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December 2016 ~ St. Sebastian's by-the-Sea Newsletter

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Here we go again! I am sitting in the office thinking about the upcoming holiday season. I have so much to do, so little time to do it in. Thanksgiving is only days away as I write this article. Advent will follow on the Sunday following and then Christmas and Epiphany will be upon us before we know it. Many will begin to think about “black Friday” while others will focus on the cards and gifts yet to buy.

I received a flyer in the mail yesterday from the Army Air Force Exchange Service. Actually it was four flyers. The first was for Friday followed by a flyer for the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Sunday after Thanksgiving, accompanied by a “Cyber Monday flyer.” Each flyer was filled with different “deals” for the holidays. I wondered what the season is coming to. I know retail is in need of making a great showing at this time of year but isn’t it a bit much when we sit down on Thanksgiving Day to ask God’s blessings and give thanks for the wonderful lives we have and then we rush right into the frenzy of getting the best deal in town?

All of this is to say that we already have the best deal in town. It is the time of year that we recall when God came into the world to be with all of humanity. He was born into this humble manger scene so that you and I could receive the greatest gift of all, the gift of abundant life through a savior who comes into each of our homes.

We are reminded in scripture that the light will come into the world. We see so much of that when we decorate our Christmas trees and homes. We are reminded in the lights of the holiday that God wants to
be born in this season. And yet for many, the lights are turned out in hopes that Santa will be able to find his way into our homes and place all that loot under our tree.

Once again, I invite you to journey to the manger with us at Saint Sebastian’s by-the-Sea. We take the slow journey of preparation during the four Sundays of Advent and then celebrate the joy of the birth of the child on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Services will be at 5 pm and 10:30 pm on Christmas Eve with a celebration of Communion on Christmas Day at 10 am. I hope to see you all in this special season and pray you will receive the gift that keeps on giving. May God bless us all as we are reminded of His love.

Fr. Norman†
Our next luncheon is on Tuesday, December 13th, at 11:30 am. All are invited to join us at Matt’s Casbah at the Kiwi Tennis Club, located 30 Tradewinds Drive in Indian Harbour Beach. The sign-up sheet is in Smodell Hall. We will eat outside on the covered open air walkway, which is part of the restaurant.
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Something exciting and different is happening this year at the Brevard Neighborhood Development Coalition. We are attempting a new approach to assist families in providing Christmas gifts for the children at our Dorcas Outreach Center for kids (DOCK). In the past, wonderful, generous donors have provided gifts for each child. While this has brought lots of joy for the children, it can be hard for their parents, as it puts them in a position of having to accept handouts and of watching their kids receive gifts from strangers that they weren't able to provide for themselves.  
So, knowing that the DOCK parents would prefer to provide gifts for their children, we have partnered with two other non-profits, Club Esteem and Love INC, to sponsor "Gifts from the Heart Christmas Shop". We are collecting new toys and selling them at greatly reduced prices (75% off). This will give 2 gifts - a gift for a child, AND the gift of pride & dignity for their parents!  
We are quite excited about this new approach. It is something that we have seen done very successfully by other Christian ministries in multiple cities across America.  
A section of Love INC's thrift store (called Village Thrift) will be transformed into our Christmas toy store. The Gifts from the Heart Christmas store will be open to parent shoppers from December 12th - 17th.

Bring the Joy and Dignity of Giving to a Family in Need this Christmas!

Won’t you please consider donating a toy to Gifts From the Heart Christmas Shop? Understanding that families prefer to provide for themselves rather than accept a handout. Gifts for 300 children ages 5-17 are needed. For more information on toy collection and for direct links to gifts registries, visit Direct questions to 321-345-0094.
We are receiving gifts until December 11th, 2016. You can purchase store items and bring them to Village Thrift, marked for Gifts from the Heart OR use our gift registries at Target,, and/or Walmart. Search instructions are different for each website, so please use the convenient links at our website! It will save you a lot of grief.
Thank you for considering this and for helping make this Christmas special and memorable for the families we serve! If you’d like to know more about the partner organizations involved, please check out our respective websites at:
Club Esteem –
Love INC (In the Name of Christ) –
P.S.  If there are any proceeds from the store, we will escrow them for next year, and use them to hire a parent to work in the store and to expand the program to more low income families!

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Thank you to all who worked so hard and stuck with us to make the Pumpkin Patch happen. We had a great group of helpers who came Monday night to unload the truck, including Scouts, Soccer players, their parents, AA members and our own parishioners. We had a wonderful group of storytellers, goody bag stuffers, and faithful sellers. Special thanks to those who put out pallets, David Mays for erecting the tent, Scott Hayes, Bob Sielski, Mike Coles, Andre {the Boyd's grandson} and all anyone else who took rotting pumpkins to the dumpster. Finally, kudos to Karen and Peter Jepeal for supplying and setting up the hay bales. It takes all of us to run the Patch so thanks for your time, hard work and the Gumbs for their indispensable wagon. Our efforts yielded $3,783.67 for the Navajo Indians and $1,261.22 for St. Sebastians.

