Father Eric Banecker’s Weekly Message

Dear friends in Christ,

On this Trinity Sunday – and during Memorial Day weekend – we give thanks and praise to the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – for all the blessings of our lives. We give thanks even for the challenges and difficulties, as God works through them to make us more faithful and loving.

One of the blessings of our parish is the wonderful work of three communities of women religious: the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Religious of the Assumption, and the Little Sisters of the Poor. I wanted to share some changes that will take place in those communities.

Sister Alice Daly has received an adjustment in her assignment from her IHM superiors. She will remain at Saint Francis de Sales and assume the position of Parish Services Coordinator, but will be stepping aside from her role as Director of Religious Education. I am grateful for Sister Alice’s work as DRE, and I am so happy that she will remain with us at DeSales, as she is such a beloved member of our community. Sister Christine Lamb, the superior of the IHM Convent, will be departing for a new assignment. I am happy to report that Sister James Kathleen Cofer has been appointed the new superior of the house. We thank Sister Christine for her great leadership, and we welcome Sister Kathleen in this new role. Finally, Sister Therese, R.A. will be returning to her home province in Paris next month. Thank you, Sister Therese, for the many ways you have enriched our community here at SFDS over the years! Au revoir!

One final announcement: at the beginning of Advent, we gave out Ignatius Pew Missals and invited parishioners to bring them back and forth during covid. Now that covid is lifting, the archdiocese is allowing us to keep hymnals in church again for use at Masses. If you are able to bring your hymnal back to church so that we can store them here and distribute them for Masses, I’d be very grateful!

 

May God be Blessed!

-Father Eric Banecker

 

P.S. Young Catholic Professionals (YCP) is setting up a Philadelphia chapter! Sign up here to learn more as they get started.

Father Eric Banecker’s Weekly Message – May 9, 2021

Dear friends in Christ,

On this day when our country celebrates Mother’s Day, we as Catholics should join in enthusiastically. What a heroic vocation it is to be a mother! Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. It is challenging to be a good mom in every age, but particularly today with all the demands of the contemporary world. I think I can speak for all parishioners when I say what a joy it is to see our families with young children in our parish church each week. You are a sign of hope!

It is also important for us to assist mothers who are struggling in any way. Today, we welcome Melanie Winter, a nurse practitioner from Amnion Crisis Pregnancy Center. They do amazing work in helping expecting women during unexpected or challenging pregnancies, providing health care and the material and spiritual support the women need to bring their children to term. She will speak briefly at all the Masses this weekend. We would ask you to take home a baby bottle after Mass and return it anytime before Father’s Day. All funds collected through the baby bottles benefit the crisis pregnancy center.

May God bless all of our moms, grandmoms, godmothers, and all who play a motherly role in our lives. May Mary, the Mother of God, intercede for you in a special way today.

 

 

May God be Blessed!

-Father Eric Banecker

Father Eric Banecker’s Weekly Message – May 2, 2021

Dear friends in Christ, 

As the calendar turns to May, as we continue in this glorious Easter Season, our hearts turn to Mary, the Mother of God. I concelebrated a Funeral Mass for a family I know this past week at Saint Agnes Church in Blackwood, NJ, which is now called Our Lady of Hope Parish. I have been reflecting on this title of Mary as we begin this month dedicated to her honor during this Easter Season.

There is a tradition in our Church – picked up by Saint Ignatius Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises – which contemplated the first visit of our Lord to his Mother on the morning of the Resurrection. Like any faithful son after returning from an arduous but necessary journey, surely Jesus must have gone to see his mother at some point! Of course, such an event is not recorded anywhere in the Scriptures. It must have been an encounter too mysterious to put into words! And yet, at that moment, Mary truly was Our Lady of Hope. It was her steadfast hope – even at the foot of the Cross – which came to be fulfilled on Easter Sunday.

In his masterful encyclical Spe Salvi, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote this beautiful invocation to Mary: “When you hastened with holy joy across the mountains of Judea to see your cousin Elizabeth, you became the image of the Church to come, which carries the hope of the world in her womb across the mountains of history” (no. 50). May each of us imitate Mary and rely on her prayers as we seek to bear Christ, the true hope of the world, in our day.

On a final note, I am happy to announce that the first-annual Saint Francis de Sales Classic, presented by Scott Contractors, will take place on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 at the beautiful Liberty Hill Golf Course in Lafayette Hill, PA, recently purchased by the Union League of Philadelphia. All proceeds benefit Saint Francis de Sales Parish and School. If anyone would like to assist with this event, would like to sponsor a foursome for the outing and dinner/auction, or would like to donate an auction item, please let me know!

 

May God be Blessed!

-Father Eric Banecker

Father Eric Banecker’s Weekly Message – April 25, 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,

I came across a book in our sacristy recently. It looks like the other ritual books we use for Mass and the other sacraments. But this one is a bit different. It is called “Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest.”

I’m not sure how it ended up in our sacristy, as I’m quite sure (thanks be to God) that a Sunday has never gone by at de Sales without a priest to celebrate Mass. And yet, we must recognize that there are hundreds of parishes in the United States right now that do not have a resident priest. Such communities have to use that ritual book, in which a deacon or lay person leads prayers for the gathered community, but of course without Mass.

In the next ten years, 100 priests will retire in our Archdiocese. These are priests who were ordained during the final years of the last vocation boom (mid 1960s – mid 1970s). An optimistic projection is that we will ordain half that number during that time. Yet such trends are not inevitable. On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, we can remember to pray. And we can gently invite others to consider it.

Here in our parish, I think there are several young men who would make excellent priests. If you think that about a young man too, please let him know! There is no greater compliment than to receive such encouragement from family, friends, and fellow parishioners.  A simple remark like that is one of the greatest ways to promote vocations. Trust me, I know this from my own life. The first person to tell me I was going to be a priest was a Franciscan sister named Sister Francine. I was in second grade. And after several bouts of cancer, she’s still very much with us and proclaimed the first reading at my first Mass a few years ago!

On this Good Shepherd Sunday, Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John, “I am the Good Shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep” (Jn 10:11). To be a priest today means simply – but profoundly! – to enter into this mystery of the Good Shepherd. It means responding to his voice, recognizing that in a world which often seems to have forgotten God, his presence is needed more than ever. As those who share in his ministerial priesthood, priests are called to lay down their lives in imitation of Christ.

Even if it seems that fewer men answer this call today, I am quite sure that Christ is still speaking to the depths of many hearts, issuing that same enigmatic invitation he made long ago: “Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt 4:19). Would you or someone you know like to set out on such an adventure? I promise you will not be disappointed.

 

May God be Blessed!

-Father Eric Banecker