Monday, March 29, 2010

Julie Musselman, Lighthouse CD ministry

My husband and I had been born and raised Catholic, and both went to Catholic schools through college.

We had received all our sacraments and were married in the church. Then after being married 11 years and having 2 young sons, in 1997 I heard about a Catholic Family Conference.

I thought, “Well we should be a Catholic family!” But we really weren’t. Mass seemed optional to us, we didn’t pray together, we never read the bible, we just did the minimal.

I wasn’t able to attend the Catholic Family Conference, but I did order the cassette tapes from it. The presenters were Dr. Scott and Kimberly Hahn. I listened to their conversion stories from the Presbyterian faith and the way they described the Catholic Church. I couldn’t believe it. They made the faith come alive for me.

I ordered more and more cassette tapes and then CDs by the Hahns and other speakers. I started learning my faith as an adult. I fell in love with Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church. I was so thirsty to learn more.

Learning my faith better made me get more involved in the parish. I got involved is a couple ministries, became convicted about tithing and being open to new life. The Holy Spirit inspired me to start a bible study in 1998 using the tapes and CDs that I had acquired.

In 2006 I got connected with Lighthouse Catholic Media. They had this idea to bring CDs to parishes so that people could get CDs inexpensively to educate and inspire themselves and their families.

The CDs are audio talks by well known speakers like Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Dr. Scott and Kimberly Hahn, Mother Teresa, Jeff Cavins, Fr. Larry Richards, Steve Ray, Matthew Kelly and many others.

The CDs cover all topics of the faith; the sacraments, the Pope, Mary and the saints. And there are practical topics too; how to handle anger and forgiveness, how to become the best version of yourself, how to succeed in business without losing your soul.

There are CDs of peoples’ conversion stories to the Catholic faith from other faiths, excerpt from encyclicals, historical accounts of the Catholic Church and more!

The CDs also are a tool for evangelization. How often does someone ask a question or make a comment about the faith, and you don’t know how to reply? The CDs make it so easy to share the faith. Just like you would tell a friend about a nice dinner at a new restaurant you just ate or a great movie you just went to see, you can tell them about a great CD you just listened too and then you can give them the CD to listen to too!

The greatest thing to me is that these CDs can reach people who may never walk through the doors of a church. We all are called to share our faith and with a CD it is simple and easy!

In Florida, more than 100 parishes now have the Lighthouse kiosk display stand and the CDs. Every day I hear comments of how the CDs have helped people learn their faith better.

At St. Raphael, the CDs are in a stand and on a table in the entrance. New titles are put out continually. It is a self service ministry. Just pick up the CDs you like and put donations in the box attached to the kiosk. Any excess donations help the parish continue the ministry.

Everyone in the parish can participate in this ministry either by listening to the CDs yourself or by sharing them with others.

If you're interested: Julie Musselman would love to hear your comments about the CDs. Send her an e-mail at

Stations of the Cross

 Photo by Jane Winstead
Parishioners at St. Raphael participate in Stations of the Cross on Friday evenings during Lent in preparation for Easter. The devotion began with St. Francis of Assisi.

03.26.10: The last Lenten Fish Fry of the season

 Photos by Jane Winstead
The final Lenten Fish Fry for 2010. Come back next year for more delicious fish and plenty of community fun.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Kay Yennie, The Holy Hoovers ministry

  Photo by Jane Winstead
The Holy Hoovers: From left, Ursula Abner, Kay Yennie, Bernadine Quartette and Linda Bragg.

The Holy Hoovers were started when our new church was two weeks old. At Mass one Sunday, Monsignor Caverly asked for volunteers to vacuum.

Bernadine Quartette and I showed up on the next Saturday morning and met Father Anthony.

The church had two vacuums so we took turns. The next week Bernadine and I brought our own so Father A could work, too!

We asked Peggy Hawkins to join us and the three of us did it for more than a year. Father A dropped out.

It took the three of us a little more than an hour to finish. Sometimes only two could come and it was a long job, and when only one came it was a very long job.

I went to the Women's Guild and asked for help when Bernadine and Peggy were going to be gone for three weeks. Up stepped Ursula Abner and Linda Bragg. I sure was happy to have them.

When Bernadine and Peggy returned there were five of us. We divided the church up and each of us do the same section every week. When someone can't come we ask Chris Winstead or Ava Abner to help if they can.

You wouldn't believe what we find in the church. Lots of crumbs. If I never see another Cherrio again I'll be happy. Also, fish crackers, mostly crushed from people walking on them. The worst was Easter egg shells after Easter Sunday one year.

Don't people eat breakfast at home before coming to church?

It costs $1,300 to clean the carpets in the church, and they get dirty again so fast. Lots of spills from drinks and black marks from shoes and some marks we don't know what. And oh, yes, the dreaded gum!

