Father Larry's Letters

"Father Larry's Letters" are a weekly letter/journal about the many events occurring within and around the St. Luke's community.

Vacation - Even in Iowa!

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

When I came back from vacation on Friday afternoon July 21, we went from Ames where it was raining and 79 degrees to West Des Moines - no rain and 102 degrees!

Vacation in Iowa was great! It was very relaxing and enjoyable. We did not have to travel long distances to anything. Fr. Ken Gross and I left on Monday July 10 in the morning and went first to the Neil Smith Prairie Reserve near Prairie City, Iowa. They have a great visitor center to share lots of information about Iowa when it was a prairie. Buffalo Elk are there as well but they were in the shade because of the heat.

We traveled to Honey Creek State Park on Lake Rathbun. The next day to Ottumwa to lunch at the “Canteen,” a loose meat restaurant since 1936, then to Kalona to visit the Historical Village and Museum telling about the Amish and their settlement there.

We visited the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, and the Maquoketa Caves State Park. On Friday 7/14, we stopped at the Bellevue State Park overlooking the Mississippi and the river lock. We enjoyed watching the locks in action and finding out about their history.

We stopped at the town of St. Donatus and visited the church and outdoor Stations of the Cross. In Dubuque we visited the Mississippi River Museum, walked the river walk, rode the Fenelon outdoor elevator up the bluff, and hiked in Eagle Point Park.

On Sunday 7/16, we traveled to visit the New Mallory Trappist Monastery. It is a beautiful place - nice and peaceful. Then we went back to the river to Pike’s Peak State Park outside McGreggor. It has the best views of the bluffs and river as well as the barge traffic.

Monday 7/17 we traveled to near Harper’s Ferry, Iowa to the Effigy Mounds National Monument. Centuries ago, Indian settlements built large burial mounds in the shape of familiar animals. From there we went on to Decorah staying over night there. The next morning, we traveled 10 miles south to Spillville, to go to the Biley Clock Museum and Antonin Dvork Museum. Well worth the trip. Coming back, we visited the Vesterheim Norwegian–American Museum. It was interesting to get a flavor of a different nationality in their settlement in Iowa.

July 19 found us coming to the West Bend, Iowa Grotto of the Redemption. It is an amazing work of art - so many scenes that told the story of our Redemption. Then we made our way the following day to Remsen and St. Mary’s and their restored church. Beautiful stained glass, altars from the early 1900’s. We stopped to visit Trinity Heights in Sioux City with its 33’ high statues of Mary and Jesus and other outdoor and indoor displays. We concluded the day at Preparation State Park in the Loess Hills near Pisgah, Iowa.

The last day of vacation, we stopped at the Boone Scenic Railway for a 1:30 pm ride. And Bill Dolezal from St. Luke’s was our volunteer Conductor. Thanks Bill. This is a short version of the vacation. Iowa has lots of very interesting places and things to see. It is worth your time.

With August now on us, all kinds of things that begin in the Fall are very close at hand. Let me know if you know of anyone interested in the RCIA. Peter Haack our new Faith Formation Director is looking for catechists. Let the parish office know about either of these.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Celebrations - Summer is Here!

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

I am writing this letter on 6/29, the afternoon after the several tornadoes that came to Iowa. I am hoping that there will not be a repeat performance this evening.

On Sunday 6/18, I had an opportunity to watch the outside performance of the Shakespeare play “The Taming of the Shrew” at Salisbury House. It was a bit of a farce but well played - very enjoyable.

Monday 6/19, I joined several other priests for a golf outing at Legacy in Norwalk. It was my typical golf - some good shots and a lot of others. Good that it was best ball.

On Tuesday, I met with my financial adviser and then went to the Tribunal at the Diocesan Offices. In the evening I enjoyed dinner at the Pearson home, some old friends who have moved into St. Luke’s. On Wednesday, I joined area priests for our pastor’s lunch at the Merle Hay Mall. We enjoy sharing activities from our respective parishes and try to share ideas and helpful hints.

Thursday 6/22 after the 5:30 pm mass, I joined one of our supper clubs at Ryan and Meg Schon’s home. We enjoyed the smoked meats and lots of side dishes. Thanks Ryan and Meg.

Friday 6/23, I visited the hospital and saw my spiritual director. That evening, I went to dinner at St. Anthony’s being held for Trevor Chicoine before his ordination as a priest. That ordination was held at St. Ambrose that evening. It was a great celebration.

Saturday evening at the 4:30 pm mass, we had the joy of completing the ceremonies for baptism of Amelia Marlene and Charlotte Marie, daughters of Jeremy and Carrie Braden. They were baptized in the NICU when they were born early. Welcome Amelia and Charlotte!

Sunday was a great day! I even went out for a nice bike ride, going out into the northwest wind and coming back with that wind. Wonderful! That evening, I enjoyed Vespers with those gathered for the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the Permanent Diaconate. It was great to congratulate many of the deacons and their wives that I have worked with through the years.

Monday 6/26, I joined the Knights of Columbus for their Installation of New Officers mass. Knights and their spouses joined together afterward for a light meal. On Tuesday, I joined Tonya Eaton our principal of St. Luke’s School, for a grant award ceremony at St. Ambrose. St. Luke’s School received a $3,000 grant for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). That evening, the St. Luke’s School Board met for their regular meeting.

Wednesday evening 6/28, the Social Concerns Committee held its monthly meeting. We focused on the book “$2.00 a Day” for our study. We reviewed our Charter Document for the committee and discussed aspects that we needed to build on and tasks to continue working on as well.

Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, the rehearsal and celebration of the wedding for Tori Brown and Ian Leslie was held. Congratulations Tori and Ian. Saturday evening at the 4:30 pm Mass, we celebrated the baptism of Rex Dvorak, son of Aaron and April. Welcome Rex.

Keep Fr. Ken Gross and I in your prayers as we vacation 7/10-23 touring Iowa!

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Retreat in the Country - Picnic in the face of the Sun

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

On this Sunday morning 6/18, we have found relief from the hot weather. Nice North West breeze. It will mean a bike ride later today.

The priests of the diocese were at our Annual Priests’ Retreat from June 4-8. We enjoyed Fr. Chris Collins, SJ as our retreat master. He used many themes from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius as the basis of his reflections. It was beautiful weather, before the heat and no storms. The retreat gave us all a restful and inspiring time with the Monks at Conception Abbey.

The Thursday when I returned, we had the regular Parish Pastoral Council meeting after the 5:30 pm Mass and Adoration. Plans for the focus on Eucharistic adoration were presented. The discernment for new council members information and a prayer evening were also discussed. Council members were encouraged to invite parishioners who would make good council members.

Friday evening, Fr. Savino, the missionary from Ghana arrived for the weekend. I enjoyed Fr. Savino and discovered that he had been at St. Luke’s four years ago for the same kind of presentation at our weekend masses. It was good to hear about his diocese once again. Later this summer, Bishop Pates will be going to Fr. Savino’s diocese to ordain 15 new priests for that diocese. Sometimes it is indeed a small world.

