September 24, 2022 Essay: The Mystical Experience

What is mysticism? What constitutes a mystic or a mystical experience? I have been trying to understand this better as I prepare for the Ignatian Interfaith event on October 6th. I certainly am no expert—so I have “Googled it”, read a little, and even asked a few friends and family. My husband, Kevin, says we need look no further than our mysteriously overcrowded bedroom closet for a perfect example, because “we literally don’t know what’s really in there!”

While this lack of knowledge is certainly true, entering our closet is most definitely NOT a mystical experience. It seems there are two sorts of mysticism: one that appears to be esoteric and shrouded in mystery. Looking at mysticism from this lens, there is a good deal of emphasis on “secret knowledge” that supposedly can be uncovered through things like astrology, crystals, and tarot cards. I have never been drawn to this world—it seems too close to the Biblical exhortation against “divination.” On the other hand, mysticism also can be interpreted as the search for and experience of union with the Divine. Christianity, Judaism and Islam, in fact all major world religions, have their mystical practitioners. Some Catholic mystics have had ecstatic experiences and while others’ are quieter. This experience is a gift and cannot be created or conjured. It is also beyond knowing—a bit like a miracle—hard to explain but you know it when you have had one. It is not something you can prove or easily explain, but once you try to describe it, odds are that others will smile and share their own inexplicable experience. These incidents, however, give you a sense that you know, beyond all knowing that God is here, and you are deeply loved by God. It is a little glimpse into the joy of being united with God—a sort of view of Heaven on earth.

Fr. Yesalonia’s September 11th bulletin essay, Merely a Puddle or Something More?, touched on this as he watched a child’s joy at a puddle. These glimpses come in grand moments—like when we hear our fabulous Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola sing at the Solemn Mass, or the joy of singing gospel music with the Wallace Hall Choir. But it can also be in quiet moments—watching a sunset or going to sacred spaces, like the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the timeless peace of Assisi at dusk or the crisp air and beautiful foliage on a Fall New England day.

The mystical can also breakthrough in the presence of others—that family gathering where there is so much joy at being together or maybe even a smile or word or two from a stranger on the subway. Something just “clicks”, and you think—wait, what just happened here? I like to think of these mystical experiences as being mini miracles. Since God is the God of All, we are not alone in experiencing them as Catholic Christians. I hope you will join me in learning more about the mystics in our Catholic and the Muslim faith traditions on Thursday, October 6th in Wallace Hall. We will be welcoming Fr. Boniface Endorf, OP, Pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish, and Dr. Zuleyha Colak, Lecturer and the Coordinator of the Turkish program at Columbia University to help us demystify the mystics. Please RSVP to [email protected]. In the meantime, be on the lookout for the mystical experiences in your own life!

— Simone McKeever, Chair, Ignatian Interfaith Ministry

September 18, 2022: From the Pastor’s Desk

Dear Parishioners,

We live in a very exciting time as the universal Church prepares for the convening in Rome of the “Synod on Synodality: Communion, Participation, Mission” in October 2023. The bishops of the world, along with lay colleagues, will meet to discuss the nature of the church as a collaborative body and how we walk together – bishops, priests, religious, and laypeople – united in our desire to care for the Catholic Church and those whom the church serves. More than an issue of governance in the church, the invitation of Pope Francis is to discern who we are as a church and how best we can accomplish the mission entrusted to us by Jesus Christ in the context of today’s world.

The discernment process in preparation for the Synod was begun on the diocesan level. Each diocese was invited to submit to the Vatican a report of what it learned through listening to the voices of those who participated in the process. Those reports will become the foci of deliberations in next year’s General Assembly in Rome.

While not a constitutive part of the discernment process for the Synod, we undertook a similar journey in 2019 that resulted in the drafting of a Vision Statement that was published and distributed to all parishioners in February of this year. Similar to what was happening at the diocesan level, listening sessions were held in the Spring, providing everyone the opportunity to offer their reflections on the Vision Statement. Following those sessions, I was delighted to report that a significant majority of parishioners endorsed the Vision Statement and its corresponding recommendations for its implementation.

