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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Come Lord Jesus

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

With this weekend, the new Liturgical Year begins. We are into four full weeks of Advent when we wait for and long for the coming of Jesus into our lives. May we wait in prayer, reflection and in finding ways to reach out to those we meet with patience and love.

Last Monday 11/14, the St. Luke’s School Board held its November meeting early because of Thanksgiving. Adjustments to the Admissions policy were made, the 1st draft of the budget for next year was presented and sent to the Finance Council for review.

Tuesday 11/15, the St. Luke’s parish staff met for their regular meeting and welcomed Deacon Fred Cornwell. I have requested that Bishop Pates approve Deacon Fred become part of the ministry at St. Luke’s. After the staff meeting I met with Mrs. Battani’s Kindergarten class. We talked about the Annunciation and the Visitation. They had lots of questions. That evening, the RCIA talked about “The Last things: Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell.” It was a lively discussion.

Wednesday, I enjoyed lunch with the area priests where we talked about events in our parishes. At the afternoon and evening RE sessions, the 2nd grade met in church to see a demonstration of 1st Reconciliation. They saw it again with their parents on Thursday evening at the 1st Reconciliation Retreat in church. Wednesday evening, the Facilities Committee held their regular meeting.

Thursday, the Ankeny Ministerial Association met at the Methodist Church and heard a presentation by the Impact agency. We also enjoyed a nice lunch. Following that meeting, the Ankeny Community Adult Education office held an input focus group for non-profit groups at the Schools Offices. There was lots of lively input. That evening, the Finance Council held its regular meeting. Financial reports were reviewed, snow removal was discussed, the 1st draft of the St. Luke’s School budget was presented.

Friday morning, I enjoyed the 8:30 am School mass. In the evening, the wedding rehearsal for Robert White and Rachel Rimathe was held with the celebration the next day at 1:30 pm. Congratulations Robert and Rachel!

With the feast of Christ the King on Sunday 11/19-20, the Year of Mercy has closed. It has been a great time to reflect on the need we have for mercy ourselves. It has been a great time to realize that God is just waiting to share his mercy with each one of us. It is also a great time to know that we are to be instruments of God’s mercy to others. Reflecting on the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy and how we can do even one or the other of them in daily life has been our challenge from Pope Francis.

May we carry forward the good work that we have done in this year of Mercy into this new Liturgical Year by making “mercy” a daily part of our lives. The more we reach out in mercy, the more we can open our own hearts to God’s gift of that mercy.

May all of you take advantage of the Advent daily readings for your reflection and prayer. It is a wonderful time to gather as family with your own Advent Wreath each day. Come Lord Jesus.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

May We Always Be Grateful

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

We continue to be blessed with warm non-November weather. Thank you Lord. I am beginning to think about wearing a jacket one of these days but not yet!

Monday 11/7 my sister Anita stopped in for a visit. We enjoyed coffee and made more plans for traveling together after Christmas to another sister’s home in southern Arizona. That evening I endured the last of the political commercials!

Tuesday late morning, I went to my polling place and walked right in and voted. There were people quickly getting in and out without lines. I was number 789 who voted there. I pray that as a country, we can get all sides to work for the common good, set about steps to do normal governing to achieve that common good. I had a wonderful meeting with Ryan Schon our new Finance Council chairperson that afternoon. He helped begin to look at some long range numbers to help with our finances and strategic planning. Regular RCIA session followed in the evening.

Wednesday after mass, I met with a parishioner who is interested in helping establish a Sunday mass nursery for St. Luke’s. She will be drawing up a draft of how this might work. More information later. That afternoon, I visited with the 1st grade in St. Luke’s School. I shared the story of David and Goliath. I was part of the evening Confessions for the Religious Education sessions at St. Mary of Nazareth and then returned for the 2nd meeting of our Strategic Planning for Phase II team.

