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Dear Friends in Christ,

At the wedding feast of Cana, Mary, the mother of Jesus, recognized a need of those gathered at a communal celebration and brought that need to Jesus. Through her intercession, the wedding couple and their family were not only saved from an embarrassing situation – running out of wine that would have shown a lack of hospitality, but through this surprising gesture, “Jesus revealed his glory and his disciples began to believe in him.” At the pastoral council meeting this past week, we spoke about the needs of the parish community that gather here on the weekends and thought about what simple gestures might make the weekend experience more hospitable and welcoming, especially for visitors and those who might have particular challenges that make it more difficult to come to Mass and to participate in the liturgy. We were thinking about the work of evangelization – what would make someone more receptive to an encounter with Jesus here at St. Charles. Evangelization is not so much a “program” or new things to do, but an attitude, like Mary, that is attentive to the needs of others that then become a bridge for someone to recognize the presence of the Lord. I want to share some of the ideas we spoke about and invite your participation in these proposed initiatives.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews. 13:2)

We all like to see a smiling face, receive a warm welcome, and get some direction when going to someplace new or visiting a friend’s house. We are greeted at the Apple Store, the Walmart, and when visiting a hospital. Why not at church? First impressions make all the difference even and especially when it comes to people seeking a place to worship God. St. Charles is our home. Help us to welcome the stranger and to be a place where visitors meet the Lord and feel at home as well. We would like to have a “hospitality” Sunday with coffee and pastry on the 3rd Sunday of the month in the cafeteria after the 10:00 Mass. This will also be an opportunity for new parishioners to register. Please contact the parish office to volunteer to become a Greeter and Minister of Hospitality at St. Charles.

Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these (Mt. 19:14).

I often hear that having little children makes it challenging for new parents to come to Mass, to come to Mass together as a family, to pay attention to the readings and homily, and have a meaningful experience of prayer if they come at all. Parents are also concerned that their children will be a distraction for others at prayer and want to avoid the embarrassment of having to get up and take a fussy child out. Built into our church on the parking-lot side is a glass-partitioned chapel, with a carpeted floor and easy access to the bathroom in the sacristy. From the Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel, one can still see the liturgical action and hear the Mass. Let’s make this space a priority for parents with little children. Many parishes offer a “Children’s Liturgy of the Word” in which 3 to 5 year-olds go to a separate prayer space for the first part of Mass to receive an age-appropriate Gospel lesson. Parents with Pre-School Children, if you would be interested in this for your child, please call the parish office.

​Parking Ministers Wanted

Guidance with Parking With the new Mass schedule, parking in our lot might become more challenging. How can we make parking an easier experience? For the safety of drivers and pedestrians, we would like to form a team of parking ministers to assist with the flow of traffic, parking, drop off and pick up of the faithful who attend the weekend Masses. Please contact the parish office to volunteer. Those with no mobility issues are encouraged to park on the upper end of the lot nearest to Kings Avenue. We respectfully ask that only designated parking spaces be used around the front of the church so that in the event of an emergency, fire, police, and emergency medical personnel will have easy access to the building.

As the Gospel of the wedding at Cana illustrates, it is in fact an unexpected change that becomes the sign of the Lord’s presence and makes the celebration a more joyful experience for all. I am inviting the faithful at St. Charles to be open to the changes that the Lord wants to make, not just in the way things have always been done, but in our hearts and minds.

Sincerely in Christ,


Fr. Forlano

fr.forlano@stcharlesbensalem.org

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