This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - September 20, 2019

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – September 20, 2019

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace.

Stay tuned for news about our efforts to update parish records. We need your help!

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • WOMEN’S RETREAT – Thanks to Maryann Comiskey and all who organized Thursday night’s retreat for the women of our parish. The crowd was excellent and the material was inspiring. Time to wonder about what to plan for next year?

  • BLESSINGS OF THE BRAINS – ATTENTION ALL STUDENTS. Your fellow parishioners and I look forward to learning about your school adventures (what school and what year – also what is your regular Mass and fold) and your big aspiration for the year. Please help us out. Click here for the form to complete. Fill it out. Attach a picture of you and a symbol of your aspiration – and put it in the Communications Box in the Gathering Space by October 5. The Brains Blessing is October 12 at all Masses. Thanks for helping the parish to learn more about you. God bless you, your brain, and your aspirations.

  • PRAYING FOR OUR DECEASED LOVED ONES – Per last week’s “This Week,” our parish provides eight ways to have the community pray for your deceased loved ones. Two of those ways are especially important at this time of year. Please click here for the form to request prayers and a place in the Scrolls of Remembrance for your very nearest and very dearest deceased loved ones. For all others for whom you would like to pray, please put their names on one of the Green Prayer Cards (on the Moses Table) and put the cards in the Communications Box. Thanks for enabling the parish to join you in prayer for your deceased loved ones.

Sunday’s Homily

September 15, 2019 – Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Inspired Curiosity, Part Three: Curiosity’s Best Use – Wondering about Jesus
To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.
To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.


THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • OUR BLESSED LEADERS OF SONG – The summer travel season is now behind us and our leaders of song never missed a beat. Great thanks to Chris A., Chris L., Randa, Andrea, Tim, Matt and Laurie for the fine music at every weekend Mass all summer. You help us to pray and we are grateful. The same goes for those who participate in all aspects of the Music Ministries.

  • ELIJAH’S KITCHEN – Hats off (make that beach hats and visors) to Terry Lee and our many parishioners who go every month to Elijah’s Kitchen to provide meals to people who need them. Special thanks to Nina and Vinnie for making a few hundred meatballs for the July meal and extra thanks to the many members of the Scillitani family who played a central role in providing the August meal to 87 people.

  • ADVENT GIVING TREE – Even with the croquet mallets still waiting to be put away for the season, dozens of our parishioners – under the legendary leadership of the famed geometrician Carol Jorgensen – are already gearing up for Christmas. The first meeting of the new season occurred this week and was a great launch for the 36 volunteers who take care of every aspect of this very complicated process that includes identifying agencies to serve, obtaining the gift requests, creating the hundreds of tags/requests, sorting the gifts that our parishioners so generously supply, and then delivering the gifts. It takes a small and a very inspired army and we are blessed to have just the right folks here. Thanks for getting this going when there are still almost 100 shopping days left.

  • RESPECT LIFE MOVIE – The widely discussed movie, Unplanned, will be shown here at Saint Joe’s on Wednesday, October 16 at 7 pm and again on Saturday, October 19 at 2:30 pm. It is an amazing story of tragedy, healing, forgiveness and great grace. Admission is free. It is a very powerful movie.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • HELLO ALL MOTORCYCLISTS – The adventure begins in our parking lot at 10:30 tomorrow morning. The carefully mapped ride to and from the Long Valley Pub should conclude at around 2 pm. No need to sign up in advance. Just be here tomorrow morning. The weather should be outstanding.

  • BECCA’S FRIENDS

    • Last Friday’s painting party provided an opportunity for 25 of our special parishioners and friends to paint the autumnal scenes on the canvases that James Lew and his family prepared so graciously and carefully. James also led the painting process to some amazing results. Thanks to James and his helpers and all in the ministry who made it such great fun.

    • Our annual and much-loved campfire and sing along (with hot dogs and s’mores) takes place next Saturday, September 28. The mention of the campfire stirs gratitude to Hillsborough Irrigation for building the pit and John Demetrio for building the benches for his Eagle Scout Project.

  • CAREGIVER MORNING OF RECOLLECTION – If you are a caregiver, this morning of recollection is for you. If you provide a loved one with extra TLC, or if you work as a caregiver outside the home, you will probably enjoy the chance to spend time with people who “get it.” The morning consists of time to pray and reflect, time to share your insights, and time just to kick back. The morning of recollection takes place on Saturday, September 28. Sign up in the Gathering Space after weekend Masses.

  • TRIVIA NIGHT – Assemble your team or come on your own. And if you are going to assemble a team, cook up a theme and get the decorations and costumes going – or not. I mention it only because I was not aware that the table decorations and outfits were “a thing” and foolishly came dressed in clerics. It is great fun and you will be surprised by how much trivia you have stuffed in your head. The fun unfolds after the 4:45 Mass on Saturday, October 12. Ironically, brains will be blessed at the 4:45 so, even if you are a Sunday regular, you might want to go to the 4:45 to get your brain blessed before the competition starts. The proceeds benefit the Youth and Young Adult Summer Service Trips.

  • SAGES – Great blessings and thanks to AnnaMaria and all who organized and participated in Wednesday’s hugely enjoyable trip to Lancaster PA. Looking ahead, this Monday (9/23) is a Funday Monday. Lunch starts at 11:30. The Poker Game and the movie start at 12:30 (in different rooms of course). This week’s movie is “Hidden Figures,” the brilliantly told story of the three African-American women who, despite some very challenging 1960s circumstances, enabled our country to put John Glenn into orbit.

September 15, 2019 – Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Inspired Curiosity, Part Three: Curiosity’s Best Use – Wondering about Jesus



Curiosity: a strong desire to know, understand or learn something.
Inspired curiosity: curiosity that glorifies God and leads people further into Christ’s peace.

God designed us with the desires to know, to learn and to understand AND to do all that in ways that glorify God and lead people to peace. The readings from Labor Day weekend reminded us that curiosity can be a powerful grace.

Those readings also invited us to recall that not all curiosity is inspired. Some desires to understand lead us and others away from God. Fortunately, uninspired curiosities beset us only infrequently.

And just as some curiosities are uninspired, other curiosities are exceptionally inspired. Some desires to know and understand rise above the rest because they lead us and others to particularly wonderful places. No curiosity is more inspired than our curiosity about God. Curiosity about God transforms us in life-giving ways. A lack of curiosity about God easily gets us into trouble. Sunday’s readings underscore that truth.

Sunday’s first reading (Exodus 32) depicts a moment when the poor behavior of the children of Israel made God blow his stack and threaten to obliterate them. God goes so far as to call them “stiff-necked,” an insult that likens them to an ox that refuses to respond to its master’s reins. The beast cares nothing about the driver’s intentions, about the world around it, or about why the driver wants it to head in a different direction. “Stiff-necked” is everything that “curious” is not. To be stiff-necked about God is to lack all curiosity about God’s nature or desires. To be curious about God is to maintain an open heart toward God.

Sunday’s second reading (First Timothy 1) supplies Paul’s condemnation of his own former arrogance. Paul cringes when he recalls the days when he thought he knew all there was to know about God, about God’s hopes, and about the Father’s relationship with Jesus. In his arrogance, Paul lacked all curiosity about Jesus. He had concluded Jesus was a fraud to be ignored. Then came the Damascus Road experience and the onset of an inspired curiosity about Christ that completely redirected Paul’s life. Misinformed self-confidence and arrogance gave way to inspired curiosity and made all of us better off. A lack of curiosity impoverished Paul. A life of curiosity enriched him.

Finally, the gospel (Luke 15) begins with mention of the pharisees and scribes who possessed no curiosity about Jesus. They are perfect examples of stiff-necked, arrogant people who have no questions for Jesus, only condemnations. When Jesus connects with tax collectors and sinners, they don’t ask Jesus why he does what he does or what his larger plan is, or what the Father might think. They ask nothing. They spew insults. They possess no curiosity about Jesus. That mistaken self-assurance leads them away from Jesus and his peace.

What about you? You surely possess lots of questions for and about Jesus. Unlike the stiff-necked children of Israel, the arrogant Paul before his conversion, or the oblivious scribes and pharisees, you surely have questions for and about Jesus. Your questions reveal your curiosity and your heart’s openness to Jesus.

So – what are your biggest questions for and about Jesus? In sorting through them, it can be helpful to group them into three parts – questions concerning his public ministry, questions concerning his current ways of relating with us, and questions about how it will be in heaven. The gospels, when carefully considered, can generate volumes of questions – why he did X or didn’t do Y, how he felt when this happened or why he didn’t prevent that from occurring. The Gloria can ignite many questions about our current relationship – what it means for him to be seated at the right hand of the Father, what it means to intercede for us, and how the flow of grace really works. Questions about heaven come from every direction. What’s on your mind?

The more we know him, the more we love him. The more we love him, the more we serve him. Inspired curiosity about Jesus can do for us what God wants done – lead us further into relationship with him. There is no higher use for our curiosity than to be curious about Jesus. What questions are on your list?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - September 13, 2019

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – September 13, 2019

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace.

Great blessings for all who participated in last week’s picnic. We don’t count heads, but we do count burgers – and the burger count suggests this year was our biggest crowd ever! Thanks to the Knights for cooking, the setup and the cleanup. Thanks to all who brought desserts. Thanks to Mike DeLucia and Chris Colaneri, with a special appearance by Jason Tyukody, for terrific music. Thanks to Gail Bellas and co. for welcoming new parishioners. Thanks to our Youth Group for the ice cream and face-painting. Thanks to the “Kahuna Cowboys,” the daredevil junior high folks who, at day’s end, demonstrated remarkably creative ways to get from the top of the water slide to the bottom. Most of all, thanks to all who came to enjoy the afternoon with your church-mates.
And on a personal level, my profound thanks to Zylas Loniewski, my partner in the St. Joe’s Invitational Croquet Tournament. Zylas, a third-grader from Hillsborough, is, like me, the fourth brother in his family. Maybe that fourth-brother thing helped us hold off the great onslaughts to win, fair-and-square, honorably and magnanimously, with grace, style and humility, this year’s tournament.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • WOMEN’S RETREAT – Ticket sales for the Women's Retreat have really taken off! But there are still spots open for this much-awaited event on Thursday the 19th. Come and be inspired by Colleen Kelly Rayner. The event will start with light food and drinks and end with dessert, coffee and great door prizes. Register and buy your ticket online or after Mass this weekend. Be sure to buy your tickets by Sunday night. (Because of the need to plan food etc., tickets will not be available at the event.)

  • BLESSINGS OF THE BRAINS – ATTENTION ALL STUDENTS. Your big aspiration this year is overall success in school. I get that. And to help you reach that goal I will bless your brain on October 13. But what about your other great aspiration? What inspired thing do you hope, with God’s help and the help of your loved ones, to accomplish this year? Is it an academic goal? Athletic? Artistic? Other? Whatever it is, your parish and I want to support you in pursuing that inspired aspiration. So (a) take a picture of you holding a symbol of that aspiration (2) attach that photo to the “Blessing Form” available here or in hard copy in the Gathering Space (3) put that form in the Communications Box and (4) be ready to be blessed at all the Masses on October 12/13. NB: (1) put your usual Mass time and your Fold on the form (2) encourage college kids and grad students to complete the form even if they can’t be here and (3) do NOT include your last name on the form. Thanks. Your parish blesses your hopes.

  • PRAYING FOR OUR DECEASED LOVED ONES – As November approaches, we recall that our love and devotion to our loved ones does not end when they die. We continue to love them. We express that love by praying for them as they transition into the fullness of Christ’s peace. In addition to your private prayers for them, we as a community pray for your deceased loved ones in several ways.

    • Sunday Prayers of the Faithful – We include the loved one in the Prayers of the Faithful the first Sunday after the person has died. If your loved one’s funeral is not here at St. Joe’s please call the front office or email me to let me know of your loved one’s death.

    • Sunday Mass Intentions – These intentions are arranged through our Front Office. The intention is announced at the start of Mass and the person is prayed for, by name, during the Prayers of the Faithful and in the Eucharistic Prayer.

    • Daily Mass Intentions – These intentions are also arranged through our Front Office. The person is prayed for, by name, at the Prayers of the Faithful, in the Eucharistic Prayer, and, in a special way, just before Mass ends.

    • The Memorial Scrolls – Starting this year, Memorial Scrolls will replace the Trees of Remembrance that have been such a source of consolation in recent years. The difficulty is that the list of names and the space for the trees was becoming hard to manage. Please fill out the form electronically by clicking here. If you are not a computer person, fill out one of the forms on the Moses Table and put it in the Communications Box. Please use the Scrolls to memorialize your nearest and dearest. BE SURE TO SUBMIT THE NAMES BY 11 PM ON OCTOBER 15.

    • The Memorial Basket— Not all our deceased beloved fall under the heading “nearest and dearest.” Still, we want to pray for good pals, classmates, old neighbors, team-mates, you name it. Starting this weekend, you will find green memorial cards on the Moses Table. Put as many names as you would like on the cards and put the cards in the Communications Box. All the cards will be bundled, placed on the altar, and mentioned at all November Masses. Let the filling out of that card be a prayerful experience. BE SURE TO SUBMIT THE NAMES BY 11 PM ON OCTOBER 15

    • All Souls’ Day Mass – This year All Souls’ Day falls on a Saturday. That means we have only one Mass, the 8:35, to pray expressly for our loved ones. The Mass will be in the big part of the church rather than in the Daily Mass Zone. At that All Souls’ Mass, I will read the names of all our recently deceased who have died since 10/31/18. Even if we celebrated your loved one’s funeral here, please be sure to print legibly the name of that loved one in the All Souls’ book on the table in the middle of the Gathering Space. We will also use the All Souls’ Day Mass to pray for all the people whose names are on the Memorial Scrolls and in the Memorial Basket, though I will not read all those names.

    • Trees of Remembrance – Though we are replacing the Trees with the Scrolls, we will still have a few trees located in the baptism font. Those trees will carry the names of (a) those who have died since last year and (b) the names of parishioners’ deceased children and grandchildren. As the other signups will provide all the names we need for these trees, you need not do anything here.

    • Necrology – If the enrollment for the scrolls goes well, we will be able to assemble a parish necrology – a list that provides dates of death for our nearest and dearest deceased loved ones. The necrology would enable us to pray, in the Prayers of the Faithful at daily Mass, for our most special people on the anniversaries of their deaths.

Sunday’s Homily

September 8, 2019 – Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Inspired Curiosity, Part Two: Cognitive Dissonance and The Benefit of the Doubt
To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.
To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.


THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

We have loads of great news about parishioners and their service work but, given the amount of news in the “Prayer Section” above, it might be better to postpone the service news until next week.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • TRIVIA NIGHT — Saturday October 12. Great fun. Great cause (Youth trips) BE THERE. Get your tickets now!

  • SAINT JOE’S AT PATRIOT STADIUM – Saturday, September 21. More Fun. Tickets on Sale in the Gathering Space after masses.

  • SAGES – Check the Sages Board.

  • ONLY A GIRL – The play was excellent. God bless Janet Rodgers and Phyllis Marganoff and you!

God bless all of you extra in this glorious season
Fr Hank

September 8, 2019 – Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Inspired Curiosity, Part Two: Cognitive Dissonance and The Benefit of the Doubt


Sometimes the evidence, as the saying goes, “does not add up.” We expect result A and get result Z. Moses figured the burning bush would be consumed but it was not. We think a loved one will take the high road and they opt for the low road. Someone tries to reform but relapses. We are told the homework is all finished but the effort seems to have taken only eight minutes. We might say “this doesn’t add up” or “this makes no sense” or “I don’t get it.” Educational psychologists refer to those moments as instances of “cognitive dissonance,” instances of “noisy thoughts” when reality includes apparently incompatible truths.

Those moments elicit one of two reactions: explore or ignore. Ignoring them can sometimes be the right answer. Exploring them can do great things for salvation history, especially if we approach the confusion with inspired curiosity – that is, a curiosity that gives the other the benefit of the doubt, that assumes there is a plausible explanation, that proceeds on the belief that the other is a good person. Cognitive dissonance that leads to inspired curiosity frequently benefits us individually and as a community.

Sunday’s first reading (Sirach 3) hints that we cannot know what God wants: “Who can know God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the LORD intends? . . . when things are in heaven, who can search them out? Or whoever knew your counsel . . .” But that suggestion seems to contradict what we know about our revealing God who invites us to know what he wants, want it, and do it. Can both things be true? Can we (i) be unable to know what God wants and (ii) know what God wants? Yes. The resolution to the puzzle lies in the passage itself. In mentioning that God “had given wisdom and sent your holy spirit from on high,” the author of Sirach is telling us that, without the Holy Spirit, we cannot know what God wants. With the Holy Spirit, we can. Notice the movement from cognitive dissonance to inspired curiosity to resolution.

