Deeper Meaning of Lent

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lenten Season. On Ash Wednesday we receive the Ashes that are made from burning the previous year’s palms. There is therefore continuity from one year to another. But the deeper meaning of Lent is found in the words that the priest or the minister of the ashes uses.

There are two formulas. The first one is the ancient formula: “Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return.” (Gen 3:19). A woman who had been away from Church for many years came for Ash Wednesday and as she received the ashes when she heard those words of the priest she was in shock. After Mass the priest heard the woman complain to another woman saying, “why would the priest say such a terrible thing!” So the  priest went over and explained to her that these words are taken from the scripture and that is the truth, that God created us out of the dust and some day we shall die and return to our maker. Ash Wednesday reminds us that the time God has given us here on earth will come to an end. Life is short and we need to be prepared.

The second formula helps us to prepare ourselves. “Repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mk 1:15) These words of Jesus underline the urgency of preparedness; to repent of our sins and believe in the loving mercy and compassion of Jesus Christ who is always ready to receive us and forgive us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Relativism and individualism have set in so much that the sense of sin seems to have no place in us. That however, does not do away with our sinful condition. Ash Wednesday invites us back to normalize our relationship with God through the Sacrament of Confession. “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves.” (1 Jn 1:8) “Behold now is a very acceptable time; behold now is the time of salvation.”

In the coming weeks we shall reflect more as we look on the three pillars of the discipline of Lent: almsgiving, prayer and fasting. So stay tuned.  

Monsignor John S. Mbinda

The OCC will Benefit us all

The question I keep hearing with regard to the capital campaign is: “How will the One Community Center benefit me and my family?” Thank God, we have a majority of parishioners who know how this works. When it comes to offering our treasure for God’s work, we do that not just for ourselves, but as we say in the prayer for our capital campaign “we fully invest ourselves in attaining the goal of our capital campaign with loving generosity for You and future generations.” When completed, the One Community Center will serve as a space where you and your family will be nourished spiritually and made more powerful witnesses of the Gospel; a placed that will serve as an over flow during our major feast days like Christmas and Easter; a place for our parish event celebrations; a place where workshops and retreats will be conducted, all for the benefit of all parishioners. In brief there are many benefits for you and the whole parish. The OCC will benefit us all. So, get involved.

The parishioners who built our present magnificent place of worship invested a lot for themselves and us of today. Some of these parishioners are still with us and proud to have made their contribution for the building of our present worship space. These are the parishioners who understand how it works. I must add that there is another category of parishioners who have come forward without hesitation. These are parishioners with below middle-class income supporting the capital campaign mainly out of gratitude for what God has given them. To these we are most grateful.

For those who still hesitate for one reason or another, our leadership including myself are available to respond to your questions. Some parishioners have given good suggestions for capital campaign options, for example envelopes at the back to put in their weekly One Starbucks Coffee equivalent or more. We are exploring this and other possibilities and we will get back with clear proposals. Meanwhile I urge those who still have pledge cards to complete them and place them in the box at the back of the church or mail them or drop them into our parish locked mail box.

Monsignor John S. Mbinda

OCC Capital Campaign: What We Need to Do

Last Sunday we projected three slides that show that we have so far raised $1.6 million towards the required $2.5 million by the Diocese in order to proceed with construction. You can see that we have raised more than half of what we need. This was done in six weeks during which 400 households made their pledges. That is only 30% of all households. If the remaining 800 household come forward with their pledges, we will achieve the goal of $2.5 million in pledges. The Diocese will then allow us to proceed with construction. We are so close to our goal and that is why I am reaching out to you if you have not yet made your pledge.

The OCC project, when completed will benefit all parishioners and especially all ministries as a place of ongoing formation and enriching your faith. I will therefore be going to all ministries meetings in the coming weeks to speak more about the capital campaign pledge. What we are asking is doable: the equivalent of two Starbucks coffee or the equivalent of $10 per week for three years. The simple math is this: $10 x 52 = $510 x 800 = $408,000 x 3 = $1.2 million. All we need is that you fill in your pledge card, if you have not done so and drop it in the box at the back of the church, or mail it. I asked several parishioners about this and all said, “Father we can do this!” Another said, “Now I see the One Community Center is in sight!”

We need to keep moving forward as any further delay may mean higher construction costs. I am more optimistic than ever that we will achieve our goal. 

May God bless all parishioners who have already pledged for their generosity and inspiration to others. The parish is most grateful to you.