Pumpkin Patch Patty over and out. (aka Judy Divine)
All female members of St. Sebastian’s are members of ECW and you are invited to participate in any or all of the activities sponsored by our ECW group. Please mark your calendar for the following events:

  • January 6, Epiphany Party: Replacing the annual Christmas party, this year all the ladies of St. Sebastian's are invited to attend our Epiphany Party in January. It will be hosted by Lauri Stone at her home in Melbourne Beach on Friday, January 6, 2017, from 6 to 9 pm. In honor of the "Three Kings" whose day this is, we will enjoy a 'Chinese Auction' and celebrate with an Epiphany Cake. More details to follow in Sunday bulletins, but for now, please SAVE THE DATE.

  • February 6, ECW Meeting: We will be planning for our Annual Game and Card Party. 6 pm in Smodell Hall.

  • March 25, Annual Card and Game Party: Save the Date, tell your friends and get your table together for ECW’s annual daytime party. Play your favorite game; enjoy a served lunch and a delicious dessert buffet.

Trying to find gifts for certain people — or letting others know what you want — can be quite challenging. After all, most of us don’t need anything. Realizing that the best gifts aren’t material items offers a new perspective on giving and receiving. Consider these insights from author Charles Swindle: “Some gifts you can give this Christmas are beyond monetary value: Mend a quarrel, dismiss suspicion, tell someone ‘I love you.’ Give something away — anonymously. Forgive someone who has treated you wrong. Turn away wrath with a soft answer. Visit someone in a nursing home. Apologize if you were wrong. Be especially kind to someone with whom you work. Give as God gave to you in Christ, without obligation, or announcement, or reservation, or hypocrisy.”
Calling all Ushers …
If you plan to be in town for the holidays and can assist at the 5 PM service on Christmas Eve, or either service New Year’s Day, please contact the office as soon as possible. Thank you!
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When A Charlie Brown Christmas debuted in 1965, religious references were unheard of on television. Yet the show’s climax features the Christmas story verbatim. As Linus begins reciting Luke 2, he’s clutching his ever-present blue blanket. Yet, as pastor Jason Soroski points out, Linus drops it right as he utters the words “fear not” (Luke 2:10). Soroski believes the timing is intentional and that “Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schulz sends a simple, brilliant message. “The birth of Jesus separates us from our fears,” Soroski writes. It “frees us from the habits we are unable (or unwilling) to break ourselves. The birth of Jesus allows us to simply drop the false security we have been grasping so tightly, and learn to trust and cling to him instead.”
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for your support with the 7th Kairos weekend held at Central Florida Reception Center State Prison, on 11/10-13. Your gifts of prayers, cookies and money were very critical to helping to bring 42 inmates into the love of Christ. Please know that I felt your presence there during the weekend, as I thought of those who chose to sign up to pray.

Here is a short overview of the weekend and some thoughts about how they affected the “Men in Blue”. Our team consisted of 7 ordained clergy, 3 musicians and 3 men to support the team from the outside. The participants were seated, 6 each at 7 tables, with 3 Kairos team members. Talks and meditations are presented by Kairos team members, which help the inmates become introspective about their lives, and how they want to change. The format focuses on self, God and others.

At the ending ceremony, they share what condition they came into the weekend, what they got from the sessions, and what they will be taking back to their dorms. The following is a sample of some of some of what was said by the participants:

  • I’m learning how to turn from aggression to love. More happy with myself now, I’ve seen all the love HE has for me.

  • I’ve crawled into a shell recently – Thank God I’ve found my way out. I’m moving away from anger, it helps just remembering the love of family and others.

  • For many of us here I could see it was a new beginning, a step to the future.

  • I came for the food - but I found more than that - God is GOOD!!!

  • My mind is filled! Love can make your worst enemy a friend. It silences the hate!

It is gratifying to see how the Kairos “graduates” continue to keep the faith. We go back to support the men ever first and third Tuesday. After the second Kairos weekend there were perhaps 30, at the Tuesday meetings. This past Tuesday there were 158 “men in blue”. The attendance at other Christian programs at the prison chapel has increased. The Kairos graduates are forming prayer and share groups in their dorms. Having Christ in our lives, makes us
different, it is not surprising that the overall recidivism for those who have experienced a Kairos and gone to one reunion is reduced to less than half. (15% from 40%)

Thank you again for your support and encouragement.

In Christ, Walt Koenig
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1st - Lisa Johnson
3rd - Doug Burger
8th - Jim Braddock
8th - Dorothy Dagley
8th - Jean Rose
11th - David Azar
11th - Father Norm
12th - Dick Seither
17th - Kay Ives
18th - Valerie Coles
24th - Mike Edwards
28th - Maria Thompson
28th - Harry Levey
30th - Alison Mindel


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The church office is open Tuesday through Friday from 8 AM – 1 PM.
Phone number - (321) 723-3015, Fax - (321) 723-0009
Email -
Office -
Web site:
In case of emergency, you may call:
Priest: Fr. Norman Desrosiers – 321-243-4815 (cell)
Deacon George – 723-0069 (home); 890-6712 (cell)