Monthly Archives: September 2015

Blessing of the Pets

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In honor of Saint Francis of Assisi on October 4th, Saint Peter’s hosts a Pet Blessing this Friday, October 2th, at 2.30 pm on the school playground.

We welcome cats and dogs, and well caged guinea pigs, etc .. please no pythons, pet goats, or dinosaurs. While our love for animals is great, practical considerations make us prefer the animals to be easily contained.

 

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Homily for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, September 27, 2015

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By The Very Reverend Canon Gary S. Linsky, V.F.
Pastor of Saint Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, Columbia, South Carolina

Normally my homilies focus on the Gospel or one of the other readings at Mass. However, this weekend, overwhelmed as I am and hopefully you are, by our Holy Father, Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, I feel it is necessary to capitalize on his words, his gestures and the reactions of so many to his presence in our country.

With my staff, I sat in our conference room on Tuesday afternoon to watch the Holy Father’s arrival at Joint Base Andrews outside of Washington and then again, Wednesday morning, to witness his official welcome at the White House. There, the President, in perhaps his finest and least partisan speech, focused on the words and work of the Holy Father and the Catholic Church in the United States. The Holy Father’s words, in turn, touched us as he struggled, in English, to convey his hopes for our country and for his visit here.

Most strikingly, I spent Thursday morning, at home, glued to the television, again, to hear the Holy Father address a joint session of Congress. What a refreshing hour it was, as the vast majority of our legislators, Supreme Court justices, members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, diplomats and thousands of others inside and outside the Capital gathered to hear this man of peace challenge our lawmakers, and, by extension all persons of good will, to work together for the common good. In that normally overly partisan place, the Holy Father gently asked that the United States, again be known for leadership in terms of kindness to strangers, the hopeless, those weary of war and the most vulnerable, always showing respect for the dignity of the human person in all stages of life. He asked that all nations abolish the death penalty and consider future generations and by taking action, now, to protect the earth, our common home.

To see the tears in Speaker Boehner’s eyes the day before he announced his pending resignation and retirement as well the Vice President, Senator Rubio and others from all political spectrums was to have hope the Lord may be found, not as much in the maelstrom of earthquake, wind and fire that lately has been our political system, but in the calmness of a peace that can transcend partisanship.

I have been moved to have seen the Holy Father speak with our Bishops and celebrate a Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception where he canonized Saint Junipero Serra the patron of the California Missions. And who would not have been moved to have seen New York City come to an absolute standstill as thousands upon thousands hoped for a single glimpse of this truly holy man on the streets, at a catholic school in Harlem and at Vespers at Saint Patrick’s, that deeply meaningful inter-religious time of prayer at Ground Zero and Friday evening’s Mass in Madison Square Garden.

Yesterday morning, I watched the Holy Father celebrate Mass in the Philadelphia’s Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul where I once sang as seminarian before going on to Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary where I spent my first two years in formation to become a priest.

His words at that Mass were very important and I wish to focus on them as I consider our ministry here at historic Saint Peter’s. The Holy Father spoke of Saint Katherine Drexel’s meeting in Rome with his predecessor, Pope Leo XIII, where she pleaded for him to help with the education of America’s youth. To this plea, His Holiness responded, “What about you?” He then asked the assembled bishops, priests, deacons, brothers and sisters religious, “Do we challenge them to foster a sense of personal responsibility for the Church’s mission as a leaven of the gospel in our world?”

The Holy Father’s question is one that has been resonating in my heart for the past few months. As I see attendance and participation growing, straining our meager staff, facilities and resources, and our financial giving off slightly, I’ve wondered how to challenge you to become more committed to spreading the Gospel of Joy Pope Francis continues to share with us.

Years ago, as an Air Force Chaplain, I would often supervise both Catholic and Protestant communities. I noted that Catholics would volunteer their time and talents whereas Protestants were more generous with their financial giving. And I don’t think the situation is much different in civilian life. While we have some wonderful volunteers, Saint Peter’s is limited in her outreach because most are content that the majority of our outreach be accomplished by paid staff. I believe we need to totally reverse this situation for our Holy Father has asked us to be open to “creativity in adapting to change.”

