Dear St. James Family,

Greetings on this Memorial of the convert, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.


Merry Christmas to you, that is if you are celebrating with us the full Christmas Season which continues until this coming Sunday, the Epiphany. Be sure to check out the updates below including shattered financial records, updates on the building lease, and upcoming dates. I’ve also assembled the Father Mayer take on all of the hub-bub around who can be blessed and why you needn’t worry :-).



Plans for a Festive last Sunday of Christmastide


This Sunday we will recall the visit of the wise men to the Holy Family. I’ll be blessing chalk which you can take home. I would also encourage you to bring water and salt to be blessed (for use around the house or in cooking). All of these blessings are connected to the Epiphany of the Lord. We will also be singing some of your favorites (We three kings, In the bleak midwinter, What star is this, As with gladness men of old), and I will be preaching on the importance of hospitality, especially when it comes to welcoming strangers. God willing, I plan to make an attempt at chanting the Epiphany proclamation, the tradition of announcing the big upcoming movable feast days. This is the last Sunday of Christmastide. Come and take in the joy.  


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.



Limitations on Obedience to the Pope – Delivered on December 31, 2023


Is it possible to be in loyal opposition to Pope Francis? Is a Catholic required to submit to non definitive or non infallible teachings of the Pope? Can a person appeal over and above the pope to divine law or natural law? In other words, are there limits to the subjection that we show as Catholics to our spiritual father, Pope Francis?




Upcoming Events



This Sunday: Pick up your Blessed Chalk to Bring a Blessing upon your Home


In remembrance of the three kings who visited Jesus in his first home, Christian homes and households traditionally receive the Three Wisemen or Epiphany Blessing by using blessed chalk to write above the main door of the home the year and the initials of the Three Wisemen who visited the Holy Family: 20 + C + M + B + 24. Join us this Sunday, January 7, 2024 when the chalk will be blessed and given out for you to take home along with instructions on how to chalk your door.



Bring Salt and Water to be Blessed this Sunday


Holy water and blessed salt can be used for overcoming temptation, driving away sickness and future illnesses, removing venial sins, driving away the devil, among other uses. Some people cook with blessed salt and or water, others place them in holy water fonts at their homes or sprinkle them in their houses.


The blessing of water and salt goes back to Elisha’s transformation of a poisoned spring of water into that which was healthful (2 Kings 2:19-22). The use of holy water especially has a revered history with the people of God. Old Testament priests were given specific instructions for the creation of holy water (Numbers 5:17) and how it was to be used (19:11-12). It is especially traditional for water and salt to be blessed on Epiphany or on the Baptism of Christ.


Since the beginning of the world, water has been the source of life and fruitfulness. It was from the Spirit of God moving over the waters that creation first came forth. Through water that God saved Noah and his family, through water that God rescued his people from Egypt, and of course through the waters of baptism that we are given new life.


Please place any water or salt that you would like blessed on the table that will be set up outside of the church. The items will be blessed after Mass this Sunday, January 8, 2023.



Expanded Confession Opportunity: Sunday, January 14: 7:30 AM – 11:30 AM


Moving forward, Father Ernie will be with us about once a month, which allows for more opportunity to get to confession. Either he or I plan to be in the confessional for most of the morning, apart from a break or two here and here. So, come and find, freedom and forgiveness.  



Inducting Those Preparing to Become Catholic: Sunday, January 14


At the beginning of the 10:15 AM there will be four people who will be making public their decision to seriously discern entrance into the Catholic Church. There will be special prayers and blessings for them in front of the community so that we can all be praying for and supporting them in this big decision. They have been attending classes with me and the initiation team since this past fall. On January 14, they will officially begin the liturgical part of their formation.



Next Women’s Prayer Breakfast: A note from Cathy Messina


Connect and enjoy a morning out with the women in our parish. The monthly Women’s Prayer and Breakfast meeting is Saturday, January 20th, 9:30am-11am at Beach Diner Mandarin, 11362 San Jose Blvd Jacksonville, FL 32223. We’ll be learning more about the life of St Gianna Beretta Molla. Please text or call me, 415-205-9705, if you can attend so we know what size table we need.



Other Upcoming Dates

  • Children and Family Gathering: Sunday, January 21, 12:00 PM, children and parents, meets monthly through May 2024.

  • Name Tag Sunday: January 28, Let’s get to know each other better

  • Serve Sunday: January 28. Learn about ministry opportunities after Mass

  • Candlemas: Friday, February 2, 5:30 PM. More details soon.

  • Shrove Tuesday: February 13, 5:30 PM. Pancakes, Evening Prayer, Fun, Confessions.

  • Ash Wednesday Mass: February 14, 5:30 PM Mass, 7 PM

  • Ashes outside of Mass: February 14, 7:00 PM, shorter liturgy with ashes

  • Penitential Procession:  Sunday, February 18 at 10:15 AM Mass




News and Announcements



Building Discernment Update: I Submitted Our Offer. Lease Negotiations Begin


We are making slow but sure progress toward potentially moving into a leased building. Yesterday, Chris Belyea, the architect, and I met with Captain Joshua Groff with the City of Jacksonville to look at our plan together as it pertains to occupancy and fire codes. As I had mentioned in the past newsletter, if the city deems your occupancy to be 300 or more, you are required to install a sprinkler system which would cost over $100,000 and be a deal killer. Though the space was originally pegged by the city to be well over the 300 occupancy, with the guidance of Captain Groff and the architect, we have made some slight arrangements to the plan so that our occupancy is now at 294 (certain types of rooms/spaces have higher occupancy rates than others), which clears the way to move forward.