Thursday, we had a Priest’s Fall Study Day. We used the Roman Missal, now 5 years old, to look at Holy Week. It was a very good review of things that are contained in the Roman Missal and helps on how to celebrate them. The Parish PastoralCouncil held its regular meeting after mass and adoration. We had extended discussion from our study of the book “Rebuilt.” We also looked at plans being made for “Alpha” come January, the 11/22 7:00 pm Ecumenical ThanksgivingService at St. Luke’s and a list of “Expectations” that will eventually be part of our New Member packets.

Friday morning after the 8:30 am mass, I joined many of the priests and parishioners from St. Augustin at the funeral of Fr. John Lorenz who died 11/1 at 88 years of age. Then I went to the temporary Diocesan Offices for our regular Tribunal meeting. That evening, there was a wedding rehearsal for Paul Tentow and Aurelie Chountsa at St. Luke’s for this couple from OLIH. Their wedding was the next afternoon. Congratulations Paul and Aurelie.

Saturday evening after the 4:30 pm mass, we celebrated the baptism of Theodore John Besperat, son of Evan and Erin. Sunday at the 10:30 am mass, we celebrated the baptism of Coeyn O’Herron Kock, daughter of Scott and Lyndsay. Congratulations Theodore and Coeyn and welcome to St. Luke’s.

Saturday morning, we had a large Baptism preparation session with 8 couples. We will be seeing more baptisms in the near future. Sunday afternoon, the Stewardship Committee met for its regular meeting. They are studying the book “Rebuilt” like the Parish Council is doing but they are a few chapters ahead. Great ideas.

With Thanksgiving this Thursday, may we all call to mind how much we need to have gratitude to our generous and loving God. May your travels be safe.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Celebrating Sun, Play, Weddings, and Dialogue

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

As I write this letter Sunday 11/6, we are enjoying another 70 degree day in November. What a blessing these special days have been - shirtsleeve weather!

Last Tuesday 11/1, we celebrated masses for All Saints at 8:30 am with parish members and the St. Luke’s School Students and at 6:30 pm for parishioners and guests. It is great to turn to all the Saints and ask for their intercession to God for our needs. I enjoyed lunch with Fr. Bob Kem, retired pastor of St. Anne’s. That evening, the RCIA had its regular session followed by getting home to watch the World Series.

Wednesday after mass, I met with Chris Shires who is helping with a study for Ankeny future planning. We enjoyed a good visit looking at likely developments for Ankeny. That evening, the Liturgy Committee had its monthly meeting. We looked at the plans for Thanksgiving, and some of the early part of Advent.

Thursday 11/3, I had the joy of blessing the new playground equipment in the morning. It was very wet so the students will enjoy these facilities come 11/7. After the 5:30 pm Mass, I joined about 150 people from the Ankeny community at OLIH for the second monthly Lutheran/Catholic gathering to celebrate “From Conflict to Communion.” It was a great evening to share food, a service project and to hear Rev. Tim Olson help us understand things we hold in common and some of the differences that still need more dialogue. It was a delightful evening.

Friday morning after the 8:30 am mass, I also celebrated the 1st Friday mass for the residents of Vintage Hills. We also celebrated the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to conclude our focus on Respect Life. That evening, we had the wedding rehearsal for Vanessa Erikson and Nathan Reising. I enjoyed the dinner afterward at “The Reising Sun Café” on the square in Polk City.

Saturday after the 9:00 am Reconciliation, I went to the North Pole Santa Craft Fair at Prairie Ridge Middle School. Our Family School Association had a food booth with lots of good food. The Erikson/Reising wedding was held at 1:30 pm. Great celebration! Congratulations Vanessa and Nathan!

After the 4:30 pm Mass, the Welcome Committee and the Liturgy Committee hosted a welcome with wonderful food for those recently registered at St. Luke’s. Following that gathering, I stopped in for a little while at the Wedding Reception at the Tournament Players Clubhouse in Polk City.