“What about YOU?” the Holy Father asked! I believe all gathered here have come to Mass with hope of encountering the Lord. And I would like to give you all the opportunity given to Saint Katherine Drexel years ago, an opportunity she responded to with incredible generosity and joy. To this end, I would like to inaugurate the Saint Peter’s Volunteer Corps. Of course, I’d like volunteers to help organize and establish this with me!

The Volunteer Corps will be an opportunity for you give back to God in ways that are not limited to lectoring, being an Extra-Ordinary Minister of Holy Communion or providing music, but instead should help to harness your imagination and many gifts. Pope Francis said, “Jesus told the Apostles to go out where (the people) they are NOT where we think they should be.” This is an incredible challenge for the Church but more importantly, an opportunity for us all.

Perhaps some have come to Mass today out of curiosity because you, too, have been touched by Pope Francis. I include you in this challenge. Who knows what Saint Peter’s might look like if all our hands become occupied in doing the work of the Lord in this place, in this city, this world Pope Francis calls “our common home.”

Our parish is beginning to develop communities that address points of being, such as Tapping Theology for young, single professionals in their 20s and 30s, and our new Family Fellowship for families with younger children. Soon, I expect to launch new programs for singles, widowed and divorced in their 40s and 50s as well as program for newly married. These are in addition for 50+ club for seniors, Men’s Prayer Group and many programs for youth. Your participating in these will strengthen us all as you share of yourselves with others in similar points of your lives.

I pray that our Holy Father’s Apostolic Visit will continue to strengthen and inspire all of us to welcome the stranger, to return to and deepen our faith and to love more deeply and profoundly. And I ask that you commit yourself to giving back in whatever way you can, financially and through our Volunteer Corps so that together, we may, through work and prayer, build His Kingdom in this place!

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Our Catholic Schools celebrate Pope Francis’ visit

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Catholic Schools all around the country are marking Pope Francis’ visit with special projects to allow the children to learn more about our Holy Father and to feel part of this historic visit.  WLTX visited two local schools, including our own St. Peter’s Catholic School to have a look at what our students are doing!

How are you following the Holy Father’s visit?
http://www.wltx.com/story/news/2015/09/23/pope-visit-inspires-school-projects/72708292/

Remembering Pope John Paul II’s visit to Columbia

Pope Francis’ visit to the US is a historic event that many people will remember for the rest of their lives.  Twenty eight years ago, Columbia was part of such a historic event when Pope John Paul II visited our City and celebrated mass at St. Peter’s Catholic Church.
Wach Fox looks back on that visit with mayor Benjamin, Father Linsky and others.

http://wach.com/news/local/city-leaders-remember-pope-john-paul-iis-visit-to-columbia

From the Pastor’s Desk

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Even before I arrived at Saint Peter’s, I was challenged by longstanding friends to address the problematic sound-system and acoustics in our church. Often I’m told by parishioners and visitors that they loved my enthusiasm in the pulpit but couldn’t understand much of what I had said. The situation is all the more difficult because the quality and audibility of the spoken word varies by location and is affected greatly by the number of persons at a particular liturgy. Thus, daily Masses with a light attendance are often more challenging than a full Sunday morning liturgy especially for persons in the central nave of the Church.

Clearly the problem has existed for years, especially so since the Church’s most recent renovation and installation of our beautiful hard-wood floor. Sound engineers and others have investigated and there appears to be numerous opinions as to what might improve this challenging situation.
Our most recent study suggests the existing speakers are actually high-quality and not the problem. What these sound engineers believe will be most helpful is to install high quality sound-absorption material around the rose windows in the transepts of the Church as well as in an area below the choir loft in the rear of the nave. In one sense, at least in the transepts, this might kill two birds with one stone. The areas in question need to be re-plastered and painted due to long-standing damage caused by water seepage and other leaks we believe have been repaired. Covering this surface area with sound absorbing materials will save this considerable expense.

