One faith community, two worship sites
11 December 2020 Volume 50
Please watch this special video from Fr. Ed regarding Christmas Masses 
The number of people returning to in-person Mass has been growing over the last month which is wonderful to see. This also continues to present challenges for us as we work to try and keep everyone safe and healthy. Wisconsin remains a hotspot for the COVID virus and we all must do our part. As you are aware, our Christmas Masses are typically well attended and we just do not know what to expect this year. For this reason, it is imperative that EVERYONE who plans on attending any of the Christmas Masses be aware of the restrictions under which we are working and REGISTERS IN ADVANCE:
  • Under the archdiocesan rules our occupancy for both parishes is restricted; this means 200 at St Thomas and 150 at St Clare, with masks and social distancing. This number is larger than typical weekend Masses since we are allowed to use the Gathering Space/Narthex for overflow seating with proper social distancing.
  • We are requiring everyone to use Sign Up Genius to register for any of the Christmas eve or Christmas day Masses. There will be 7 Masses for you to choose from at St. Clare or St. Thomas, should one or more reach total occupancy.
  • If you do not register using Sign Up Genius and we do not have record of your having registered, we will not be able to admit you to mass.
  • We will be checking registrations at the entrance to the church so be sure to use Sign Up Genius or call the church office to register in advance and avoid being turned away.
  • We encourage the elderly and vulnerable within the parish to participate in the mass via streaming video.
  • Registration is open NOW and will remain open until 4pm December 23.  Please use the links below to register online or call the parish office and ask for help. The St. Thomas parish office can be reached at 262-534-2255. The St. Clare office can be reached at 262-895-2729.
  • Please do not register and hold spots if you are not certain you will attend. Blocking seats that go unused will be problematic. 
  • If you are turned away at the church door because the mass is full and you made the attempt to attend, you are dispensed from the obligation to attend mass by the archbishop. You will not be turned away if you register in advance of 4pm on December 23.

These are the realities we are dealing with and we are asking for your understanding and cooperation as we deal with the restrictions during the Christmas season. 
December 8, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
 “Hail, Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.” These are the words of the Archangel Gabriel addressing the woman selected by God to bear His Son. Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It is a Holy Day of Obligation. The title of Immaculate Conception reflects the dogma that Mary was sinless from the first moment of her existence. The teaching and title of the Immaculate Conception are often confused with Jesus’s conception in the womb of Mary. However, it is the dogma proclaiming that Mary was immaculately conceived. 
In the tradition of the Church, the faithful always held Mary in a special place of honor. Embedded in the devotional life of the faithful, we celebrate Mary’s motherhood as the Mother of God, her Perpetual Virginity, her Immaculate Conception and her Assumption into heaven.
It was in 1846 when the bishops of the United States declared Mary Immaculate to be the patroness of our country. This declaration was likely in anticipation of Ineffabilis Deus, which would be written by Pius IX on December 8, 1854. Ineffabilis Deus proclaims Mary to be immaculately conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, without contracting the stain of Original Sin.
In 2004, I was an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Chicago. I was charged by Francis Cardinal George, who was a member of the religious order of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, with the promotion and celebration of the 150th anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. It would offer us an opportunity to teach and to pray. There were six vicariates in the Archdiocese of Chicago, and many of these vicariates had more Catholics than most dioceses in the United States. I decided that I would celebrate a Marian devotion (I chose the rosary) and benediction at each of the various regions. The final celebration would be an evening Mass held at Holy Name Cathedral in downtown Chicago on December 8, celebrated by the Cardinal.
All of the regional celebrations were well-attended, and a spirit of devotional love for Mary was on display. However, no one was certain what numbers would emerge for the Mass on December 8. The Cathedral held 2,000 people, so if 1,000 people were to attend, half of the Church would be empty. Since I oversaw the celebration, any failure would fall on my shoulders. However, I trusted in Mary; after all, this was her celebration.
The evening of the celebration produced people from all across the archdiocese. Especially present were the elderly and those of special needs. The Cathedral was packed. What was obvious was the special relationship these individuals had with Mary. She accompanied them in their lives of struggle, and she was present to them in their suffering. These individuals would die for Mary and her Church. I could not help but envision these people as the ones who would stand in defiance to anyone challenging their right to worship. There was a strength in the faith that could not be denied. Those who the world views as weak would be the force that challenged the mighty in the name of the Lord and of His Church.
On this Holy Day of Obligation, let us pray to Our Mother Mary under her title as the Immaculate Conception. Let us pray, entrusting the well-being of our country to our patroness, Mary Immaculate, asking her to assist us in living lives responsible to the teachings of her Son to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.                  
Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
Pope Francis proclaims “Year of St Joseph”
In a new Apostolic Letter entitled Patris corde (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis describes Saint Joseph as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father; a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows.
The Letter marks the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pope Pius IX’s declaration of St Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. To celebrate the anniversary, Pope Francis has proclaimed a special “Year of St Joseph,” beginning on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception 2020 and extending to the same feast in 2021.