At the beginning of the summer, I wrote in a letter published in the parish bulletin and e-newsletter asking for your prayers as we continue our planning process and that you consider participating in one of four working groups to draft action plans that would set the course for the implementation of the Vision Statement. To refresh your memory, the four strategic elements of the Vision Statement are: 1. We Welcome All. 2. We Worship With Joy. 3. We Walk Together With Those In Need. 4. We Reverence God In The Wonder of Creation. For the full text of the Vision Statement and its corresponding recommendations, refer to the parish website ignatius.nyc/vision-statement.

 Now it is time to get to work and bring our strategic planning process to fruition so we may begin to live what we profess to be, as members of this parish. Please contact me by email, [email protected], or telephone at 212-288-3588 to discuss with me your willingness to serve on one of the four implementation committees.

May the Holy Spirit continue to guide us as we work together as a parish to build the kingdom of God in our corner of the world, and may all that we do now and in the future redound to the greater glory of God.

Sincerely in the Lord,

Fr. Yesalonia

September 18, 2022 Essay: “Do whatever he tells you”: Reflections on Meeting Christ in Prayer

Upon entering the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, we see a stained-glass depiction of St. Ignatius. He holds a book with the inscription Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, “For the Greater Glory of God.” This is Ignatius’ bedrock advice on how we should live our lives as Christians. But how do we grasp the mission that God intends for each of us individually? How do we figure out our unique personal skills to accomplish our mission?

Recently, I came across a Brazilian devotion to Our Lady of Cana. In John’s Gospel, Jesus begins his public ministry at the wedding at Cana (John 2:1–11). Knowing that her son can resolve the dilemma of not having wine for the guests, Mary turns to the servants and says, “Do whatever he tells you.” The servants listen and follow Jesus’s instructions, sharing with all the guests a plentiful quantity of wine that is miraculously drawn from the water jugs. Reflecting on Mary’s place in the story, she is the one who recognizes the nature of Jesus most profoundly. Indeed, she nurtured him and brought him to maturity as one fully human. To hear her command is to realize that in Jesus we encounter a loving God who understands our humanity. We can trust God to reveal a plan for our lives. The challenge for disciples in today’s world is to find the voice of Jesus as it speaks to each one of us.

In Ignatius, we have a mystical instructor who teaches us to hear God’s voice. He shows us a Jesus who is at once a relatable human person and a loving God always available to us. Ignatius gives us a roadmap for this task in his Spiritual Exercises. Meeting Christ in Prayer is an abbreviated form of the Exercises for contemporary Christians living out their lives in the world and confronting its challenges. It aims to foster an encounter with God through scriptural contemplation and prayer.

The discernment that the Exercises facilitate—the quest to hear God’s voice speaking to each one individually—relies on Ignatian spiritual techniques. Using the Church’s ancient prayer method of Lectio Divina, holy reading, we read a scriptural passage and then pause and reflect. What is this reading saying on its face? We read again and pause and reflect. What is God saying to me personally in this reading? A third time. What do I want to say to God?

Ignatius was a promoter of imaginative prayer, picturing ourselves in a scriptural scene. If I quietly reflect on the wedding at Cana, which character in the story would I be? Would I be an observer or play an active role? What would I say or do? Would I speak directly to Jesus, and would he address me? Do I feel the Holy Spirit guiding me in the way this imagining unfolds? Do I hear God’s voice in this?

A prayer unique to Ignatian spirituality is the Examen. Similar to the reflections before confession, we ask ourselves at the end of the day, what did I do today that was good? Did I hear God? How might I have failed to listen to God? Did I find God in other people? Did I advance God’s glory?

Meeting Christ in Prayer meets as a small, trusting group and participants share experiences and inspirations with each other. Many times, I have been profoundly moved by the reflections of others, hearing spiritual insights that I would never have uncovered alone. I recall the passage, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20). I believe I have heard the Holy Spirit speaking to me through other retreatants.

