Sunday, January 30, 2011

In Washington for the March for Life

Photo courtesy of Susan Langston

By Susan Langston

I had the privilege of chaperoning (along with four other chaperones) 28 students from the Academy of the Holy Names High School to participate in the 38th Annual March for Life Rally in Washington.

The students joined 200,000 others in praying for an end to abortion and a greater respect for life from conception to natural death.

In addition to the rally and March For Life, we visited exhibits in our hotel sponsored by the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.

On Saturday, we had the incredible experience of praying the rosary on the steps of the Supreme Court Building and then to tour the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum and Library.

On Sunday, we toured the Franciscan Monastery and Commissariat for the Holy Land in America and made our way to the March for Life Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Incarnation.

On Monday, we met with one of Congressman C.W. "Bill" Young's legislative assistants, Jenifer Nawrocki. She spent about two hours with our girls discussing womens rights and current bills in session relating to abortion.

She definitely gave our girls a fresh view of what is need in our government and some have already expressed a different focus in college.

Later that afternoon, after the March For Life, we had a photo opportunity with Congressman Young on the steps of the Capitol with his professional photographer, chief of staff and several of his legislative assistants. It was quite impressive.

We then had to run to our hotel to catch our bus to get on our flight!

Susan Langston is a parishioner at St. Raphael Catholic Church.

• Read the Statement of the Catholic Bishops of Florida on the 38th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Catholic education: Let it make you speechless

By Marybeth Finster

Marybeth FinsterMaybe your story is like mine. Maybe you’re a product of some or all of your education in a Catholic school. Maybe you left that environment and entered the world as a young adult and faith was something that was more of your family’s tradition than your own. Maybe you knew more about the latest in rock music than the encyclicals of John Paul II.

Maybe you were left speechless when someone you met asked you to explain why you worshiped Mary and statues.

Maybe once again you were left speechless when your child asked you to pray the rosary but they taught you because you couldn’t quite remember how it went.

If this sounds a little familiar to a cradle Catholics raising a family today then you are not alone. That is why Catholic education is not only critical but an urgent message for the survival of our community and our Universal Church as a whole.

Catholic education is not just the responsibility of those parents sending their children to a Catholic school but the whole community. The statistics of success of those attending Catholic schools is unquestionable. Graduates of Catholic schools go on to not only be lifelong practitioners of their faith but are and will continue to be the leaders of today and tomorrow in every aspect of society.

Research shows that “when a Catholic school is done in an environment replete with moral values and the practice of the faith, its test scores and achievements outstrip public school counterparts,” says Helen Marks in her essay “Perspectives on Catholic Schools,”

But Catholic schools do more than provide a high quality education. A Catholic school integrates every aspect of faith life throughout the school day. It provides an intimate partnership with the Domestic Church, the home. It is not just a faucet that is turned on for an hour or so on Sunday but a slow steady trickle that brings forth waters of new life both academically and spiritually for child and parent.

It is a place where a child is handed down the deposit of faith and it becomes embedded as not only a tradition (small “t”) but a deeply rooted understanding of the bigger Tradition (big “T”). It is a place that not only catechizes but evangelizes and sends forth intellectually prepared members of society who care about how to give back not just what they can be given.

Yes, it is an environment that has left me speechless as a parent. Speechless, as I watch the children sit reverently during school Mass.

Speechless, as I watch their music glorify God’s kingdom with the Auf de Kampes and Miss Becky. Speechless, as I watch them in a circle following a game with Coach.

Speechless, as I watch the children run to adoration.

Speechless, as I watch them in the Parish Center with Miss Wostbrock and all our dedicated, incredible teachers announce achievements of our students or talk about the saint of the day.

Speechless, as I ponder the blessings of having this parish community as a whole and the effects it has had on my entire family.

Speechless that I can now explain to a stranger why we give honor and not worship the Mother of our Lord.

Speechless, that I am more excited about the upcoming beatification of John Paul II than the next Bruce Springsteen concert.

Just speechless!

For more information on the benefits of Catholic Education , check out this week’s issue of Our Sunday Visitor. If your are interested in helping make Catholic education affordable to all, see The Catholic Foundation. Give the first of our fruit back to God … Give to the Evangelization of Education.

