Session Three: Rights and Responsibilities

Session Three: Rights and Responsibilities 

Week Three of our Summer Faith Formation is ready! Discover the generosity of Boaz in our Bible story for the week. As Boaz generously gives Ruth more then is required by law. St. Thomas More is another great example of this theme as a member of parliament and judge, whose responsibility to God would not let him bow down to an unjust king.

Mass on Youtube

St. Mary, Oskaloosa Mass for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary.

An Act of Spiritual Communion 

My Jesus,
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.



This close of June brings a number of significant life moments for me.  On June 26, I will note my 44th anniversary of priestly ordination.  On June 27, I will offer my first public Mass of Sunday in over 3 months as our diocese emerges from more restrictive COVID 19 protocols returning to the presentation of public Masses with yet COVID-19 limited attendance protocols.  On June 28, I will offer my last Mass of Sunday as pastor of SMO/SMP.  On 29 June I will conclude packing and loading a truck to enable my move to Montrose, Iowa.  On June 30, I will arrive and unload the moving truck in Montrose and retire from priestly assignment as a priest of the Diocese of Davenport.

I am grateful to the welcome and partnership in ministry that was given me by the parishes of SMO/SMP.  I noted in these past five years two hip replacement surgeries and I am most grateful to the pastoral assistance shared with SMO/SMP by my brother Fr. Tom and Fr. Bill and the SMO/SMP deacons and parish staffs which afforded me the opportunity to undergo and to physically rehabilitate myself following these surgeries.

So much of prayer and sacrament, we have had the blessing to share at Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Marriage, Eucharistic Adoration, weekday, Sunday and special celebration Masses and funerals.  The good of youth and adult and parish faith formation has also been ours in these years. With all of that noted there has also been the good of our simply being together.

When I came into the role of a pastor it was after years of assignments as a parochial vicar, high school religion and Latin teacher and high school chaplain and hospital chaplain.  It was the time of pastors being assigned to two parishes and that was four pastor assignments ago. The only thing that makes a priest able to have responsibility for what two and sometimes three priests were doing in years long past is the commitment of deacons and professional or volunteer lay pastoral ministers and catechetical directors.

I have truly found the level required for pastoral services at SMO/SMP a challenge.  A challenge not because of some negative within the parishes, but just to be able to present with the level of pastoral care that I could feel good about as one holding the responsibility of being pastor.  The good presentation of parish staffs and deacons and parish volunteer ministers is what enabled me to be able to feel good about the fulfillment of my responsibilities as pastor.  The challenge that has been is that at times as pastor you see more you would have desired to do but one was not adequate to one’s desires.  It was these times when one had to accept that what was possible to be done was all that this one could do, that would wear one down.

Recently as Queen Elizabeth II addressed the British people in the face of this COVID 19 pandemic, she closed her remarks drawing upon those sentiments that she had amid the calamities of WWII as she said, “We will meet again.”   Bishop Zinkula in early May shared with us:  “So, parish life will continue, albeit in a modified manner. Due to physical distancing restrictions, when we begin celebrating public Masses again, First Communions, Confirmations and adult initiations will need to be celebrated individually or in small groups rather than as an entire class. Clergy will be ordained without the preferred attendance, and priests will retire and change assignments without the desired closure and welcome. Social distancing is the new norm, and we can’t put things off indefinitely.”

No matter the distance between us, we will meet again.  In a time of more open and gentler socializing we will seek out that opportunity for something of that desired more of closing.  The closing is also for me an opening to what is of retirement and it is also for Fr. Troy Richmond an opening to all that grace will make possible for him at SMO/SMP as pastor.



Homily 6.28.2020

Find all scripture resources here.

Fr. John’s Homily – 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Full List of Readings

Both last Sunday and this Sunday in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus gives directions to the apostles to whom he is calling to mission.  Last Sunday, as the disciples we were called to fear not.  We are to be as Dcn. Lowell’s grandson was full of trust with his grandfather within the canoe.  The apostles’ mission which is the Church’s mission which is our mission is a mission to confront evil and drive out demons and to cure and heal.  The mission is to be entered upon without provision and to have as its single focus the proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven and its acceptance.  It is a mission of peace and when rejected, the rejection is acknowledged and one is simply to move on, for God deals with management decisions we are only in sales.

