A PERSONAL ENCOUNTER WITH THE RISEN LORD HAS THE POWER TO BEAR MUCH FRUIT!

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On this fifth Sunday of Easter, Jesus says to all of us, “I am the vine, you are the
branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without
me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). Without Jesus Christ, we have and do nothing.
To be inserted in Him gives us abundant and fruitful life. Why? Because it’s He
who bears all the fruit in our lives.

Last weekend, I was on a retreat with about 60 parishioners, and we got to see the
amazing things that can happen when we open our hearts to Jesus Christ as our true
vine. We spent one day talking about the Eucharist, entering more deeply into the
feast of the Eucharist, the Passover Banquet. We spent another day explaining the
Sermon on the Mount, seeing it as it truly is, a promise of the new life God wants to
fulfill in us. We talked about the joy of being on a path of conversion, of having a
direction to enter more deeply into the beauty of the Church. It was a beautiful weekend
that for many, marked the beginning of a new journey with Jesus Christ. The Lord
formed a new community of brothers and sisters that together will begin the
Neocatechumenal Way, an itinerary of faith - centered on the Word, the Liturgy, and
Community - to rediscover the powerful grace of our Baptism.

This new community is truly a reflection of the universality of the Church and a sign
of the power of the Good News. There are brothers and sisters from all ages; men
and women; families; single people; representing more than 15 different countries:
El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, Ethiopia, Honduras, Nigeria, Costa Rica
just to name a few. All of them brought together by the announcement of the Good
News. The Good News breaks barriers, gives us unity, form the body of Christ.
People can truly belong just as we are, with all our needs, our sufferings, our
challenges. The Word of God enters into our reality and touches us through the
Kerygma, the Announcement of the Good News, and begins to gestate in us a new
creation, a child of God, the image of Jesus Christ in us. The community is meant to be
a sense of light to others, salt of the earth, as Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount.
This is why we need the New Evangelization, to bring the Good News to our world.

Our archdiocese is beginning a new initiative this year, “More than you realize,” to
help us grow as missionary disciples. We at Queen of Peace are blessed to have something here that is working. We saw the miracles concretely last weekend - people who had been depressed for many years, now had joy. People who had not stepped in a church in decades are back. Marriages that were in crisis recovered the hope for healing in their relationship. A lot of youth decided they want to be part of the Church, not because their parents dragged them, but because they want to. And this is just one example. We have many other ways of making
disciples at Queen of Peace too. It’s not possible to name them all.

The Lord is bringing us to a real conversion which leads to a true following of Christ.
Our encounter with his love for us in our sins and death set us free from all worldly
attachments and gives us to love as He has loved us first. The most important thing is
the encounter with the love of Christ as we are, without having to change to be loved.
The encounter with Christ dying for the sins of the other.

In Christ,

Father Felix P. Medina Algaba
Pastor

GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY INVITES US TO CELEBRATE AND FOSTER VOCATIONS TO THE PRIESTHOOD

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I write these brief thoughts from the Archdiocese of Denver’s annual priestly Convocation. It seems fitting that this time of communion and growth among all priests of the archdiocese comes on the week leading up to Good Shepherd Sunday, and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. It’s very important that we take the time to pray for vocations, because this is an exciting time for the Church and for our parish. Next weekend, Archbishop Aquila will meet with young men
from our parish interested in learning more about the priesthood! 

The Lord is calling us to a profound spiritual renewal that will make of us and many others true and authentic missionary disciples of Christ. But that can't be done without our priests, deacons and religious. We need shepherds, according to Christ's heart. That requires our life witness of self-surrender to Christ's love. He tells us in today’s Gospel, “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep” (Jn 10:14-17). 

Parents and grandparents have a great role in raising vocations. Please, invite youth to not be afraid to listen and follow God's call to be fishers of men, whatever that means for them. In my experience, it was my grandma who encouraged me not to be afraid of the priesthood to which God was calling me. I'm grateful now for having listened and for saying yes to the mission God has given me. A priest has a great impact in the lives of so many people: through preaching, teaching, healing, listening, counseling, giving Christ to others. 

We have been working since more than a year ago on being intentional about raising vocations at Queen of Peace. We began by having a Discipleship of Vocations weekend, in which we asked all of you to give us names of young people in our parish whom you think may have a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. From there, we began our Called by Name program, hosting events and meetings to help the high schoolers nominated to discern whether the Lord is calling them to these vocations. Fifteen young men meet with me every month to pray and discuss the reality of the vocation to the priesthood. Next weekend, we are hosting a St. Andrew Dinner with Archbishop Aquila. These dinners are an opportunity for the high schoolers to talk about the priesthood with the archbishop and myself in an informal atmosphere. They will hear our vocation stories and ask questions they may have. If you know of a young man in high school who you think should be invited to this or one of our regular monthly meetings to discern a vocation to the
priesthood, please call our office or email me at father.felix@queenofpeace.net.