Saturday and Sunday June 10-11, Fr. Savino preached at all the masses. He has called here since that weekend thanking everyone for their generous response to his preaching. After the 10:30 am mass, about noon, the Parish Picnic was held in our gym because of the heat and the very strong wind. Most all were grateful to be able to be inside for food and fun. Thanks to the Welcome Team for their arrangements.

On Monday, 6/12 I joined several Shelby County priests for lunch and cards with Fr. Paul Monahan in Council Bluffs. I got close to winning but it did not happen even though I was the score keeper!

Tuesday 6/13, I met with a couple planning their wedding. I also met with a parishioner to talk about “Life Runners,” a nationwide Pro-Life group. He is interested in seeing if a local group can begin. I also met that evening to discuss further developments concerning Mobile classrooms.

Wednesday 6/14, our Parish Finance Council held its monthly meeting beginning at 7:00 pm. We reviewed the monthly reports and the budget for the coming fiscal year. Questions and adjustments were answered and given. The Stewardship committee presented several suggestions for the Council to help parishioners understand our Finances and to encourage participation of time, talent and treasure.

Thursday morning, I spoke to a phone company representative about ways he thought we could benefit by working with them. On Friday after the regular mass, we began the 12 hour Eucharistic Adoration. At least two people were in Church for each of the hours. We concluded with Benediction by 9:00 pm. Thank you to all who came to enjoy the time with the Lord.

On Saturday and Sunday at our weekend masses, we had a special blessing for Fathers on their special day. We also invited couples to renew their marriage vows. There were lots of smiles and heart felt memories.

May all be blessed as we enter into Summer on Wednesday!

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Congratulation Parties – Retreats - Picnics

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

Now that June has arrived, so has 90 degree weather. Now kids can be happy going to the pool. Now vacationers and staycationers can be happy.

Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend saw several Graduation parties, Wedding Anniversaries and a couple of Post Baptism parties. That meant having my lunch in stages and finding more than enough to eat. Congratulations to all who were celebrating.

On Monday morning, I left bright and early to go to St. Mary’s in Panama, Iowa for their memorial Day Mass. Afterward, we went up to the cemetery for the blessing of the graves including my parents, grandparents and other family members. Afterward, I went to spend the day with my brother Tony, his wife Paulette and their son Chris. Great food!

Tuesday morning, the St. Luke the Evangelist Corporation had a meeting of its officers to pass the corporate resolution to order the rest of the Playground equipment. We anticipate that being installed the first weekend of August. Later that morning, I met with a parishioner to help with his annulment case.

Wednesday morning, I met with a couple planning a wedding at St. Luke’s in April of 2018! That seems so far away yet it is so necessary to plan early. They will be doing their preparation sessions in Kansas City. In the evening, there was a joint meeting of the Stewardship Committee, the Parish Pastoral Council and the Finance Council. We all listened to a pod-cast given by Fr. Lies at the April 21 Stewardship symposium. It was a good presentation and lots of discussion followed.

Thursday evening after Mass and Adoration, the Liturgy Committee held its regular meeting. We welcomed new member Karen Bishop. She will be working with the Eucharistic Ministers. The Environment for Pentecost was discussed. Their next meeting will be in August.

Friday morning, I celebrated the 8:30 am mass followed by the 1st Friday 9:30 am mass at Vintage Hills. With no meetings in the evening, I went home to the Rectory and watched the 5:30 pm News and had a grilled Iowa chop!

Saturday the Environment committee decorated the church for Pentecost. Lots of Red! That evening after mass, Elizabeth Ann, daughter of Alan and Jocelyn Brincks was baptized.

On Sunday morning at the 10:30 am mass, Madelyn Kay, daughter of Cody and Jaclyn Stamm was baptized. And after the 10:30 am mass, Verna Katherine, daughter of Ryan and Andrea Rock was baptized. Welcome Elizabeth, Madelyn and Verna!

Sunday also saw the regular Stewardship committee meeting at 12:30 pm. That afternoon, I went to Council Bluffs for my nephew Ben’s Graduation party. Following the party, I made my way down to Conception Abbey for the Annual Priests’ retreat.

Don’t forget our Parish Picnic at Big Creek State Park Shelter #1 at 12:30 pm today June 11. And plan as well for taking some time to pray on Friday June 16 during our 12 hours of Adoration from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. It is good to spend some quiet time with Jesus.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Lots of Parties - School’s Out!

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

Iowa continues to be a state of constant contrasts. Yesterday, May 27, it poured buckets of rain and by evening, it was clear leading to today’s glorious and blue sky day. Thank you Lord.

Last Sunday May 21, we held the Bike/Walk/Run from OLIH to St. Luke’s. There was a strong northwest wind and about 55 degrees - making the day challenging for all the participants. But there was a good turnout of hardy souls. Thanks to all who participated. A great time was had afterward with food and games in the gym.

Monday was a relaxing day for me - I took the bicycle in for a tune up and new tires. That evening, the Knights of Columbus held their regular meeting in the gym.

Tuesday after mass, I enjoyed breakfast at the “Original Pancake House” across from the south Hy-Vee. We all had Swedish pancakes. What a delight! Nice place. In the afternoon, I went for my monthly Spiritual Direction at the Emmaus House. That evening, the St. Luke’s School Board held its regular meeting. It was a time to do some brainstorming for what kinds of things can happen in the future with middle school coming very soon to St. Luke’s. We also reviewed committee reports and portions of the Parent Handbook.

On Wednesday, we had the privilege of taking Patsy Carlson out to lunch at District 36. It was a wonderful way to say thank you to her for all of her service to St. Luke’s in the last year and a half. Thanks Patsy. That evening, I was invited to read the gospel from John at the Ankeny Baccalaureate held at OLIH. It was a very spirited prayer and celebration.

Early Thursday morning, Bob Lickteig and I went down to rural Winterset to look at some mobile classrooms. We are in the process of securing four mobile classrooms for St. Luke’s. These looked pretty good. At lunch time that day, the Ankeny Ministerial Association held its monthly meeting at the Wig and Pen. We discussed how Ankeny could be more involved in the AMOS process. We agreed on hosting different months for the coming year.

On Thursday evening, the Social Concerns Committee held its regular meeting. Our study was the 4th Chapter of the book “$2.00 a day.” It describes what the very poor try to survive on right here in the USA. We also discussed possible Sister Parish relationships including Pine Ridge in South Dakota, St. Vincent de Paul in Des Moines.

Friday was the last day for School at St. Luke’s. The final school mass included recognition of the classes, perfect attendance and other recognitions. It is hard to believe that the school year is over already. Thank you Tonya Eaton and all the school staff for a wonderful second year of our school. After school was concluded the staff enjoyed a lunch from Smokey D’s. Great food!

Saturday included some graduation parties and then a baptism after the 4:30 pm Mass. We welcomed Colton Thomas Pope into our Catholic community and I enjoyed a nice dinner at his parent’s home.

