Corpus Christi: Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus – Fr. Peter Patrick’s Homily for May 28/29, 2016

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In the Feast of Corpus Christi, which means “The Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus,” we believe that the person of Christ is fully present in the consecrated bread and wine. When we receive Holy Communion, we receive Christ. We are in co-union with him. This spiritual food enriches us; we become part of his spirit if we are open to it. In essence, we gradually become what we eat.

In our baptism, we became the body of Christ. We share in his joys and sufferings. In today’s gospel, we see two things: The proclamation of the Kingdom of God and the feeding. Because they were in a deserted place and they could not get food, the disciples proposed an immediate solution to Jesus: to send the crowd away before it would be fully dark, so that they could go to village and countryside to find their own food and lodging (9:12). They thought dismissing the crowd to manage their physical needs on their own was the best solution, instead of going through the enormous problems involved in buying and transporting provisions, cooking and distributing food for five thousand (not including women and children; 9:13)!

Instead of escaping from the problem, Jesus asked the disciples to face the problem with these emphatic words: “You give them something to eat” (9:13). They responded by pointing to the inadequacy of their resources: “We have no more than five loaves and two fish” (9:13). Here we notice their tendency to focus on what they did not have, instead of what they had. Their focus was only on the enormous problem and not on any other possibility. Even after observing so many miracles of Jesus in their presence, they could not imagine the possibility of Jesus handling the hunger of the crowd with his power. They doubted his ability to take care of this situation.

What about us? The doubts the disciples had, are the same we have. We always focus on what we don’t have, and we forget to give thanks of what we have. We are all called to build the kingdom of God, even in our inadequacy. In all our small ways, we can make the difference and make this world a better place to live.

When we share the Body and Blood of Christ, our eyes will be opened just like those of Jesus’ disciples who were going to Emmaus. When our eyes are opened, we will be able to see the needs of our suffering brothers and sisters. Let us become what we receive, and that is Jesus. Let our receiving of the Holy Communion transform us, and we in turn transform the world.

Fr. Peter Patrick


Take and Eat, This Is My Body – Father Dennis’ Homily for May 29, 2016

Portrait of Father Dennis DirkxFor over two thousand years the Church has faithfully repeated the words our Lord Jesus asked to be said in his memory.  Fr. Ron Rolheiser, in his book on the Eucharist, stated that this is one thing the Church has been faithful to doing over the centuries.  The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ is the central sacrament of the Church through which we encounter the Risen Lord who promised to be with the Church until the end of time.  The origins of this feast are with St. Julianna, a Belgian mystic and prioress who fostered a devotion to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. His presence among us in the Eucharist is so profound and so deep—it is like a multifaceted diamond.

The Church as it gathers this weekend to break bread and share a cup in his memory echoes the feeding of the five thousand in the gospel we have just heard, (Luke 9: 11-17).  This weekend it is not the five thousand that are being fed, but the five million plus with the real presence of Jesus Christ.  The Christian communities throughout the world by recalling his words “This is my body that is for you and this cup is the new covenant in my blood,” make Jesus himself present to us.  Take a moment to let this sink into your awareness.  He is actually present in thousands of gatherings like ours throughout the world.  This is one of the multifaceted dimensions of the real presence of the Lord.

Indeed he is present in all the Christian communities who in his name share the one bread and the one cup.  This being the given reality of the real presence of Jesus Christ, it means that we are all bound together as brothers and sisters in the Lord.  The glue that holds us together as one family is the presence of Jesus Christ.  This is not some lofty idea in a world yet to be realized, but it is reality.  The oneness the real presence brings transcends race, ideologies, cultures, nations, genders, political differences and whatever else that divides humanity.  Whatever distinguishes us from one another is dissolved in the presence of Jesus Christ who gathers together all.  Paul exhorts the Corinthians that the Eucharist must never distinguish between rich and poor, noble and peasant, aristocrat and servant, either at the Lord’s Table or apart from this sacred moment.  Ought we to not reverence the bond it creates among us?  Let this multifaceted dimension of the real presence fill our hearts and minds.

St. Paul in his exhortation to the Corinthians reminded them that what they did around the Table of the Lord must touch every aspect of their lives.  In receiving the real presence of the Lord we are compelled to make known to others this Christ.  The real presence of the Lord in the Eucharist is all about evangelizing a world—a society that has grown blind to its presence.  If not us, then who? 

