Totus Tuus 2022

Dear Families of St. Thomas More and St. Joan of Arc,

I know many of you have been anxiously awaiting information regarding Totus Tuus for this summer, and I thank you for your patience.   I am excited to finally share registration information with you, and give some insight as to what to expect this year and why. 

Midtown Catholic Parishes will be hosting Totus Tuus during the week of July 10-15.  It will take place at St. Thomas More Church and School.  This weeklong summer program engages students entering 1st-12th grades in worship, catechesis, and games!  Young adult missionaries from the Archdiocese of Omaha travel around the Archdiocese leading this program, so participants get a unique opportunity to interact and learn from young people who are actively engaging in the faith and discerning their vocation. 

The elementary school program, which serves students entering 1st through 5th grades in the 22-23 school year, meets Monday-Friday from 9am to 2:30pm.  The middle and high school program, which serves students entering 6th through 12th grades in the 22-23 school year, meets Sunday-Thursday from 7pm to 9pm.  

We will be trying a new registration format this year – a registration night.  It will be on Wednesday, June 1st, beginning at 6pm in the St. Thomas More school cafeteria.  No registrations will be accepted prior to this, but registration forms will be available on the parish website and at the school and parish offices one week prior to registration.  I highly encourage you to come to the registration evening or have somebody drop off your registration form for you, as we anticipate that spots will fill extremely quickly.  Registrations will be first come first serve, so please arrive early to have a best chance at securing your child’s spot in Totus Tuus.  As soon as all slots are filled, we will open a waitlist. 

In the event that we do not fill all of our slots during the June 1st event, we will accept registration forms at the Midtown Catholic parish office ONLY.  The deadline for registration is July 1st.

The reason for the limited number of slots and newer registration process is because unfortunately, due to the Archdiocese having a limited number of Totus Tuus teams available, we are only able to bring one team to Midtown Catholic.  We had originally reserved two teams to accommodate the anticipated number of youths wanting to participate, but the Archdiocese is dealing with low numbers of missionaries available to help this summer.  This is also affecting other parishes in our diocese, and it is reported that other dioceses around the country are experiencing similar issues.  Therefore, we are limited in the number of registrations we can accept, and anticipate that our slots will fill during the registration event.  It is unfortunate that we can’t have more teams joining us, but I am grateful that we are one of the lucky parishes that still gets to have Totus Tuus at all this summer.  Thank you in advance for your understanding!

Please keep an eye out on the parish website and social media pages for more information.  And please read the attached FAQs sheet for more specific information, especially regarding opportunities to host and provide meals for our missionaries while they are at our parish! 

Thank you,

Rachel Bielstein
Coordinator for Religious Education & Liturgical Music
Midtown Catholic
402-556-1456 | 
rjbielstein@midtowncatholic.church

FAQ – Totus Tuus

I Love Pentecost

I’m looking forward to Pentecost.  

One morning after Mass this week I was looking at the Mass attendance sheet. While our attendance numbers have been steady since Easter, they are still far from the numbers we had prior to the pandemic. But that’s not really the point of my writing this week. The thought that occurred to me is that it was last Pentecost 2021, when the archbishop resumed the obligation to attend Mass. While a little longer than a calendar year, it’s been a liturgical year since things started to get back to “normal”. The new “normal” is that a lot of folks haven’t come back to Mass with any consistency. So why am I looking forward to Pentecost? When I was looking at the attendance sheet that morning, I thought, “What if we celebrated Pentecost like we celebrated Easter and Christmas? What if we really made a big deal about it like we do those other holy days?” Pentecost, in my estimation, seems to be just as big of a deal as Christmas and Easter. The early Church was floundering until they received the Holy Spirit and since then, the world has never been the same.  

I know I’m jumping ahead a bit, but the weekend of the 7th Sunday of Easter, the week before Pentecost, we hear in the 2nd reading from the last chapter of the Book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible, it says…. 

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ Let the hearer say, ‘Come.’ Let the one who thirsts come forward, and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water.” 

These are the last words uttered by humanity in the entire Bible. It’s not a person per se, but the Church, the bride who speaks. The Church, we the people of God, are the bride of the bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Filled with and animated by the Holy Spirit, we long for the coming of Christ, like a bride pines for her bridegroom on their wedding night. 

Many of us might find it strange that God uses nuptial language to describe not only His relationship with us, but to describe the communion we will experience on the Last Day. We shouldn’t find it that strange though, since every human being ever born has thought and, in some way, desired marriage. Marriage, the longing for communion with another, is as natural to us as breathing. While not all are called to the vocation marriage, all sense a longing for communion. 

Go to the first book in the Bible, Genesis. What does God say about marriage? “It is not good to be alone.” So, God creates a suitable partner for man. “This one at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” 

These are the first words uttered by man in the Bible. They are also nuptial words expressing the longing Adam has for his bride, Eve, on their wedding day. 

