71 Central St. Stoneham, MA 02180

Browsing Pastor's Notes

03/08/24 - A Peek Behind the Curtain

From the PastorDear Friends in Christ,

This morning (it’s Tuesday as I write this), I am thinking about the past twenty-four hours at St. Patrick Parish. For most parishioners, what they see of the parish is what happens in that one hour on Sundays when they are at Mass. I’d like to share with you what this past Monday was like. I do so for a reason that I will explain at the end.

On Monday morning when I arrived at the office, our facilities team was already long at work, cleaning, setting up for various events, and working on special projects. Under my door were pages of calendar updates (the evidence that Deacon Frank–as usual–was already in his office, hard at work). Soon, drop-off for school would begin which in itself is a well-choreographed event that various school and parish staff manage.

Office staff arrive, as do some of our Monday morning volunteers, to begin dealing with a never-ending list of administrative tasks. The phone and the doorbell never stop ringing. I mean they never stop ringing. On Monday, there are already five funerals posted on our bulletin board for the coming week. Bills are getting paid, contractors are being met, accounts are being reconciled etc. Meanwhile, Deacon Frank has distributed three more editions of the ever-changing calendar.

Fr. Sijo and I spent the early part of the morning hearing the confessions of our Third, Fourth, and Fifth Graders of St. Patrick School. Upstairs, Deacon Frank was assisting a visiting priest with a funeral.

Fr. Sijo had the Noon Mass and I headed out to Reading to the home of one of our parishioners who was celebrating her 97th birthday. She was not doing well and the family requested she receive the Sacraments. After visiting her, I intended on visiting one of our parishioners in the hospital. Meanwhile, because I had hospital duty, the hospital called me to anoint someone else in the ICU, so I visited both people.

After that, I went to the nursing home to offer Mass and to anoint about seventeen of the residents there. Our Pastoral Associate, Diane McCarthy, makes certain that St. Patrick Parish attends to the spiritual needs of the residents of various nursing facilities and assisted living facilities in Stoneham. Just as I was about to begin Mass at the nursing home, the hospital called me again to bring the sacraments to someone who was dying. I quickly called Fr. Sijo to see if he could take that call for me. He was already out on a call in Wilmington where a nursing home was unable to find a priest, so they called us. Fr. Sijo went to Wilmington and then to the hospital. Meanwhile, Deacon Frank dropped off more calendar updates.

All day long, various staff members are in meetings, responding to requests, and providing assistance to those in need. On Monday evening young people in our religious education program–along with Deacon David and our volunteers–under the direction of Brenna Langaneau, our Religious Education Director–were in the parish hall and Main Church. In the Lower Church, Fr. Sijo and I were hearing confessions for our parishioners from 6:30pm-7:30pm. And then, at Midnight, I was called out to the hospital again.

My reason for telling you all of this is not to complain!! It is simply to give you a sense of some (and only “some”) of the many things that take place here. The most important parts of our life as a parish–the Sacraments–are able to be so generously available because we have such a hard-working, professional, and dedicated staff. St. Patrick Parish and School is a huge operation. The whole thing holds together because of the incredible talent and dedication of our staff and volunteers. It holds together because of your generosity to the parish.

I hope this peek behind the curtain encourages you to continue to be generous to the parish, to step up when we need help, and to pray for and express gratitude to our fantastic staff.

I have to go now because Deacon Frank will probably be arriving in my office with another version of the calendar.

Your Brother in Christ,

Fr. David Barnes