The passage from Philemon, the bible’s shortest book, also fails to make sense if we read it carefully. Paul’s advice to Philemon about the runaway slave Onesimus fails to condemn the depraved practice of slavery. That creates some dissonance. How can one of the church’s greatest saints be a saint and not condemn slavery when he has the chance? Part of the explanation lies in the fact that many believers in Paul’s era, and probably Paul himself, believed that slavery would end very soon even without their help. What would end slavery? Christ’s return. They thought it could happen any minute or any day. When it came, slavery, along with life on earth as we knew it, would end. There are several New Testament examples of people practicing charity while not addressing the underlying injustice that causes the need for charity.

The gospel (Luke 14), depicts Jesus telling us to hate our closest family members. Talk about “not adding up.” This makes no sense. Jesus encourages hate? This contradicts everything we know about Jesus. The contradiction might encourage us to ignore or reject this passage. Inspired curiosity offers a better option. If inspired curiosity guides our exploration of the apparent incongruity, we are more likely to discover (i) “hate” is a pretty rough translation of a Semitic idiom and (b) Matthew 10:27 “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew’s version makes it clear that Jesus is simply asking us to ask first about his hopes and then consider other people. Dissonance. Inspired curiosity. Resolution.

What about you? In the areas of (i) scripture, (ii) Church teaching and (iii) your personal relationships, what are the areas of cognitive dissonance? What experiences leave you frustrated and unable to take in the inconsistency? Is there a passage of scripture that you find abhorrent? A piece of church teaching that you find objectionable? A loved one’s choices that bewilder you? Are you approaching it with inspired curiosity? Are you giving the bible or the church or that other person the benefit of the doubt? Are you assuming that there is some way to understand the apparent contradiction?

Not all apparent contradictions can be reconciled. Sometimes we should agree to disagree or wait until the situation changes. But, quite frequently, God invites us to explore the paradox, and to do so with inspired curiosity so we can help renew the face of the earth according to his hopes. What might be your next step in practicing inspired curiosity?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - September 6, 2019

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – September 6, 2019

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace!

I look forward to seeing you at the Parish Picnic on Sunday afternoon. The weather promises to be just about ideal for the picnic. (Do the weather angels think they owe us because of last year?) The tents are already in place and the grills are all scrubbed up. The Parish Hall is about 97% finished – but will not be perfect until next week. In addition to the usual delights, we will be supplementing the Mike DeLucia music with . . . let’s just say, “a special guest star with a West Indies flair.”

Within 24 hours of the Parish Picnic, our parish will be hosting the one-woman play “Irena Gut: Only a Girl.” Performed by Janet Rodgers, it is the story of a truly inspired Catholic woman from Poland who, at great risk to her own life, managed to keep 12 Jewish neighbors from the Nazis. The play will be performed on Monday at 12:30 pm and then again on Tuesday at 7:00 pm. Admission is free.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • BIRTHDAY BLESSINGS – Once again, we have had to consult the Roman Rota and the Society for the Defense of Birthday Celebrations – but the verdict came out in our favor! Birthday blessings are to be offered on the weekend of the first Saturday of the month. When the first of a month occurs on a Sunday (as with this month), the birthday blessings are to be offered the following weekend, when the entire weekend occurs in that month. To play it differently would be to bless the 4:45 September babies during August. That would really tarnish our reputation. September blessings are THIS weekend! (And we all know that September is a superb month in which to be born.)

  • WOMEN’S RETREAT – Step right up ladies of the parish. The retreat is Thursday, September 19 and tickets will be on sale this weekend (9/7-8) and next (9/14-15). It promises to be an outstanding night of inspiration and time together. Check out the poster in the Gathering Space for more information.

  • WALKING WITH PURPOSE (WWP) – Sorry about the confusion that arose from last weekend’s erroneous, specious and otherwise misguided announcement about WWP. The mightily successful bible study for women did not start this week. It starts on September 23 and 24. Signups will be thisweekend and next (9/7-8 and 9/14-15) at the bright pink tablecloth in the Gathering Space.

  • ATTENTION ALL STUDENTS OF EVERY AGE – BLESSINGS OF BRAINS AND ASPIRATIONS – Truly – this is not about age – at all. If you are in school, you need to do four things. First, decide on your biggest aspiration for the year, and pick a symbol of it. Hoping to have a killer year in math? Maybe dig up your mother’s abacus or your father’s slide rule. Want this to be your year in the 100M butterfly? Grab your goggles. Second, take a picture of you holding the object. Third, attach the photo to the form you can access HERE– or in the gathering space and fill in the rest of the form. Be sure NOT to include your last name. Repeat, do NOT include your last name. Then insert that form with your picture attached, in the Communications Box. We will be displaying all the artifact photos and forms in the Gathering Space. Finally, bring that artifact to Mass on the weekend of October 12/13. There will be blessings of your brains and aspirations at every Mass that weekend EXCEPT the 7:15. Thanks in advance for cooperating with this emerging and wonderful tradition!

  • PRAYERS FOR YOUR DECEASED LOVED ONES – We will be compiling all new lists of our deceased loved ones to post on the church walls for the month of November. Even if you submitted names in the past, you need to do so again, as we are switching over to an entirely new system. Keep in mind that there are two ways to honor your deceased loved ones. For your absolute nearest and dearest, have their names put on the list. This will be your deceased parents, spouses, children, in-laws and BFFs. To access the form, click HERE. You can also fill out a form from the Moses Table and insert it in the Communications Box. For all others, please fill out one of the green cards and put it in the Communications Box. The cards will be gathered and put near the altar for the month of November.

    Thanks for your willingness to help us re-boot the program. The former system was terrific, but we have outgrown it — thanks to your inspired devotion to your deceased loved ones. Good for you.

  • FALL ADULT ED – The 2019-20 scripture studies for adults will occur in three rounds of four weeks each, always on Monday nights. The hope is that everyone who attends the first round will also participate in the second and third rounds. The first round runs from October 21 through November 18. The second goes from January 27 to February 17. The last starts on April 27 and ends on May 18. Yes, the Fall Bible Study occurs on the same night as Walking With Purpose.

Sunday’s Homily

September 1, 2019 – Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Inspired Curiosity, Part One: Using It for God’s Glory
To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.
To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.


THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

There is so much to tell you, but with all of the great stuff above we'll save it for next time!

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • NEW PARISHIONERS – Welcome to our newest parishioners! May our time together be a source of great blessing for the newest, the most long-standing, and everyone in between! Please pray for and extend an extra welcome to:

    • Nneka Agbakoba and children Kamsiyochukwo, Emmanuel and Victor

    • Connor and Laura Chapkowski and children Lucy and Thomas

    • Gene Grosso and Marianne Gennaro

    • Michelle Go and children Ethan and Isabelle

    • Joe and Margaret Luzi

    • Larry and Maryanne Mulcahy and

    • Brian and Kelly Tribuna and daughter Charlotte

  • ST. JOE’S DAY AT THE BALLPARK – Tickets for St. Joe’s day at the ballpark will be available for sale in the Gathering Space for the next two weekends. Join the fun on September 21st. Gates open at 6pm.

  • SAGES – The fun and health and fellowship continue at an even greater rate!

    • Monday Funday September 9 – 11:30 lunch and the 12:30 live performance of “Only a Girl.”

    • Chair Exercise – Thursday at 11 am – one more week in the Gathering Space then back to normal

    • “Writing Our Stories” – Classes start Tuesday, September 17th, from 10:30 – 12:00

All best blessings
Fr Hank

September 1, 2019 – Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Inspired Curiosity, Part One: Using It for God’s Glory


Picture Moses. Just before the bush ignites. There he is. Leaning against his best boulder as the sheep safely graze. Looking about, he sees the fire and the unburned bush. Now imagine a different version of the story. Imagine he does not utter the words in Exodus 3:3: “I must turn aside to look at this remarkable sight. Why does the bush not burn up?” Imagine instead that he mutters to himself, with a major valley-boy/valley-girl intonation, “Whatever.” Imagine he feels no curiosity. Imagine that he simply turns away and returns to his 16th century BC version of a computer game. Where would we be if Moses had not been curious?

Try the same thought experiment with John’s version of the call of Saint Peter (John 1: 41). Imagine that after meeting Jesus, Saint Andrew ran to his brother, Saint Peter, reported “We have found the Messiah,” and Peter said, “Whatever.” Where would we be if Saint Peter had not been curious?

And the stories go on and on – of people cooperating with God by indulging their curiosities. Webster defines curiosity as “a desire to know, understand, or learn something.” We call it “inspired” if the pursuit glorifies God and leads other people to peace. Pursuit of inspired curiosities renews the face of the earth.

Sunday’s first reading reminds us that some curiosities are not inspired. They turn us away from God and others. Sirach urges us to use caution when pursuing our curiosities: “What is too sublime for you, seek not, into things beyond your strength search not” (Sirach 3). Some pursuits are simply out of bounds. Our personal histories and our world’s history remind us of that. Who among us has not indulged a curiosity and then regretted doing so? Experimentations of various sorts have a way of hurting us and others. The Nazis indulged demonic curiosities. The Tuskegee experiments arose from uninspired curiosities. Some curiosities are uninspired. They have nothing to do with God and should be ignored.

Other curiosities, perhaps most of them, glow with inspiration. Sunday’s gospel (Luke 14: 7-14) calls us to be humble. It also calls us to be curious about other people. Not nosy. But curious about other people who themselves can be great channels of grace and revelation. The guests who want only to sit near the big cheese at the party, like the host who wants only to invite status-symbol guests, are missing the boat. By focusing obsessively on the rock stars in their midst, they bypass the revelation and inspiration they would receive if they were curious about the less elite and eager to hear their stories.
What about you? What about you students? As you return to school this season, which subjects fire you up? Which activate your curiosity and make you want to learn? Your desires to learn in these subjects is surely an inspired curiosity God wants you to use well. And what about those other subjects? What about the disciplines that make you roll your eyes a little? Which subjects do not spontaneously rev you up? Can you trust that even these less-favorite subjects have something to offer that might activate your curiosity? Of course, you cannot love all subjects equally, but you can give them the benefit of the doubt, right? You can keep finding that point of contact that activates your curiosity and converts the subject from a chore to an adventure. Which subjects require a bit of help from the almighty? Not so that you can do well without studying, but that you might become curious and use the lessons to be a great apostle?

And what about those who are not going back to school? Can you recall a conversion moment – when you went from having no curiosity about a certain person or topic to having loads of it – and it led you to peace? If you were to share a story of going from (a) no curiosity and no results to (b) great curiosity and deeper peace, what story would you share with some of our returning students?

The gift of inspired curiosity, when used properly, opens doors, connects humans, sparks great adventures, and gets us to cooperate with Jesus. What is your story of growing in inspired curiosity?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - August 30, 2019

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – August 30, 2019

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace!

Happy Labor Day Weekend. I hope the weekend provides you with some extra time for prayer and scripture and plenty of opportunities for minor adventures and great fun. So as not to cut into your prayer/fun time, this week’s “This Week” is extra short!

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • THE WOMEN’S RETREAT – It's an evening affair – on Thursday, September 19. You will be very glad you participated. Tickets might be on sale thisweekend in the gathering space but they will for sure be on sale next weekend and the one after that. They are also available online on our website.

  • BLESSINGS OF THE BRAINS AND ASPIRATIONS – Students in every grade (grad students included). Please give some thought to your greatest aspiration for the year and an artifact that symbolizes it. More on this later. For now, what part of the new school year do you want specially blessed?

  • THE BOOK OF MASS INTENTIONS – Stay tuned for more information about this. The Mass book will probably open in early October.

  • REMEMBERING YOUR DECEASED LOVED ONES – Remember, we will be starting the list from scratch this year. If you want to have a parent, spouse, child, grandchild, sibling or BFF listed on the memorial rosters, you will need to fill out a request. There will also be a chance to submit names of other deceased loved ones for the basket that will be on the altar throughout November.

  • VISITING MISSIONARIES – Thanks to all of your who helped extend such a gracious welcome to Sisters Emily and Lois of the Sisters of the Holy Child. They were both quite taken with how receptive you all were after all the Masses. Their stories amazed and inspired me. Thanks for being so great.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • TWEAKED E.M. PRACTICE – Several EMs who usually serve at the 4:45 have helped at other Masses and encouraged EMs at those other Masses to follow the 4:45 pattern – those distributing the Body of Christ stand on the choir side of the altar and those serving the Blood of Christ stand on the server-side. It helps organize the various motions and brings a bit more dignity to the moment. Thanks.

  • SUMMER SERVICE PROJECTS— More on this later – but for now – WOW. Hats off to the many folks who kept their ministries on track during the summer months.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • THE PARISH PICNIC –it Rain or shine, the parish picnic is ON. Everything is in place and the day promises to be at least as much fun as recent years. And if you have any friends or neighbors who have been away from church, bring them too. It’s a great chance for new folks to help us start the new year.

  • SAINT JOE’S NIGHT AT PATRIOT STADIUM – Join your fellow parishioners and the Somerset Patriots on Saturday, September 21. Gates open at 6 pm and the game begins at 7:05 pm. Win or lose the game ends in fireworks. The discounted ticket price for parishioners is $8. Tickets will be available for advance sale after weekend Masses.

  • FOLDMATES’ NAMES – The name cards will be back in the pews in early September – as we begin one of our three yearly efforts to learn the names of a few more fold-mates. The name-learning will occur before Mass in September, Advent and Lent. The goal is to extend the sign of peace – by name – to everyone within shouting distance of your regular seat. Thanks for being such good sports.

  • CHURCH TRAVEL – OK – before we return to the standard (and very uplifting) version of “The Pastor’s Brag,” we need to hear about churches you have visited this summer and one thing you really liked about them. A few of the early returns have been outstanding – people mention memorable experiences and practices we might want to implement here – in churches as near as Maryland and as far away as the Canadian Rockies, The Philippines and Israel. Email me with your memorable church experience soon.

With all best blessings for your Labor Day Weekend.

Fr Hank

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - August 23, 2019

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – August 23, 2019

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace!

Limited Edition? Not really. More of “Limited Content.” Staff and volunteer vacations mean that neither the recorded version of the homily nor the written summary will be coming your way this week or next. Still, we have much to report and reminders to disperse – especially the reminder that the PARISH PICNIC is just around the bend – on the afternoon of SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 8.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • THE WOMEN’S RETREAT – Attention all women of the parish. Do what you can to be at church on the evening of Thursday, September 19. Colleen Kelly Rayner, one of the most energizing speakers in this part of our planet, will be leading the retreat “Juggling Life on One Cup of Coffee.” (Imagine a mix of Irma Bombeck, Fulton Sheen and St Therese of Lisieux.) The program starts with big hors d’oeuvres in the Parish Hall at 5:30. Then comes the very promising talk, prayer time and of course dessert and coffee. Space is limited and the tickets cost $20, to cover the cost of the speaker and the food. If the ticket price is even a little bit of an issue, please email Fr Hank and he will have a complimentary ticket ready for you. No questions asked. It would be very excellent if this event marked the start of a long and wonderful back-to-school tradition for the women of Saint Joe’s.

  • THE BOOK OF MASS INTENTIONS – The Book of Mass Intentions is just about ready to be opened for next year. Check here and in the bulletin for details. The first Monday in October looks like the most likely date. Once again, so that we can satisfy the needs of as many parishioners as possible, we will limit the number of intentions each parishioner can request in the first few months of the year. The opening limit, along with the multiple intentions at the 9:30 Sunday and 8:35 Tuesday Masses worked out very well last year. We seem to have it just about right – at least for the time being!

  • REMEMBERING YOUR DECEASED LOVED ONES – For a variety of reasons, we will be starting over with our list of names of deceased loved ones. Between September 15 and October 15 you will have a chance to submit the names of loved ones you want us to remember in November’s Masses. We will not be using the lists of recent years. Stay tuned for details. Praying for our deceased loved ones is an important part of our mission as baptized priests, prophets and kings.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • THANKS TO OUR EUCHARISTIC MINISTERS – Despite all the wonderful travel that summer brings, our EMs have managed to serve in ample numbers at just about every Mass. Rare is the Mass when I need to request EM volunteers from the altar. The EM ministry is at once one of the most privileged ministries in the church and one of the most down-to-earth. If you have served as an EM this summer, thank you. You provide a priceless service.

  • TWEAKED E.M. PRACTICE – In an effort to resolve two minor problems that can sometimes distract us, we have tried an experiment at the 4:45 and the experiment has gone remarkably well. Chances are good that we will expand it to the other Masses after Labor Day. It simply organizes where EMs stand when they come up to stand around the altar at the Lamb of God (when they receive the vessels from the celebrant). Those distributing the Body of Christ stand on the choir-side of the altar and those serving the Blood of Christ stand on the server-side. Also, we use an additional chalice just for the host EMs and the priest. That assures that all chalices are full when brought to the congregation. BIG thanks to the 4:45 EMs for making the experiment so easy. If you are an EM at one of the other Masses, stay tuned.