The evil of human trafficking

The Catholic Bishops of Florida have designated January 29-30 as Human Trafficking Awareness Weekend.

The Bishops of Florida have issued a statement urging Catholics to take the steps necessary to become educated and active in the fight against this assault on human dignity.

This video, Invisible Chains, was developed by the Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on Human Trafficking.

"We call upon the Florida faithful to be actively engaged in the fight against the evil of human trafficking," the bishops said.

"The Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign is intended to educated those who may come in contact with victims in churches, health care facilities, schools or the community so they can identify and report in order to rescue victims from their abusers."

Florida is a prime destination for traffickers because of agriculture and tourism, both of which use workers from other countries.

Women and children are particularly at risk, the bishops said, and are forced into prostitution, pornography and sexual entertainment.

Traffickers find it easy to bring close to a million victims into the United States with lures of money and work, then selling them into bondage.

Read the Florida Bishops' Statement (English) | Read more about the Florida Catholic Conference Human Trafficking public awareness campaign.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Blessed Path

The Sermon on the Mount, Cosimo Rosselli. Cappella Sistina, Vatican

By Dr. Scott Hahn

In the readings since Christmas, Jesus has been revealed as the new royal son of David and Son of God. He is sent to lead a new exodus that brings Israel out of captivity to the nations and brings all the nations to God.

As Moses led Israel from Egypt through the sea to give them God’s law on Mount Sinai, Jesus too has passed through the waters in baptism. Now, in Sunday’s Gospel, He goes to the mountain to proclaim a new law – the law of His Kingdom.

The Beatitudes mark the fulfillment of God’s covenant promise to Abraham – that through his descendants all the nations of the world would receive God’s blessings (see Genesis 12:3; 22:18).

Jesus is the son of Abraham (see Matthew 1:1). And through the wisdom He speaks today, He bestows the Father’s blessings upon “the poor in spirit.”

God has chosen to bless the weak and lowly, those foolish and despised in the eyes of the world, Paul says in Sunday’s Epistle. The poor in spirit are those who know that nothing they do can merit God’s mercy and grace. These are the humble remnant in Sunday’s First Reading – taught to seek refuge in the name of the Lord.

The Beatitudes reveal the divine path and purpose for our lives. All our striving should be for these virtues – to be poor in spirit; meek and clean of heart; merciful and makers of peace; seekers of the righteousness that comes from living by the law of Kingdom.

The path the Lord sets before us is one of trials and persecution. But He promises comfort in our mourning and a great reward.

The Kingdom we have inherited is no earthly territory, but the promised land of heaven. It is Zion where the Lord reigns forever. And, as we sing in Sunday’s Psalm, its blessings are for those whose hope is in the Lord.

Dr. Scott Hahn is professor of theology at Franciscan University at Steubenville, Ohio. He was formerly a Presbyterian minister who converted to Catholicism in 1986. You can spend the day with Dr. Hahn on January 29 at Light of Christ Catholic Church in Clearwater. Lighthouse Catholic Media has many of his talks on CD or for download.

The Gospel this Sunday

January 30, 2011
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 5:1-12a

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.”

Read the first and second readings and the Responsorial Psalm
– United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A reflection on daily Mass

Photo by Jane Winstead
Daily Mass is usually celebrated in the old church.

Almost 14 years ago, parishioner Julie Musselman started attending daily Mass when her oldest son started kindergarten at St. Raphael Catholic School. Over the years, a community of communicants has gathered there daily, sharing communion and life. They have become, in effect, a church family–a microcosm of the larger parish congregation that gathers each weekend, an intimate celebration of the Eucharist, usually followed by a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the form of a rosary.

Over the years, too, daily communicants have gone on to their reward. In her blog, A Catholic Home Journal, Julie reflects on the daily Mass and "the great cloud of witnesses" who have gone before.

All are welcome to join the daily Mass at 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday (Tuesday and Thursdays in the new church.) There is also a Wednesday evening Mass at 7 p.m.

