From the Pastor’s Desk

Our Paths Will Soon Part

I will be honest the most difficult announcement I have ever shared was the news that I would be departing Saint Brigid to assume pastoral leadership of Sacred Heart Parish in Mount Pleasant.  We have been walking together now for 7 years!  What a grace these years have been for me.  These have been good years for both me and the community, and I know there could be more good years.  Yet I also know that I must follow the Lord.  So while it is sooner than any of us expected our paths will part.

I will remember the graces of being challenged to grow in holiness by my parishioners: The freedom from guilt and shame which led to a transformation in my body too.  I thank you for calling me to follow the Lord more closely.  I will also remember the joy of sharing in successes with the parish and school.  Paying down our debt ahead of schedule, raising $1.75 million for the Cardinal Hickey Endowment for Saint Brigid School, founding our Saint Brigid Parish Endowment and the countless investments we made in our facilities together.  Thank you!

If there is one lesson I want all of you to remember is that our journey with the Lord is never alone.  While we will part ways, when we follow Jesus the destination is certain!  Fr. Stephan arrives July 1 and I know that with his leadership you will continue to be a community that spreads the life of Christ.

Please continue to pray for me as I make this turn on my journey. Never forget you are not alone when you walk with Jesus!  Don’t be afraid to when people notice either.  Jesus is with us and His Church is a very good place to be.  Thank you!

Fr. Andy Booms

Easter 2024 Greeting

Baptism is the first Sacrament of Initiation.  Each person Baptized dies with Christ and rises to new life. This year at the Vigil Mass we witnessed 10 of them!  Each Baptism is a direct encounter with the resurrection! For this reason, during the entire Easter season we can sing Alleluia as our psalm response. Alleluia is not really a word – it’s an ululation, a primitive our guttural sound to express emotion. It’s a cry of joy reserved for praising God. Sing out this season Alleluia! He is risen and he has appeared to us! You have indeed met Him in the waters of your Baptism.

For the last 6 weeks Lent has changed our habits and been a major part of life. Easter is the season we should never abandon. Make sure that Christ and your fait are share a larger part of your life than in Lent. He is walking with us and we are not alone! Easter is the season of the Church year when we celebrate and are conscious of the presence of the Risen Christ.  That is most powerfully present in the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.  However the Lord speaks in a variety of ways and I would like to invite you to join in watching the latest season of The Chosen this Easter Season.  While not a perfect resource and filled with lots of artistic license the program has helped millions meet Jesus.  I look forward to hosting these sessions this Easter.  We will gather at 7pm each Sunday in Church, according to the licensing we have received.  Discussion will follow as we all seek to be aware of the impact of Jesus’ pascal mystery.

Holy Week

Soon we begin Holy Week.  Palm Sunday was day that started a week of tradition in my family as a child.  After Mass we completed our palm braiding.  On Thursday we attended Mass and sat in silence at the end.  On Friday we boiled eggs and had egg salad for lunch and made our way to a dark town for service at 1pm.  Holy Saturday brought a lot of activity, baking, egg coloring and Easter Basket assembly.  Then on Easter we got into our best clothes after chores and went to Mass.  As we start this week, think about the way you want your children to remember the week in 35 years.  Make each day special, and never be afraid to start a new tradition.

Jesus also received a lot of pressure to conform to expectations on Palm Sunday.  The crowd that welcomed him with shouts of Hosanna was seeking a strong liberator from an occupying nation.  Sometimes we too cry out to God and expect to force His hand.  Jesus knows the immense pressure that expectations can foist on us, perhaps this week He can walk with you to new freedom to serve and respond to God.

Lent 2024

More than the acts of asceticism Lent is the time we recognize our group identity. As you live this Lent, make sure to keep in mind that our actions are also meant to manifest our being a part of the Church.  Pray for our Church and Her leaders – that as a people we can be true witnesses in the world.

This Lent the Eucharistic Revival which will culminate July 20-23 in Indianapolis with the Eucharistic Congress invites us to look at our readings with a hermeneutic (lens) of the Eucharist.  While Jesus does not fall prey to Satan’s temptations, we often do.  Baptism bestows the Grace needed to turn away from temptation and live as a child of God.  What does it mean for you to be called a son or daughter of God? Do you live your daily life any differently because of this? We are not alone, do people notice?

Easter Greetings 2023!

Christ is Risen Alleluia! Truly He is risen Alleluia!