If you are interested in participating in Meeting Christ in Prayer, consider tasting the wine of God’s abundant banquet.

For further information and to register for the retreat starting September 28th, please email [email protected].

— Andy Richards, Parishioner & Meeting Christ in Prayer Participant

September 11, 2022 | From the Pastor’s Desk

Dear Parishioners,

Now that the Labor Day weekend is behind us, the pulse of parish life is beginning to pick up. We will be at full throttle in no time.

It is wonderful to experience once again the enthusiasm, vitality, and commitment that each of us brings to the parish as we worship and pray together, care for one another and those who are less advantaged, and work side by side to make a difference in our community and the world so that the glory of God is made manifest by living what we profess in faith. To everyone who had the opportunity to leave the City for the summer months, welcome back! To those who remained to enjoy all that the City offers on both sultry and more temperate days, I hope you found time for revelry and relaxation. And to our Saint Ignatius Loyola School students, we look forward to your return to classes and the exuberance and energy that you bring with you.

Now let me bring you up to date with news of what occurred at the parish during the summer months. For the most part it was a beehive of activity involving renovations, repairs, transitions of parish staff, and planning for our upcoming calendar of events for the remainder of the calendar year and the first six months of 2023. Also, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the very hard-working priests of the parish who throughout the summer presided at weekday and weekend Masses, weddings, baptisms, and funerals, heard confessions, and attended to the pastoral care of parishioners. We owe them a great debt of gratitude for their good deeds done, dedication, and commitment to their priestly ministry.

At long last we were able to get the appropriate scaffolding inside the church to restore power to one of the two amplifiers and to change the flickering high intensity light bulbs that illuminate the pilasters of the upper section of the nave. At the Parish House, the receptionist’s office on the ground floor was gutted and remodeled. In the next several weeks an awning will be constructed over the front door, and the front door itself will be replaced, bringing more natural lighting into the interior entryway.

In Wallace Hall, an additional amplifier was installed that will fill in the “dead spaces.” Also, there are now acoustical fixtures suspended from the ceiling that will ameliorate the echo effect that was problematic during the livestreaming of events. The new livestreaming system is now fully operational and is complemented by two large portable screens that will project clearer and larger images.

At the Upper Campus of the grammar school, a handicap access ramp was constructed at the entrance to the school. At the Lower Campus, there was an extensive upgrade to the kitchen that for the first time in the history of the use of that building will allow for the preparation of meals on-site. There were also IT upgrades at both campuses.

In regard to the grammar school, a feasibility study will be conducted during the Fall to review both the cost and the financing options, including a limited fundraising campaign, for the replacement of the elevator at the Lower Campus and the refurbishment or replacement of building’s roof of the Upper Campus. This study will be reviewed with the Parish Finance Committee to determine the course of action to be taken.

Finally, there were several transitions during the summer. After 30 years’ at the parish, most recently as principal Cantor, Philip Anderson retired. Also after 30 years of service, most recently as Director of the Children’s Choir, Maureen Haley retired. Replacing her as Director of the Children’s Choir is Elizabeth van Os. We are delighted to welcome Elizabeth to the team. After one year of ministry at the parish, Father Danny Gustafson left us in July to return to graduate studies at Boston College. We are grateful for the short time he was with us and wish him well. Last month we welcomed Father Jim Casciotti, S.J. who will be in residence at the Parish House. You will periodically be seeing him as a presider at Mass. Closer to home in the Pastor’s office, after 17 years as Assistant to the Pastor, Diane Boyle retired. She had the stamina and patience to work with 3 Pastors and 1 Acting Pastor. All of us owe her a great debt of gratitude for helping to keep the trains running on time and in an orderly fashion. Diane will be greatly missed. Replacing her as Assistant to the Pastor is Rebecca Brucas whom you may know from her former responsibilities as the Parish Receptionist. That role is now in the very capable and gracious hands of Pat Reeves. As an aside to these transitions, I was appointed to another 6-year term as Pastor that became effective on June 1st.