Come and meet Christ in the quiet of the Eucharist and get to know your fellow parishioners.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

CRHP: Shine like the Son

Photo by Jane Winstead
Christ Renews His Parish Women's Weekend Retreat, September 2010

Women of St. Raphael parish. Mark your calendars for Christ Renews His Parish Women’s Retreat on the weekend of March 19 and 20.

Lent is not only a time of sacrificing; it is also about changing ourselves for the better. Please consider the Women’s Retreat.

This weekend will bring an opportunity to strengthen your faith, to rebuild your relationship with God, and to form a community at St. Raphael Catholic Church.

The weekend provides other church members testimonials, inspiring music, and a teaching mass. Do not pass up this amazing opportunity!

Please contact Martha Ford at (727) 492-2314 ( or Heather Early at (813) 263-4737 (, and they can provide you with answers of why you should attend.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

At Catholic school, I learn, pray, laugh and cry

Heather Finster, an 8th grader at St. Raphael Catholic School, won a $10,000 scholarship to St. Petersburg Catholic High School with this essay.

By Heather Finster

At a Catholic school, I learn. At a Catholic school, I pray. At a Catholic school, I laugh. At a Catholic School, I cry. I have attended St. Raphael Catholic School for eight years–and this is my last. I have learned, prayed, laughed, and cried as I could never do anywhere else. A Catholic education has made a difference in my life because it prepares me for the future, both body and soul.

At a Catholic school, I learn. I can be confident in everything I do, because I will ALWAYS be assisted, challenged, nurtured, and praised. I have helped and been helped, but I am also able to share my knowledge and assist friends going to other schools. At a Catholic school, I am challenged. But what we learn is so much more than repeating definitions or memorizing terms. I’ve learned that history isn’t just history, science can be used to solve problems, and math is a part of everyday life. I encounter Christ in every class, every lesson, every face.

At a Catholic school, I pray. Could I pray before lunch with all of my friends anywhere else? Could I go to adoration every Wednesday and adore the Blessed Sacrament? Could I clutch hands with my volleyball team and pray before the championship game? Could I ask my friends to pray for me? Where other than at a Catholic school is faith life so perfectly integrated with academic? As my mom once told me, “Catholic education is like a well woven garment–every stitch, button, seam is intricately woven into every facet of life making it seamless.” Our faith life extends beyond 45 minutes of religion class. Our light shines beyond our school walls.

At a Catholic School, I laugh. Oh, and I do laugh! Creating memories as my classmates and I learn and grow, God reveals his sense of humor in so many ways, every day. From hilarious Social Studies skits, to the antics of our kindergarten buddies, to “accidentally” praying to the patron saint of our opponents’ school before a game, the relationships I make, the funny moments we have, are just so much different than they would be anywhere else. A Catholic school creates an environment where I can learn and laugh while receiving an education that prepares me for a lifetime.

Finally, at a Catholic school, I cry. I know that I will cry when I leave. I know that whenever I fall, fail, or falter, I always have a network of support around me. They will never let me stay down for long. It will be hard to say goodbye to the place I have received such a great Catholic education. I will look back at when I have learned, prayed, laughed, and cried.

However, as I near the end of my final year at St. Raphael, I cannot help but look forward to the next place on my journey where I will learn, pray, laugh, and cry. St. Pete Catholic, here I come!

Pack Rat Rummage Sale earns $4,221

Bargain hunters scooped up treasures galore at the annual Pack Rat Rummage Sale on Saturday, January 22 in the Parish Hall. The sale earned $4,221, which will go to support projects of the St. Raphael chapter of the Council of Catholic Women.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

St. Raphael parish: A place of love and kindness

By Louise Barrett

I am proud to relate this story to you. Our church is not only beautiful on the outside and physical interior, but it is beautiful because of the people that are within it – our Parish Family.

There was a young man from out of town visiting his dad in St Pete. As he was driving over the bridge, he saw our beautiful church. He was being sent to Pakistan with the military as a contractor that very day. Before heading to Tampa airport, he wanted rosaries for himself and friends. So he stopped at our church.

He met a group of parishioners talking on the walkway after daily Mass and wanted to know where the gift shop was located. Of course, he did not know it is only open after weekend Masses.

God wanted a special send off for this man. Ruth Mattick was there for Tuesday morning fun club, and she opened the shop just for our visitor. Father Dominic welcomed him and prayed a special blessing with him.

One of the Tuesday Fun Club ladies offered to pay for the rosaries for the man, and Ruth and her daughter donated 50 rosaries made by our dear rosary makers.

Was the man an angel come to test our hospitality? I don't know. He certainly looked to be a young man about to serve his country in a far away and dangerous place. I only know what I saw, and Tuesday morning I saw St. Raphael's as a place of love and kindness. Thanks to each of you who make St. Raphael's so special.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A day of penance and prayer

In all the dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 shall be observed as a particular day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Promise delivered

The Calling of Sts. Peter and Andrew by Caravaggio, circa 1602.

By Dr Scott Hahn

Sunday’s Liturgy gives us a lesson in ancient Israelite geography and history.

Isaiah’s prophecy in Sunday’s First Reading is quoted by Matthew in the Gospel. Both intend to recall the apparent fall of the everlasting kingdom promised to David (see 2 Samuel 7:12-13; Psalm 89; Psalm 132:11-12).

Eight centuries before Christ, that part of the kingdom where the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali lived was attacked by the Assyrians and the tribes were hauled off into captivity (see 2 Kings 15:29; 1 Chronicles 5:26).

It marked the beginning of the kingdom’s end. It finally crumbled in the sixth century B.C., when Jerusalem was seized by Babylon and the remaining tribes were driven into exile (see 2 Kings 24:14).

Isaiah prophesied that Zebulun and Naphtali, the lands first to be degraded, would be the first to see the light of God’s salvation. Jesus today fulfills that prophecy – announcing the restoration of David’s kingdom at precisely the spot where the kingdom began to fall.

His gospel of the Kingdom includes not only the twelve tribes of Israel but all the nations – symbolized by the “Galilee of the Nations.” Calling His first disciples, two fishermen on the Sea of Galilee, He appoints them to be “fishers of men” - gathering people from the ends of the earth.

They are to preach the gospel, Paul says in Sunday’s Epistle, to unite all peoples in the same mind and in the same purpose – in a worldwide kingdom of God.

By their preaching, Isaiah’s promise has been delivered. A world in darkness has seen the light. The yoke of slavery and sin, borne by humanity since time began, has been smashed.

And we are able now, as we sing in Sunday’s Psalm, to dwell in the house of the Lord, to worship Him in the land of the living.

Dr. Scott Hahn is professor of theology at Franciscan University at Steubenville, Ohio. He was formerly a Presbyterian minister who converted to Catholicism in 1986. You can spend the day with Dr. Hahn on January 29 at Light of Christ Catholic Church in Clearwater. Lighthouse Catholic Media has many of his talks on CD or for download.

The Gospel this Sunday

January 23, 2011
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 4:12-23

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested,
he withdrew to Galilee.
He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,
in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,
that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet
might be fulfilled:
Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles,
the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death
light has arisen.
From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father
and followed him.
He went around all of Galilee,
teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness among the people.

Read the first and second readings and the Responsorial Psalm
– United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

From Dr. Scott Hahn

This CD is now available from Lighthouse Catholic Media.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lend your light for the school fundraiser

Do you have glass votive candle holders, vases or hurricane lamps you'd be willing to donate for just one evening?

St. Raphael Catholic School needs these items for its Hot Havana Nights fundraiser in February. If you're willing to help, please send an e-mail to Anne Smith at

The gala event on Friday, February 25 will recreate the 1950s era of the Cuban capital's fabulous nightclubs and tropical splendor.

The event will be held at the restored 1926 Mirror Lake Lyceum in downtown St. Petersburg, courtesy of parishioners Cort and Sharon Taylor. The Mediterranean revival showplace features magnificent chandeliers, crystal and alabaster ornamentation and beautiful hardwood floors.

This is the school's largest fundraiser of the year. Individual tickets are $55 each, including dinner, beer and wine. A $130 Cuban Special package deal is available until January 28 and includes two tickets to the auction and a Poor Man's Raffle ticket.