These words echo around the world today as still in 2023 we are unpacking the implications of the resurrection.  We live in a world which proclaims freedom to act on your feelings.  In so many ways we focus on our feelings.  Jesus doesn’t overcome our feelings, but he opens up a new way forward.  We can respond to God’s presence.  During Lent we have simplified our lives in our practice of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  Now we are invited to let the risen Lord fill in those spaces.  That we can respond to the living presence of God in our life.  Feelings can overwhelm or crush.  Jesus’ resurrection means we are able to float up to the top and breath the life giving air of His Gospel.

Think of this, rather than being trapped in the pool of our own thoughts, feelings or opinions Jesus lifts us to the surface of these waters so we can know the eternal presence of God. You have likely experienced stress and trauma in the past or may be experiencing it now. Jesus has opened the waters for us all to know the journey is safe, Jesus has freed us from the grave.  What graves has Jesus ripped open for you? What waters and concerns would you like the risen Lord to help you navigate to the surface and take a deep breath of Grace?

He busted the grave open once and will do it again just ask.

Holy Week Greetings 2023

I pray this Holy Week 2023 finds you blessed and healthy.  I invite you to slow down by joining us this Holy Week in the beauty of the liturgy.  Make time to join us for prayer this Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday:

  • Palm Sunday our schedule is as normal.  With Masses at 9am, 11:30am and 5:30pm.  Our last regularly scheduled confessions begin at 3:30pm
  • Holy Wednesday we have exposition and adoration all day in Church until benediction at 8:30pm.  Join us for this special blessing if you have never been able to before.
  • Holy Thursday you can join us for a potluck dinner at 5:30pm before if you can sign up on perfect potluck  the parish will supply the meat!
  • Mass on Holy Thursday at 7pm
  • Good Friday we will have Stations of the Cross at 3pm a new Cross walk at 3:30pm and the Good Friday Service at 7pm.
  • Holy Saturday we have morning prayer and blessing of Food at 9:30am
  • The Easter Vigil Begins at 8:30pm – it will be about 90 minutes long since all our elect are under the age of 16.
  • Easter Sunday we have 9am and 11:30am Mass!

Welcome Lent 2023

Lent 2023 began with a snow day – while school was closed the call to conversion, the call to join the Lord in silence was wide open.  We did not let inclement weather cancel Ash Wednesday.  Now that we are off to a running start this Lent still has many features of Lent of old:

  1. Friday Fish Fry returns February 24, March 3 and 10 from 4:30-7pm in the Cardinal Hickey Parish Hall
  2. Stations of the Cross and confessions are each Friday (except March 17) at 7pm in Church
  3. Wednesday adoration will continue as normal – make a special effort to join us for Benediction at 8:30pm
  4. The Knights of Columbus St. Patrick Dinner is 5pm March 17, 2023
  5. Register now for our Parish Lenten Retreat 
  6. Block off Holy Week now April 2-9 and join us for a Holy Thursday Potluck on April 7, 2023 (registration will be in the bulletin).

Our Community is alive in Christ – join us as we return to God this Lent.

Vote No On Proposal 3

This ballot issue is not partisan and is a moral issue that the Church can and should address. I hope you will take the time to read this if you question the Church’s, the Bishop’s or my intent in speaking against Proposal 3 and encouraging a NO vote. It is my duty as a pastor to share the truth, and in this case I speak in love, and a deep desire to share communion with each of you. It is Jesus’ desire that we be drawn closer together, and not bitterly divided. Let’s unite in our opposition to this poorly constructed Constitutional Amendment. I’d like to share reasons to Vote NO with me.

First, there is the long standing teaching in the Church that every life is a gift, that abortion is murder.  However, if you keep reading you will discover that there is reason to Vote NO on this amendment that does not depend on the sanctity of life argument.

Additionally, the rights granted in the proposal are broad, unspecific and general.  This means it is written to encourage future litigation which will greatly expand the application of the amendment beyond what the ballot summary and those who promote the amendment state. In short order Michigan would be a place where anyone, anywhere at anytime could seek an abortion, sterilization or infertility care.  Parents need not consent, and if the individual exercising this new right freely consents then there are no consequences even if the individual is horribly injured or killed.  Want to see line by line how this is possible read

If Proposal 3 passes it will be part of the state’s constitution! It is not easy to amend or change the constitution.  Vote NO to preserve Parental Rights, Informed Consent, Regulation for women’s care and because every life is a gift. If you disagree with even a small part of this Amendment VOTE NO.

