Dear Friends in Christ,

Here are a few updates from the parish for the week of Sunday, January 10, 2021.
1) Michigan’s Catholics can receive Pfizer, Moderna vaccines, state’s bishops say:

From the Detroit Catholic.

LANSING — It is morally permissible for Catholics in Michigan to receive the coronavirus vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, the state’s seven Catholic bishops said Dec. 18 in a joint statement addressing ethical questions surrounding the vaccines’ development.

However, a third vaccine candidate developed by AstraZeneca, which has not yet received approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration, is morally problematic because of its close connection with cell lines derived from tissue taken from an aborted baby, the bishops said.

The Michigan bishops said Catholics have a responsibility to call for the development of vaccines without a connection to the sin of abortion.
“Abortion is a grave evil, and we must avoid complicity in abortion. Let us also pray for God’s peace, healing, and mercy for all those who have had abortions,” the bishops said. “Our consciences must not be dulled, nor may we imply in any way that abortion is acceptable.”
The vaccines developed by Pfizer, which gained approval for emergency use by the federal Food and Drug Administration on Dec. 11, and Moderna, for which approval appears imminent, have “remote” connections to such cell lines, but the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has indicated Catholics may receive the vaccines given the lack of available alternatives and the “severe health risks” associated with the pandemic.
“Neither of these vaccines have used cell lines originating in tissue taken from aborted babies in their design, development, and production,” the bishops said. “However, both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine did use such a cell line in the confirmatory testing. This connection to the abortion is very remote, however, and it is important to keep in mind that there are varying levels of responsibility.”

Greater moral responsibility lies with the researchers than with those who receive the vaccine, said the seven bishops, who include Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, Lansing Bishop Earl Boyea, Saginaw Bishop Robert Gruss, Grand Rapids Bishop David Walkowiak, Kalamazoo Bishop Paul Bradley, Marquette Bishop John Doerfler and Bishop Walter Hurley, administrator for the Diocese of Gaylord.

The bishops’ statement echoes the position of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which issued its own guidance on the COVID-19 vaccines Dec. 14. 
While Catholics may receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines as an act of charity toward others and the common good, they are not morally obligated to do so, the bishops stressed. 

However, “if one were to choose not to be vaccinated, one would have a moral responsibility to embrace the necessary precautions to avoid spreading the disease to others,” they said.

The development of the AstraZeneca vaccine is a cause for greater concern because of the way it was developed, the bishops said.

“It did utilize in the design, production, development, and confirmatory testing a cell line that originated from tissue taken from an aborted baby. This vaccine may be received only if there are no other alternatives,” the bishops said. “If one does not have a choice of vaccine and a delay in immunization may bring about serious consequences for one’s health and the health of others, it would be permissible to accept the AstraZeneca vaccine.” 

The AstraZeneca vaccine is “somewhat similar in production to the Rubella vaccine, which the Pontifical Academy of Life indicated could be received for grave reasons and if there are no other alternatives,” they said.

Both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines were developed using mRNA technology, a new style of vaccine that effectively trains a person’s immune system to detect the infamous “spike” protein of the COVID-19 virus and mount an immune response. Both companies say their final test results showed their vaccines are approximately 95% effective at preventing severe COVID-19 symptoms. Both vaccines require two shots, spaced approximately a month apart. 

Pfizer’s vaccine, which is the only one so far to receive FDA approval, began shipping nationwide last week, and has already begun to arrive in limited quantities at some of southeast Michigan’s hospitals. Health care workers, including those at Catholic hospitals such as St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac and Ascension St. John Hospital in Detroit, will be among the first to be vaccinated.

It is expected the Moderna vaccine will receive FDA approval in the coming days.

The Michigan bishops’ statement follows a lengthy analysis by the chairmen of the U.S. bishops’ doctrine and pro-life committees, who documented the vaccines’ development in greater detail.

Even though the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are permissible for Catholics to receive, those who do so must not ignore the abortion connection, however remote, said Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan. 

“It is true that one can receive benefits from an evil action in the past without intending that action or approving of it,” they explained. “The association with the evil action that comes with receiving benefits from that evil action, however, can have a corrupting influence on one’s perception of the evil action, making it more difficult to recognize it as evil.

“One might become desensitized to the gravely evil nature of that action. One might become complacent about that action and ignore the obligation to do what one can to oppose the evil action,” they said, adding that others might see “one’s acceptance of benefits from an evil action” and feel the action isn’t really evil, feel less urgency “to oppose that evil” or even miss opportunities to do what they can “to oppose it.”

“We should be on guard so that the new COVID-19 vaccines do not desensitize us or weaken our determination to oppose the evil of abortion itself and the subsequent use of fetal cells in research,” Bishop Rhoades and Archbishop Naumann said.

