Category Archives: Church

Fulton-Oswego Faith Partnership receives grant for backpack program

Fulton-Oswego Faith Partnership, consisting of churches in Fulton and Oswego, recently received a $5,000 “Lutheran Community Matthew 25: Neighbors in Need”  challenge grant from the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation.

The funding was awarded to the “Blessings in a Backpack” Program, based on its effectiveness in addressing physical, emotional and/or spiritual needs in the local community based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 25: 35-36.

For every dollar raised from donors by March 31 for “Blessings in a Backpack,” the foundation will provide an additional 50 cents — up to $5,000 — in support of the organization’s ministry.

Donations for the Program can be sent to any of the partnership churches.

The “Blessings in a Backpack” program helps children from low-income famlies have food to eat on the weekends throughout the school year.

Working with the schools to identify those in need, the Faith Partnership is providing healthy weekend meals for 100 students in Fulton and Oswego.

“Many families whose children receive reduced or free lunches in school may need assistance with meals on the weekends,” said the Rev. Richard Klafehn. “Our Blessings in a Backpack program provide 50 children in Oswego and 50 children in Fulton with additional food so that they may enjoy healthy meals over the weekend.

“The Blessings in a Backpack program is another way in which we reach out to the youth of our community to help them reach their true potential,” Klafehn said.

Fulton-Oswego Episcopal-Lutheran Faith Partnership includes Prince of Peace Lutheran in Fulton, Grace Lutheran Church and the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Oswego.

Klafehn, and assistant pastor, the Rev. Anne Wichelns, share ministerial duties at the three churches.

Founded in 1982, the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation is a private foundation that operates exclusively for charitable, educational and religious purposes.

Grants are provided for projects and missions that reflect Thrivent Financial for Lutherans’ charitable interests.

The primary charitable interest of the foundation is assisting nonprofit organizations and those they serve in achieving economic security and sustainability.

To learn more about the foundation and its programs, visit: thrivent.com/foundations.

Former Fulton resident ordained a priest in ceremony in Rome, Italy

Nicholas Fisher, of Fulton, was among 31 men who were ordained to the priesthood by His Eminence Cardinal Velasio de Paolis, CS, Pontifical Delegate for the Legionaries of Christ on Dec. 14 at the Papal Basilica of St. John Lateran, Rome, Italy.

Of the total 31 new priests, eight are American and one from Canada. The others are from Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, France, Columbia and Chile.

Fisher said he had the beginnings of a calling as young child living in New York state.

The Fishers’ home parish was Our Lady of the Rosary in Hannibal, where Nicholas Fisher received his first sacraments and was an altar server during the Rev. Dennis Hartnett’s pastorate.

At the age of 5, Fisher remembers being in Mass at his local parish.

“That day our parish priest, Father Hartnett, a holy man, asked me if I would like to ring the bells during the consecration.  I said yes, so he gave me the bells and I sat in the first pew with my mother.

“At the moment of the consecration, she told me when to ring them, and I did, first for the consecration of the bread, and then of the wine. At that moment, I remember, I thought for the first time that perhaps I would like to be a priest.

“After that it was something I thought about over and over again all these years,” Fisher said. “I come from a Catholic family and we were educated in the faith. They always told me when the priest says those words and they ring the bells, the bread becomes the body of Christ.

“We used to talk with my friends about what we wanted to be when we grew up: of course one wanted to be a politician, another a firefighter, another a doctor, another the president,” he said. “In short, we all wanted to be heroes. In that instant, there in my parish church, I understood in some way that the priest is more important than all those others, for only he can change the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus.”

Fisher was born in Oswego June 5, 1982, to David and Carol Fisher, then residing in Sterling. they now live in Fulton.

His grandparents are the late Robert and Angie Arduini of Fulton and the late Carl and Dolores Fisher of Williamson.

As a young boy, Fishers attended Fulton Catholic and Seton Home Study Schools. In the summer of 1993 he entered the minor seminary of the Legionaries of Christ in Center Harbor, N.H.

In 1998, he joined the Legionaries of Christ as a novice, and did his novitiate in Salamanca, Spain, from 1998 to 2000.

He studied humanities at the order’s College of Humanities in Cheshire, Conn.Fisher has a bachelor’s degree in theology and a master’s degree in philosophy, both from the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome, Italy.

