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

Advent and Christmastide 2020

Vespers & Adoration in Advent

Fr. Eric will continue to offer the weekly Holy Hour on Wednesdays at 5 pm. Come and adore the Lord and join us for Evening Prayer! Our Facebook Page livestreams the whole hour. “Like” us to receive notifications!

Additional Confession Times in Advent

  • Wednesdays at 5:15 (after the Holy Hour homily)
  • Saturdays, 4:15 pm -4:45 pm
  • Sundays, 9 am – 10 am

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

  • December 7
    • 5 pm (Vigil Mass)
  • December 8
    • 7 am – Simple
    • 7 pm – Solemn (with organ and cantor)

The Solemn Feast of the Nativity (Christmas)

  • Thursday, Dec. 24:
    • 5 pm Vigil “Family” Mass. There will be an additional “overflow” Mass celebrated simultaneously in the Lower Church if we are filled to capacity under the CDC’s social distancing guidelines. 
    • 12 am “Shepherds’ Mass” at Midnight. His Excellency Bishop Timothy Senior, the Rector of St. Charles Seminary in Overbrook, will be the principal celebrant at the Midnight Mass.
  • Friday, Dec. 25
    • No 7 am Mass 
    • 10:15 am Mass of Christmas Morning

The Octave of Christmas

  • Daily Masses Dec. 26-31: Masses of the Day are offered at the usual daily Mass times of 7 am (9 am Saturdays). The rectory is closed for the duration of the Octave of Christmas.
  • The Feast of Mary, the Mother of God (A Holy Day of Obligation)
    • Dec. 31: 5 pm Vigil Mass
    • Jan. 1: 7 am & 9 am

Rejoice! The Lord is near!