Dear St. James Family,
Greetings during this third week of Adventide, yet almost Christmas! I have lots to share with you: news from the fundraising dinner, my meeting with an architect about the building that we are looking at, and a sneak peak at the St. James Christmas hymn list. I have also included a helpful note from the local bishop, Eric Pohlmeier, on the media confusion around Pope Francis and same sex blessings.
Bishop Lopes’ Thoughts on the Emerson Street Building
We had a great time at the fundraising dinner with Bishop Lopes who shared his reflections on the building we would like to possibly lease. He told the rags to riches story of the beautiful Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham. They started with a small group of people meeting for Sunday Mass at a school chapel for 4-5 years, then leasing a warehouse which they used as a church for another 4-5 years. Finally, they were able to come up with enough money to purchase an old auto parts store in a bad neighborhood and they did their best to make it look like a church. A few decades have passed since that time and today this building serves as their parish hall and beside it is the building that you see below. The neighborhood is now transformed and is located in what is now known as one of the most desirable areas of Houston. Bishop Lopes pointed out that what we are trying to do at St. James is following this same trajectory.
He shared that making a move into a space that will be our own, will be transformative for the St. James Community. It is the difference between sleeping on your buddies couch and having a place of your own. He said that by having a place of our own, we will move beyond being a boutique, a place where people come for a pretty Mass on Sunday morning. Instead, this will allow us to build an all week long community that will bless many more people. This is a difficult transition to make, but it is one that makes all of the difference and will truly put St. James on a solid foundation for the future.
Grow and Be Challenged in your Faith: Listen to a Homily
If you have been away from St. James for a while or have yet to join us, get a little taste of the experience and receive some spiritual nourishment by listening to one of the homilies given during Mass. You can listen here or by searching for “Fr. Mayer’s Preaching & Teaching” wherever you get your podcasts.
A number of people enjoyed were encouraged by this homily given by our bishop about what it means to be a “voice in the wilderness.”
During this time of the year it is easy to get beaten down by all of the pressures and expectations: parties, ugly sweaters, expenses, lights, and supposed happiness. Instead find joy through the piercing preaching of John the Baptist.
It is traditional to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Advent in preparation for Christmas. For those who put this off until the end, this is the opportunity for you to easily have your sins forgiven! If necessary, you can even step out of Mass for a few minutes to have your confession heard. Come and experience the healing power of this sacrament (note: priest confession break from 10:25 AM – 10:40 AM).
Will Your Favorite Christmas Hymns be Sung at St. James? All is Revealed 🙂
One of the most beloved traditions of Christmas is jubilantly singing the music together that we love so much, including one of my favorites. Here is what we have planned coming up at St. James:
Discover the Stories Behind Much Loved Christmas Carols
I have been enjoying listening to this fascinating podcast on the history of the most loved Christmas carols – where they came from and the stories behind them. This podcast covers Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming, Go Tell It on the Mountain, O Holy Night, Joy to the World, Good King Wenceslas, Carol of the Bells and more. Anyhow, I share it with you for your listening pleasure.
Your Gifts Matter! Make a Year-End Tax Deductible Gift
Thank you for making a difference. God has used every act of kindness and generosity to help change the world. As 2023 is nearing its end, we are here to assist you with any year-end giving needs you may have. If you would like to make a year-end gift to support programs and ministry, or make a gift toward our capital fund which goes toward moving St. James into a stable location, you can do so today. Go to StJamesCC.org/Giving and make a one-time gift prior to 11:59 pm on December 31, 2023. You can use a credit card, debit card, or e-check. G
Gifts can also be sent through the mail but must be postmarked by December 31, 2023 to be eligible for a the 2023 tax deduction. The address is:
St. James Catholic Church, Parsonage
3725 Lilly Road North
Jacksonville, FL 32207
If you need assistance, please let me know by responding to this email or calling me at 904-999-1423. I look forward to connecting with you and helping to steward your gifts for the greatest ministry impact.
Check out More Upcoming Events at the Website
News and Announcements
So, Did the Fundraising Dinner Raise Funds?
Yes! It appears that we received enough in pledges to just about bring together the $91,000 needed for phase one, that is completing the needed construction so that the building can function as a place of worship. From what I can tell (some of the pledges appear to have been completed in a hurry and are in need of clarification), we are looking good to be able to complete phase one. To complete phase two (sacristy cabinets, landscaping and signage, advertising, a kitchen, bathroom renovations, art and beautification, speakers), we will need to raise another $50,000. I’ll be posting monthly updates about how the giving is coming along. If you would like to learn more about this project and to see pictures and drawings of what we are working toward please contact me.
Building Discernment Update: Working through City Codes and Requirements
This morning I met with Chris Belyea, of Dasher Hurst Architects, who has been generous and helpful in seeing whether we can make the Emerson Street building workable for our needs. One of the prominent factors is figuring out whether or not a fire sprinkler system (which is exorbitantly expensive) will be required. This ultimately comes down to how the codes are interpreted. As soon as the drawings are finished, I will be able to set an appointment with the city to clarify the requirements. If all goes well and we decide to move forward with lease negotiations, my best estimate is that we would be getting into the building either this summer or fall.