As we prepare for Pentecost, let’s not make it just another Sunday. Let’s notice the longing in our own hearts for communion. It is the Spirit who animates this longing. May we who thirst come forward and receive the gift of life-giving water. Come, Lord Jesus! 

Peace, 

Fr. Jeff Lorig, Pastor 

Rite of Election and Call to Conversion

This weekend marks the beginning of a new phase for those participating in RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. In other words, RCIA is a course for those who wish to become Catholic. To clear up any confusion especially for outsiders, we call it the Becoming Catholic class here at Midtown Catholic. This Sunday, March 6th, those preparing to be baptized and fully enter into the life of the Catholic Church will participate in the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion.

During the Rite of Election, catechumens (those who have not been baptized in any Christian faith tradition) publicly express to the local bishop their desire for baptism. Their names are recorded in the Book of the Elect, a designation which reflects that the bishop, in the name of the Lord and the local Church, is choosing or electing them to share in the Easter sacraments. Candidates (those who were baptized in another Christian faith tradition) celebrate the Call to Continuing Conversion, publicly professing their faith and their desire to come into full communion with the Catholic Church.

How can you support these candidates? The days of Lent are the final period of purification and enlightenment for catechumens and candidates, marked by prayer and study. The most important thing we can do for them is pray for them by name regularly.

Samantha Wostoupal was recently married to Jake at St. Joan of Arc. They live in the Westgate neighborhood. She is a 2ndgrade schoolteacher. She will receive Confirmation and First Communion.

Tina Morrow is a parent of a St. Thomas More student. She has been baptized and has been active in several bible studies at other churches around Omaha, but has always been drawn to the Catholic faith. She will receive Confirmation and First Communion.

Patricia & Drake Kubat are married. They live in the St. Thomas More neighborhood, but their kids attend St. Joan of Arc School. Both were baptized Catholic when they were younger, but they never received any of the other sacraments or instruction. They will receive Confirmation and First Communion.

Alisson Granados is in 6th grade at St. Thomas More School. She will receive Confirmation and First Communion.

Vanessa Bejar Williams is 15 years old and goes to Ralston High School. She will receive Confirmation and First Communion.

Nancy He is from Omaha and is currently a medical student at Creighton. She is engaged to Michael Kartiko who is also a medical student at Creighton. They will be married this summer in Long Beach, CA and begin Residency together somewhere, but they are not sure where yet. She will be baptized, confirmed, and will receive First Communion on Easter Vigil.

Jazleen Vasquez is in 7th grade at St. Joan of Arc School. She will be baptized, confirmed, and will receive First Communion on Easter Vigil.

Let us pray for all of these candidates,
Fr. Jeff Lorig

Midweek at Midtown – January 5, 2022

Have heard that our Mass schedule is changing?

It made sense to reduce our Masses, which you can read about here, but it was a lot harder to figure out a new schedule. It primarily came down keeping the most well-attended Masses in place.

St. Joan of Arc’s “best” Mass is its 5:00pm Mass. It is moving to 5:30, a minor change, so that when we eventually get permission for a 4pm Mass at St. Thomas More, one priest will be able to take both Masses. The 10:30am Mass at St. Thomas More is its most well-attended Mass and has the most young families attending so we didn’t want to mess with that either.

Welcoming Back Family Members to the Faith

Have you experienced the pain of seeing someone you love fall away from practicing the Catholic faith? You’re not alone. Starting February 2, 2022, Midtown Catholic will be hosting a program called Return which consists of 7 weekly workshops. We don’t have all the details worked out yet, but you can learn more about the program here. If you already know you want to be a part this program, contact TJ Simpson at 402-556-1456 or tjsimpson@midtowncatholic.church.

Alpha at SJA Starts Tonight

You don’t need to register, you can just show up.

The Alpha Course is a practical introduction to the Christian faith, where guests have an opportunity to explore the meaning of life in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere where no question about life or God is too simple or too hostile. The course meets once per week (dinner included) for 10 weeks at 6:30 pm. Two course are being offered this Winter –Wednesdays at St. Joan of Arc and Thursdays at St. Thomas More

Fr. Frank’s Sunday Morning Classes Resume

Father Frank will be restarting his Sunday morning classes this month. The classes will be from 9:10 am to 10:15 am in the STM cafeteria. The first class will be Sunday, January 9th and will be a look at the nativity narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Each class will be on a separate topic. In February, the classes will be held at St. Joan of Arc. No need to register prior to the class.

Help Wanted: Wedding Coordinators

Midtown Catholic is looking for someone to help with weddings for both parishes. Between the two parishes we have about 20 weddings a year. Wedding Coordinators have been used at St. Thomas More for a number of years and have proved to be very helpful for not only helping the clergy but the couples as well. This is a paid position. Email Fr. Lorig if you are interested in learning more @ jplorig@midtowncatholic.church.

You can now give 0nline giving for your tithing at both parishes.

Give to St. Joan of Arc

Give to St. Thomas More

A New Alpha Course Begins

The Alpha Course is a practical introduction to the Christian faith, where guests have an opportunity to explore the meaning of life in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere where no question about life or God is too simple or too hostile.

