Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday

Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday are interwoven because what we celebrate this morning is the mystery proclaimed at the Easter Vigil. It is important therefore to see the two moments as continuous. Easter Vigil recalls and re-enacts the mystery of God's salvation for us in the resurrection of Christ. Easter Sunday not only focuses our attention on recalling the resurrection of Jesus and its impact on the first disciples, but also on the meaning of this event for our own lives and for our faith. On this day, we joyfully proclaim and witness our faith in the Risen Lord among us.

Proclamation and witness are the two central themes running through Easter Sunday readings. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter speaks about his own experience and shares that experience with the listening crowds. Because of his experience of knowing with utter conviction that Jesus is alive, Peter is so filled with the joy of it, that he simply must share that joy with others.

Similarly, the experience of the resurrection by Paul leads him to advice that we keep focused on the risen Christ, since Christ is our life. For Paul, we know that his experience of the Risen Lord brought a total revolution in his life and gave him a total new vision of things and especially of the meaning of Jesus' life and message.

In the Gospel, we have the experience of the empty tomb as a sign that Jesus is risen, He is not there. This first day of the week is full of emotions and commotion. The discovery of the empty tomb by Mary of Magdala leads to her running back to tell Peter and John that the Lord's body is not in the tomb. That experience was the compelling evidence that Christ is indeed risen as he had said. John the apostle as eye witness and writer of the Gospel, tells us that he entered into the empty tomb, “he saw and he believed” that the Lord is risen indeed. That very evening, the Risen Lord confirms their faith in appearing to the gathered disciples. That appearance experience strengthened the faith of the disciples and completely transformed their lives. The message we take home on this Easter day is that we too like the disciples be moved to proclaim the resurrection of Christ in our lives to others without fear. Christ is risen, Alleluia!


Monsignor John S. Mbinda

Making Sense of the Holy Triduum

In the bulletin of last Sunday, we outlined the coming celebrations of the Holy Triduum also known as the Sacred Triduum. Basically, the Sacred Triduum is one continuous festival commemorating the last three days of Jesus’ life on earth, the events of his Passion and Resurrection, when the Lamb of God laid down his life in atonement for our sins.

It is called the "Paschal Mystery" because it is the ultimate fulfillment of the ancient Jewish Passover (or Pasch), which was a memorial of how God brought the Jews out of their slavery in Egypt.  The spotless lamb of slaughtered at the Passover meal and consumed, and that night the destroying angel "passed over" the homes marked with the blood of the Passover Lamb, and the people in those houses marked with the Blood were saved.  This was the Old Testament prefiguring of Jesus' work at the Last Supper- where he inserted himself as the Paschal Lamb- and Calvary, where he offered himself in sacrifice to save us from our slavery to sin.  

The Paschal Mystery is, therefore, God’s plan of redemption for the fallen human race through the Passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says the following on the Sacred Triduum:

“Therefore, Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the ‘Feast of feasts’, the ‘Solemnity of solemnities, just as the Eucharist is the ‘Sacrament of sacraments’. St. Athanasius calls Easter ‘the Great Sunday’ and the Eastern Churches call Holy Week ‘the Great Week’. The mystery of the Resurrection, in which Christ crushed death, permeates with its powerful energy our old time, until all is subjected to him.” (CCC #1168, 1169).

Once again, I appeal to all parishioners to participate in this unique event. The entire Paschal Mystery makes more sense when one participates in all three celebrations. Please remember that our parish church seating capacity is limited during these celebrations even with a tent outside. Come early. Invite your friends especially those who do not come to Sunday Mass regularly, as well as Christians and those of no church at all. Have a Blessed Holy Triduum!


Monsignor John S. Mbinda

We are celebrating the Easter Holy Triduum

The Easter Holy Triduum is ONE continuous commemoration of the Paschal Mystery of Christ. All parishioners are encouraged to come to this special time of prayer, preparation and celebration of Easter.

v Holy Thursday of the Lord’s Supper (March 29): We commemorate Jesus' command to celebrate the Eucharist and to wash one another's feet, a symbol of service.

·        No Mass at 8 am

·        Morning Prayer at 8 am

·        Solemn Celebration of the Lord's Supper at 7 pm

·        Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in silence till 12 midnight.

 v Friday of the Passion of the Lord (March 30): We solemnly commemorate the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus, venerate the Cross of our Salvation and receive Holy Communion. We observe a fast & abstinence in honor of the Passion and Death of Our Lord.

    ·        No Mass at 8 am

·        Morning Prayer at 8 am

·        Celebration of the Lord's Passion at 3 pm

·        Stations of the Cross at 7 pm

 v Holy Saturday (March 31): We keep a Solemn Vigil as we celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord by lighting a New Paschal Candle and solemn procession led by the Light of Christ, recalling the Story of our Salvation in the Liturgy of the Word, solemnly initiating new members into our community through Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.

