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The Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 17, 2016 

       The image in the reading from the Book of Revelation of the lamb, a Christ-figure, shepherding the sheep to life-giving waters and of God wiping away the tears from every eye brought to my mind Pope Francis yesterday, visiting the migrant families on the Greek Island of Lesbos and bringing back to Rome with him in his own plane those three Muslim families, including six children.  If ever there was an image of the Good Shepherd, that was it – Pope Francis leading those people to life-giving waters and wiping the tears from their eyes.

     Today has long been called Good Shepherd Sunday and I must confess that I wish I didn’t have to take the homily time to talk about the Annual Catholic Appeal, but I do.  But, you know, even this – mundane as it is - is part of what it means to shepherd, so here goes…!

     Last year on this Sunday, I made a deal with you.  I told you I would not harangue you about the Annual Catholic Appeal if you would pony up and give.  And you did!  Generously!  Not all of you, but a great number of you, and once again you put our parish in first place among all the parishes of the archdiocese.

     So I’m thinking: can I do that again this year?  I’m sure you would like it if I did but I might be pressing my luck.  So how about a little compromise?  I will make this very brief - very brief - if you will be very generous. Do we have a deal?

     Here goes: the Annual Appeal exists because the Church is bigger than our parish. Our parish cannot train and form young men for the priesthood; our parish can’t run and supervise our large system of Catholic grade and high schools; our parish cannot fund the retirement plans for priests and sisters – hundreds of whom who have served our Church; our parish can’t do the work of Catholic Community Services, providing housing and shelters and basic human services all over Western Washington; and our parish can’t run the CYO camps for kids. And that’s only the beginning. We do a lot as a parish but we can’t do those things. That’s why there’s an Annual Catholic Appeal.

     It’s a good cause, my friends, and a necessary one.  And it’s part of what it means to be Catholic. So, if being Catholic is important to you (and I know it is), then you will give to the Annual Catholic Appeal. Simple as that.

     Our goal this year is $352,000. We need not only to raise that amount but we need to go beyond it because, as you know, our parish gets back every dollar we raise over and above the goal.  And why go over and above?  Well, this year we need the money to support our many programs for the children of our parish:  our great youth ministry, our wonderful children’s faith formation programs, our outstanding youth music program.

     To keep my promise to you, and to close this in a more persuasive way than I ever could, I invite to the pulpit Jack Ipsen (10:00am and 5:30pm Masses)/Lissi Sevao (Noon Mass), one of our really engaged young people.

        Father Michael G. Ryan

Jack's talk

     Good morning/evening, my name is Jack Ipsen and I have been asked to speak to you about the impact that the Saint James Youth Ministry has had on my life, which is a tall order to fill. When writing down what I wanted to say, I realized that words could not accurately convey how much this youth ministry program means to me.

     To start, this ministry has helped mold my life to one centered around service. From giving out clothes to the homeless right here in Seattle, to helping the migrant workers of the Skagit Valley, and even as far as working at an orphanage in Nicaragua. I was lucky enough to go to Nicaragua with the youth group and see the love of God through each child I met, all because of this Parish’s commitment to its youth.  Service used to not even be something I thought about, and now, let’ just say my school required service hours have long been completed, all thanks to youth ministry.

     The group has also helped to expand my faith. Every youth night is filled with great religious content, which is thanks to none other than our amazing youth minister Joe Cotton. Joe has been so great at helping to expand our faith through his youth nights, retreats, and encouraging several youth members like me to become faith mentors, where we teach the catholic faith to those with special needs.

            Finally the youth group has given me the opportunity to meet others who share my beliefs. I have met so many amazing people, some I may never have met otherwise. These people I now consider to be part of my extended family and love them all to death. But my family in faith still had room to grow, as I met more and more Catholics my age,  from the catholic youth conference ,the Youth Migrant Project, and the Ascend catholic youth leadership camp.  And now I have the amazing opportunity to meet catholic youth from around the world at World Youth Day this coming summer. All thanks to our amazing youth program.