  • PASS ON THE GOOD NEWS! What good news? The Good News of Jesus Christ and our Catholic faith! Religious Education has a number of vacancies that we are hoping to fill before classes begin on September 29. We provide you with training, materials, and tons of support. Please contact Jim Jungels at jjungels@stjosephsparish.com or 908-874-3141 x224 for more information!

    • We are looking for 6 teachers/co-teachers for our 7th-grade students. This is our BIGGEST need.

    • We also have openings for teachers for Grades 3 and 4 on Sunday, and Grades 3, 5 and 6 on Thursdays.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • THE PARISH PICNIC – In case you missed the notice above – it is the afternoon of Sunday, September 8. It will provide all the marvels of recent years PLUS some new excitement. It is a truly terrific way to launch the “new year” in the company of old church friends and new church friends.

  • SAINT JOE’S NIGHT AT PATRIOT STADIUM – Yes. We can extend our summer bliss. It just takes a little planning! And plan we have. Join your fellow parishioners and the Somerset Patriots on Saturday, September 21 – yes, it’s still technically summer until Sept 23. It can be a night of great fun for the entire family. Gates open at 6 pm and the game begins at 7:05 pm. Win or lose the game ends in fireworks, real pyrotechnic fireworks. The discounted ticket price for parishioners is $8. Tickets will be available for advance sale after weekend Masses. Again, if you would like to take your family but the money is very tight, please let Fr Hank know how many complimentary tickets you require.

  • PARISH HALL SCRUB-UP – It looks like we are running a few days ahead of schedule for the Parish Hall scrub-up – new ceiling tiles, repair of the walls, and a fresh coat of paint. EXTRA BIG THANKS to the parishioners who made the scrub-up possible. The big reveal will be at the picnic.

  • CHANGE IN TRAFFIC PATTERNS – Since it is generally a very poor idea to put the Lord Our God to the test, we will soon be making some changes in traffic flow. We have had way too many near misses by the front door to continue to leave that bit of safety to God. The problem occurs when people turn left from the entry drive into the main parking aisle across from the front door. We’ve had a half dozen near tragedies this summer alone. You will soon be able to enjoy the view of flower pots across that driveway. Thanks for understanding and thanks for your concern for all parishioners.

  • YOUR PARISH REGISTRATION – Thanks to the superb work of Kelly Mackiw, we have completed Stage 1 of cleaning up our parish records. Through no one’s fault, our records have become outdated and a little misleading. You will soon have a chance to review your records and make the corrections. Accurate records ultimately enables us to be even more of the parish Jesus calls us to be. Thanks!

  • THE BLESSINGS OF THE BRAINS AND ASPIRATIONS – Attention all students in grades K-22 (kindergarten through grad-school). We will once again celebrate the Blessings of the Brains and Aspirations in early late September or October – to bless you on your way into the new school year. Think well about what physical object best sums your hopes for the new year.

  • FOLDMATES’ NAMES – The name cards will be back in the pews in early September – as we begin one of our three yearly efforts to learn the names of a few more fold-mates. The name-learning will occur before Mass in September, Advent and Lent. The goal is to extend the sign of peace – by name – to everyone within shouting distance of your regular seat. Thanks for being such good sports.

  • CHURCH TRAVEL – OK – before we return to the standard (and very uplifting) version of “The Pastor’s Brag,” we need to hear about churches you have visited this summer and one thing you really liked about them. A few of the early returns have been outstanding – people mention memorable experiences and practices we might want to implement here – in churches as near as Maryland and as far away as the Canadian Rockies, the Philippines and Israel. Email me with your memorable church experience soon.

With all best blessings for your summer’s home stretch.

Fr Hank

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - August 16, 2019

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – August 16, 2019

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace!

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • THE FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION

    • What a terrific turnout for the Assumption Masses. Evidently, the new Mass times were a great choice (5:00 pm Vigil and then 8:35 am and 7:00 pm on the holyday). Thanks to all who voted for the new times.

    • Thanks too to all who brought flowers from their gardens to put around the Mary statue in the Gathering Space. We seem to have some very talented gardeners who also have a great affection for our Blessed Mother. You are one terrific congregation.

    • And if you made it to the Jersey Shore for some serious Catholic “Fanny-dunking,” please let me know. Unfortunately I wasn't able to jump in the ocean myself on Thursday but I plan to celebrate the Assumption – even if it is a week late – by jumping in the ocean at that most Catholic of waterfronts – the Jesuit beach house in Sea Bright!

  • OUR LABYRINTH – Let the thanks continue. The effort to weed the labyrinth has led to a slight uptick in the number of people who have walked/prayed the labyrinth this week. The conversation about the weeding was the first time that some of our new newest parishioners had heard that we have a labyrinth – let alone such a beautiful one. Welcome to all who pray there, especially those who are praying there for the first time. And don’t hesitate to encourage your neighbors, of all faiths, to walk/pray our labyrinth.

  • FALL ADULT ED – The 2019-20 scripture studies for adults will occur in three rounds of four weeks each, always on Monday nights. The first round runs from October 21 through November 18. The second goes from January 27 to February 17. The last starts on April 27 and ends on May 18.

Sunday's Homily

August 11, 2019 — Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Priorities, Part II: Observing Inspired Priorities

The homily of August 11 will be put online in two weeks.

To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.


THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • BAPTISM BLANKETS – Our Knitting and Crocheting Ministry continues to meet in the summer months and produce completely impressive white blankets to give to our newly baptized infants. GREAT thanks to all who participate and bring such great kindness and beauty into our lives.

  • GOD BLESS THE USHERS – Every one of our Weekend Masses benefits from the selfless efforts of our parish ushers. Regardless of weather or vacation schedules or special events, we ALWAYS have enough ushers to get the job done – and the jobs are many and surprising. THANKS, USHERS.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • THE PARISH PICNIC – The Picnic starts after the 11:30 Mass on Sunday, September 8, the Sunday after Labor Day. Once again, we will have face-painting for the youngsters and the Water Slide and terrific live music for everyone. The Knights will be running the grill again – so you know to expect the very best. The tables for donated desserts will be extra big this year. Fr Hank will also be defending his Croquet Title. Wait. Hold the press. He has never won the title. Make that, “Fr Hank will be seeking the title this year.”

  • SAGES – The participation rates continue to reach new heights! How grateful are we to AnnaMaria Realbuto and all who organize the very-well attended programs for our 55-and-over crowd? (Truth to tell, a few sub-55s have snuck into some of the movies, but we let them stay.)

    • Monday Funday – This Monday, August 19, 11:30-2:30 in the Hospitality Room. The lunch will be delicious. The movie will be “Hacksaw Ridge.” The poker game will again take place in another room. (I understand the table was slightly crowded last week but the pool was good.) Please sign up in the Gathering Space this weekend so we know how much food to make.

    • Chair Exercises – 11 am every Thursday

    • Jesus ShowSOLD OUT – but AnnaMaria is keeping a waiting list.

  • SCRUBBING UP THE PARISH HALL – The work is well under way and the prospects are extremely promising. GREATEST thanks to Al Garlatti for being the world’s most user friendly General Contractor. Thanks too to all the folks who have had to meet in other places while the work takes place.

  • THE BLESSINGS OF THE BRAINS – Attention all students in grades K-22. We will once again celebrate the Blessings of the Brains and Aspirations in early late September or October – to bless you on your way into the new school year. Think well about what physical object best sums your hopes for the new year.

THIS WEEK will resume the weekend after Labor Day.

All best blessings

Fr Hank

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - August 2, 2019

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – August 2, 2019

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace!

For those of you who are far from Millstone as you read this, safe travels and a blessed vacation. For those of you who are nearby, I hope you are enjoying the remarkable gifts this part of the world offers at this time of year.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • BAPTISM CLASSES – If God has recently blessed you with the birth of a child, and if you are planning to have your child baptized here at St. Joe’s (and I sure hope you are), chances are good that it would be a good idea for you to participate in one of the baptism preparation seminars. Plan ahead! The sessions are offered on the third Wednesday of each month. That translates into August 21, September 18, October 16, November 20 and December 18. And remember – you are more than welcome to participate in a session BEFORE your baby is born.

  • COMING SOON TO A MOSES RACK NEAR YOU – The former Moses Table in the Gathering Space has been swapped out with a bureau and relocated to the other side of the front door. The Lucite racks above the Moses Bureau (doesn’t that phrase almost suggest a government office where Moses answers the phone?) will soon provide all the information you need to know about: becoming a parishioner, becoming a confirmation sponsor or a godparent, arranging your wedding here, arranging the sacrament of the sick, planning a funeral here, pursuing an annulment, and a few other topics. Stay tuned.

  • SUMMER CCD – Thanks again to the summer CCD students. It has been a great grace to have you here these last two weeks. And thanks for sharing the sign-language version of the Our Father at 9:30 Mass. Big blessings for your parents for helping and for all the teachers and student volunteers. It was a wonderful week – brought to a terrific conclusion at the picnic on Thursday.

  • FALL ADULT ED – Stay tuned for information about the new school year’s scripture studies, prayer camps and religious education for adults. We are currently finalizing the calendar and the curricula.

Sunday's Homily

July 28, 2019 — Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Interior Freedom, Part V: "Free enough to uphold the underdog"

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • AT THE CAR WASH! – Great blessings and thanks to Grace and Pat Riordan for organizing the very fun car wash for the folks from Becca’s Friends. A great time was had by all. Seven cars were very well-washed and, wonder of wonders, the volunteers even cleaned up our church van. The ice cream at the project’s end helped too.

  • MEALS MINISTRY – Big thanks to everyone in the meals ministry who pitched in to provide food for the Summer CCD program’s closing picnic. The weather was exceptional and the food was excellent.

  • OUR PARISH DJ – Matt Duffek, a long-time and greatly loved participant in our Becca’s Friends Ministry, did a superb job of providing music for the CCD picnic. It was just the right mix of mellow and energetic. Matt has added much to many parish events and we are all grateful. To add to the fun, Matt’s brother flew over the picnic and tipped his wings as he was flying from PA back to NJ.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • SAGES EVENTS – Keep your calendar clear for the upcoming Sages events that promise to be great fun.

    • Funday-Monday – This Monday, August 5, from 11:30-2:30 (lunch, movies, fellowship)

    • Chair Exercise – This Thursday, August 8, from 11 to noon

    • The Jesus Show at Sight and Sound in Lancaster PA – Wednesday September

      Find out more and sign up at the Sages Bulletin Board in the Gathering Space.

  • NEW PARISHIONERS – Please join me in welcoming the several people we are now blessed to call “new parishioners.” May these newest members of our community find here great faith and consolation and may they be great channels of faith and consolation for all parishioners.

    • Peter and Pam Cipparulo and their children Victoria, Julia, Marie Grace, and Peter

    • Stanislava Dimitrov

    • James and Jennifer Harding and their children Seamus, Liam, Maggie and Rory

    • Donald and Nancy Kane

    • John and Bobbie Murphy

    • Holly Yurasek and

    • Gloria Lagerman

Your Pastor’s Brag


HELP! TRAVELERS HELP! –

An upcoming special edition of The Pastor’s Brag – Somewhere around the Feast of Saint Peter Claver, there will be some special editions of The Pastor’s Brag – to report on the religious aspects of your summer travels – just bullet points really. Please let me know of churches you have visited or would recommend to people who will be travelling near them. Did you participate in a particularly uplifting Mass in Madagascar or maybe Manitoba? Please let me know of service projects you worked on this summer that maybe had nothing to do with St Joe’s. Did you build houses in Hackettstown or Ho-Ho-Kus? And what about great experiences of community in other churches? Did you have terrific church donuts in Denver or Dijon? Please let me know about how other parts of the world helped you to become a priest, prophet or king. (Please – just not too many tales about the Franciscans and their monopoly on Jersey’s barrier islands.)

PLEASE KEEP THE BRAG MATERIAL COMING –

Remember – you only have a month left. Chances are pretty good that it is a good idea for you to do something memorable and fun this summer.

Fr Hank

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - July 26, 2019

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – July 26, 2019

Dear All:

I hope you are enjoying summer’s last pure month. Our youth minister enjoyed some time with the youth group this past week and as a result the "This Week" is a few days delayed. Something about approaching August puts the scent of school in the air. Enjoy July as much as you can.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • SUMMER CCD – Summer CCD is about prayer and much, much more. It is about all sorts of lessons and it is also about fun. Thanks to all the parents, teen volunteers, and teachers who are giving so generously of their time these days to help our young people learn to pray, serve and build community. It is terrifically refreshing to hear our youngsters’ prayers and to be a part of the special Priest-Prophet-King growth process. Thanks too to the many students who have dashed out of their way to engage me in great eye-contact, a firm handshake, and a self-assured declaration of “Hello, Father Hank my name is ---- and it nice to see you.” Remember, evangelization begins with good eye-contact and a firm handshake! Remember too that Summer CCD isn’t really over until you pass the handshake exam! PS – Check out the Gathering Space bulletin boards this week to see the students’ work. PPS – The Summer CCD families will gather at the 9:30 Mass this Sunday for their Young Ministers Liturgy.

  • FALL ADULT ED – Stay tuned for information about the new school year’s scripture studies, prayer camps and religious education for adults. We are currently finalizing the calendar and the curricula.

  • FALL CCD – Please note – next Wednesday, July 31, is the deadline for processing registrations for the fall CCD classes. Beginning August 1st we will start placing students and determining where we still need teachers. Any student registering after July 31 will be placed after the classes are set.

  • REMEMBERING OUR DECEASED LOVED ONES – Starting right after Labor Day, we will be gathering the names of your beloved deceased. For the last few years, the leaves on the trees (with the names of the deceased on the leaves) have been a great consolation for many parishioners. The challenge is that we are running out of tree space. The process will be very clear and a little more focused – and promises to be pretty impressive. Stay tuned.

  • 11:30 BRILLIANCE – If you are not a regular at the 11:30 Mass – this won’t make sense. If you do go to the 11:30 – did you ever think “Help” could be such a prayerful song? I’m still a little stuck on it.

Sunday's Homily

July 21, 2019 — Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Interior Freedom, Part IV: "The freedom to ask for help."

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • SUMMER SERVICE TRIPS – A big hearty welcome home to our 26 high-school students who returned Saturday from their service trip to Oil City PA. May God guide your reflections on the experience – and your recuperation from its great demands. As always – special thanks and blessings for the parents who support their children’s adventures and for the chaperones who give the incalculably valuable gift of a week of their time.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • 2019-20 FELLOWSHIP EVENTS – Pardon me for even thinking about cool-weather and cold-weather events but the planning moves into overdrive next week. Please let me know if you would like to help plan or provide any of the major fellowship events. New ideas and new folk are always welcome.

  • SAGES EVENTS – If you are lucky enough to have been born before the first lunar landing, then you are also lucky enough to be eligible to participate in Sages Events.

    • Join us for an online seminar on DaVinci and Michelangelo next Tuesday at 2pm

    • Join the trip to Lancaster PA’s Sight and Sound Theatre on Wednesday, September 18th to see the JESUS show.

    • Check the Sages bulletin board in the gathering space for more information.

Your Pastor’s Brag


HELP! TRAVELERS HELP! –

An upcoming special edition of The Pastor’s Brag – Somewhere around the Feast of Saint Peter Claver, there will be some special editions of The Pastor’s Brag – to report on the religious aspects of your summer travels – just bullet points really. Please let me know of churches you have visited or would recommend to people who will be traveling near them. Did you participate in a particularly uplifting Mass in Madagascar or maybe Manitoba? Please let me know of service projects you worked on this summer that maybe had nothing to do with St Joe’s. Did you build houses in Hackettstown or Ho-Ho-Kus? And what about great experiences of community in other churches? Did you have terrific church donuts in Denver or Dijon? Please let me know about how other parts of the world helped you to become a priest, prophet or king. (Please – just not too many tales about the Franciscans and their monopoly on Jersey’s barrier islands.)

PLEASE KEEP THE BRAG MATERIAL COMING –


Remember – you only have a month left. Chances are pretty good that it is a good idea for you to do something memorable and fun this summer.

Fr Hank

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - July 19, 2019

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – July 19, 2019

Dear All:

Welcome back to the standard format of “This Week.” The last two editions – both special editions – remind us of how grateful we are to God for the great accomplishments of our recent graduates and how greatly blessed we are to have this physical setting and to be able to take good care of it. And now for the regular reporting of our exceptional blessings . . . .

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • HOLYDAY MASS TIMES: THE RESULTS ARE IN – Thanks to the parishioners who raised the issue of Mass times for holydays and thanks to those who registered an opinion in the ballot box. (I’m not sure what to wish for the three people who signed my name to their ballots – which were actually quite humorous!). Ninety-five people voted. For both the vigil and the day itself, about 50% voted for 5 pm, 35% voted for 7 pm, and the remaining 15% voted for 7:30 pm. There were also several comments about the need to have different times for the vigil and the day itself. So... starting with the Feast of the Assumption (August 15), we will have the vigil Mass at 5 pm, and the Masses on the holyday itself will be at 8:35 am and 7:00 pm. I hope we get this change in the bulletin, on the cover of the bulletin, on our webpage and in the announcements. Let’s see how it works for a year and we can always tweak it again. What matters most is that we make it as easy as possible for parishioners to participate in Mass on the holydays.

