CHRISTMAS MASS SCHEDULE:
CHRISTMAS EVE: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 24TH, 5:30 P.M. AT ST. FRANCIS
CHRISTMAS DAY: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 25TH, 8:00 A.M. AT ST. AMBROSE
CHRISTMAS DAY: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 25TH, 10:00 A.M. AT ST. FRANCIS
The Call-For-Elves was very successful for both of our parishes. The St. Francis elves showed up in force and got 'er done' after 10:00 mass on Sunday. We are especially proud of the strong turnout from a large group of our youth who helped with this important annual tradition!
We had some changes this year including more colorful choir-loft wreath's and communion rail decorations. The Poinsettias will come soon and we will post photos of the complete job a little later.
Thanks to All of the Elves Who Helped Sunday; and With Previous Planning and Preparation!
It happens every December. St. Francis Parishioners walk into the church on a Monday before Christmas and it has changed. Window and choir loft swags, trees, wreathes, column decorations, a nativity scene and thousands of beautiful lights that weren’t there during Sunday Mass. A few days later, dozens of beautifully arranged poinsettias appear. It must be the work of elves!
The existing St. Francis Catholic Church was dedicated in May of 1884. But that was about sixteen years before it was completed to the point we recognize today. By 1900 the stained glass windows, taller steeple, and majestic altars were completed. But electric power was not available until around 1915. Early newspaper articles refer to gas jets that lit the church prior to electricity. Evergreen Christmas wreaths and live trees were illuminated with candles—a frightening thought by today’s standards.
But there was an earlier church. The original log and frame mission church, built in 1848, was located about 215 feet west of our stone church. That church, with the mission that surrounded it, has been called “The Beacon on the Plains” and the “Cradle of Catholicism in Southern Kansas.” While the open-timber bell tower certainly was not decorated with a strand of electric lights, there can be no doubt that the Sisters of Loretto and the Jesuits recognized the birth of Christ with decorations that accented a nativity scene of some kind.
During the late 19th century the Jesuits and Lorettos departed and the Passionists took possession of the stone church. The Passionist priests, brothers, and students had to contend with the early flame-based decorations until electricity was installed—and early electric tree lights might have been nearly as dangerous as the candles. Those of us who are older remember more conventional decorations from the Passionist era. But as time passed, our parish was handed from the Passionists to the diocese. It was then that parishioners took over the job of decorating.
To say the annual decorating process is well organized is an understatement. Our church maintenance men, Larry and Charlie, set up the inside and outside cribs during the week before the interior decorating begins. Typically, on Sunday morning, after 10:00 Mass, a small crew starts moving tubs and boxes of decorations, and crib statues, down the narrow curved stairs from the old upstairs. At about noon a small army of 20 or more youth and adults start showing up to move the marked boxes to the appropriate areas and begin unpacking decorations. Over a period of about 3-4 hours wreaths, window and column decorations, trees, and other items are set up and plugged in. Among the most cherished features in the sanctuary area is the Memory Tree that is placed directly in front of the west altar. A few days later a nursery truck delivers dozens of beautiful poinsettias that are arranged by another small team of parishioners. Many of those plants honor the memory of past parishioners whose pictures are on the Memory Tree.
A Slideshow of the 2016 Setup Illustrates the Annual Process ...
And there you are! That is how one of the most beautiful and photographed holiday church displays in our region happens. A few weeks later, the elves show up again and reverse the process. It is just that simple! Simple?
Come to think of it, maybe those elves are really angels.
The Saint Francis Altar Society held its annual Christmas Party on Sunday, December 1 at 5:00 p.m.. The evening included a great meal, refreshments and a lively gift exchange. But most importantly, it was an opportunity for a nice visit.
Many thanks to the Altar Society officers for all of their work in organizing this event!
Click Here for the main St. Francis Altar Society page.
HOLY DAY OF OBLIGATION:
Friday, November 1st, is All Saints Day, which is a Holy Day of Obligation.
The Mass schedule is:
The Feast of The Assumption.
Thursday, August 15th is the Feast of The Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. As such, it is a Holy Day of Obligation. Holy Day Mass schedules, at both churches, are:
St. Francis, St. Paul:
On Tuesday, April 9, our Daughters of Isabella, St. Luke's Circle 239, celebrated some important anniversaries and a new member. The celebration was held at 6:30 p.m. in the chapel in Prairie Mission Retirement Center. A specially decorated cake and refreshments were served as part of a the evening that commemorated the 96th anniversary of our circle and the long term service of two special members:
Regent Linda DeGarmo presented Lorene Van Leeuwen with a Certificate of Achievement recognizing her 70 years of membership with Circle 239. April was a special month for Lorene because she also celebrated her 104th birthday.
The next presentation was also special for Linda. She presented her mother, Mary Jean Zandler, with her 50-year membership certificate of achievement. During the celebration, Kathie Grosdidier was also recognized as our newest member.
Congratulations to All!
Thanks to Lois Carlson for photos.