Catholic News Service contributed to this report.
2) The Chosen: Recently, I had a chance to watch several episodes of The Chosen. The Chosen is the first-ever-multi-season TV show about the life of Jesus. Created outside of the Hollywood system, The Chosen allows us to see Him through the eyes of those who knew him.

The series is incredibly done and I have been mesmerized by each episode I have watched.

The series is available on Pure Flix or you can purchase a digital copy or a DVD of Season One on The Chosen website (

Below is the series official trailer. If you are interested in being part of the watch party and discussion group, please click on the watch party flyer below.
3) Holy Hour This Week: Please consider joining us for Holy Hour this Thursday (also live-streamed) at 7 PM. This week's Holy Hour will be a silent Holy Hour (no music).

4) This Sunday's Readings - Sunday, January 10, 2021

5) Grow+Go for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord:
Grow+Go, content is designed to help you understand what it means to be an evangelizing disciple of Christ. Using the Sunday Scriptures as the basis for reflection, Grow+Go offers insight into how we can all more fully GROW as disciples and then GO evangelize, fulfilling Christ's Great Commission to "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit." (Matthew 28:19) The concept behind the weekly series is to make discipleship and evangelization simple, concrete and relatable. Look for Grow+Go in our weekly emails.

6) Sunday Reflection by Jeff Cavins:
Jeff Cavins offers his insights on the readings for this Sunday, The Baptism of the Lord:

7) Giving to SJA: I'm truly grateful for all of your support of SJA during this pandemic. Your support means so much. The increase in electronic giving has been tremendous. Giving electronically, whether on a one time or recurring basis is pretty simple. For more information on online giving, please click on the following button.

8) This week's edition of TALLer Tales:
My Dad’s Final Journey: When I wrote last week’s column, I concluded by saying I hoped that by the time you read it, my family would have been on the mend, my parents would have been released from the hospital, and we were finally able to celebrate Christmas together as a family. Unfortunately, that wish and prayer never came true. My dad, quite unexpectantly, went home to the Lord on New Year’s Day.
It was a wild journey. My parents were doing so well just before Christmas, and the hospital had already talked to me about transferring them both to a rehab center. I had two conditions that had to be met: 1) that they were together on Christmas Day, and 2) they had to be in the same room at the rehab center.
On Christmas morning, things changed. Shortly after celebrating the 8 AM mass, I received a phone call from the infectious disease doctor handling my dad’s case. He told me my dad’s breathing changed overnight, and there was a concern the COVID virus may have gone to his brain. He cautioned me that if the virus had gone to my dad’s brain, there was no further treatment to help him. He also said that because his condition worsened, he finally qualified for Remdisivir and steroids. Our only hope was that his body would respond to the steroids, but the doctor cautioned me by saying, “I don’t have a lot of warm and fuzzies about this one!” My heart sank, and I thought to myself, “Some Christmas gift.” My dad was doing so well at this point. They started him on Remdisivir and steroids immediately, and I called my sisters to tell them the news. I purposely did not tell my mom because I wanted her to focus on her own healing. They both were in the same room at Grosse Pointe Beaumont, and she was doing a ton of worrying just watching my dad deteriorate before her eyes.
After receiving the first dose of steroids, my dad perked up almost immediately. It was a Christmas morning miracle. He sat up in bed, ate his first full meal in over a week, and was quite talkative on our family’s Zoom Christmas call that evening. We were ecstatic. He continued to rally, and plans were set in motion for my parents to be transferred to Regency of Saint Clair Shores the Monday following Christmas.

My sister Jackie and I met my parents at the entrance to Regency as they were being “delivered” by ambulance on that Monday afternoon after Christmas. My parents were put in a first-floor room, so we had the added benefit of being able to do window visits. While the Zoom calls allowed us to see our parents, the window visits revealed how weak they both were. I was astonished to see how little both could walk and maneuver. When we did our window visits, we would use our cell phone to talk back and forth, and my dad would do his familiar wave to us from his bed at the far end of the room. It was apparent this was going to be a long haul for both of them. In the days to follow, my dad got more quiet and sluggish. His white blood cell count started to climb, and they discovered he had a bad urinary tract infection. They started him on antibiotics, but he continued to decline. My mom was very worried at this point.

