Pastor's page

Third Sunday of Easter

April 15, 2018

 

My friends,

At a recent meeting with our Bishop, he shared with me all the wonderful things he has heard about our parish from non-parishioners.  Evidently, they visited our parish and were so impressed, they had the share their joy with Bishop Parkes.  They commented how warm and inviting our community is, the number and diversity of our vibrant ministries, our care and generous concern for those in need, and how beautifully we celebrate the Sacred Liturgies. 

Thankfully, this person’s experience is not the exception.  Each week I receive emails, letters, and cards from people who have visited us.  One woman recently wrote: “I can’t say thank you enough for all I have received spiritually and mentally from your whole Church while visiting my mother.  The people, your Church, the Masses, the singing, the shrines outside, the entire atmosphere is wonderful.  You give the joy of Jesus.”  I truly feel blest to be a part of this parish family.  I hope you do too!

What is our secret?  It is YOUR openness to the Holy Spirit, YOUR love for the Lord, and the way YOU share His love and mercy with others.  Thank YOU for your “yes” to the Lord!

Can we do better?  Certainly!  The strategic plan for our parish is now 5 years old and the Pastoral Council is discerning how God is calling us to grow.  For example, almost 4,000 people attend Mass each weekend and more than 8,000 attended Mass on Easter Sunday, yet almost 20,000 people are registered in our parish.  How can we touch those members of our community that rarely attend Mass?  There are almost 3,700 children registered in our parish yet less than 800 are involved in our Faith Formation program.  How can we ensure that no child is left behind?  While we are blest with almost a thousand volunteers, they are still a small percentage of the total community.  How can we invite more to participate in ministry?  In our second reading, the early church community was known for its care for those in need.  To date, less than 700 families have chosen to donate to the Annual Pastoral Appeal (APA).  How can we encourage everyone to participate in supporting the charitable works of our diocese?

I don’t have the answers.  That is one of the reasons why I’m depending on the wisdom of the Pastoral Council and our talented staff.  But I can tell you that an important part of the solution is YOU!  1) Continue to share your faith with others by the way you live your lives.  People see your care and concern, your joy and peace ... and they are touched!  2) Invite others to join you for Mass and other Church functions.  The worst they can say is “no.”  But who knows?  Yours could be the invitation they have been waiting for!  3) Pray.  Let us pray for our parish community.  That we may continue to model the example of the early Christians by our devotion to the Sacred Scripture, Holy Eucharist, community life, and extending God’s mercy to those in need.  May we live our faith!

Growing together in Christ,

Fr. Bill Swengros, Pastor

 

Divine Mercy Sunday

April 8, 2018

Alleluia!  He is risen!

My friends,

Today is the day of Mercy!  Our Lord told Saint Faustina: “My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day are open all the divine floodgates through which graces flow. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate my love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy” (Diary, 699).

Today is the day of Mercy!  Today we are called to turn to the Lord, to bask in the rays of his mercy, to be immersed in his merciful love!  One of the surest means of opening ourselves to his mercy is through the praying of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy before the Eucharistic Lord.  In today’s bulletin, we’ve included how to pray the chaplet of Divine Mercy, given by the Lord to St. Faustina.  I’m sure you will find it to be an incredibly powerful prayer.  Our Lord promised: “Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death.  Priests will recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation.  Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from my infinite mercy.  I desire that the whole world know my infinite mercy.  I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in my mercy” (Diary, 687).

Today is the day of Mercy!  Mercy, like love, is empty if it is not shared.  Saint Faustina recommends at least one act of mercy a day.  It could be through a “merciful word, by forgiving and by comforting; secondly, if you can offer no word, then pray – that too is mercy; and thirdly, deeds of mercy” (Diary, 1158).  The seven corporal acts of mercy are: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, and bury the dead.  The seven spiritual acts of mercy are: to admonish the sinner, instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, bear wrongs patiently, forgive all injuries, and pray for the living and the dead.  Let us do an act of mercy today!

Today is the day of Mercy!  May our merciful God shower his blessings upon you and your loved ones!  And may we grow together in Christ!

Fr. Bill Swengros,Pastor

 

Easter Sunday of the Lord's Resurrection

April 1, 2018

Alleluia!!  He is Risen!!  Alleluia!!

Happy Easter!

Welcome! Whether you are a first time guest or a parishioner for many years, we warmly welcome you to this celebration of Easter joy and we thank you for choosing St. Paul Catholic Church as your spiritual home.  Your presence is an eloquent sign of your love for the Lord, gratitude for the many blessings received, and your desire to grow ever deeper in faith.  May God bless you!

This past year has been very troubling for many of us.  Many feel angry, frustrated, disillusioned, and discouraged by what is happening in the world, our country, and even in our own homes.  Easter reminds us that Jesus Christ was victorious over sin and death.  He is the antidote to prejudice and violence.  He is the Light of the World and Hope of the Nations.  When all seems lost and hopeless, Jesus reminds us that goodness and truth will triumph.  Our task is simply to have faith, to trust in Him and to be merciful to others as He is merciful.

