Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Father Tim's Homily: In service to others

Father Tim Sherwood's homily for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time at St. Raphael Catholic Church in St. Petersburg, Florida, delivered on Sunday, October 18, 2015. Video by T. Allan Smith. Additional video by Niki Smith. Audio recording by Jeff Keller. Theme music: Deliberate Thoughts by Kevin MacLeod.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Help your poor ole pastor out with the Annual Pastoral Appeal

Fr. Tim Sherwood, pastor of St. Raphael Catholic Church in St. Petersburg, Florida, makes a final push for the 2015 Annual Pastoral Appeal, the Diocese of St. Petersburg's assessment to churches in the diocese for operating funds for the year. Audio by Jeff Keller. Photos by Jane Winstead. Edited by T. Allan Smith

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Fr. Kevin broadcasts live from the Holy Land over Periscope

Fr. Kevin and a group including Jack and Lisa Lyons and many other St. Raphael parishioners are on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. On Wednesday morning Eastern Daylight Time, Fr. Kevin began a series of live streaming broadcasts from Jerusalem. Above you can watch the third in the series of broadcasts. Fr. Kevin will continue them throughout the 10-day trip. You can follow Fr. Kevin live as he sends out his reports on Periscope. Search for Franciscan Friar or @FrKevinOFM. You also can see Fr. Kevin's broadcast on katch.me/FrKevinOFM. The pilgrimage will include all the important biblical sites in Israel.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Blessing of the Pets 2015 at St. Raphael Catholic Church

Photo by T. Allan Smith

Under cloudy skies, Fr. Tim Sherwood and Fr. Kevin Mackin, OFM, blessed the pets of parishioners at St. Raphael Catholic Church on Sunday, October 4, to mark the Feast of St. Francis. As the ceremony ended, the rain started and everyone rushed for cover. The article below appeared on AmericanCatholic.org and in a Franciscan newsletter.

By Fr. Kevin Mackin, OFM

As autumn arrives, people in various places may notice something odd.

A procession of animals, everything from dogs and cats to hamsters and even horses, is led to churches for a special ceremony called the Blessing of Pets.

This custom is conducted in remembrance of St. Francis of Assisi’s love for all creatures.
  Francis, whose feast day is October 4, loved the larks flying about his hilltop town. He and his early brothers, staying in a small hovel, allowed themselves to be displaced by a donkey.

Francis wrote a Canticle of the Creatures, an ode to God’s living things. “All praise to you, Oh Lord, for all these brother and sister creatures.” And there was testimony in the cause for St. Clare of Assisi’s canonization that referred to her little cat!

That there are today over 62 million cats in the U.S. attests to the continuing affection we have for our furry, feathered or finned friends. We've even had a cat called Socks in the White House. Other popular presidential pets range from Abraham Lincoln’s Fido to Lyndon Johnson’s be a
gles, named Him and Her.

For single householders, a pet can be a true companion. Many people arrive home from work to find a furry friend overjoyed at their return. Many a senior has a lap filled with a purring fellow creature.

The bond between person and pet is like no other relationship, because the communication between fellow creatures is at its most basic. Eye-to-eye, a man and his dog, or a woman and her cat, are two creatures of love.

No wonder people enjoy the opportunity to take their animal companions to church for a special blessing. Church is the place where the bond of creation is celebrated.

At Franciscan churches, a friar with brown robe and white cord often welcomes each animal with a special prayer. The Blessing of Pets usually goes like this:

“Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired St. Francis to call all of them his brothers and sisters. We ask you to bless this pet. By the power of your love, enable it to live according to your plan. May we always praise you for all your beauty in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.”

As the prayer is offered, the pet is gently sprinkled with holy water. Believe it or not, most pets receive this sacramental spritz with dignity, though I must admit I have seen some cats flatten their ears a bit as the drops of water lightly pelt them.

But the owner is happy, and who knows what spiritual benefits may result?

Usually the Blessing of Pets is held outdoors. But I remember it rained one year, and all were invited inside St. Stephen’s Church in Manhattan. It was quite a sight to see pairs of creatures—one human, one animal—sitting in the pews. The pastor joined right in with his beagle. Noah’s Ark was never like this!

Some people criticize the amount and cost of care given to pets. People are more important, they say. Care for poor people instead of poodles. And certainly our needy fellow humans should not be neglected.

However, I believe every creature is important. The love we give to a pet, and receive from a pet, can draw us more deeply into the larger circle of life, into the wonder of our common relationship to our Creator.