Rev. William Neidhart, CSC (1924-2020)

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Rev. Bill Neidhart, CSC

Fr. Bill Neidhart, CSC has died.

Fr. Bill was a genuine leader. He understood his skills and talents as well as his shortcomings. He relied on the faith and leadership of his parishioners. He led with a great sense of humor but more importantly with a deep and honest faith and humility. He served as pastor in the Congregation of Holy Cross for over twenty consecutive years in three parishes in Indiana and California.

He also was a lot of fun to be around. I was one of his associate pastors in Burbank, California. He always teased me about sports, especially after I picked the winner of a Kentucky Derby. We laughed out loud at dinner tables and in sacristies. He came to me for advice and I came to him for wisdom. We prayed for healing among our parishioners and we shared abundant food, laughter and kindness at our evening meals. He loved his priesthood. He loved the People of God. He loved the vision of Vatican II and he took seriously his preaching and beauty of the gospels. He was a man of prayer and sought the consolation and teachings of spiritual directors. He loved God and I still pray that I might love leadership and people has he did.

I am so grateful to be counted among those who served with Bill Neidhart. Be at rest, my brother. Be at peace, now and forever.

 

 

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020: Prayers of the Faithful

Version 2

January 19, 2020

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Let us pray for harmony and hope within our Church. May we know with full hearts our connection to Christ Jesus in the waters of our baptism.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray that baptism may wash away our sins of hatred, violence and hopelessness. May we rest in the deep waters of hope and courage.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray that our Church in every land and nation may be built upon our fidelity of prayer and service, welling up within every Christian on earth. May we seek the unity of all Christians and live with fearlessness on earth.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray to listen more attentively to God’s invitation to work for justice in our world and to renew our efforts to seek the lost and offer hope for the weary. May we respect the dignity of every human being.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray to offer comfort for the sick and consolation for all who grieve our beloved dead. May hope be born in the Holy Spirit. In this Mass…

We pray to the Lord

 

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time: Bulletin Cover Art and Column

January 19, 2020 Bulletin Cover

Dear Followers of the Christ,

Christians around the world celebrate the Week of Christian Unity, January 18-25. This year’s theme is: They Showed Us Unusual Kindness. (Acts 28:2). The Week of Christian Unity promotes themes of becoming one through our foundational sacrament of baptism. The unity of all Christian churches, the hope for a better world, the work of justice and peace, and the integrity of all human life, become themes for us to reflect upon in our search for Christ Jesus in our world and times.

This year’s theme reveals our common call to serve people. We reveal the love of God in all human life. This theme renews our challenge to work for the common good. We witness to the dignity of people, including the immigrant, the worker, the child in trouble, the elderly confined to illness, the prisoner in confinement, the persons living on the streets, and the teen sold for sex. All people, regardless of who they are or what they own, are shown kindness and love under the banner of baptism.

Today’s gospel, John 1: 29-34, states that John the Baptist baptizes Jesus so to reveal him to Israel. John’s role is to reveal the person of Jesus. This action of John is key to our own baptism. The Church baptizes us so to reveal Jesus and his love in our midst. Baptism reveals community, forgiveness and hope for all people.

Our baptism is not a club membership. The sacrament that unites all Christians reveals Jesus and unites us in his work on earth. Baptism is about mission as well as creating community. The mission of the Church is based on our baptism that hope is for every human being on earth. Baptism becomes a herald of hope for those who need God. Baptism on earth reflects the beauty of heaven.

Baptism establishes God’s authority on earth. In our sacrament of baptism, God reveals the gift of the Holy Spirit within our lives. The Holy Spirit teaches the hope of heaven. The Spirit unites; it does not divide. The Spirit offers hope for people, not violence or conflict. The Holy Spirit reveals love and not hatred or war. The Holy Spirit creates community and union, not separation and injustice. The Holy Spirit does not hoard power nor is it racist or misogynist. The Holy Spirit does not separate nor does the Spirit work only to keep love only for the well deserving. The beauty of heaven is revealed within every baptismal font on earth.