Sunday after the masses, lots of folks enjoyed the monthly coffee and donuts. At 4:00 pm, I joined Bishop Bates and Bishop Burk from the Lutheran Southeast Synod in a prayer service for the beginning of the 500th year remembering the Reformation.

Keep our 7th grade and above youth in your prayers as they have begun a Youth Ministry gathering for St. Luke’s. May the Holy Spirit guide these beginning steps.

Again, plan on attending the Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service to be held at St. Luke’s on Tuesday November 22, 7:00 pm. It will be a chance to gather area churches to pray and thank God. We will enjoy many great PIES for our refreshments. All are welcome.

We are anticipating the conclusion of the Year of Mercy. There will be services for the closing of the Holy Doors at St. Ambrose, the Basilica of St. John and our Lady of the Americas. More information next week.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann

Colorful Celebrations and Plans

Dear St. Luke’s Parishioners,

The fall colors are beautiful! I suspect they are fast fading however, as happens every fall. The blessings of beautiful warm days are God’s gifts.

Last Sunday 10/16, we had fitting celebrations of our Patron Saints Day - the Feast of St. Luke. The Pasta Dinner and Silent Auction did very well as we served nearly 500 people at the dinner and made over $6,200.00 on the Silent Auction. I appreciate Bruce and Debbie Mehlhop who were the lead couple for this year’s event and to Cari Higgins who lead the Silent Auction with her niece Kelley Haaland. Thank you to all who helped serve the various dimensions of our celebration and to all who enjoyed the food and auction. It is a great way to build community and to help with our parish finances.

On Tuesday 10/18, I concelebrated the funeral for Heidi Allen at Ss John and Paul in Altoona. She was mother of Chase Allen one of our 4th grade students here at St. Luke’s. That late afternoon, I met with a couple to complete the church papers for a young couple preparing for their wedding. We also finished planning their wedding ceremony. That evening, the RCIA met for its regular session with the Topic of “Jesus in the Gospels.”

Wednesday, I took the St. Luke’s Staff out to lunch for St. Luke our patron’s feast day. The Facilities Committee held its regular meeting that evening. Reports from the sub committees were given. I appreciate all the work that was done at the rectory including re-staining the deck and trimming all the trees and shrubs. Thank you guys!

After the Facilities Committee, representatives from our Parish Council, Finance Council, School Board and Facilities Committee gathered with me for an initial gathering to set up a Strategic Planning for Phase II team. We will be looking to assess the facilities needs of our parish and to develop a plan and timetable to meet those needs. We need to plan ahead for our fast growing parish.

Thursday 10/20, I met with the 4th grade at St. Luke’s School. Our topic was the 10 Commandments. We had a lively discussion of what those commandments are and what they meant for 4th graders. After the 5:30 pm mass, the Faith Formation Council held its regular meeting. We put a focus on “Alpha” a 10 week series of Sunday evening meetings that will help us encounter Jesus. It is an effort to look at who Jesus is from an adult view. We will begin January 8, 2017. Be looking for more information and invitations to participate.

Friday, I enjoyed celebrating the 8:30 am mass with our St. Luke’s School 1st graders as liturgy leaders. Good job 1st grade! I visited the hospital that afternoon. That evening, I joined family and friends of Rick Danielson as we celebrated his 60th Birthday. Happy Birthday Rick!

Saturday 10/22 at 4:30 and Sunday 10/23 we celebrated the Sacrament of the Sick at our masses. We hold those with chronic and ongoing health conditions up in our prayers. At the 8:30 am mass, we baptized Harrison James Pierce, Son of Casey and Margery. We also welcomed Anna Grace, daughter of Kate Moore, previously baptized but completing her rites at this mass. After the 10:30 am Mass, Camden Joseph Rosenberger, son of Jerry and Mallory was also baptized. Welcome!

May we all enjoy the blessings of our creator God even as the colorful leaves fall like God’s mercy.

Fr. Larry Hoffmann