Days of Joy

12-29-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Christmas Season is in full swing! While the secular world has left Christmas behind like a dried fir tree on a curb, we as Catholics celebrate it for a whole season with life. Like Easter, Christmas is such an incredible event that it can’t be contained in one celebration. We celebrate the day for eight days in what’s known as the Octave of Christmas. Every day is Christmas Day!

A reminder that Wednesday, January 1 is a Holy Day of Obligation – the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Please note the Mass schedule since it is always different for this day. We have the Vigil, December 31 at 5:30pm. Then on January 1, 2020: 11:00am (English) and 7:00pm (Spanish). All Masses are in the church (138 Fairfield St. SE). Please note that there is no evening Mass or confessions on Jan. 1. Just in time for Christmas, three more of our stained-glass windows were recently installed. How grateful we are for our donors who have made these magnificent windows possible. Here is a little description of each:


O Come, Let Us Adore Him!

12-22-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It’s almost time! Our weeks of Advent preparation are about to burst forth into the joy of the Christmas season. Non-Catholics are often perplexed that we don’t decorate or sing carols until Christmas Eve. As a respectful reminder to those who might wonder, it was the Catholic Church that instituted the celebration of Christmas to begin with, which we have always celebrated only after a period of spiritual preparation (Advent). In fact, “Christmas” in English came from “Christ Mass,” i.e., the Mass of Christ. Also, our word “holiday” came from a contraction of “holy day.” See how deep our Catholic roots run!

As you leave Masses this Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, please accept the gift of Matthew Kelly’s new book, Rediscover the Saints. It’s a gift for everyone – visitor and parishioner. From Dynamic Catholic: This book “is a game-changer. It doesn’t chronicle the lives of popular saints—plenty of great books already do that. Instead, this book brings the saints to life and puts them front and center in your life. Because the saints remind you each day that holiness is possible and that you have great friends always cheering you on!” We are so grateful for our anonymous donor, who made this gift possible.


Christmas Mass Schedule

12-15-2019Pastor's Letter
 Christmas Eve Mass Times:
4:00pmVigil Mass (English)
6:00pmVigil Mass (English)


Christmas Day Mass Times:
12:00amMidnight Mass (English)
10:00amMass (English)
12:00pm Mass (Spanish)

All Masses will be celebrated in St. Mary Help of Christians, 138 Fairfield Street, SE Aiken, SC 29803.

Immaculate Mary, Your Praises We Sing

12-08-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This Sunday, December 8, normally would be the celebration of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. However, since the 8th falls on a Sunday of Advent, which has precedence, the celebration of the solemnity is transferred to tomorrow, December 9. Although the obligation to attend Mass is therefore lifted this year, the Immaculate Conception still remains an incredibly important feast for us all.

The faithful have believed in the Immaculate Conception of Mary since the early Christians. After all, it’s only common sense that in order for Jesus – God the Son – to become human without sin (see 1 John 3:5), the woman, who not only gave birth to Him but from whom He took His humanity, must have been herself free from original sin. God redeemed Mary before her conception to make it possible to bring us Himself, Our Lord and Savior. Mary is who she is because of who Jesus is.


Having Your Best Advent Ever

12-01-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The weeks leading up to Christmas are filled with holiday songs, seasonal sales, decorations, lights, and sometimes Advent wreaths and candles. Why? What is it that we’re celebrating? What is Advent? The following are some thoughts from Dynamic Catholic. Sign up for The Best Advent Ever at

The word “advent” is derived from the Latin word “adventus,” which means “coming.” For Catholics, Advent is the four-week season leading up to Christmas. During Advent we anticipate the coming of Jesus. It should be a time full of reflection, excitement, and hope.

In her genius, the Church invites us during Advent to take a step back and look at who we are, what we are doing, and where Jesus fits into our lives. Jesus came into this world at that first Christmas for you, to bring meaning and deep satisfaction into your life, to fill you with lasting joy, and ultimately to bring you to eternal happiness with Him in heaven. That’s what we celebrate at Christmas. Are you ready? Our Advent traditions can help make us ready.


Crown the Year with Thanks

11-24-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Mass on Thanksgiving Day will be at 9:00am in Old St. Mary’s. What a great way to give thanks by first thanking the Creator of all. A collection is taken up at this Mass to benefit the poor and those in need.

We “crown” our liturgical year with this Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King of the Universe. Next Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent and a new liturgical year. Advent is a great time to make new spiritual beginnings. Find daily inspiration at: – Best Advent Ever: Amazing Possibilities.

Also, Straw for Jesus is back for Advent! As a parish family, let’s make a comfortable bed for the Savior. For each act of love you do during the week, place a piece of straw (provided) in the heart-shaped container found at any entrance of the church. The priest will bless the straw at the Offertory, and it will be placed in the empty manger awaiting the Son of God. The straw prepares the stable, and our acts of love prepare our hearts. See the flyer for more details and suggestions for your “Acts of Love.”


A Reflection of Heaven

11-17-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

So, you’ve likely noticed the scaffolding covering the front of the church and have asked, “What’s wrong?” I’m happy to report that nothing is wrong. Something is right! From the beginning, a decorative mosaic was planned in the triangular space on the facade of the church called the pediment. Our own parishioner-artist, Alice Judd, has created this beautiful mosaic through a generous donation. The mosaic features one of the most ancient Christian symbols of the Resurrection – the peacock. Between two peacocks is a stylized chalice with a cross. Grape vines come forth from the chalice symbolizing both the Most Holy Eucharist and the Church, spreading through the world. I will provide a fuller explanation when the mosaic is ready to be revealed.