The Holy Father wrote Patris corde against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, which, he says, has helped us see more clearly the importance of “ordinary” people who, though far from the limelight, exercise patience and offer hope every day. In this, they resemble Saint Joseph, “the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence,” who nonetheless played “an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”

A beloved, tender, obedient father
Saint Joseph, in fact, “concretely expressed his fatherhood” by making an offering of himself in love “a love placed at the service of the Messiah who was growing to maturity in his home,” writes Pope Francis, quoting his predecessor St Paul VI.
And because of his role at “the crossroads between the Old and New Testament,” St Joseph “has always been venerated as a father by the Christian people” (PC, 1). In him, “Jesus saw the tender love of God,” the one that helps us accept our weakness, because “it is through” and despite “our fears, our frailties, and our weakness” that most divine designs are realized. “Only tender love will save us from the snares of the accuser,” emphasizes the Pontiff, and it is by encountering God’s mercy especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation that we “experience His truth and tenderness,” – because “we know that God’s truth does not condemn us, but instead welcomes, embraces, sustains and forgives us” (2).
Joseph is also a father in obedience to God: with his ‘fiat’ he protects Mary and Jesus and teaches his Son to “do the will of the Father.” Called by God to serve the mission of Jesus, he “cooperated… in the great mystery of Redemption,” as St John Paul II said, “and is truly a minister of salvation” (3).

Welcoming the will of God
At the same time, Joseph is “an accepting Father,” because he “accepted Mary unconditionally” — an important gesture even today, says Pope Francis, “in our world where psychological, verbal and physical violence towards women is so evident.” But the Bridegroom of Mary is also the one who, trusting in the Lord, accepts in his life even the events that he does not understand, “setting aside his own ideas” and reconciling himself with his own history.
Joseph’s spiritual path “is not one that explains, but accepts” — which does not mean that he is “resigned.” Instead, he is “courageously and firmly proactive,” because with “Holy Spirit’s gift of fortitude,” and full of hope, he is able “to accept life as it is, with all its contradictions, frustrations and disappointments.” In practice, through St. Joseph, it is as if God were to repeat to us: “Do not be afraid!” because “faith gives meaning to every event, however happy or sad,” and makes us aware that “God can make flowers spring up from stony ground.” Joseph “did not look for shortcuts but confronted reality with open eyes and accepted personal responsibility for it.” For this reason, “he encourages us to accept and welcome others as they are, without exception, and to show special concern for the weak” (4).

A creatively courageous father, example of love
Patris corde highlights “the creative courage” of St. Joseph, which “emerges especially in the way we deal with difficulties.” “The carpenter of Nazareth,” explains the Pope, was able to turn a problem into a possibility by trusting in divine providence.” He had to deal with “the concrete problems” his Family faced, problems faced by other families in the world, and especially those of migrants.
In this sense, St. Joseph is “the special patron of all those forced to leave their native lands because of war, hatred, persecution and poverty.” As the guardian of Jesus and Mary, Joseph cannot “be other than the guardian of the Church,” of her motherhood, and of the Body of Christ. “Consequently, every poor, needy, suffering or dying person, every stranger, every prisoner, every infirm person is ‘the child’ whom Joseph continues to protect.” From St Joseph, writes Pope Francis, “we must learn… to love the Church and the poor” (5).

A father who teaches the value, dignity and joy of work
“A carpenter who earned an honest living to provide for his family,” St Joseph also teaches us “the value, the dignity and the joy of what it means to eat bread that is the fruit of one’s own labour.” This aspect of Joseph’s character provides Pope Francis the opportunity to launch an appeal in favour of work, which has become “a burning social issue” even in countries with a certain level of well-being. “there is a renewed need to appreciate the importance of dignified work, of which Saint Joseph is an exemplary patron,” the Pope writes.
Work, he says, “is a means of participating in the work of salvation, an opportunity to hasten the coming of the Kingdom, to develop our talents and abilities, and to put them at the service of society and fraternal communion.” Those who work, he explains, “are cooperating with God himself, and in some way become creators of the world around us.” Pope Francis encourages everyone “to rediscover the value, the importance and the necessity of work for bringing about a new ‘normal’ from which no one is excluded.” Especially in light of rising unemployment due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Pope calls everyone to “review our priorities” and to express our firm conviction that no young person, no person at all, no family should be without work!” (6).

