My Good Friends of St. Ann Church:
I want to welcome all of you to our great Parish family after many months of absence because of the pandemic. We are trying hard to return to our regular life while taking all the precautions and protocols established by the Diocese of Orlando in this historical time in which we are living.
This year has been very tough for all of us. We have missed all of you in our church. Celebrating Mass at the beginning of this pandemic with only the camera and seeing the church empty was not pleasant. For me, it has been very sad to see friends, parishioners, and relatives suffering because of the pandemic. We have seen the anguish caused when losing a family member or a job. We are deprived when we cannot hug and give the Sign of Peace in church; having many of our activities on-line makes our relationships very cold. At times, the future looks dark, and our smile has vanished. But, in the middle of this challenging situation and incertitude, Advent arrives in our lives as a gift from God and is an excellent relief to calm our hopelessness.
Advent is a great time to return to God and feel that the Lord is our refuge and strength. With him, we can overcome all our fear and rest in his hands, the hands of our Father and Creator. "We are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands" (Is 64:8). So, he can fashion us according to his holy will.
The dark veil of sadness has been removed with the Good News of Salvation that our Lord and Messiah brings to our lives. It is time to come as a family of God to our church to celebrate this beautiful season of expectation, knowing that he is coming with peace, mercy, and blessings. The prophecy of Isaiah 11:1-10 comes to us as a bright light and meaningful message of hope.
Isaiah helps us to figure out how the wolf shall be with the lamb or the leopard. The snake can play with the baby, the calf and the young lion shall browse together. These incredible images describe the peace, love, and calm of having Jesus in our hearts and lives; to have him in our midst.
"There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea" (Is 10:9).
I want to invite you to come back to see the glory of God in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, in person, or to follow us virtually on YouTube, in which Jesus makes his glorious presence.
We miss you, but let us keep connected in spirit, allowing Jesus to govern our world and our lives.
God bless you!
Fr. Alfonso Cely
Lord Jesus Christ,
Who on the cross accepted the will of your heavenly Father,
offering your life for the salvation of the World; please have mercy on all of us, and protect our families and us from any harm that this pandemic can cause.
Fill the hearts of people that are suffering illness or have lost a member of their families during this pandemic time with the love and light of the Holy Spirit to understand your will in this adverse circumstance that we are living now.
Through the intercession of Mary, your mother, and our mother that close to your cross accepted your will, and who, after your body was placed in the tomb, waited lovingly for your glorious resurrection, which transforms the life of the World.
Fr. Alfonso Cely
My Dear Family of St. Ann:
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been a difficult and challenging time for the world. Many valuable and beautiful traditions have significantly developed. One day we awoke, and our life was not the same. Our church closed, and we were not able to celebrate Holy Week and Easter. After being closed for two months, we are now opening our doors and celebrating Mass. We are thrilled to see our parishioners returning to celebrate the Mystery of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist together. Be assured that we are taking all kinds of precautions by wearing masks, suspending the rite of peace, distributing only the Body of Christ at the end of Mass, having our daily celebrations last 30 minutes, and our weekend celebrations 45 minutes. We are praying to the Lord for the end of this pandemic, protection of our parishioners, the sick, their caregivers, physicians, and first responders, and for those who have lost family members and loved ones. We are also praying for all those who, in many ways, are more than ready to serve--from the grocery store employees to all the people who continue working hard, making it possible to put food on our table.
I miss hugging my parishioners in the Narthex! For me, it is an energetic experience and very uplifting. But, we have discovered other ways to connect through our spirituality. We become one in Jesus our Lord, and from a distance can feel the love and affection which reigns among us as a community of faith. We want you to feel welcome and safe in our parish. We are following the protocols set by our Diocese during this period. We are thoroughly cleaning the church and facilities after each ceremony, and for now, our capacity is only 25%, physically separated, but spiritually connected. Even with a 25% capacity limit, we still have space available for more within that limit!
