A couple of months ago, Dan Vos, the construction company leading our project,  invited me to a Catholic Business Leaders breakfast at the diocese.  Here’s the catch, it began at 7am.  That’s not the time I had to wake up, but that’s the time I had to be there… 

When we arrived, I was walking by a table filled with parishioners from Our Lady.  Here’s how they greeted me:  “Father, this is early for you… We are surprised to see you here!”  

Dan Blundy, the man who invited me turns to me and says, “they seem to know you well Fr. Steve.” That they do. 

It’s no secret that I do not like mornings.  But the reason I’m telling you this, is when I returned to the parish that morning Fr. Tony asked me how it went.  I said, “Dude man, the worst possible thing happened, it was so good.. which means if I get invited again I’ll probably go!?” 

All kidding aside, it was one of the best presentations I have been to.  The business owner spoke about his company’s vision, and that his company really became successful when they asked the question “why”.  He was inspired by a TED talk from Simon Sinek, which he showed us.

Here is the example that Simon Sinek used…  

So, what makes apple different than other computer companies? 

Have you ever noticed that people who buy from Apple seem to be big supporters.  Why is it that people who buy apple are big fans.  Simon Sinek, the author of Start with Why, explains the reason apple is successful and different from other computer companies.  

If apple was a typical computer company that advertised like most companies, they would communicate like this:  

We make great computers. 

Beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly.

` Want to buy one? 

How many of you are convinced that you want to buy an apple computer?  That type of advertising scheme elicits a “meh” response, doesn’t it? 

But Simon Sinek points out how Apple really sells computers:  

Everything we do we believe in challenging the status quo

We do things differently. 

The way we do this is by making something beautifully designed, simple to 

    use, and user friendly.

We just happen to make good computers, want to buy one? 

Now, I’m not here to convince you to buy and iPhone.  But, in many of Apple’s ads on TV, Apple challenges you to do something and it has nothing to do with buying their product.  They challenge you to “think different.”  This is their why: they challenge the status quo and ask you to think differently. 

What I find interesting is what Mr. Sinek points about companies that do not have a good sense of why.  Without a good sense of why, companies are forced to manipulate.  This is when you here from Art-Van its our last sale of the year, and its December 31st. Then the very next day, its our first sale of the year so don’t miss your chance! The problem with a “sale” is that people will only buy when there is a sale.  

Ultimately, the conclusion that Simon Sinek makes applies to us more than we might realize.  His conclusion is that the “People, don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it!”  

So, Mr. Sinek has challenged me to really think about this question at the parish level.  Why?  Why are we here? 

So just as a I did a few moments ago with apple, I will do it again with our parish. 

Starting from the way we typically communicate and without a clear sense of why this is what we would say:

At Our Lady, we are a Catholic Church.  We have the sacraments. 

We have Masses daily, offer times for reconciliation and ways to learn about 

your faith at this parish. 

  Want to be members here? 

Feel inspired? 

The point is, we could have the best school, the best facilities, the best youth center, the most beautiful church and the best technology…  If we have all of these things without a clear understanding of our why, then we have nothing.  Because it won’t matter. People won’t buy it.  And what I mean by that is people will not believe that we are who we say we are.  We need to know our why.  

Here is how Simon Sinek suggests we communicate to our community: 

We at our Lady of Consolation, love because Jesus Christ loved us.  

We believe so much in the power of Christ’s love that we actively invite 

people to a deeper relationship with Christ Jesus through 

Eucharistic Celebration (our parish mission statement).

We do this by celebrating mass, the sacraments, and offering ways for people 

in our parish to grow in their faith and relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Would you like to join us? 

The latter is much more inspiring.  And here’s the thing, its the truth. And it’s what we celebrate this weekend. 

We are here for one reason and one reason only.  We are not here because we have the greatest school, or the best technology, or the best staff, or even because of the priests; Fr Tony, me or your next associate Fr. Andrew.  These are not the reasons why we are here.  We are here because of the power of Christ’s love.  Our why, comes straight from Saint John, we love because he first loved us. 

