It’s Tuesday morning, August 13th, two days before the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Last evening we had our monthly Eucharistic Devotion ending with Benediction. Together, we reflected on Pope Benedict XVI’s words on Mary’s relationship with the Eucharist.  Benedict writes, “Mary of Nazareth . . . is the model for each of us, called to receive the gift that Jesus makes of himself in the Eucharist.”  I personally find our time together on those 2nd Monday nights peaceful and life-giving.  Won’t you consider joining us as you are able—just 30 minutes to bask in God’s presence.September 9th is our next service.

Our 30th Annual Vacation Bible School is now history!  From everything I witnessed it was a grand success.  Thursday evening was the closing and the children presented a program of inspirational music; yes, even the little preschoolers.  I believe I heard this was one of the largest groups of attendees.  I was impressed when the final “act” of the program featured a nice size group of junior high students.  I participated in the event on Sunday and Monday nights, but never saw these older students. They were in another part of the church enjoying activities more geared to their age. 

Immanuel United Church of Christ has been our regular site for several years now.  Pastor Dan Smith and his staff are outstanding hosts.  While the children were busy with their activities, I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Pastor Dan and some of his community leaders about all sorts of things.  Dan invited me to go sometime for a ride with him on his Harley.  He and his wife love to go for long rides.  If our own 88-year-old Franciscan Fr. Tom Speier can parachute out of a plane, which he recently did, I can surely enjoy a ride on a Harley.  A huge amount of work went into planning the week’s activities.  I am especially grateful to our DFF Colleen Gerke who, along with folks from Immanuel, spearheaded this event.  I understand Colleen wrote the script for the week’s educational components. Thanks to the following parishioners who helped ensure the success of the week: Deacon John Gerke, Mandy Geraci, Mandy Balash, Joan Miller, Cathy Wilson, Karen Hatfield, Earl and Sajah Woods, Sue Friedmann, Theresa Strotman, RenelynSturgeon, Deacon Dave and Kathy Harcourt and Jessica Terry.  I was given the privilege of being Jesus in the first night’s skit; on the second night, I played the “priest” who saw a beaten-up beggar (Pastor Dan) lying on the side of the road and who crossed to the other side.  Shame on me!

This weekend we welcome our school community to a special Mass, a prelude to Wednesday’s start of the academic year. I understand that we       will have close to 350 students—record setting! Principal Jeff Eiser and his devoted staff are to be commended for making St. Clement School so successful.  The whole parish can be very proud. I want to offer a special thanks to our maintenance staff under Greg Vonder Meulen’s leadership who has prepared the school beautifully for the new year.  Welcome back, teachers and students!

Let’s together celebrate our wise and compassionate Fr. Jim Van Vurst, OFM who has moved to St. John the Baptist Friary in Sharonville. Next weekend after each of the Masses, at which Fr. Jim will preside, we will have receptions in his honor.  We friars had a farewell party last night (Monday, August 12th).  God bless our holy brother in this next chapter of his life’s adventure!