Please stay tuned for next week’s bulletin. A letter from me will be published that will explain the next and final step of the planning process that began in 2019. We are on the threshold of a new chapter in the history of the parish. Working together we will build upon the strong foundation of this parish and honor the legacy of those who preceded us in their love and commitment to the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola. May all that we do be for the greater glory of God!

Welcome back! Welcome home!

Sincerely in the Lord,
Fr. Yesalonia

September 11, 2022 Essay: Merely a Puddle, or Something More?

Recently, I was walking along Park Avenue, as is my wont on sunny afternoons in the summer. The dark sky of the early morning transformed itself into azure blue with billowing white clouds dancing in irregular cadence far above the hectic pace of the streets below. The earlier rain of that day proved to be the harbinger of a precious gift that is longed for after an extended succession of sultry days. The freshness of the air was intoxicating. As I walked, it became evident to me that I was not the only one walking at a slower than usual pace in order to relish the lavishness of refreshing breezes. What I also noticed were the evaporating footprints of the earlier rain, puddles.

Have you ever noticed how young children are drawn like magnets to puddles of water and the elation they exhibit when they either stomp their feet into them or jump smack dab into the puddles’ centers? In our busy lives, as we hurriedly walk from place to place on city streets, do we even notice puddles, or take the time to look closely at them? After all, aren’t puddles traps, idly waiting to soak the shoes and socks of unsuspecting pedestrians? And if we do notice them, how we maneuver through them as though they were an obstacle course.

On this particular day as I was approaching the intersection of Park and 79th Street, a mother and her young daughter caught my attention. They were walking hand in hand, the girl being no older than a preschooler. As they got nearer to the corner, before we passed by one another, the young girl stopped and letting go of her mother’s hand, looked down into a puddle that was at her feet. She did not walk into it, jump into it, or stomp her foot into it. Rather she approached the puddle from several vantage points and simply looked into it. Her mother bemused, smiled at her daughter, as I did when I walked past them. What did this young girl see that captivated her?

This seemingly unremarkable incident became the focus of my thoughts for the remainder of that day and a well-spring for my own imagination and reflection. Did this young girl think that this blue patch was a piece of the sky that had fallen to the ground and was now part of the sidewalk? Did she believe that clouds were actually made of cotton candy or fluffy marshmallow, and she needed a closer look? Was she trying to understand how she could see her own face mirrored at her feet? Was it an opening to another world? Or, was she simply showing early signs of a future career in meteorology? Whatever it might have been, I like to think that she found something beautiful in an unexpected place and held onto it for as long as she could under the loving gaze of her mother.

In this shallow puddle on a city sidewalk, that was undoubtedly unnoticed by countless passersby, I believe she beheld a reflection of something transcendent, something detached from her and, at the same time, part of her reality. She was gazing at a reflection of herself in the ordinariness of a pooling of water. She took a few moments to peer at herself intently and from many angles, and she took delight in what she saw.

It may not be a puddle of water, but we, like this young girl, in the ordinary routine of our lives, have opportunities to look at ourselves. Are they quick glances? Are they the means to reassure ourselves that we look handsome and are defying the aging process? Are we wishing that the reflection we see was of someone else rather than the person looking back at us? Perhaps this little girl can teach us a lesson. She beheld someone beautiful. Under the watchful eye of her mother, she saw a reflection of someone God loves. In fact, she saw a reflection of God. Whether a cotton candy cloud, an azure blue sky, a puddle of water, or her own face, she beheld the face of God in everything God created.

A trivial incident on the grand scale of things as I took my afternoon stroll that day, but I was taught a profound lesson through the innocent inquisitiveness of a young girl walking hand in hand with her mother. Was it an encounter with a puddle on a city sidewalk, or something more? What a moment of grace offered to us each day if we only stop to take a closer look!

