Parish News

Pastor's Letter

Posted on January 06, 2022 in: Parish-wide Announcements

Dear Parishioners:

St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic School creates a Christ-centered community through spiritual, academic and social growth that will provide the foundation to serve a challenging society faithfully and well.  Be it known to all who enter: Christ is the reason for this school. Christ is the unseen but ever present teacher in our classes, the model of our faculty, and the inspiration of our parents and students.

It is back to school time and so let us return to the basics of our faith. We believe in God, Father, Son and Spirit and the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic faith that He established. He so loved us, that He makes us His children through baptism. As baptized, we have become Christ’s own so profoundly that Christ’s Spirit lives in us, luring us toward all that we can become through sharing life with Him. We cannot control the Spirit, but we are free to choose how much we wish to be open to God’s constant offer of grace.

Since we usually baptize infants, parents commit to teach their children by their words and actions, assisted by the godparents. Parents promise to raise their children Catholic and allow the Spirits gifts to be learned and fostered in their home.

All of us are to be teachers as well as learners. We are all called to be constant students of the faith. At St. Gabriel, we take up our mission to educate our youth through our parish school and our youth programs, but we also are doing more to educate and help form our adults. We adults are the ones who need to pass on our faith to our children. We can’t teach what we don’t know or understand and it all comes at a cost.

The grace of our baptism must be fed by our growth in the Word and the Sacraments. Let us grow together in our faith.

This is what one parent shared with me about being “first teachers” of their child.  Being “first teachers” has to begin with modeling, through our everyday lives, Christian values especially those of faith, hope and charity and by attending Mass as a family regularly and on Holy Days. Being “first teachers” is helping our children to develop a meaningful prayer life…and it’s never too late to start.

There are so many things and attitudes that are competing for our children’s attention not to mention the popular notion that Jesus is irrelevant and that God, if he exists, is outdated. How can we help our kids learn our Catholic faith and grow in that same faith?  First, we need to realize that the key to having a strong Catholic faith is to have a strong relationship with Jesus Christ. Do we, as parents, believe that Christ wants to be active in our everyday lives?  Do we share that understanding with our children?  Do we share our daily stories of encounter and conversion?  Do we make daily prayer a priority?  If we don’t do these things, our children may never learn them. 

The second key is to understand and live out the mission of the Catholic Church: to love and serve our neighbor, especially the poor and vulnerable, with the same intense love that Christ has for us. Do we model an active life of service in order to help build the Kingdom of God? Do we share our blessings with those in need in our community and outside of it?

It is too easy as a parent to pass on our responsibility as first teacher to others, such as grandparents, the parochial school or the parish’s religious education program; but God endowed parents to be uniquely qualified to teach their children even if they don’t think they know how. God will always provide the graces we need if we but ask him for those graces.

I pray that this school year will be a year of graces for our children, and I especially keep all of our parents in my prayers that they receive the graces they need to fulfill their responsibilities to their children.

                                                                                    God Bless!

                                                                                    Msgr. John Shamleffer