He has done apostolic internships in New York, Padua (Italy), and Vienna (Austria). He was ordained a deacon by the Rev. Msgr. Renato Boccardo, Archbishop of Spoleto-Norcia (Italy) in Rome June 29, 2013 and a priest Dec. 14, 2013 also in Rome.

Ten members of the family traveled to Italy to attend the ordination and events in Rome before and after, including a general audience and Sunday Angelus with Pope Francis, a retreat for families of the newly ordained, a presentation on the Shroud of Turin and Fisher’s first Mass the day after his ordination.

He was assisted by the Rev. Sylvester Heereman, LC, Vicar General and acting General Director of the Legion of Christ.

Fisher offered his first Masses of Thanksgiving in the United States at Our Lady of The Rosary Church, Hannibal, the Legionary Seminary in Cheshire, Conn., the Guardians of the Eucharist Center in Salina and at Holy Trinity Church, Fulton.

He also concelebrated and presided at several Masses throughout the Christmas season at Holy Trinity in Fulton, assisting temporary administrator the Rev. Richard Morisette, Deacon David Sweenie and the Rev. Moritz Fuchs.

Fisher returned Jan. 2 to his first assignment as chaplain of a Catholic elementary school in Mexico City.

For more details about their stories, go to ordenaciones.legionariosdecristo.org.

The Legionaries of Christ are a religious congregation of priests of pontifical rite founded in 1941 in Mexico. Members include four bishops, 932 priests and some 900 religious in preparation for the priesthood.

Light in the Darkness

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

This may be one of the best know verses in all of scripture and probably the most quoted.

It speaks of the wonderful gift the Father has given to mankind. It is the gift that makes the difference between eternal life with God and eternal separation from Him.

Jesus bore our sin and its penalty, opening the way for forgiveness and restored relationship with our loving Creator. As such, it is an incomparable gift.

There never has been nor can there ever be another like it.

However, dearly beloved, have you ever considered the meaning of Jesus’ words in John 17 where He says, ““Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am.” (v. 24).

Though I  touched on this in my last column, I would like to take time to consider more carefully what it means to those of us who believe.

Think of this for a moment, especially during this season of gift giving and receiving.

Even as the Son was a gift from the Father to mankind, you, beloved believer, are a gift from the Father to the Son.

Jesus proclaimed this in another place, also, as He prayed something remarkable.  As He speaks to the Father, He says of us,  “They were always yours. You gave them to me.” ( John 17:6).

I don’t know if you ever thought of yourself as a gift given by the Father to the Son, but you are. Can any thought be more wonderful?

Now there are some who think that God redeemed us because He was lonely or simply wanted a big family, but I don’t think that this is true. God did not do this because of some need He had, but because of the need we have.

Dr. John Piper writes,  “It expresses his concern for the satisfaction of our longing, not his loneliness. Jesus is not lonely. He and the Father and the Spirit are profoundly satisfied in the fellowship of the Trinity. We, not he, are starving for something.”

God has done all that He has because we, not He, had a need we could never do anything about. We were in a dilemma and He loved us enough to meet that need. First by giving His Son for us and then by giving us to His Son.

Pastor David M. Grey      

Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church      

Light In The Darkness — The Blessed Virgin Mary

“Gabriel appeared to Mary and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 

“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”  

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” 

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God”

I cannot think of anyone who was more blessed by God than this young virgin. To be chosen by God to be the mother of His only begotten Son is unparalleled.

Such a blessing could occur only once in all of history and Mary was the appointed one.

During this season, it is right for us to remember and honor her. She suffered much for this honor, of course. As I pointed out last week, the blessings of God bring the curses of the world, but His Blessings are always worth the price.

So, we should honor her memory and exalt her as the one chosen for this unique role.

At the same time, we must be careful not to exalt her to a position higher than is proper. Mary, though righteous and blessed as no other, was born of a man and she would need the savior who would be born to her every bit as much as any other human being.

Being chosen to be the mother of the Messiah, the Son of Man, did not change her status as a human being. She would not become as God any more than the Prophets who were appointed by the Lord to their special calling.

Mary was not sinless as  Pope Pius IX proclaimed in his doctrine of  Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8, 1854. There is no scriptural basis for The Assumption of Mary into heaven after the manner of Enoch and Elijah nor did she become, “exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things”  as Pope Pius XII proclaimed Nov. 1, 1950. And there is no basis for believing that Mary remained perpetually a virgin.