For more information about the Daughters of Isabella, including Circle 239, follow THIS LINK.
Being handed a roll of this candy is a reminder that you can make a difference in the lives of women facing crisis pregnancies.
The familiar Life Saver candy was invented in 1912 by Clarence Crane of Garrettsville, Ohio. He was looking for a hard-candy alternative to chocolate that melted during hot Ohio summers. Their shape was similar to life rings used on boats and around swimming areas. As they became popular, a roll of the candies was a "lifesaver" for the occasional sweet-tooth attack.
In recent years, the word "Lifesaver" has taken a more literal meaning. Knights of Columbus members, across the nation, don their familiar aprons and meet parishioners at church doors, after Mass, with the cash-can in hand. Being handed a roll of the candy is a reminder that you can make a difference in the lives of women facing crisis pregnancies.
The difference an ultrasound machine makes is frequently the difference between a mother keeping or aborting her baby. It is hard to deny the humanity of an unborn baby when confronted with a face, a nose, a heart, ten fingers and ten toes. In January of 2019, the Knights of Columbus announced that it's Ultrasound Initiative had donated 1,000 ultrasound machines to pregnancy centers around the world.
Closer to home, the Kansas State Council recently announced installation of two ultrasound machines in pregnancy crisis centers, with another scheduled by the end of April; and four more possibilities in the next 9 to 12 months. Local Life Saver Sunday proceeds support clinics such as A Better Choice Pregnancy Center in Wichita.
So remember, when you see a Knight in the apron, with his can, ... digging into your pocket a little deeper will make a difference!
Photo is from KofC.org "Building a Culture of Life."
Knights of Columbus Council 760 Would Like to Say "THANK YOU" to supporters of a couple of our recent projects:
To Our Friends and Backers - When you Support the Knights, You Support Others.
Y'all Did Good!!!
The Magnificat Lenten Companion.
"Are you looking for a way this Lent to return to the Church or to develop a more fervent practice of your faith? The Magnificat Lenten Companion 2019 is the perfect help"
The above is from the publisher's back-page summary of their booklet of articles, meditations or short prayers. The booklet includes a brief one page reflection for each day of lent, plus the Stations of The Cross and other material intended to guide us through Lent and into the Mystery of Jesus Christ.
The St. Francis Altar Society has purchased these books and they are available, to parishioners, in the back of both St. Francis and St. Ambrose Catholic Churches. Pick up a copy of the companion for your family as part of your Lenten Reflection.
PARISH SCHOOL OF RELIGION NEWS (& Reminders):
FIRST RECONCILITION is Wednesday, February 27th at 7:00 p.m. Please be working with your child on the “Act of Contrition” and “How to go to Confession form” at home. There will be a parent’s meeting afterwards with First Communion information.
FIRST COMMUNION is Sunday, March 31st at the 10:00 a.m. Mass.
TOTUS TUUS SUMMER RELIGION PROGRAM will be held at St. Francis July 21-26. Save the date!!
GET CONNECTED WITH ST. FRANCIS - ST. AMBROSE
Our joint parishes website "http://www.stfrancis-stambrose.org", and its companion Facebook page "@SaintFrancisAmbrose", have been up for a little over two years. During that time the website has seen 98,500 page views. Our Facebook community has grown to 354 followers and it is increasing steadily. We have several previous residents who follow us to keep in touch with our parishes as well as local activities.
We try to keep the page active with news, announcements and diocesan information. If you are on Facebook, and have not joined us, doing so will give you automatic notifications of church news. For example: recent announcements regarding Mass or PSR cancellations, due to ice and inclement weather, would have reached your smartphone or computer immediately.
If you do not currently use Facebook, it might be worth your time to open a basic Facebook profile. Then insert a search term for "@SaintFrancisAmbrose", and give us a "Like".  If you receive announcements, and know of parishioners who do not use computers, you can contact them when we contact you.
This is a very easy way to stay in touch.
Efforts to remove the thick layer of ice from the church steps and sidewalks have not been successful. The Parking lot remains very dangerous. Therefore, the following morning Mass changes are in effect at St. Francis:
Friday Morning, February 8 — Father will say a private 7:30 Mass on Friday morning for the intention of Betty Westhoff. HOWEVER, DO NOT GO TO FRIDAY MORNING MASS. It is too dangerous!
Saturday Morning, February 9 — If conditions do not improve substantially by Friday afternoon, the same will apply for Saturday morning Mass. Stay Home & Stay Safe!
Due to Icy Conditions:
Father Will Say 6:30 p.m. Mass at St. Francis this evening, as scheduled. However, parishioners are asked to monitor road and surface conditions. PLEASE STAY HOME IF CONDITIONS REMAIN BAD!
THERE WILL NOT BE AN 8:30 a.m. MASS AT ST. AMBROSE, ERIE, ON THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7TH!
Click to Enlarge.