Friends, this weekend, we are celebrating the mystery of our why.  We are celebrating Corpus Christi Sunday.  The Eucharist, the body and blood of Jesus Christ is the Sacrament where Jesus continues to pour out his love upon each of us. The Eucharist brings us back week after week to the one moment where Jesus love us to end— to that one moment on the cross.  The Eucharist, is the sign of God’s love.  And the Eucharist is the foundational element of the Christian community.  Without it we have nothing.  

So what is your why?  Is your life inspiring others because it is so obvious that you have found your why?  Your why, our why, is simply this: we love because he first loved us. 

In Christ’s love and friendship,

Fr. Stephen

Thank you!

This has not been an easy bulletin article to write.  I have experienced many moments of writer’s block.  In fact, in this moment I am two days overdue from the time I said I would turn it in.  Really, I think the problem is this: writing this bulletin has a certain finality to it.  It is the end. It means it is time for me to listen and trust in Christ’s words, Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. This is priesthood.  Going where God needs you and not necessarily where you want to go. 

I would like to first express my gratitude to Fr. Tony.  He has been a blessing to me in many ways, and I would like to highlight two ways in which he has been a great gift to me.  Fr. Tony is very faithful to his prayer life.  It is said that good leaders never ask others to do what they themselves are unwilling to do.  Fr. Tony is constantly reminding us how important it is to go the classroom of silence and pray. Friends, we are so blessed to have a pastor who lives it.  Bishop Walkowiak reminded his priests, and encouraged the newly ordained at Fr. Andrews’ ordination, that all priests ought to “be with Christ” every day.  This is Fr. Tony.  He has encouraged and helped me remain faithful to my prayer life in these early years of ministry.  Fr. Tony has also given me confidence and hope that I can be a good priest.  Fr. Tony, thank you for your affirmations, for your patience, and for helping me grow into this life.  It truly has a been an honor and a privilege to have you as a mentor. I truly thank God for your love and friendship.  Never forget that you are a great priest. 

I am also very grateful to the staff at Our Lady of Consolation.  This staff is filled with people who are committed to our parish mission.  I am grateful for Linda’s joy and ability to bring a smile to anyone’s face.  I will miss Julie’s good, and sometimes facetious, humor. I am thankful for Nickie who seems to have the battery life of an infinite number of energizer bunnies. Mary, whether it was the songs you taught the school kids or the Emmaus song at the end of the Easter season, I found myself emotional because the presence of the Holy Spirit in those moments were undeniable. To Kevin, who has such a fatherly heart for our school kids. I admire Shaun for his servant’s heart.  He is a man that constantly denies his own needs in order to help others; someone Fr. McGivney would be very proud of.  To Anne Marie who has a wealth of parish life experience that has been very valuable to me and the entire staff. And finally, Steve and Leah, who have been a great addition in the office and have given us an outsiders perspective on how to continually improve. But to summarize, this staff is a group of committed people, who give everything that they have in order to help those they serve realize how much God loves them.  

Two years ago, I arrived here a baby priest.  I arrived excited for priesthood.  But I also arrived with feelings of uncertainty. Do I even know how to be a priest?  Well, as it turns out, I had no idea how to be a priest.  And yet, that is what I am most grateful for. After moments of both great successes and struggles, I leave here with a better understanding of priesthood.  I leave here with a better understanding of what it means to love God’s people.  I leave here truly thankful for the love you all have shown me.  Last year, reflecting on my first year as a priest I wrote: 

“Friends, the priest’s vocation is to imitate Christ’s loving service completely. The life of a priest is a shared gift.  It has been a great gift to me as I have encountered God in so many people and experiences [during my time at OLC]… Much more can be said here, but I end with this, somedays I fear I am receiving much more from all of you than I could possibly give to you.  But isn’t that whats truly great about Christian friendship, we become icons of God’s goodness, grace and love for each other.”

And so, I would be remiss if I did not thank all of you, the parishioners of Our Lady of Consolation.  Thank you for your love.  Thank you for your prayers.  And thank you, for teaching this baby priest how to be a priest.  I will be forever grateful and hold this awesome parish close to my heart wherever I go. 


Fr. Stephen