The $52,000 cost of this project is not something we’ve budgeted for. While our attendance is rising and participation increasing, we’ve worked hard at Saint Peter’s to cut costs and underspend our budget. This has been necessary as our level of giving this past month has fallen below our budgetary needs. Perhaps that’s just the “summer blues” and reflects the reality of August vacations. What I am trying to say is that I hope we can move forward in the near term to do something constructive that may finally improve our acoustics for the spoken word in a manner that will not deaden our sound and quality of music. However, to do so, I need your help. We’ll fund this project out of our Preservation funds. I hope you’ll pray about supporting this while at the same time, consider increasing you’re overall support of our parish.

Great things are happening here for the sake of the Kingdom and your giving, my brothers and sisters, and more importantly your love expressed in many ways beyond the financial, are what make our progress possible. Thus, I leave the timing of the next step in improving the sound-quality of our parish in your generous hands!
Fraternally,
Fr. Gary S. Linsky
The Very Rev. Canon Gary S. Linsky, V.F.
Pastor

Mr. Husey gives thanks for 10 years at St. Peter’s

Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Peter’s:

It is with a great deal of personal sadness I write to announce the resignation of Mr. Mark Husey, our Organist and Choirmaster, effective December 27, 2015.
Mark has led our music ministries for ten years, played at over 1500 Sunday Masses, lifted up the spirits of thousands at several hundred Funeral Masses as well as contributed to the joy of many more in glorious wedding masses, and other special ceremonies.

Mr. Husey brought to Saint Peter’s an intense love for the Catholic faith and repertoire that reflected the beauty of the highest quality of musical literature from throughout the ages in support of the liturgy.  He and I collaborated intensively in the selection of the hymody to best reflect the readings and nurture the faithful from a wide range of sources.  To say that I will miss his genius is simply an understatement.

In his letter to me, which I share with you, Mr. Husey graciously expresses his love of Saint Peter’s and appreciation for the past decade while also indicating a need to have new experiences and to move on.  I respect this as I hope you will, too.  My past Air Force experience reminds me that many often come and go in our lives and we must treasure the time God gives us together.
In the next four months, I hope you will express to Mr. Husey your appreciation for all he has done with his considerable skill to lift your hearts to God.

Naturally, Mr. Husey’s shoes will not be easy to fill.  He has been concurrently a Choirmaster, organist and cantor- and few have all three skill-sets.  By the time you read this, his position(s) will have been advertised and the search for his replacement (s) begun.  Please pray for Mr. Husey as he moves forward to climb mew mountains and seek fresh challenges and for our parish to find a noble successor that can build and adapt upon his great work in the service of His Church in our prayer and liturgy.

Fraternally,

Fr. Gary S. Linsky
The Very Reverend Canon Gary S. Linsky, V.F.
Pastor

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Father Linsky,

Since our first correspondence in December of 2012, it’s been clear to me that you live your life motivated by the prompting of the Holy Spirit, fearlessly discerning God’s will in your twin vocations of military and priestly service.  You clearly do more than “talk the talks”- you “walk the walk” of faith. I cherish our friendship as much as I esteem your leadership.
I have rarely shared so much synergy with a celebrant in celebrating the Mass with such musical and ceremonial splendor. You are a treasure among all the clergy with whom I have ever worked in my thirty years in sacred music ministry.

By the end of this calendar year, I’ll have enjoyed ten rich and varied years of service and accomplishment in this remarkable, historic parish- a full third of my vocation will be invested here.  Speaking from a place of profound love, confident in the knowledge that my work here is complete and my vocational aspirations fulfilled, I hereby make known my resignation from all duties as Director of Music  Liturgy, Organist & Choirmaster and School Choirmaster of Saint Peter’s Catholic Church and School effective Sunday 27 December 2015 after the 11 am Mass.  An earlier date of separation is also negotiable.

As part of my personal walk of faith, I’m currently discerning my next vocational endeavors in the arts. I’m looking forward to reflection, relaxation, and expanding my marketability in non-musical areas.

To quote St. Faustina’s mantra: “Jesus, I trust in you” – to order my steps in the way I should go.  As the architect of my own life, I know that God is ever at my side to lead and guide me. Nothing could prove my faith in Him and his providential care more than to create a space for renewed vigor of musical leadership at my beloved Saint Peter’s Church.  This is an absolutely extraordinary parish, deserving nothing less than the very best music ministers that your prayers will make manifest.  Be prepared to be richly blessed,

In Christ’s love and service,

Mark Husey.

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