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.

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.

Peace,
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!

Peace,
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.

Peace,
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.

Peace,
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.

Peace,
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.

Peace,
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.

Peace,
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.

Peace,
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.

Peace,
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.

Peace,
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.

Peace,
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.

Peace,
Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Growing in Faith; Amazed by the Ice

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

As I write this letter, it seems the whole midwest is waiting for the “Ice Man to Cometh!” The storm is now to come at about 9:00 pm Sunday evening. You will all know what indeed did happen by the time you read this letter.

Last Sunday 1/8 in the evening, the 1st Alpha in a Catholic Context was held at St. Luke’s. Just over 50 adults joined in the evening with about 20 children going to childcare. There was good pizza to begin, a video “Is There More to Life than This?” It was a very good starter to the group discussions that followed. I had a few minutes to entertain questions that came up in the groups. It was a very good evening.

Monday evening, I was part of a Focus Group for The Catholic Foundation for Southwest Iowa held at St. Ambrose parish hall. It was a chance to help look at what the focus of this Foundation might be. It was a good and lively meeting.

Tuesday 1/10 after mass, the Book Group began our Study of “A Well Built Faith” by Joe Paprocki with the 1st chapter’s focus on “Laying a Firm Foundation: Transmitting the Faith.” Following the study, we had our regular Staff meeting. After that I took the staff out to Fletchers for Christmas Season lunch. That evening the RCIA class studied the 2nd Sacrament of Service - Holy Orders.

Wednesday 1/11 in the morning, I met with a couple beginning their preparation for marriage. In the afternoon, I visited Methodist Hospital and saw a new mom with her new son. I also visited another soon to be mother of twins. It is wonderful to see the new babies! In the evening, I visited the two St. Luke’s 3rd Grade Religious Education classes to answer their questions and to receive nice thank you cards. Thanks classes!

Still later in the evening, the Strategic Planning Committee held its meeting. We continued to refine the input we are receiving about the needs of the parish for Phase II of our facilities. We are looking to follow the Diocesan plan for our needs assessments.

Thursday evening, the Parish Pastoral Council held its regular meeting. We enjoyed Ryan Schon the chairperson of our Finance Council present how he wanted us to see the larger picture of all we hope for in our parish and how it can fit into a financial plan for our future facilities. The Council continued our study of the book “Rebuilt” and focused on the development of small groups and inviting our parishioners to see the need to give rather than giving to a need. More about that in the future.

Friday 1/13, I met with the monthly Tribunal Panel at the diocesan offices. That evening, I prepared and enjoyed the St. Luke’s Auction Dinner at the Rectory. Great food - nice wine - fun company!

Saturday after mass, Lillian Marie Schaffer, daughter of Nick and Brooke was baptized. At 6:00 pm, the Knight of Columbus hosted the parish Family Fun Night with the KC free throw contest. It was a wonderful time for food and fun. Congratulations to the “free throwers” who go on to the regional contest.

Sunday after the 10:30 am mass, Elizabeth Rose Chaffee, daughter of Michael and Kelly was baptized. Congratulations to Elizabeth and Lillian! The Area Confirmation Retreat was held at St. Luke’s from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm with mass at 2:00 pm. Nice turn out. And now we are back to Alpha at 4:30 pm. We will wait to see how the weather holds out. Pray to keep those skating on the ice safe.

Peace,
Fr. Larry Hoffmann

The New Year Begins…

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

This week has been our step into the new year 2017. We have been blessed to have winter storms to the southeast, to the northwest, to the southwest and the north, but not here. Yes it has been cold, but not storming. We are blessed.

I enjoyed lots of College Football until the last bowl game on Monday January 2. Tuesday January 3 was slowly moving back into reality. In the morning, I enjoyed talking to a young lady who was very interested in the RCIA next fall. That evening, the RCIA discussed the Sacrament of Matrimony. It proved to be a lively discussion with those married sharing and those anticipating marriage asking questions.

On Wednesday January 4, the students returned to St. Luke’s School. The school staff had an In Service Day on January 3rd, so the kids had an extra day for their break. Several staff and parishioners recorded sound bites for the Iowa Catholic Radio “Encounter Jesus by listening to Catholic Radio” focus 1/7-13. You are encouraged to make listening to Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM a regular part of your day.