Same Sex Blessing or Media Spin on Pope Francis? A Note from Bishop Pohlmeier and the Diocese of St. Augustine
On December 18, the Vatican released a statement titled “Fiducia Supplicans.” This document has stirred questions among the faithful and has been sensationalized by both secular news media and some Catholic outlets. Bishop Erik Pohlmeier encourages everyone to read “Fiducia Supplicans” to understand its two specific points, which are not contradictory or new.
First, the document reaffirms the sacrament of marriage as the exclusive, stable and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, in line with longstanding Catholic doctrine (#4).
Secondly, the document emphasizes that all individuals deserve blessings in their daily lives. It mentions spontaneous and non-ritual blessings outside of the church, not connected to civil ceremonies, for couples married outside the church, and for those in same-sex unions. These blessings do not seek to legitimize anything but aim to open one’s life to God, seek his help for better living and invoke the Holy Spirit to live Gospel values more faithfully (#40). It’s important for everyone to feel blessed, even in the face of serious mistakes, as God continues to desire their well-being and hopes they turn towards the good (#27).
The Holy Father reaffirms the church’s doctrine while reminding those who may struggle with it of their dignity as children of God. We are called to accompany others on life’s journey, never turning our backs on them, and offering blessings to all we encounter, saying, “God bless you.”
Be Inspired by the Richness of Our Traditions and Patrimony
Use this Booklet to Bless Your Family Christmas Tree
Our Cathedral in Houston has assembled a little booklet so that you can gather your family together for a tree blessing, ideally completed on Christmas Eve (though anytime is better than no blessing at all 🙂). It only takes a few minutes, is beautiful, full of Scripture, and includes a couple spots for carols around the tree.
Poetic Last Gospel to be Said at the End of Mass During Christmastide
The Last Gospel is the name given to the reading of John 1:1-18 at the end of Mass which especially emphasizes Christ becoming flesh. This practice began in medieval times when it became common among the priests and the altar party to recite the words of this gospel privately among themselves while on their way to the sacristy after leaving the altar. They considered this an especially appropriate way of meditating on the way that Christ becomes present in the Mass. The practice quickly spread in popularity and was soon taken up by the people. In response to the esteem of this devotion it was added to the Roman Missal in 1570. It ceased to be used in the Ordinary form of the Mass in the 1970s, but it continues within the Ordinariate and is especially commended during Christmastide, the great seasonal festival in which we commemorate Christ becoming flesh among us.
Hanukkah Fulfilled: The Octave of Christmas (Dec. 25-Jan 1),
The eight day period between December 25 and January 1 is celebrated as one long solemnity, one long festival known as an octave. The foreshadowing of this celebration can be found in 1 Maccabees and is what Jews today celebrate as “Hanukkah.” The fulfilled and revealed form of this festival is called “The Christmas Octave.” This Festival of Lights is a great time to display your Christmas lights! This eight day octave is part of the larger “Twelve Days of Christmas” (December 25 – Jan 5).
Around the Local Diocese
Women’s Day of Renewal
Take advantage of a Women’s Day of Renewal on Saturday, Jan. 6, at Assumption Catholic Church, 2403 Atlantic Blvd., Jacksonville! It’s a beautiful opportunity to join your sisters in Christ for faith-building and fellowship. The day will begin with Mass at 8:00 a.m. and end with lunch from Tidbits at 1:00 p.m. Presentations from authors Lara Patangan and Michaelann Martin and adoration with praise and worship led by Comunita Cenacolo. There’s no registration fee, but they will gladly accept donations. Register here by Tuesday, Jan. 2. Check out the flyer.
Divine Mercy Presentation on January 20
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish is hosting a presentation that will include a great treasury of revelations, teachings, insights and prayers of devotion to the Divine Mercy. The presentation, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., will be held in their Seton Hall. The guest speaker is Nestor Buendia. For more information call Elizabeth Steven at (386) 338-5332 or Ines Becker at (386) 387-1194. For more details and a flyer, click here.
Holy Spirit Healing Conference
Mark your calendar for the Holy Spirit Healing Conference on Jan. 26-27, at Holy Faith Catholic Church, 747 NW 43rd St. in Gainesville. The keynote speaker for the conference is Terry Quinn, a lay Catholic evangelist from Ireland who has a passion for apologetics-evangelization, healing and discipleship. Additional speakers include Tom Edwards, Dr. Mary Shaw, Jean Roach and music minister Philip Militante. The conference will conclude Saturday evening with a Healing Prayer Service and Mass led by Father Martin Ibeh and Father Mac Hill. If you’re interested in attending, online pre-registration is encouraged. Lunch is included for those who pre-registered. Donations are requested to help defray the conference expenses. To view the full schedule, find hotel discounts and register, visit www.HolySpiritHealingConference.net or check out this flyer.
The Florida Catholic Bishops want parishioners to know about an Amendment to Limit Government Interference with Abortion and their Decline-to-Sign efforts. As of today, the amendment sponsors have gathered 621,690 valid signatures out of the 891,523 required to be placed on the ballot in November. They have made significant progress, but we can still stop them from collecting the required petitions by Feb. 1.
Faithfully, your pastor,