At the 10:30 am Sunday mass, we baptized Catherina Rose Dvorjak, daughter of Daniel and Daniela. After mass, we celebrated the baptism of Victoria Therese Edson, daughter of Ryan and Maureen. Welcome Colton, Catherina and Victoria. Then more parties!

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Sun, Rain, Cold, Celebrating

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

Iowa is being Iowa again! 45 degrees and wind? Not the best weather for our Bike/Walk/Run. We are in great hopes for improvement in these May days!

Last Sunday May 14th, I am sure that you gathered and honored your mothers. I had a chance to enjoy the Des Moines Symphony at the Civic Center. It was a great presentation that featured a video of Grant Woods with music composed for that presentation. Nicely done.

Monday May 15, the St. Vincent de Paul golf outing was held at Willow Creek Golf course. I enjoyed playing with Frs. Ken Gross, Greg Leach and Chris Hartshorn. We ended up even for the day - not bad for us!

That evening, St. Luke’s hosted the visitation and funeral for Joseph Crann, Jr. He is the father of Steve Crann also from St. Luke’s. A light supper followed. May he rest in peace.

On Tuesday morning, we had our regular staff meeting at 9:00 am. Wednesday, the area priests met for lunch. It is a great way to hear about what everyone is doing and to support each other besides getting some good food. That afternoon, I hosted the Semi-annual AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy) board. A year end report was given and the budget for the next year was presented and approved.

Thursday morning, I met with a couple who are beginning their marriage preparation. It is a delight to help them prepare for their celebration of the sacrament of matrimony and to talk about their hopes and dreams. After mass that evening, the Faith Formation Council met for its regular meeting. We reviewed the steps that we need to take now to get prepared for our Fall Alpha series. We also reviewed the hiring of Peter Haack as our new Faith Formation Director. We thank Patsy Carlson for all the work that she has done with our students and adults in the past year. We are in a wonderful place because of all her work to transition into our new director.

Later that evening, the Finance Council held its regular meeting. The monthly Financial statements were reviewed. Reports about the Mobile classrooms were given as well as the update from the Strategic Planning committee. Three Architect firms who have presented design concepts will be interviewed soon. The proposed budget was reviewed and will be ready for approval at our next meeting.

Friday after the 8:30 am mass, I had a chance to give Fr. Adam Westphal a tour of the parish offices, church and school as well as the rectory. He is home after the completion of his spring classes and before the beginning of his last class to be held during June. He is taking a little vacation break. At Noon, I went into the diocesans offices for our regular Tribunal panel meeting. That evening, I had a chance to be part of Jimmy Becker’s surprise 30th birthday at his place of work. Happy Birthday Jimmy.

Saturday after the 4:30 pm mass, I celebrated the baptism of Grace Ann Kelly, daughter of Kyle and Laura. They had a nice dinner following in the gym.

Sunday morning, I enjoyed the French Toast and Cheesy Scrambled Egg breakfast provided by the Knights of Columbus. At the 10:30 am mass, we celebrated the baptism of Eden Rae, daughter of Anthony Larysa Losornio. Welcome Grace and Eden! Then on to the Bike/Walk/Run. More next week.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

May Glory, Funeral Resurrection, Transitions

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

We have been blessed with wonderful May days - I am sure the May flowers will be bursting out in their array. We thank God for his spring gifts.

Last Sunday April 30, we did have a wonderful 1:00 pm 1st Communion for 24 of our young people. It was a wonderful time to know that Jesus is touching the hearts and lives with His presence and joy.

On Monday morning, I concelebrated the funeral for Norma Pins, wife of Deacon Fred Pins and mother of Fr. Joe Pins at St. Augustin. May the Lord bring her to eternal resurrection life. In the evening, we had more interviews for our Faith Formation Director.

Tuesday 5/2 after the morning mass, I went out to St. Mary’s in Panama for the funeral of Ed Griener, the husband of my first cousin Rosie. In the funeral liturgy, their 8 children indeed celebrated his full and colorful life. That evening, there were more follow up talks with our potential Faith Formation Directors.

Wednesday evening, I joined one of our supper clubs for a wonderful meal at District 36. Thursday during the day, I visited one of our new born children who was back in the hospital. May God’s healing touch her. After our 5:30 pm mass and Adoration, the Liturgy Committee held its regular meeting.

At that meeting Deacon Fred presented a proposal for helping our Parish understand and take part in Eucharist Adoration and Exposition. This proposal will be further developed and scheduled in the very near future.

On Friday at the 8:30 am mass, students from St. Luke’s Catholic School received their 2nd communion. They came to school in their 1st communion clothes and joined in the May Crowning that took place after mass. I had the wonderful opportunity to join the St. Augustin Fr. James Polich memorial Golf Outing at Waveland golf course. Beautiful. The golf was fun too.

That evening, I joined Fr. Ken Gross at the Holy Family auction dinner prepared by Bishop Charron. It was a wonderful evening with the Bishop’s specialty pastas and other delights.

Saturday afternoon, the Confirmation candidates and their sponsors gathered for practice at 3:30 pm. We were then ready to celebrate with Bishop Pates at the 4:30 pm mass. It was a wonderful celebration and touch of the Holy Spirit in the 18 young people who received Confirmation.

At the weekend masses, I also had the privilege of announcing that Fr. Adam Westphal will be the new associate pastor for St. Luke’s beginning at the end of July, 2017. It will be my responsibility to help him grow in understanding what being a pastor means.

At the same, time I also announced that if all things work out, Fr. Westphal will become the pastor in the summer of 2018 when I retire. It is not this summer, but next summer! By then, Fr. Adam will have a good sense of the parish and have come to know a good number of you. Please welcome him when he arrives after he completes his degree in Canon Law from the Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

Sunday morning, the Knights of Columbus were the Liturgical Ministers and music ministers. Thank you to our KC’s. We enjoyed coffee, juice and donuts after the masses.

May all of you be blessed as we continue celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Newness: Teachers, Directors, Communion, Confirmation

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

After such a nice week last week, then the Drake Relays are in session. And that means of course, cold, wind and rain as I am writing this letter. But there are promises for the spring and May weather to return.

On Sunday 4/23, I went down to St. Ambrose for the Drake combined choirs presentation of “Te Deum.” It was wonderful! Such marvelous blending of voices.

Monday 4/24, I concelebrated the funeral for Debbie Morlan, Fr. Chris Fontanini’s sister at St. Anthony’s. What a large and supportive community gathering for her visitation and funeral - there were lots of rows of chairs outside the church! That evening, I was hosting the Shelby County priests at the Rectory for Beef Ragot and Euchre. Fr. Ken Gross and I did manage to win the most games.

Tuesday after the mass, the study group gathered to talk about the various kinds of prayer, vocal, meditation and contemplation. I went to my Dermatologist for my annual visit in the afternoon. That evening, the RCIA met for its final session for this year. This “Mystagogia” session focused on the “Priesthood of the Faithful” and how new Catholics are invited to become active within the church.