The event has a Facebook event page and a Web site. Check each of them for more information about the fundraiser as it becomes available. The sites will be updated continually.
two tickets to the auction

Friday, January 14, 2011

Men's spiritual awakening at 6 a.m.

Parishioner Michael Fay invites all men of St. Raphael parish to participate in a men's spiritual awakening on Wednesday mornings.

The seven-week program is based on Father Robert Barron's DVD Seven Deadly Sins, Seven Lively Virtues. The program runs from January 19 through March 2. Participants will meet from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. Wednesdays in the St. Paul Catholic Church school cafeteria.

Coffee and continental breakfast will be available at 5:45 a.m. The program includes a 25-minute video and a 20-minute small group discussion.

St. Paul Catholic Church is at 1800 12 Street N. The cafeteria is around the block north of the church.

Anyone with questions can call Michael Fay at (727) 823-0880. You may confirm your attendance with Rob Hudson at Information sheets can be found on the Lighthouse Catholic Media table in the narthex at the church.

"Despite the hour, you'll be energized all day," says Michael.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time: The new exodus

By Dr. Scott Hahn

Jesus speaks through the prophet Isaiah in today’s First Reading.

He tells us of the mission given to Him by the Father from the womb: “‘You are My servant,’ He said to Me.”

Servant and Son, our Lord was sent to lead a new exodus – to raise up the exiled tribes of Israel, to gather and restore them to God. More than that, He was to be a light to the nations, that God’s salvation may reach to the ends of the earth (see Acts 13:46-47).

Before the first exodus, a lamb was offered in sacrifice and its blood painted on the Israelites’ door posts. The blood of the lamb identified their homes and the Lord “passed over” these in executing judgment on the Egyptians (see Exodus 12:1-23,27).

In the new exodus, Jesus is the “Lamb of God,” as John beholds Him in the Gospel today (see 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Our Lord sings of this in today’s Psalm. He has come, He says, to offer His body to do the will of God (see Hebrews 10:3-13).

The sacrifices, oblations, holocausts, and sin-offerings given after the first exodus had no power to take away sins (see Hebrews 10:4). They were meant not to save but to teach (see Galatians 3:24). In offering these sacrifices, the people were to learn self-sacrifice – that they were made for worship, to offer themselves freely to God and to delight in His will.

Only Jesus could make that perfect offering of himself. And through His sacrifice, He has given us ears open to obedience, made it possible for us to hear the Father’s call to holiness, as Paul says in today’s Epistle.

He has made us children of God, baptized in the blood of the Lamb (see Revelation 7:14). And we are to join our sacrifice to His, to offer our bodies - our lives - as living sacrifices in the spiritual worship of the Mass (see Romans 12:1).

Dr. Scott Hahn is professor of theology at Franciscan University at Steubenville, Ohio. He was formerly a Presbyterian minister who converted to Catholicism in 1986. You can spend the day with Dr. Hahn on January 29 at Light of Christ Catholic Church in Clearwater. Lighthouse Catholic Media has many of his talks on CD or for download.

Image: Apostle Paul, by El Greco, 1606

The Gospel this Sunday

January 16, 2011
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 3:13-17

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
He is the one of whom I said,
‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’
I did not know him,
but the reason why I came baptizing with water
was that he might be made known to Israel.”
John testified further, saying,
“I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven
and remain upon him.
I did not know him,
but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me,
‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”

Read the first and second readings and the Responsorial Psalm
– United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Altar servers: Trying and being reverent

By Bob Musselman

It was during 7:45 a.m. Sunday Mass, and I was the only server on duty. Thirteen years old, I had been up since 5 a.m., when my dad and I set out to deliver Sunday papers on my Dayton Daily News route. Toward the end of the homily I began to nod off.

“AHEM!” boomed Father Tom Meyer, right before the words “We believe in One God,” to start the creed, and I was jolted from my reverie.