Let us rejoice with the one God chose to be the mother of the Messiah; respect and honor her and hold her is highest esteem, but do not worship her, or pray to her, or in any other way exalt her to a position equal with her blessed Son.

Pastor David M. Grey

Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church

Churches team up for ‘Blue Christmas’

The Oswego-Fulton Episcopal-Lutheran Faith Partnerships invites the community to a special Blue Christmas service at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18 (today) at Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, 120 W. Fifth St., Oswego.

A time for refreshments and friendship follows.

The Rev. Richard K. Klafehn  said “this very beautiful and interactive worship service is a special opportunity for those who are feeling blue, that is struggling, grieving, or hurting, and for others who care for them.”

He said lights are lit in the darkness and participants may wrap the Christ child in bands of swaddling cloth on which they have written their hurts, losses, pains, or anguish.

“In the holiday season so many people appear so happy with great expectations, but others do not feel the cheer,” Klafehn said. “Because of the loss of relationships, job, or health, grieving the recent or impending death of loved ones, or being in the midst of a crisis, they are struggling and feel even sadder, hurting, lonely, and left out.

“Christmas season can be exceptionally hard, because they have to hide their hurt. This is an opportunity to be honest about these feelings, to come together, and to share the gentle comfort and promise of Christmas,” he said.

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church renews commitment to children

Members of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church just outside Fulton renewed their commitment to the Cherish Our Children prayer ministry on Dec. 8.

Also that day, the Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County received a donation from Lutheran Charities of Central New York.

Lutheran Charities of Central New York began 19 years ago as a united fund appeal among Lutherans to support significant local ministries and outreaches.

This year the Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County was nominated by Prince of Peace to be included among the beneficiaries and accepted.

The Lutherans donated $300 designated specifically for the Child Advocacy Center and the Lutheran Charity board matched those gifts with a second gift of $300 from undesignated donations, making a total gift of $600.

Cherish Our Children is a national Lutheran ministry of prayer, education, relationship-building, and action to prevent child sexual exploitation.

The heart of this ministry is praying intentionally for children in and outside the congregation. More than 30 members have committed themselves to pray for children, youth, and persons ages birth to 25, by name.

As part of the relationship-building and local action, the congregation has engaged in active partnership support of the Child Advocacy Center, and donates food and other supplies, volunteers, space and prayer for their work.

The Child Advocacy Center provides many professional services and a safe place for an abused child to tell their story and get the help they need.

Prince of Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church of Fulton is a participating congregation in the Fulton-Oswego Episcopal-Lutheran Faith Partnership along with Grace Lutheran Church and the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Oswego.

The Rev. Richard Klafehn, and assistant pastor the Rev. Anne Wichelns, share ministerial duties at the three churches.

Prince of Peace Church is located on the corner of Gillespie Road and Route 176 North just outside of Fulton.

Light in the Darkness

 “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”         Galatians 4:4-5

“When the fullness of the time was come – The time which God in his infinite wisdom counted best; in which all his counsels were filled up; the time which his Spirit, by the prophets, had specified; the time to which he intended the Mosaic institutions should extend, and beyond which they should be of no avail.” (Adam Clarke)

The time when the law would be fulfilled by the Second Adam, the Son of God, Himself, had come. In him all its designs and purpose would be fulfilled by His holy life and with his death the whole law might be abolished; the law dying when the Son of God expired upon the cross.

The promise made long ago in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15), would begin its fulfillment. The one who would “crush the head” of the serpent was born of the Holy Spirit to a virgin woman who had found favor in the eyes of God.

She would bear a son without ever having intimately known a man. She would be blessed as no woman before or since, but with that blessing came the doubts and accusations of those who would never believe her story.

The fullness of time, referring to that time when our adoption as sons and daughters would be accomplished. It is an adoption we could no more accomplish on our own than can the natural child adopt him or herself into a family.

We could not obtain such adoption by keeping the law, for the law was given that we might understand our unworthiness and need for a savior. It is an adoption purchased by the sacrifice of Christ and our God-given trust in that sacrifice gives us a place in the heavenly family.

And now, because we are sons and daughters by faith we cry Abba, Father from thankful and joyous hearts! We are joint heirs with Jesus in all that is His.

How amazing is that to contemplate? How awesome is it that because of Him and Him alone, we stand to share in everything that belongs to the perfect Son of God? We are not servants, but sons and daughters of the Most High. What a celebration is ours this Advent Season!

Pastor David M. Grey

Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church