That evening, I enjoyed dinner with St. Luke’s Supper Club at Fletchers. Afterward, the Liturgy Committee had its regular monthly meeting. We looked at the activity of the various Liturgical ministries and also began to think about Lent. A review of the readings for the Sundays of Lent was given and we are looking to come up with a focus for these special days at our next meeting.

Thursday evening after the 5:30 pm mass, the 3rd Catholic/Lutheran Gathering was held at Resurrection Lutheran Church. The focus was on how we can work toward unity in what we believe and how we can serve others. We were challenged to send notes to the women prisoners at the Mitchellville State prison. This was a response to what Christ said: “I was in prison and you visited me.” Next month, St. Luke’s will host the gathering on Thursday February 2, 6:30 pm. We will be challenged by how Christ said “...I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

Saturday was another catch up day after 9:00 am Reconciliation. By the way, I am also always available for confession from 3:30-4:00 pm on Saturdays. After mass, the St. Luke’s Primetimers enjoyed supper at Tanner’s.

Sunday after the coffee, juice and donuts, the Stewardship Committee met at noon for its regular meeting. We made recommendations about what could be done at St. Luke’s from the study of the book “Rebuilt.” Then I went to OLIH to meet with the women’s team preparing for the up coming Women’s CEW on January 27-29. Following that we held our 1st Session of Alpha in a Catholic Context in our Gym. I will know more about that next week as this is being written before their light dinner.

Please keep all those taking part in Alpha at St. Luke’s in your prayers. It can be a great way to grow in our faith in Jesus. Please consider taking part in the Women’s and Men’s Christian Experience Weekends. Both can be wonderful ways to grow in faith and to open our hearts to being a disciple of Jesus.

Also, pray for our Confirmation candidates who join two other parish candidates in their Confirmation retreat being held at St. Luke’s Sunday January 15.

Peace,
Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Hopes, Dreams and Promises

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

As I write this letter, the masses for the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God have finished. People are celebrating the New Year - 2017. No doubt, many of us are glad that 2016 has come to an end. We look forward to God’s blessings in 2017. We can now take some time to fill our hearts and our lives with hopes, dreams and promises for this New Year.

Our hopes, dreams and promises can be very much an individual time of reflection. Perhaps we hope to grow in our faith this coming year, to take a step to be more serious about our relationship with God. Maybe we have dreams about being more healthy this year, in what we eat, the exercise we get and the quiet time we schedule in our lives.

Perhaps we have hopes and dreams for St. Luke’s. I can recall on 1/1/2011 when my assignment here at St. Luke’s first began. It meant packing up from St. Theresa’s and moving in with Fr. Steve at the OLIH rectory. The first office and meeting for St. Luke’s was in the large Rectory basement. We had the mandate from Bishop that was made public at the 12/17/10 Press Conference, that St. Luke’s would be a parish, a Catholic School and Senior Housing.

So far, we have our parish well established with now about 430 registered families. We have St. Luke’s Catholic School entering its 2nd year with K-4th grades and 93 students. We have visited with Catholic Health Initiatives who have inherited land North of our property. They are dreaming about an assisted living, memory care, possible nursing care and clinic being built there. It would make sense for St. Luke’s to have any future Senior Housing close to their complex on the North of our land. Hopes and Dreams continue about our Senior Housing.

We have a Strategic Planning committee looking at the immediate needs of our parish that is growing so fast. We have about 250 students in Religious Education and have need of more space for the Faith Formation during the school weeks. The fast growing Catholic School classes push for more space as well. We need more parking and storage. The planning committee is putting together these needs in their process to look at how to meet these immediate needs.

But more than anything, the hopes, dreams and promises for St. Luke’s for 2017 and beyond are centered on all of us taking steps to become stronger disciples of Jesus. Each one of us is being called to not only know more about Jesus, but to know Jesus as one who wants to have a deeper relationship with us.

All our facilities are for the purpose of worshiping and praising our God who has been so generous to us. In our facilities, we have a place to be formed in our faith, to take advantage of ways to realize what our faith is. Here we can begin to see that being a disciple of Jesus means that we are to be people who let our care for others become a higher priority in our lives. We can see that finding ways to be of service to someone in need gets higher on our to do list. We can see that spending real time in prayer, even in adoration can help us find the nudge we need to be stronger disciples. Growing in our faith, becoming stronger disciples of Jesus is why we have and will have facilities here at St. Luke’s.

Let us hope, dream and reflect on God’s promises as we take our next steps to grow in faith and to follow Jesus as his disciples in 2017.