    ·        No Mass at 8 am

·        Morning Prayer at 8 am

·        Solemn Easter Vigil Celebration at 7 pm

 v Easter Sunday (April 1): We celebrate the Resurrection of Christ.

    ·        Solemn Mass at dawn at 7 am

·        Solemn Mass at 9 am

·        Solemn Mass at 11 am

      ·        NO 6 pm Mass

Monsignor John S. Mbinda

The Transforming Power of Fasting

Fasting is the third Lenten discipline. It is more than a means of developing self-control because the pangs of hunger remind us of our hunger for God. In the first reading on the Friday after Ash Wednesday, the prophet Isaiah shows that fasting is meant to transform our behaviors and attitudes in order to please God. "This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own" (Is 58:6-7). Fasting therefore is linked to the stewardship of caring for those forced to fast by their poverty, economic injustices and political structures. The savings that come from our fasting is meant to be given to the cause of our less fortunate brothers and sisters otherwise it is of no use at all if we simply keep those savings! Furthermore, fasting is linked to living out our baptismal commitment as disciples and stewards. It helps us to be focused on the vision, mission and purpose of Jesus Christ. Fasting transforms us and supports efforts to alleviate the suffering of those in need.

Abstaining from meat was traditionally linked to the poor, who could seldom afford meat for their meals. It can do the same today if we remember the purpose of abstinence and embrace it as a spiritual link to those whose diets are sparse and simple. That should be the goal we set for ourselves—a sparse and simple meal. Abstaining from meat while eating lobster misses the whole point! While giving up food and drink or eating less in Lent is good, we may also decide to “fast” from our negative addictive behaviors and attitudes towards people and certain things during Lent. This may include giving up certain habits like self-seeking, the desire to be a control freak, gossiping, swearing and pornography. One can also fast completely from watching the TV for 40 days and 40 nights. During this age of electronic gadgets, we might also fast from the use our cell phones and texting, so that we may use that time to “text to God”; to relate to God in prayer.


 Monsignor John S. Mbinda 

Prayer Can Transform your Life this Lent

Our Lenten journey of stewardship as a way of life is fueled by prayer, fasting and almsgiving - generosity to our brothers and sister in need.  This article is about prayer. Prayer is transformative. During the Season of Advent last year, our homilies made use of Matthew Kelly’s ideas in his book The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic. In Chapter 1, Matthew Kelly speaks of the entitled “Incredible Possibilities” God has for each of us to be transformed if we open our hearts. The chapter deals with the principle of transforming people one at a time. A second principle Matthew Kelly uses is “continuous improvement” that seeks to achieve small incremental changes in one’s life.

 If prayer is going to be a way of life, one needs a daily routine of prayer. In Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, Kelly discovered that only 7% of Catholics have a daily commitment to prayer. The other 93% of Catholics don’t pray? Their prayer tends to be spontaneous but inconsistent. A routine of daily prayer can transform our lives this Lent. To do that we need a purpose driven plan for our prayer life.  Let’s admit we are all busy people.   However, using the principle of continuous improvement, baby steps are possible. The first step is to set aside 1 minute a day for prayer. Prayer no matter how brief, will start our day off right. It keeps us more focused, and our attitude will be marked by that prayer during the day. To cultivate a habit of prayer, try 1 minute each day. Then move to 2 minutes and so on, until you reach 10 minutes each day. Believe me, 10 minutes a day will change or enhance your life in ways you can’t imagine. God has incredible possibilities for each of us, only if we open our hearts to his invitation.

Monsignor John S. Mbinda

Almsgiving can Transform you this Lent

Almsgiving has the power to transform you this Lent. In the Gospel reading of Ash Wednesday, Jesus highlights the three Lenten disciplines of almsgiving, prayer and fasting. However, almsgiving is really the key to understanding and practicing the other two. Let me offer a few thoughts on this point. "When you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, to win praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing" (Mt 6:2-3). Jesus here does not say IF you give alms, but WHEN you give alms.  Like fasting and prayer, almsgiving is non-negotiable.

The first Christians knew the importance of almsgiving. "There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need" (Acts 4:34-35). That was the living embodiment of a basic principle of Catholic social teaching, what tradition calls "the universal destination of goods." The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it succinctly: "The goods of creation are destined for the entire human race" (# 2452).

We often think of almsgiving in terms of financial contribution and giving to the less fortunate. But we can also give our time, our talents as well as our treasure both in the parish and in our neighborhood. The gifts that God has given us are meant to be shared. Here is a concluding thought on almsgiving from St. Basil the Great (330-379 AD): “The bread which you do not use is bread for the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is garment of him who is naked; the money you keep locked away is money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.” 

 Monsignor John S. Mbinda

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