I invite you to pray for the unity of our Christian heritage. In our world where Christianity is waning, we call on the Holy Spirit to invigorate the Church and instill hope within all who are baptized. Our mission on earth is offer healing, consolation and hope for all people. May we create a new understanding of such a heavenly gift. May our compassion for the poor, for our children and for the neglected, serve us until the Second Coming of Christ Jesus.

 

Response: Behold the Lamb of God

 

When we face hatred and violence…

When fear enslaves us…

When hopelessness melts our futures…

 

When discouragement forms our perspectives…

When faith seems empty…

When love becomes fear…

 

When unity dissolves into jealousy…

When power ignites hatred…

When we face war and despair…

 

When love rises from water…

When hope is lifted up…

When beauty of people is revealed…

 

When baptism unites…

When faith is given voice…

When integrity renews…

 

When we work for justice…

When voices are heard…

When we seek the unity of love…

 

Amen

 

 

Blessings,

Fr. Ron

The Baptism of the Lord 2020: Prayers of the Faithful

Version 3

January 12, 2020

Baptism of the Lord

Let us pray that our baptism in Christ Jesus may speak boldly of God’s compassion within the Church. May we work for justice and peace within our world and bridge all strained relationships with compassion.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray to ignite hope within the depths of our baptism for all who are lost and wearied by life. May we reveal to every human being their dignity and worth here on earth.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for people who suffer depression and loneliness in these winter months. May we spark love and connection for those who feel most alone and those threatened by fear.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray to renew the gift of our own baptism so we may continue the mission of the Church here on earth. May we learn to listen more attentively to the Holy Spirit and live in communion with our neighbor.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us work diligently for those without clean water, adequate education, and sufficient health care. May we work for the basics of life for people in need.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us remember our beloved dead. Let us grieve with hope as recall their memory. In this Mass…

We pray to the Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Baptism of the Lord 2020: Bulletin cover and column

Jan. 12, 2020 Bulletin Cover

Click here for our complete parish bulletin

January 12, 2020

Dear Believers in the Christ,

Today, we celebrate The Baptism of the Lord. His cousin, John, baptized Jesus in the Jordon River. This baptism initiated Jesus into his public ministry. After this moment in the Jordon, Jesus enters the lives of people to bring healing, forgiveness and peace into people’s lives. Jesus becomes the living embodiment of love, the love only the Father can give from his Kingdom of Heaven.

Most people in the Church were baptized as infants. We never understood this transformation, this new life. We have relied on others to witness on our behalf of such a transformation. This feast is an opportunity for us to live the mystery of our own baptism. Jesus’ life, his passion, death and resurrection become the life into which we are initiated. We belong to him because of our baptism. We are God’s adopted children. We are rich in the presence of Christ Jesus through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our baptism. God’s love is thoroughly within our lives, our bodies and our souls.

Because we belong to God in baptism, then we also belong in the Church. We belong to one another. In baptism, we understand our relationship with one another. The waters of baptism in many ways become thicker and more relational than the blood of our relatives. The unique connection we have within baptism connects us to the lives and needs of other people.

Baptism is not a private sacrament. Baptism is not a sacrament of privilege. Baptism is a radical understanding that we belong to Christ’s redeeming love and to the real life world of the Church. We belong to one another. This is why people in the Early Church shared their gifts, their money and their goods. Baptism is an equalizer. Baptism does not put one person on pedestal.

There are several items used in the ritual of baptism that become images for our Christian lives. Of course, water, becomes an image of washing, cleansing from sin, and initiation into the lives of the community. In water, the old has been washed away. The Light of Christ, a candle given to godparents becomes an image of life, of renewal and hope for the child or adult who is baptized. The light reveals Christ when darkness covers our path. The white garment is also given to a child. This garment may be the white gown or clothing worn. This garment, however, is really important. It signifies that we are clothed in Christ Jesus. The garment found in the empty tomb becomes the garment we all wear. This garment is revealed again in the pall at our funerals, that we are all one in Christ. We are one in the Mystery of Heaven here on earth.

