This past weekend at Lourdes we formally began our Jubilee year, which celebrates the 140th anniversary of the parish. We did so on the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord where we celebrate the Divine manifestation of God and God’s glory through his Incarnate Son, Jesus Christ. We are called to respond to God’s manifestation in our world with joy, and like the three Wise Men by offering Christ the gifts we have for the glory of God. Below, I provide excerpts from my homily wherein I outlined the important dimensions of how we will mark this important event in the life of our parish.

Dear friends in Christ, this weekend we formally begin our Jubilee year at Our Lady of Lourdes – Notre Dame de Lourdes which celebrates the 140th anniversary of the founding of our parish. Indeed, our shared story of faith down through the generations focuses on what God has done through the life, tradition, and work of this venerable parish – this precious jewel. God has and continues to manifest His loving presence through this community – through you, your gifts, and your faith.

In the Catholic tradition, a Jubilee Year is a time of celebration centered on a significant event or anniversary. Or, as we just experienced through the vision of Pope Francis, can be a time to celebrate a great attribute of God – namely His mercy! I thank Deacon Winninger for this inspired idea to refer to our 140th anniversary as a Jubilee. The Deacon has a way with words!

During this Jubilee Year, there are three main dimensions of our anniversary celebration. First, we will come together to celebrate as a community through diverse, important, and fun events. We have published the list of our 140th Anniversary Events several places, including the website, the back of your Christmas card, in the back of church, and in your stewardship materials. Please mark your calendars, plan to join us and bring a friend. There is something for everyone! Secondly, our Jubilee Year will also include a fundraising effort to procure needed funds for important capital projects – most notably the construction of a new courtyard and a modest restoration of the church interior. Our fundraising efforts will begin in earnest in January and February. We are excited about this important effort and invite your generous support.

Finally, and most importantly, this Jubilee Year will provide the occasion to invite parishioners to deepen their faith in Our Lord, Jesus Christ. I hope and pray that this will be a time of spiritual renewal for the parish and for all of us. Parishioners and friends will read together a short book on the spiritual life by Frenchman, Fr. Jacques Philippe and we will enter into time for communal prayer, dialogue, and reflection. Pope Francis has said that he wants Catholics to be formed as missionary disciples who go out to proclaim the joy of the Gospel and who encounter and serve their neighbor with love and compassion. Our 140th anniversary year will be oriented to this type of formation.

As a priest, I truly believe that the parish is the beating heart of the life and body of the Church. It’s here in the parish where God does the intimate work of feeding, shepherding, and transforming His people. This is why I am so honored to be a pastor and why I hope that I will always be in a parish as a priest. I will never forget that day in December of 2011 when I received my appointment letter to Our Lady of Lourdes. It said, that I was appointed to Our Lady of Lourdes of St. Anthony. What??? I thought I was being appointed to Minneapolis. Where is St. Anthony? Then I learned that this great parish was located in the first neighborhood of Minneapolis – The Village of St. Anthony. In the succeeding years I learned much about this wonderful community of faith: first parish in the U.S. to be named for the Lourdes Apparition; founded as a parish before Minnesota was a state; and the oldest continuously used church in Minneapolis.

What we celebrate here and during this special year is God and God’s grace. Like St. Paul, we are called to be stewards of God’s grace. That’s what this Jubilee Year is all about – the good stewardship of God’s grace at Notre Dame de Lourdes for 140 years! Now it’s our turn – a new generation to help shape our future. To our Patroness, Our Lady of Lourdes, we pray: may we be good stewards of God’s grace for many years to come. Let the celebration begin!