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Welcome to Advent at St. Stephen

The Advent Season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds in remembrance of our Lord's birth on Chirstmas. Advent begins Sunday, December 3 and is sure to be busier than ever! Below you will find information to help you keep track of everything happening at St. Stephen this Advent. We encourage you to also check out our Advent Newsletter! By downloading the PDF, you'll have access to some great resources as well as in-depth details to all the events on the parish calendar.

2017 Advent Newsletter (1 MB, PDF)

Please do not hesitate to reach out to the Parish Office with any questions or concerns you may have at (616) 243-8998 ext 201 or 

Check back often to updates. Have a blessed season!

Forming Our Faith

Best. Advent. Ever. (by Dynamic Catholic) We prepare for everything we consider important in life, and that includes Christmas. We shop for gifts, bake cookies, decorate our trees, and visit family and friends until we’re ready to drop. Best Advent Ever is a free email program that will help you prepare for Christmas in a different way.

Beginning the first Sunday of Advent (December 3) and continuing every day until December 25, you’ll receive short inspirational videos, practical tips, or free Christmas music that will help you slow down during the busy Christmas season to focus on what’s really important in life.

Don’t miss the opportunity to make this your best Advent (and Christmas) ever. Sign up today! It’s simple, and the only cost is your commitment to live better each day during Advent. Are you ready?

Visit dynamiccatholic.com/best-advent-ever to sign up now!

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament Please join us on Friday, December 15 immediately following the 8:30 a.m. for Adoration of the Exposed Blessed Sacrament with the St. Stephen School students!

Cards for Prisoners All parishioners over the age of 18 are invited to sign up for Cards for Prisoners, a ministry to incarcerated men and women who have no visitors and no other contact with family, friends or anyone else, often for years at a time. You will find this to be a joyful way to “visit the imprisoned”, one of the corporal works of mercy, albeit in this program you don’t even need to leave your home. Volunteers are matched with a prisoner and write at their convenience using a Post Office address provided by the program and their choise of a pseudonum, if desired, to maintain anonymity. The prisoner’s reply is first monitored by Cards for Prisoners. This is a great opportunity to make Advent a truly giving season this year. Please contact the parish office for more information on how to get involved.

Other Advent Resources provided by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: Family Advent Calendar, Blessing of the Advent Wreath, Blessing of the Family Nativity, and Blessing of the Christmas Tree

FAITH FORMATION SCHEDULE

December 10*: 9:30-10:30a.m.
December 17*: 9:30-10:30a.m.
December 24: No Class December 31: No Class
*Children enrolled in Faith Formation will have the opportunity to go to Reconciliation during class time on December 10 & 17

YOUTH MINISTRY SCHEDULE

December 10: Youth Group
December 17: Youth Group
December 24: No Youth Group
December 31: No Youth Group

Stewardship

"Give and gifts will be given unto you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap.  For the measure with which you give will in return be measured out to you." Luke 6:38

There is still time to give to St. Stephen in 2017.  The Advent and Christmas seasons are a time of generosity and to reflect on the many blessings of the year. We are reaching out to you, our fellow parishioners, to request some of that generosity for your Parish.  Please prayerfully consider making a year-end contribution to St. Stephen, which may benefit your tax return.  Year-end giving can be made conveniently through our website at http://www.ststephenparish.com/donate.  There you can set up an automatic payment or download our electronic giving form.  Please contact Lora Bennett in the parish office with any questions.


In addition to your financial gift, please consider offering your time, talent, and/or treasure to these other worthy projects:

ANNETTE'S CHRISTMAS FOOD BASKETS Thank you to everyone who donated goods to and financially supported the Thanksgiving Food Baskets. We delivered baskets to roughly 20 needy families in the Greater Grand Rapids area. The Annette’s are now collecting food for our Christmas Food Baskets. Kindy bring canned goods, boxed meals, and other non-perishable items with you to Mass that morning. Baskets will be delivered on December 16. Drivers are needed! Please contact Lora Bennett in the Parish Office if you are able to deliver a basket to a needy family.

RETIREMENT FUND FOR RELIGIOUS Aging religious need your help. Thousands of senior sisters, brothers, and religious order priests spent years working in Catholic schools, hospitals, and agencies - often for little pay. Their sacrifices leave their religious communities without adequate savings for retirement and eldercare. Your gift to the Retirement Fund for Religious collection helps provide prescription medications, nursing care, and more. Please give to those who have given a lifetime when we take up a second collection the weekend of December 9 & 10 at all weekend Masses.

GIVING TREE For many years, it has been a St. Stephen tradition to help families in need with our Giving Tree project. This year we are helping several families from our parish community as well as the Grand Rapids area. You will see two trees in the back of the church filled with paper ornaments. Each ornament represents a gift to someone in need. Parishioners should take as many ornaments as they like, purchase and wrap the gift designated on the tag, and bring it back to the church (with the tag on it) the weekend of December 9 & 10. Please contact Maria Allen at (616)581-2500 or Carole McDonald at (616)304-3248 with any questions.

Celebrate the Season

BREAKFAST WITH SANTA Grab your kids and join us Saturday, December 9 from 9:00 - 11:00a.m. in the Family Center to visit with Santa! We will have crafts, activities, and an enjoyable breakfast. This will be a memorable morning for all involved. The menu will include Eggs, Pancakes, Sausage, Bacon, Coffee, Juice, and even an Oatmeal Bar! There is no cost for this event, however goodwill donations are encouraged. If you have any questions or would like to volunteer your time and talent to make this morning a success, please contact Amy Karasinski at or (616) 745- 0780 or Amy Barrett at or (616) 856-5509.

PARISH CHRISTMAS PARTY All members of the Parish of St. Stephen are invited to attend the Annual Parish Christmas Party on Sunday, December 10. This adults-only party will be held in the Rectory from 6:00 - 8:00p.m. Please bring a dish to pass. Beverages will be provided. Need a babysitter? We’ve got you covered! Brittany and her Youth Group will be having their own Christmas Party in the Family Center and Gym. Drop off the little ones and come celebrate the season while you enjoy an evening of good food and conversation with your parish family!

ST. STEPHEN SCHOOL CHRISTMAS PROGRAM The annual school Christmas program will be held Tuesday, December 12 in the gym of St. Stephen School. Children in preschool through 8th grade will be performing their favorite Christmas songs. Look for additional details in the upcoming parish bulletins.

SUPERGRADS ANNUAL CHRISTMAS LUNCHEON All seniors of the parish (ages 55+) and guests are invited to attend the Annual SuperGrads Christmas Luncheon on Wednesday, December 13. We will begin with Mass in Church at 11:00a.m. When Mass concludes, we will head to Pietro’s (located at 2780 Birchcrest Dr SE - please enter through the back door). Each person attending will be responsible for their own bill. Please call Donna (616) 307-1734 or Lorraine (616) 452-3363 to reserve your spot before December 7!

ADVENT GATHERING FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS Father Scott and Brittany Renne invite all the college students of our parish for a special Advent gathering on Wednesday, December 20 from 12:30p.m. to 2:00p.m. Please join them for an afternoon of comradery and spiritual growth. Look for additional details in the upcoming parish bulletins.

WELCOMING NEW PARISH CHOIR MEMBERS FOR ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS Are you looking for a way to experience greater joy in your heart and give of your time and talent to the parish during the special seasons of Advent and Christmas? The parish choir is always accepting new members! We rehearse in the church on Wednesdays from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. We blend in Christmas music, too, so that you may also join us for Midnight Mass if you plans allow. All interested must be able to sing in tune and work as a member of a team. Please contact Choir Director, Barbara Witham McCargar at .