I got a similar holy “ahem” in 1998, when I was called to become director of altar servers at St. Raphael’s. Father Ken Malley, the parochial vicar at the time, was happy to have a volunteer handle organizing, training and scheduling our huge team of youth altar servers. Father Meyer, and other good priests of my youth, had planted seeds that turned into service.

St. Raphael has one of the largest crews of youth altar servers in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. If you travel to other churches, as I often do, you’ll seldom if ever see as many servers in the sanctuary or as active in the Mass. At any given time there are nearly 100 servers signed up to serve on Sunday, representing nearly as many families. It must be the largest volunteer ministry in our parish.

I’m not really sure how it got that way. Other big churches with schools and lots of families don’t always have active server programs. I’m sure it has something to do with the Holy Spirit and the high standards set by our church leaders.

Monsignor Caverly, the first pastor I worked with, always valued the quantity and quality of our server crew. If kids feel more connected to the Mass, won’t vocations tend to follow? Won’t the parish be encouraged to see young men and women front and center in the Eucharistic celebration? I always thought he sent a strong, silent, subtle message (in typical Monsignor fashion). Father Sherwood has expressed the same support for an active server corps.

Great parents have a lot to do with the success of our server program. Competing with sports, academic activities and travel plans is not easy. So many St. Raphael parents make serving a priority. I’ve had parents say they’ve skipped a soccer tournament on a Sunday morning to make sure a serving assignment was fulfilled. That would be heresy in secular circles.

The program is not perfect. Kids make mistakes, act irreverently, act like kids, miss assignments. But I try to stress to adults who complain that kids will be kids, and parents are doing the best they can. These are the best and brightest children in our parish and we must be patient with them. In my 13 years, I’ve never had to “fire” a server for failure to do a good job. Patience is surely an important virtue when trying to mold the next generation of Catholics.

At our server meeting to begin each year, I always teach the kids what “ironic” means by describing the contrasting duality of their server chores: “Serving will be the most important thing you do all week, more important than school or chores or sports. But the ironic thing is that it doesn’t matter if you mess up or make a mistake. As long as you’re trying and being reverent it really doesn’t matter. Just do your best and God will be happy with your service.”

Bob Musselman directs the altar server ministry at St. Raphael Catholic Church. He wrote this especially for the Saint Raphael Messenger.

Photo: Bob Musselman as an altar server at 13 years old. | Photo courtesy of Bob Musselman

Altar servers: Teaching what 'service' really means
Altar servers of 2010, a photo review

Altar servers: Teaching what 'service' really means

Photo courtesy Bob Musselman

Off camera, there’s a gun pointed squarely at their heads.

The picture I’m talking about is of my four sons serving Christmas Mass in 2007. It’s one of the few times they all donned the server garb and helped out at Mass together.

The metaphoric gun was required because they all weren’t so enamored with the spectacle of four Musselman boys in the sanctuary. Bobby the eldest at 16, didn’t really see himself as a server anymore. In fact, he wasn’t technically even scheduled on Sundays. Even the 13-year-old, John, was not excited about being there.

My kids are no different than other kids who serve. Often, they don’t want to do it. Mass is too early, or too late, or inconvenient. They don’t want to wear good shoes and long pants to every Mass, in case they’re needed. They’re embarrassed to be seen by their flip flop-shod buddies.

But serving is an excellent opportunity to teach kids about what “service” really means. And it’s an opportunity for parents to, well, act like parents. Kids do not come out of the womb as selfless, hard working, humble saints.

I try to stress at our annual server parent meeting that we all have battles to fight with our kids, and we have to pick them carefully, looking for the “hill that’s worth dying for.”

To me, the lessons learned from altar serving—humility, service, reverence and teamwork—are well worth the effort. Even if it requires a little extra prodding early Sunday morning.

– Bob Musselman

Altar servers: Trying and being reverent
Altar servers of 2010, a photo review

Bob Musselman directs the altar server ministry at St. Raphael Catholic Church. He wrote this article especially for the Saint Raphael Messenger.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

St. Raphael altar servers of 2010

School auction evokes old Cuban era

Once upon a time in the 1950s BC (Before Castro), Havana was home to fabulous nightclubs and tropical splendor. For those who missed that era, the St. Raphael Catholic School Annual Auction in February will recall those storied days of yesteryear.