A father “in the shadows,” centered on Mary and Jesus
Taking a cue from The Shadow of the Father — a book by Polish writer Jan Dobraczyński — Pope Francis describes Joseph’s fatherhood of Jesus as “the earthly shadow of the heavenly Father.”
“Fathers are not born, but made,” says Pope Francis. “A man does not become a father simply by bringing a child into the world, but by taking up the responsibility to care for that child.” Unfortunately, in today’s society, children “often seem orphans, lacking fathers” who are able to introduce them “to life and reality.” Children, the Pope says, need fathers who will not try to dominate them, but instead raise them to be “capable of deciding for themselves, enjoying freedom and exploring new possibilities.”
This is the sense in which St Joseph is described as a “most chaste” father, which is the opposite of domineering possessiveness. Joseph, says Pope Francis, “knew how to love with extraordinary freedom. He never made himself the centre of things. He did not think of himself, but focused instead on the lives of Mary and Jesus.”
Happiness for Joseph involved a true gift of self: “In him, we never see frustration, but only trust,” writes Pope Francis. “His patient silence was the prelude to concrete expressions of trust.” Joseph stands out, therefore, as an exemplary figure for our time, in a world that “needs fathers,” and not “tyrants”; a society that “rejects those who confuse authority with authoritarianism, service with servility, discussion with oppression, charity with a welfare mentality, power with destruction.”
True fathers, instead, “refuse to live the lives of their children for them,” and instead respect their freedom. In this sense, says Pope Francis, a father realizes that “he is most a father and an educator at the point when he becomes ‘useless,’ when he sees that his child has become independent and can walk the paths of life unaccompanied.” Being a father, the Pope emphasizes, “has nothing to do with possession, but is rather a ‘sign’ pointing to a greater fatherhood”: that of the “heavenly Father” (7).

A daily prayer to St Joseph… and a challenge
In his letter, Pope Francis notes how, “Every day, for over forty years, following Lauds [Morning Prayer]” he has “recited a prayer to Saint Joseph taken from a nineteenth-century French prayer book of the Congregation of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary.” This prayer, he says, expresses devotion and trust, and even poses a certain challenge to Saint Joseph,” on account of its closing words: “My beloved father, all my trust is in you. Let it not be said that I invoked you in vain, and since you can do everything with Jesus and Mary, show me that your goodness is as great as your power.”
At the conclusion of his Letter, he adds another prayer to St Joseph, which he encourages all of us to pray together:
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.
Please be Aware

With the arrival of the holiday season, we have unfortunately seen an increase in people trying to scam our parishioners via email or text. If you receive a message that looks like it is from Fr. Ed asking for help, it is not Fr Ed. Please block the sender from your account and delete the message. They have created an email account that appears as if Fr. Ed is sending the message but if you look closely, his name is spelled incorrectly.
Once again this year, St. Thomas will be offering you the opportunity to purchase Christmas gifts for needy children in our area. These gifts are given to children of families suffering hardships due to many different conditions. The Giving Trees will be placed in the Gathering Space by Saturday, November
21st . You are asked to give toys, games, or GIFT CARDS. St. Thomas Food Pantry requests gift cards to only WalMart
in the amount of $25 because this will allow parents to shop for their children.

If you wish to give mittens, gloves or winter hats, please mark what it is on the gift tag along with the appropriate age level. (Please: NO OTHER CLOTHING)

Ornaments will be labeled by age groups ranging from infant to 18 years old. They will also be Identified for a boy or girl. Choose an ornament and return it with the wrapped present.
Please attach the paper ornament on the front of the wrapped package. Bring your gift back to church and place it under the
“Giving Tree ”.

The final day that gifts can be dropped off will be Sunday, December 13th BEFORE the 11:15 AM mass.

Any questions, please call Kathy Weinkauf
@ 262-534-6729
It is that time of year again!
The Hunting seasons are upon us, so we begin planning for the

49th Annual Wild Game Dinner

~We will be seeking Meat Donations~
We can pick up, process and store it!
Please contact…..
Mikki Hegemann Brown… 262-210-3168
Scott Gunderson… 414-581-3157

We hope you used Sign Up Genius to register for this weekend's mass. At St Thomas we will be utilizing the screens for the worship and at St Clare we will have worship aids available. You can obtain a copy of the worship aid by clicking the button below. You can also register for Mass with the link below.
We would like to highlight and thank a few of our loyal sponsors in each email.
St. Thomas and St Clare thanks you very much!
A complete list of all our sponsors can be found on our website. Please support them whenever possible
St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Clare of Assisi parishes
Waterford and Wind Lake, WI.