Pastor Letter March 19, 2021

Dear Parish Family of Our Lady Star of the Sea,
    Our parish has had some negative publicity lately. May I bring you up to date? As you have likely seen or heard, Father Basil Akut, who has served here at Our Lady Star of the Sea, has been accused in a lawsuit of having an improper relationship with an adult woman. Although Father Basil denies the accusation, and should be considered innocent until proven guilty, he has voluntarily stepped away from the parish while the matter is investigated. The case has been referred to the District Attorney. Please keep both Father Basil and the woman who has made the allegation in your prayers.
      This is doubly painful for me; because it reopens an old wound. 4 years ago, a claim was brought to the archdiocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program(IRCP), alleging that nearly four decades ago I had committed an act of abuse with a minor. Under the archdiocesan policy at the time, and with the knowledge of the District Attorneys, allegations brought under the IRCP did not result in a priest’s immediate removal from the parish, and so I was permitted to remain a pastor while the matter was thoroughly investigated by law enforcement, independent forensic investigators, and ultimately, the archdiocesan lay review board. In the end, the allegation was found to be unsubstantiated, and the individual’s claim was denied.
       As has been made public, the same individual has filed a lawsuit against me under the Child Victims Act. Once again, I steadfastly deny the allegations. Because this matter has already been investigated and found to be unsubstantiated, I have been permitted to remain in my role as your pastor. I harbor no resentment or ill-will towards the individual who has made the allegation; and ask that you keep this person in your prayers as well.
       As we approach these final days of Lent, and look forward to Holy Week and Easter, let us unite with Jesus as we prepare to commemorate His passion, death, and glorious Resurrection.
       Faithfully in Christ,
  Father Thomas P. Devery, Pastor

Pastor Letter February 28, 2021

Dear Parish Family,

Welcome to the second week of Lent. I trust that you are being faithful to your Lenten promises. Faithful to whatever you are giving up or giving over to God during these forty days. As you move along in this Lenten season, I pray for you that it is a time of great spiritual engagement with God. I pray that whatever you have decided to do this Lent, that it is for your spiritual enrichment. I also pray that you are growing in your love for and service to our Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever you are giving up or giving over it needs to be something for your own ultimate benefit. These weeks of Lent are given to us so that we may grow in the love of God and realize how much God genuinely loves us. None of us is perfect. God knows that and is always there to help us move forward on our journey towards him.

Last week, I asked you to ask God what do you want me to do? Maybe you were able to do this and, in your prayer, you heard God speak to you about what He would like you to do. Move forward with that information and do the best you can. What God is asking can be very simple or complicated – it really all depends on how you are living your life. The bottom line is that God is with all of us offering whatever we need to get us through whatever challenges exist in our lives. The objective is to trust God and move forward with whatever He tells you in your prayer.

The Gospel today is a challenging one. The disciples – Peter, James, and John – who went with Jesus to the top of the mountain experienced something totally foreign to them. They actually saw Moses and Elijah on the mountain top. They also heard the voice of God when he said, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” With the utterance of these words, Moses and Elijah depart, leaving the three disciples alone with Jesus. From all that they have seen and heard, Peter, James, and John should have no doubt that Jesus is God’s Son. What remains for them to understand is how Jesus’ Transfiguration in glory is tied to his future death and Resurrection. To answer this quandary, Mark ends this piece of the Gospel with the words, “So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.”

We had a minor transfiguration this past week in the second -grade class from our School of Religion receiving their First Reconciliation. The joy of the Lord shines through them when they have understood and accept the merciful presence of the Lord in the absolution prayer. These “Little Sheep” remind us of the innocence and hope that Christ is willing to bring to all of us this Lent.