After the RCIA, I attended the remaining part of the St. Luke’s School Board meeting. Sections of the Parent handbook were reviewed and approved for the coming year.

On Wednesday, I was part of the monthly Tribunal panel gathered at the diocesan offices. Then there were interviews for potential teachers for St. Luke’s Catholic School. Those interviews were followed by two interviews with members of the Faith Formation Council for our Faith Formation Director.

Thursday 4/27, I attended the Ankeny Ministerial Association regular meeting at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. Following that meeting, I had may annual physical - it went well with good reports. After mass, the St. Luke’s School Fine Arts evening was held in the church and the gym. We had another interview for the Faith Formation Director and the Social Concerns Committee held their regular meeting in the library.

On Friday 4/28, I attended my priest’s support group at Christ the King Rectory. After the meeting, I stopped at the hospital to see one of our recently born children with some lung struggles. I came back to find the Knights of Columbus well into the Port Chop and Chicken dinner preparations. It was a wonderful meal—great dinner and of course nice Ice Cream and sauces.

Saturday morning, two 1st Eucharist practices were held. At 2:00 pm, one half of our young people celebrated their 1st Eucharist. On Sunday at 1:00 pm, the other half likewise had their celebration. Congratulations to all who made their 1st Communion over the weekend.

By the time you are looking at this letter, Bishop Pates will have confirmed our 18 young people at the 4:30 pm mass on May 6th. Keep those who have celebrated their 1st Eucharist and Confirmation in your prayers.

May flowers are in order after our April showers. Open your hearts to seeing the presence of God the creator as the new life of spring unfolds around us.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Resurrection, Mercy, Mystagogia, Eucharist

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

God has blessed us with a wonderful sun-filled 2nd Sunday of Easter. I would imagine that lots of farmers are anxious to be out in the fields these growing days. May the Lord be blessed for His gifts to us.

On Monday of last week, I stayed with my sister in Gretna, Nebraska. It was great to sleep in and have a leisurely day. We took a short time to attend the visitation for the husband of a 1st cousin of ours who had died of ALS after suffering for five and one half years with it.

Tuesday meant that we were back to work as we progressed through the Octave of Easter. After the morning adult study session, we had our regular staff meeting. That evening we began the “Mystagogia,” the RCIA reflection on the mysteries of what our new Catholics had experienced in the Easter Vigil. God always touches lives in the sacraments. It is good for us to reflect on that moment in our lives.

Wednesday morning, I met with a person who may be interested in our Faith Formation Director position. The area priests met for “Pastor’s Lunch” at Applebees.

Thursday evening after mass, the Faith Formation Council met for its regular meeting. We looked at what we would need to do when we conducted “Alpha” a second time. We also looked at various resumes that had been sent for the Faith Formation Director. We are hoping to do some interviewing on Wednesday 4/26 and 4/27. We looked at the resource FORMED and asked everyone to come up with ideas about how it could be used in many different ways at St. Luke’s.

Following that meeting, the Finance Council held its regular meeting. A presentation about the possible use of portable buildings was made. The council voted to proceed with the process steps in attempting to purchase these available buildings. We used a work sheet to review and comment on the formation of the budget. Step by step, the budget will be built and approved.

Friday morning, Kathy Lickteig and Reta Althaus traveled to Savior’s Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas for a Stewardship Symposium. It was being held on the 25th Anniversary of the US Bishop’s document “Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response.”

Saturday morning, we celebrated the life of Doug Hamilton, Nancy Deranleau’s husband with visitation and funeral and lunch at St. Luke’s. So many family and friends came to be with Nancy and to share memories of Doug. A fitting gathering and celebration was held.

Saturday evening, Joss Matilda, daughter of Jayna and Andrew Beal was baptized at the 4:30 pm mass. Welcome Joss. On Sunday, Theodore Francis, son of Scott and Vicki Gilloley was baptized at the 10:30 am mass. Nathaniel Ryan, son of Ryan and Melissa King was baptized by Deacon Fred after the 10:30 am mass. Welcome Theodore and Nathaniel!

After the 11:30 am mass, our Potluck welcoming newcomers was held in the gym. Lots of good food and meeting new people were part of the gathering. Welcome to all our newly registered parishioners.

By the time you receive this bulletin, many of our young people will have received their 1st Eucharist. The rest of them will celebrate the 1st reception of Eucharist at 1:00 pm Sunday 4/30. Keep them all in your prayers and our Confirmation candidates as well. They will celebrate Saturday, May 6 at 4:30 pm with bishop Pates.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

The Holiest Week and Easter Joy

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

As I write this letter several days before Easter, we have enjoyed the 1st sunshine after days of wet and gloom. The sunshine warming the earth almost makes the grass and the plants burst out of the ground with new life. It is a fitting prelude to the celebration of Easter that is this very day.

Holy Week is a prolonged celebration of our salvation history. With Palm Sunday, we bless palms and imagine processing with those bringing Jesus into Jerusalem waving their palms and singing with joy. They proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, their king.

Yet how quickly the celebration and the joyful singing with palm branches gives way to shouts of “crucify him! Crucify him!” The drama of the suffering, death and burial become so real in the reading of the passion from Matthew. We found ourselves becoming part of both crowds.

Monday of Holy Week, there was time for private Reconciliation from 6:30-8:00 pm. It was helping us realize in that sacrament what Jesus was accomplishing for us on his way to crucifixion.

Tuesday evening, our RCIA session covered how our candidates for full communion could participate in the Triduum celebrations, Thursday, Friday and at the Easter Vigil.

Wednesday morning, we celebrated mass at 8:30 am for parishioners and for St. Luke’s school. The Strategic Planning committee and the Facilities committees had their meetings that evening.

Thursday evening, we celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7:00 pm. It included the reading from John’s gospel of the Last Supper. In that gospel, Jesus washes the feet of the disciples and Peter. He invites them to do the same kind of service for others. We are called to continue being servants like the disciples were in their lives and ministry. As Jesus showed us, we too can “wash the feet” of those among us in need. After celebrating the real presence of Jesus in the mass, adoration continued until 10:00 pm.

Good Friday we listened to the scripture including the reading of the Passion according to John. Then we had an opportunity to come forward and reverence the wood of the cross - to remember that on a cross, Jesus died for us. Prayers and communion followed.

The whole character of Holy Week changes with the Easter Vigil leading to Easter Sunday and its celebrations. At the Vigil, the fire is blessed, the Easter candle is lit and brought into the church with the light spreading to candles held by those present. The “Exultet” is sung.

Several readings and responses are proclaimed. They give the sweep of salvation history through the scriptures. Finally, the gospel from Matthew about the resurrection is proclaimed. Jesus is risen, he is risen indeed is exclaimed. Candidates from full communion in the church are welcomed and they receive Confirmation and Eucharist. The joy of the Lord is at hand.

The Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday celebrations give us a chance to open our hearts to all that God is doing in the resurrection of Jesus. We too can now come to share in eternal resurrection life with Jesus Christ our Lord. We have every reason to celebrate and to let Easter Joy fill our hearts this special day.

Happy Easter!

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Getting Ready for Holy Week

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

It is amazing that we have come to Holy Week with today’s celebration of Palm Sunday. This week is the height of our Liturgical Celebrations for the Church year. I encourage all of you to take part in the Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter celebrations. It will help you get in touch with all that the death and resurrection of Jesus is about.

On Sunday afternoon 3/26, I joined several other priests helping with confessions at the OLIH Lenten Penance Service. That evening, I took my tax information to the lady who does my taxes in Colo, Iowa. We enjoyed some wonderful pasta after discussing tax details.

Monday 3/27, Frs. Mark Neal and Ken Gross helped with our Lenten Penance Service at St. Luke’s. It was a good time to reflect on our lives and then receive the gift of mercy and forgiveness in this sacrament.

Tuesday 3/ 28, the Tuesday morning study group continued their study of “A Well Built Faith” while I went over to St. Francis to help with their school confessions. After my regular spiritual direction appointment, I attended the Priest’s Personnel Board as a board member. That evening the RCIA met at 6:30 pm and discussed the celebrations during Holy Week.

Wednesday 3/29 was a catch up day. I did meet in the evening with the president of the St. Luke’s School Board and the chairperson of our Finance Council. It was a good meeting to find more ways to help each other with the budgeting process.

Thursday 3/30 I attended the Rally for Life at the State Capital 10:00 am-Noon. Many speakers told of the progress being made to respect life with current legislation supporting life from conception to natural death. I went immediately to the Ministerial Association where AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy) was discussed. Current work on Mental Health issues was highlighted by the OLIH parish AMOS group.

Later that day, I did some home visits to those who are sick. I welcomed Fr. Charles Klamut who is conducting our Parish Lenten Retreat. He celebrated the 5:30 pm mass, opened the 6-7:00 pm adoration and then gave a wonderful reflection using the Call of Matthew by Jesus. Confessions were available afterward.

Friday after the 8:30 am mass, I had a couple of appointments. The Lenten Retreat began again at 4:00 pm with 24 hour adoration, followed by the Divine Mercy Chaplet, Stations of the Cross a light soup supper, then a Witness talk, mass, a reflection and then again confessions.

Saturday the 24 hour adoration continued. The Lenten Mission began again at Noon with a Family Rosary followed by another meditation with a focus on Resurrection, Praise in Song with Adoration ending at 4:00 pm. Fr Klamut concluded the Lenten Retreat with mass at 4:30 pm. Thank you to Fr. Charles Klamut and Jimmy Becker for putting together and conducting this parish retreat.

Now we are approaching the celebration of the Triduum - Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. It is a time of sadness at the suffering, death and burial of Jesus. We realize He did all that so our sins could be forgiven. We also celebrate His resurrection after three days into New and Glorified life now possible for all of us to share. We have great reason to look forward to this Holy Week and all it means for us.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Catch Up - Meetings and Lenten Resolutions

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

The gentle rain has come down, watering the earth. It means mud but also the grass is really starting to turn green - even at the Rectory! Maybe we can seriously look at getting the lawn mower ready and to putting the snow blower away.

On Sunday 3/19, I met with the Stewardship Committee for their regular meeting. We began study of Matthew Kelly’s book “Resisting Happiness.” It is an easy read but a serious challenge. We sent forward a proposal to the Finance Council based on chapter 10 of the study book “Rebuilt.”

Monday afternoon, I went out to the wake of Joan McLauglin at Missouri Valley. She and her husband were very active at St. Anne’s in Logan when I was assigned there. That evening, Cindy Shaw from the Emmaus Retreat House gave a presentation at St. Luke’s Church on God’s Mercy, a good refresher from the Year of Mercy.

Tuesday after the 7:45 am mass, the Tuesday Study Group continued their discussion of the 10 Commandments, the Beatitudes and the Virtues from the Book “A Well Built Faith.” Beginning at 2:00 pm, St. Luke’s hosted Meals from the Heartland. The St. Luke’s School children packed meals for over 2,000 people. The shifts from 4:00 pm - 7:30 pm packed nearly 20,000 more meals. Thank you to all who helped organize, set up and to pack the meals. It is a great service project.

Later in the evening, the RCIA met for its usual session. We discussed the Beatitudes and the Spiritual and Corporal mysteries. We reflected on the gospel of the man born blind from John’s gospel. The St. Luke’s School Board also met later in the evening. Several portions of the teacher’s and parent’s handbooks were approved as well as the next draft of the school budget.

Wednesday I had the privilege of meeting with one of our Kindergarten classes. They told me what they knew about Jesus up until he was crucified. I then read about the Resurrection from the Children’s Bible. In the evening, Fr. Steve and I celebrated Reconciliation for our 9th grade and our 10th grade Confirmation students. The 6-8th grades then had a blessing from me at the end of their session.

The Priests of the Diocese held their Spring Study day at St. Francis on Thursday morning until 2:30 pm. We had a wonderful and informative presentation on End of Life Issues. After mass, in the evening, the Faith Formation Council held its regular meeting. Review of Alpha was given. Plans for our next faith formation events were discussed. Progress on gathering resumes from those interested in the Faith Formation Director’s position were shared.

After that Council meeting, the Finance Council meeting was held in Room 121. Members from the St. Luke’s School Board helped present the latest draft of their budget. Authorization to offer contracts to our teachers was given. Review of the current financials was held. The proposal from Stewardship was reviewed for further discussion. At the same time, the Social Concerns committee held its regular meeting. Lots of meetings!

Friday I met with my priest’s support group at St. Francis. On Saturday, I helped with confessions at the Men’s Conference also at St. Francis. That brought us right up to the 4th Sunday of Lent weekend with “Rose” vestments and our Lenten Retreat.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Spring Break - Lent in Full Swing

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

Today, just one day before Spring, we are wondering what surprises March may still have for us. Some people came back from spring break with not the best weather reports outside of Iowa. Maybe Spring really will be here!

With school spring break, lots of meetings were cancelled or rescheduled this week. That meant I was spending some good time at the office sometimes by myself. And folks called very little and came to the office very little. It could have been that notice was sent out that the office was basically closed for the week. But I did manage to get a few things accomplished.

On Tuesday 3/14, the study group did meet after mass and started the chapter on the 10 Commandments, the Beatitudes and Virtues. That evening, the RCIA met for it’s usual session and they were discussing the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It was interesting to review some of the history of the sacrament including the private confession starting with the Irish Monks.

Wednesday evening, the Facilities Committee held their regular meeting. Review of the warranty items that have been and are being dealt with were discussed. New light switches throughout the building were installed this week. They were still under warranty. The south outside cedar wall and its need of surface attention was directed to securing information about paint. A report on the progress of the Strategic Planning committee was given.

On Thursday 3/17, I joined some St. Theresa’s parishioners for breakfast in Windsor Heights. They love to create a Basketball pool that I “must” be part of. After an evening appointment I enjoyed the Iowa State-Nevada game.