Easter Triduum and Octave Greetings 2022

I pray this Easter Triduum finds you blessed and healthy.  Just two years ago we were all shocked and overcome with fear as two weeks to slow the curve became an Easter alone.  In 2022 we now very busy.  I invite you to slow down by joining us this Holy Week in the beauty of the liturgy.  Make time to join us for prayer this Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday:

  • Join us for a pot Luck at 5:30pm before if you can  the parish will supply the meat and I will supply some great stories from the Holy Land.
  • Mass on Holy Thursday at 7pm
  • Good Friday we will have Stations of the Cross at 3pm and the Good Friday Service at 7pm.  
  • Holy Saturday we have morning prayer and blessing of Food at 9:30am
  • The Easter Vigil Begins at 9pm – it will be about 2 hours long since one of our elect is only 8!
  • Easter Sunday we have 9am and 11:30am Mass!

I hope you will take some time as a family to pray at home, I might suggest the following highlights from The Chosen or the Movie the Gospel of John.  See my notes and links below.

The Chosen Episode 4

  • Peter is the Rock, but sometimes a bit shaky.  No Less Jesus called him and calls us to share the Good News!

The Chosen Episode 8 

  • The great way that Jesus rehabilitates the Woman at the Well, Jesus can bring anyone new life!

The Chosen Episode 15 

  • The tension is rising between Jesus and Rome, he was truly crucified because he was a threat to Rome and the Jewish leaders.

The Gospel of John 

  • Yes there are British accents and lots of blue eyes and bond hair, but this word for word the Gospel of John form the NIV bible.  What better way to spend 3 hours.  You could do 1 hour a day this Triduum.

Don’t forget we celebrate Easter the entire week and welcome 5 more new Catholics Sunday April 24 at 9am Mass.

God is oh so good!

Blessings and Peace,
Fr. Andy Booms

Question & Answer with Father Andy

Many Catholic Parishes across the region and beyond have closed, yet St. Brigid Catholic Church is poised to celebrate its 150th How have you avoided reorganizations and the financial pressures that have seen so many churches close their doors?

The simple answer to that is demographics.  Midland has what some describe as the “Dow Bubble”. This has certainly contributed to Midland’s booming economy, but as a pastor, I know it also contributes to the family size, rate of participation in religious practice, and the whole quality of life index.  Saint Brigid has had to adapt to changing conditions but we have not had to merge or close down because we have had a fuller church, stable funding, and sufficient student counts to justify the investment.

A shortage of Catholic priests is often cited as a chief reason for the shuttering of so many longstanding parishes. How is the Catholic Church addressing this?

I was a pastor in the thumb at the time Bishop Cistone asked our Diocese to seriously consider the future and the best path forward.  While it would be easy to blame the mergers and closures on the shortage of priests – my observation has been that if the churches were full we would find ways to serve them.  In many ways it’s a causality question – do falling numbers of clergy contribute to lower participation in religious practice or do the lower rates of participation in religious practice lead to falling rates of clergy? I don’t have the answer – but the two are very related.  To that end the Church is adapting, finding new ways to lead and govern without ordained clergy assigned to every parish, and finding new ways to help people hear the Gospel and the call to follow Jesus again.

Most everyone in our society has heard about Jesus, but so many do not know Him nor do they understand that Jesus and His Church are inseparable.   We must always be about renewing and sharing the ways that Jesus’ life is continued in the Sacraments, the service, and the educating mission of the Church.

Has the number of St. Brigid parishioners declined?

Yes, we have experienced a decline in participation.  Perhaps not as severe as other parishes but the decline in attendance means we must renew our efforts to proclaim the Gospel at all times and in all situations.

Joe Biden became only the second Catholic (John F. Kennedy was the first) to be elected president of the United States. As a practicing Catholic, aren’t his religious views in direct conflict with many of today’s Democrat party’s positions on, for instance, same-sex marriage, Planned Parenthood, Abortion, as well as LGBQ and Transgender Communities?

If President Biden were to seek my advice I would encourage him to be less private about his faith and the church’s teaching.  We should not be ashamed of the deep respect for life that our Church calls us to. The proper role of our faith is to inform our actions and attitudes.  There must be a place for the well-formed conscience in government. I’m not calling for a theocracy, I am asking every citizen to engage their faith outside of Worship, or else risk having faith that is only ceremonial and fails to transform the believer.

How did the church maintain its connections with parishioners during the pandemic, especially early on when services were forced to cease?

