Encountering Christ Together

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The Giving Tree

"The Giving Tree"
    Our AFC parishes (St. Mary's, St Aloysius, & Holy Redeemer) all have "Giving Trees" located in the gathering space of each church.
This Advent we acknowledge that Christ came into the world to set us free from sin, darkness, and death. We acknowledge that as we prepare to celebrate His birthday Christmas, we are called to be the light of Christ and the hope of the world by giving to those who are in need.
    We invite you to share a gift: nonperishable food items, hats, mittens, clothing items, etc. These items will be given to local food shelves, Santa's Closet, House of Hope and given to families who have expressed a need for some help this Christmas.
    We do not accept used items & ee ask that donations be dropped off by December 19th!

Faith Groups Say the Build Back Better Act Would Exclude Faith-Based Child Care and Pre-Kindergarten Providers

WASHINGTON – Two bishop chairmen on behalf of their committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have cosigned a coalition letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) with other faith groups raising urgent concerns that the Build Back Better Act’s (BBBA) child care and universal pre-kindergarten programs would exclude faith-based providers.

“Expanding affordable child care and pre-kindergarten is a worthy goal to help working families. However, the current child care and universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) provisions in the Build Back Better Act will suppress, if not exclude, the participation of many faith-based providers,” wrote Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education, together with numerous organizations representing denominations, schools, and charities.

The letter explains that although the BBBA does not preclude parents from selecting faith-based providers, the bill’s current provisions make it virtually impossible for many faith based providers to participate in the program by departing from current federal child care policy and attaching new compliance obligations that would interfere with providers’ protected rights under Title VII and Title IX regarding curricula or teaching, sex-specific programs (such as separate boys or girls schools or classes), and preferences for employing individuals who share the providers’ religious beliefs.  

“The faith community has always affirmed that parents should choose the best environment for care and education of their children. The current Build Back Better Act provisions would severely limit the options for parents, suffocate the mixed delivery system for child care and pre-kindergarten, and greatly restrict the number of providers available for a successful national program.” 

The coalition asks for urgent attention to address these concerns in order to ensure that faith-based providers are able to participate in the BBBA’s child care and UPK programs.

A full list of signatories can be seen in the letter to Senators Murray and Burr, which is available athttps://www.usccb.org/resources/FINAL%20Coalition%20letter%2012-1-21%20(1).pdf.


Media Contacts: 
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte 

Nationwide Collection Supports Retirement Needs of U.S. Religious Orders

WASHINGTON - The annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection will be held in most U.S. Catholic parishes December 11-12. Coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), this fund-raising appeal helps hundreds of religious communities care for aging members.

The U.S. bishops initiated the collection in 1988 to address the significant lack of retirement funding among U.S. religious orders. “I am deeply grateful to Catholics across the nation who faithfully support the Retirement Fund for Religious,” said NRRO executive director Sister Stephanie Still, a member of the Sisters of the Presentation of San Francisco. “Their generosity allows our office to provide vital financial assistance to hundreds of religious communities each year.”

Distinct from collections that dioceses hold for their retired diocesan priests, this nationwide effort benefits U.S. religious orders. Known collectively as “women and men religious,” most senior Catholic sisters, brothers and religious-order priests served for low wages in such ministries as Catholic schools, parishes and social services. Today, hundreds of religious orders face a critical shortage in retirement savings.

At the same time, the income of religious engaged in compensated ministry cannot keep pace with the growing cost of eldercare. According to NRRO data, retired religious outnumber younger, wage-earning members by roughly three to one, and the total cost of care for senior women and men religious exceeds $1 billion annually.

Since the collection was launched, U.S. Catholics have donated a total of $919 million. The 2020 appeal raised $20.7 million, and financial assistance was disbursed to 321 eligible religious communities across the nation. Communities combine this funding with their own income and savings to help meet eldercare costs. Collection proceeds also underwrite educational and consultative initiatives that help communities improve care delivery and plan for long-term retirement expenses.

“Our mission is to help religious communities provide for the ongoing needs of their senior members,” said Sister Still. “We remain grateful for all those who support these efforts.”

Visit retiredreligious.org to learn more.


Media Contacts: 
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte 

U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman on Supreme Court’s Dobbs Case

WASHINGTON - Today, the Supreme Court of the United States is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, on the Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks. The question before the Court is whether all pre-viability bans on elective abortions are unconstitutional. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement:

"In the United States, abortion takes the lives of over 600,000 babies every year. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health could change that. We pray that the Court will do the right thing and allow states to once again limit or prohibit abortion, and in doing so protect millions of unborn children and their mothers from this painful, life-destroying act. We invite all people of good will to uphold the dignity of human life by joining us in prayer and fasting for this important case.”  

