This weekend is priesthood Sunday. It is an opportunity for the Roman Catholic Church to pray and recognize the ministerial priesthood. The priesthood in America faces great challenges such as an aging clergy and decline in the number of vocations, as well as, a declining number of priesthood ordinations that is not making up the difference with retiring or dying priests. Some priests are running two, three, and even four parishes as a pastor and in some cases do not have an associate pastor to help them. Some priests have additional responsibilities in their diocese, and still run a parish. The priests need the prayers and support of the faithful. Prayers are needed for the blessings of a priests’ ministry, and that the priest work to maintain their spirituality and their health. The priest celebrates Weekend Masses, Daily Masses, Funeral Masses, Wedding Masses, offers the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and the Sacrament of Anointing the Sick at any time of the day. The priest also offers the Sacrament of Baptism for infants and adults. The priest is also a Pastoral Counselor to the faithful and is also a Spiritual Director for those in need. The priests are also human beings with personal struggles and feelings just like the faithful. Priests are not perfect like Jesus’ first twelve Apostles, but strive to serve to the best of their abilities with the challenges of their ministerial duties. I have been a priest for 14 years since 2002, and St. James Church is my seventh overall parish assignment and currently my third as Pastor. It has been and amazing, interesting, and challenging life’s journey. Please pray for the priests and please pray for me. May my priesthood and my brother priests’ ministry bring the Lord Jesus to those in need, and that we persevere in the vocation that the Lord has called us to serve in His Name.
This weekend is our parish “homecoming” weekend! We welcome back to St. James any former parishioners, or former alumni of the parish school or Bishop Byrne High School. For 86 years St. James parish has been a church of prayer and faith formation St. James parish started during a period of hardship, suffering, and misery in our country when the great depression hit. With faith, hope and courage, the new young and first pastor Fr. James Kirwin, and the first parishioners of St. James Church persevered and pressed forward. In time the parish grew and became a significant presence of Christian faith, as well as, a place of spiritual and intellectual formation, here in the City of Port Arthur. The parish community and surrounding neighborhoods have significantly changed for the last forty years, but St. James Church still stands as a landmark on Gulfway Drive. Many souls have received the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist and many weddings, as well as, funerals here at St. James. Our parish has produced 25 vocations to the priesthood, three of them received the Sacrament of Holy orders here at St. James. I hope and pray that Almighty God blesses our “homecoming” weekend and especially bless the souls who will join us for prayer and fellowship. May the souls of the faithful departed, the clergy, the religious, the laity who have been at one time a part of our parish, rest in peace.
I just wanted to share with as to where I was the weekend of October 8-9. I was in Corpus Christi, Texas, to celebrate the Wedding Mass of Graciela Canales and William Holloway. Graciela and I were classmates at the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas, in the late 1990s. The wedding took place at the Most Precious Blood of Jesus parish. It was a newer and beautiful Catholic Church, and they have over 2,500 registered parishioners and six Masses on the weekend, and two daily Masses. They have a Pastor, an Associate Pastor, and five Deacons. The Pastor, Fr. Bob Dunn, is a wonderful example of a Catholic priest who is full of the joy of the Gospel. It was a beautiful wedding liturgy that truly conveyed the love of God present and the humble, simplicity of the liturgy. On Sunday, I was blessed and honored to celebrate the 7:30 am Mass at Corpus Christi Cathedral. The Cathedral is a beautiful historical house of worship and its congregation was very friendly. I was thankful to stay at Christ the King parish with Beaumont native Fr. Michael Slovak, S.O.L.T. and the Trinitarian fathers stationed there and I appreciate their wonderful hospitality. It was a blessed weekend to spend in this beautiful city on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. Please remember Mr. & Mrs. William and Graciela Holloway who now begin their lives as husband and wife and let us pray for our married couples. Let us also pray for the clergy, religious and laity of the Diocese of Corpus Christi.
I would like to thank those who offered prayers, offered cards, and extended good wishes to me as I celebrated my birthday this past week. I am very grateful and thankful! The Gospel of Luke this weekend refers to the one out of ten people who returned to Jesus to offer thanksgiving for healing him of the dreadful disease of leprosy. Only one returned! Do we truly have a heart and an attitude of thanksgiving to God for all of the many blessings He has bestowed upon us? How do we truly show our thanks and appreciation to God? I am personally thankful for my priesthood, being pastor of my home parish here at St. James Church, for my dedicated staff, and for the benefactors and stewards in our parish. We must acknowledge in thanksgiving and gratitude for what God has done for us, and for what God is continuing to do for us. I hope and pray that our parish foster’s a spirit and attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude to Almighty God. Let us never take anything for granted, especially for God hearing prayers and for blessing them!
Rev. David Edwards
Pastor, St. James Catholic Church