Pastor's Page

   
              Fr. Tom Hartman
From the Pastor
 Greetings in Christ!  I’m excited to be here in Groton and Turton as your new pastor.  This is my first experience as a pastor, so I’m a little nervous, mostly excited but you will find that I’m green at this.  So be patient, it will take a little time to learn this new role.  In this time of transition, I will try to keep the main thing the main thing, JESUS CHRIST!
               So, I am coming from St. Michael's Parish in Sioux Falls as the former associate and my first assignment as a priest.  I was ordained June of 2017.  Before that I was in seminary at Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, CT.  This was predominantly a later vocation seminary for older men.  The nickname was Holy Fossils Seminary.
                As you noticed from this first weekend here, I’m not a young man but don’t consider myself old yet and have a little experience behind me.  Before entering seminary I was working and living in Milbank, SD where I helped run the family owned grocery store.  (Currently named Hartman’s Family Foods)  I worked full time from 1990 to 2012 but as far back as I remember dad had us kids working.
                In that period of time, I was married and had two children.  Isaiah is 28 and living in Denver, CO and working as a firefighter.  His fiancé Megan and him will be married next summer.  Natasha, my daughter is 27, living in Milbank with her husband Christian and my first grandchild, Gavin.  Christian farms while Natasha is an English Teacher in the high school. 
                As to how I became a priest, invite me over sometime, it’s not a short story.  But after only a few years of marriage, I ended up divorced and later annulled.  Through those years the Lord continued to convert my heart to a priestly heart, a heart that God led me here to you.  I hope it’s a heart open to a deeper conversion with all of you. 
                 My hope is someday that people in the future will call upon us for intercession as the great saints of Groton and Turton.
 
 God bless you all,                Fr. Tom


When you have done all that you have been commanded, say “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.(Luke 17:5-10 Gospel of 27th Sunday OT)

                                   This last week, Oct 1st we celebrated the Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus.  She was the saint that discovered God wasn’t calling her to be a martyr, a doctor, prophet, an apostle but rather she was simply called to be the saint whose calling was to “Love.”  She strived to live the motto “To do ordinary things with great love.”

Our gospel today calls us to be servants, to simply be who God called us to be today and at the end of our day to be able to say,  “I have done what I was obliged to do.” 

I was a… 

 Spouse, whose love was selfless and not selfish.  I lived my vows that I made on my wedding.
 Parent, who lived the promise to raise my kids in the practice of the faith.
 Child, who honored my father and mother and lived in harmony with my siblings
 Student, who honored my teachers by being engaged and completing my studies
 Co-worker, who lived the gospel message in my workplace and brought the love of Jesus
 Boss, who like Jesus became the servant of all and led my employees to Christ
 Friend, who kept company with people who lead me to Christ and whom I lead to Christ.
 Stranger, who made another person feel welcomed and loved.   
 Child of God, who took time to pray and be with the God who loves me.

As we progress in being who God called us to be today, then when God decides to move us our hearts will be docile and we can say with the prophet Isaiah, “Here am I Lord, send me.”  (Isaiah 6:8)

 

 A Power Packed Week!

                 Sept. 29th Feast of the Archangels: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael

                 Sept. 30th. Memorial of St. Jerome,  Oct. 1st Memorial of the St Therese of the Child Jesus

                 Oct. 2nd Memorial of The Guardian Angels, Oct 4th Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi

                 This week is a power packed week filled with the Memorials of great saints and angels.  In particular let us strive to seek the help of our guardian angel and the archangels especially as we enter into the month of October.  October is Respect Life Month and the Church teaches that all life is sacred from the moment of conception until natural death. 

The Holy Angels can help us in this mission of respecting life.  Let us ask St. Gabriel to help us receive the message of life with the docility of Mary.  What a joy to deliver the message that the author of life would be born of her.  May his message inspire all woman to say ‘yes’ to life in the womb like Mary.

May we ask St. Michael’s intercession to give us the courage to defend life that seems to be attacked at all stages but especially the most vulnerable stages: the infant in the womb and the aged/dying.  St. Michael cast the devil into hell, may he help us to fight this battle against evil. 

St. Raphael is the healer.  So many people have been wounded because of a lack of respect for life.  Hurt from abortion, euthanasia, bullying, racism, sexism, abuse, etc., so many wounds needing healing.  Through St. Raphael’s intercession may the heavenly balm anoint, sooth, and heal their wounds.  May we respond with gentleness and mercy towards those who suffer and find themselves with difficult life choices.

Finally, may our Guardian Angels be there to guard us and guide us all to a deeper respect for all human life!  Respect  for life always begins with each individual, a respect for themselves and for their neighbor.  May these Holy Angels continue to guard, guide, defend and heal us.   Holy Angels of God pray for us.

 

Prayer, Fasting, Alms-giving! (Is it Lent already?)

