It happens only once every seven years but today the Church celebrates the Commemoration of All Souls Day; the opportunity to remember those who have experienced an earthly death and have either been granted God’s Kingdom or await it. I was looking at our parish sacramental record this past week and I was pleasantly surprised by the statistics. To date, we have celebrated 75 baptisms and 55 funerals…very good when your baptisms outnumber your funerals…and I began musing on what that really means. Of course, as we all know, a baptism is a spiritual death and is our reason to hope. Today, we read a section of Paul’s letter that he composed and sent to the community living in Rome. The beautiful reading certainly is our reason to hope; it is the concrete reminder from Paul that we oftentimes forget. “Brothers and sisters: Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.” (Rom 6:3-4) The month of November has traditionally been a time when the Church, getting ready to celebrate the end of the liturgical year and welcome a new one, is a time to remember those who are no longer physically present in this world. We have a memorial book in the sanctuary where parishioners and visitors can write the names of loved one who have passed away as a way to be hope-filled. As I mentioned in my homily the weekend of 18/19 October, we here at Saint Mary’s are expanding that to remember those who no longer practice their Catholic faith. It is sad, but we must face the reality that for whatever reason(s), some in our families and among our friends no longer worship in the assembly of the Church because they have been alienated or no longer feel welcome in the Church. That sad reality pains me greatly. The Church is a place of warm welcome where the seemingly lost and forsaken find refuge and shelter; it is a field hospital, to quote Pope Francis, where the neglected and injured are healed by the warm embrace of a loving community who participates in the mission of Jesus Christ to welcome the stranger. If you are reading these words and have recently returned to the practice of your Catholic faith or are reading these words because a parishioner of Saint Mary’s invited you to “Come Home” I say to you, welcome! May the hope of eternal life be the reason why you have returned so that the Eucharist can strengthen you for the earthly journey that we walk here and now and prepare us for the life that we await in God’s Kingdome because we have been baptized into Jesus’s own death and Resurrection.