A Saint for Our Times

11-10-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

November is National Black Catholic History Month. Next Sunday we will have a special commemoration.

One African-American who is on the path to sainthood is the Venerable Fr. Augustus Tolton. Father Tolton was born into the sad life of slavery in Missouri. His baptismal record merely records him as “a child, property of Stephen Elliot; … and the child’s birthdate of April 1, 1854.” The family escaped to the North, but struggled to find acceptance there as well. Through the intervention of a kind priest and after a painful experience of rejection at an all-white Catholic school in Illinois, Augustus was admitted to another Catholic school, where he received an excellent education. When it came time for Augustus to enter seminary, sadly he faced rejection again. It would be in Rome at the Pope’s own seminary at St. John Lateran that Father Augustus would be ordained. On June 11, 2019, Pope Francis issued the declaration that Father Augustus Tolton lived a life of heroic virtue thus advancing him to the title, The Venerable Father Augustus Tolton.


Calling Us to More

11-03-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

God is always calling us to more. One of the major ways we encounter Him and learn how to be less self-centered is by serving. After all, our whole point as disciples is to imitate Jesus Himself, who said, “I have come not to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). Find out how you can serve Christ in others this Saturday at the Matthew 25: Call To Christian Service Workshop, November 9, from 8am to 2pm. It costs nothing to register and includes a light breakfast, a lunch, and free childcare. We begin appropriately enough with Holy Mass at 8:00am in the new church (please note location). The workshop follows across the street in St. Angela Hall. Saint Mary’s parish is pleased to host this event for the entire Aiken Deanery, co-sponsored by Catholic Charities.

This Thursday, November 7 at 7:00pm in the church is our annual Mass of Remembrance, sponsored by the St. Mary’s Bereavement Ministry. Each year we have a special Mass for all those who have died in the last year. All are invited to attend. A reception will follow next door in Mother Teresa Hall.


Holy Days, Silence, and Hope

10-27-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Fall Back! Don’t forget that next Sunday is the end of daylight savings time. That 8:30am Mass will feel like 7:30am, so be sure to stop by Parish Perks after that Mass to get you some coffee and face time with fellow parishioners.

We have a beautiful Holy Day of Obligation this week – the Solemnity of All Saints Day, November 1. The feast was known as All Hallows Day in older English, “hallow” meaning “holy” / “saint”. The previous day – the Eve – was known as Hallows’ Even, (for evening), later contracted to Hallowe’en, and later ended up as Halloween. The rather pagan associations with Halloween are just that – pagan. Our celebration of All Saints Day has its origins around the legalization of Christianity in 313 when a common liturgical celebration of the Saints, especially the Martyrs, appears in various parts of the Church. November 1 seems to have been settled on sometime in the 8th century and eventually became the universal norm.


A Heart Full of Gratitude

10-20-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In the spirit of last Sunday’s Gospel, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for all who wished me a happy birthday either verbally, through email, a card, through cakes, cookies, or other creative ways. I truly feel your love and support. Certainly, the past few months have been difficult; however, you, the parishioners of St. Mary’s, never cease to amaze me with your unfailing love, support, and generosity. So, while it is inadequate to describe the depth of my gratitude to you, I say again, thank you!

This weekend we will have a special Vocations Weekend. We welcome Fr. Matthew Gray, the vocations director for our diocese, who will celebrate most of our Masses. Father Gray brings with him an extraordinary zeal for inviting people to consider a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life. In particular (and we feel this especially at St. Mary’s) we need more men to answer to call to be a holy priest. The Church continues to look for those who are willing to live the life of Jesus Himself in a radical way – as Jesus lived it. To take a bride, yes, but a bride that is the Church. I became a priest because (1) God called me, and (2) someone from my parish encouraged me to consider it. Vocations come from you, the holy People of God. Encourage a young man today!


The Original Multitasking

10-13-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

One of the most recognizable and enduring of Catholic devotions is the holy rosary. In recent years it has experienced a resurgence in popularity from Catholics, who would like to take their faith to the next level.

The use of beads to help guide one’s prayers is not confined to Christianity. In fact, the word “bead” is derived from the Old English word for “prayer.” (We get the word “bid” – “to ask” – from the same root.) The rosary’s original number of 15 mysteries came together because the laity wanted to in some way share the prayer-life of local monasteries, who prayed the 150 Psalms. (With ten Hail Mary’s per decade/mystery, you end up with 150 – the number of the Psalms.)

Although earlier forms existed, it was undoubtedly St. Dominic in 1214 who spread its popularity. Unfortunately, some Catholics have not grown up with the rosary as a devotion in their homes. It’s not too late to change that, whether you teach your children or yourself!


Life is Good

10-06-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I have had to write this column a little early since I’ll be attending the diaconate ordination in Rome of one of the sons of our parish, Will Frei. What a joy! For the last eight years we have watched Will go through college seminary, an intense philosophy program, and finally major seminary at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. We have had a front row seat in seeing Will grow in his vocation, in love, and in knowledge of Christ and His Church as he prepares for the holy priesthood. There were many smaller steps along the way, but as of Thursday, October 3, Will has received the Sacrament of Holy Orders, being ordained a deacon. (In the Catholic Church, the diaconate is the first of three ranks in ordained ministry, bishop and priest being the other two. Deacons preparing for the priesthood are transitional deacons.)