Happy Fourth Sunday of Advent!!! Christmas is almost here! There is lots going on. We think of this time of year, appropriately, as a happy and joyous time of year. But it is always laced with some sadness or even a feeling of emptiness at the absence of loved ones who have died. Perhaps there is an empty chair around your table. We remember and pray for those who have gone before us. They ought not to be forgotten as they are, in spirit, still celebrating with us.
The same is true of our parish family. At St. Austin Parish we have seen many parishioners come and go. We remember them in our Eucharistic celebration as we pray for both the living and the dead.
I am mindful at this happy time of year of two previous pastors of St. Austin Parish, both of whom died at this time of Christmas celebration. Former pastor Fr. Dave O'Brien, CSP, died on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2016. He was Pastor here from 1984-1990, and stationed for some years at the University Catholic Center. Then on Christmas Day is the anniversary of the death of former pastor Fr. Jim McCabe, CSP, who died in 2011. McCabe was Pastor here from 1990-1997. Perhaps some of the “old timers” of our parish still remember them.
As we celebrate the Christmas Feast, we rejoice that Frs. McCabe and O’Brien are with us in spirit, along with all the former parishioners here, and all our beloved dead, and even with all the saints and angels as we celebrate each Eucharist. As we state in each Mass: “And so, with the Angels and all the Saints we declare your glory, as with one voice we acclaim: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts. …” This is a practical result of the salvation Jesus Christ brought to us be being born among us. We have reason to rejoice! Merry Christmas!