We are completely committed to working hard to serve you and help you from our hearts. Our mission is to continue keeping the fire and joy of the Lord and the Holy Spirit in our lives and to share with you this gladness with the world. This pandemic has tried to still the joy from our hearts, but we can overcome it with the joy and hope of the Resurrected one who lives and reigns forever and ever.
Thank you for all your support and love manifested in many ways. We are the great family of God, the great family of St. Ann.
God bless you, and remember…see you Sunday!
Fr. Alfonso Cely
My Dear Parishioners of St. Ann and Visitors!
At the beginning of 2020, a number that refers to perfect vision, I want to invite you to be part of our family of St. Ann looking to the future with excitement and optimism. This year, you and I will have walked together for five years, fulfilled many dreams, and accomplished many projects. All of these have occurred because you have said “yes,” and have supported me with love and generosity. We will continue to work as a family in the creation of our mission and vision for the next ten years. This 2020 will be full of new spiritual projects in which we will grow in knowledge and love for God.
We are an alive and multicultural parish. We have come from different backgrounds from different parts of the world, cultures, languages, and races. While we say that we have an Anglo community, many of you were born in different states with different traditions and accents. For me, it is fascinating to greet people from Asia, Latin America, Caribbean Islands, Canada, and Europe every weekend in the narthex of our Church who come with only one intention: TO WORSHIP JESUS CHRIST IN THE EUCHARIST. For me, it is one of the most beautiful miracles, the recognition of Our Lord Jesus as the Lord of our lives. Undoubtedly, we are the body of Him and, in Him, we have our joy and the way to see each one of us as brothers and sisters.
If you are new visiting us on this web page, I want to invite you to come and visit us because we have space in our church for you in this heart of Florida. In our own hearts, you could be part of our family by registering on-line or calling the church office and making an appointment with me or our associate pastor, Fr. Duber; we want to know you by name. We will be happy to meet with you personally, learn about you, and how you would like to participate in our parish to make it greater and more beautiful. We have many ministries and been very successful, but we are always in need of more generous people who want to share their talents and time by serving others with love and mercy. Please help Fr. Duber and me to bring the Good News of Salvation to many with your testimony through the different ministries that St. Ann’s has for helping others to see that the Kingdom of God is here among us. All of us have received talents and need to multiply these as the Lord exhorts us with this parable: “Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master (Mt 25:20-21).’” Our joy will be to serve Him and His church with all our strength and generous heart.
God bless you, see you soon!
Fr. Alfonso Cely
After almost 28 days of preparation during this Advent Season, in which we have meditated with the help of the readings in the daily celebration of the Eucharist, we have lived an important journey in our spiritual lives. It started during the first part of Advent (November 27 until December 16) that helped us to contemplate the return in Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ in His second coming. We were exhorted to be alert and vigilant and "to make straight the way of the Lord" (Jn 1:23). From December 16 to December 24, we read all the Gospel accounts of the infancy of Jesus the Son of God, starting with his genealogy, and refreshing all our memories with different passages of the beginning of the Word incarnated.
We have now arrived at this great and beautiful Christmas season, which fulfills all the oracles and prophecies in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. As we celebrate his birth, our hearts are filled with joy because this memorable event in the history of humankind means for us the salvation and redemption of God our Lord. Indeed, he came in the simplicity of a manger in Bethlehem with gifts that remained with us forever: Peace, Mercy, and Love. He came never to leave us alone, to be the reason for our joy always.
The words of the book of Exodus are more current than ever: "Today you will know that the Lord will come, and he will save us, and in the morning, you will see his glory" (16:6-7). The same glory that resounds in our ears from the voices of a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds on the joyful night of Christmas: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rest" (Lk 2:14). The same joy is among us in the celebration of the Eucharist when we proclaim the Glory of God. We recognize that in a simple piece of bread and a small amount of wine is the same Savior who came, who is with us, who will be back, and who will stay with us until the end of the world.
Christmas is about the Word incarnated in human flesh for our salvation. For Catholics, this is a more than sufficient reason to rejoice and be happy knowing that we have the Emmanuel, which means "God is among us."
With gladness and jubilance, let us cry to the whole world: MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Fr. Alfonso Cely