— Rev. Dennis J. Yesalonia, S.J., Pastor

June 26, 2022 Essay: A Bittersweet Farewell

This is the toughest aspect of Jesuit life. One year is just enough time to get settled, develop a new routine, get to know people, make friends, gain a feeling of confidence and something roughly resembling competence…and then leave.

When I was preparing to move from Chicago to New York in 2016, I was talking with my spiritual director about the difficulty of leaving people and a place I had come to love. He said, “At times of departure, there are, at most, two things to say: ‘Thank you’ and, if appropriate, ‘I’m sorry.’” As always, he was correct.

I’ll begin with the latter by quoting George Washington’s farewell address: “Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration [“pastoral year” in my case], I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors.” Whether it was forgetting your name despite having already been introduced, a moment of distraction and not engaging you in more meaningful conversation, a line in a homily that didn’t sit well, or anything else, for any and all of my shortcomings this year, I do apologize.

The “thank you” portion of my leave-taking, if done properly, would fill many bulletins. Over the course of my life, I have found God to be bafflingly, comically, abundantly, inexplicably generous and gentle with me. He has continued this undeserved trend this year through you, the wonderful people of the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola. When I arrived in August I had celebrated perhaps a dozen Masses, heard a handful of confessions, and presided at one wedding and zero funerals. Your generosity in getting to know me, responding to my homilies, welcoming me to baptize your children and bury your loved ones, sharing your human weaknesses and deep, profoundly holy desires in the confessional, and dedication to this parish community are God’s grace made real to me. This parish has been a welcoming, supportive, joyful place in which I’ve been able to stretch and grow into priesthood. As I’ve told several of you this year, the reason newly ordained priests keep getting sent here is that you take good care of us.

Thanking particular people or groups runs the risk of unintentionally overlooking others, but I’d be remiss to not express my gratitude in some specificity. To the whole parish staff, thank you for your tireless work, your generous spirit of collaboration, and the many laughs we’ve shared. To the facilities and sacristy team, without whom nothing would get done, mil gracias por todo su ayuda y diligencia. To the Friends of the Border, our trip was a fortuitous surprise and one of the highlights of the year for me. To IVC, youth group, IYA, ISJ, and the other groups with whom I’ve spent time, thank you for the energy you bring to this community. To all of the musicians, your talent adds so much to the life and prayer of this parish. If left to my own devices, I wouldn’t have processed out of a single Mass until your final notes had finished echoing in the farthest corners of the church. To my brother priests, your support and encouragement of me and your genuine care for the people of this parish have been deeply edifying and are among the key lessons I take away from my time here.

I depart for my doctoral studies at Boston College as a better priest, a better Jesuit, a better Christian, and a better human being because of my time here and the blessings all of you have been to me.

This is not goodbye, but see you later. Until then, thank you.

⁠— Rev. Daniel N. Gustafson, S.J., Pastoral Year Priest

Introducing Doug Purcell

As our beloved Philip Anderson begins a new chapter in his life, so we begin one in our parish. This Sunday, June 26, Choir of St. Ignatius member Doug Purcell will sing his first Masses as our principal cantor. His responsibilities will include the 9:30 AM and Solemn Masses, feast days, funerals, and Grammar School and IREP liturgies.

A native of Farmingdale, Long Island, Doug grew up at St. Kilian Parish, where he began singing in the boychoir in second grade. By high school, he was one of the associate organists of the parish. He majored in music education at Westminster Choir College, graduating in 1985.

Doug has enjoyed a long, fulfilling career as a soloist and ensemble singer. His credits include countless performances with the New York Philharmonic, American Symphony Orchestra, Voices of Ascension, Musica Sacra, and here at St. Ignatius, going back to the early days of Sacred Music in a Sacred Space (now Concerts at St. Ignatius, Park Avenue). He was a long-time member of the New York City Opera Chorus and has been in the Metropolitan Opera extra chorus since 2006.