Catholic and ecumenical prayers and resources for community engagement and action as we await the Court’s decision in this case may be found at www.prayfordobbs.com. All are encouraged to participate.


Media Contacts: 
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte 



Mass schedule for The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mass schedule for The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
Tuesday, December 7 @ 5:30 pm at St. Mary's, Bird Island
Wednesday, December 8
@ 8:30 am at St Aloysius, Olivia
@ 10:30 am at St Mary's Church, Bird Island (School Mass)
@ 7:00 pm at St Aloysius, Olivia
@ 7:00 pm at Holy Redeemer, Renville
All are welcome!

Advent Adult Study- Rejoice!

We have an opportunity to walk together on a journey to Bethlehem, to encounter the Savior of the World. Because we want this Advent to be a journey we take together as a parish, we will be holding an Advent Mission Night starting Monday Nov. 29, Dec. 6,13, & 20 at 5:30 pm at the Jubilee Center. There will be a lite supper to enjoy. Each participant will receive a Rejoice! journal, filled with beautiful art and meaningful meditations to accompany him or her throughout the entire Advent season .
Rejoice! is an opportunity for our whole community to enter into the season of Advent intentionally and receive the grace God is waiting to give us in this holy season. Join us for our Advent Mission Nights and take full advantage of this transformative experience.
Please contact the parish office to reserve your book or talk to Michelle Peppel

AFC parish Office Hours

AFC Parish Office hours: 

Monday- Thursday 9 am -4pm

Friday 9am - 12 pm Noon


U.S. Bishops’ Domestic Anti-Poverty Program Supported by the Upcoming Catholic Campaign for Human Development Collection

WASHINGTON— For more than fifty years, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has supported organizations that combat poverty and improve the lives of people in communities across the United States. As the U.S. bishops’ domestic anti-poverty initiative, organizations supported by CCHD help expand access to affordable housing and education, develop worker-owned businesses, train neighborhood advocates, and empower essential workers to advocate for workplace safety. The goal of the CCHD is to help people who are poor or disadvantaged develop the skills and create the opportunities necessary to make a living and to build stronger families and stronger neighborhoods as they do so.

When Catholics give to the annual CCHD collection, they are supporting the bishops’ call to fraternity, social friendship, and solidarity that Pope Francis presents in his encyclical, Fratelli Tutti. Parishioners are invited to be part of this mission by supporting the collection at Mass, or through parish online giving platforms. #iGiveCatholicTogether also accepts funds in support of CCHD.

The collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which most parishes will take up on the weekend of November 20-21, supports grassroots-level organizations that equip poor and marginalized people to access education and job training, raise families in safe neighborhoods, and exercise community leadership. A quarter of all gifts given to diocesan collections for CCHD remains in the diocese to support local anti-poverty initiatives.

“In Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis writes that ‘when the good of others is at stake, good intentions are not enough.’ That same vision has inspired the Catholic Campaign for Human Development for more than a half century. CCHD is about helping those who are poor, marginalized, or wounded to achieve their dreams,” said Bishop David G. O’Connell, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. “The work of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development helps people help themselves at the local community level through advocacy, engagement with their neighbors, and cooperation with local religious and government leaders. CCHD empowers those in poor communities to make a living and to create change that builds stronger neighborhoods and healthier communities.”

More information on the history and impact of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development can be found at www.usccb.org/committees/catholic-campaign-human-development. Easy-to-use promotional resources are available at www.usccb.org/cchd/collection. Find more information on poverty, including fact sheets and stories about how gifts to this collection have changed people’s lives in the United States, at www.povertyusa.org.


Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte






U.S. Bishops Approve Updated Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines

BALTIMORE - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) convened their November General Assembly in Baltimore this week. During their meeting, one of the action items voted on and approved by the bishops was the formal statement, “Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines.” The full body of bishops approved it by a two-thirds majority vote of 216 to 10 with 5 abstentions.

The bishops’ working group on revising the guidelines was led by Bishop Gregory L. Parkes of St. Petersburg, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee of Budget and Finance and included the input of multiple Conference committee chairmen to obtain input from various perspectives. The working group was guided by Christian Brothers Investing Services, Inc. and seventeen different subject matter experts representing a wide variety of focus areas, from investment firms, religious, accounting/financial experts, and notable collegiate experts. The working group also convened two Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) research providers. 

The Conference first issued investing guidelines in 1991 and last updated in 2003. The guidelines build and expand upon earlier guidelines developed and used by the USCCB for its financial investing and are intended to provide clear policies to guide the Conference’s investments and other activities related to corporate responsibility. Recognizing its leadership role in establishing principles for Catholic investing, the document acknowledges that many dioceses, eparchies, and religious communities will also seek to apply these guidelines through their own policies on corporate responsibility. The guidelines provide an accessible framework for Catholic institutions and dioceses that want to make investment decisions.