Every Sunday evening around 8PM my family and few close friends log on for a Family Zoom. My sister lives in Summerlin, Nevada which is within the city limits of Las Vegas. Their parish is Holy Spirit and it’s a brand new church, even larger than Our Lady Star of the Sea and they had a Lenten retreat day and as a parish they came up with a wonderful theme: Resurrecting Hope. They even had this made into cloth masks to remind themselves of the coming glory of the Lord. We certainly all need hope as we plod through winter slush and snow. May the Transfiguration of Jesus be real for each of us as we journey through Lent and prepare our hearts for the Sacrament of Confession. On the Monday of Holy Week, there will be a Lenten Reconciliation Time for confessions from 3-9PM. Also, every Saturday between 3:30 and through the two vigil Masses confessions will be heard in our church.

I pray that this upcoming week be filled with many blessings for you and your families. A continued blessed Lent to you all.

 

Father Tom Devery

Pastor Letter November 22

Dear Parish Family,

This week we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. Jesus came to usher in the Kingdom of God and Father Rohr, OFM reflects here just what this means as we end our liturgical year and prepare to meet our Lord at the end of our lives.

“Jesus announced, lived, and inaugurated for history a new social order. He called it the Reign or Kingdom of God and it became the guiding image of his entire ministry. The Reign of God is the subject of Jesus’ inaugural address (see Mark 1:15, Matthew 4:17, and Luke 4:14–30), his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7), and the majority of his parables. Once this guiding vision of God’s Will became clear to Jesus, which seems to have happened when he was about thirty and alone in the desert, everything else came into perspective. In fact, Matthew’s Gospel says, “From then onwards” (4:17), Jesus began to preach.

In order to explain this concept, it may be helpful to first say what it is not: the “Kingdom” is not synonymous with heaven. Many Christians have mistakenly thought that the Reign of God is “eternal life,” or where we go after we die. That idea is disproven by Jesus’ own prayer: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

“Thy Kingdom come” means very clearly that God’s realm is something that enters into this world, or, as Jesus puts it, “is close at hand” (Matthew 10:7). We shouldn’t project it into another world. What we discover in the New Testament, especially in Matthew’s Gospel, is that the Kingdom of God is a new world order, a new age, a promised hope begun in the teaching and ministry of Jesus—and continued in us.

I think of the Kingdom of God as the Really Real (with two capital Rs). That experience of the Really Real—the “Kingdom” experience—is the heart of Jesus’ teaching. It’s Reality with a capital R, the very bottom line, the pattern-that-connects. It’s the goal of all true religion, the experience of the Absolute, the Eternal, what is.

God gives us just enough tastes of God’s realm to believe in it and to want it more than anything. In the parables, Jesus never says the Kingdom is totally now or totally later. It’s always now-and-not-yet. When we live inside the Really Real, we live in a “threshold space” between this world and the next. We learn how to live between heaven and earth, one foot in both worlds, holding them precious together.

We only have the first fruits of the Kingdom in this world, but we experience enough to know that it’s the only thing that will ever satisfy us. Once we have had the truth, half-truths do not satisfy us anymore. In its light, everything else is relative, even our own life.”

On Thanksgiving Day, Mass will be offered at 9AM. The word “Eucharist” means thanksgiving. Please join us to give Thanks to God for all the blessings we have received from God this past year. It is good for our soul to give thanks especially in difficult times. As it says in the Psalms, “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love is everlasting.”

For our table to yours, blessings on your and your love ones.

Fr. Tom Devery

 

Pastor Letter October 4

Dear Parish Family,

October is a month dedicated to Our Blessed Mother Mary and the especially the Rosary. The Rosary is our weapon for peace. It is accompanying Mary was we encounter Jesus in his life, death and Resurrection. We pray the Hail Mary ten times in each decade. This allows us to meditate on the mystery of Joy, Light, Sorrow and Glory. Beginning with the Creed and the three Hail Mary’s for the virtues of Faith, Hope and Love; we are uniting ourselves more deeply into salvation history.

The Joyful Mysteries are: The Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel, the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, the Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, and the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple.