As a liturgical musician, Doug has sung in many church and temple choirs around New York City. For ten years, he served as cantor at Church of the Holy Family, the United Nations Parish. He joined the Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola in September 2011 and has maintained an active presence in our church, also singing regularly with the Parish Community Choir and serving as cantor when needed.

Doug has been a dear friend and colleague to me for over twenty years, and I can attest not just to his great musicianship, but his kindness and warmth of heart. Along with our hospitality team, lectors, altar servers, Eucharistic Ministers, and choirs, our cantors fulfill a vital pastoral function here at St. Ignatius, inviting us into God’s presence and into deeper communion with each other. On hundreds of occasions over the last decade, Doug has stepped comfortably and capably into that role on our behalf, and we look forward to his presence among us as he embraces his new ministry.

Doug’s heart for ministry extends beyond the walls of our church. For the last several years he has volunteered at Mt. Sinai Hospital, playing the piano and singing in the atrium (Click here to view Doug performing Meredith Willson’s Till There Was You), and even taking a small keyboard around to serenade patients in their rooms.

Doug is excited to turn this page and share his musical and pastoral gifts with us, and I know you will enjoy getting to know him in the weeks and months ahead. We are truly blessed to have such a wonderful team.

May God bless you, Doug, as you begin your new work among us!

– K. Scott Warren, Director of Music Ministries

June 19, 2022 Essay: From the Pastor’s Desk

Dear Parishioners,

As we enter the lazy days of summer, I want to provide an update on our parish planning process. This process began in early 2019 when I invited a group of parishioners and parish staff members to work with me to develop our parish’s statement of mission. This working group included Teresa Cariño, Holly Curp, Rose DiMartino, Natalie Fiedler, Grace Gorman, Mary Larkin, John O’Brien, Dr. Ray Pastore, Brian Pinter, Mary Rutherfurd, Fr. Vincent Sullivan, S.J., and Eric Van Nostrand. These individuals represented a wide cross-section of parishioners and parish ministries. By the end of 2019 the final version of the parish’s mission statement was published. It reads as follows:

The love of Christ impels us to welcome all,
to worship joyfully and pray fervently,
to walk together with those in need,
and to reverence God in the wonder of Creation.

 Our mission statement, like all other mission statements, is a snapshot of how we perceive ourselves in the moment and who we aspire to be. It is a lens through which we look at ourselves and plan our future.

It was my hope to initiate a strategic planning process early in 2020 whose purpose would have been the development of concrete action plans that would animate in new ways our statement of mission. Then COVID 19 reared its ugly head, and everything was put on hold as the world sheltered in place. It was during this time that I recognized the need for us to re-imagine ourselves “as church” and confidently enter a post-pandemic world. We would still use our mission statement as the lens through which we would do our planning, but our context needed a wider worldview so that we could be responsive to the glaring needs that manifested themselves through the early onslaught of the pandemic. To fail to do this would, in my opinion, diminish the relevance of the Church (big “C”) in a post-pandemic world. Or, in the words of St. Paul, as referenced in our mission statement, “the love of Christ impels us” to do nothing less.

In September 2020 I wrote an essay that was published in the parish’s e-newsletter and reflected on the need for a new paradigm of Church in a post-pandemic world. I wrote about the need to bring hope and healing to the wounds inflicted through the pandemic – the wounds of indifference, intolerance, and abject injustice. I wrote, “I believe we are at a defining moment of what it means to be Church as well as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. To return to the routine of the past would mean that we failed to learn from our tortured experiences of the pandemic.” I further wrote that we should look at our mission statement as “both a mirror and a compass,” helping us to envision this new reality of church.