Pope Francis in a recent audience said the following, “The Eucharist is the spiritual life-blood of the Christian because in receiving it we consume the Body of the Risen Lord, whose life transforms us, elevates us, and empowers us to become like him.”  Across this wonderful world of ours, Christians gathered to share the one bread and the one cup—the Body and Blood of Jesus who is transforming us, elevating us, and empowering us to become like him.  There is still hope for a broken world.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Fr. Dennis


God’s Visit to K4 – Father Dennis’ Homily for May 22, 2016

Portrait of Father Dennis DirkxA few years ago I visited the K4 classroom, and of course you have to do show-and-tell. I wanted to explain to the students that the very first sign the church gave them was the sign of the cross. In my possession is a wood cross from my grandfather Dirkx’s family. It is roughly 140 years old. Wrapping the cross up in a blanket and getting a globe, I was set to do show-and-tell to K4. While pointing to the Netherlands on the globe, I told them that this is where my show-and-tell comes from. With my finger I guided them from the Netherlands to Wisconsin to Shorewood and the K4 classroom. You have to use your imagination with this one, because this is exactly what K4 students always do. I slowly unveiled the cross explaining how old it was and in all their wonder they encountered my cross. We did the ten-finger fourteen times so they could understand the age of the cross. They all wanted to touch it, and that was okay. I explained to them the sign of the cross was first given to them at their baptism by the priest, their parents and godparents. I ended the class by blessing each one of the students with a cross that I traced upon their foreheads. A K4 girl goes home that afternoon and tells her mom, “God was in class today and he did show-and-tell.” The mother emailed the school and said, “I knew we chose the right school, when God comes into the classroom.”

Through the eyes of four-year-olds, we in clerical shirts and collars are God. How anyone, including abusive priests, could destroy this wonder and trust is beyond me. For, this is what Jesus has taught us to do:  recognize God in each other. “I assure you, as often as you did it for one of my least brothers; you did it for me, (Matt. 25:40).” St. Paul had to remind the Corinthians that they were the dwelling place of the Living God, (1 Cor. 3:16-17). Last Sunday when we celebrated Pentecost Jesus told us through the gospel of St. John, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him, (John 14:23).” The indwelling of Jesus was at the heart of St. Paul’s conversion: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me…I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting, (Acts 9:5).” There is no way we can deny that the other is the human face of God to us.

I don’t know about you, but oftentimes I struggle with this teaching of Jesus. There are some nasty people in our world and some of them touch our lives. These are the ones in whom I struggle to see God’s presence; many of them are people I see on a regular basis. It is only when words slip out of my mouth that I realize how wrong I was.

As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity let us remind ourselves that all our sisters and brothers are the dwelling place of the Living God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. When we fine-tune the eyes of our hearts, we will eventually begin to see God in others. Part of this fine-tuning is developing the ability to see God in ourselves. If we see him in ourselves, it is easier to see him in all our sisters and brothers.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Fr. Dennis

Thank You All

_JAM4985-3 copyChange is inevitable, whether in acceptable time or unacceptable time; we all have to struggle with that. Life is always changing and everything, whether good or bad, will eventually come to an end. As you already know my current assignment here at Holy Family and St. Robert will end at the end of this month of May, 2016. I was not prepared for this; to my knowledge; I thought it was ending summer of 2017. Nothing in this life remains the same; only God is unchanging and constant in His love, at all times.

Although I was not able to do much within those two years I have been here, I am so grateful for getting opportunity to serve you in different ways. It has been a blessing to me being my first assignment as a priest; it means a lot. Archbishop Jerome Listecki has assigned me to the Central City parishes. I will be a shared associate for three parishes: All Saints; St. Martin De Porres, and St. Michael. Please, I do ask for your prayers as I begin my new assignment.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your love, prayers, and support. It is hard to leave, but as I said in the beginning of this note, change is inevitable and all of us have to adjust to it. Just remember what I said over and over. “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good,” even at this time of my transition. God bless and I will miss you all.

Fr. Peter Patrick Kimani

Faith Communities – Father Dennis’ Homily for Pentecost 2016

Portrait of Father Dennis DirkxI often think back to the faith community I was born in and grew up in—St. Augustine Parish in Harrison, Wisconsin. It is a small rural parish located east of Tomahawk on Highway D. On a Sunday morning one could feel with one’s soul the bond that held us together—our faith in Jesus Christ. This was the work of the Holy Spirit. There was the usual pettiness and bickering that you would find in any community. I guess this is a good way of saying we were not perfect. I remember as a child that on Sunday morning we were able to either rise above it or put it aside, because at Mass there was always a strong sense of oneness as we came forward to receive Holy Communion. We lived in a world before TV, computers, and cell phones. There were no stores open on a Sunday because this was the Day of the Lord and only the necessary work like milking cows was permitted. Life, as I knew it, revolved around Sunday—a holy day. Not only did we Catholics observe Sunday in such a manner, but so did the Lutherans and even the few non-church goers who lived in our community. It is true back then and now that we tend to do more and be more when we are in union with others.

