It is getting around that time of year with school beginning again. A few years back, there was a very funny commercial on TV for Staples. It started with kids bemoaning the start of school, then a cut to parents gleefully shopping, using shopping carts like hobby horses, with music playing “It’s that wonderful time of the year!”
I’ve always thought that September is a better time to begin a new year. We are back from our vacations, therapists once again patrol the canyons of Manhattan, and we begin a new term. I loved that time when we met our new teachers, got our new textbooks, had no bad marks over our heads (yet) and could open brand-new notebooks and try to write legibly (at least for the first page!). That bracing of newness and the possibility of a good dose of change had a wonderful affect on me.
It is also the time for the new Pastoral Year commencing in parishes. I know that liturgically we begin on the First Sunday in Advent, and civilly on January 1st, but September seems a better place and time to put our best foot forward and live in hope and expectation. The Jews have it right: Their new year, celebrated on Rosh Hashanah, is
usually in September!
So with the beginning of the Academic year and the Pastoral year, we can begin to luxuriate in potentials and“who knows” as we strive to move forward. It was the ancient Hebrews that broke the mold when it comes to our conception of time. For most of the ancient civilizations, time was cyclical, like the seasons and the phases of the moon. For the ancient Israelites, time moved forward, not in cycles. So that means when we begin a new year, it is brand new. Nothing is determined and anything is possible. That is such a promising concept of the year! It does not have to be just a copy of what went before, but it can be different. In fact, we can actually progress and make this pastoral year even better than last year!
It is true that the liturgical seasons are constant. Each year we center on the person of Jesus Christ: Ordinary Time celebrating His ministry, Advent-Christmas celebrating the Incarnation found in the Birth of Christ, and Lent Easter commemorating the Redemption through His Passion, Death and Resurrection. This bedrock of our faith gives solidity and direction to each year. Jesus is the very reason for the Church and for our Parish!
As our Pastoral Year begins, we look to our own major parish-wide events planned. First is our Parish Retreat. This year, it will be on Saturday, September 29th, which is the Feast of the Archangels. It’s our Ninth Consecutive Parish Retreat. That alone is cause for celebration! The theme is the impact of the Supernatural in our spiritual lives.
We are trying a new format this year. It’s sort of a “faith and fun” day. It is still at Huntington, at the Seminary, and the spiritual part of the day goes from 8:00AM to 4:00PM. Then comes the fun as we are feasted by the Seminary with a BBQ on the most beautiful grounds on Long Island! There will be opportunity for conversations, sports, and just lots of eating and fun! We leave the Seminary at 7:00 PM and get home at a decent hour.
The following Saturday, October 6th, we begin our Marian Celebrations with a beautiful procession with the Blessed Sacrament through the streets of Astoria. Jesus actually walks with us, blessing our parish streets and homes with His Presence.
We then have great opportunities for Adult Spiritual Education, including our yearly Lecture Series. This year, our Speaker will be a Jesuit Father from Fordham who will give three talks on the Pathway of St. Ignatius and his Spiritual Exercises.
Our Fall Film Festival is going to be really interesting, the topic being: The Godfather Trilogy: An American Family Tragedy (Take the Cannoli!). By the way, this will be our 19th Film Festival!
Slated for later in the year: our Lenten Mission, our Spring Film Festival: The Lord of the Rings: A Catholic Epic; our Opera Workshop on the French Opera “Dialogues of the Carmelites” (with our yearly visit to a Met Performance!); and our Fifth Parish Pilgrimage, this time to Lourdes, Fatima, Avila and Paris!
Of course, there will be tons of events by our many wonderful organizations including another Marian Consecration on our patronal feast.
This exciting Pastoral Year will give everyone an opportunity to grow as a Catholic Christian while we try to expand and celebrate our parish!
You know, we will hit 100 years soon (2024)! So make your plans now to use the time from now onward, so the coming anniversary year may be one for the ages!