Bishop Gruss, like nearly every other Bishop in the United States, closed the churches of the Diocese of Saginaw and dispensed all the faithful of their obligation to attend Mass on March 17, 2020.  Congregations were welcomed back to church on May 25, 2020 (the exact reopening date varied by parish).  During that 10-week time when the doors were closed, the church was open! Thanks to a gift from the estate of a deceased parishioner we had updated our sound equipment and included an easy-to-use camera that can stream our services to YouTube.  We added this feature to be able to welcome homebound and shut-ins to join us virtually.  Well for 10 weeks the whole parish was shut in! We immediately shifted our communication to email – we had been working to update our records and the pandemic forced us to start using electronic methods to communicate and share what was happening.  While I had hoped for some sabbath time during the shutdown, I found myself spending more time in the office – communicating, publishing, and zooming.  We hosted virtual scripture reflections, I broadcast Mass at our usual time, and shifted to virtual meetings.  We took the Gospel to the virtual highway! Of course, Jesus is incarnate and we worked very hard to return to in-person worship as soon as the Bishop gave us the go-ahead.

Has Catholicism under the leadership of Pope Francis become a bit more progressive in an effort to shift its attitudes and mores during changing times?

No.  Pope Francis has not made any changes to Catholic Theology or our teachings.  He brings a very vibrant and outgoing personality. He is engaging and unafraid to answer questions. It is great that he receives positive press and often enables us to have the full conversation or share the whole teaching that did not fit in the short clip or was not fully captured in the headline.

What is the church’s official position on same-sex marriage?

The Catholic Church recognizes marriage as being between one man and one woman.  The debate comes about how we can offer a path of joyful discipleship and chaste holiness for those who do not participate in that Sacrament.  The Church loves all God’s children and wants to help each of us find a joyful path of discipleship.  For some that can be a lot to digest when modern theory clashes with 2000-year-old wisdom. Humility reminds us my opinion may not always be right, as feelings and facts can easily get intertwined.  Scripture calls us to love everyone (even our enemies). There is a place in the Church for everyone who is willing to be transformed by God’s grace, but we must be willing to follow Jesus and leave all else behind.

The Catholic Church has been rocked by sexual abuse scandals involving clergy. What has been done to attempt to ensure young boys are protected in what should be a safe and sacred environment?

Like all institutions that refused to acknowledge the depth of the hurt, we have seen scandal erupt internationally, nationally, and even locally.  The abuse of minors and the misuse of power is evil. The Church has implemented strict zero-tolerance policies since 2001.  I was ordained in 2007, and have lived my entire priesthood under the Dallas Charter.  This document makes it clear that ministers of Christ should be healing agents and not inflict harm on anyone.  More importantly, the Church in the United States has become the number one educator and promoter of abuse awareness.  We want our churches, schools, sports teams, family gatherings, and anywhere youth gather to be a safe environment.  Here at Saint Brigid over 100 staff and volunteers have been educated about how to spot abuse, how to report suspected child or vulnerable adult abuse, and to confront the evil of sexual abuse so that we can not only rid our church of it, but our whole society.

Does the Catholic Church have a role in helping unite people in a divided country?

I had a professor in seminary who liked to reference the Catholic – “both/and”. Most people in our society today speak of “Either/or”. The Catholic Church can help us all appreciate the viewpoints of others and grow together. Additionally, a hallmark of Catholic theology is Jesus and we – meaning I – can only draw closer to the Lord in community.

As we consider the community we must also ask ourselves if others are fundamentally good or fundamentally bad. The Catholic answer is that we were created in the image and likeness of God – and that is “very good” (Genesis 1:31). While we don’t always act on the good it would be wrong to attribute every action or position of the other as fundamentally bad. Nor does the world need to be saved, Jesus has already done that!

Does the church have plans to resume offering the Blood of Christ from a chalice to parishioners during Holy Communion?

We have made many modifications to our worship during the pandemic.  The congregation wears masks, we regularly disinfectant church and our hands, we added air purifying technology and we encourage smaller crowds to allow social distancing.  I am sure that some adaptations will be longer lasting than others.  At this time, we don’t know when we will resume distribution of the Eucharist under both species (bread and wine).  Those who receive the Eucharist do receive The Body and Blood of Jesus even if only one species (bread) is offered.

Anything else you might like to add about St. Brigid’s being a pillar in the Midland community for 150 years?

150 years is well beyond the life span of any single person.  Our church has stood strong not because of any single person (although we have many great members both past and present). We have been a strong presence in the community because we have always relied on one another to complete the work of Christ.  The best part of being the pastor of such a strongly rooted community is knowing that there is a lot of support to draw upon.  While 150 is old by our memory, it’s a very small part of the life of the Church.  We have much more to give and will not stop until all are fully alive in Christ!