  • REMEMBERING OUR DECEASED – Starting right after Labor Day, we will be gathering the names of your beloved deceased. For the last few years, the leaves on the trees (with the names of the deceased on the leaves) have been a great consolation for many parishioners. The challenge is that we are running out of tree space. The process will be very clear and a little more focused – and promises to be pretty impressive. Stay tuned.

Sunday's Homily

July 14, 2019 — Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Interior Freedom, Part III: “The freedom to listen WAY up.”

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:


SUMMER SERVICE TRIPS – The big news about service is the big news about our young people.

  • Young Adults. God bless our seventeen college students and their four chaperones who returned Friday from their week on the Texas/Mexico border. Despite the awful plane delays – 12 hours of waiting in airports – they returned with great gratitude for the profound experiences they had. They worked mostly at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center and at a nearby church that was hustling to get ready for its grand opening. They worked their tails off and did not count the cost. Many encountered physical trials but all came home with rejuvenated abilities and desires to be the priests, the prophets and the kings God calls them to be. God bless our returned travelers.

  • High School Students – Twenty-six high school students and five chaperones leave on Sunday morning for Oil City, Pennsylvania. Catholic Charities will also play a major role in this trip, deploying students throughout the area. Many will be working on home repairs for low-income senior citizens. Several others will be sprucing up day care centers where children from low-income families spend their days.

Extra-special blessings for the chaperones on both trips – many of whom are using their vacation time to make these work trips. And as always, greatest thanks to Bob Ferretti for putting it all together. God works powerfully through all of you.

We can all derive great happiness from the truth that we are part of a parish with so many wonderful young people. The students’ participation in these work trips is only one indicator of how terrific our young parishioners are. So many students are doing such great work this summer. God bless them all – those on the service trips and all the rest.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:


  • NEW OFFICERS FOR OUR KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS AND OUR COLUMBIETTES – Monday night marked the installation of the new officers for our parish’s Knights and Columbiettes. Blessings and thanks to Bryan DeLisi, the new head of the Knights. And more of the same for Lisa Rossi, the new head of the Colombiettes. We are greatly blessed to have these two organizations doing all they do for our parish and we pray for even greater results under Bryan’s and Lisa’s leadership.

Your Pastor’s Brag


DANCE! DANCE! DANCE! –

The Hillsborough Senior Rockettes and Rockets – Hats off to Carol Wetzel (9:30 S4) and Charlotte Politi (9:30 S2) who are part of the Hillsborough Rockettes and Rockets – a traveling dance troupe that brings great delight to all sorts of people. Charlotte, Carol and their troupe-mates perform in many local facilities for people who cannot easily get out to enjoy live entertainment. May your music never stop!

Tapping in the Windy City! – Alison Calamoneri – former altar server, recent graduate of Muhlenberg College, and daughter of John and Sue Calamoneri (9:30 S3) – moved to Chicago early this summer, after graduating with a degree in dance and a specialization in tap. Alison was recently offered an apprenticeship with the Chicago Tap Theater. This marks the start of her professional career! God bless Alison.

PLEASE KEEP THE BRAG MATERIAL COMING –

May God continue to bless you and your loved ones with a wonderful summer. And for those of you experiencing difficulties this summer, may your time in Mass and your time with parishioners make the challenges less onerous.

Fr Hank

July 14, 2019 — Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Interior Freedom, Part III: “The freedom to listen WAY up.”


Sometimes we do not listen. Who among us has not been called out for zoning out? Sometimes we listen. It is our ordinary mode for taking in the voices and sounds that surround us. Sometimes we “listen up,” usually at the urging of someone who requests our heightened attention. And sometimes we “listen WAY up” to the voice of God that speaks from our scriptures, from our tradition, from the experience of Eucharist, from other sacraments and from our hearts. Sunday’s readings encourage us to listen WAY up, to pay heightened attention to God’s voice, to filter out the noises and the voices that distract us from honoring God’s invitations, and to act on what we hear.


Moses longed for his people to listen WAY up. He had traveled with them for 40 years and knew quite well how easily they tuned out God’s voice. Sometimes their own passions deafened them to God’s voice. Sometimes they let the allure of false gods drown out Yahweh’s voice. Hence, Sunday’s first reading (Dt 30) begins with Moses urging the people to “heed the voice of the Lord your God.” He is begging his people to listen WAY up when, without him, they enter the Promised Land. He wants them to listen WAY up to Yahweh and not to listen to their passions or their new neighbors’ passions. Moses also reminds his people that they are, at every moment, able to listen WAY up. They have what it takes. Listening WAY up does not require extreme measures. They do not need to “go up in the sky” or to “cross the sea.” His message is simple” you can and you should do all you can to listen WAY up; doing so will lead you to peace.


Jesus conveys a similar message in Sunday’s story of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10). The story identifies two types of people – those who listen WAY up and those who do not. The Samaritan, the story’s hero, listens WAY up. He sees the robbers’ victim on the side of the road, feels pity for him and, according to God’s hopes, rescues him. Not so with the priest and the Levite. They saw the man, listened to voices other than God’s, and forfeited the opportunity to satisfy God’s hope for the victim. They listened to the voices of tradition and the voices of self-interest and to who knows what other voices, but they did not listen WAY up to God’s request for charity.


What about you? You frequently listen WAY up. You sort through competing voices, identify the inspired and inspiring one that comes from God, and you act on that voice. You do it in 101 ways. Given the gospel’s focus on charity – maybe start with that as an indicator of your determination to listen WAY up. When have you gone out of your way to be kind – on a long-term basis or just for a few moments – when cultural norms or voices you respect urged you to do otherwise? Was it when you committed yourself to care for someone in need? Was it when you included an otherwise lonely kid in your circle of friends? Was it when you decided not to charge one of your needy clients? Was it when you figured out how to help a charity that assists people you will never meet? All of those options place demands on your time, money, reputation and self-understanding. Every act of kindness comes at a bit of a cost and you paid the cost, lovingly and without grumbling because you knew, at some level, that doing so aligned with God’s hope. When have you strained to listen WAY up, gotten it right, and felt the peace? And maybe, just maybe, is God asking you to do that now?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - July 13, 2019

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – July 13, 2019

Dear All:

I hope your Independence Day included good celebrations with just the right people and just the right fireworks. May God continue to bless America, your summer adventures, and our parish.

God blesses our parish in countless ways. One of those ways is in the ability God gives us to take good care of our buildings and grounds. We can do that only because God blesses you and you, in turn, share the blessings. You are generous with your financial resources. Your current contributions enable us to pay all our ordinary bills and to put some away to cover extraordinary needs. You are also very generous with your many skills. People are forever pitching in to set up, clean up, water plants, clean the parking lot, clear the prayer path, feed the vegetable gardens, weed the flower gardens, straighten up the hymnals after Mass – you name it. The place is in ship shape because you are so good. And because the place is in good shape, “it is a church that does what a church should do,” (as the poem almost says); it helps us to become the priests, the prophets and the kings God calls us to be.

The June 30 end of the fiscal year prompts a review of the progress made in 2018/19 and a look ahead at what is in store for 2019/20. Before describing recent and upcoming progress, I want to share some information about how we decide what to do and how we fund the progress.

SETTING PRIORITIES

Our parish has two councils, the Parish Council and the Finance Council. Each Council consists of two types of members. Some members serve three-year terms that are renewable once. Other members chair committees. Dave Mendez, a member of our Finance Council chairs our Buildings and Grounds (B&G) Committee. Current members of B&G are Jo-Ann Delasko (vice-chair), Dan Galati, Al Garlatti, Jeremy Goldstone, Joe Bijas, Christophe Bucher, Ron Iarkowski, Peter Hoefele, Walt Rusak, Norm Lavoie, John Demetrio and Tim Leicht. Each member brings great insight to the monthly meetings. The committee is supported by staff members Bryan DeLisi (Facilities Manager), Monica McDevitt (Business Manager) and Bob Ferretti (the Youth Minister who also serves as Tech Guru). They are one hard-working bunch. The monthly meetings are focused and very good fun, almost always.

Parishioners, Parish Council, Staff and members of B&G are great about identifying our needs and proposing ways to satisfy them. The needs fall under three main headings: safety (always first on the list), repair and upkeep, and program development. At their monthly meetings, B&G members sort through the needs, set priorities, report on progress, and consult the budget. The deliberations sometimes become a little rough, but the meetings end with everyone being friends, almost always.

FUNDING THE PROGRESS

In keeping with diocesan accounting practices, all work on our physical plant is funded by one of five accounts/budget lines: 520, Contracts, Service and Maintenance; 521, Repairs and Renovations under $5000; 522, supplies and maintenance, 523, Equipment under $500, and; 559 Major Renovations or Construction over $5,000.

B&G spends a great deal of its time figuring out 559 – i.e., which major renovations and construction are the most important for the parish. The funding for 559 projects comes from two primary sources, the 559 Budget and Restricted Gifts. Prior to this year, the Finance Council set aside about $60,000 each year to fund 559. Since paying off the mortgage, the amount has increased to $100,000/year. On the first of each month we deposit $8,333 to our 559 account. That money can be spent only for B&G approved projects. If a year’s projects do not use up all the funds, the residual stays in the account until a year when the funds are needed. Restricted Gifts are donations made by parishioners to make improvements that the donor desires and B&G approves. The lights on the sidewalk in front of the church and most of the upgrades in the hospitality room were paid for by restricted gifts. Those gifts can be used ONLY for the project the donor intended. Any project that will cost more than $24,999 must be approved by the diocesan College of Consultors. For the period 2016-2027, we expect to spend nearly $1,400,000 on 559 projects. The following sections explain those expenditures.

RECENT PROGRESS


(The following numbers are rounded and approximated. RG = “restricted gifts”)

Between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2018 we completed the following 559 projects: NEW ROOF for parish center ($49K, from 559); NEW SOUND SYSTEM IN CHURCH ($5K from RG, $40K from 559); REPLACE PARISH HALL BOILER ($20K from state of NJ, $21K from 559); REFURBISH HOSPITALITY ROOM (carpet, paint, closets, recover chairs – $7K from 559, $14K from RG); LIGHT BOLLARDS at the front door ($10K from RG, $5K from 559); PARISH HALL KITCHEN (upgrade gas line, new convection oven, new work tables, fix ventilation – $9K from RG, $5K from 559); SEPTIC UPGRADE ($11K from 559); ENERGY EFFICIENT LIGHTING in parish hall and offices ($6K state of NJ, $6K from 559); REPLACE DAMAGED WINDOWS IN GATHERING SPACE ($5K from 559); INSTALL AV EQUIPMENT IN CCD CLASSROOMS ($5K from RG). That should all add up to about $195K. Somewhere in there we also replaced the main 8x8 beam that holds up the parish hall roof.

LAST YEAR’S PROGRESS


Between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019, we completed the following 559 projects: FINAL PAYMENTS ON CHURCH SOUND SYSTEM ($10K from 559); INSTALL WIFI THROUGHOUT CHURCH AND PARISH HALL ($10K from RG); REPLACE CARPET IN PARISH HALLS AND OFFICES ($7K from 559); DOWNPAYMENT ON PARISH HALL AC ($6K from 559); PARKING LOT LIGHTS (finally get ALL of them working and install light on flagpole ($2K from RG, $5K from 559); RECTORY FLOORS (after much trying to live with it, replace “cat-damaged” carpets with wood floors - $5K from 559); HOSPITALITY ROOM ($1K for final tech install). That should all add up to about $55K, well under the $100K budget (not counting RG). B&G knew that the 2018/19 surplus would be needed to pay for the 2019/20 work.

UPCOMING PROGRESS

Between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020, we expect to complete the following 559 projects:

  • CHURCH LIGHTS – The original lights have run their course. The problem is not so much with the fixtures themselves as with (a) what it takes to replace the bulbs ($8K/year) and the grim truth that no one still manufacturers the replacement parts needed to run the lights. If we catch some major breaks, the lights will cost about $80K. If not? $130K.

  • PARISH HALL AC – The defunct unit has been replaced for a total cost of $20K. $15K of that will go on this year’s bill.

  • PARISH HALL REJUVENATION – The parish hall is getting more use than ever and could use some TLC. Fortunately, we have two donors who feel strongly about sprucing up the parish hall. They have given us a total of $20K. We will spend that amount to replace the ceiling, fill in the big holes in the walls and paint the walls. We would like to replace the floor but cannot afford that yet.

  • BACKUP GENERATOR – Half of our entire roof area drains into the courtyard garden well. The water gets pumped from that well to an outlet behind the parish hall. If the power fails and the pumps turn off, the water comes in through the hospitality room and then into the church. That has not happened in a few years. It might be time to stop tempting the fates. Hence the new generator for part of the compound. The generator will also enable us to keep the emergency phone running during a black-out and will enable us to provide a place for parishioners to go when storms knock out their lights – at least to get warm and charge cell phones. The generator will cost about $15K and 559 will pay for it.

  • SECURITY CAMERAS – Local law enforcement folk and the diocese encourage us to beef up our overall security. Installation of security cameras is one of the first steps they suggest.

That should all add up to about $145K. $20K will come from RGs. $80K will come from this year’s budget and the remainder will come from savings (i.e., the $45K we didn’t spend last year).

Looking ahead, air conditioners and parking lot repaving will be our biggest items. The prices look a bit intimidating. But with God’s continued help and your continued generosity, we will be able to work it out.

I am sure this is WAY too much information for some of you – but it seems worth sharing once a year. Following last week’s special edition about our graduates and this week’s special edition about buildings and grounds, next week will get us back to the familiar news about prayer, service and community.

Thanks for all you do. Being your pastor makes me one of the luckiest ducks I know.


Sunday's HomilyJuly 7, 2019 — Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Interior Freedom, Part II: “The freedom to try, try again.”
To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

July 7, 2019 — Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Interior Freedom, Part II: “The freedom to try, try again.”


Who experiences success in every undertaking? No one. Into every life, repeat, every life, a few defeats must fall. And when we experience defeat, what does God want us to do? If the pursuit is not of God, God wants us to quit. If the pursuit is of God, God wants us to, as the saying goes, “try, try again.” We need interior freedom to try again. Fortunately, God offers that freedom quite lavishly.


Sunday’s first reading comes from Isaiah’s last chapter (Isaiah 66). It can be interpreted as God’s sales pitch to the exiles. God wants them to “try, try again” with Jerusalem. They had lived there, made bad choices, and got themselves exiled to Babylon. Changes in the region’s power structures then made it possible for them to leave Babylon for Jerusalem. But many preferred to stay in Babylon. Many had been born in Babylon and had never been to Jerusalem. The idea of schlepping across the desert to occupy a ruined city with a ruined temple held little appeal. Others had come from Jerusalem but had become quite comfortable in Babylon. Why leave?


Through exhortations like the one we hear in Sunday’s first reading, God encourages the exiles to give Jerusalem another try. He promises them that he will bless them there and that, once they return, they will have “the wealth of nations” spread out before them. God wants them to “try, try again” in Mount Zion. But they can rise to the challenge only if they have interior freedom, only if they are willing to let go of all that keeps them from wanting what God wants, only if they are willing to say to themselves, “I want x, but God wants y, and God’s wants matter more than mine – so let’s go.”


Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 10) depicts Jesus encouraging the disciples to “try, try again” in their apostolic mission. He predicts that some towns will not accept their teaching. He wants the disciples to keep going, to shake the dust of the hostile town from their feet and to move onto the next town. He doesn’t want them to wallow in their misfortunes or to bang their heads against unholy walls. He wants them to keep moving. Doing so requires interior freedom – that ability and will to want what Jesus wants rather than what I want. The rejected disciples needed the interior freedom to set aside urges to retaliate, to disavow the unholy egotism that cannot accept defeat, to put God’s desires ahead of their own. Jesus urged his disciples to “try, try again” and he knew that doing so required interior freedom. He also showed them what it meant to “try, try again” and how his ultimate interior freedom (“Father, let not my will but thine be done”) enabled him to keep trying.


What about you? When have you gotten it together to “try, try again”? When have you known that what you were up to was what God wanted you to do and, despite the setbacks, you found the grace to “try, try again.” Perhaps it was with your faith life? Maybe you experienced severe disappointment with prayer, considered giving up, but then opted to “try, try again.” Perhaps it was in relationships that really mattered? Perhaps it had to do with your health – physical, mental or emotional? Maybe you were shaking an addiction and fell off the wagon and then got back on? Maybe you really blew it in a big athletic event or in a concert or a play or an art show, and then tried again? Of course, you have done this 101 times. Name some.