Take a good look at the carpet when you are at Mass next. 

We would love to have a few more ladies to help so when someone is sick or gone we can call you.

All of us love cleaning God's house. It doesn't seem like work. It's love for Him, and all our family at St. Raphael.

If you're interested: If you'd like to join the Holy Hoovers, please call the church office at 727-821-7989.

Fish Fry 03.12.10

The last St. Raphael Fish Fry of the year will be Friday, March 26, in the Parish Center. Here are photos by Jane Winstead of the Fish Fry on Friday, March 12.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Every Friday in Lent

If it's Friday in Lent, it must be the St. Raphael Fish Fry. Videographer Louise Barrett created this music video from scenes from a recent fish fry and the music of the St. Raphael Praise Band.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cool School! St. Raphael Catholic

 Video from FOX 13
Watch as Charlie Belcher interviews students and presents a plaque to Principal Wostbrock.

Principal Valerie Wostbrock and several students from St. Raphael's Catholic School were interviewed by FOX 13's Charlie Belcher after the school was voted a Cool School this week. Parents, students and parishioners logged on to FOX 13's Web site to vote for St. Raphael.

In an e-mail, Principal Wostbrock thanked those who supported the school. "I am so impressed with our school spirit," she said. The final count was 92,147 votes. St. Raphael received 51 per cent of the votes cast.

"With everyone working together to make St. Raphael Catholic School the best school, it's truly amazing what we can accomplish with God, teamwork, and a common goal," the principal said.

Watch more segments below from FOX 13's Cool Schools focus on St. Raphael.

 Video from FOX 13
Science fair brainiacs Austin and Jared demonstrated their catapult that won in school and diocesan competition.

 Video from FOX 13
Watch as St. Raphael Catholic School band members provide a dramatic drum roll for a golf putting face-off to promote the upcoming fund-raiser golf tournament.

Fox 13 at St. Raphael Catholic School

When Charlie Belcher of Fox 13 came to St. Raphael Catholic School to do a segment for Cool Schools, photographer Jane Winstead was there. Here is a slideshow of her behind-the-scenes photographs taken during the Fox 13 visit.

Friday fish fry in the Parish Center

St. Raphael Fish Fry, Friday, March 5
Come and join the fun every Friday in Lent. The Lenten Fish Fry is sponsored by the St. Raphael Youth Ministry. All proceeds go to support Youth ministry activities. | Photos by Jane Winstead

View a slideshow from the St. Raphael Fish Fry, Friday, February 26

Inspirational parish mission

Father Bob Gielow, C.M., of the Vincentian Parish Missions, led a parish mission March 6-11 at St. Raphael. Each evening Fr. Gielow officiated at Mass and gave special inspirational homilies designed to increase spirituality among parishioners.

Fr. Gielow was formerly director of campus ministry and director of athletics at DePaul University in Chicago. He also served as a chaplain for the Chicago Bears. A native of LaSalle, Ill., he was ordained in 1971. In 1987, he joined the Vincentian Parish Mission team, which is based in Kansas City, MO.

Read more about Fr. Gielow and the Vencentian Parish Mission.

Scott Matrine, Annual Pastoral Appeal

Photo by Jane Winstead
Scott Matrine talks to St. Raphael parishioners about the Annual Pastoral Appeal on Sunday, Feb. 7.

On Annual Pastoral Appeal Sunday, parishioner Scott Matrine spoke to members of the parish about pledging their financial support for the annual appeal. Here is the text of his talk.

Good morning. Most of you know who I am. For those of you who do not, my name is Scott Matirne.

It is hard to believe that 52 weeks, 365 days have passed since I last stood before you to deliver that talk. What is even harder to believe is that it was 1,460 days ago when Monsignor scared me to death and asked me to do my first talk.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity and the privilege to stand you before you the last four years and I thank you along with Monsignor Caverly and Father Spillett for your generosity.

As I prepared for this talk and reflected on who I am today versus who I was four years ago  and I realized that I am a better man today than I was then and that through the grace of God I will be a better man tomorrow than I am today. I have come to realize that God has put me here to serve, to do His work and to trust in Him. Sometimes that is easier said than done. As with thousands of others, this has been a very tough year for me and my family.  

As my wife and I talked about the changes in our lives over the last year we realized we had the makings of the Perfect Country/Western song. You see, it all started in last September: Our dog died, my wife’s parakeet flew away, I lost my job, my in-laws moved in, I moved to England and six people in my house had to share two bathrooms for three months. Now that has the makings of a number one hit.

As I stand before you today in what is the most difficult and trying time of my life, I am at peace and I have hope. I trust in God and know through his grace I will become the best person I can be, more like Christ. I know he stays by my side, forgives me for my failings and consoles me during difficulties. I know that through him anything is possible.

In 2009 so much was made possible for so many due to your generosity.