Friday noon, I attended Lunch at St. Ambrose Rectory. Bishop Pates is hosting a series of lunches with the priests of the diocese to get input from them and to provide an occasion to get to know the international priests a little better. We had great corned beef and cabbage!

Over the weekend, we reported that St. Luke’s is doing well in meeting our Annual Diocesan Appeal goal for the year. I encourage everyone to find the letter and the Appeal card, fill it out and send it to the parish office. If everyone does some gift, we will be able to meet and surpass our goal. Everything over our $29,653 goal will come back to the parish. Giving back to God is an important part of being good stewards of all that God has given to us.

I encourage you to take advantage of our Lenten Penance Service this Monday March 27 at 7:00 pm. Several Priests will be here to help with confessions.

On Thursday beginning with the 5:30 pm Mass, Fr. Charles Klamut will begin our Lenten Retreat at St. Luke’s. Adoration will follow 6-7:00 pm with a 7:00 pm Reflection by Fr. Klamut. Confessions will be available at 8:00 pm. Friday will begin with 24 Hour Adoration beginning at 4:00 pm. See the Retreat schedule for more Friday and Saturday activities.

These Lenten days are times when we can know that the grace of God, the presence of Jesus is very real and close at hand. I encourage all of us to open the door of our hearts to the Lord present.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

Very nice. Cold. Windy. Snow. Rain. Unpredictable. We are enjoying March in Iowa. We are just glad that we are not in the Northeast expecting 1 to 2 FEET of snow!

Last weekend March 4-5, we began our Annual Diocesan Appeal that is being conducted throughout the parishes of the diocese. The parishes of the diocese together support the work of the diocesan offices and take care of the priest’s health insurance and pension. It also helps with the cost of educating our 21 seminarians. You should have received a letter from Bishop Pates and your pledge card that can be returned to St. Luke’s. If every family makes a contribution, we can meet our goal and surpass it. Please be generous.

On Monday 3/6, I enjoyed gathering with the priests of Shelby County at the Dowling Priests Residence for our regular card playing. We enjoyed a great rib lunch as well.

Tuesday after mass, the book study group met for its usual morning meeting and discussed the sacrament of Reconciliation. After this session, I went to OLIH to concelebrate the funeral for Dale Stall. Following the funeral, I helped with Confessions at Dowling Catholic High School until 2:30 pm.

Wednesday evening I enjoyed gathering with the Supper Club at the Hilltop Restaurant on Hubbell. Following dinner, the Strategic Planning committee held its regular meeting. We continue to discuss how to meet the needs that are being identified with multi-use additional facilities.

Thursday 3/9 meant that I would help with Confessions at St. Pius X School from 9:30-11:30 am. That evening after mass, I met with a couple who were beginning preparation for their marriage. Following the close of Adoration, the Parish Pastoral Council met for their regular meeting.

There was a good discussion about how with many, many activities and groups in the parish, we could get a more unified direction to all that is happening. We will be putting together a “Master Calendar” of as many of the groups, committees, church and school activities as possible. We also discussed how meeting with parishioners one on one, would likely be the most effective way to invite them to become active in the parish. This discussion paralleled chapters in the Book “Rebuilt” that we are studying. The book pointed out how every parishioner should be involved in service in some way.

Friday at noon, I met at the Diocesan offices for our regular Tribunal meeting. I also enjoyed listening to the Iowa State and Drake Women’s basketball games. They have played very well. The fish fry at OLIH was great!

Saturday evening’s mass was well attended. Maybe folks did not want to “Spring Ahead” with daylight time and then get to the 8:30 am Sunday mass. In any case, the Sunday 8:30 am mass attendance was low. Maybe the families are gone on Spring Break? After the 10:30 am mass, I enjoyed the Cavatelli dinner at the Victoria Lodge. Nice crowd. After this letter, I plan on visiting the Hospital. It makes for a nice but full week.

Come to the Lenten Reflection tomorrow, Monday 3/20 at 7:00 pm in the church with Cindy Shaw from the Emmaus House Retreat Center. Mark your calendars for our Lenten Penance Service, March 27 7:00 pm.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Ashes on Foreheads - Beginning the Lenten Journey

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

And now we are into March. The first two days, there was light snow. The month was trying to come like a lion. But fortunately, now it is back to wonderful temperatures again.

I appreciated Deacon Fred preaching 2/25 and 2/26. It is nice to have a break from preparing the weekend homily once a month or so.

On Monday 2/27, I joined several of my brothers and sisters to surprise our sister Connie and her birthday. She and her husband are part of a seniors bowling league in Council Bluffs and we all showed up in the middle of their games to give her a bad time and to wish her a Happy Birthday. It was not too bad a time, The won all three of their games. That evening, I returned for the regular Knights of Columbus meeting in the Gym.

Tuesday after the morning mass, the study group again met and this time we discussed the sacraments of service - Holy Orders and Matrimony. I enjoyed telling stories of my experience of this sacrament. The others in the group could share highlights from their experience as married couples.

That evening we gathered to celebrate Mardi Gras. The Knights prepared and served pancakes and sausages that were enjoyed by a good number of families. The children then did liturgical scavenger hunts, make masks, earned strings of beads and then joined in a Mardi Gras parade with appropriate music. Then I had to leave for the RCIA session. There we talked about Lent and Ash Wednesday and prepared for the Rite of Election to be held on Sunday March 5 at St. Ambrose.

Wednesday March 1 was Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. There was a good crowd of adults joining the school students for the 8:30 pm Mass and blessing and distribution of Ashes. That evening for the 6:30 pm Mass, the church was very full with people in the Narthex. It is great to see this many people wanting to begin this season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving as they prepare for Easter.

Thursday March 2, I finished my talk for the Lutheran/Catholic gathering to be held at the Hope Lutheran Church in Ankeny. That afternoon, I attended the Priests Personnel for its regular meeting with Bishop Pates. As board members, we advise the bishop in the upcoming and possible assignment for the coming summer.

That evening after mass, I hurried to the Lutheran/ Catholic gathering. We enjoyed their Lasagna and nice worship music. I then gave my reflection on the last Imperative from the document “From Conflict to Communion” prepared for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Friday was another catch up day getting ready for the weekend liturgies. I enjoyed the St. Mary’s Elkhart Fish Fry. So did lots of St. Luke’s families too! After that I joined the Primetimers at a Wine Tasting at HyVee. It was very enjoyable.

Saturday after mass, I went to the Catholic Charities St. Patrick’s Gala. It was a wonderful evening where I was given an award for support of Catholic Charities through the years. Nice.

At the weekend masses, we conducted the 1st round of the Annual Diocesan Appeal. Alpha had its last session at Noon. Then I went to the Rite of Election for our Candidates for Full Communion at St. Ambrose. That filled up the week. May all of you be blessed this Lent.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

The Lenten Journey to Easter Begins

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

On Friday afternoon, I looked out my East window to see the very strong wind driving the snow in a blizzard fashion. What ever happened to the 70 degree weather? Fortunately for us, it was just an inch or so of snow, so much different than north and west of us. They did have real blizzards! It is Iowa in February!