On New Year’s Day, I decided after the 8 AM mass to bring them communion. I asked the nurse if she would take the pyx from me, bring it to their room immediately, and then I would pray with them from the window. By the grace of God, she looked at me and said, “Meet me at the side door. I’ll do something better.” She allowed me in, had me suit up, and walked me into my parents’ room. I immediately called my siblings, who rallied the rest of the family, and we all jumped onto a Zoom call. As I’m not one to wait until the final moments to pray all the Church’s prayers for the dying, I decided to do all those rituals, including the Apostolic Pardon, and bring my dad Viaticum. Needless to say, there was a ton of sobbing. My dad was responsive and participated. After we ended our Zoom call, my mom and I got my dad to drink some Ensure and some pudding. The nurse came in and noticed my dad’s hands were a bit clammy, but he was alert. I wished I could have stayed the whole day inside that room, but I knew I had to leave. As I approached St. Joan just before noon on New Year’s Day, my mom called crying, saying that they were calling 911 because my dad’s vitals had changed drastically. I turned around immediately and went back to Regency. When they wheeled my dad into the ambulance, he was unresponsive, and his eyes were fixed toward the sky. I knew it wasn’t good. I followed the ambulance to St. John Hospital, where I waited in the parking lot for someone to call me. I also called Fr. Joe Mahoney, the chaplain there, who came back to the hospital to help get me in. The ER doctor called me and told me to meet her inside the triage area. When I got inside, we went to my dad’s side. She discussed a bunch of stuff with me, but it was very clear he was in critical condition. His foley had clogged, so urine had backed up into his system, causing his blood to go toxic. They had him on a nasal oxygen line, but they switched to a mask to help him breathe easier. We talked about intubating him, but all the doctors said he would probably never survive. So, with my mom on the phone, we decided we would not intubate him but would give him the assistance of a BiPap machine. As they prepared him to be transferred to ICU, I noted his breathing got very shallow even with the BiPap. I called the doctor and nurse into his room, and they agreed he wasn’t breathing as well on the BiPap as he did with the nasal cannula. As they were changing things back to the nasal cannula, his pulse dived, as did his blood pressure. As I stood by him and held his hand, with Fr. Joe Mahoney as my side, I watched my dad take his final breath of life here on earth. I couldn’t believe what was happening. It happened all too quickly. My dad had gone home to the Lord. I took my dad’s wedding ring off and gathered his Father Solanus badge he was wearing. I now had to go back to Regency to tell my mom and sisters what had happened. It was all too surreal at this point. I made the trek back to Regency, and they allowed me back into the room so I could tell my mom in person and not through a window. My sisters noticed immediately through the window I had my dad’s wedding ring on my finger. I told my mom what had happened, and she fell into my arms. Watching my dad go home to the Lord was tough, but telling my mom seemed worse. We then decided there was NO WAY my mom was staying inside that empty room by herself without all of us around her. So I signed the paperwork to “kidnapped” her so we could bring her home to be in her own bed surrounded by all of her family. It was a very tough month, and indeed a tough year. But I was graced with the final gifts of giving him Viaticum and the Apostolic Pardon and commending him to the Lord. It was also grace-filled that my parents could be in the same hospital room at Grosse Pointe Beaumont and then at Regency, so they could spend their last Christmas and New Year’s together. We were graced with the final gift that my dad didn’t die alone and that he died as I held his hand. Blessed be God. My heart, all of our hearts, were broken. I couldn’t help but recall and keep saying to myself, the all too familiar and only preface to the Eucharistic Prayer that I use at funerals, “Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended, and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven.” God bless you, Dad! Rest in Peace. Love ya! We look forward to seeing you again, when the love of Christ, which conquers all things, destroys even death itself.
Please keep my mom and family in your prayers.
Enjoy the week. Know of my prayers.

In Christ,
Msgr Mike Simply Signature
9) Tire Tracks in the d’Arc
“I shall make all things well”: As we approached the last couple of days of 2020, I heard of one of the saddest traditions I can recall hearing. Apparently, New York City annually celebrates “Good Riddance Day.” In a “normal” year, maybe not last year, people are invited to write down all the things from the past year to which they’d like to say “good riddance,” and they are shredded and added to the Times Square confetti, as those people look forward to better times next year. 12 months later, I’m sure they are saying the same thing. So much of our experience is determined by our own attitude toward it. Tragedies not withstanding, there is always something to be thankful for. If our hope is in some utopian experience in this present world, we’ll be waiting until the Kingdom comes. We will only make sense of the events of the coming year if our hope is not in an ideal year with no trouble, but in the Lord.
I sincerely hope 2021 is a good year for all of us. Even more, I hope that it is a year we can all live with a thankful disposition. What if we could take off the blinders that stop us seeing what’s on either side of whatever may be troubling us? I hope we can dare to remember that God has blessed us so much already and plans on continuing to do so. Do we ever consider that each one of us was a deliberate thought of God, Who willed us into existence? He maintains our life to the extent that if He no longer intended us to be here on earth, He would have simply removed His Will. Our lives would have been over by now. We would all do well to take a leaf from the writings of the 14th Century mystic, St. Julian of Norwich. Considering the mystery of God’s love for us, Julian asked: “Ah, good Lord, how could all things be well, because of the great harm which has come through sin to your creatures?” Of the response she heard from God, she wrote: “And so our good Lord answered all the questions and doubts which I could raise, saying most comfortingly: ‘I make all things well, and I can make all things well, and I shall make all things well, and I will make all things well; and you will see for yourself that every kind of thing will be well.’ ... And in these words, God wishes us to be enclosed in rest and peace.”