Finally, I invite everyone to pray for the young people in our parish, so that they may listen to God’s call, whatever that may be. One of the many reasons for our new parish center is them. We want our young people to have a good, safe, appealing place where they belong, where they can feel a part of the Church, where they can begin an intimate relationship with the Lord, and learn to listen to His voice. We have had several vocations born at Queen of Peace in years past. In fact, we have invited priests and religious sisters who were once parishioners of Queen of Peace to join us for our 50th anniversary kickoff celebration with Bishop Jorge Rodriguez on June 2. We will
have a bilingual Mass at 5pm, followed by a reception in the Great Room. I hope you will join us too.

In Christ,

Father Felix P. Medina-Algaba
Pastor

THE FILM PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST SHOWS HOW THE CHRISTIANS’ WITNESS SAVES THE WORLD

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
May you have a blessed Third Sunday of Easter! I would like to share with you my experience, while watching the movie, Paul, Apostle of Christ, with some of our sacristans. After weeks of hard work preparing for our Triduum and Easter celebrations, we had a great time watching and discussing this film, which gives a wonderful witness of our faith. Paul, Apostle of Christ describes the situation of the Christians in Rome in the year 67 AD, through the eyes of two men: St. Paul, put in the darkest and bleakest prison cell by Emperor Nero, who accuses the Christians of setting Rome on fire; and St. Luke, Paul’s friend and physician, who risks his life to visit Paul, and to write another book, one that details the beginnings of Church. For a synopsis of the film, please, see paulmovie.com.

One of the most striking things for us was the strong faith of the early Christians and the transformative impact that this faith had on the world and society of their times. The early Christians and the Church changed the world by choosing to love and to forgive their enemies instead of seeking justice or taking the vengeance route. They knew the life-changing power of believing the Gospel message and celebrating the Sacraments. In these, they received Christ’s new Risen life, which helped them to transform the Roman world and establish the foundations for our Western civilization. 

The movie invites us to look at the situation of our world, a situation of sad lack of love, of violence, selfishness, crime and anger. The early Christians lived the Gospel and believed in the Good News of Christ dying for his enemies to give them a new life. They loved each other, and love conquers evil. We see this love in the movie in the relationship between Paul and Luke. The pagans said with admiration when they met the Christians: "Look, how they love each other!" In this film we see the great power of Christian relationships in the rapport between these two great missionaries. Luke risks his life to spend time with the prisoner, Paul of Tarsus; and Paul shares his entire life, hiding nothing, with his brother and son in the faith.

Furthermore, Luke encourages the Christians before going to die in the Circus. There's a scene that helped me personally. Luke goes down to the gauls where the Christians are waiting to go out unto the arena to be devoured by the wild beasts in the Roman circus. Luke announces Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, as the only Truth that saves the world. His message of faith gives
them joy, trust and determination to sacrifice their lives united to Christ. I see the importance of the preaching of Christ in my ministry, in all our ministries, and in our building project, as today's world keeps telling us that what we teach is not acceptable, fashionable, or doable in our society.

But we see in the film that there is a high price to pay for being a Christian. For Paul, it was his head. For others, imprisonment. For others deportation. For others, it was death in the circus - the Roman Colosseum. Being a Christian is to risk your life, to give your life, not through your own effort, but with God’s grace. And while we are dying, the world receives life. We see in the movie how Luke saves the daughter of a Roman Consul, the man who was going to execute Paul. This is being a Christian. “For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you” (2 Corinthians 11:12). All of this is very relevant to us today. We at Queen of Peace have
a chance, with this parish center project, of making a huge statement: that the Catholic Church is the biggest patron in works of mercy, of caring for the elderly, of defending every life, of welcoming the immigrant and the stranger. This is Christian love.

In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus opens the minds of his disciples, so that they may understand that through suffering, Christ enters into glory. “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, ‘Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all
the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things’” (Lk 24:45-48). It’s through death that we enter life. That’s the Paschal Mystery into which we have all been baptized.

I won’t say more about the movie, because I don’t want to spoil it for you. I encourage you to go watch it with your whole family. I was saddened to see so few people when I went to see it. We watch so many terrible things, but here we have an opportunity to see something good - great production, well-done, with actor Jim Caviezel who played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ. We should take advantage of this. Keep in mind that this is a Christian movie - not Catholic. It tries to stay faithful to the writings of Paul, but not necessarily to the traditions of the Church. However, that does not take away from the movie, and I hope you will watch. Feel free to share your thoughts with me!