The priority is on the reception of Jesus as the reception of God, the Father into one’s heart and life.  Like the woman of Shunem, we are called to welcome and share hospitality with one of faith.  Our welcome and our sharing will lead to life and fullness of life.  Elisha provides to the woman who welcomes him with great hospitality the gift of fertility which leads to the birth of a son.  When this son suffers an untimely youthful death, Elisha will restore him to life.  Our reception of Jesus unites us to the Father who has given us life and who through Jesus gives us eternal life.

The disciples are identified as the “little ones”.  Later in Matthew’s Gospel, we find that the “little ones” are not to be despised.  They have angels accompanying them.  Those who welcome these “little ones” are welcoming disciples and in their welcome, they receive Jesus who imparts to them the love of the Father.  It is in the “little ones” humility that they are great and have entered into the Kingdom of Heaven.

As Matthew comments more on the identity of the “little ones”, we find that they are as well the lost sheep whom the Father seeks, finds, and blesses with salvation.  They are both the brother sinned against called to share forgiveness as well as the brother who sins and is in need of forgiveness.  As the “little ones” blessed with humility we are to recognize our sins.  We are those of whom Paul writes of as having been buried in baptism.  We then rise from the water of baptism unto Christ.  As Christ, we too are to take up our cross.  We die to sin within our baptismal sharing in the death of Christ.  Sin no longer has the power of death over us.  For rising from the water of baptism we enter into the eternal and glorious life of Christ.  Our cross like that of Christ is but the way to glorious eternal life in Christ Jesus.

Our commitment of faith in Christ may lead to our rejection.  We are to remain as the humble “little ones” confident of the Father’s love given us in Christ which makes us great in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Recognizing then our own sins we are to forgive the sins of others.  The Father’s will is that not one of the “little ones” be lost.  May all of us through whatever cross is ours proclaim Christ that all may be acknowledged before the heavenly Father and enter in the Father’s rewarding love.

Homily 6/21/2020

Find all scripture resources here.

Deacon Lowell’s Homily – 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Full List of Readings

Good morning.

I miss seeing all of you and I can’t wait until we return to public Mass. To all of you fathers and men who have served as role models to young people; happy Father’s Day.

The Revelation

“Nothing is concealed” “No secret not revealed” “What I say to You”

Last Saturday night my 8-year-old grandson, Wesley, and I were hanging out in my man cave sipping root beer floats and watching Teen Titans Go on TV. It was one of those moments that conjures up memories of hanging out with my dad and grandfather. They were hard-working Iowa farmers who revealed many of life’s great secrets to me and I in turn revealed some of those same secrets of life to my daughters.

Things like: learning to ride a bicycle. I used the grassy hill method, I found a short steep hill with a long flat run out at the bottom, then I put my daughters on the bicycle and gave them a push. For my daughters, this eliminated the stress of trying to peddle or brake while learning to balance.

I also taught both girls how to drive a car with a manual transmission. It was a spiritual experience for me and my daughters the day they discovered the mystery of finding the friction point of the clutch, that magical place where the car neither lurches forward nor rolls backward during that critical moment of moving the right foot from the brake to the accelerator.

As I look at my grandsons I think about the secrets of life I will be privileged to teach them.

Our Heavenly Father revealed many things to us through His Word, His Son Jesus. In His parables, His teaching, and His miracles Jesus revealed that our Heavenly Father is mercy and love. Jesus demonstrated how to live. We are to love each other and care for each other.

Last week we celebrated the Solemnity of “Corpus Christi” or “The Most Holy Body and Blood of  Christ.” In the Gospel reading we heard:

I am the living bread that came down from heaven; who ever eats this bread will live forever…”

These are the words of life. Jesus revealed to us the secret of eternal life. But these are not secrets we keep to ourselves. This is Good News for all people.