Early in 2021 the next phase of the parish planning process was initiated. As with the mission statement group, the planning committee represented a cross-section of parishioners and parish staff members. Those who generously accepted my invitation to this working group were Ivan Briggiler, Rosario Conde Johanek, Holly Curp, Adele Gallo, Fr. Mark Hallinan, S.J., Patti Hogan, Kathy Murnion, co-chair, Brian Pinter, Jean Santopatre, Jacques Torchon, Eric Van Nostrand, co-chair, and Scott Warren. Early in their deliberations, this working group acknowledged the need for input from parishioners. To that end, The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) designed a survey instrument that was distributed to all registered members of the parish. CARA collated, evaluated, and summarized the 790 survey forms that were submitted and delivered its report in November 2021 to the planning committee. You can review that report at ignatius.nyc/surveyresults. The CARA Report supplemented the input members of the planning committee received in the course of their conversations and interviews with parishioners. Then in December 2021, the planning committee delivered to me a Vision Statement that was distributed to parishioners in February of this year. You may view it online at ignatius.nyc/vision-statement.

In March of this year, parishioners were invited to “listening sessions” in the church on the weekend of March 19-20 and a virtual town hall meeting on the evening of March 30 to share their comments about the Vision Statement and their views on what they would like to see accomplished in the course of the parish’s planning process. 143 parishioners attended the listening sessions and 28 parishioners participated in the virtual town hall meeting.

What both the CARA Report and the remarks that were made at the listening sessions and the virtual town hall meeting corroborated was a general contentment with the parish as it now is as well as an openness to what was articulated in the Vision Statement. I am also obliged to report that there was a not unexpected sentiment expressed by several who participated in these meetings that we should not tinker with the status quo. In my opinion that approach would lead us to a path of irrelevance in a post-pandemic world that hungers for hope and healing.

Now is the time to initiate the next, and final, phase of our parish planning process. The Vision Statement provides us a blueprint for the future. What is now needed are its building blocks, or, as I will refer to them, action plans that will implement what was articulated in outline form in the Vision Statement.

In the Fall of this year I will invite you to participate in one of the implementation working groups that will be charged with the responsibility of drafting action plans for each of the four categories identified in the Vision Statement: 1. We Welcome All.  2. We Worship With Joy.  3. We Walk Together With Those In Need. 4. We Reverence God In The Wonder Of Creation. For the moment, I ask that you pray for the continued success of our parish planning process and to consider participating in one of these working groups so that your voice will be heard as we plan our shared future as disciples of Jesus Christ and parishioners of the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola.

May the Holy Spirit continue to guide us through this planning process so that all that we do now and in the future may redound to the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls.

Sincerely in the Lord,
Fr. Yesalonia

June 12, 2022 Essay: The Call to Recreation

Our liturgical calendar places us in Ordinary Time: yet this time of year seems far from ordinary. Each day becomes just a bit longer, the weather becomes warmer, and the ease of summer beckons. Schools begin to wind down, graduations wrap up the academic year and vacation requests have been submitted. I feel the lure of the lazy days of summer.

As we shift our center onto summer plans, recreation becomes our focus. For some of us, taking time off is a challenge—relaxation gets a bad rap in America. It seems antithetical to our American ideas of success. Still, yet, our souls are longing for recreation, longing to be unplugged and rejuvenated, longing for the gift of removing ourselves from our daily routines and habits.

When we are busy in our daily lives we often become oblivious to the world around us. We operate by the constructs of deadlines, schedules, and monotonous conformity. Our lives begin to feel truncated by the mundane and the routine.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover the layered meanings of the word recreation. Recreation can mean a great number of things: “an act of refreshment, action of amusing,” or, “spiritual refreshment, amusement, new birth,” or even going back to Latin, “act of restoring,” from recreāre: “to make new, restore, revive”. I long to take time this summer to become spiritually revived through the beauty of my surroundings, a break from the routine. Summer is the opportunity to recreate myself spiritually, to be refreshed and amused.

Why not use this summer to take time from our over-scheduled lives and be re-created? It is in the small, quiet spaces of unscheduled time where we get in touch with our spiritual selves. In the gentle silence, we can hear the whisper of God calling, assuring, inviting us to union with God. The call is always present, yet the constant strains of life can make us deaf to the call, blind to the signs, and too distracted to notice. Our essential selves long for conscious contact with the Divine.