Peace,
Fr. Larry Hoffmann

The New Born Lord in the New Year

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

We gather today to celebrate “Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.” I’ll bet a lot of us are celebrating the coming of the New Year. The Liturgical celebration of Mary is a great way to put this New Year into a faith context.

The New Year is a great time to set out new goals, hopes and dreams for ourselves and our families. It is a great time to get that nudge to get on to some new direction in life with the January 1, 2017 date, the first day of the New Year.

We can put this year into a faith context by remembering that the shepherds that first Christmas went and found the new born Jesus lying in the manger with Mary and Joseph right there. They worshiped the Lord now born into the world. The multitude of angels sang God’s praises.

What does that first Christmas have to do with our New Year, January 1, 2017? Just as we want to begin new and better practices and patterns in our daily lives, so we can take a step to grow in our faith. We can decide to be like those shepherds, being in awe of how Jesus is born into our lives. We can join the angels in singing praise to God.

Not only that, but we can let our faith touch our resolutions for 2017. I really encourage everyone to seriously consider taking part in “Alpha in a Catholic Context” that will begin here at St. Luke’s on Sunday January 8, 4:30 pm. It is a 9 week program that will help all take a good look at Jesus and how our faith in him really makes a difference. It is not a complicated evening: there is a light meal; a 25 minute video; a time for group discussion. We will have child care. You can find registration slips after mass or by going to our web site. It is a great way to take a step to grow in our faith in 2017.

What other faith resolutions can we make? If you have not yet put the app “Laudate” on your phone, it is really great. On it you have the readings for each day. You have the Liturgy of the Hours, the prayer that the priests say every day. You have the bible. You have the Catechism of the Catholic Church and daily prayers as well. It is great for those times when you are waiting and maybe in this New Year, it can be a time of prayer and reflection, right there on the phone!

By the time you read this, if all things go well, I will be back from several days in Arizona with my brothers and sisters gathering at my sister Mary’s home in Tubac, Arizona. May all of you travel safely over these days when the New Year begins.

May the blessings of the Lord come to you and to all of your families as we begin this New Year. May the presence of the New Born Lord be ever with us as we journey through all the days of 2017.

Peace,
Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Waiting and Preparing are Finished: Jesus has Come

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

Christmas Eve! Christmas Day! So many young people and lots of not so young people have waited for soooo long for these days! And now they have come.

Certainly, the day of excitement for young children comes with opening presents and the wonder of the unknown - what might be in there? With somewhat older children, the wonder is if I really will receive what I asked for. With adults, the surprise of a gift that is “just right” may be at hand.

For most of us, the great joy of finding and giving a gift that really seems right is also a big part of these days.

But why are we giving and receiving gifts in the first place? It all has to do with the conclusion of the four weeks of Advent. We have been waiting for the coming of Jesus. Perhaps we have been lighting the candles of the Advent Wreath at home, finding a prayer to say with the family as we do. Week by week the anticipation builds.

We have been preparing for the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. This preparation is what goes inside our heart. Perhaps it was a time of prayer - reading the reflections from the Little Blue Books or some other Advent daily reflection. Perhaps it as a time of an additional daily prayer. Perhaps it was a time to celebrate the sacrament of Penance, to have our sins forgiven.

This waiting and preparing for the coming of Jesus helps us recognize how much God loves each one of us and all of us as his adopted children, by sending his Son to be born among us. When we reflect on how good God is to us, seeing that everything we have is his gift to us including his Son Jesus, then we want to respond to his great love.

As human beings, it is hard to do something directly for God that loves him in return. We can love other human beings made in God’s image and likeness. We can reach out in compassionate care for others like Jesus did. We can give of ourselves to someone else.

That gets us to why we give and receive gifts on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We do so as a sign of love for someone special to us. Jesus is present within each of us. Giving can be our expression of love for the persons God has put into our lives. In loving them, we are loving God their Father.

May your gift giving and receiving be when you are touched by love - your love for each other and God’s love in sending Jesus his Son to be born among us. May you be especially aware of those who are in need among us and try to find ways to help them. May you be aware of those alone or lonely and take a few moments of your time for them. May you celebrate with your loved ones and as you do remember those who are not with us but are now with our God. There they know what God’s love is really about!