Monsignor John S. Mbinda

Closer to Realizing Goal of Capital Campaign

“For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment.”  (Habakkuk 2:3)

 

 These words from the prophet Habakkuk encourage us and give us much hope in that the vision for our One Community Center (OCC) is now in sight. The Town Hall meeting of this past Saturday, January 20 gave us an update on what has happened since October 8, 2017. The details on Town Hall meeting are found in an insert of this Sunday Bulletin. Please take time to read it so you are familiar with what has been done and how we are proceeding in the coming months.

According to one parishioner who was present at the town hall, “it seems we are close to realizing the goal of our capital campaign.” I do agree with that parishioner. 30% of parishioners (400 pledges/households) have made a pledge of $ 1.6 million.  The parish has another 600 households that could give the remaining $ 900k remaining. If each give $10 a week (equivalent of 2 Starbucks coffee), we would have the total in three years (156 weeks)! As soon as we plan the best way to do this I will communicate. 

We are most grateful to Les Hunkele for his professional guidance, the Leadership Advisory Council (LAC) members, and our Capital Campaign Committee members. We are grateful for your ongoing support by honoring your pledge and especially I am most grateful to those parishioners, who in addition to their pledge, have given more to support the Capital Campaign. I am more optimistic than ever, and I hope you are too. We are getting there. Have faith and courage. Thanks to you, our vision “presses on to fulfilment.”

May God bless you all.

 Monsignor John S. Mbinda

One Community Center Way Forward

“Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1: {2-4})

Dear parishioners, these words of Saint James are meant to encourage us at times we need perseverance. We must not be discouraged by delays, because they might be a blessing in disguise. Persistence and being focused is what we need at the moment. We owe much gratitude to our parish leadership for the encouragement they continue to give us all. One of the major obstacles we have faced is safety concerns in construction of the OCC with the preschool in session. We have struggled in trying to find a facility in Mililani where we could relocate our preschool during the time of construction.

As announced last weekend, the plan is to relocate the preschool to Mililani Presbyterian Church campus at the end of the current school year during the period of construction. If that option does not materialize, regretfully our preschool will be suspended at the end of the present school year until the construction of the OCC is completed. The reopening of the preschool on our campus will depend on preparation and submission of a business plan for a 24-student class model.

This past Saturday, January 20, we had our town hall meeting on the One Community Center. The next weekend bulletin will have a short report.

Next Saturday, January 27, 2018, the Steering Committee of the Capital Campaign will meet to chart a plan going forward. The plan will include a strategy to increase fundraising. I would like to thank all parishioners who have already made their pledge for the capital campaign. If you have not filled up a pledge card, please pick one at the back of the Church. Please remember that all capital campaign donations are tax deductible. 

Monsignor. John S. Mbinda

Inclusive Vision and Mission of the Church

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16)

The Christmas season that just ended and Solemnity of the Epiphany we celebrated last Sunday all underline an important message: the inclusive vision of God’s salvation, a constant aspect of Jesus’ teaching and life style. Jesus deliberately included tax collectors, sinners, the poor, the marginalized and gentiles. One is reminded of Luke’s gospel account of the Good Samaritan. The Jewish religious leaders (a priest and a Levite) avoid caring for the man who fell in the hands of robbers, white it was the Samaritan who cared for the unfortunate Jewish traveler. Jews looked down on Samaritans and avoided passing through Samaritan territory. Yet Jesus did not hesitate to pass through Samaria, and indeed met the Samaritan woman at a well and, converted her and her whole village.

The solemnity of the Epiphany and the teaching of Jesus help us to move beyond our prejudices and embrace the inclusive vision of God’s salvation. In practical terms it challenges us to realize that there is a place for each and every one of us in this parish; there is enough space for all ministries even as we struggle with the limited space needs. The inclusive nature of the Church and thus of our parish challenges us to move together as one parish committed to one inclusive vision and mission of our parish community. Our focus at the moment is the One Community Center. Next Saturday we will have our town hall meeting and I encourage all parishioners to attend so that you may have a complete update of where we are and the way forward. I wish to all parishioners who have made their pledge to OCC capital campaign. If you have not yet made your commitment please do so as we do need keep going. Where exactly are we on the OCC? Come and be informed.

God bless you all.

Monsignor John S. Mbinda 

What is the Epiphany of the Lord?

This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. The word ‘epiphany’ comes from the Greek language “epiphaneia’ which means ‘appearance’, ‘showing forth’ or ‘manifestation’. So, we could say that we celebrate the manifestation of the Lord.