Easier said than done, right?  That is why we have Church.  Church is not an institution.  It is a family of people like you and me ... imperfect, broken, sinners ... one and all.   Although we are all fallen, we are also willing to pick ourselves up and to try our best to follow the Lord and to help one another, especially those most forsaken.  Church is a family where all are welcome, and I mean ALL.  It is a place where people care for the poorest, most vulnerable, most oppressed, most broken.  In our parish, we are blessed with over 80 ministries which strive to make the difference in the world through worship, faith development and sharing, community building, and reaching out to help those most in need.  I encourage you to get involved and if we are missing a ministry you are passionate about, please help us form one!  We care!

Next weekend is Divine Mercy Sunday when our Lord promised to St. Faustina that the floodgates of His mercy would be opened to all who seek it.  He asks only that we ask for His mercy, be merciful to others, and completely trust in His mercy.  This week, we will offer the Novena at 3pm, the hour of mercy, in our beautiful Santo Niño Shrine.  The Novena will culminate next Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday, with confessions at 2pm in the Family Center and Mass at 3pm followed by the chaplet before the Eucharistic Lord.  Please be sure to come.  For more information, please visit www.stpaulchurch.com or download our parish app.

I believe, with all my heart, that this Easter, our Lord is inviting you to grow in faith.  If you aren’t already doing so, pray every day, fully participate in Mass at least every weekend, and faithfully and regularly meditate on God’s Word.  Become involved in our parish.  If there is anything we can do to help you, please let me know.

On behalf of Fr. Bob, Fr. Victor, our deacons and religious, the entire staff of our parish and preschool, and our faithful volunteers, I would like to wish you and your loved ones a most Blessed Easter and a Joyous Easter Season.  May God bless you!

Growing together as disciples of Christ!

Fr. Bill Swengros

Pastor

 

 

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

March 25, 2018

My Dear Friends,

Welcome!  Whether you are one of the founding families who faithfully prayed this parish into existence 51 years ago, or if you are here for the first time today, welcome!  Today we celebrate Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion and begin our annual pilgrimage through Holy Week.

Our Liturgy begins with triumphant songs of praise as we wave our palm branches high. We joyfully welcome Jesus our Messiah into the Jerusalem of our hearts.  Yet, mere minutes later we hear ourselves joining the crowd with fist raised high crying out “Crucify him!”  “Crucify him!”  Standing vigil as the One who loves us so much, He became one with us in all things but sin. He surrendered His life for us on the altar of the cross to atone for our sins so that we might be liberated from death to live eternally with Him in heaven.  O how great is our merciful Lord!

I invite you to join me this Holy Week on a journey of faith sure to change your life.

Monday of Holy Week: Come to the Seder Supper at 6:30pm in the Family Center.  You can never fully appreciate the miracle of the Mass unless you understand the wonder of its roots: the Jewish Passover Service.  Please call the parish office for reservations.

Tuesday of Holy Week: All the priests of our diocese will gather with Bishop Parkes in the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle in St. Petersburg for the Chrism Mass at 11:30am.  During this Mass, the Bishop will bless all the oils used in our Sacred Liturgies and will invite the priests to renew their commitment to serve God and you, His people.  Please come!

Wednesday of Holy Week: You are invited to journey with the Lord and our Amor de Jesus Grupo de Oración on the Via Crucis to Golgotha beginning at 7pm in our beautiful Santo Niño Shrine.  It is a very moving drama which you will never forget!

Holy Thursday: The Sacred Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7pm.  Tonight we remember the institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood and the Lord’s commandment for us to serve one another.  Afterwards there will be Eucharistic Adoration until midnight in our “Garden of Repose.”  Come and adore the Lord!  (For more details about today, please see this bulletin.)

Good Friday: Today we remember the suffering and death of Christ on this day of fasting and abstinence.  Stations of the Cross are at noon with our teens and at 9pm on the Peace Path (bring a candle!).  The Passion of the Lord is celebrated at 3, 5 (Spanish), 7 (choir), 7:30 (Portuguese).

Holy Saturday: Today we wait at the tomb of Christ until the Great Easter Vigil at 8pm.  This Mass is the central liturgy of our tradition as welcome the Risen Lord into our midst!  Note: there will NOT be 5:30pm or 7:30pm Vigil Mass.  (For more details on this day, please see this bulletin.)

Easter Sunday: Come join us as we celebrate the Risen Lord.  Masses are at 6am (NEW), 7:30am, 9am (Church and Family Center), 10:45am (Church and Family Center), 12:30pm (English in Church and Portuguese in Family Center), 2pm (Spanish) and 5:30pm!  Come and bring your friends!  Additional parking is available south of PDQ at the Medical Center.

This week is a wonderful opportunity to grow in God’s grace.  May the Lord bless you and your loved ones!

Fr. Bill Swengros, Pastor

 

 

Check out our Easter Highlights!

 

 

New online Bible Study 

with Fr. Bill  

For all Facebook and website followers.  We have started reading the Gospel of Matthew and Jon Leonetti's The Art of Getting Over Yourself and why you'll be happier when you do!

 

Online Book Study with Father Bill We are studying Jon Leonetti’s book “The Art of Getting Over Yourself and why you’ll be happier when you do.”  one chapter every three or four days. If you’re interested in joining this study, be sure to send Fr. Bill a friend request on Facebook. Free copies of the book are available in the narthex of St. Paul Catholic Church, Tampa. 

 

Online Giving

Online Giving

Secure and Convenient Donate now!