Sunday evening 2/19, I had the privilege of blessing Ryan and Macala Eischeid’s home as they prepared to celebrate their son Rowen’s baptism.

Tuesday 2/21, after the morning mass, the study group met and discussed the sacraments of healing, Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick. We shared lots of good stories about both sacraments. Then I visited the 3rd grade school room where we talked about the sacrament of Holy Orders. In the evening, the RCIA session focused on God’s justice and a look at Lent. The St. Luke’s School Board also had its meeting reviewing and updating different portions of the Parent Handbook for next school year. The next draft of the budget was also forwarded to the Finance Council.

Wednesday morning, I worked on the materials for the weekend masses. In the afternoon, I made the journey to Omaha to be the guest of Creighton for an area priest appreciation dinner and then to the Creighton-Providence Basketball game. I left a little early and was sad to learn that Creighton did not pull out a win in that game.

Thursday 2/23, the Ankeny Ministerial Association had their regular meeting at Old Chicago. We heard more about the local YMCA and their community efforts. After the 5:30 pm mass, the Social Concerns Committee held its regular meeting. We focused on the plans for the upcoming Meals from the Heartland date that we have for St. Luke’s. It is to be held on Tuesday March 21 beginning at 2:00 pm. Discussion was held from the book “$2.00 a Day” by Edin and Shaffer. Tithe of the tithe for the month was determined.

On Friday 2/24, I met with my Priest Support Group at the Dowling Priest residence. It is good to have a group of priests that give you support and advice and then pray for you as well.

Saturday after 9:00 am Reconciliation, I worked on my presentation for the Catholic/Lutheran Gathering to be held next week Thursday at Hope Lutheran Church. I still have a ways to go.

After the 4:30 pm Mass, we celebrated the baptisms of Maggie Marie Enos, daughter of David and Kelli and Parker Cain Hora, son of Philip and Amy. Then I made a quick trip out to Dowling Catholic High School for their annual Dinner and Auction, titled “Bash on Buffalo.”

Sunday 2/26 at the 8:30 am mass, we celebrated the “Rite of Sending” with our eight Candidates for full communion in the Catholic Church. They were sent to the “Rite of Election” with Bishop Pates next Sunday at St. Ambrose. After the 10:30 am mass, we celebrated the baptisms of Adrian David Babbit, son of Adam and Kimberley, Rowen James Eischeid, son of Ryan and Macala and Elliott Jinks Mohrhauser, daughter of Luke and Megan. Welcome Adrian, Rowen and Elliott!

At 4:30 pm, we gathered for two sessions of “Alpha” in the Gym. It is hard to believe there will be only one session remaining! Keep us in your prayers.

May the Lord bless you all as you continue your journey into the season of Lent.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Sun and Son Shine on Our Shoulders

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

God is so wonderful, to give us 70 degree days, lots of them in February! I hope that all of you have been able to get out and do un-February like things to enjoy the gift of our God.

Last Monday 2/13, I was busy the best part of the day getting caught up on all the various mails and trying to get ready for the week to come. I can still recall the nice skiing we did out in Colorado - warm and windy, but good snow and lots of it.

Tuesday we held our Book Study group after the 7:45 am mass continuing to discuss “A Well Built Faith” by Joe Paprochki. Our chapter covered the sacraments of Initiation. Later that morning, I met with a young man wanting to know about the steps in marriage preparation. We enjoyed a nice visit.

That evening, the RCIA met as usual at 6:30 pm. In our session, we discussed “The Creed,” the four marks of the Church and the Stations of the Cross. Keep all our candidates for full communion in the church in your prayers as we approach Lent and Holy Week.

Wednesday 2/15, I enjoyed taking with the 4th Grade Religious Education classes about the sacrament of Holy Orders. We had many lively questions. Later that evening the upper grade RE classes heard presentations about Human Trafficking. Also that evening, the Facilities Committee held its regular meeting.

Thursday morning, there was an 8:30 am St. Luke’s School mass because Teacher conferences were held this week and the students and teachers had the day off when mass was usually held. After the 5:30 pm mass, the Faith Formation Council held its regular meeting. Review of the progress of our Alpha program, plans for speakers in the near future and putting together an interview team for a new Faith Formation Director were part of our agenda.

Friday 2/17, I went to the monthly Tribunal panel at the Diocesan Offices. Afterward, I visited with my Spiritual Director at Emmaus House and then visited Blank hospital. That evening, I enjoyed introducing our 500 card club to the dice game “10,000.” There was lots of excitement as the numbers mounted up rapidly.

Saturday 2/18, we held our 1st Alpha “Spirit Day.” We gathered from 8:30 am - 2:00 pm in a retreat like mode. We enjoyed breakfast/coffee and then viewed DVD’s that focused on the Holy Spirit. We learned about who is the Holy Spirit and how we are called to invite the Holy Spirit to Come into our lives and to trust the presence and power of this third person of the Holy Trinity. All the while, there were prayer supporters in the church willing to pray for any who wished. It was a great day.

After the 4:30 pm Mass, I joined several couples for the St. Luke’s Feast Auction dinner provided by Lois White and Tom Carpenter. Too quickly after dessert, I helped out with confessions at the men’s CEW at OLIH. It made a full but very good day.

And now we are back to Sunday. Keep all the men who have finished their Christian Experience Weekend in your prayers. May they be open to all that God’s love and the power of the Holy Spirit can do in their lives.

May all of you be touched by the gifts of our loving God - in nature, in your close family and in the persons who touch your lives for the first time. May we all see the presence of the Lord there.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Mountains, Snow, Skiing, Relaxing

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

Yes I did survive skiing in Colorado! The weather for driving out and back was excellent even if it was a bit breezy. The mountains were warm for this time of year as they were in Denver and as I understand also back in Ankeny. We had good new snow for two days and enjoyed making new tracks in the snow. The wind would blow the snow across the runs and give a new surface to ski on as well. It was wonderful!

Thank you very much for your prayers for our safe travel and skiing. I appreciate your concern and your spiritual support.

I appreciate your support of Fr. Ken Gross, my classmate and friend who covered the weekend masses and the weekday masses as well. It is great to have someone to rely on while you are taking some break time. He has lots of stories to share about our various adventures. And I have lots of stories to share about him as well!

On Saturday 2/4, I left for skiing at 5:30 am. Excitement about the trip enables me to get up and get ready even at that early hour. That same morning, the Baptism Preparation Class was held in Room 120. Thank you to Teresa Busch for facilitating this for us once again. This preparation class is to be facilitated by a couple from the parish. We would be open to have someone take over for Teresa who has been doing this work for several years. Please let me know if you would like more information about the materials, power points and well developed programs for Baptism Preparation.