“Speak in the light”

Persecution and Rejection

“Whisperings” “Denounce” “Those who were my friends”

Our first reading is a foretaste of what the apostles will face when proclaiming the Gospel. Old Testament prophets like Jeremiah had it rough. Their job was to tell people how they have strayed from God and they needed to change their ways if they were to honor their covenant with God. Jeremiah endured ridicule, scorn, and even persecution.

Have you ever been ostracized for saying what you believe? Have you feared losing your job for refusing to do something you consider unethical? Have the behaviors of a loved one caused you to intervene for their own good? Let’s be honest, nobody likes to be told they are living in error.

It’s human nature to lash out at the messenger. One of the scripture commentaries I consult describes the effects of this very human characteristic like this:

“We live in a world where money is the standard of success. It is a world that values possessions over commitment, shrewdness over integrity. It is a world that desperately needs conversion.

But it is a world that is deaf to it. The world will persecute those that call for conversion and it is subject to the death that entered the world through Adam. Those who respond positively to God’s call to proclaim the good news will face hostility because their commitment to righteousness threatens the values of our culture. To commit oneself to the reign of God is to challenge the reign of the world. A gospel that bothers no one and questions nothing is no longer the gospel.”

Yet, Jesus calls us to proclaim His Gospel from the housetops.

“To you, I have entrusted my cause”


“Fear no one” “Do not be afraid” “You are worth more”

Jesus calls us to be heralds of His Good News. But what about the consequences we might suffer. In today’s Gospel reading Jesus tells us we can trust him. Our Heavenly Father is not indifferent to our fears and hesitancies.

My brother in law, Mike, and I took my grandson, Wesley, on a canoe trip down the Des Moines River Monday. We put in at a boat ramp below Red Rock dam. The current was strong and we were paddling into 13 mph head winds. Our canoe was bobbing like a cork and felt really unstable. The river is so wide that if we capsized here it would be a long, tough swim to shore while trying to gather up the canoe, our gear, and most importantly Wesley.

About 2 minutes into the trip Mike suggested we consider returning to the boat ramp and rescheduling this trip for another day. But Wesley had complete trust that Grandpa and Uncle Mike would guide him safely to the take out. Eventually the wind died down and we had a fun day on the river. Wesley displayed the innocent trust of a child in his elders.

Jesus asks that we put that same trust in Him.

“Persecutors can certainly end one’s life on earth but they cannot deprive one of eternal life. No event happens without the Father’s knowledge. Since God is in charge there is nothing to fear, from those who seek to kill you.”

                                                                                               Margaret Nutting Ralph

Over the centuries martyrs for our faith understood that as Christians our goal is to spend eternity with God and participate in the heavenly banquet. Jesus promises that if we acknowledge Him in this life: “I will acknowledge you to my Father.” In the next.

God’s Grace

Saint Paul tells us that the Grace of God overcomes human tendencies. Our Heavenly Father’s gracious gift of Jesus in the Word and in the Eucharist, His gracious gift of the Holy Spirit indwelling in our hearts, bring us comfort and strength. They are our light in the darkness and our hope amidst suffering.

Public Masses Resume!

Did you hear the great news? Public Masses will resume in the Davenport Dioceses on Monday, June 22, 2020. We are very excited to welcome everyone back to Mass. However, this must be done safely. Please see the document, ‘How to Sign Up for Mass at SMP & SMO,’ for a step by step guide.

Every household wishing to attend a Mass of Sunday will have to follow the set-out guidelines in order to reserve a seat. You are welcome to attend your normal Mass of Sunday, be that at Pella or Oskaloosa. Due to the limited number of seating available, we are asking that each household only sign up for one Mass a month at this time.

Weekday Mass will also be resuming with a new schedule.

      • Tuesday – 8 am, SMO
      • Wednesday – 12:15 pm, SMP
      • Thursday – 7 am, SMO
      • Friday – 8:30 am, SMP
      • Complete Mass Schedule

At this time there will not be a sign up for weekday Masses. This may change in the future, as there are a limited number of seats available.