“Overall, the guidelines see a three-pronged investment strategy based on the defense and promotion of life: avoid doing harm, actively work for change, and promote the common good,” said Bishop Parkes. “Collectively, these form our investment strategy and are the lens through which any individual investment opportunity is evaluated. The key is that we invest if we can affect positive change and divest or don’t invest where we can’t,” he continued.

Some of the significant changes in the update of the text include incorporating the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis; extending all five sections of policies, with significant updates to areas concerning the common good and the environment; and adding new areas such as media, telecommunications, and impact investing. The updated investment guidance, in addition to its emphasis on shareholder engagement, includes expansions on environmental issues. The investing guidelines, which offer a Catholic perspective on ethical and socially responsible investing, build on the Conference’s historical work proclaiming the Gospel in the midst of a complex economic world.

Media Contacts:

Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte

U.S. Bishops Approve Action Items on Their Agenda at the Fall General Assembly

BALTIMORE— The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) gathered for the 2021 Fall General Assembly in Baltimore this week. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the bishops’ June 2020 spring meeting was canceled, and the November 2020 fall meeting and June 2021 spring meeting were held in a virtual format. This was the first in-person meeting of the full body of bishops since November 2019.  

The meeting agenda included more than a dozen action items that were up for a vote: 

  • By a voice vote, the bishops affirmed their support for the advancement of the causes of beatification and canonization for three lay individuals at the diocesan level: Charlene Marie RichardsAuguste Robert Pelafigue, and Joseph Dutton.  

  • The bishops received an update on the Eucharistic revival initiative and voted on moving forward with a National Eucharistic Congress in the summer of 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The bishops approved the national event with 201 votes in favor, 17 against, and 5 abstentions.  

  • Through the USCCB’s Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines, the Conference exercises faithful, competent, and socially responsible stewardship in how it manages its financial resources. The updated guidelines were presented to the body of bishops and this action item was approved with 216 votes in favor, 10 against, and 5 abstentions. 

  • The bishops discussed the draft of a statement that is meant to be a reflection on the transformative beauty of the Eucharist that invites each of us into a deeper relationship with Christ. The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church was approved with 222 votes in favor, 8 against, and 3 abstentions. 

  • The Latin Church members voted to approve the revised National Statutes for the Catechumenate for use in the dioceses of the U.S. by a vote of 222 - 1 with 0 abstentions. It was followed with a vote to approve the Estatutos Nacionales para el Catecumenado for use in the dioceses of the U.S. with 224 votes in favor, 0 against, and 1 abstention. 

  • The Conference’s longstanding commitment to promote financial accountability in the pastoral governance of the diocesan bishop is affirmed through the Resolution on Diocesan Financial Reporting, which encourages the adoption of a voluntary financial reporting system by the dioceses as a means of offering further evidence of their compliance with canon law (Church law) pertaining to fiscal administration. Since its original passage in 2000, the resolution has been renewed by the bishops approximately every five years. It was approved by the bishops with 233 votes in favor, 0 against, and 1 abstention.  

  • Each year, the USCCB publishes the Liturgical Calendar for the Dioceses of the United States of America which lists each day’s celebration, rank, liturgical color, citations for the Lectionary for Mass, and Psalter cycle for the Liturgy of the Hours. In a vote of 213 votes in favor, 0 against, and 1 abstention, the bishops approved the proposal to inscribe Saint Teresa Calcutta as an optional memorial on September 5. 

  • The Latin Church members of the Conference voted to approve the translation by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) of Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery Outside Mass for use in the dioceses of the United States, which was approved with 200 votes in favor, 14 against, and 4 abstentions. 

  • The Latin Church members of the Conference approved the revised English edition of the Order of the Christian Initiation of Adults with 215 votes in favor, 6 against, and 2 abstentions. It was followed by a vote on a revised Spanish edition of the Ritual para la Iniciación cristiana de adultos, which was likewise approved with 218 votes in favor, 3 against, and 1 abstention. 

  • The full body of bishops authorized the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People to begin a review of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young Adults in advance of the June 2025 mandated review date. The proposal was approved with 230 votes in favor, 5 against, and 0 abstentions. 

  • The bishops accepted the recommendations of the USCCB’s Committee on Budget and Finance to approve the 2022 budget by a vote of 223 - 4 with 5 abstentions. 

Recordings of the bishops’ general assembly and the press conferences may be accessed at www.usccb.org/meetings


Media Contacts: 
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte