2nd Sunday of Lent

Dear Friends in Christ,

1. In 2002 we closed the church for ten months of restoration work, during which we installed a new system of heating and air conditioning. That new system has served us well and is still in excellent mechanical condition, but the controls which allow us to monitor and change the operation of the boiler, chiller, and thirty-two fan coil units throughout the building need to be replaced. We have spent the past several months investigating our options for the new controls, and we are now ready to begin installation of a new system from Trane. The work will be accomplished around our schedule and we do not have to close the church during the installation of the new controls, but there is one downside. Next weekend the entire system will be offline, and so we will have neither heating nor cooling in the church. We have chosen a time when weather conditions will not be severe in either direction, and so we do not expect the church to be unbearably uncomfortable during Mass next weekend. But we want everyone to be prepared for the indoor temperature to be a bit cooler or warmer (depending on day and time of the Mass you attend) than you usually experience, and we apologize in advance for any inconvenience this poses. We anticipate that next weekend will be the only time during the installation of the new controls when the system is down, and we thank you for your patience.

2. A parishioner asked me last week if the parish is doing anything special for Lent, and I asked her if she had been to our Sunday Vespers or Friday Way of the Cross in the last ten years. With a quick blush, she acknowledged that she had not, and I invited her – as I invite everyone – to join us for those special observances of Lent. I also invite anyone interested in “doing more” during these 40 Days to attend a class in our Program of Catholic Studies which meet on Tuesday morning and Wednesday and Thursday evening. The liturgical and catechetical programs at St. Mary’s are exceptionally strong, and the opportunities for service in our community are too numerous to be listed. There is always something “special” going on for those with open eyes and hearts, and I encourage everyone in the parish to take advantage of the many ways we offer to know, love and serve the Lord Jesus ever more perfectly.

3. This Tuesday is the Memorial of Saint Katherine Drexel, the Philadelphia heiress who founded the Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for the service of American Indians and African Americans. She was born in 1858 and died at the age of 96 in 1955, having founded Xavier University in New Orleans and nearly fifty convents and centers of ministry throughout the country. In Charleston an old convent called Drexel House bears witness to the former presence of her Sisters in our diocese. Do some reading in this second week of Lent about the extraordinary life and work of Saint Katherine Drexel.

Father Newman