Parishioners Cort and Sharon Taylor and their partners at the Mirror Lake Lyceum are making that elegantly restored 1926 setting available for this year's event on Friday, February 25. The Lyceum, with its hardwood floors, magnificent chandeliers and crystal and alabaster ornamentation, is a Mediterranean revival showplace.

It is an opportunity step back in time for a relaxing and fun-filled evening while helping St. Raphael Catholic School during its largest fundraiser. Individual tickets are $55 each and includes dinner and beer and wine. A Cuban Special package deal is offered for $130 and includes two tickets to the auction and a Poor Man's Raffle ticket. The Cuban Special is available until January 28.

The evening includes live and silent auctions. Among live auction items available so far are four tickets to the Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs game in October and a Pilot for a Day flight in a single-engine Piper Saratoga from Albert Whitted Airport.

Silent auction items include a tree climbing party using the kinds of harnesses and rope systems that explorers use to zip through the canopies of rain forests, and a BMW Toddler Racer II for toddlers up to 3 years of age.

The event has a Facebook event page and a Web site. Check each of them for more information about the fundraiser as it becomes available. The sites will be updated continually.

Organizers are still accepting donations of items for the auctions and event advertising and sponsorships. If you have an item for the auctions, please contact Jenn Taylor at If you would like help sponsor the event, please contact Heidi Sutton at for more details.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Baptism of the Lord

The Baptism of Christ by Francesco Albani, painted 1630-35.

By Scott Hahn

Jesus presents himself for John's baptism in Sunday's Gospel – not because He is a sinner, but in obedience to God's design. He humbles himself, to take on the appearance of a sinner, so that we might be made righteous for God (see 2 Cor 5:21).

His baptism reveals that He is the Christ (literally, "anointed one") – the Spirit-endowed Servant promised by Isaiah in this Sunday's First Reading.

And his baptism marks the start of a new world, a new creation The Spirit descends upon Jesus, reminding us of the spirit that hovered like a dove ofver the face of the deep in creation (see Gen 1:2). As in the beginning, as the Jordan the Lord's majestic voice thunders above the waters.

As Peter preaches in Sunday's Second Reading, this baptism is a royal and priestly anointing. Through his anointing, Jesus is given the holy Spirit and power to fight the power of the devil.

He is revealed to be the fulfillment of God's preparations throughout Israel's history. He is "beloved son: give to Abraham (see Gen 22:2, 12, 26) and God's "first-born son," which is what He called Israel (see Exod 4:22-23). He is the divine son begotten by God, the everlasting heir promised to King David (see Psalm 2:7; 2 Sam 7:14). And he is, as Isaiah says, "a covenant of the people [Israel]" and "a light to the nations."

By his baptism he sanctified the waters of the Jordan and our baptismal watres. He opened the heavens to us and made it possible for he Spirit to be poured out upon us. In baptism, we are anointed with that same Spirit, mde beloved sons and daughters of God. Indeed, this is the meaning of Christians – literally "anointed ones."

We are the "sons of God" in this Sunday's Psalm – called to give glory to His name in His Temple. Let us pray that we always remain faithful to our calling as His children, that our Father might call us what he calls His Son – "my beloved ... in whom I am well pleased."

Dr. Scott Hahn is professor of theology at Franciscan University at Steubenville, Ohio. He was formerly a Presbyterian minister who converted to Catholicism in 1986. You can spend the day with Dr. Hahn on January 29 at Light of Christ Catholic Church in Clearwater. Lighthouse Catholic Media has many of his talks on CD or for download.

The Gospel this Sunday

January 9, 2010
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Matthew 3:13-17

Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan
to be baptized by him.
John tried to prevent him, saying,
“I need to be baptized by you,
and yet you are coming to me?”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us
to fulfill all righteousness.”
Then he allowed him.
After Jesus was baptized,
he came up from the water and behold,
the heavens were opened for him,
and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove
and coming upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens, saying,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Read the first and second readings and the Responsorial Psalm

– United States Conference of Catholic Bishops