So, today I signed our letter of intent which is a non-binding offer submitted to the landlord so that we can begin negotiating the terms of the lease. We expect to hear back from the landlord within the next week or two. Please pray that we will be able to work out favorable terms.



Join the Fun 😊 Be on the Team:  I Need Your Help Sweeping the Floor After Sunday Mass


As you know, each Sunday it takes us about 30 minutes to put everything away after Mass since we only rent the hall on Sunday mornings. One of our most faithful team members has been having some health issues, which means that I need you. Can you feel the Lord tugging on your heart 😉. Come and try out the team this Sunday. Note: we only allow hardworking jokesters to be part of this important and revered team. Give it a try. You will love it.  



Why it was Not a Bad Idea to for Vatican to Publish Blessings Document


Was it a pastoral misstep for the Vatican to release Fucucia Supplicans, the December 18 declaration on blessings? Is this going to cause large spread confusion, or schism, or a slippery slope toward change in the Church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality? No. There is nothing to fear. Here is why.


The Church’s teaching has not changed and the recently released document will not cause any greater confusion than was already in place. In response to some bishops who showed hesitancy in implementing the Fiducia Supplicans declaration, the Vatican today issued a reaffirmation that the blessings are given to individuals and not to unions. A rushed reading of Fiducia Supplicans by some have led to the belief that the Church was changing its teaching on marriage and sexuality or that permission was being given to bless or approve of sin, which is not true. The other fear is how these blessings will be seen by outsiders. However, misunderstanding about Catholic teaching by outsiders is nothing new and is not to be feared. I myself had many misunderstandings of the Catholic Church prior to my conversion. All of this will quiet in time. Have no fear. This is nothing new, just another exciting period in the life of the Church.


What do these blessings look like in real life? Will they be scandalous? The president of the Argentine Bishops’ conference, Bishop Oscar Ojea of San Isidro wrote a most excellent everyday picture of what it is like to give these blessings. He writes “When someone asks for a blessing on the street or in a sanctuary, I never ask him if he is married in the Church or what his sexual condition is. It would be totally inappropriate. When a young woman comes to ask me to bless her pregnancy, to bless her belly, I have never stopped to ask where the child comes from, if from an irregular union or not. To deny the blessing would be lived as a profound experience of rejection, a brutal experience of abandonment by the Church. This rejection has done us so much harm and has alienated so many brothers and sisters. Being in an irregular situation or being in a homosexual union does not cancel out many aspects of the lives of people which seek to be illuminated with a blessing; and when they receive it, this becomes the greatest possible good for these brothers and sisters, in that it disposes them to conversion.” I agree with Bishop Ojea. In Fiducia Supplicans the Church is simply affirming sound pastoral practice and this is nothing new.


My own pastoral counsel to you during all of this is not to listen to the prophets of doom and gloom who like to stir the pot in order to increase their viewership and move forward political agendas. Instead, trust in the Lord and wait to see how all of this shakes out. The Lord is in charge of his Church. Divine assistance is given “in matters of discipline, even if they are not guaranteed by the charism of infallibility” (Donum Veritatis 17). In other words Fiducia Supplicans comes with divine assistance and we are called to adhere faithfully to it as we are to all teachings of the Church. We have nothing to fear.


Avoid reactive right wing or left wing news sources that feed off of divisiveness. They will only make you anxious and upset and become occasions of sin. Instead, I recommend first Vatican News and secondly Crux Now as excellent, trusted news sources.



Congratulations to the Twelve People Who Completed their Sacraments of Initiation


During the Bishop’s visit on December 10, twelve people completed their sacraments of initiation at St. James. The following eleven people received the Sacrament of Confirmation: Blake Christopher Baumgartner, Haily Smith, James Ankenbauer, Joseph Mayer (also received First Communion), Abby Mansour, Charlotte Miller, Leo Miller, Cecilia Miller (also received First Communion), Vahn Bonkowski (also received First Communion), Vyncent Bonkowski, Wynnie Wetzstein. Bishop Lopes also received into the Church and Ethan James Scherrer, which of course includes confirmation and communion. We rejoice and give thanks to God for the graces poured out. Please keep these twelve in your prayers.



Giving Update through December: Thank you for your Open Hearted Generosity!


Giving for December: $29,223.80 (general $8,886.50, capital $20,337.30). This far surpasses all past giving records for the mission of St. James!

December Expenses: $6,169.91 | Covers quarter of priest’s support, half of pension, travel, liturgical supplies, music, building rent and liability insurance, advertising, bishop’s tax, almsgiving, hospitality

Leased Building, Rough Goals (numbers may change based on outcome of lease negotiations):

  • $10,000 average monthly giving needed to cover operating expense: Complete 😊

  • $30,000 in reserves (three months of operating expenses): Complete 😊

  • $75,000 estimate needed for phase 1 of buildout: walls, plumbing, electrical, floors, chairs, lights. Complete 😊 (note: this low number takes into account us doing our own painting, flooring, and trim work which saves us $35,000)

  • $50,000 estimate needed for phase 2: signage, kitchen, landscaping, sacristy cabinets, advertising, bathroom renovations. Still at the beginning this goal.


Faithfully, your pastor,

Father Mayer