The Luminous Mysteries brings us to encounter Jesus in his public life: The Baptism of the Lord, The Miracle of the Wedding Feast of Cana, The Call of the Kingdom with it’s call the conversion and the Institution of the Eucharist as a sign of the Paschal Mystery.

The Sorrowful Mysteries plunges us into the suffering of Christ in His Passion: The Agony in the Garden, The Scourging at the Pillar, The Crowning of Thorns, the Carrying of the Cross and the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus.

The Glorious Mysteries focuses on the Redemption Christ has won for us. The Resurrection from the dead, The Ascension into heaven, The Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and The Coronation of Mary as Queen of heaven and earth.

During this month of October, the Church upholds many saints, whose lives are heroic examples of virtue, faith and discipleship. On October 1st we celebrate the Carmelite saint, Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Her “Little Way” of living in simplicity is renounced for growing in Holiness.

On October 4th is the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, He founded the Franciscan Order and is the patron for animals, ecology, all ministering with the poor. He revolutionized the 11th Century founding an order of Friars Minor, the Poor Clares and the Third Order of secular laypeople seeking to follow the Gospel in holy joy. Francis went so far as to speak with the Moslem Sultan and was admired for his dedication to God. Many other great saints will be remembering in the Church: The Holy Guardian Angels, Saint Teresa of Jesus, the Carmelite Reformer, Saint John Paul II.

A saint in the making has a quote filling us with hope, it’s almost prophetic and it comes from Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

The Church is like Noah’s arc that was full of both clean and unclean animals. It must have been an unholy smell, and yet it was carrying eight persons to salvation. The world today is tearing up the photographs of a good society, a good family, a happy individual personal life. But the Church is keeping the negatives. And when the moment comes when the world wants a reprint, we will have them.

I will end by asking that people who do come to attend Mass in person when wearing masks be sure that both the mouth and nose are covered. One can contaminate oneself by not covering the nose and just using the mask as a chin strap. When approaching the priest for reception of Holy Communion, please keep the mask on in place and when Jesus is place in your hand, turn away from the priest before receiving Him. Thank you for this. This recommendation came from some medical personnel who are watching and concerned that we are not unsafe and careless.

We apologize for not having a gathering for the blessing of animals this year. On Wednesday, weather permitting at 7PM in the rectory parking lot we will have a recitation of the rosary, a Mass and Anointing of the Sick. As in August we only ask is that you space yourselves 6 feet and bring your own folding chair. This will be a special Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

God bless and keep you safe.

Father Tom Devery

 

 

Pastor Letter September 6th

Dear Parish Family,

On this Labor Day weekend, we remember all the bread winners of every family and also those who have lost their jobs during this pandemic. We thank God for the gift of work and the God given abilities to glorify Him in what we do. Our work reminds us that we co-operators with God in the process of building up His kingdom on earth.

Last week, Jesus asked the question: What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his/ her soul. This week I would like to share with you Father Richard Roher’s reflection on the true self.

The thing that we have to face is that life is as simple as this. We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and God is shining through it all the time. This is not just a fable or a nice story, it is true. —Thomas Merton

I learned the terms “True Self” and “false self” from Thomas Merton (1915‒1968). These are words he used to clarify Jesus’ teaching of dying to self or “losing ourselves to find ourselves” (see Mark 8:35). Merton rightly recognized that it was not the body that had to “die” but the “false self” that we do not need anyway. The false self—or what I am calling lately the “separate self,” disconnected from Divine Love—is simply a substitute for our deepest truth. It is a useful and even needed part of ourselves, but it is not all of us; the danger is when we think we are only our small or separate self. Our attachment to the false self must die to allow the True Self—our basic and unchangeable identity in God—to live fully and freely.

Thomas Merton said that the True Self should not be thought of as anything different than life itself—but not my little life—the Big Life. [1] Franciscan philosopher John Duns Scotus (c. 1266‒1308) said that the human person is not different or separate from Being itself. This is not the little being that you and I get attached to and take too seriously, but Universal Being, “the One in whom we live, and move, and have our being,” as Paul put it to the Athenians (Acts 17:28). We Franciscans call this “the univocity of all being” (speaking of all beings with one consistent voice), “that all may be one” (John 17:21).