     Before joining the youth group, my commitment to my faith and others could be at best described as lackluster. However, by deciding that one day to go to a youth group event, I unknowingly set my life on a new course filled with friendship, love, faith, and new experiences that will forever change my entire outlook on life. As I look back on all the great times I’ve had in youth ministry, I think of how grateful I am to have had this amazing opportunity in my life, and that I must thank all of you, who have so graciously supported this program since it’s inception. Thank you for your support it has made all the difference to me and so many others. Thank you and God bless.

 

Lissi's talk

     Good afternoon everyone, my name is Lissi Sevao. I am a daughter, a sister, a student at Holy Names Academy, and a proud parishioner of this sacred place we are in today, St. James Cathedral.  I have been a parishioner here for as long as I can remember. I was baptized by Fr. Ryan in the font behind me, received First Communion over there on the East side of the church, Reconciliation in the Reconciliation Chapel in the west vestibule, and was confirmed last May right in front on the West side. In addition to receiving those four Sacraments, I also had the pleasure of participating in all three programs that the Annual Catholic Appeal REBATE will be supporting this year. They include, the Youth Ministry, Youth Music, and the Children’s Faith Formation. And so as I stand before you all today, I would like to tell about how these three programs have affected me and changed my life.

     To begin with, I am in the Jubilate! The high school girl’s choir that is singing today during this mass. I have been a part of the Youth Music program since the age of 4. This program has had a huge  impact on me. It has taught me to be patient, to be committed, to be a leader, and to have faith in not only myself, but in others around me. As a choir, we have sung for countless events here at church, and outside of it, including my favorite event, Christmas caroling at retirement homes around the area. We come together every Monday for rehearsals and vigorously attack the snack cabinet when it is break time. One of the best parts of being in Jubilate, is having a teacher like Ms. Sunde. She is the one that let me join choir as a 4 year old, even though the age limit was 6. And she is the one that has to deal with hungry, tired, and moody teenage girls every Monday afternoon. But she does it with patience and a commitment to music. She is the best music teacher and advisor I could ever ask for.

     Secondly, Youth Ministry. I joined Youth Ministry a couple months after it began, during my sophomore year. It was one of the best decisions of my life. Many kids automatically think that youth group is where you sit for two hours and listen to different lectures about God. But having Joe Cotton as a leader, youth nights are more dynamic and diverse than that. Through retreats, outings, community service, and just spending time with everyone, I can say that I have been able to grow more deeply in my faith. This past summer especially, I had the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua along with other members of our youth ministry. My perspective on life definitely changed after meeting the children at the NPH orphanage. Their smiles, hugs, and laughter are memories I will never forget. I am very blessed to be given such amazing opportunities being a part of Youth Ministry.

     The last program, is the Children’s Faith Formation. I started going to Sunday school while I was in Kindergarten. But it was not until high school when I decided to take what I learned from the past years of being taught the Word of God, into action. Two years ago, the Children’s Faith Formation partnered with the archdiocesan Special Needs ministry to create a new program called, Special Needs Faith Mentoring. The catch was, it would be high school students becoming the mentors, instead of adults. And with that, I had no hesitation to sign up. I’ve been working with a special needs child for two years now and it has been so much fun. I absolutely love being a part of this new program because I get to meet children from our church I would have otherwise probably never met. Interacting with them, learning about God, and growing slowly in our faith together. I feel a sense of community building through this program, and that is why I love being a part of it.

     Through these programs, I was able to make friends that now, I would gladly call my own family. Now that I am graduating next month from high school, I am going to take what I learned from each and every program, and live it out. To continue doing community service, singing, and being a part of this holy place. This church is my life. My second home. A place where I feel I belonged. Forever. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. Thank you for letting me tell my story, and I hope you all make an effort to support our programs that let individuals build faith, character, and most importantly memories. Thank you.
 

 

 

 

 

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Seattle, Washington  98104
Phone 206.622.3559  Fax 206.622.5303