If you are traveling, do so in safety. Keep me in prayer as my family gathers in Tubac, Arizona for a few days. The season of Christmas lasts until January 9th when we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus. We can keep celebrating for a good while!

Merry Christmas to you all!

Peace,
Fr. Larry Hoffmann

A Joyful Rose Advent Week

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

December and the near winter season has truly arrived - snow, cold, wind - normal! Our preparing and waiting for the coming of the Lord into our lives fits well with nature into its waiting and dormant time.

It is the time for Reconciliation services. I helped with the 3:00 pm service at St. Francis on Sunday 12/4, with one at St. Theresa’s on Monday 12/5.

Tuesday we continued our Study of “Seven Keys to Spiritual Wellness” after our morning mass. Our parish staff meeting followed at 10:00 am. I visited the 4th grade in St. Luke’s School at 12:30 pm. We talked about Advent things and answered their many questions.

On Wednesday, I was helping with confessions again at St. Francis. At noon, I was meeting with our Tribunal panel at the Chancery offices. In the afternoon, I visited an old friend in home hospice out in Waukee. I enjoyed giving the 4th grade RE a tour of the Sacristy and all the things we use for our liturgies. They had lots of questions. Then I enjoyed pizza with one of our supper clubs at the Wig and Penn.

Thursday, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, we celebrated mass at 8:30 am with the School students and at 6:30 pm. I attended the Chamber of Commerce Christmas Lunch at the Methodist Church North at 11:00 am. We all enjoyed the food, the Christmas entertainment and the fellowship with the other Chamber members.

On Friday 12/9 in the afternoon, I celebrated Reconciliation with our 3rd and 4th grade St. Luke’s School students. The rest of the day was a try to get caught up time.

Saturday after the 4:30 pm mass, we celebrated the baptism of Benjamin Charles Buehler, son of Brett and

Katherine. Welcome Benjamin! The St. Luke’s Primetimers had their Christmas Pot Luck and fun night in the Gym following the evening mass. I was not even close to winning any of the Christmas games! But I did end up with some nice Black Berry Brandy.

Sunday morning at the 8:30 am mass we celebrated the Rite of Welcome for 8 candidates for full communion in the church. They have been studying in the RCIA since September and this is the first of several “Rites” that they will be celebrating. Welcome RCIA class! We also blessed the Bambinellis at the masses - the baby Jesus from home Nativity Sets. May the soon to be born Lord touch all of our families. The Knights of Columbus served a great breakfast in the morning - with Egg Nog pancakes! Great food—good job Knights!

After finishing more group pictures, we held our regular Stewardship Committee meeting and are very near to completing our Study of the book “Rebuilt.” I went over to OLIH to help with their Advent Penance Service at 3:00 pm. Working on this letter and preparing for our own Advent Penance Service filled up the day.

The Rose vestments from the 3rd Sunday of Advent spoke of how Advent is rapidly drawing to a close. The Lord is near! I encourage us to plan a time in the midst of lots of activity, to read the Bible story of Mary and Joseph preparing for the birth of Jesus. Let there be some waiting within our hearts, some making room for Jesus to be born within. There really, really, is nothing more important than welcoming Jesus into our lives.

Peace,
Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Advent Snow - Prepare the Way of the Lord

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

What a surprise to wake to snow covering everything this morning! It was very heavy and wet - the kind that will give heart attacks if we try to move it too long. It does move us into the Advent, preparing for the coming of Jesus mood. Thank you Lord for that.

Monday 11/28 we celebrated the Funeral for Dick Timmerman at 11:00 am followed by a very nice lunch. He was one of the 1st members of our parish. Keep his wife Judy and family in your prayers.

Later that afternoon, I enjoyed playing 500 with some other priests - I even won a set of games. That evening, Matt Halbach shared reflections from his book “Becoming a Parish of Mercy.” It was a wonderful way to help begin our Advent reflections. The Knights of Columbus held their regular meeting after Matt’s presentation.

Tuesday 11/29, I hosted my “Jesus Caritas” priest’s support group. It is great to be able to share your life with brother priests and know their prayers. That evening the RCIA session was held with a focus on the place of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the church.

Wednesday, after the morning mass, I joined a group of priests helping with confessions for the St. Pius X school students until noon.

Thursday 12/1 was a full day. I met with the 2nd grade St. Luke’s School students to tour the Reconciliation room. I enjoyed the Dowling Catholic High School Christmas luncheon. I stopped afterward for an eye exam and then went to give blood at OLIH. After the 5:30 pm mass, we celebrated 1st Reconciliation for 50 of our St. Luke students. It was a joyful celebration. Then the Liturgy Committee had its regular meeting. I was glad that Friday came.

