St. Rita Roman Catholic Church
1008 Maple Dr.
Webster, NY 14580
585-671-1100
Weekend Masses: Saturday- 5:00pm
Sunday- 7:30am; 9:00am (children's liturgy); 10:30am
Daily Mass is at 8:15am on Monday, Tuesday,
Thursday, and Friday (no Mass on Wednesday)
Reconciliation: Saturday from 3:30-4:30pm
Office Hours: M-Th 9am to 4:30pm; Fri 9-12:00pm

Register Now for Faith Formation and Sacramental Preparation!

Faith Formation

 Families are welcome to enroll their children in our Faith Formation program. Registration is now open for children in grades K-7. Children who do not attend a Catholic school are highly encouraged to enroll in this program to help you provide them with a strong foundation in the faith.

 You can download a PDF of the forms or register online now. Returning families should receive a registration form by email. If you did not receive one, please contact Anne Thomas to make sure we have your current email address.

Sacramental Preparation

 Children in Grade 2 (or above) may be eligible to prepare to celebrate their First Reconciliation and First Eucharist. Per diocesan policy, all children must participate in either Faith Formation or Catholic school the year BEFORE and the year OF their First Reconciliation and First Eucharist.

 This is a separate program from Faith Formation, and you must register for both programs. You can download a PDF of the forms from our website or register online now.

 Children in Grade 8 (or above) may begin our two-year Confirmation program. Confirmation candidates should NOT register for Faith Formation. Confirmation registration forms will be available soon.  Candidates entering year 2 do not need to re-register. 

 If you have any questions, please email Anne Thomas or call 671-2079.

 We are here to help your children grow in faith in Christ!

From the Desk of Fr. Tim - August 4, 2019

It Just Got Real: The Federal Department of Justice has been instructed to re-institute the Death Penalty

 There was nothing in the news to prompt me to write last week’s bulletin article about how the Church’s teaching about the Death Penalty and developed to now say that the Death Penalty is never admissible. Two days later, President Donald Trump’s Administration instructed the Department of Justice to re-institute the Federal Death Penalty. The timing of the article was fortunate.

The five men who are to be executed are guilty of horrific murders. Why would the Church oppose their execution? The issue is this: these five men who will be executed are sacred. They are created by God and in the image and likeness of God. No sin, no matter how horrible, can erase their sacredness; nor does any sin justify permanently removing their opportunity for redemption and salvation. (see my article in last week’s bulletin – The Death Penalty is now inadmissible under all conditions, 21 July 2019 – on our website).

Still, you may be reluctant to accept this teaching. Let me tell you the story of a friend of mine, Sr. Karen Klimczak, a Sister of St. Joseph in Buffalo. Sr. Karen devoted her life to peace and non-violence. She put her faith into action by serving ex-offenders as they were released from prison. She lived and worked at a halfway home where these men could find the help they needed as they rejoined society.

On Good Friday 2006, after attending an evening service, Sr. Karen returned home to find a man, a parolee named Craig, stealing her cell phone. According to his confession he was hoping to sell it in order to buy crack. When she came in, Craig grabbed her from behind and killed her. He later disposed of her body in a shallow grave.

In her journal, 16 years prior, Sr. Karen wrote that she was aware of the danger of her ministry. She knew that one day she may meet a violent death at the hands of one of the people she was striving to help. In that journal entry she also wrote a letter to her killer. The letter was read to Craig as he was about to be sentenced to twenty-five years to life in prison:

“Dear Brother, I don't know what the circumstances are that will lead you to hurt me or destroy my physical body, No, I don't want it to happen, I would much rather enjoy the beauties of this earth, experience the laughter, the fears and the tears of those I love so deeply! Now my life has changed and you, my brother, were the instrument of that change. I forgive you for what you have done, and I will always watch over you, help you in whatever way I can. Continue living always mindful of His Presence, His Love and His Joy as sources of life itself -- then my life will have been worth being changed through you."

Sr. Karen, just like St. Francis (if you recall a story I told in a recent homily) was “made stronger than herself” and by the grace of God was able to express unimaginable forgiveness. In fact, forgiveness is often a super-human act. Our hard hearts may make us reluctant to even consider forgiveness for such people.

So, if you are struggling with the Church’s teaching on the death penalty, pray for the grace of God that will make you stronger than yourself and enable you to overcome that reluctance. It is the mercy we receive in the Eucharist that can make us merciful. It is the love of God in Jesus Christ that can open our eyes to the sacredness of each of God’s beloved. It is this mercy and love that can allow us to stand in unity with the teachings of the Church in opposition to the Death Penalty.

Peace,

Fr. Tim

From the Desk of Fr. Tim - July 28

The Death Penalty is now inadmissible under all conditions: Pope Francis Revises the Catholic Catechism

You may have heard that Pope Francis has revised the Church’s teaching and position on Capital Punishment (that is, the Death Penalty). This revision is an example of how the teachings of the Church do not change, but they do evolve. How has the Church’s teaching about the Death Penalty evolved? It makes sense to begin with what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has taught about the Death Penalty up until now. The paragraphs of the Catechism are numbered for easy reference, and it is paragraph 2267 that contains the important text.

      2267   The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender,     recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor.

 "If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

 "Today, in fact, given the means at the State's disposal to effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it, without depriving him definitively of the possibility of redeeming himself, cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender 'today ... are very rare, if not practically non-existent.' [John Paul II, Evangelium vitae .]

 This last sentence of 2267 was an update/development by Saint John Paul II that increased the Church’s skepticism that the Death Penalty would ever be necessary. So, while not changing the teaching of the Church, John Paul did express an evolution of that teaching. Pope Francis now extends this teaching to remove any doubt about the admissibility of the Death Penalty.

 As Cindy Wooden of the Catholic News Service reports (Pope revises catechism to say death penalty is 'inadmissible', Catholic Courier website, Diocese of Rochester, August 2, 2018):

 The catechism now will read: "Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.

 "Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption," the new section continues.

 Pope Francis' change to the text concludes: "Consequently, the church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that 'the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,' and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide."

Pope Francis asked that the Catechism reflect the greater awareness of the sacredness of every human being, a sacredness that even a murderer does not forfeit. Modern society has the means to render criminals harmless without decisively removing their opportunity for redemption.

Not only does the Church now teach that the Death Penalty is inadmissible, the Pope committed the Church to working towards its abolishment throughout the world and working to establish the conditions which would allow its elimination where it is still in effect.

Next week I will write about another development of the Church’s teaching. One that began in 1891, continues to evolve, and remains just as relevant today.

 -Fr. Tim