Now, looking back, can you see that, not only did you do the right thing by trying again, but that you needed interior freedom to do so? You might have been tempted to stay in Babylon, to fight with a hostile town rather than to shake its dust from your feet and move on, to ignore what you knew was God’s desire to pursue your own – but you didn’t. You made great use of the interior freedom God gave you and you withstood all those invitations to mediocrity and accepted God’s invitation to perseverance and peace. When have you gotten it exactly right – in terms of “try, try again” and what does that success teach you about using God’s gift of interior freedom?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - July 5, 2019

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Special Edition: Graduation Days

This Week – July 5, 2019
Dear All:

‘Tis the season – for the Fourth of July and for graduations. What a mighty and loving God we worship, a God who gave us the people that gave us our country – the same God who gave all our graduates the grace to succeed. What a mighty God we serve!

OUR RECENT HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES

The very impressive list below tells only a very small part of each student’s beautiful story. It indicates merely the school from which they have graduated and the adventure into which they are heading. The list doesn’t mention each student’s academic achievements, athletic accomplishments or artistic triumphs. Neither does it mention each student’s many successes that are grist for private reflection rather than public acclamation – wins like personal victories over formidable challenges, perseverance in prayer, generosity in service or selflessness in building up various communities. We would surely need many special editions of “This Week” to accommodate all that good news. May God continue to bless our high school graduates, especially as they head into their new adventures.
PS – A word of unsolicited advice to our recent grads from Fr. Hank [aka “Professor Hilton”] – For those of you who are going to college – I hope you have more fun than you have ever had, that you go to weird restaurants, stay up talking all night and read big fat books just because. And keep in mind that your first four weeks on campus are exceptionally important. Exceptionally. Without even realizing it, you will make many choices that will influence your four years. You will decide if you are truly going to use your intellectual gifts, if you are truly seeking an inspired balance in life, and if you are truly leaning on God. My suggestion? Especially for the first four weeks, maybe until mid-terms – study like your life depended on it, make mature choices about the study/play balance, and get to Mass every Sunday. That strategy will get you to a most excellent plateau. On that plateau, you can freely assess your successes, challenges and aspirations. That strategy will not dump you into Columbus Day in a state of shocked regret, dreading the moment when progress reports reach home. Come back glad about your choices. The people in your parish are pulling for you.

  • Julia Allan, Hillsborough HS, attending James Madison

  • Christina Androulakis, Hillsborough HS, attending Monmouth

  • Maryrose Angelo, Hillsborough HS, attending Coastal Carolina

  • Tyler Bales, Hillsborough HS, attending TCNJ

  • Joseph Peter Bijas, Hillsborough HS, attending Penn State

  • Jacqueline Brilliant, HHS & SC VoTech, attending Culinary Institute of America

  • Sean Cavanaugh, Hillsborough HS, attending Rider

  • Christopher Cusack, Hillsborough HS, attending Seton Hall

  • Allison Dorrler, Hillsborough HS, attending Kutztown

  • Derek Fenimore, Hillsborough HS, attending Raritan Valley

  • Jordan Gale, Hillsborough HS, attending Fairfield

  • Reilly McHugh, Hillsborough HS, attending Montclair

  • Jenna Mechler, Immaculata HS, attending Tennessee

  • Mika de Wet, Mt. St. Mary, attending Norwich

  • Lucy Faith Anderson, New Vista HS, attending Eckerd

  • Christian Slade Meader, Northern Regional, attending Maryland


OUR RECENT HIGHER EDUCATION GRADUATES

Only the graduates themselves know how hard they have worked and how much they have learned and grown. Like the roster of our high-school grads, this list of our college and grad-school grads provides only the barest of glimpses of their academic, athletic, artistic, spiritual, and other personal accomplishments. We would need even more special editions of “This Week” to report all their successes. May God continue to bless our higher education graduates and may God bless them abundantly in their upcoming adventures.
PS – A word of unsolicited advice to our recent higher ed grads from Fr. Hank [aka “Professor Hilton”] – Relax, but not too much. Whatever you do, don’t get stuck on the question “What am I going to do for the rest of my life.” It is a very appealing and a very destructive question. The truth is you are not going to do any one thing for the rest of your life. With brains and backgrounds like yours you should probably count on two adventures in the next few years – a graduate degree and a job. And for those who already have a graduate degree, you too should relax. You will absolutely find the right job – not necessarily the one you have always had in mind, but you will find the right one. Make great use of your free time (no more homework!) and stay in touch with your closest pals from college and grad school. They are an extraordinary gift to you – as you are to them. Keep coming to church and remember – your credentials enable you, in ways you can discover only gradually, to be superb priests, prophets and kings. Our parish and our world are lucky to have you. Soak up the blessings.

  • Chris Aggabao, graduated from Rider with an MFA, pursuing a Piano Career

  • Daniel Ryan Antohi, graduated from Hunter with a degree in Biology/Psych. and will be heading to Medical School

  • Becca Coviello, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America as a Culinary Arts Pastry Chef and will be taking a position as an Executive Pastry Chef

  • Samantha Coviello, graduated from Catholic University of America with a degree in International Economics & Finance, pursuing a career as an International Political Risk Analyst

  • Robert (RJ) Fanelli, graduated from Rowan with a degree in Communication, pursuing a career with the Trenton Thunder

  • Jack Fenimore, graduated from RV with a degree in Criminal Justice and will be going to Rutgers

  • David Michael Fullam, graduated from Hartford with an MBA, pursuing a Career and Marriage!

  • Shannon Gillooly, graduated from Rutgers with a degree in Criminal Justice and will be heading to Law School

  • Kaitlyn Irwin, graduated from Villanova with a degree in Psych/Spanish heading to Occupational Therapy School

  • Alyson Kreideweis, graduated from Rutgers with a degree in Biology going to Veterinary School

  • Sarah Lazaro, graduated from Quinnipiac with a degree in Health Science continuing with Occupational Therapy School

  • Scot Levonaitis, graduated from Ohio State with a degree in Finance, pursuing a career with the PNC Finance Department

  • Nkolika Obi, graduated from Rutgers with a degree in Geology/Biology pursuing a career

  • Anthony Yakely, graduated from Yale with an MPH, pursuing a career in Public Health Career

INDEPENDENCE DAY – May your celebrations of our nation’s freedom be both fun and inspired. We pray for all who have fought for our freedom since the 1770s. First on our list are those who fought in the armed forces. We remember too all those who have, in ways too numerous to count, enriched our love of freedom, our experience of freedom and our determination to stay free.

Best blessings

Fr Hank
June 30, 2019 — Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Interior Freedom, Part I: “The freedom to choose the greater good.”
To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

June 30, 2019 — Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Interior Freedom, Part I: “The freedom to choose the greater good.”


Life rarely seems to present us with choices between good and evil. Most of our day-in-and-day-out choices involve two goods, a lesser good, and a greater good. And what makes the greater good greater? The fact that it aligns more closely with God’s desires. Our ability to choose the greater good, once we recognize it, requires a great deal of the interior freedom that God doles out in great abundance.


Elisha required interior freedom to choose the greater good in Sunday’s first reading (1 Kings 19). He was a prosperous farmer. No poor man could have afforded twelve yoke of oxen. He was also a good man. God would not have sent Elijah to recruit a schlump. Elisha’s life was a darned good one. Enviable in fact. Then comes Elijah with his call and his cloak, inviting Elisha to quit his good life and follow him (Elijah) as a sort of executive-vice-prophet. Elisha said yes. He chose the greater good. He chose the path that was more aligned with God’s hopes. Had Elisha lacked interior freedom, had he lacked the ability to let go and follow God, he never would have joined Elijah. Elisha had interior freedom and chose the greater good.


Jesus challenges his would be followers to do the same. Sunday’s gospel (Luke 9) describes two people who wanted to follow Jesus but had to sort through their priorities. Both would-be followers felt the urge to do a good thing, a thing the bible praises. One wanted to bury his father. The other wanted to say “goodbye” to his family. Both would-be followers had to choose between a good deed (follow custom) and the greater good (say “yes” to Jesus’ unconventional request).


Both stories involve people facing a good and a greater good. Both stories come to inspired conclusions only if the person who faces the two goods has the interior freedom to choose the greater good, the one that lines up even more closely with God’s hopes.


What about you? How is it that you are feeling the tug to choose a greater good? Even if that greater good is unfamiliar or potentially unpleasant? Perhaps some of your most important relationships are in good shape and you somehow feel God is calling you to a next step, to a greater good of greater dialogue or candor or selflessness? Perhaps your job is a downright good one, and still, you feel that God might be calling you to a job that involves a greater good, in terms of your family or your personal growth or your friendship with Jesus? Perhaps God is nudging you to revisit your customs concerning summer vacation or the upcoming school year or your choice of major or your preferred sport or artistic medium? Like Elisha, chances are pretty good that what you are doing is very good – and you are being called to an even greater good. Once we get clear on the nature of that greater good, we rely on our interior freedom – our lack of inner constraints that keep us tethered to the currently gratifying – to get us to “yes.” Where are you feeling the nudge? How are you doing on the interior freedom scale?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - June 28, 2019

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – June 28, 2019

Dear All:

Happy Feast of the Sacred Heart. I love this feast and everything it expresses about Jesus’ love. His love for you is not some tired, old, grudging, deflated, off-the-rack thing. His love for you is freely chosen, energetic, personalized, and celebratory. The same is true of his love for every one of our parishioners and for all people. He loves you with an infinite, personal love. Savor that truth!

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • FATHER MICHAEL’S ORDINATION AND FIRST MASS – A hearty thanks to all who participated in Fr. Michael’s ordination last Saturday. I hope you came away from the cathedral with a greatly inspired heart and with a deeper understanding of the ordained priest’s ministry. GREAT thanks to the dozens of people who pitched in to make Fr. Michael’s first Mass beautiful and inspiring. More GREAT thanks too to the many who organized the reception. It was a ton of work and your effort was a gift to many. (Click here to listen to a recording of the mass).

  • READINGS FOR SUNDAY AND DAILY MASSES – One of the very best ways to “get more out of Mass” is to take a few minutes to read the day’s readings – before you come to Mass. One of the easiest ways to do that is to bookmark the readings provided by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Pay a visit to http://usccb.org/bible/readings/062819.cfm and poke around the calendar and the indices.

  • HOLYDAY MASS TIMES? – Do we need to tweak our Holyday Mass times? The 8:35 am seems about right but the times of the evening Masses (the Vigil Mass and the actual Holyday Mass) might need some adjusting. Several people have suggested that the current arrangement for evening Masses – 7:30 pm for both the Vigil and the Holyday is a problem. So – how about changing one of the evening Masses from 7:30 PM to either 5:00 PM or 7:00 PM? Preference cards will be on the Moses table this weekend and next. Please check the appropriate boxes, sign your name and put the card in the Communications Box. We will only consider the signed cards. These Mass times are not a giant issue, at all. It is just that enough people have mentioned it to raise the question.

  • RELIQUARY CASE – Our parish has been blessed with a small number of relics of canonized saints. If we were to build a small reliquary (a case that holds relics), where should we put it? In the Blessed Sacrament chapel? In the main church? Elsewhere? We will supply those preference cards in a few weeks.




Sunday's HomilyJune 23, 2019 — Corpus Christi Sunday
Millstone Missionaries Say, Part III: “Your talents matter.”
To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:


SUMMER SERVICE TRIPS – Say some extra prayers for both of the upcoming service trips:

  • Young Adults – Seventeen of our college students, along with five chaperones leave next Saturday July 6 at 3:00 am, for a week of service in San Juan, Texas. They will be spending some long days at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center. God bless all 22 of our parishioners.

  • High School Students – Twenty-six high school students and five chaperones leave on Sunday July 21, at 7:00 am, for Oil City, Pennsylvania. Catholic Charities will also play a major role in this trip, deploying students throughout the area. Many will be working on home repairs for low-income senior citizens. Several others will be sprucing up day care centers where children from low-income families spend their days.

How great is it to be part of a parish with such highly involved young people? All best blessings for our student workers. May your trips be exceptional experiences of prayer, service and community that help you to become even more exemplary priests, prophets and kings.

Extra special blessings for the chaperones – many of whom are using their vacation time to make this trip. That’s right. They are spending their vacations working their tails off, sleeping on gym floors, eating what’s available and providing our young people with extraordinary examples of Christian dedication to prayer, service and community. And as always, boundless thanks to Bob Ferretti for putting it all together. God works powerfully through all of you.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:


THE RECORDS UPDATE PROJECT – Did you know that we have 37 parishioners who are 115 years or older? We really don’t but our parish records think we do. And there lies the trouble.

Our Parish Council includes several sub-committees that work hard to improve specific areas of parish life. One of those groups is the Parish Planning Committee. They strive, with impressive results, to understand emerging trends that are influencing parish life – trends such as changes in local demographics, parish membership, age categories of parishioners, participation in ministries, and enrollments in area schools that portend changes in CCD registration. Recent efforts to use our parish records have produced information like the bit about the people who are 115 years old. Our data contains a great deal of flawed information. It doesn’t allow us to gather the information we need to understand our parish more fully.

Three of our parishioners have been working very hard with the diocesan IT people and with the firm that provides the database all parishes in this diocese use. We are making some progress.

Meanwhile, we are working to update all parish records. We were fortunate to recruit Kelly Mackiw to spend a few weeks this summer working on the project. Kelly was baptized in our parish hall and will be a senior at King’s College (University of London) in September. Kelly is packaging all our parish records and will get them ready to supply to you. Stay tuned – you will soon be hearing more about how to update your records. We hope the update will not require more than 5-10 minutes from each family. Kelly will assemble all the records this summer and you will be asked to update them in a few months. Thanks in advance for helping out. The goal is simple – a better handle on the next steps God is asking us to take.

Your Pastor’s Brag


DANCE! DANCE! DANCE! – Congratulations and great blessings for nine-year-old Juliana Skolnick (9:30 S2). Juliana received a platinum rating and placed in the top ten dancers for her solo, Lyrical Dance, at the National Dance Competitions held in Cape May on June 25. Juliana is the daughter of Judie and Josh Skolnick (9:30 S2) and the granddaughter of Barbara and Jim Paterno (you guessed it, also 9:30 S2) Congratulations to Juliana and all who have supported her development as a dance star.

PLEASE KEEP THE BRAG MATERIAL COMING –


May God bless our nation as we celebrate Independence Day and may God bless you and your nearest and dearest and whatever you have planned for July 4. May your love of country grow even deeper. May your fireworks be extra bright. And may your dog not get too wigged out by all the noise! With continued blessings and gratitude for all,

Fr Hank

June 23, 2019 — Corpus Christi Sunday
Millstone Missionaries Say, Part III: “Your talents matter.”


God blesses each of us with special abilities. Each of us, by virtue of our baptism, receives special talents. St. Paul puts it eloquently in a passage we recently heard: “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” Notice “to each.” NO exceptions.


Paul does not suggest that every gift and talent will be a crowd pleaser. Not every gift yields great interest or excitement. Most gifts of the Spirit do not work that way. Some do. Most do not. Sunday’s readings call our attention to the all-important low-profile gifts God distributes quite widely. Those readings remind each of us, “Your talents matter.”


Melchizedek, Abraham’s co-star in the first reading (Genesis 14), continues to mystify us. He speaks a total of 26 words, yet he is heralded in the Psalms and emerges as a major hero in the letter to the Hebrews. Melchizedek does not join the battle that sets up his encounter with Abraham and, despite his title, he lacks local status. But he does have one important talent. He sees that Abraham is a very special man and he (Melchizedek) gives him gifts of bread and wine. Local tradition reserved those gifts for exceptional leaders. Melchizedek’s treatment of Abraham thus signals to the locals and to Abraham himself that God had special plans for Abraham. Melchizedek’s inspired intuition might have registered as a minor talent, but it made a big difference.


The same is true of the disciples in Sunday’s gospel (Luke 9). The crowds that come to see Jesus overwhelm the neighborhood’s hospitality infrastructure. The locals cannot begin to feed and shelter 5,000 men and their traveling companions. The disciples want Jesus to dismiss the crowds but Jesus refuses. He tells the disciples, “Give them some food yourselves” and then enables them to do so. Jesus uses his dazzling talent to multiply the fish and the loaves. The disciples then use their less flashy gifts to complete the miracle. They use their faith to follow Jesus’ orders. They use their physical stamina to feed 5,000+ people. They use their remaining energy to clean up. The disciples’ gifts might not have earned headlines all around Galilee, but God used their gifts in marvelous ways. Their talents mattered.


What about you? What are some of the lower profile talents God has given you? Chances are pretty good that you have become so used to them that you don’t frequently notice them. When considering the gift-inventory, it can be helpful to think of our fundamental roles as priests, prophets and kings – the roles into which we were all anointed at our baptisms?


What about your priestly gifts? Your ability to pray? Your God-given knacks for speaking to God and listening to God? What gifts delight you and God the most? Perhaps you have been given the gift of great perseverance in prayer? Maybe you keep petitioning God when answers are slow to come? Maybe you keep contemplating the scripture even when God seems not to be speaking to you? Maybe you are a brilliant steward of your prayer list? Maybe you perceive the deeper truths of the Eucharist or the other sacraments? What are your special prayer talents? Are you clear that they matter?


