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Father Dan's New Year's Greeting

To all who visit this site:

The Twelve Days of Christmas passed very quietly for me this year.  Without access to a chapel or church I depended on the coffee table in my small apartment to be the venue for the great Christmas liturgies.  No great crowds, no well-practiced choirs singing ancient hymns and carols, no creche, not even a Christmas tree, just bread and wine, surrounded by a few candles and poinsettias, and, I trust, the great Communion of Saints, celebrating with me the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

I believe that the Eucharistic liturgy is primarily a celebration of thanksgiving and worship.  So without the constraints of other people or newly composed Prayers of the Faithful, I had the time and freedom to recall all for which I have been thankful in the past year:

  • for the hospitality and friendship of the people and pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Church who have provided me with a quiet, safe place to live;
  • for the campus ministry staff who carried out the work of handing on the faith with faithfulness and imagination and grace;
  • for friends both near and far who continued to love me for my quirks and idiosyncrasies and need for silence rather than despite these things;
  • for family members who reminded me that our long, shared history cannot be unraveled or set aside by time or distance;
  • for all the young men and women of both Ithaca College and Cornell University who, despite great distances, joined us in the search for meaning and purpose through the prism of faith in Jesus Christ and membership in the Church;
  • and ultimately, to God, in whom we ‘live and move and have our being,’ and without whom we would cease to exist.

Of course, embedded in celebration and worship come the inevitable prayers of petition.  Over the years, I have been less and less inclined to seek God’s specific intervention, preferring to trust that God knows what is necessary for the world’s transformation and my role in that.  Still, I implore God’s wise intervention and guidance in this new year of grace 2021 to bring the people of the world closer to peacefulness and justice, companionship and camaraderie, generosity and mutual care, despite our overwhelming penchant for enormous greed, senseless ostracism, foolish suspicions, and death-dealing apathy.

The hard part for me is the continuing realization that, rather than inundating our world with supernatural acts or spectacular miracles, God chooses to accomplish all these things through us.  If the world is to change, then I must be changed also.  My only resolution, then, is to allow God to reshape my heart, to cooperate in God’s great work of recreating the world. 

I am looking forward to your return to our campuses in the next few weeks.  Your presence is always energizing.  In the spring semester, we will continue to have no access to our usual venues at Cornell nor easy access to Muller Chapel at Ithaca College, which simply means we must be as imaginative as the first Christians in bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to each other. 

Father Augustine Chumo, the pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in downtown Ithaca, has graciously offered us the use of the parish church for a Sunday afternoon student Mass. It will be celebrated at 1:00 p.m. starting on February 7, 2021 for the duration of the semester (subject to change if and when the pandemic requires). We are working through all the necessary details, i.e. recruiting, forming, and scheduling liturgical minsters; developing a process for procuring a reservation; learning the appropriate methods for cleaning the space, etc.  We will keep you informed through this website and our FlockNotes.

There are still spaces for anyone who would like to participate in our ‘Busy Person’s Retreat’ offered by a group of Sisters of Saint Joseph led by Sister Donna Del Santo.  You can find all the necessary information on our website.

Back on December 8th, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, declared a Year of Saint Joseph which will extend through December 8, 2021.  The announcement was on the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pope Pius XI’s 1870 proclamation of Saint Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church.  Our campus ministries will be planning various ways to celebrate the patronage of this great saint.   

I’ve hardly mentioned the virus which invaded our world and left in its wake such pain, suffering, and death.  It has certainly changed the way we live and interact with one another. With the prospect of a vaccine on the horizon, it will eventually recede from our lives and our memories. 

But I do not want to minimize its deadly impact. It is still among us and spreading.  We will still need to practice all the necessary precautions to keep our friends, family members, classmates, colleagues, and ourselves safe.  The virus has provided us with an opportunity to become more attentive and receptive to each other’s needs though while at the same time teaching is to be more gentle and less judgmental of our own limitations and weaknesses.  All strength and healing ultimately come from God and the best way to experience that is through mutual care and esteem and self-awareness.

I hope these first days of the New Year have been peaceful for you.  I look forward to your return.  Come back to us safely.

—Father Daniel