February 14, 2023 | 8:45 PM
I just returned home from the prayer service at St. Paul Church for St. Paul parishioner, St, Paul alum, Grosse Pointe South alum, and MSU student, Brian Fraser. How blessed was the night as MSU students, alum from GP South and St. Paul, and the wider community came to pray, invoking the Lord’s mercy and praying for the repose of the soul of Brian.
Fr. James Bilot, pastor, reminded the standing room and over-flow congregation that Jesus calls us to come to Him. Jesus calls all those who labor, who are angry, frustrated, confused, in pain, exhausted and so much more. More than 300 students came forth to light candles, not just in memory of Brian but, as a visual reminder of Jesus being the Light that shatters the darkness of our troubled lives and the significance of our faith in Christ that we be the Light to others. This is how we are “MSU Strong,” or Grosse Pointe Strong, or St. Paul Strong, or Star of the Sea Strong. Strong in the core of our faith, knowing Jesus, and living in that faith every day.
This evening, I looked at the church full of young adults, many of them with their parents, I thanked God that I as a part of this profound experience and prayed for a renewal of faith for them and for all of us. Jesus said, “come to me, all you who labor and our burdened, and I will give you rest. (Mt. 11;30)”
As we are one week away from the start of Lent, I urge you to be committed and renewed, not only in your faith but, in the practice of the faith. It is apparent that many have become very lax in their participation in Sunday Eucharist. Remember, God knows us and knows what we need because He created us. Jesus did not say to come to sports, or shopping, or simply relax. He said come to him, the only place for our true peace, true fulfillment, the real core of being “strong.” Please, encounter the Lord, with family or friends, at Sunday Eucharist and with the rest of our Star community. There we give to the Lord our fears, our concerns, our anger, our hatred, and our thanksgiving and, in return, receive the gift of peace, truth, and life from Him. That is the real strength of what it means to be “strong,” strong with the Lord and with one another. This is where we thank, and encounter, the Lord for our family and with our family!
Please continue to pray for the souls and the eternal rest of Alexandria Verner, Arielle Anderson, and Brian Fraser. Pray for their families and extended communities. Pray for the students still in critical care. Pray for peace in all our hearts and the removal of the hatred, evil, and violence in our society. May Our Blessed Mother help bring all of us into safe harbor, under the Light of Christ.
May this upcoming Lent be filled with the Grace of God and a renewal of faith in the Eucharist. Please go to our parish website or see the various items in the gathering space after Mass for the various resources available for your journey in the faith this Lent!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Msgr. Gary Smetanka, Pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish