Advent-Lessons-And-CarolsDear Parishioners: On Monday I had the great privilege of handing out report cards at our parish school.  The students at OLM School seem to be doing very well  academically but as always there is room for improvement.  The excellent teachers do a fine job educating the children in all areas including Religion on a daily basis. Our parish school is a tremendous asset to our parish community and in fact to the entire community!  Many of our Catholic Schools struggle to keep open and operating but OLM School is blessed with a great  administration, terrific faculty, wonderful students and families.  This doesn’t mean we are free from struggles or problems.   This year we saw a drop in the number of students enrolled from a high of over 400 to just 375 students this year.  This drop in enrollment has taken place at nearly every Catholic School across the Diocese.

One reason for it is the decreasing population of children in our state.  Families are getting smaller not larger and even the public schools are facing declining enrollments as a result the lower number of children.  Also the cost of a Catholic Education can keep Catholic  families away from  our great schools.   At OLM School I am happy to report that we provide tuition assistance to those families that need a helping hand in affording a Catholic Education.  We also have some scholarships available for those families that have multiple children in the school and are struggling to afford tuition.  So spread the word, OLM School is a great place to get a great Catholic education!

While passing out the report cards to the students this week, I also learned of their great efforts in helping the less  fortunate.  They have raised over $1,000 for the Philippine Typhoon Effort.  This week they are   bringing dozens of delicious cookies to McAuley House as they  participate in the Annual  Christmas Gathering there.  This generous spirit of helping those in need is not just limited to the children of our  parish school but most certainly evident across the board at OLM.

Last week we raised over $5,000 for the Philippine Typhoon Effort in the special second collection.  Also thanks to your generosity to the Outreach Collection we have been able to send $1,000 to McAuley House, $500 to Whitmarsh House and $500 to the Diocesan Immigration Office to help with their good works at Christmas.  Additionally through our Outreach Office we have helped many local families with paying their rent, utilities and affording costly prescriptions.  We were asked to adopt 14 refugee  families for Christmas and  thankfully 5 were adopted by  parishioners and another 5 by the children of our Religious  Education Program.  We are still in need of people to adopt 4 families.  If you are interested, please contact Doug Green at our Outreach Office.

The children of the RE   Program are also  assembling Christmas Gift Bags for Emmanuel House.  These bags are filled with items purchased by our Outreach Office.  They include warm sweatshirts, thermal tops, hand and foot warmers, thermal socks, along with some candy and a religious gift.  Over 50 homeless are to receive them at Emmanuel House this Christmas.  This too was made possible by your  support of the Outreach  Collection. With Christmas around the corner, there is still time to help the poor and needy.  If you are interested in helping please contact the Outreach Office.  If you are interested in supporting these good works simply drop a donation in the collection basket and mark it “Outreach.”

Christ is coming at Christmas  so take lets a moment and reflect upon Pope Francis  words for Advent. “Life is an encounter with Jesus: in prayer, when we go to Mass, when we do good works, when we visit the sick, when we help the poor, when we think of others, when we're not self-centred, when we are amiable.  We always encounter Christ in these things and the journey of life is exactly this: walking to  encounter Jesus."  Let us continue to walk together to encounter Jesus in prayer, at Mass, while visiting the sick and in serving the poor! God Bless.