How about your prophetic gifts? Your abilities to console others and to challenge others? Maybe you have an exceptional gift to “speak to the weary the word that can rouse them?” Perhaps you can challenge others in ways that enable them to keep trusting that they are loved AND that God is inviting them to follow new paths? Are you good at challenging or consoling one subset of the population? What are your special prophetic talents? Are you clear that they matter?


Finally, what are your kingly talents? Are you particularly good at encouraging the original formation of communities? Are you better at stewarding communities once they are up and running? Are you the life of the party? The voice of reason? Are you wonderful at forging new paths? At keeping the home fires burning? What are your special kingly talents? Do you trust that they matter?


Last thought. Who in your orbit has lost sight of their special talents? Who needs to be reminded that they have gifts to offer and that those gifts matter? No exceptions. Is it someone who has grown weary? Been disappointed? Who needs to hear, “Your talents matter”?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - June 21, 2019

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – June 21, 2019

Dear All:

Keep praying for our parishioner Michael Tabernero as he heads into his ordination on Saturday. Pray that the ordination (10:30 at the cathedral) will be greatly inspired. Pray too that his first Mass (4:45 at Saint Joe’s) will be a wonderful celebration. Mostly, pray that Michael’s life as a priest will be long and very fruitful, that Michael will help many people to appreciate how much they are loved by God and that he will help these people to know, love and serve God.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • CALLING ALL MISSAL HOGS! – You now enjoy a wonderful opportunity to help other parishioners to pray. Bring back the missals you might have left at home or in your car or wherever. Per Sunday’s announcement – no questions will be asked, and no charges will be pressed. Because so many missals have gone away, we sometimes run out when the crowds are wonderfully large. Some people take the missals so they can read the day’s scriptures before church. This is a terrific inclination and we can help you find more sustainable ways to access the lectionary. (See below.) Other people just forget they are carrying them as they walk out of the church. Missal hog or not – God loves you!

  • READINGS FOR SUNDAY AND DAILY MASSES – One of the very best ways to “get more out of Mass” is to take a few minutes to read the day’s readings. One of the easiest ways to do that is to bookmark the readings provided by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Pay a visit tohttp://usccb.org/bible/readings/062319.cfm and poke around the calendar on the right and the indices on the left. You will be glad you did.

  • GOD BLESS OUR SACRISTANS – Speaking of people who help us to pray . . . May God continue to bless our devoted and remarkably competent sacristans. The sacristans do most of the pre-Mass setups on Sunday. They also put out more fires than most would imagine arise. Their fire-stopping abilities have been used heavily in recent weeks and I am especially grateful. Greatest blessings and thanks to all of our sacristans and to members of all our liturgical ministries.

Sunday's Homily

June 16, 2019 — Trinity Sunday
Millstone Missionaries Say, Part II: “You delight Jesus.”

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • ELIJAH’S PROMISE SOUP KITCHEN – GREATEST blessings for the many parishioners who help out at Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen in New Brunswick. With the inspired leadership of Terry Lee, several of our parishioners spend one Sunday afternoon each month providing a first-rate meal for the many low-income people who rely on Elijah’s Kitchen. Extra special and giant thanks to SUSAN ANGELO AND HER CHILDREN MARYROSE ANGELO AND NICK ANGELO. All three Angelos have provided invaluable help to the project since we started going there. It is with great blessings and some selfish sadness that we send Maryrose on her way to college and Nick on his cross-country road trip. Their example has been an inspirational gift to many. The people of Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen will miss Nick and Maryrose and will continue to cherish all our volunteers.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • NEW PARISHIONERS – Once again, God has blessed us with more new parishioners. Each of our newest members, like every parishioner, is a gift from God who has much to offer the community and much to gain from belonging to this community. May each new parishioner find here a great welcome and a great place to use their many gifts. Please join me in welcoming and saying a prayer for:

    • Richard and Caroline Bartolucci and their children Caroline, Isabella and Philomena

    • William and Christine Kretz and their children William and Margaret

    • George and Marissa Sladek and their children Jonathan, Matthew and Christopher

  • THE MOTORCYCLE CLUB RIDES AGAIN – The weather is looking mighty good for Sunday’s ride. Our parish motorcycle group will leave from the church parking lot at 8:30 am, this Sunday, June 23. Destination? The Clinton Diner via a very scenic route. If you would like to join the pack, just jump on your bike and get to church. Even better, email the leader of the pack, Jeremy Goldstone, at lowesm8@comcast.net to let him know you would like to ride. And everyone at the 7:15, please be extra gracious if some unfamiliar folk appear in your fold carrying their helmets.

Your Pastor’s Brag


HEROS IN OUR MIDST – MIND, BODY, AND SPIRIT

  • AN INTELLECTUAL HERO – God bless Kaitlyn Irwin, daughter of Tom and Sue Irwin (9:30 S7). Kaitlyn just returned from her year as a Fulbright Scholar in Logrono, Spain. As an elite but oh-so-down-to-earth Fulbright scholar, Kaitlyn taught children ages three to eleven. Now that she is back in the States, Kaitlyn is entering Tufts University’s doctoral program in Occupational Therapy. May God bless Kaitlyn as she pursues her goal of becoming a pediatric occupational therapist working with a Spanish-speaking population. Becoming a Fulbright Scholar is a remarkable accomplishment and we are thrilled.

  • A PHYSICAL HERO – Walt Rusak (with his wife Chris, 11:30 S6) recently received a lifetime achievement award from the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials (IAABO). Walt is only the 10th member of the local chapter of the IAABO to have received the award in the organization’s 95-year history. In order to be nominated for the prize, one must have a proven record of “advancing the welfare of the game of basketball through service to the local area, district, and state.” Walt’s dedication to formative athletics is truly exemplary and we are blessed to count him among our number – AND to be the beneficiaries of all he does through his work on Buildings and Grounds.

  • A SPIRITUAL HERO – I won’t tell you how old he is because if I did he would punch me and it would hurt – but he is way old. And way reliant on God. Mario Lugo (8:35 and Sunday 7:15 S5) was part of the parish group that headed to south Texas last summer to serve recently arrived immigrant families. He prayed himself and our group through the whole marvelous adventure. More recently – in fact, it was just last week – Mario “rang the bell.” He completed a very long regimen of cancer treatments – and he handled it as if Jesus was sitting with him the entire time. My hat, admittedly a large one, is off to EVERY parishioner who provides an inspiring example of faith as you complete treatments for cancer. You amaze me. Each of you. Truly. And none has amazed me more than Mario who, with each treatment, seemed only to become more Christ-centered and more compassionate. God bless all of our parishioners who are in treatment and God bless Mario for being such a fine example.

PLEASE KEEP THE BRAG MATERIAL COMING – MANY PARISHIONERS HAVE LET ME KNOW THAT THEY VERY MUCH ENJOY LEARNING ABOUT OTHER PARISHIONERS’ ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

With continued blessings and gratitude for all,

Fr Hank

June 16, 2019 — Trinity Sunday
Millstone Missionaries Say, Part II: “You delight Jesus.”



Trinity Sunday invites us to contemplate the most foundational truth of our faith: Our God is one God in three persons. This truth is also our faith’s most difficult to grasp. We will understand it fully only when we get to heaven. We will get it when we see our three-person God face-to-face when we know, at last, and forever, that our three-person God loves each of us infinitely and eternally. Meanwhile, we contemplate whatever bits of Trinitarian truth comes our way. One of those truths pertains to divine delight.


The first reading (Proverbs 8) reminds us that the Son delights the Father and we delight the Son. The Book of Proverbs describes a mysterious figure that is frequently called “Lady Wisdom.” Christians also see that mysterious figure as the Holy Spirit or as the second person of the Trinity, Jesus, before the Incarnation. Thus, we can hear Jesus speaking when Proverbs recounts “I was his delight day by day . . . and I found delight in the human race." Jesus delights the Father and we delight Jesus. Reports of the divine delight – among persons of the Trinity and between God and us – entitles us to tell ourselves “I delight Jesus.” The divine delight also prompts us to tell others “You delight Jesus.” The message echoes Psalm 149, “The Lord takes delight in his people.”


Great difficulties have a way of making us think otherwise. Exceedingly rough patches can easily sell us on the Old Testament Law of Retribution. That law interprets difficulties as indications of God’s disfavor. It says that bad things happen because we disturb rather than delight God. Job and some other Old Testament stories refute this theory. They argue that hard times are not evidence that we no longer delight God. Paul advances the argument in Sunday’s second Reading (Romans 5). He reports that he can “boast of his afflictions” rather than try to cover them. People who subscribe to the Law of Retribution must keep their afflictions a secret lest others learn of them and conclude that the afflicted one has offended God. Paul will have none of it. He says he “boasts” of his affliction. He knows that difficulties frequently befall people who delight God. He also knows that God can bring great good out of the hard times. Sunday’s second reading speaks of those goods. Paul wants people in tough times to know, as he knows, they delight God. Tough times do not disprove that delight.


Experiences of our own limitations also have a way of convincing us that we do not delight God. Encounters with our failures, weaknesses, design flaws and inabilities can easily make us wonder how we could possibly delight God. Moments of failure or foolishness can easily open our ears to the dark side’s treacherous whisper, “You are a hopeless loser in whom God takes no delight.” Jesus dismisses that whisper in Sunday’s Gospel (John 16). That passage from the Last Supper discourse reports Jesus’ reminder “I have much more to tell you but you cannot bear it now.” How he wishes the disciples could soak up every truth he utters, but they cannot, and he can handle that truth. He doesn’t upbraid them or insult them. He loves them. Even in those disappointing moments, when the disciples’ limitations complicated His life, Jesus continued to thank God for them, with as much delight as that darkest hour allowed.


So, what about you? What helps you steer clear of those two traps? What helps you hang onto the conviction that you delight God – even when life is rough or you have stumbled? What enables you to trust that God looks at you, as God looked at creation and says “This is good”? What helps you believe that – despite difficult circumstances and our human limitations – you delight God? Is it the company of other people? Is it good spiritual reading? Is it the many expressions of divine delight contained in every Mass? Is it quiet moments of you beholding Jesus beholding you? What helps you hear Jesus say “You delight me”?


And what about other people? Who in your orbit has lost sight of the truth that they delight God? Who needs to hear someone say – persuasively and subtly and, most likely, indirectly – “You delight Jesus”? Maybe it is someone who feels their relationship with God has simply grown lukewarm or even cold? Perhaps it is someone who has made a big ugly choice? Perhaps it is someone who wants to be with us in Mass.


Each of us is a missionary. Each of us is sent to spread the good news. That good news includes the truth that we delight God. Yes, we have sins to overcome and yes we have plenty of chance to grow. But, yes, the Three-Person God we worship is one who loves us infinitely and eternally. Knowing that really knowing that, and knowing that God is not in a perpetual state of disappointment, makes all the difference.

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - June 14, 2019

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – June 14, 2019

Dear All: 

A blessed Father’s Day for all. For those for whom Father’s Day is a happy occasion, may the blessings multiply your joy. For those for whom it is a sad day, may the blessings divide your sadness. 

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

  • PRAYERS FOR FATHERS – At all Masses this weekend, we will pray for all the fathers named in the cards you filled out. We will also have a special blessing after communion for all Fathers. Go Dads!

  • PENTECOST RED – Extra thanks to all who wore red to the Pentecost Masses. The color helped create a very good Pentecost vibe. Next year we might have to start leaning on the Pentecost Red project a little further in advance so more people can dust off their red duds.

  • SATURDAY PETITIONS – Every Saturday is a special day for the 8:35 Mass. On Saturdays, people in the congregation get to read their list of prayer intentions. The lists are impressive and are read with great dispatch and prayerfulness. If you want your intention included in the Saturday Prayers of the Faithful, either pass your intention along to one of the regulars or, better yet, come to the Saturday morning Mass.

  • LAST REMINDER – MICHAEL TABERNERO’S ORDINATION AND FIRST MASS – After much anticipation, it is almost time for Bishop Checchio to ordain Michael. It will be good to see many of you at Michael’s ordination at the cathedral on Saturday morning and at his first Mass here on Saturday afternoon. Remember, the line for first blessings will be shorter at the Cathedral.

Sunday's Homily
June 9, 2019 — Pentecost
Millstone Missionaries Say, Part I: “You belong here.”

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • RESPECT-LIFE CONCERNS – Thanks and blessings for the people who helped us understand how to encourage legislation that protects babies who are born among people who do not want them. Great stuff. Thanks too to all parishioners who identified their respect-life concerns. The most frequently mentioned concern was about care for the elderly. This raises the question – “What should our parish be doing to improve the quality of life for senior citizens?”

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • THE MOTORCYCLE CLUB RIDES AGAIN – The glorious weather God provided for last week’s ride feels like a good sign to our motor-bikers – who will ride again on Sunday, June 23. They will leave from the church parking lot at 8:30 am for a scenic ride to the Clinton Diner. If you would like to join the pack, just jump on your bike and get to church. Even better, email Jeremy Goldstone at lowesm8@comcast.net to let him know you would like to ride. And everyone at the 7:15, please be extra gracious if some unfamiliar folk appear in your fold carrying their helmets.

  • OUTDOOR MOVIE NIGHT – Great blessings for those who were able to join the fun on Friday night for our Outdoor Movie Night Sponsored by our Becca’s Friends Ministry. It was like a Currier and Ives sketch – but better, and live, and in the summer. We had young people tossing frisbees, really young ones kicking soccer balls, wiser folks hanging in their lawn chairs, and all sorts of folk milling about, sharing bug spray (bugs were surprisingly not bad) and enjoying the food from the food truck. Extra thanks for Matt Duffek our DJ for the evening. Matt’s music made a giant contribution to the fun. And of course great thanks to the three ministries that provided the evening – Becca’s Friends, Youth Ministry, and our Young Adult Ministry. Bob Ferretti (6:00 S1) and Chris Laffoon (9:30 S6) get extra credit for setting up the movie screen, the sound system, and the food truck. Hooray for our folks!

  • LAST CALL — CALLING ALL GRADUATES – you still have one more week to spill the beans about your graduation. Please let me know – via this link or via the forms on the Moses Table – the high-school, college or graduate school from which you are graduating and what your post-grad plans include. I hope to post one comprehensive “Graduate List” in late June. Your fellow parishioners are eager to learn about your success and to wish you well. So let me know about your graduations.

  • SAGES – THIS WEEK – Thanks to Lynn Beigel (4:45 S3) and Nils Dahl (6:00 S2) for providing the seminar on how to use your smartphones. Lynn made it much easier for many to make better use of their iPhones. Nils led the explanation of Androids. I am glad for the 30 people who took advantage of the lessons. I need a few lessons to escape the category “Smartphone, dopey user.”

  • SAGES – NEXT WEEK – Who knew that you can use sitting time as a time to exercise? Come and find out how. Join us at the Chair Exercises Information Session on Tuesday, July 18th 11 am. Might this be the chance we have long awaited? To learn how to burn calories and tone muscles while watching TV?
    Please sign up in the gathering space.

  • ESTATE PLANNING – Nearly 70 people turned out on Saturday morning to learn about estate planning and related issues. The general consensus was that the presentation was excellent and the learning impressive. Thanks to our Caregivers’ Ministry and the others who organized the 2-hour session.

Your Pastor’s Brag


Congratulations to Mark Demetriou and to Sean Downey. Mark is the son of Chris and Jim Demetriou (9:30 S7). Sean is the son of Kate and Mike Downey (9:30 S1). Both Mark and Sean were part of the Hillsborough High School baseball team that won the 2005 State Championship. That 2005 team was recently inducted into the 2019 Hillsborough High School Athletic Hall of Fame. The '05 team finished that season as Somerset County Champions, as New Jersey Group IV State Champions, and as the team ranked second in the entire state of New Jersey. Sean and his wife Stephanie recently welcomed their first child, daughter Fiona Marie. Mark and his wife Michelle also recently welcomed their first child, their son Jack James. Congratulations Mark and Sean. Great to have your accomplishments honored!

PLEASE KEEP THE BRAG MATERIAL COMING – MANY PARISHIONERS HAVE LET ME KNOW THAT THEY VERY MUCH ENJOY LEARNING ABOUT OTHER PARISHIONERS’ ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

With continued blessings and gratitude for all, 

Fr Hank

June 9, 2019 — Pentecost
Millstone Missionaries Say, Part I: “You belong here.”


God sends each one of us to share the good news. Chances are slim that God wants to ship us to the most distant outposts of the farthest continents. More likely, God is sending us into our local vineyards, those in Millstone, Hillsborough, etc. God wants us to be superb missionaries in our everyday encounters.


You already do a bang-up job of it. Our Mass attendance has grown more than 20 percent in the last few years. That is a remarkable statistic. The glory goes to God. The assist goes to you. Most of the new folk come in the company of friends and neighbors. It reminds me of the earliest apostles saying to others “Come and see . . . “ You have a knack for saying the right thing, the thing that helps people feel they belong here.