When you’ve gotten too comfortable with your separate self and you call it Life, you will get trapped at that level. You will hold onto it for dear life—because that’s the only life you think you have! Unless someone tells you about the Bigger Life, or you’ve had a conscious connection with the deepest ground of your being, there’s no way you’re going to let go of your separate self. But your attachment to that separate self must “die” or “the single grain of wheat remains just a single grain” (John 12:24).

Your True Self is Life and Being and Love. Love is what you were made for and love is who you are. When you live outside of Love, you are not living from your true Being or with full consciousness. The Song of Songs says that “Love is strong as Death. . . . The flash of it is a flash of fire, a flame of YHWH” (8:6, Jerusalem Bible). Your True Self is a little tiny flame of this Universal Reality that is Life itself, Consciousness itself, Being itself, Love itself, Light and Fire itself, God’s very self. – Father Richard Roher, OFM

Next weekend Our Lady Star of the Sea School will celebrate First Holy Communion on September 12-13. May God bless our new 3rd graders who have waited a long time for this special day. We are sad that the restrictions of our church in place limiting the number of people who can attend and yet with live streaming, family and friends can join in offering Masses with them. Please continue to pray for all our teachers and students as we return to school for the 2020 -2021 academic year.

Father Tom Devery

 

 

Pastor Letter August 31

Dear Parish Family,

As we round out the last licks of summer, we listen to the lament of Jeremiah the Prophet this Sunday. He was indeed reluctant to become the mouth- piece of God, speaking His word to the people whether they wanted to hear it or not. His famous quote, “You duped me O Lord, and I let myself be duped”. Indeed, he suffered greatly from the reaction of people to God’s message and yet he acknowledged that although he did not want to speak in God’s name anymore; he recognized the deep fire within his heart burning. This dilemma is shared by many people these days. We are tired of this hand washing, mask wearing, socially distant world. We find ourselves still anxious and frustrated with the fall out from Covid-19. And yet we strive to keep our faith in Him high and be faithful during this hard summer. When the chips are down, we can repeat what Father Basil says all the time: “God is good, all the time and all the time, God is good

Saint Paul also acknowledges the suffering and toll it takes to be faithful in difficult time. “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, and pleasing and perfect.” The key here is discernment. I believe we need to ask the Lord for wisdom and understanding to live through these days. We don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of anxiety, or lashing anger, or biting criticism of everything. It seems its so easy to react rather than respond. Prayer and trust in Jesus sharpens the saw of discernment to cut through the garbage of the news we ingest.

This Sunday’s Gospel reading is from Saint Matthew. Saint Peter answered the question correctly last Sunday to Jesus, “Who do you say I am” and now this week once again he blows it. He refuses to accept Jesus’ prediction of His passion and death. Peter exclaims, “God forbid, Lord!” How true to form we are to this attitude when we are asked to sacrifice and deal with loss and linger with suffering. Taking up our cross is extremely difficult and yet isn’t there down the line, maybe years later untold gifts in what we have endured. It’s like Steven Colbert, late night talk show host on CBS, admitting that he nearly lost his faith and his mind when his dad and two brothers were killed in an airplane crash. That tragedy broke his heart and it took a long while to grieve and deal with that loss but then he slowly began to discover all the blessings that God had given him through that experience. “Every time you open up a present, it doesn’t have to be good”. This paradox comes many times in our lives and when we embrace the cross, and take up our crosses, we discover the face of Jesus.

Many people are reevaluating what’s essential and important in their lives during this pandemic. If you lost your job, or a loved one and finances are hurting, can we trust that we will come through this bitter or better. I am encountering people coming back to the Sacrament of Penance after many years. It’s certainly a time for repentance, soul searching and finding the God of the cross and Resurrection, who never left us. What a gift we have in the merciful touch of Jesus. May I invite you to prepare for this upcoming academic year with a clean slate and renew and refresh your soul. Let the new year begin with Jesus leading the way.