That world has given way to a more complex and challenging world in which forming community is difficult, but not impossible. Why build a faith community when we are faced with such challenges and obstacles? This is what God the Father wants to accomplish with us. It may not necessarily be our desire, but it is the desire of the God we worship—the God in whom we have been baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The Father has three good reasons for forming us into a faith community. First, God knows that when we are together, that is of one heart and one mind, we can do more. Discipleship has always been and will always be a “we-centered-on-the-Spirit.” Second, we are more of who God intended us to be when we are one in the Spirit. There is a part of who we are that can only be realized when we are together—God’s people. Third, the Father’s presence and voice is stronger, clearer and more effective when we are “walking-the-walk” together.

It is to this end the Spirit has been sent in Jesus’ name to teach us everything and to remind us of all that he has told us. From the first Pentecost until Pentecost 2016 the Spirit is the primary teacher in the Church. He is not a substitute teacher—he is the primary teacher. St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians stated, “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit, (1 Cor. 12:7).” The benefit that Paul speaks about is the building up of the community. We so strongly identify ourselves as individuals that we interpret his words to mean for the individual’s benefit. It takes a faith community to discern the purpose of the Spirit’s manifestation to an individual. The challenge is to learn how to listen to the Spirit within the experience of a community. We do this in small faith sharing groups, Dogma & Donuts, CRHP, Biblical Reflections in the Estabrook Park Beer Garden, and through the religious formation of our children.

At the Last Supper Jesus prayed that we might be one as he and the Father are one. The same Holy Spirit is at work today among us as it was at St. Augustine Parish in Harrison and as it was on that first Pentecost. At every Mass we ask the Holy Spirit to gather us together into one body—a living sacrifice in Christ to which we must always say, “Amen.”

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Fr. Dennis

Who Is An Advocate? – Father Peter Patrick’s Homily for Pentecost Sunday, 2016

_JAM4985-3 copyWho is an advocate? I know we have some here with us, and maybe they can give us the definition of their work. According to Webster’s dictionary, an advocate is the person that pleads the cause of another; specifically:  one that pleads the cause of another before a tribunal or judicial court. Jesus, before he ascended into heaven,  promised his disciples that he will not leave them as orphans, but would send them an advocate, the Holy Spirit.

At Baptism, we receive seven special gifts from the Holy Spirit. These gifts are freely given to us to help us live as followers of Jesus and to build up the Body of Christ, the Church. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are sealed and strengthened within us at Confirmation. These seven gifts help us to respond to the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, to make good choices, and to serve God and others. When we use the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the fruits are visible to all that we meet, a good example if joy.

Today we celebrate the birth of the Church; the “Pentecost,” fifty days after the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. After Jesus was crucified, his disciples dispersed and some went back to their former life of fishing because they did not understand who he was. They locked themselves inside for fear of the Roman soldiers and Jewish leaders.

On Pentecost day, when the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples, they were able to come out and proclaim the risen Lord without any fear. As we have heard in the first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, the disciples were able to speak in a language that all the pilgrims who had visited Jerusalem could understand. Which language do you think they were speaking? The language of ‘love,’ it’s the only language which can be spoken by everybody in the whole world and understood by each other.

We are being called to speak with the language of love to our spouses, children, parents, friends, relatives and all those we meet in our life. Love removes any division, hatred, foul language, anger, resentment, just to mention a few failings. Love removes all the vices and any wall we have built to avoid others. Love builds bridges instead. Let us stir the Holy Spirit that we received at our baptism. The work of the Holy Spirit will be seen in us by all, by our good deeds.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy Faithful; and kindle in them the fire of Thy love. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created, and thou shall renew the face of the earth. Come O Creator Spirit blest. O Fount of Life and Fire of Love, blow into us the breath of new and fresh life. Unlock the doors of our minds and hearts to go out of ourselves to build bridges of forgiveness and reconciliation. Stir us up from coldness and indifference so that we can serve with creativity and zeal. Our world and the Church are wounded by divisions. Transform us to work for reconciliation and forgiveness, thus breaking down the walls of division.


Changes At St. Robert – From Our Pastor, Father Dennis

Portrait of Father Dennis DirkxYou have heard that Fr. Peter Patrick will be leaving us in June. The Archbishop has assigned him as shared associate pastor to St. Martin de Porres, All Saints and St. Michael Parishes. The Archbishop has also assigned Fr. David Zampino Sr. to replace Fr. Peter Patrick. Fr. David is formerly an Episcopalian priest who has been accepted into the Catholic Church and was ordained a Catholic priest by Archbishop Listecki with the dispensation granted to him by Pope Francis. He comes to us as a married man with a family. Fr. David will begin his assignment to St. Robert of Newminster and Holy Family Parishes on June 21st. We are grateful to the Archbishop for sending us a shared associate pastor, especially given the shortage the diocese faces. I welcome him to our parishes and I look forward to working with him in serving you, our parishioners. We are also publishing a question-and-answer document with more information regarding married priests.