 The feast of the Epiphany originated in the third century to commemorate the first appearance of Christ (the infant King) to the entire world as Savior, symbolized by the visit of the three wise kings (Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar).  It is interesting to note that in the early Church, Christians, particularly those in the East, celebrated the coming of Christ on Jan. 6 by commemorating the Nativity, the Visitation of the Magi, the Baptism of Christ and the Wedding of Cana all in one feast of the Epiphany. By the fourth century, both Christmas and Epiphany had been set as separate feasts in some dioceses. At the Council of Tours in 567 A.D., the Church set both Christmas day and Epiphany as separate feast days on the December 25 and January 6, respectively, and named the twelve days between the feasts as the Christmas season. The solemnity of the Epiphany marked the twelfth day of Christmas and the end of the Christmas season.

 Over the centuries, the various celebrations were further separated in the West, and now the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on the Sunday after January 6, and the wedding at Cana is commemorated (by having the Gospel account on the Wedding of Cana) on the Sunday after the Baptism of the Lord. Both these commemorations are omitted this year.

 

 May God shower abundant blessings upon you throughout the entire year 2018.

 Monsignor John S. Mbinda

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

This Sunday we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus Mary and Joseph. On December 20, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI made the following beautiful reflection on the Holy Family:  "The house of Nazareth is a school of prayer where we learn to listen, to meditate, to penetrate the deepest meaning of the manifestation of the Son of God, drawing our example from Mary, Joseph and Jesus.

 

"The Holy Family is an icon of the domestic Church, which is called to pray together. The family is the first school of prayer where, from their infancy, children learn to perceive God thanks to the teaching and example of their parents. An authentically Christian education cannot neglect the experience of prayer. If we do not learn to pray in the family, it will be difficult to fill this gap later. I would, then, like to invite people to rediscover the beauty of praying together as a family, following the school of the Holy Family of Nazareth"

 

May God shower abundant blessings on each family in our parish. I wish you all a blessed and Happy New Year, 2018!

Monsignor John S. Mbinda

Christmas Message 2017

Peace be with you all!

 

I take the opportunity to warmly welcome all visitors, returning parishioners and new parishioners as well as all regular parishioners. We are gland to celebrate the Nativity of Our Lord with you. May the Joy is this celebration fill your hearts “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.” Those words of the angel on that first Christmas night directs our thought to what we celebrate. Christmas as a celebration of the fulfillment of God’s promises of salvation.

On this Christmas, as one great family of God who is most generous in His gifts and blessings, we offer gratitude to God for whatever blessings God has given us. Jesus comes this Christmas to complete those blessings with more blessings. Together we receive the gift of real peace and joy. Christ’s kingdom is one of peace for He is the prince of peace born for us this Christmas.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2018!

  Msgr. John S. Mbinda

Candles on the Advent Wreath

Next Sunday is the fourth and final Sunday of Advent. The time has gone that fast. Before the season is over I wanted us to go back to the Advent Wreath because it is a teaching symbol.  I would like us to reflect on the candles on the wreath and their symbolism. One of the basic underlying themes of Advent is light and obviously the candles on the wreath precisely symbolize light. But there is a deeper meaning of that symbolism.

Advent also reminds us that we are called to be light to the world as we reflect the light of God's grace to others (Isa 42:6). The progression in the lighting of the candles symbolizes the various aspects of our waiting experience. This experience is based on the physical increasing of the light of the sun from day to day. The lighting of the candles over the four-week period symbolizes the diminishing darkness of fear and hopelessness; it also signifies the receding of the shadows of sin and falling away of darkness as more and more light is shed into the world. The flame of each new candle reminds the worshipers that something is happening, and that more is yet to come. Finally, the light that has come into the world is plainly visible as the Christ candle is lighted at Christmas, and worshipers rejoice over the fact that the hope and promise of long ago have been realized.

Halfway through Advent, on the Third Sunday of Advent, today’s Sunday, there is a noticeable shift in liturgical colors from purple vestments to desert rose. We also light the third candle which is rose color. This Sunday is called in Latin Gaudete Sunday, which means rejoice Sunday in anticipation of the joy of the coming of our Savior. The reading of this Sunday underlines the atmosphere of joy which is a very basic theme in the Church’s life. We cannot be light to others if we look sad and gloomy. Let us therefore live that joy of the Gospel even as we wait its fullness at Christmas.

 May your Advent journey be filled with God’s blessings,

Msgr. John S. Mbinda

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