Fourth Sunday of Easter

…My dear parishioners and friends of our parish community: Jesus Christ is Risen!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  He is truly Risen!  Alleluia!  Alleluia! 

This Fourth Sunday of Easter is often called “Good Shepherd Sunday” from today’s Gospel, where Jesus tells us that He is the Good Shepherd who will lay down his life so that he can take it up again for us.  He loves us all so much that He died and rose for us! 

Following Jesus, our Good Shepherd, we too are called to live for others in service and love.  In our personal lives we serve our families and friends each day in small ways.  At work we serve our co-workers in simple but important ways.  We are also called to reach out further.  Jesus, the Good Shepherd, calls us  to serve those who are not in our immediate home or workplace. 

One important way we reach others in need is through the ANNUAL BISHOP’S APPEAL 2009.  This weekend, May 2nd and 3rd, 2009, is the Annual Bishop’s Appeal Commitment Weekend 2009.  Your gift to the ABA helps so many in need across the Diocese of Norwich.  You don’t need me to tell you about the state of our economy, but I know that for many of our good friends, the economy is only part of the difficulties they face. 

Many of us deal daily with the effects of aging and poor health on ourselves or on our spouse, son or daughter, brother or sister or close friend.  There are so many other things that we are concerned about.  People in the family don’t get along like they should.  Some don’t go to Church at all.  Some abuse alcohol or drugs.  There are bad marriages.  There is unemployment.  There are difficulties and problems of all shapes and sizes. 

When times are rough, we especially need to know that we are not alone, that others are helping to shoulder our burdens.  That others care and are here.  That is why, for me, the Sacred Heart of Jesus is so very important.  The Heart of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, is a powerful sign of the love God has for us all. 

We need to know that Jesus loves us today.  That Jesus is near to us and is with us each day of our lives, no matter what.  Your Gift or Pledge today to the Annual Bishop’s Appeal 2009 allows us to be the hands and voice of the risen Jesus, offering food, shelter, clothing and a kind word for the people who struggle to make ends meet here in our Diocese of Norwich. 

It is easy to respond to Jesus’ love by responding to the needs of all God’s people in need with a spirit of love and compassion.  Only YOU can open your heart and generously respond!  Last year, the average gift to the ABA was about $200 with 43% participation.  Today, let’s try to give the same gift or more, but with 100% participation!!! 

Why?  Because the needs are so terribly great this year.  So many need help and turn to us and our Diocesan ministries.  On behalf of Bishop Michael R. Cote, and Bill Russell, our ABA Chairman, we thank YOU, the good people of St. John Parish, for your prayers and financial support of the ABA 2009. 

May God bless you abundantly this day.  May St. Patrick and St. Anne, our Diocesan patrons, grant us a successful ABA 2009!


                                                    Devotedly in Jesus, the Good Shepherd! 
                                                       Blessings on your Easter Days, 
                                                              Father Jim 

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