Blessings and Peace,

Father Tom Devery

22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Shared Homily

Pastor Letter August 23

Dear Parish Family,

We are in the home stretch before school opens and there is so much happening these days. I made a video update for our website and invite you all to review it.  I am posting the Pandemic Mass Schedule for the month of September. Weekday Masses will remain at 9AM and Saturday / Sunday Schedule will be 9AM and 11AM and 7PM. Baptisms will resume at 2PM with a maximum of 6 babies and their families.

After every Mass, Funeral, Baptism, Memorial Mass, and Wedding, we sanitize the Church. We are able to do that in about fifteen minutes. There is a jet pack sprayer that sanitizes the pews and the doors of our church.

Last week there was a meeting with all the priests on Zoom in which Cardinal Dolan and the Chancery Officials told us that we can now have a maximum of 33% attendance at Mass. During this pandemic the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and Holydays is suspended. We do encourage you to attend if you are able. Many people have been able to tune in on our Live Stream for Mass. Every time we offer Mass we recite the prayer for Spiritual Communion and for all who are self- quarantined, or frail or feel in any way that they are compromised the graces of attending Mass and the reception of Holy Communion is available to you; even you cannot physically be present to receive. Again, thank you for your generous support to our parish during this time.

We will continue to have Shared Homilies and Updates in video on our website.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is available every Saturday from 3:30 until 5PM. If anyone is in need of Reconciliation or the Sacrament of the Sick, they may call the rectory for an appointment. Several people have been preparing for surgery and we priests have met you in the barbecue area outside our rectory for the reception for the Anointing of the Sick. Also, we have been attending to those who are homebound.

The School and Gym is sanitized and looks like a hospital.  There are no posters, papers and with desks set six feet apart and spreading out over the gymnasiums, O’Mara Hall and the D’Amato Room, we are going to be in good shape in September. The student enrollment is up to 650 students and our teachers have been given the green light should they wish to wear scrubs. Having extra people on staff to take incoming temperatures, wipe down door handles and surfaces throughout the day is part of the regiment to keep the school squeaky clean. This all takes time, given the amount of children with blended learning and the volume of space to be cleansed each day. .

We are sad that we cannot have in classroom Religious Education classes during this pandemic. Having remote learning on line is no substitute for the faith taught and caught by our dedicated catechists. Hopefully this will only be one semester.

In his book, Who Do You That I Am, Cardinal Dolan writes about the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

I once met a group of young people years ago and posited this question: “Who do you think has a more exalted uplifting noble view of sex: Playboy founder Hugh Hefner or the Catholic Church?

          Everyone has a different viewpoint. But after about an hour: a consensus seemed to have developed that Hugh Hefner’s promiscuous “anything goes” mentality about sex had led to disastrous consequences, such as the objectification of women, the reduction of sex to a contact sport instead of an act of love, abortion, venereal disease, AIDS, divorce, and the disappearance of reverence, mystery and romance from sex.

          In the Bible, God compared His love for us to the passionate attraction of a young man courting a beautiful young woman, and He told us that His relationship with us is as strong, romantic, and tender as that between a husband and a wife. Saint Paul tells us that Christ loves His Church (us) just as a groom loves his bride.

          The group ended agreeing: If you want a freeing exciting, respectful, uplifting approach to sex, look to the Church and not Hugh Hefner!

          Sexual love between a man and a woman in marriage is an actual hint of the love God has for us and as such is a tremendous gift. This gift is freeing, not enslaving, selfless, not selfish, giving life, not just satisfying and urge. As with any gift, it requires care, reverence, and proper use.

          I want to honor all couples who are a Sacramental witness to the love of God in this world. Be blessed during these remaining days of summer!

Father Tom Devery

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time Shared Homily

August 19th Update