“You cannot serve both God and Mammon” (Luke 16:13)


Do you ever find yourself torn between serving God and the world or the flesh and spirit? That at times in your spiritual life, there is a battle being waged inside of you. These Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting, and alms-giving are necessary all year round. Prayer each day helps us to stay connected to God and keep our relationship with Him a priority. Fasting, works on our relationship with ourselves. 

We learn to subdue and take control of our passions that often lead us to the desires of the flesh. We practice resistance to those things that attract us. Alms-giving reminds us that we are connected to others and not an island. 

Alms-giving also creates in us the virtue of trust.

The prophet Amos asks the question, have our scales been tipped off balance when it comes to giving, are we cheating God of his due? Often times with Alms-giving we hear of tithing 10% of our income. Five percent of our income goes to the church and five percent goes to other charities. This makes us look like the generous ones but what if we turn it around? What if we give God credit for giving us everything we have, than suddenly we see God’s generosity. He gives us everything and allows us to
keep 90%, now that is scales tipped in our favor.

Like prayer and fasting, alms-giving takes practice and maybe we have to build a little at a time. And remember, besides the gift of money, you can share your time and talents with your church and your community. No matter what your position is in life....the Kingdom of God needs you.


The Story of the Third Son!
(Luke 15:1-32)

                 In the story of the prodigal son we always hear of the two sons who really failed to live their identity as sons of such a noble father.  The first went off the deep end and lived his life with loose living.  The second was the obedient son, who lived and worked with his father but harbored jealousy for his brother.  He probably in his mind wished he had done the same but continued to serve his father with a reluctant or bitter heart.
But what about the third Son?  The Son, who is telling the story of his two brothers.  He loved being united to his father and being part of his kingdom.  He loved his brothers with the same intensity of the father.  He loved them so much, that he was willing to strip himself of his fathers kingdom, the place of perfect happiness.  He went off to the far distant land (to earth), stripping himself of all his possessions and taking the form of a slave.  The brothers debts were so great, that he even incurred the punishment of death for them.

The good news is that the love between this Son and the Father was so great, that the Son was raised up and he returned to his Father’s Kingdom.  He ran to his Father, his Father ran to him.  The son showed the Father his wounds, and said, “See Father, I make all things new!”

Which of the three sons do you most relate too?  Which Son is God calling us to be like? 
Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine. 
 

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Sept 8th

                 Have you ever had the experience where you get cravings for ice cream before going to bed?  So you go to the freezer and you find the ice cream?  Suddenly, you go into a war with your self.  Your passions tell you to skip the bowl and just get a spoon, your intellect tells you its not healthy and not polite and your will is tossed in the middle.  Soon you find yourself saying, “just one spoonful” and before you know it, your sitting in front of the TV with your carton of ice cream wishing you had greater will power.
Sept 8 celebrates the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary but since it falls on a Sunday, we maintain our Sunday Celebration.  But can you imagine being conceived without sin like Mary and having the power of our souls (intellect, will, & passions) always being ordered to the good.  Mary was born and forever maintained harmony of her soul.  Her intellect was not impeded by sin and could think and reason perfectly clear, her passions although heightened always acted in accord with her intellect and moved by the will to choose the good.  Mary is the model of the human race, she perfectly conformed to God’s will from conception until natural death.
On this Feast Day that celebrates the Nativity of Mary, let us seek her intercession that we to may experience harmony of our souls, that our intellect, will, and passions all work together for the good and maybe then we can stop with just one spoonful  (or scoopful) of ice cream.

 


Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11) 

Litany of Humility! 

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me. 

From the desire of being esteemed, 

Deliver me, Jesus. (repeat w/each line)

 From the desire of being loved...

 From the desire of being extolled ... 

From the desire of being honored ... 

From the desire of being praised ... 

From the desire of being preferred to others... 

From the desire of being consulted ...

 From the desire of being approved ... 

From the fear of being humiliated ... 

From the fear of being despised... 

From the fear of suffering rebukes ... 

From the fear of being calumniated ... 

From the fear of being forgotten ... 

From the fear of being ridiculed ... 

From the fear of being wronged ... 

From the fear of being suspected ... 

That others may be loved more than I,

 Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. (repeat)

 That others may be esteemed more than I ... 

That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease ... 

That others may be chosen and I set aside ... 

That others may be praised and I unnoticed ... 

That others may be preferred to me in everything... 

