Dear Community and Friends of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi,

May the Lord give you peace this Christmas.

Prayers and blessings for you and your loved ones as we gather to remember the birth of Jesus and celebrate the great love our God has for us. We have journeyed through our Advent season as the nights grew longer and the weather colder. We were warmed by the hope-filled messages of the Prophet Isaiah and the beauty of Matthew’s Gospel. We were invited into the mystery of God’s unfathomable love for all. John the Baptist heralded the coming of Jesus. Even John was amazed at the mission of Jesus, who came as one who would bring healing, hope, and inclusion. He is the fullness of God’s love.

We celebrate the “Word made flesh” and are invited to embody that same Word in our day-to-day lives. We realize this in our prayer, care for one another, and generous hospitality. Like Jesus, we offer healing, hope, and inclusion. We are sharers with Jesus in the love of God. Thank you for all you do for the Migrants, the Bread Line, and the Food Pantry. These ministries are a great blessing. Thank you for your ministry of hospitality, reading, ministering the Eucharist, serving at the altar, and praying for the community. You bring the Word to life for us all.

While many of us party and celebrate these days, we remember our sisters and brothers for whom this season is difficult. We remember those who have lost a loved one; are lonely; have a recent diagnosis that weighs heavily on them and their family; have been marginalized by family, or struggle with the season. I remember my experience in Hartford after the Sandy Hook deaths of children and teachers. Understandably, many people were not in the “Christmas Spirit.” I am sure this is true for many communities, including Uvalde, Colorado Springs, Ukraine, and Russia. Our loving prayers for healing, hope, and inclusion are especially significant for all who suffer.

With the Friars, the Pastoral Leadership Team, and the staff of the Church, I wish you a blessed and happy Christmas.

Peace and all good,

Thomas M. Gallagher, ofm