In today’s gospel, Matthew 3: 13-17, we hear the voice of God the Father, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” This is a profound sentence for every Christian under heaven. We are sons and daughters of our loving God. We belong to Him. We are cherished and given new life in Christ Jesus. Pray this sentence with love this week. Pray this sentence because our lives depend upon such grace and tenderness.

We are one in Christ Jesus,

Fr. Ron

 

 

Saint Andre Bessette 2020: My Reflection from FaithND

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Click here to read my reflection in FaithND for today’s memorial of Saint Andre Bessette. FaithND is a commentary on the gospel for each day of the week from the University of Notre Dame. Sign up for daily email here. 

Saint of the Day from Franciscan Media is also another resource for daily Mass and the celebrations of the saints. Click here for an audio reflection of Saint Andre Bessette.

Click here to view my commentary in the documentary from Salt and Light Media from 2010. This is used with permission.

 

Here is my prayer from yesterday’s parish bulletin:

Saint Andre,

Welcome me at the threshold,

When I am lost.

 

Offer me tenderness and solace,

When I am tired.

 

Remind me I belong

When I am orphaned.

 

Guide me to Saint Joseph

When I am far from home.

 

Bring forgiveness to my heart

When I feel most unworthy.

 

Reveal Jesus’ healing touch

When I hurt and am alone.

 

Touch my pain,

When I wait to be healed.

 

Saint Andre Bessette, pray for us!

 

Blessings to you,

Fr. Ron

 

 

 

Epiphany 2020: Prayers of the Faithful

Version 3

The Epiphany of the Lord

January 5, 2020

Let us pray to open our eyes to the splendor of Christ Jesus. Let us put away our deeds of darkness and uncover hope for all people on earth. Let us use our gifts for the well being of others.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for the healing mission of the Catholic Church. That we may learn to touch our human suffering of physical hardships and mental illness, where Christ Jesus shines on our poor and forgotten.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray to live the prophetic life of the Gospel. Let us wake up from our human complacency and bear the mystery of justice and love for all people. May hope live on our earth.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for our pilgrimage of faith on earth. Let us learn to follow the light of Christ Jesus when darkness overwhelms us. Let us journey to Christ with service to our neighbors.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for the Congregation of Holy Cross and the intercession of Saint Andre Bessette. Let us offer our suffering to the Cross of Christ. When we are weak and tired, let us cling to God’s healing love and mercy.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us find comfort and consolation as our loved ones journey to the light of heaven. We pray for all our beloved dead. At this Mass…

We pray to the Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

The Epiphany of the Lord 2019

Jan. 5, 2020 Bulletin Cover

READ ENTIRE bulletin on our website: www.sacredheartcos.org

Dear Followers of Christ, the Healer,

The Church celebrates Epiphany today. This feast continues the Christmas season and the revelation of Christ Jesus as Light of the World. We are drawn toward the Light of Christ with hope for the lost. Christ, the Light of the World, is hope for all nations, all people, in every time and land.

I also draw your attention to Saint Andre Bessette, the first person to be canonized in the Congregation of Holy Cross. His memorial is celebrated on January 6 in the United States. In many other countries, the memorial is often celebrated on January 7 because of the Epiphany on January 6. No matter the memorial of Saint Andre, he speaks to us with love and faith in our three communities during this Christmas time.

At Sacred Heart Church, we are honored to have a first-class relic of Saint Andre Bessette housed within our new altar. We received this relic this autumn from Saint Joseph Oratory in Montreal. I am so grateful that Andre’s presence is here, forming us in his mission, pointing us all into the direction of Jesus’ healing and presence among those who most need God.

Alfred (Andre) Bessette, born near Quebec, Ontario, Canada on August 9, 1845, grew up in poverty and faith. Orphaned by age 12, prayer guided him to Saint Joseph. Through this devotion, he desired to enter the Congregation of Holy Cross. Brother Andre was assigned as Porter to Notre Dame College, Montreal. As doorkeeper, his healing reputation spread, reaching 600 people a day. He spent sleepless nights praying for the sick.