Friday 12/2 saw the regular 8:30 am mass with the school and parish members. Then I went to Vintage Hills for their 1st Friday mass at 9:30 am. That afternoon, I visited a new baby and her mother in the hospital and another soon to be mother of twins. Keep them all in your prayers for joyful and healthy life.

Early in the evening, I went to the visitation for Theresa Colacino at Hamilton’s Southtown. She was the secretary at St. Anthony’s when I was stationed there. That evening, I joined many people from across the city at the Catholic Charities “No Room in the Inn” gathering at St. Francis. With the silent auction, it was a great way to support the St. Joseph’s Family Emergency Shelter.

Saturday 12/3, the Knights of Columbus served all the ministries for our 4:30 pm mass. Thank you Knights for all that you do for St. Luke’s. It is very much appreciated. After mass, Christmas cookies and milk were enjoyed as the children made reindeer head bands. Great fun and great cookies. Several groups had their pictures taken after mass as well.

Sunday, more group pictures were taken after mass. It will help us all put names and faces together for those who serve on our councils, boards and committees.

In the days ahead, I encourage you to find out more about “Alpha in a Catholic Context.” We will begin this 10 week program on January 8th.

Don’t forget our 12/12 7:00 pm Advent Penance Service.

Peace,
Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Giving Thanks and Preparing the Way

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

The Second Sunday of Advent is upon us. We wait with John the Baptist and prepare for the coming of the Messiah by repenting of our sins. John the Baptist is a great one to remind us of our need to take time these Advent days to prepare for the Lord’s coming.

Tuesday 11/22, the 8:30 am mass with the St. Luke’s School students had a thanksgiving theme. During the day, I visited the hospital and nursing home to check up on a couple of local residents. That evening, St. Luke’s was the site of the Ankeny Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service at 7:00 pm. The service of song, prayer, scripture and message by Owen Cayton from the Ankeny Christian Church was much appreciated. The joint choir special music was very well done and inspiring. We all enjoyed lots of different kinds of pies following the service.

Wednesday was a very quiet day with the St. Luke’s School off for Thanksgiving. I did meet with the Dick Timmerman family to plan his funeral for Monday 11/28. Keep him, his wife Judy and their family in your prayers. The rest of the day, I finished preparations for the Thanksgiving mass and the weekend 1st Sunday of Advent.

On Thanksgiving Day, I enjoyed celebrating the 9:00 am mass and time to give thanks to God through our Liturgy. We have so much to thank God for as we review our lives and the previous year. May we always remember to be grateful to God and to all those who are part of our lives.

Later that day, I traveled to Gretna, Nebraska to where my sister hosted our family for Thanksgiving. It was a wonderful gathering and wonderful food. The next day, Black Friday, we gathered again at another sister’s home in Council Bluffs for the annual Iowa/Nebraska football game. There was an even split, 9 on each side cheering for their respective team. I was among those happy with the outcome!

On Saturday, we gathered again as extended family for the Funeral of my aunt JoAnn Weihs at St. Michael’s in Harlan, Iowa. She was the last of my mother’s siblings. Now we are the older generation, though I suspect that nephews, nieces and great nephews and great nieces have seen us that way for some time. The days of life keep marching on. Advent is a good reminder to always live prepared for the Lord’s coming.

On the weekend of the 1st Sunday of Advent, I had the privilege of introducing Deacon Fred Cornwell to our community. We have every hope that he will be assigned to St. Luke’s. We enjoyed his homily over the weekend as well. Welcome Deacon Fred!

Saturday 11/27 after the mass, Cloe Ann and Cooper Quinten Smith, children of Jason and Hollie, were baptized and became part of our Catholic community and members of St. Luke’s. Congratulations Cloe and Cooper!

Keep in mind the Retired Religious Collection that will take place next weekend. Many of the Religious Order Sisters, Brothers and Priests never planned financially for their retirement. This annual collection helps to provide for those in need after long years of service to the Church. Please be generous next week.

Mark your calendars for St. Luke’s Advent Penance service to be held on Monday December 12, 7:00 pm. It is a great way to repent and prepare for the Lord’s coming.

Peace,
Fr. Larry Hoffmann