The 2009 Annual Appeal pledges totaled $175,385.68. Some 33 per cent or 468 families out of 1,400 families pledged. The average gift per family was $374.76  per family or $37.47 per month over 10 months. The total pledge commitment was up 18 per cent over the previous year. We came in at 83 per cent of our assessment and your generosity is truly appreciated.

So many with so little have so much more because of you.

The theme for 2010 is “Go in Peace To Love and Serve The Lord”

"Serve one another through love ... bear one another's burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ." – Galatians 5:13,6:2

The Annual Appeal supports:

• Catholic Charities and Catholic Social Services, which includes, adoption, family counseling, and HIV / AIDS services to name a few.

• The appeal also supports parochial services, clergy and religious development Catholic education and apostolate.

Our 2010 assessment is $224,000, an increase of $11,655 –  a 5% increase –  over 2009.

Over that past four years I have tried to simplify what needs to be contributed by each family to reach our goal.

With more than 1,400 families in the parish, we need each family to pledge $16 a month over a 10-month period to reach our goal.  

Last year I wanted to increase my contribution so I decided to practice what I preached.

I started brewing coffee at home for my drive into work and was able to increase my contribution due to saving $2 a day that I normally spent at Starbucks.   With a little creativity and effort, I am sure we all can find a way to give.

It is easy to participate. You all should have received an envelope in the mail. If not there are some in each pew. Please pass them down. As in the past you can determine how your contribution is allocated. You make a one-time donation or make monthly payments by check or credit card in a 10-month program. No donation is too large or too small.

Every bit helps. The smallest acts of kindness go an incredibly long way. This reminds me of an incredible story.

Bobby was getting colder as he sat outside in the snow.  He didn’t wear boots. He did not like them and he didn’t have a pair anyway. The thin sneakers he wore had a few holes in them and they did a poor job of keeping the snow out.

Bobby had been in his backyard in the snow for about an hour. Try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his mother’s Christmas gift. He shook his head and thought, “This is useless; even if I do come up with an idea I don’t have any money to spend.”

Ever since Bobby’s father had died three years ago, the family of five struggled. Not because the mother didn’t care or try. There just never seemed to be enough. She worked nights at the hospital and the small wage she earned only stretched so far.

What the family lacked in material things they made up for in family unity. Bobby had two older and one younger sister and they ran the house in their mother’s absence.  All three of his sisters had already made their mother beautiful Christmas gifts.  It just seemed so unfair that here it was Christmas Eve and he had nothing.

Wiping a tear back from his eye, Bobby kicked the snow and walked down the street where the shops and stores were. It was not easy being six years old without a father, especially when he needed a man to talk to. 

As Bobby walked down the street he looked in the beautifully decorated windows.  Everything seemed so far out of reach.  Bobby reluctantly turned and started to walk home when suddenly his eye caught the glimmer of something shiny in the setting sun. He reached down and found a shiny dime.

Never before has anyone felt as wealthy as Bobby at that moment. As he held his new found treasure, warmth spread throughout his entire body as he walked into the first store he saw.  His excitement quickly turned cold as each salesperson after salesperson told him he could not buy anything with only a dime.

He saw a flower shop and he went inside to wait in line. When the shop owner asked if he could help him, Bobby presented him the dime and asked if he could buy one flower for his mother’s Christmas gift. The shop owner looked at Bobby and his ten cent offering.  He put his hand on Bobby’s shoulder and said wait here let me see what I can do for you.

Bobby looked at the beautiful flowers and even though he was a boy he could see why mothers and girls liked flowers.

Bobby was the last customer in the shop and he began to feel afraid and alone. Suddenly the shop owner came out and moved to the counter.  There before Bobby were twelve long stem, red roses, with leaves of green and tiny white flowers all tied together with a big silver bow.  Bobby’s heart sank as the owner placed them in a long white box.

The shop owner looked at Bobby and said that will be ten cents young man.  Slowly Bobby moved his hand to give the shop owner the dime. Could this be true?  No one else would give him anything for a dime. The shop owner sensed his reluctance and said, “I just so happen to have some roses on sale for ten cents. Would you like them?”

This time Bobby did not hesitate, and when the shop owner placed the box in Bobby’s hand he knew it was true.  As Bobby walked out the door he heard the shop owner say “Merry Christmas.”

As the shop owner returned to the store, his wife asked who he had been talking to and where were the roses he was fixing.

Looking out the window, the shop owner wiped a tear from his eye.

He said,“A strange thing happened to me this morning when I was setting up the shop. I thought I heard a little voice telling me to set aside a dozen of my best roses as a special gift. I was not sure if I had lost my mind or not and set them aside anyway. Then just a minute a go a little boy came into the shop and  wanted to buy his mother a flower with one small  dime.

“When I looked at him, I saw myself so many years ago. I too was a poor little boy with nothing to buy my mother a Christmas gift. A bearded man whom I never knew stopped me on the street and said he wanted to give me ten dollars.

“When I saw that little boy tonight I knew who that voice was and I put together a dozen of my finest roses.”

Are you listening?

If you're interested: If you want to contribute to the Annual Pastoral Appeal, please call the church office at 727-821-7989. 

Learn more: Read the Diocese of St. Petersburg's Web post about the Annual Pastoral Appeal and the work your contributions support.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Carol Irwin, Christ Renews His Parish (women)

Photos by Jane Winstead
The Spring 2010 St. Raphael CRHP team awaits you. Below: Carol Irwin speaks at Mass about the upcoming CRHP weekend.

Twenty-seven years ago I moved from California to St. Petersburg not having one friend in all of Florida.

We moved into St. Raphael's Parish and Father Dechering, our pastor, invited me to make a Christ Renews His Parish Weekend.

He suggested it would be a great way to meet and get to know the people in my parish. I was nursing a newborn at the time so I postponed attending the weekend for a couple of years.

However, after making the weekend I felt much more a part of the fabric of our parish life.

Now, my newborn is in the Navy on the USS New York and Christ Renews His Parish is still invigorating our parish community!

Consequently, I'd like to extend to all the women in the parish who have not made the weekend to consider coming to Christ Renews His Parish on March 13 and 14.

There is a small group of committed parishioners who have been praying hard and working hard to be used as instruments of God's love.

This renewal program is an excellent Lenten experience. During the one and one half days you are at the parish, you will have an opportunity to reflect on Christ's presence in your life and establish friendships that will be life-giving.

In this fast paced life we live, it is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life that we often don't stop long enough to reflect on or appreciate how much the dear Lord longs for a closer relationship with each of us. During this weekend you will experience Christ's love, and the love of your parish community and your sisters in Christ.

Christ Renews His Parish provides time away from daily routines and responsibilities to let Jesus help you recognize just how precious you are to Him. (Husbands, why not give your wife a special spiritual gift for Lent – offer to watch the kids and encourage your wife to take this time to be spiritually refreshed and renewed. The gift costs nothing but your time yet it is a gift that keeps on giving).

I couldn't think of a better stop along life's journey than to let Christ whisper to your heart and soul, "I love you. I have carved you on the palm of my hand. You are mine. Come to me when you are burdened and I will give you rest. I am the good shepherd. I am with you always. Come follow me!"

After 29 years, Christ is still renewing our parish. So, please consider this invitation from God to you through your sisters in Christ. The inspiration is awesome, and the spiritual renewal is inevitable.

You will, I promise, feel welcomed, loved, inspired and so happy you said yes.

If you're interested: Please reserve your spot on the weekend by calling Celeste Brown (527-1453), Debbie Craig (526-0806) or Carol Irwin (821-7390). We'll have the coffee brewing when you come on Saturday morning.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Niki Smith, Reader ministry

I didn’t want to be that shy, quiet girl any longer. So when my family moved to St. Petersburg I took a public speaking course at Northeast High School. I was a junior.

Little did I realize that 30 years later I would hear the call to read God’s word at Sunday Mass.

I prepare for each reading by studying the passage – both silently and aloud – and by reading all the commentaries that explain the meaning of the passages. It helps to speak slowly and put emphasis on certain key words. Some emotion is good, but I am proclaiming God’s word, not acting.

I always pray before stepping up on the altar. I feel that God is using me as the vessel, pouring His word through me. My voice but His word. It is so worth it if just one person hears His word and acts upon it.

In my early days of reading, just making it back to your seat alive was an accomplishment – sweaty palms, heart pounding , weak knees. I had fears of unpronounceable names and places, lost pages, last minute Mass changes.

Once, years ago, I stood before the congregation ready to begin the reading but it was the wrong one. I flipped the book forward, then backward. Could not find the right one. What to do? Looked over at Father Smith. Thankfully he stood up and came over to try his luck. After what seemed at eternity, he found the passage! I smiled, thanked him, and began the reading. What else can you do?

Another time I was asked to read five minutes before Mass began. No time to prepare! A quick prayer and I made it through another reading.

This ministry is special to me: beauty of the written word, poetry, power of God’s word, hearing God’s word, call to action, proclaiming His word for all to hear.         
And it all started with a desire to step out of my comfort zone.

I get to read God’s word at Sunday Mass before friends, family, and believers at St. Raphael’s Church.  I proclaim His word for all to hear. I feel his powerful message.
 On Sunday, I pray my prayer, stand and fold my hands, bow, and step up on the altar.

Niki Smith has been a reader at St. Raphael Parish for 10 years.

If you’re interested:
Please stop by the church office if you would like to join the Reader ministry.

Photo by Jane Winstead