That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should… Amen 



Strive to enter through the narrow gate.”   (Luke 13:22-30)  

The world seems to leave a pretty broad path for us to follow.  Some phrases that are popular on this broad path in society today  are “I can pray to God at home”, “I’m a good person, try not to hurt anyone”, “as long as we love each other.”, or “doesn’t matter where we go as long as we believe.”  It seems that these broad statements contradict what the Church has through the centuries and what has passed on to us through Christ.  We have Sunday and Holy Day of Obligations, we can’t just pray at home.  A drunk certainly can be a good person, but drunkenness is a serious sin.  Sexual boundaries seem to have been erased but the church steadfastly teaches that sex outside marriage is wrong and marriage can only be defined as between a man and a woman.  Finally, it does matter where we belong, because the Catholic Church is the guiding light to keep us on that Narrow Path.   If you struggle with the teachings of the Catholic faith, ask the Holy Spirit for the gifts of  wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.  Or talk to your parish priest.


Do you think I have come to establish peace on earth?  No I tell you, but rather division.  Luke 12

 

     Great Saints went to great lengths to follow God and for many it was their family who tried to stop them.  St. Thomas Aquinas’ family locked him in a tower,  St. Francis of Assisi was locked up by his family, St. Clare’s father came with soldiers to take her away, and even our own St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s family was not happy on her becoming Catholic, they thought she was crazy.

     It seems Jesus is right, that  following him may cause division, even in families.  All the above examples were families who couldn’t bear to see their  family members go to such radical extremes  in following  Jesus Christ.  But remember, the ones who did have one thing in common, they now have the title ‘Saint’ before there name and eternal happiness.

     Are you willing to follow Christ no matter what, even if it causes division?

 

For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” (Luke 12:34)

           After almost a month of being the pastor here at SEAS & St. Joseph I’ve started to develop a routine.  Part of the routine is trying to make a holy hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament each day.  For the most part the routine has been fairly successful but I find my attention span on prayer can often times be distracted.

On the other hand, my time on email, Facebook, TV, and screen time on my phone seem to get my undivided attention.  I can totally be absorbed into what I’m doing or what I’m watching.   As I ponder this, I have to ask myself, where is my heart and what or who is my treasure.

It is in these moments that I have to remind myself that all my devices are a ‘what’ but time before our Lord is a ‘Who’.  This is a great privilege to spend time with our Lord.  I pray for the grace to spend it in reverence and love as our Lord deserves. 

 

Where is your heart?

What is your treasure?

 


Take care to guard against all greed!

(Luke 12: 13-21)

 

In today’s gospel, Jesus warns against greed.  “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”   The catechism reminds us that greed is a sin against the 10th commandment, ‘Thou Shall not Covet thy Neighbor’s Goods.’  When the law says, “you shall not covet,” these words mean that we should banish our desires for whatever does not belong to us. Our thirst for another’s goods is immense, infinite, never quenched.  Thus it is written: “He who loves money never has money enough.”  (CCC 2536) 

 

On the contrast, is the sin of envy, or the sadness at the sight of another’s goods and the immodest desire to acquire them for oneself, even unjustly.  (CCC 2539)

 

What is the key to combating both greed and envy?  Paul’s letter to the Colossians gives us the insight, “think what is above, not what is on earth.”  Christ is the true treasure. (Col. 3:2)


Teach us to Pray

(Luke 11:1-13)

      

     Did you know that the Catechism of the Catholic Church has a whole section on explaining and praying through the Our Father?

 (CCC 2759-2865)

     Sometimes as parents I bet you’ve wondered if your small children even listen at Mass (maybe your older ones too) but to your surprise they mention somethings said at Mass and you realize they listen often more than we give them credit.  A little Kindergartener asked me this question, “Father, why before saying the Our Father do you say at the Saviors command and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say?”  You see in her mind, she probably remembers times when her older brothers dared her to do something and she knew this might involve a little recklessness.

     Maybe we should approach God with a little recklessness.  No other religion approaches the God of the universe with such audacity and many would consider this blasphemy.  But God reveals to Christians how intimately he loves the human race in that he wanted us to call him, “Abba, Father.”  So when you pray tonight remember how intimately God loves you.

     I challenge all of you, pull out your catechism and read the above section on this beautiful prayer, THE OUR FATHER.   


Mary and Martha

(Luke 10:38-42)

There was a mother with 18 children who as you can imagine was busy at home keeping up with the home and children.  This was in the time that wearing an apron was part of a mothers dress.  As you can imagine, life presented many challenges raising such a large family and when this mother would come to a point that the stress of motherhood would become too much, she would simply raise her apron over her head and her children knew that they had to give mom a few minutes.  In those moments, that mother would draw herself in prayer back to God and once she finished she would resume her duties to her children.

 

In the spiritual life, we call this a monasticism of the heart.  In light of this week’s gospel, we could call it, “being a Mary in a Martha world.”  Most of us who are in the world today and not in a monastery are probably called to be “Martha’s”, where we serve our families, our employers, customers, and neighbors. With each of those comes different stresses and demands.  When it becomes too difficult to serve, we need to develop this monasticism of the heart, or this sitting at the feet of the Christ like Mary did.  It is here we will regain our strength and continue the mission God entrusted to each of us to love him and our neighbor.