Last of the Summer Wine: Last weekend in my homily I mentioned my grandmother, the royal family fan, would be rolling in her gave over the Netflix series, “The Crown.” Over Christmas I had a chance to sit through a few episodes of a favorite TV show of hers and mine. It’s a show by the name of “Last of the Summer Wine.” At least one parishioner has told me that this is a favorite of his too. If you want to see where Fr. Andrew grew-up (or at least was raised…. my mom doesn’t think I’ve grown-up yet), look-up this TV show. It’s set in the little village of Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, just a couple of miles from my home. We would run into the film crews. It’s where my love of the countryside comes from. That’s one of the draws of the show for me and for many of its viewers—just the stunning surroundings of the location. The show has been aired on PBS now and then, but is also available on certain pay channels. I watch it through Amazon Prime video, but there are free episodes on YouTube. 

The series is the longest-running sitcom of any show in the world. It ran for 37 years, 295 episodes. The remarkable part is that the show centers around 3 retired men who grew-up and attended school together and having gone their separate ways, have settled into their retirement in the same home-town they spent their youths. But many of the main actors remained active on the show for all or most of the 37 years, into their 80s and 90s. One is widowed, two never married and now they spend their days living a second late youth getting into mischief, having new adventures, “solving” the world’s problems, philosophizing while lying on the grassy hills and generally doing nothing worthwhile. All the time, they reminisce about their younger days and those they knew, most of whom show-up at some point, still gracing the same hills. There are illusions of grand pasts, countless opportunities for humility, loves and hopes still pursued, probably never to be fulfilled. With respect to shows like Seinfeld, sorry, but Last of the Summer Wine is the original show about nothing.
The series writers very deliberately fill the show with a nostalgic old-world feel — the cars are always a couple of decades behind the times and there are always far more people on bicycles than even an English village could account for. A cast of supporting characters suffer and add to the mischief of the 3 men: Foggy, the former corporal sign-writer with endless fake stories of war-time heroism, Compo, who may have never held a job in his life and dresses the part, and Norman Clegg, the timid philosopher of the group.
It’s such a gentle comedy, one I really could watch with my grandmother. Unlike many shows today, it’s unoffensive and doesn't try to break new ground. It just basks in the idea of having time to breathe, time to enjoy the simple life— and bask in the natural beauty it shows off throughout the show. The gentle soundtrack is a nostalgic anthem that reminds the viewer of a perfect summer evening as these men live out their later years. I love the scenery and I love the wisdom of the ponderous philosophy that is scattered throughout if you listen for it:
Compo, a little frustrated: “Where’s the glossiness in our lives?”
Clegg, quite contented: “At our age, there’s a lot to be said for a plain matte finish…” 
The plain matte start: Today, as we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, we end our Christmas season and move into Ordinary Time in the Church calendar. It seems to go hand-in-hand with January, at least the January I always knew as a kid growing-up in Summer Wine country. The excitement of Christmas was over and gone, it was really foggy and wet, the summer was forever away. January gave me the blues. Ordinary Time has no melody. Nobody sends card for Ordinary Time. Nobody sings, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Ordinary Time.” But now I get it. It’s in the Ordinary Time, in the plain matte finish of our lives. It’s in the simple, unoriginal but blessed moments that we get to live-out the gift of grace first given to us at our baptism. Where we are called to continually renew through the sacraments.
We must leave the glossiness of Christmas, we must leave the grace of the font. It’s in Ordinary Time that we become Saints.
You are in my prayers this New Year!

Fr. Andrew

This week's LIVE Stream
Schedule at St. Joan of Arc:
Monday (January 11):
7 AM - Mass

Tuesday (January 12):
7 AM - Mass
8:30 AM - School Mass (Grades 5-8)

Wednesday (January 13):
7 AM - Mass
8:30 AM - School Mass (Grades 1-4)

Thursday (January 14):
7 AM - Mass
10 AM - Funeral for Charles Miller

Friday (January 15):
7 AM - Mass
10 AM - Funeral for Mavourneen Mingo

Saturday (January 16):
4 PM - Mass
6 PM - Mass

Sunday (January 17):
8 AM - Mass
12 Noon - Mass

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Bulletin for Sunday, January 10, 2021
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
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