In Christ,
Father Felix P. Medina-Algaba

FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT: THE CHRISTIAN JOURNEY TO GOD’S LIGHT

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This Fourth Sunday of Lent invites us to move forward on our journey of faith towards Easter. In today’s Gospel, we hear a section of Jesus’ night encounter with Nicodemus in Jerusalem, the place of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. Jesus is trying to bring him to the light of God’s love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). Lent is a profound journey at the level of the heart from our darkness to God’s light manifested in Christ’s total self-giving for us! “This is the verdict, that the light came into the world” (Jn 3:18). I pray that all of us as one community may walk these days towards Christ’s light, so that we may be transformed at the Easter mysteries into the Light of the world (cf. Mt 5:14). 

Everything that happens on our journey to God comes from Him and leads us to a deeper relationship with Him. The Devil constantly brings us thoughts of discouragement and evil desires, so that we may abandon our journey. With the help of the Church, the Word of God, the sacraments and our brothers and sisters, we can arrive to our final destination: the joyful victory of Christ.

During this Lent, we pray that we may continue to persevere on our pilgrimage of faith towards the Paschal Mystery of Christ, in the company of Mary, Queen of Peace, all the angels and saints, and our brothers and sisters in the faith!

In this time of Lent, in which the Church invites us to Pray, Fast, and Give Alms, I encourage you to take seriously the new prayer initiative for our new Parish Center. We have a goal to pray 1,000,000 Rosaries and/or Divine Mercy Chaplets as a parish family, for the success of our building project. We are so close to reaching $4 in our Capital Campaign, and so close to  reaching our $5 million goal. I am extremely grateful for everyone who has made a pledge and everyone who is working to make this happen. However, the most important thing to do is to pray, so that the Lord may open our hearts and lead us in this project of faith.

In Christ,

Fr. Felix P. Medina-Algaba,
Pastor

Jesus Cleansing the Temple! Baptism is Christ's Cleaning that makes us Holy Temples of God

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
On this Third Sunday of Lent, we as a parish community celebrate together the First Baptismal Scrutiny of our brothers and sisters going through RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). We pray for them, as they prepare to embrace Christ's life in the Church. This reminds us that since
Early Church times, the Christian season of Lent has always enjoyed a strong baptismal character. For many centuries, the character of this season was almost totally marked by the Catechumenate (our RCIA of today): the process of Christian initiation into the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation. This was a time of formation of three or more years which had its culmination in the great Easter Vigil. 

The time of Lent was the time of immediate preparation for the reception of these sacraments, a time of intense formation and conversion, not only for those entering the Church, but for the entire Christian community. We Christians need to see the time of Lent as a time to  rediscover, revive and renew our own Baptism, to reawaken the baptismal grace given to us, and to experience our total incorporation into Christ in our daily lives.

A great example of a Baptismal catechesis is found in today's Gospel of Jesus' cleansing of the Temple. Our Baptism is a cleansing of all our sins. Lent is a cleansing, through Penance, of all our impurities. How does Jesus get our lives ready for the new and eternal life of Easter? He comes to clean his house! Though it might seem to us that He is angry and has lost control, in reality Jesus is washing his Temple, the Father's house, our lives clean from sin. That's why the question for this time of Lent is simple: If Jesus comes to me today, to my Temple, to my life, to my body, what does he find? Who is the real god of my life? What do I truly desire with all my heart, mind, and
strength? Where am I spending my time? What does Jesus see today in place of the true worship of God, a house of prayer, or a marketplace? Have perhaps things other than God become my first concern? Is my relationship with God a business for my own gain?

“His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me” (Jn 2:17). To get to Easter we need zeal, that is, enthusiasm, true attention, love and care for the things of God, for the holy things, for what's true and valuable. Love requires something very simple: that we throw other things away. Love for God's house requires change and cleansing, that we overturn the tables of the money changers! Lent is the time to throw away all the junk that right now takes the place of God. It's the time to renew and strengthen our Baptismal vocation. At Mass, we give up our lives to God and to each other, united to the one eternal sacrifice of Christ.

There is parallel here at Queen of Peace between the cleansing of God’s temple, which is our life, and the rebuilding of His house, which is our new parish center. The spiritual building of our faith and love are the entire purpose of Christ's ministry, and they are the purpose of our new parish center. I am deeply grateful to all of you who have made a pledge, perhaps deciding to give something up in your life in order to put this mission, to put God first. We only have a short way to go to reach our $5 million. We are so close it is important to keep up our momentum. if you have not made a pledge yet, please make sure you do. Also, talk to your friends and make sure they have made a pledge.

In front of the total gift of God to ourselves in the Eucharist, we place our time and treasure, our securities and plans, at the feet of the One who truly loves and purifies us. Let us keep each other in prayer as we walk this beautiful journey of Lent with our Lord! 

In Christ,

Father Felix P. Medina Algaba