The St. Francis Catholic Church Christmas decorations have been admired in our area for decades. They are easy to take for granted. However, few people realize that the work on this annual project starts as the previous year's decorations are taken down. For example, during the past year new choir loft and communion rail garlands were purchased and prepared to replace older worn garlands. Well used, but rumpled, ribbon arrangements were replaced with new materials that were lovingly tied during warmer months. Also, planning for better ways to control lighting circuits was thought out early. By the time the thousands of lights are illuminated, on Christmas Eve, dozens of parishioners have spent hundreds of man-hours preparing and installing,
Slideshow. To navigate through the slideshow, hover your mouse over a photo. "Pause" stops and "Play" restarts. Use arrow buttons to move forward or back, or more quickly. Thanks to Marsha Smith for sending some of the photos.
Our joint parishes website, www.stfrancis-stambrose.org, has been up and running for more than two years. The web page and its companion Facebook page "@StFrancisAmbrose" are excellent tools to familiarize new parishioners with our churches, describe parish organizations and policies, and keep folks informed about St. Francis and St. Ambrose activities. The web page, combined with the sharing power of Facebook, have put our joint-parishes information, events and accomplishments in front of a lot of people.
Here are some website use statistics since we secured our domain name and hosting service on September 27, 2016:
Links add up and people do recognize us as an active, vibrant church family!
WE NEED SOME HELP FROM TEAM AND GROUP LEADERS!
Leaders from both parishes are asked to look at their team rosters, and current procedures. Compare the current information with that shown on the website. Please provide updates as necessary or just let us know if everything is correct. Open the site HERE and look at the information under the "Education", "Organizations" and "Church Life" links at the top of the page. 
Updated information may be provided to Laura Hoppas (St. Ambrose) and Ron Brogan
(St. Francis) directly or by message using the Joint-parishes Facebook Page (linked HERE)
1 The Knights of Columbus and St. Francis Altar Society pages have been updated recently and should be OK.
The rectory is donating a very nice piano and bench for sale at the St. Francis Fall Festival auction. The piano is a Jannsen console-type piano and the serial number indicates it was manufactured in about 1961. It has been in the rectory for some time and was tuned several times. It is believed the latest tuning was arranged by Father David.
The overall appearance and condition of the piano is very good. The finish is smooth, glossy light cherry and cherry veneer with a few minor dings and scratches expected from use. It was played by Fathers Vacca and David, and likely others. Under the cover, the action mechanism is clean.
The bench top shows wear, also consistent with use. It has a fold-up seat for music storage. The piano is now in the rectory. It is heavy and might not be moved to the hall for the auction.
Knights of Columbus Council 760 is very pleased to welcome four new members:
Any practicing Catholic man, of any age, who believes he would like to become a Knight should get in contact with the St. Francis Parish office or another member of Council 760. Open THIS LINK for more information about the Knights of Columbus including our council officers.
First Degree Exemplification - Wednesday July 18.
Knights of Columbus Council 760 will hold a First Degree exemplification at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 18, at St. Francis Parish Hall, St. Paul. During this ceremony we will welcome several new Knights into the council.
Many in our area are aware of some of the civic and charitable work the Knights do. But the role of the Knights of Columbus is much larger than most people can imagine. When you begin to understand that role you also understand why Pope John Paul II referred to the Knights of Columbus as a “strong right arm of the Church.” Catholic men, of any age*, put themselves in very good company when they join the KofC.
Please Follow This Link for more information about the Knights of Columbus. If you have been thinking about joining the Knights, there is no better time than right now. If interested, contact the St. Francis parish office, or any of our current members. The link above includes several names.
The July 18 exemplification will include snacks and beverages. We hope to see you there!
* Must be at least 18 years old.
Knights of Columbus Council 760 — St. Paul - Walnut - Erie
It was a beautiful evening, yet sad. Father David had just led us through Eucharistic Adoration in Celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi. Then we moved to the parish gardens shelter house for another step in bidding him farewell.*
Almost on cue, a long streak of sweltering, humid days took a break in favor of a cooler, breezy evening. A large group of St. Francis and St. Ambrose parishioners, including our youth, greeted Father in the garden to enjoy refreshments provided by the Altar Society. We talked, laughed and reminisced about the four years of spiritual guidance he had given us; and discussed the university challenges ahead of him.
We will miss you Father David Michael Htun!
*Father David's next assignment is as pastor of St. Paul University Parish, Wichita State University.
On Sunday, June 3rd, (Corpus Christi Sunday) we will have Adoration from 6:30 p.m. — 7:30 p.m. at St. Francis Church.
After Adoration the Altar Society will have a farewell reception for Father David in the Garden Shelter House. Refreshments are provided. Everyone is encouraged to attend and thank Fr. David for all of his work here at St. Francis and St. Ambrose during the past 4 years.
This is the community website for the St. Francis de Hieronymo and St. Ambrose Catholic Churches in Neosho County, Kansas. Both churches are located in the center of the historic nine-county southeast Kansas area. We share one of the richest Catholic Heritages in Southern Kansas and the Four-State Region. For more information about our churches, history, organizations or programs browse our site including its links.