Dear Brothers and Sisters of St. Andrew the Apostle,

First, we celebrate together the ruling of the Supreme Court that overturned the unjust and tragic "Roe vs. Wade" decision of 1973 that prevented states from banning abortions before viability, which was determined as 24 to 28 weeks after conception. As a result of their Dobbs vs. Jackson's Women's Health Organization decision, state legislation is now responsible for regulating or banning abortion. This does not mean the end to abortion in the United States, but simply that states have the freedom to enact laws to protect the vulnerable child in the womb, and for this progress, we rejoice. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishop's statement can be found here. Bishop Burbidge's statement is here. A collection of statements of Bishops from around the county can be found here.

It is fitting that this decision came on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a feast on which we celebrate the divine love that Jesus has for every human person. More fitting is that on almost every other year, June 24 is when we celebrate the Nativity of John the Baptist, who leaped in Elizabeth's womb when he encountered Jesus in Mary's womb at the Visitation. In that visit between two children in the womb, we see the humanity of the child we see to protect in our fight against abortion.

There is much more progress needed to inform minds and transform hearts on this issue. So let us vote to protect all human life from conception to natural death, pray for those who cannot see the evil in taking the life of an unborn child, and truthfully, courageously, and charitably defend the rights of the unborn in our conversations with others. We also pray for those children whose lives are taken by abortion and pray for and help those families for whom having a child provides grave distress. Those who promote abortion like to claim that anti-abortion proponents only care about the child before it is born, not after. As Catholics, we know this is not true, but we must strive always to help those in need, especially those most vulnerable. So please pray for and support the work of pregnancy assistance ministries such as Project Gabriel and programs that offer assistance and housing to families in need, such as Mary's Shelter, St. Margaret of Cortona, and the Paul Stefan Foundation.

As was mentioned in a previous newsletter, there are threats to protest or vandalize pregnancy centers and Catholic churches. Our ushers have been informed about how to handle such protests during Masses, and we will be alert for any such activity. As always, we want to respond with faith and charity when we are confronted by anyone who desires to persecute us for the truths we hold dear.

I would like to thank everyone involved in making last weekend's Corpus Christi celebration so special. The Saturday evening talk on Eucharistic miracles was amazing, as it showed the scientific and medical tests that revealed similarities between the miracles in which the Consecrated Host appeared as the Body and Blood of Christ. If you were not able to attend, a summary of the talk can be found here. You can also find where this presentation, named "The Science and Significance of Eucharistic Miracles," can be found in the coming months at parishes around us. Thanks to Patty Laing and Becky Clarkson for their organization of the event.

Last Sunday, we had perfect weather for a Eucharistic Procession after the 12:30 PM Mass. I thank the groups that prepared the altars: Called by Name, Walking with Purpose, Religious Education, Youth Ministry, Eucharistic Adoration, and St. Andrew's School. It was a blessed and fitting procession of worship for our Eucharistic Lord, and I am already looking forward to next year's procession on June 11, 2023!

Next Saturday is First Saturday, and as we did last summer, we will have Eucharistic Adoration from 8:00 AM until 8:50 AM in the church with our summer seminarian Christian Njodzela leading the rosary and offering a reflection. Fr. Smith and I will hear Confessions during that time as well. Please join us for this time of prayer leading up to our 9:00 AM Mass. After Mass, Christian will be giving his vocation story in Hannan Hall. All are invited!

With the warmer weather, many of us are spending time outdoors. Recently, the Mauk family - Steve, Suzi, and their daughter Samantha - beautified our Schoenstatt Shrine by the picnic area. They were also helped by Samantha's friend Chris Beran. Among their improvements were putting down new mulch and repainting the Rosary stones. It looks great! Suzi is our business manager at St. Andrew's and her daughter Samantha heads our Gardening Club. The Mauks also donated the mulch as well as their time and hard work. Please join me in thanking them for a job well done and be sure to stop by the shrine for some solitude and prayer.

As you know, I am a Baltimore Ravens fan, and this Wednesday they suffered what their owner called "a tremendously sad day." In the morning it was announced that one of their players, linebacker Jaylon Ferguson, had died the previous night at the age of 26 of an unknown cause. He was engaged to be married to the mother of this three young children, all under the age of 5. Wednesday afternoon it was announced that Tony "The Goose" Siragusa, a popular Raven defensive tackle who helped anchor a historically dominant defense in 2000 that went on to win the Super Bowl, had died at the age of 55. He left behind his wife and three children. The Ravens put together a video tribute for the Goose that captures some of his personality.

When a celebrity dies, we can often overreact, as if their death holds a greater significance because of their fame. Their popularity certainly does affect more people as they are known by more people. But the other extreme is also true: we can underappreciate their death because we only know them for what they do. These two men were football players. That's how most people know them. We rarely hear about how they loved their children, helped their communities, or practiced their faith. We don't know the loved ones they left behind and the struggles they will bear.

This June, Fr. Smith and I have celebrated funeral Masses and/or officiated graveside liturgies for twelve people. This is a remarkably high number. At one of my previous assignments, we had twelve funerals for a whole year. This experience forces me to confront the inevitability of death and our helplessness in the face of the pain it leaves behind. We are blessed by our Catholic faith, which promises eternal life for those who die in union with Jesus Christ. This will always be our hope. Yet even with the greatest faith, there is always sorrow when the one with whom we have formed a bond of love is no longer there to visit or answer a phone call.

So we pray for the souls of those who have died, that the Lord in his mercy may grant them eternal life in heaven. Each Monday of Ordinary Time that does not already have a feast day, Fr. Smith and I like to offer a Mass for the Dead, that is, a Mass for the souls in Purgatory. We never want to assume anyone is in heaven. This is a disservice to them, for our prayers help them if they are being purified in Purgatory, and not praying for them denies them of that help from we who love them. If they are in heaven, we can be assured that those prayers will not be wasted!

But we also remember those who are left behind to mourn. May the Lord strengthen them in their faith, so that they may trust in His eternal promises and know that their loved ones live on in His eternal kingdom. May He also comfort them in their sorrow, so that they may remember with thanksgiving the time they had with their loved ones as they pray for their souls. Know that the Lord is always near you in your sorrow: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

Be assured of my prayers for you, especially for those who mourn.

´╗┐In Christ,
Fr. Wagner