His ministry grew into what is now Saint Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal. He died on January 6, 1937 before its completion. He remains a paradox within our religious community since he was illiterate, joining our community known for education. He was frail bodied and strong in faith. He was orphaned, yet welcomed the sick as family. Brother Andre lived simply, a model of faith for people in despair. He was a sickly child and lived to be 91 years old.

I have a great love and devotion to Saint Andre. He is such an example for me that God reveals love amid the weak and needy. The strength that enabled him to listen and care for the sick and pray all night came from Jesus. Andre understood that there was nothing more important than the needs of the sick and suffering.

I rely on Saint Andre in many ways. I also see his work among those who reach out in our community to the sick and elderly. Andre helps us in our food pantry and in our mission of our parish to serve the Lord’s Dinner on Sunday. I believe Andre helps us host the meetings for people suffering addictions and he is with us when we don’t know where to turn when ministry becomes overwhelming. Andre’s presence helps us see with the eyes of Jesus and gives us a vision of love in a violent world.

Jesus’ heart becomes our heart. We also learn from Saint Andre Bessette who was canonized, October 17, 2010 and how he extended his heart and life to the weary.

I invite you this week to seek out the life of Saint Andre Bessette. I invite you to surrender your pain and doubt to him in prayer. Invite him into your bodily and emotional pain. Allow Saint Andre to welcome you in the frustrations or tragedies of your life. Allow Saint Andre to reveal to you the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the place of love and comfort for us all.

 

Saint Andre,

 

Welcome me at the threshold,

When I am lost.

 

Offer me tenderness and solace,

When I am tired.

 

Remind me I belong

When I am orphaned.

 

Guide me to Saint Joseph

When I am far from home.

 

Bring forgiveness to my heart

When I feel most unworthy.

 

Reveal Jesus’ healing touch

When I hurt and am alone.

 

Touch my pain,

When I wait to be healed.

 

Saint Andre Bessette, pray for us!

 

Blessings to you,

Fr. Ron

 

 

 

Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God 2020

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“The Mother of God” Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC 2018

January 1, 2020

Dear Followers of the Messiah,

Today has many meanings. We celebrate a World Day of Peace. We flip the calendar for a new year, 2020, and a new decade. Today, the Church celebrates a holy day, the Solemnity of Mary, The Holy Mother of God still in the Christmas Season. Today might also be the day in which you make some new resolutions such a losing ten pounds or to clean out the garage. Today might also be a day of hangovers and regrets from New Year’s Eve. Today, no matter how you view the New Year, is an opportunity to also change your life with God.

Today’s gospel (Luke 2:16-21) tells the story of how the shepherds saw Mary and Joseph and the infant lying in a manger. The shepherds then went and told others what they saw. People were amazed. Here is the critical point here: the message of the Messiah’s birth came from poor people, shepherds. People that we would least expect told other people about Jesus. Here are some important questions for you this year: How will you discover and see Jesus? Who will reveal God to you? Will you be open to finding Jesus in unexpected ways? Does your faith matter to you? Will you trust your search for Christ?

I suspect that for most of us, we will find Jesus when we are ready to find him. We usually find Jesus in our vulnerability such as an unexpected illness, a job loss or in an argument with your adult children. Sometimes in such vulnerable moments, we then argue with God because we assume God hates us and condemns us. We blame God for allowing such things to happen. I understand this. However, God does not condemn us in our vulnerable or even our sinful moments. Sometimes, God uses our weakness, our humble hearts and even the worse things can happen to us to simply get our attention, to open our hearts for authentic trust.

We need God more than ever. Mary models faith with trust and openness. In today’s gospel, Mary carries these events in her heart. We cannot live in God without an ability to carry our daily concerns within our hearts. This is a first step to profound prayer. We need God to transform our lives when we stumble and finally realize we need something more than ourselves in this life.

Today’s celebration of Mary challenges us to live with hope in our world. On this World Day of Peace, we need more than ever the conviction that God’s presence remains within our vulnerable and fragile lives. We are the containers for peace in our world. We hold within us the ability to work for justice and remedy the world’s ills. We hold all of these things in our hearts and ponder the love God has for the world and us on this New Year’s Day.

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!

Blessings to you,

Fr. Ron