The course meets once per week (dinner included) for 10 weeks at 6:30 pm. Two course are being offered this Winter –

Wednesdays at St. Joan of Arc and Thursdays at St. Thomas More

Alpha at St. Joan of Arc begins January 5th and Alpha at St. Thomas More begins January 6th. There is no charge to attend the course.

Register by calling the parish office at 402-556-1456 or Rick Fanciullo 402-558-8861.

Three Comings of the Lord 

By TJ Simpson, Director of Evangelization

We believe in the three comings of Jesus: Birth, Present Moment, and the End of Time.  

Birth 

Tomorrow we will celebrate the first coming of Jesus in 1st century Palestine. The infancy narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke tell us the story. We know this story, but hear it less often than we think. Consider spending some time with these stories outside of the Liturgy this Christmas. 

Present Moment 

At the heart of Christian teaching is the Encounter. Born again Christians can often tell you the date if not also the time when they were saved. We, and many of them, understand that this is not a one and done. The disciples followed Jesus after meeting him once, but it took three years of getting to know him (and his Passion) for them to truly believe and commit to his teaching. We must constantly seek God. For it is by his saving action that we are saved.  

This action is presently available to you. As you read this sentence, wherever you are, God is waiting. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mk 1:15)  

The simplest way you can encounter Jesus is through praying with the scriptures. Learning to meditate on scripture and apply it to your life can be a game changer for your experience at Mass and an overflowing well of grace in your daily life. 

Our meditation need not only be when we read scripture. The author Jean-Pierre de Caussade captures this idea well in several of his writings, the most famous being The Joy of Full Surrender (also printed as The Sacrament of the Present Moment.) God is constantly speaking to us in the events of our life. Consider again our first article’s point on prayer- it is scandalously underutilized by Christians. 

End of Time 

The end of days incites both joy and terror. Icons of Christ Pantocrator (such as in the dome at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem) depict a stern Jesus in judgement. Take a look at such an icon, listen to The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash, and read Revelation and you will get the idea of the terror. 

Jesus is coming. He last came in a time of strife, when no one was quite ready. The Jewish people were torn between different Priestly, Kingly, and Secular authorities. They were not ready for Jesus and his message. Is the Christmas joy you experience a genuine gift of the Spirit that allows Christ to embrace your brokenness? Does it bring you to look forward to Christ’s coming with eager expectation? Or, is our joy a flimsy shield that covers shame and loneliness? 

We look forward in joy for the things to come. This is a major theme of Advent that is lost in the bustle to get presents under the tree and feed our relatives. The reason we have given you these principles is not to burden you, but to give you joy. Most of us don’t like going to confession and doing our examinations of conscience, but we experience that joy of the Holy Spirit when our sins are forgiven.  

Final Thoughts: 

Christian perfection is not perfect, but as vulnerable as the child Jesus. I needed Fr. Belt’s mission talk this year. I needed to remember that the joy of the things to come is greater than my present worries and fears in a time of great public doubt and anxiousness. My hope for you this Christmas is that Mary will intercede and help you to let Christ be born anew in your life. There is a lot of work to do at Midtown Catholic as we seek to renew our Parish life. Everything will be for naught if a personal relationship with Jesus is not our first and last step.  

Recommendations: 

The Joy of Full Surrender: The Joy of Full Surrender (paracletepress.com) 

Christ Pantocrater: christ-pantokrator-jerusalem.png (2000×2000) (wordpress.com)

Johnny Cash: The Man Comes Around – YouTube 

Midweek at Midtown – December 23, 2021

jesus christ figurine

Christmas Schedule

Do you know which Mass you’re going to for Christmas? It’s likely the 4pm Masses will be somewhat crowded. What other options are there? Here’s the full schedule.

aerial view of parking lot

Christmas Hospitality

Save a parking spot and back pew for a guest. Read more.

gray steel chain on orange surface

No Two-Fers

Your Christmas Mass won’t count for your Sunday Mass, but then why wouldn’t you want to come to Mass twice in three days? Just in case you’re thinking about skipping your Sunday obligation because you were just at church for Christmas, think twice. Read more.

Online Giving at SJA

You’ve been asking for it and it’s finally here. St. Joan of Arc now has electronic giving capabilities. It’s safe, it’s secure, and it’s easy! See the giving options here.

Christmas Hospitality

This Christmas, when we fill up our churches for Mass and welcome many guests, I wonder if we could practice some simple steps of hospitality.

  • When you take your seat in church, move to the center of the pew to make room for others so they don’t have to climb over you.
  • Greet guests with a smile and wish them a “Merry Christmas.”
  • Introduce yourself. You may see them again sometime, and it’s nice to be able to put a name with a face. A personal greeting makes people feel welcome.
  • Park out of the way so that when I guests arrive they can find parking more easily.

This Advent let’s not just joyfully anticipate the coming of Christ, but also the arrival of guests!

Fr. Lorig, Pastor