On Sunday 2/5, the Alpha program met at 12:00 noon and covered two in the series of DVD’s. It was great for the participants to enjoy Super Bowl snacks before the big game began and to cover using the Bible and information about how to Pray.

I arrived back from vacation at 5:10 pm on Saturday 2/11. It was just enough time to put away the luggage, skis and so forth, change clothes and go to the 1st “Green Gala” at the Courtyard at the Marriott. What a wonderful dinner, silent and oral auction followed by dancing! The arrangements, food, atmosphere and advanced planning were wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed the Dessert Auction. Try as I did to get a successful bid for one of the desserts, it did not work. But our table shared dessert that others bought two different times! Thanks for your generosity.

Sunday 2/12 there were two baptisms after the 10:30 am mass: Annalise Rose Abbas, daughter of Mark and Merron and Zariyah Misa Starke, daughter of Nicholas and Maria. Welcome Annalise and Zariyah! After the baptisms, the Stewardship Committee held its regular meeting in the Conference Room at 1:00 pm.

Later in the afternoon from 4:30-6:30 pm the Alpha Session was held in the gym. We enjoyed a potato bar with chili and other good things. The DVD focused on “How Does God Guide Us?” There was lots of good discussion about how to understand the unfolding of God’s plan for each of us in life.

Then it was time to unpack, do laundry and think about all the email that has piled up in a week! It will get sorted eventually. Thanks again for your prayers and your concern during my vacation time.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

A Full Week - Then Skiing!

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

We have continued our most fortunate status in regard to the weather in Ankeny. About one and one half inches of snow came down. After a little snow removal, all the ice and snow melted. One of these days, the weather will not slide north.

Last Sunday 1/23, St. Luke’s School had its open house with families coming to look at our school. Lots of interest was shown. That afternoon, I joined 7 other priests helping with confessions for OLIH’s Confirmation retreat for over 100 candidates. And then, I turned right around and came back to St. Luke’s for our third session of Alpha. This evening’s focus was on “Why did Jesus Have to Die?” It was a great discussion starter after a wonderful baked potato bar.

On Monday 1/24, the Knights of Columbus had their Family Insurance Dinner at St. Luke’s. I am sure that it was wonderful using the Knight’s new, large charcoal grill for the 1st official event.

Tuesday after Mass, the Tuesday morning study group continued their study with a focus on The Trinity and Salvation from Sin by the cross of Jesus. That study was followed by our regular staff meeting. At 12:30 pm I enjoyed talking with the Kindergarten about the bible story of the Mustard Seed. It just so happened that that was the gospel used for the school mass later in the week. In the evening, the RCIA session began our discussion of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick by witnessing the celebration of that sacrament. A good discussion of sickness, suffering and how this sacrament was for a person who was dying also.

The St. Luke’s School Board also met that evening. Denise Mulcahy from the Diocesan School Office helped the board begin the annual input for the diocesan review of our Principal. Wednesday was another catch up day for me - No Meeting! Thursday, the Ankeny Ministerial Association meeting was held at 11:30 am at the Resurrection Lutheran Church. After a nice lunch, representatives from the Ankeny Service Center/Nevlin Center gave us an update of their activities and concerns.

Thursday evening, the Social Concerns committee held its regular meeting. They are assisting with the Catholic/Lutheran Dialogue 2/2 meeting at St. Luke’s with the Parish Council taking the lead in this event. Plans for further projects were discussed including another Meals for the Heartland.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I was the Spiritual Director for the Women’s Christian Experience Weekend at OLIH. It was a wonderful weekend with lots of inspiring talks, lively liturgies and wonderful food, and heartfelt small group discussions. I certainly recommend it for the women and the men of St. Luke’s parish.

Thank you to Fr. Ken Gross for taking the 1/28 Saturday evening mass for me while I was at the CEW. On Sunday evening, the 4th Session of Alpha was held in the Gym. After a nice array of salads, we sang a couple of songs and then watched the video for the evening session the question “How Can We Have Faith?”

By the time you read this letter, I will have arrived in Colorado and hopefully be up skiing at Breckenridge. Keep us all in your prayers for safety skiing and travel home.

Keep all our students preparing for 1st Eucharist and Confirmation in your prayers as they approach their next steps in formation.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Strange January Winter Days - But We Like It!

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

Yes the Ice Did Come! Sunday evening 1/15 and during the day Monday 1/16 there was a good coating of ice. Our weather forecasters told us to stay home and that is what I did - enjoyed the fireplace, hot chocolate and reading with a little exercise bicycling. I was happy to see by the very few accidents that many folks stayed home too.

On Tuesday 1/17, I did get out after the first layer of ice began to melt. The study group did meet at 8:30 am. That afternoon, I went to see my spiritual director. I also went for my every two months haircut! In the evening, the RCIA session was held at 6:30 pm with discussion on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

After the morning mass, I met with a soon to be bride to fill out the church papers for her. I also met with a representative from OLIH to speak about Stephen’s Ministry. We can have volunteers from St. Luke’s become part of the group out of OLIH. Stephen’s Ministers walk with people who are struggling with things like cancer, being widowed, lonely and other needs.

On Wednesday afternoon, I visited the 2nd Grade class at St. Luke’s. We enjoyed the bible story about John the Baptist. Then they had lots of questions. Then I went to Methodist hospital to visit twin girls who are in the NICU but doing well. That evening, I went with some of the Strategic Planning Committee to visit St. Francis School and their former principal Tish O’Hara. It was very helpful to get a feel for how they developed their school facilities.

Thursday evening after the 5:30 pm Mass, the Faith Formation Council held its regular meeting at 6:00 pm. Progress of Alpha was discussed as well as plans for speakers and groups later on in the year. The Finance Council held their regular meeting at 7:00 pm. We reviewed the financials for the month. We also discussed the schedule of activities for the Finance Council that are on our month by month calendar.

A good deal of time was also spent in looking at some projections, assumptions in light of the current finances and how they could develop into the future several years out. Good discussion was held with more to be put together at our next meetings.

Friday 1/20 after mass, I joined my Priest’s Support group meeting at Christ The King parish. We watched the Inauguration for a little while before our lunch and then our sharing. That evening, I joined a number of Knights of Columbus in a cookout on their new, large group grill. It works fine and the burgers were fantastic!

Saturday after mass, I enjoyed the baptism of Elizabeth Anna Sayre, daughter of Sean and Anne. Welcome Elizabeth. Then I went over to OLIH to be one of the judges at the Our Lady’s Little Learners Trivia Night. What a good time!

Sunday after mass, there were two baptisms: Colton Paul, son of Robert and Kelsie Formaro, and Colton David, son of Matthew and Stephanie Timm. Welcome to both Colton’s. Then St. Luke’s held its Open House and welcomed potential parents of students at St. Luke’s. Alpha followed at 4:30 pm with the focus on answering the questions: “Why did Jesus die?”

On Saturday February 4, I will be traveling to Silverthorne, Colorado for a week of skiing. Keep our group in prayer for our safe travel and fun days.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann