me with cards, baked goods and gifts. People are very generous and I am very blessed. Thank you to one and all and may God bless your kindness!
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS: At the start of the New Year, people think about what they are going to do differently. All too often this contemplation focuses on our physical health, eating habits, exercise, and the use of time and money. Perhaps some of you might be willing to entertain some resolutions of a spiritual variety? For instance, those who do not come to Mass regularly could set aside time each weekend and make it a priority. Those who do come every Sunday might try a weekday Mass now and again to have more access to the Eucharist. We are always looking for more chapel adorers and Open Door Disciples to make weekly commitments. Men could join the Knights. Ladies could become more active in the Guild. At home, there could be more efforts at daily prayer or Bible reading.
TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL: Those really looking to go all out could join the Ascension Press Podcast with Fr. Mike Schmitz where you will read the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church in 2023. Some of you did the ‘Bible in a Year’ with Fr. Mike last year so you know how this works. You can sign up here:
MARY THE MOTHER OF GOD: This weekend’s solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God is yet another reminder that the mysteries of our faith are all carefully woven together. Mary is conceived without sin so she can become the sinless Mother of Jesus. Jesus is God, so Mary -though human – gains this title. In Greek it was Theotokos – the ‘God Bearer.’ Because Mary was without sin, she did not die and therefore was assumed body and soul into heaven. Jesus was born of Mary so that he might die for us. He died that he might rise from the dead and share that gift with all who believe. At Creation, God made us to be like Him. At Christmas, God chose to become one like us so we could be restored to the image and likeness of God.
Please fight the urge to pack everything away and erase any sign of Christmas before the season officially ends on Monday January 9th with the Baptism of the Lord.
END OF YEAR DONATIONS: Just so you are aware, all donations coming in on Sunday January 1, 2023 will be posted to 2023. Donations from the New Year’s Eve Saturday 5pm Mass will be posted for 2022. Donations coming in through the mail must be postmarked by December 31, and anyone dropping off their envelope for 2022 must do so before midnight on Saturday December 31st. The locked mailbox outside the office could be used for this purpose since the office is closed today and Monday.
A NEW FACE ON STAFF: We were all sad to see Mike Carroll enter into an early retirement as Queens Maintenance Supervisor due to repeated back injuries. A search committee has conducted and completed the application and interview process for Mike’s replacement. I am pleased to announce that Anthony Baltodano reports to work as our new Queens Maintenance Supervisor on Tuesday January 3rd. Anthony has worked in maintenance and building management for 15 years. He is a young married father of three whose children attend St. Johns School. I am appreciative of everyone’s patience since July 2022 when our on-site maintenance crew went from three down to two. I am especially thankful to Ben and Rob who had so much more responsibility placed on their shoulders during that time. Now that our crew will again be at full strength, I look forward to Anthony’s expertise and skill as we seek to maintain all the facilities on our sizable campus. Welcome Anthony!
JACKSON CATHOLIC SCHOOLS 50/50 RAFFLE TICKETS will only be on sale until mid-January. A $100 ticket enrolls you in 11 monthly drawings. Two winners will be picked each month. The prize is usually somewhere around $2,000-$2,500 per winner but that is solely dependent on how many tickets are sold. Cash, check, credit and debit cards are accepted and tickets can be purchased at any Jackson parish or Catholic school office. Give someone some luck to kick off this New Year, all while supporting keeping Catholic education in Jackson accessible, affordable and exceptional.
May you enjoy health, holiness and happiness in The New Year 2023,
Fr. Tim MacDonald