The readings of Pentecost and the two upcoming “Solemnities in Ordinary Time” – Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi – highlight some “right things” that God probably wants us to say, with words or without, to the good folks we meet. The readings remind us how important it is to keep telling others “You belong here.”


 Luke’s telling of the Pentecost story (Acts 2) recounts how Galileans, the movers and shakers of the earliest church, miraculously managed to share the good news in ways that non-Galileans could understand. The listeners came from all over the Ancient Near East, from Libya over to Iraq and down to Ethiopia. Their listeners had little or no ability to understand the Galileans. But the Holy Spirit solved the problem. The Holy Spirit lifted the apostles above the language barriers. People from every place, language group and culture understood the apostles. And what conveys welcome more convincingly that a welcome spoken in your native tongue? Wouldn’t those listeners have felt pretty strongly, when they heard the word in their language, “We belong here. This New Way is not just for Galileans. It is for us too.”


Sunday’s second reading (1 Cor 12) contains Paul’s forceful but subtle rebuke. The Corinthians had become bitterly divided over the foolish question of whose gifts were the best. Local custom suggested that some gifts mattered more than others. The people with the less highly regarded gifts felt marginalized. News of that mess prompted Paul to lower the corrective boom. “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God.” Translation? Every gift is a treasure. Everyone person belongs here. Stop the dismissive nonsense.


Sunday’s gospel tells John’s version of the Pentecost story (John 20). Each of the passage’s phrases could sustain years of reflection. Included in that field-of-gold passage is Jesus’ reminder “As the father has sent me so I send you.” Those ten words are themselves a field-of-gold that can be perceived in countless ways. One of those ways involves comparing the way Jesus was sent to the way John the Baptist was sent. Luke 3 depicts John the Baptist as a rather hard charger who seems to treat conversion as a prerequisite for membership in John’s community. Compare that to Jesus’ many interactions with notorious sinners. Jesus regularly establishes meaningful connection before discussing conversion. Might it be that “to be sent as the Father sent Jesus” is to create community and then work on conversion? John’s approach is more along the lines of “clean up your act and then we can talk.” To be sent as Jesus is sent is first to make connection, to let the other know, “there is a place for you in this community. There may be obstacles, but we can work it out.”


Each reading encourages us to be Millstone missionaries who tell others “You belong in our church.” I’m convinced that our vineyard crawls with people who want to join us at Mass but feel they don’t belong.


Who in your life fits that description? Is it someone who used to attend regularly and then “fell away” and wants to return? Is it someone who made a great big ugly choice that they regret bitterly and assume God will never forgive? Is it someone who was married outside the church and assumes they cannot set things straight? The parents of a gay child or friends who are gay and assume the church a priori rejects them? An addict who is craving sobriety? A new neighbor craving community? To whom in particular might the Holy Spirit be sending you to say “You belong with us at Mass”?


Our parish is the spiritual home to many marvelous Millstone missionaries. The Holy Spirit regularly tells you what to say in missionary moments. The results speak for themselves. The readings of Pentecost and the upcoming feasts shed valuable light on our missionary work. This week it is about “You belong with us at Mass.” To whom might God be asking you to say that. Keep getting them here; we will keep working it out.

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - June 7, 2019

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – June 7, 2019

Dear All: 

Great blessings for the Feast of Pentecost. Wear red to church if you think of it (and already own something suitable). If you are a motorcycle person, please join the gang tomorrow morning (see below). Motors start at 8:00 AM – so we can still hear during morning Mass. And try to get to the Outdoor Movie on the lawn at church tonight. It should be great fun.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

  • FRANK’S FUNERAL – GREATEST thanks to all who made Frank’s funeral a funeral to remember – and even to covet! Special thanks to Laurie Ferretti, and all the singers and all the instrumentalists. More great thanks to Matt Viola for leading us in prayer after Communion. And, as always, thanks to Carol Valone and our Lazarus ministry for such fine work. Keep praying for Frank’s eternal rest and for consolation for Sandy and their children – Matt, Jon and Beth.

    Frank’s death leaves many of us sad and more than a little empty. As with the death of any loved one, God gets it. God knows that sadness is a natural human reaction. God knows that pervasive and persuasive faith in Christ’s resurrection can ebb and flow. Sadness and wondering are not signs of cheap faith. They are signs of rich humanity. I hope God is helping you to be patient with yourself as you seek peace with Frank’s death and with anyone else’s. As Saint Paul says, “We grieve, but not like the pagans who have no hope.” And if for a while you grieve like a pagan, go easy on yourself. Keep seeking and you will get to peace.

  • MICHAEL TABERNERO’S ORDINATION AND FIRST MASS – Let me know if you want to know about the special parking spaces near the cathedral. I hope to see those of you who can swing it at Michael’s ordination at 10:30 am on June 22 and at his first Mass that afternoon at 4:45. NO special parking tips required for that one!

Sunday's Homily
June 2, 2019 — Seventh Sunday of Easter
God's Gifts to the Early Church and to Us at Mass, Part VI: Forgiveness

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • OUR RESPECT LIFE FOLKS – Thanks and blessings for those who provided information about how to support legislation to protect infants born unexpectedly in situations that do not treasure them. Thanks too to the many people who let the Respect Life Ministry know what issues matter most to you. The group collected many inspired suggestions.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • NEW PARISHIONERS – Please join me in welcoming our newest parishioners. We continue to pray that our newest members will experience their new parish as a place of great grace and that our newest parishioners will be channels of great grace for many others. God’s great blessings for:

    • Christopher and Courtney DeMauro and their son Nicholas

    • Vincent and Jennifer Esposito and their children Gianna, Emilia and Mickey

    • Anthony and Carolann Guidotti

    • Lisa Anne Hartnett and family members Anthony and Gail

    • Charles and Kristen Meiser and their children Hayden and Charles, Jr.

    • Jozef and Barbara Murawski

    • John and Cheryl Papa and their daughter Brittney

    • Jeffery and Sara Perley and their children Emily, Colin, and Margaret
      How blessed are we to have these believers enrich our community? WAY!

  • MOTORCYCLE PEOPLE – GET GOING! – The parish motorcyclist club’s first ride of the season departs Saturday at 8:15. Destination? The Flemington Diner via a very scenic route. Return time? 11 am. Need to have joined the club or made a reservation? Absolutely not. Just get on your bike and get to church and get going. It is a truly wonderful bunch.

  • CALLING ALL GRADUATES – Please let me know – via this link or via the forms on the Moses Table – the high-school, college or graduate school from which you are graduating and what your post-grad plans include. I hope to post one comprehensive “Graduate List” in late June. Your fellow parishioners are eager to learn about your success and to wish you well. So, let me know about your graduations.

  • THIS WEEK’S SAGES EVENTS – This week’s line dancing session was amazing fun to behold. I was going to join you all and bust a move, but I figured my dazzling footwork might be a bit off-putting so of course I decided to keep moving (NOT.) That was one big bunch of fun to watch. Thanks for all who made it happen and thanks to all who danced.

    UPCOMING SAGES EVENTS – Please consider joining the fun at the next two Sage events:

    • How to use your Smartphone seminar:  iPhone & Android – Thursday, June 13th, 10 am,  
      Parish Hall  

    • Chair Exercise Class Information Session – Tuesday, June 18th, 11 am, Parish Hall

      All are welcome to join both events. Please sign up at the Sages bulletin board in the Gathering Space (across from the bookcase.)

Your Pastor’s Brag

  • A BRILLIANT FUNDRAISING EFFORT – Several parishioners have played a critically important role in some recent and huge fundraising efforts for the Adult Day Center of Somerset. (Learn more about it if you are a senior citizen or love a senior citizen.) Supersized Kudos for Ken Scherer (4:45, S3), Cindy Norfleet (9:30, S7), Hilary Kruchowy (4:45, S 3) and Dave Mendez (4:45, S3).

  • BACK IN THE GAME – Congratulations to star athlete Kelly Young (6:00, S5). Less than a year after a traumatic bike crash and back surgery, Kelly Young is back! She placed second in her age group at the Independence triathlon last weekend. But this is just a warmup for her half ironman in July in Ohio! Thanks to Kelly for the overwhelming inspiration.

    PLEASE KEEP THE BRAG MATERIAL COMING

With continued blessings and gratitude for all, 

Fr Hank

June 2, 2019 — Seventh Sunday of Easter
God's Gifts to the Early Church and to Us at Mass, Part VI: Forgiving


 
Could the church have survived if people had failed to forgive one another? Maybe. But maybe not.


They fought some impressive fights. Peter and Paul duked it out about eating with Gentiles. But they then forgave each other from the heart. Paul preached so long that Eutyches fell asleep, tumbled out the window and died. But Paul brought him back to life and all was forgiven, truly. A bunch of Paul’s friends abandoned him when he urgently needed some easy-to-give help that they chose not to provide. But Paul forgave them.


The early church survived and flourished, in part, because people forgave each other. They frequently did two of the most important things that forgiveness requires: they disavowed retaliation and they chose to see the other as more than a villain. It sometimes took a while to evolve beyond the urges to retaliate and beyond the see only the ugliness in the other. Typically, they eventually reached a forgiving place.


Sunday’s first reading (Acts 7) tells the story of Stephen, the first martyr. It spotlights the ability to forgive that God gave the early church. It depicts Stephen, as his opponents are killing him, shouting to Jesus to forgive his murderers: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Who can do that? Who can disavow retaliation against people who are their murderers? Anyone to whom God gives the extraordinary ability to forgive. And God gave that grace to many people in the early church.


Jesus does some subtle but extraordinary forgiving in the portion of the High Priestly Prayer (John 17) that we heard on Sunday. We hear him praying, at the Last Supper, both for his disciples and for those whom the disciples will lead to faith. Both groups will hurt Jesus. The disciples will abandon him hours after he prays for them. The next generations of believers will frequently choose sin. Still, Jesus prays for them and us. He includes no exemptions or fine-print-escape-clauses – such as, “Father I pray for my disciples except those who will abandon me tomorrow. Please punish them.” Neither does he pray, “I pray for the new believers, except the big sinners whom I hope you will punish.” And before the next sunset, Jesus will pray for those who murder him, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus gives us an example of true forgiveness and Jesus helps deliver that grace to members of the early church.


This season’s readings remind us that God continues to give us these gifts and God gives us those gifts in Sunday Mass in a special way. The congregation, the Word, and the Eucharist are special channels of these graces. So, what is your story? Have there been people in the congregation – this congregation or one in your past – who have truly forgiven you and thereby taught you about forgiveness? Who has decided not to retaliate against you? Who has decided not to think of you only as the rat who caused trouble? How about the Word? Are there passages that play in your head that call you back from the urge to retaliate? Things that Jesus said? Words spoken by the prophets or the apostles or the psalmists? And what passages invite you to the higher ground of seeing the wholeness of those who injure you or your loved ones? Most importantly, how about the Eucharist? Can you recall peak moments when the words of the Eucharistic Prayers or the words of the Consecration penetrated you with an appreciation of how much Jesus has forgiven you? How about the reminder that he will pour out his blood so that your sins may be forgiven? Those words give us the antithesis of retaliation or dismissal.


The dark side always wants us to hold grudges. The dark side wants us to retaliate and to see others only as ultra-villains. Doing all that robs us of peace and that is what the dark side wants. Participation in Sunday Mass has a way of leading us to the peace that forgiveness provides. What is your story?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - May 31, 2019

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – May 31, 2019

Dear All: 

Our music man has left us. Frank Viola, our director of music for more years than most can count, has gone home to God. He died Thursday morning just after 4:00. Frank had returned to the hospital yesterday morning after having spent much time there in the last few weeks. He had hoped to beat the cancer until just a few days ago. 

Frank’s faith in Jesus Christ never failed him. Right into his final hours, Frank spoke of God’s love. He knew that Jesus Christ was the rock to which he was clinging. He had complete confidence that Jesus Christ had opened heaven’s gates. Throughout his illness, the support Frank received from Sandy, his remarkable wife of so many decades, enabled him to keep that enviable faith.

We will miss Frank terribly. We will miss his music. We who work with Frank will miss his presence, his unique sense of humor and his inspired ability to tease and be teased. Thanks for praying for Frank’s eternal rest, for consolation for Sandy, for their children and grandchildren, and for all who will miss him, especially the people who made the music he led so well and so faithfully for so long.

Frank’s wake will be here at church on Monday evening and his funeral will be here on Tuesday morning. The “Eternal Rest” email will provide the details.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

  • SPIRITUAL EXERCISERS – What a pleasure and a grace it has been to share the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius with this year’s group. They have given themselves to the process in most impressive ways and they have known the rewards of their spiritual labors. I will miss their extraordinary humor and esprit de corps. But mostly I will miss the lights they have discovered and described for seven demanding and glorious months. The year-long retreat will be offered again in 2020-21.

  • MICHAEL TABERNERO’S ORDINATION – Consider yourself invited – sincerely invited – to Michael’s Ordination on Saturday, June 22 at the Metuchen Cathedral at 10:30 am. (If you plan to go, let me know and I will let tell you about the double-secret parking spaces located very close to the cathedral.) Also, consider yourself sincerely invited to Michael’s First Mass, that afternoon at 4:45. Michael will be doing first blessings after the ordination and after the First Mass. (NB – lines will be shorter in Metuchen).

Sunday's Homily
May 26, 2019 — Sixth Sunday of Easter
God's Gifts to the Early Church and to Us at Mass, Part V: Simplicity

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • DEFENDING THE DEFENSELESS – In the gathering space this weekend, representatives of our Respect Life Ministry will help you learn how to support a piece of federal legislation that would protect babies that survive abortions. Interestingly, the bill has not received sufficient support in either the U.S. Senate or the U.S. Congress. 

  • IDENTIFY YOUR CONCERN – Also in the gathering space this weekend, the reps from the Respect Life Ministry will provide a chance for you to identify your concerns. Are there people out there whom you believe are not treated with dignity and love? People whose lives might be endangered? In addition to the unborn, what groups’ welfare concerns you? And are we as a parish doing our bit to help them?

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • CALLING ALL GRADUATES – Please let me know – via this link or via the forms on the Moses Table – the high-school, college or graduate school from which you are graduating and what your post-grad plans include. I hope to post one comprehensive “Graduate List” in late June. Your fellow parishioners are eager to learn about your success and to wish you well. So, let me know about your graduations.

  • ESTATE PLANNING – Thanks to the ministries that have organized the seminar "Getting your Estate Planning House in Order" on Saturday, June 8th at 10am. Anna Marie Gentile, Esq. will discuss basic estate planning.  To register, please contact Carol Jorgensen at CarolJ623@comcast.net 

  • OUTDOOR MOVIES – All are invited to the June 7 outdoor showing of “The Great Outdoors.” Our Becca’s Friends ministry is providing the big night. DJ Matt starts at 7:15 and the movie will start at 8:15. Hot dogs, ice cream and other snacks will be available for purchase. Bring a good movie-watching chair!

  • SAGES MINISTRY – As I write this on Ascension Thursday evening, the Hospitality Room is full of our sagacious Sage folk learning more about how to use Ancestry.com. The next big Sages event is the Line Dancing wing ding at 2 pm on June 5th. That session will also offer an “Activities Fair” at which you can learn more about Sage program offerings and make suggestions about what you would like to see offered.

Your Pastor’s Brag

  • OUR KEEPER OF THE BYWAYS – Several parishioners have mentioned the selfless dedication of George Meyer (Mostly 7:15 S1). Many of you have seen George, usually with his white van parked nearby, doing way more than his bit to keep our local byways scenic. George removes all manner of clutter and junk from the roads around Hillsborough. Would that many more of us had George’s sense of civic duty and pride. When not keeping the town in shipshape, George does terrific work at church. Thank you, George!

  • A MASTERS RECITAL – Congratulations to Chris Aggabao (4:45 Piano Bench) who recently completed his Masters Piano Recital at the world-famous Westminster Choir College. Chris’ brilliance is great news for all at Saint Joe’s – where Chris first played (many years ago) at the 6:00 pm Sunday Mass. Congratulations Chris.

  • ANONYMOUS ACCOMPLISHMENTS – Boundless blessings for several parishioners who have recently marked milestones in their recovery histories. Of course, I will not mention your names, but I share your joy and want you to know that your fellow parishioners, if they knew of your heroic efforts, would celebrate with you. Special kudos for one parishioner who is marking one year of being clean and sober and another who is marking 25 years. God is good – all the time! 

PLEASE KEEP THE BRAG MATERIAL COMING
 
With continued blessings and gratitude for all, 

Fr Hank

May 26, 2019 — Sixth Sunday of Easter
God's Gifts to the Early Church and to Us 

at Mass, Part V: Simplicity
 

The ability to welcome others

Strength for the mission

Discerning hearts and minds

Christ-like love.