Our first Masses of Sunday will be offered on June 27th and 28th. The Sign up for all Masses of Sunday for the month of June and July will open on Monday, June 22. Please read the included document to find out more about signing up via the internet or by calling the parish office.

We all look forward to welcoming you back to Mass at St. Mary’s!


Homily, The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Find all scripture resources here.

Fr. John’s Homily – The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Full List of Readings

It is with greater difficulty that we celebrate The Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ without gathering into community and receiving the body and blood of the Lord in the bread, taken, blessed, broken and shared and in the cup of wine taken, blessed and shared.  The prayer of the Mass demands a community and it is only under the greatest of privations that provisions are made that a priest may offer Mass alone.

While Mass can be offered alone, I question if it can be celebrated alone.  You can mark Christmas alone but can you celebrate Christmas alone? Perhaps this difference as I see it between offering and celebrating points to the twofold reality of the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is both a sacrifice and a memorial meal.

It is both an individual and a communal ritual.  The sense of offering seems to me an action of an individual.  Perhaps this is reflected in the Mass that after the priest presider offers the bread and wine at the presentation of the gifts and then says:  “Pray brothers and sisters that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.”  To celebrate seems to carry the sense of a coming together of more than one to mutually share in a communal and festive celebration.

The call of St. Juliana of Liege in the 13th Century for the celebration of a Feast of the Body of Christ (Corpus Christi) was with the recognition that the celebration of the Eucharist on the Thursday of Holy Week, Holy Thursday, is muted by the nearness of the commemoration of the Lord’s Passion and Death on Good Friday.  Juliana desired a more joyful recognition of the gift of the Lord’s presence in the Eucharist, for in the Eucharistic bread and wine is present the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus, the Risen Lord.

In the Mass, we make our own the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary.  Christ in turn makes us his own through our partaking of his body and blood in the one bread and one cup.  Pope Francis has called us to experience communion with Christ through our faith in the presence of the Lord with us, by our love of Christ above all and by our true desire to receive the Eucharist now denied us, given our COVID 19 protocols which prohibit our sharing in the communal praying of the Mass.  While prevented from being within a gathered community and denied access to the bread and wine that is Christ, there is yet provided for us in prayer a spiritual reception of Christ into our hearts through grace.

As Moses directed the Israelites in the desert to remember God being with them, so in this Spiritual Communion we remember that the Lord is with us.  This remembrance is our being in union with God and with each other, the Body of Christ.  In being within the Body of Christ, there is for us a sharing in Jesus’ body and blood that provides for us eternal life.  My offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice establishes me at once among the we gathered at the table of the Lord’s memorial meal.  Having eaten his body and drank his blood I have a participation in Christ, in His sacrificial death and glorious resurrection and I am made again fully a son or daughter of God.

On this celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi held with us away from one another and away from the altar table of the Lord and prevented from eating the Eucharistic flesh of Christ and drinking the blood of Christ, I call on all to offer this prayer of Spiritual Communion shared by our Holy Father, Pope Francis.  In our prayer my our sacrifices be received, may we be one with the sacrifice of Christ and may we each receive the grace of communion with the Lord who makes us one in the Father.

The Spiritual Communion Prayer

My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.  I love You above all things, and desire to receive You in my soul.  Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.  Never permit me to be separated from You.  Amen.

Prayer to Overcome Racism

Prayer to Overcome Racism

Mary, friend and mother to all, through your Son, God has found a way to unite himself to every human being, called to be one people, sister and brothers to each other.

We ask for your help in calling on your Son, seeking forgiveness for the times when we have failed to love and respect one another.

We ask for your help in obtaining from your Son the grace we need to overcome the evil of racism and to build a just society.

We ask for your help in following your Son, so that prejudice and animosity will no longer infect our minds or hearts but will be replaced with a love that respects the dignity of each person.

Mother of the Church, the Spirit of your Son Jesus warms our hearts: pray for us. Amen

The USCCB sent out the above prayer which was included at the end of ‘Open Wide Our Hearts,’ a pastoral letter against racism. If you would like to read the pastoral letter or more from the USCCB please visit,