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Advent 2018

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 2 and is sure to be busier than ever! Below you will find information to help you keep track of everything happening at St. Stephen. 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.

2018 Advent Newsletter (991 KB, 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 for updates. Have a blessed season!

Forming Our Faith

Ladies Advent by Candlelight
Ladies of all ages are invited to attend Advent by Candlelight on Thursday, November 29 at 6:30 p.m. in the Family Center. Please bring a dish to pass. Kindly RSVP to Brittany in the Faith Formation Office no later than Monday, November 26 at (616) 243-8998 ext 205 or email .

BEST ADVENT EVER (by Dynamic Catholic)
Advent is meant to be a time of preparation for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. But very often, the world distracts us in a hundred different ways. For most Catholics, Advent is just an afterthought. Rediscover the joy of Christmas with BEST ADVENT EVER®, a free email program that will help you slo down and focus on what matters most during the busy holiday season. Each day of Advent, you will receive short, inspiration videos, practical tips, real-life encouraging stories, and more! Visit www.bestadventever.com/almostchristmas to sign up now!

Consecration to the Holy Family
To help strenghten the families of our parish, the St. Stephen Knights of Columbus Council #15691 invite our parish community to consecrate themselves to the Holy Family and devote themselves to the ideal model of familial love set by Jesus, Mary, and Joseph after every Mass the first weekend of Advent (December 1& 2, 2018). Preparing for the Consecration to the Holy Family is not a single event. It is choosing a way of life for your family. Through this consecration, each participant is consciously choosing to be a beacon of God's love thorugh his Church. Here are some suggestions on how your family can prepare for the consecration:

  • Pray together as a family each day for the week before the consecration. Then, continue the practice, at least on a weekly basis, after the consecration has occurred.
  • Intentionally fast from something ahead of the consecration. This fast should last at least a week leading up to the consecration. We strongly encourage your family to fast from something that would normally be consumed or an activity that is regularly done. Fasting helps to discipline our minds and hearts and moves us to be more focused on God.
  • Each member of your family should go to confession before the consecration.

The 177 Project
Come join some of the most talented Catholic artists in the country for an evening of Eucharistic Adoration and music as The 177 Project visits St. Jude Catholic Church on December 6 at 6:45 p.m. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. The evening will center around a Holy Hour. Upon conclusion of the Holy Hour, you will have the chance to enjoy a FREE concert. You will also have an opportunity to go to confession, pray for others, hear about the importance of (and even respond to) vocations, say the rosary, and engage with local and national ministries. Tickets are FREE! Order now from www.the177project.com/dates/. Contact Brittany Renne in the Faith Formation Office for more information at (616) 243-8998 ext 205 or email brenne@ststephenparish.com.

Books and Activities for Children

The Giving Manger created by Allison Hottinger and Lisa Kalberer, $39.95, www.thegivingmanger.com
The Giving Manger helps families shift the focus of Christmas back to giving. A piece of straw is placed in the manger for each kind deed or act of service performed. On Christmas Day, the Baby is placed in the manger filled with service and love. As your family works together to give gifts of service you will find your hearts and home filled with more joy during the holiday season than ever before.

The Donkey in the Living Room by Sarah Cunningham, $49.99, Smile.Amazon.Com
Begin a new family tradition this Christmas with The Donkey in the Living Room nativity set and picture book. You'll hear the story of the Nativity told from the animal's perspective. Hear from a new animal each day the 12 days leading up to Christmas.

The Shepherd's Treasure Book/Doll Set and Advent Cards, $43.95, www.theshepherdstreasure.com
An Elf on the Shelf® alternative that will have your kiddos doing acts of service and focusing on the true meaning of Christmas. Each day, kids discover their Shepherd in a different spot along his journey with a new Advent card that features a bible verse and note from their Shepherd that will teach kids to truly seek Jesus long after Christmas is over.

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 2: 9:30-10:30 a.m.
December 9: 9:30-10:30a.m.
December 16: 9:30-10:30a.m.
December 23: No Class
December 30: No Class

YOUTH MINISTRY SCHEDULE

December 2: XLT @ Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 7:00 p.m.
December 9: Middle School Youth Group - 6:00 p.m., High School Youth Group - 7:30 p.m.
December 16: Middle School Youth Group - 6:00 p.m., High School Youth Group - 7:30 p.m.
December 23: No Youth Group
December 30: 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 2018.  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.

#GIVECATHOLICWM ON #GIVINGTUESDAY
What is #GivingTuesday? What does it have to do with us here at St. Stephen? It is a global day dedicated to giving back, especially after the commercialism and consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It is a time to think about giving rather than receiving. And giving back is what we do every day as Catholic Christians. So why not participate with millions around the world during this secular event to support our own ministries?

#GivingTuesday, now in its sixth year, happens the Tuesday following Thanksgiving and is an opportunity for communities, churches, families, and individuals globally to come together and to simply celebrate generosity for 24 hours.

This year, Bishop Walkowiak is encouraging Catholics to participate by supporting parishes, schools, and ministries right here in West Michigan. You are being asked to #GiveCatholicWM on #GivingTuesday. It is our own local link to this day of giving back.

#GivingTuesday is about giving of your time and talent, as much as it is about giving of your treasure. To encourage all Catholcis to put their faith into action, a global movement has been launched - Uprise: Our Catholic Generosity Commitment. The goal of the movement is to encourage Catholics to focus on service through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. For more information, visit CatholicUprise.com.

How can you participate on #GivingTuesday?

  1. Donate to St. Stephen at  anytime from midnight to 11:59 p.m. on November 27.
  2. Make the Uprise Commitment as a family. We are in need of volunteers to support our many ministries such as Altar Servers, Eucharistic Ministers, Knights of Columbus, and Family Promise Coordinators.
  3. Post a status or photo on your social media accounts explaining why you supporting giving within our diocese. Use the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #GiveCatholicWM.

ANNETTE'S CHRISTMAS FOOD BASKETS 
Thank you to everyone who donated goods to and financially supported the Thanksgiving Food Baskets. We delivered baskets to over 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. Baskets will be delivered on December 22. 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 8 & 9 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 8 & 9. Please contact Maria Allen at (616)581-2500 or Carole McDonald at (616)304-3248 with any questions.

 

VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME AND TALENT!

We are always in need of volunteers to help support our various groups and ministries. See the list below of different ways you can get involved with the Parish this Advent season and beyond.

LITURGICAL MINISTRIES
We are in need of a variety of volunteers to help us celebrate our weekend and Holy Day liturgies. Whether you would like to distribute the Eucharist to your fellow parishioners as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, proclaim God's Word from the altar as a Lector, or have your child assist Father Nolan as an Altar Server, we could use your help! Please contact Nancy Chandler in the Parish Office for information on training and scheduling for these ministries at (616) 243-8998 ext 201 or email .

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 Christmas 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 .

CHILDREN'S CHOIR
If your child loves to sing or just has a love for music, we'd love to have them join the Children's Choir! This is a wonderful opportunity for your children to minister to others through music. The Children's Choir rehearses every Wednesday from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Music Room in the lower level of the school. Please contact Children's Choir Director, Oliva Vargas, for more information and a full schedule at

Celebrate the Season

BREAKFAST WITH SANTA Grab your kids and join us Saturday, December 15 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. 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 Dale Wood at .

ST. STEPHEN SCHOOL CHRISTMAS PROGRAM The annual school Christmas program will be held Wednesday, December 19 at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, located on Burton Street. Children in kindergarten through 6th 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 12. 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 RSVP to Donna Francisco at (616) 307-1734 or the parish office at (616) 243-8998 ext 201 to reserve your spot before December 5!