There is another advantage to being recreated: through relaxed and rejuvenated lenses we can be refreshed in seeing the gifts of the world. We experience the blessing of our very existence. Our recreated vision may inspire us to aid in the flourishing of our common home. As we are revived we are energized to serve as the hands and feet working to restore the world around us.

This past weekend the Youth Group, I, and a few friends joined in the Amazing Race sponsored by the LGBT Catholics & Friends ministry. The event, part race and part scavenger hunt, had each member of our group taking on a particular task for a common mission. The park was alive with all the action of a busy spring Saturday and the amazing race was on. To get extra points in the competition we were given a list of things to photograph or video. The highlight of the afternoon was asking 4 people lounging on a blanket to join us in a videotaped dance party. They were happy to accommodate us, becoming part of our team. The fun and spontaneity of dancing in Central Park is one of the highlights of the day. In the surprise and fun of the afternoon we had new and inspiring experiences: all rejuvenating and refreshing and most of all, recreating experiences.

Take the time this summer to smell the salt air, jump in the lake, take long walks, go to the carnival. Form new communities, however short-lived, to feel the joy of spontaneity. Come back to your life refreshed with the inspiration to revive the world around you.

– Kate Noonan, Director of Religious Education

Concerts at St. Ignatius Essay: Turning a Page

Today I would like to lift up two of my dear friends and colleagues, Maureen Haley and Philip Anderson. I had the great fortune to meet them in April of 2001 when I first joined the music staff at St. Ignatius. Their musicianship blew me away, but I was also moved by their kindness and generosity of spirit. I thought then—and believe with even more conviction now—that these two truly embody the Spirit of Christ, sharing their gifts and their hearts without reservation, with tremendous authenticity and humility.

Maureen and Philip have nurtured our parish with their music and abundance of heart since 1989 when they both joined the Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola. Before long, Philip transitioned into his current role as cantor, and ten years ago, following over two decades of distinguished service in the choir, Maureen took over leadership of our children’s choirs. In addition to her work in the music ministry, Maureen has also served over the last few years as one of our Pastoral Associates, handling baptisms and weddings, and the vast amount of administrative detail involved with both.

It is with great joy that we celebrate their long tenures, and with great sadness that in a few weeks, we will bid them farewell, as they retire and begin a new chapter in their lives. Their final Sunday with us will be June 19, when Philip will sing his last Solemn Mass as our cantor, and Maureen and Michael will lead a rousing Family Sing Sunday at the Wallace Hall Mass. Afterward, we will gather in McKinnon Hall to express our gratitude, love, and appreciation for their decades of service.

As is probably the case with you, I have a difficult time imagining life at St. Ignatius without them.

Philip is the public face of our music ministry and visitors often receive their first impression of our parish directly from him. This is an enormous responsibility, and Philip is the gold standard. He embodies the term “servant leader”, whether he is singing, providing gentle guidance to altar servers, or helping a guest presider navigate the details of our liturgies. His positivity and goodwill speak deeply and directly into our souls, and his influence will remain with us for decades to come.

Maureen’s love for and rapport with our kids was evident from the very beginning of her tenure as Director of Children’s Choirs. She has provided a solid, healthy vocal pedagogy, the result of which is their radiantly beautiful singing. She has nurtured and been a mentor to many. Those of us with kids know how quickly they grow and change, even in a matter of weeks. Maureen’s quiet and steady influence has been a great gift to our children. Long after they reach adulthood and old age, they will remember Ms. Haley and the loving guidance she gave them.

I hope you will join us on Sunday, June 19, as we celebrate with Maureen and Philip, sharing with them a portion of the graces they have shown to us over the last thirty years. How fortunate we have been to have them walk among us for so long!

Maureen and Philip, our prayer is that God will continue to bless you as you have so richly blessed us.

– K. Scott Warren, Director of Music Ministries