Letter from the Pastor English
Dear Parishioners of Sts. Hedwig and John Berchmans,
I would love to share with you my vision for our united community. This vision for our united community came through prayer, listening and reflection, but mostly from the need of renewal of the Church. We heard this many times, but lately more often that the parish we create is not built on bricks and mortar but on the living stones, which we are. Each day God is calling us to renewal and He gives us new directions and guidance through people and situations, but also through the saints who help us on the way. We have saints as models to follow. They intercede on our behalf, they give us ideas, and show us how to live and become true disciples of Christ. It is important to have a patron in the parish, and we already have two amazing saints, St. Hedwig and St. John Berchmans. They will be with us and in our parish always. However, remember that God is calling us for renewal, and God is giving us the opportunity to see a new vision and mission for our united parish. In the Name Survey, you gave your preference and we received feedback getting a list of many wonderful saints, one of them is Blessed Carlo Acutis. I would love to tell you more about him and why I think he could be an amazing patron for our united community. We could build on his holiness and example a beautiful future for our school and parish.
Carlo Acutis was born May 3, 1991. Known as a computer whiz, he also liked to play soccer, video games, and the saxophone. He enjoyed making short films with his star cast of cats and dogs. He had many friends and enjoyed spending time with them.
Yet Carlo was a little "different" at school, and on the soccer field. What set Carlo apart was his constant pursuit of holiness. In addition to his hobbies, he spent time teaching catechism classes and serving in soup kitchens. Carlo loved to attend daily Mass and frequent Eucharistic adoration. The Word of God and the Eucharist were the center of his life. Carlo’s unwavering devotion to the Eucharist inspired him to tell the story of Eucharistic miracles through a website he created, he wanted to deepen and to strengthen his devotion to Jesus, and to invite others to grow in love for the Eucharist.
Carlo died suddenly from leukemia in 2006 at the age of fifteen. In less than a decade, his story spread across Italy and around the world. After Pope Francis declared him venerable in 2018, his beatification was celebrated in Assisi on October 10, 2020. The next step will be his canonization, making him the first millennial saint.
He had an awareness of the meaning of life and how to live well. “To be always united to Jesus is my program of life.” “Find God,” he stated, “and you will find the meaning of your life.”
Blessed Carlo had an ardent love for Jesus in the Eucharist. He lived a Eucharistic life, calling the Eucharist “my highway to heaven.” He attended daily Mass from the time he was seven and spent time each day in adoration. “The more Eucharist we receive,” he believed, “the more we will become like Jesus.”
He had Eucharistic amazement. It didn’t make sense to him that there would be huge crowds for soccer games and rock concerts but no lines before the tabernacle where God is present and lives among us.
He had a deep love for Mary. “The Virgin Mary is the only woman in my life,” he said, and he called the Rosary, which he prayed daily, the “shortest ladder to climb to heaven” and the “most powerful weapon,” after the Eucharist, “to fight the devil.”
He had a love for the Church and the saints. “To criticize the Church means to criticize ourselves,” he said, because “the Church is the dispenser of treasures for our salvation.”
He had a vibrant charity. He stuck up for classmates being bullied, invited to his home kids who were suffering because of their parents’ divorce or domestic problems, tutored classmates who were struggling with homework or computer problems, patiently rescued friends experimenting with drugs, spent time with the elderly helping them with tasks, brought warm drinks and food to the homeless and used his allowance to buy them sleeping bags or warm clothes. “Life is a gift,” he said, “because as long as we are on earth, we can increase our level of love.”
His greatest charity was to try to share the faith. From the time he was 11, he taught catechism and sought to inspire younger kids to choose to strive for sanctity. To make the faith practical, he made a “Holiness Kit” for them that involved nine steps that he himself practiced: to love God with all your heart, each day to try to go to Mass and receive Communion, pray the Rosary, read a passage of sacred Scripture, make a visit to Jesus in the tabernacle each day, to go to confession once a week, to help others as often as you can, and to rely on your guardian angel as your best friend.
He attracted people to the faith more by his example and friendship than by words. Mission simply means the Church’s engagement to bring about the Kingdom of God through a simple life of prayer, service, and charity.
Doesn’t our parish and the people around us today need a joyful witness of power of God’s love? Doesn't it need more young, old men, and women who, by their life and work, are able to sow the seeds of peace and fraternity? Doesn’t our school and our children need a role model to live a happy and meaningful life?
Today, in this moment, God is calling us to be His messengers and an extension of his love and peace, which we all need. He calls us to be one, big, loving and united family, to show hope to people who are hopeless, to show love to people who don’t know how to love, and to welcome everyone with open arms welcoming them into our family.
Carlo's life was very generous, offered as a gift to God. What determination and commitment on the part of such a young man! He had heart and love, and with that love he reached out to everyone to let them know that Jesus loves them immensely. He indeed is a light that is lit for all to see and glorify God. Looking at him, we can also be inspired to be little lights that dispel the darkness of our times. With Carlo as a guide and patron, we too can strive to be genuine followers of Christ, stand for His Church and the Gospel, aiming for holiness. We too can be the light of truth that must be upheld by us in our homes, in the Church, in our school and in the world, living with true conviction of faith and love.
Why do I think Blessed Carlo should be our patron and our guide? Because his spirituality is appealing and his holiness does not consist in extraordinary things, but in doing simple daily activities in the best possible way. He gives us an example of prayer and a deep devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. He shows us concern for people, and a huge desire to evangelize the whole world with modern technology and media. I am sure that his life and witness will inspire young people to follow Jesus and spread His gospel.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Tomasz Wojciechowski, C.R.