Each of these is a gift that God poured out in powerful ways on the early church. The Easter season readings from Acts of the Apostles have described those gifts and the gospels have expressed Christ’s affection for them. Experience reminds us that God continues to give those gifts and that God gives them in special ways through the graces of Sunday Mass.

This week’s readings point our hearts and minds toward yet another of these gifts, inspired simplicity. We sometimes feel tempted to complicate our relationships with Christ, but God gives us the ability and the desire to keep that relationship simple.

Sunday’s first reading (Acts 15) recounts a time when people who had been part of the church for a few years tried to complicate things for the newest members. The old guard wanted to impose extraordinary demands on the most recently baptized. Those complicating demands – including brutal surgery, strict dietary rules and several other deprivations – threatened to drive away the new members. Those demands also plopped enormous distractions into the hearts of the newest Christians. Such stringent and uninspired requirements tend to take on a life of their own. They easily become a badge of honor for the compliant and a stumbling block for the weary. Either way, they promote the disastrous conviction, “this is what religion is about.” Fortunately, the Holy Spirit put the kibosh on those mandates. The Holy Spirit helped people to keep it simple, to live in the glorious conviction that our faith is about the conviction that Jesus loves us. That simple conviction – not surgery or diet or ancient customs – draws us into a love relationship with him.

Sunday’s gospel (John 15) also calls us to an uncomplicated relationship of love with Jesus. The words spoken at the Last Supper condense Jesus’ hopes for us: that we will love him, keep his word, experience the Father’s love and presence, and know profound peace. We know from several other places in the gospels that Jesus wants us to appreciate the primacy of his love for us. That is, our love for him is ultimately a response to his love for us. It all begins with our deepening appreciation of how much he loves us. As that simple awareness becomes larger and more influential, we love him more, and know his peace more profoundly.

God continues to give us that simple, transformative awareness that Jesus loves us. That gift of simple conviction animated the early church’s faith. It animates our faith. And it comes to us in a special way at Sunday Mass – through the congregation, the Word and the Eucharist.

So, what about you? Are there people in our congregation who remind you to stay rooted in the simple, transformative conviction that Jesus loves you? Maybe they are your current fold-mates? Other Mass-mates? Fellow parishioners from your past? What other believers give you a great example of people who care most about being loved by Jesus? Who loves you in ways that make it easy for you to believe Jesus loves you? And what about the Word? Do you have a small collection (maybe 5-10) of bible passages that carry you to the deep, simple conviction that Jesus loves you? Are they words of Christ? Passages from the epistles or the Old Testament? Psalms? And what about the Eucharist? Are there certain aspects of the Eucharist that deepen your simple conviction that he loves you infinitely? The words of the consecration? Other parts of the Eucharistic Prayer? The reception of the Body and Blood of Christ? Are there moments of encounter that often remind you of how much he loves you? What are they?

The dark side always wants to complicate our connection with Christ. Complication increases the odds that we will walk away from it. So, what helps you fight the good fight of simplicity? What helps you get to the simple and all-important ability to hear him tell you, “I love you more than you can ever imagine?”

That simple awareness inspired the early church and does the same for us. What’s your story?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - May 24, 2019

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

This Week – May 24, 2019

Dear All: 

Happy Memorial Day! May God bless you and your summer adventures in marvelous and unexpected ways. For now, may God bless you as you assemble your summer bucket-list – including your summer spiritual-bucket-list. 

Other than enjoying those “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” along with the “soda and pretzels” and whatever, what is on your summer bucket list? How about your summer spiritual-bucket-list? A retreat day or two? Extra prayer time? More scripture or spiritual reading? Getting in better shape of one sort or another? A few service projects? Enjoying inspired time with loved ones? And don’t forget the sunscreen!

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

  • CONGRATULATIONS FIRST COMMUNIONS – Once again, our First Communicants were exemplary. You prayed beautifully and sincerely and carried yourself with exceptional grace. I loved having you around the altar and it was an exceptional gift to give you your first communions. Truly. Blessings all around, especially for your parents and grandparents. Great thanks to your CCD teachers and program leaders.

  • MICHAEL TABERNERO’S ORDINATION – Consider yourself invited – sincerely invited – to Michael’s Ordination on Saturday, June 22 at the Metuchen Cathedral at 10:30 a.m. (If you plan to go, let me know and I will let tell you about the double-secret parking spaces located very close to the cathedral.) Also, consider yourself sincerely invited to Michael’s First Mass, that afternoon at 4:45. Michael will be doing first blessings after the ordination and after the First Mass. (NB – lines will be shorter in Metuchen).

  • MEMORIAL DAY MASS – We will have the regularly scheduled 8:35 Mass on Monday morning, Memorial Day, with extra prayers for eternal rest for all who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. I wonder if maybe we should we do for Memorial Day what we do for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day? – i.e., put on the altar the names of relatives and friends who died in uniform? Just a thought.

  • ASCENSION THURSDAY – This Thursday, May 30 is the Feast of the Ascension. It is a very good idea to participate in Mass. Masses for the feast are Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and then on the feast itself at 8:35 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. I look forward to seeing you at Mass. Bring a friend.

Sunday’s Homily 

May 19, 2019 – Fifth Sunday of Easter
God's Gifts to the Early Church and to Us at Mass, Part IV: Christ-like Love

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • SHELTERING THE HOMELESS – More blessings for the many St. Joe’s parishioners who are staffing this week’s homeless shelter at Hillsborough’s Dutch Reformed Church. Yours is a labor of love.

  • FEEDING THE HUNGRY – Our parish ministry to Elijah’s Kitchen clearly brings peace to people and glorifies God. Thanks and blessings for all who cooked the fish there on Sunday.

  • VISITING THE SICK – Several conversations this week reminded me again that our ministries to the homebound and to those living in long-term health care facilities are flourishing. Blessings to the visitors and PLEASE – MAKE THAT DOUBLE PLEASE – let me know of anyone in your life who would benefit from a communion visit.

  • DEFENDING THE DEFENSELESS – In the gathering space June 1 & 2, representatives of our Respect Life Ministry will help you learn how to support a piece of federal legislation that would protect babies that survive abortions. Interestingly, the bill has not received sufficient support in either the U.S. Senate or the U.S. Congress. 

  • IDENTIFY YOUR CONCERN – Also in the gathering space June 1 & 2, the reps from the Respect Life Ministry will provide a chance for you to identify your concerns. Are there people out there whom you feel are not treated with dignity and love? People whose lives might be endangered? In addition to the unborn, what groups’ welfare concerns you? And are we as a parish doing our bit to help them?

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • COMEDY NIGHT – Saturday’s comedy night was truly a rip-snorting good time. Great thanks to the McDevitt and Wund families for putting it together. And of course, thanks to our comedians and to Bob Ferretti for all the help. GREAT blessings for George Meyer who won the 50-50 and donated the winnings to support the Youth Group’s summer service trip. 

  • ESTATE PLANNING – Thanks to the ministries that have organized the seminar "Getting your Estate Planning House in Order" on Saturday, June 8th at 10 a.m. Anna Marie Gentile, Esq. will discuss basic estate planning.  To register, please contact Carol Jorgensen at CarolJ623@comcast.net  

  • OUTDOOR MOVIES – All are invited to the June 7 outdoor showing of “The Great Outdoors.” Our Becca’s Friends ministry is providing the big night. Bring a good movie-watching chair!

  • SAGES MINISTRY – The next big event (after this week’s terrifically fun Daytime Game Night) is the Line Dancing wing ding at 2 p.m. on June 5th. Remember, “makes no difference if you win or lose, long as you got your dancing shoes.” That session will also offer an “Activities Fair” at which you can learn more about Sage program offerings and make suggestions about what you would like to see offered.

Your Pastor’s Brag –  – OUR PRIZE WINNERS

  • OUR PRIZE-WINNING NURSE – Anita Ciano (9:30 S3) has received one of the area’s highest awards for nursing, The Mary Gemeroy award. The Community VNA conferred the award on Anita for her exceptional care for patients and for her dedication to public health. We also know Anita and her husband Rob as the mainstays of our Sunday Donut Program. They are also our top Eagle-ologists!

  • THE PICCOLO PRIZE – Allison Dorrler (9:30 S2) a Hillsborough HS Senior who assists with the Sunday children’s liturgy – AND, LIKE ANITA, WITH SUNDAY DONUTS!!!! – is receiving the Brian Piccolo Award and Scholarship from the Hillsborough Chapter of UNICO. The award is given to high school student-athletes of Italian-American heritage who exhibit the qualities modeled by Brian Piccolo in his life and career – excellence in athletics, integrity, leadership, courage, loyalty, friendship, teamwork, dedication, a sense of humor and an inspired intolerance for bias. God bless Allison and her family.

KEEP THE BRAG MATERIAL COMING 

With continued blessings and gratitude for all, 

Fr Hank

May 19, 2019 – Fifth Sunday of Easter
God's Gifts to the Early Church and to Us at Mass, Part IV: Christ-like Love


God gave astonishing gifts to the early church.
God continues to give many of those gifts to many people today.
Sunday Mass plays an important role in the conferral and development of those gifts.
This week’s readings focus on the gift of Christ-like love – then and now.

In Sunday’s gospel (John 13), Jesus beseeches us to love one another as he has loved us. But what is so different about his ways of loving? What makes his ways of loving unique? One could assemble a very long list of differences. One that stands out, and that seems particularly important in that gospel passage’s context, is his habit of asking first, “What is best for the other?” He surely would not have touched the people with leprosy or defended the woman caught in adultery or called Zacchaeus out of the tree or raised Lazarus if he had asked first, “What is best for me?” He spoke those words just after he had washed the disciples’ feet. He also spoke them just a few hours before he died on the cross, in the ultimate expression of asking first, “What is best for the others?”

Sunday’s first reading (Acts 14) depicts Paul and Barnabas asking the right question, the question that leads us to Christ-like love. After a few years of fulfilling but very rough travels around Asia Minor, they discerned that it was time to head home. Had they asked first “What is best for us?” they would have headed straight home from their last stop, a stop that was relatively close to their home. Instead, they doubled back and re-visited all the places where they had started churches. That return route added many hardships to the trip. Their hearts were clearly filled with the right question, the question that leads to Christ-like love: “What is best for the other?”

Of course, we can overdo that question. We can ignore our own wellbeing in pursuit of uninspired martyrdom and self-destruction. Jesus isn’t asking us to do that. He is asking us to love one another as he loves us, with a love that asks first about the other’s peace and welfare.

You have been loved with Christlike love and you have loved others with Christlike love. That isn’t up for grabs. The question is how has Sunday Mass helped you to stay the course of Christ-like love? How has God used Sunday Mass to do for you what God did so often in the early church, give people the ability to love as Jesus loves?

Take a look at the three aspects of Sunday Mass that get our attention this month – the congregation, the Word and the Eucharist. First, what do you recall when you consider moments when the Christ-like love of other people in the congregation inspired you to love like Christ loved? Maybe somebody shared a story before or after Mass or maybe you just observed selfless dedication in action? How has the congregation nurtured your Christ-like love for others? Second, what about the Word? What passages, Old Testament or New Testament, have made you want to love more as Christ loved? Was it in the life of Christ? The life of some other person in the scripture? Third, what about the Eucharist? Can you recall a time or two when you were contemplating Jesus’ love for others – in the consecration or in the reception of his body and blood – when you were taken by his love and felt called to imitate him?

The gifts given to the early church keep coming our way. One of those gifts is the gift of Christ-like love. How has the experience of Sunday Mass increased your ability and will to ask first “What is best for the other? How would Jesus treat this person?”

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - May 17, 2019

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

May 17, 2019

Dear All: 

How delightful are these days between the rains? How persuasive is the proof they provide for the existence of a loving God? And how well do the justify Gerald Manley Hopkins SJ’s claim that “Nothing is so beautiful as Spring”? I hope the marvel of it all is multiplying your joy, dividing your grief, and keeping you attentive to many forms of grace.

Since the rain is supposed to return, you might as well make indoor plans if you haven’t already. As of noon today, there are still 11 tickets available for COMEDY NIGHT. You can purchase tickets online until they are sold or until 6 pm today,whichever comes first! Hope to see you at COMEDY NIGHT! Mirth is one of God’s most underrated gifts to us.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

  • FIRST COMMUNIONS THIS WEEKEND – Extra jumbo blessings and congratulations for our 20 youngsters who will be making their First Communions this weekend. It is an inspired and inspiring day for you, your family, those who have served as your teachers, the entire parish, and yes, the worldwide church. In making your First Communion, you are saying “Yes” to Jesus in a way that benefits all of us. THANKS.

  • MICHAEL TABERNERO’S ORDINATION – Our very own Michael Tabernero, brother of Nick and Maggie, son of Mary and Peter (9:30 S2 or S5) will be ordained a priest on Saturday, June 22 at 10:30 am. Things to keep in mind:

    • YOU ARE SINCERELY INVITED TO MICHAEL’S ORDINATION ON SATURDAY MORNING – Michael and I are actively encouraging every St. Joe’s parishioner to attend the ordination. It is on Saturday, June 22 at 10:30 at the Metuchen Cathedral. If you have never been to an ordination, this is your chance. It is one of our Church’s most beautiful liturgies. Whether you know Michael and his family well, or just a little or not at all – do yourself a favor and go to the ordination. Depending on the size of the procession, it will take about two hours. Michael will be giving first blessings right after the ordination Mass and you are strongly encouraged to get one of his first blessings. This isn’t one of those polite and flimsy “please drop by some time” invitations. This is “BE THERE PLEASE.” 

    • YOU ARE SINCERELY INVITED TO MICHAEL’S FIRST MASS ON SATURDAY AFTERNOON – Like your invitation to the ordination, your invitation to Michael’s first Mass is also completely sincere. We want you there! If you can swing it, please come to the 4:45 Mass on Saturday, June 22. Michael will be offering first blessings between the end of Mass and 7:00 pm. The parish will be hosting a reception for all while Michael is blessing people. At 7:00, he and his family and their invited guests head for dinner. (NB – The smart money says the blessing line will be shorter at the Cathedral.)

Sunday’s Homily 

May 12, 2019 — Fourth Sunday of Easter
God’s Gifts to the Early Church and to Us at Mass, Part III: Discernment.

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • SHELTERING THE HOMELESS – Thanks yet again to all who made last week’s effort so beautiful and productive. Thanks too for your willingness to help our dear neighbor, the Hillsborough Reformed Church, staff their shelter next week. You have been doing the Lord’s work on an overtime basis. God bless you. And if you can help with next week’s shelter and haven’t already signed up, please let me know.

  • SUMMER SERVICE TRIPS – We are still several weeks away, but thanks in advance to the PARENTS of the many young parishioners who will be making the summer service trips. Get this, we have 21 college students and young adults heading to Texas and 30 high-school students going to PA. These trips can be transformative – AND – they require much help from the parents. THANKS, PARENTS.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • ESTATE PLANNING – Thanks to the ministries that have organized the seminar "Getting your Estate Planning House in Order" on Saturday, June 8th at 10am. Anna Marie Gentile, Esq. will discuss basic estate planning.  To register, please contact Carol Jorgensen at CarolJ623@comcast.net  

  • A COLUMBARIUM? – Thanks to the many parishioners who turned out this week and last to learn about the possibility of being interred right here at church. The interest level has been very impressive and the questions most insightful. Stay tuned. And if you have any concerns, please contact me.

  • OUTDOOR MOVIES – All are invited to the June 7 outdoor showing of “The Great Outdoors.” Our Becca’s Friends ministry is providing the big night. Bring a good movie-watching lawn chair!

  • SAGES MINISTRY – The next big event (after this week’s genealogy session) is DAYTIME GAME NIGHT on Wednesday, May 22 at 2 pm. No game experience is required – and every table will have a leader to teach the game (Poker, adult board games, you name it). SIGN UP IN THE GATHERING SPACE. Hope to see you there.

Your Pastor’s Brag – The Italian Schools Connections!

  • OUR PARISH’S FIREFIGHTERS – How blessed are we to count among our numbers so many public servants? And how extra blessed are we to be the parish of four firefighters, from the Woods Road Firehouse, who have recently been recognized by the mayor as among the top 10 responders. Thanks, blessings and prayers for Ken Wezel, Rick Artz, Charlie Nuara, Andrew Santos, and Mike Murphy  

  • NATIONAL FINALISTS IN LACROSSE – Cate Zuccarello, daughter Natalie and Phil Zuccarello (9:30 S5) is playing in this weekend’s D2 National Finals for women’s college lacrosse. Cate, who graduated Magna on Saturday from West Chester University, is a starting defensive player. GOD BLESS CATE AND HER TEAMMATES.

With continued blessings and gratitude for all, 

Fr Hank

May 12, 2019 — Fourth Sunday of Easter
God’s Gifts to the Early Church and to Us at Mass, Part III: Discernment 


Our Easter season hypothesis endures: God gave astonishing gifts to the early church and God continues to give those gifts today, frequently at Sunday Mass. This week’s readings focus on the gift of discernment – i.e., the ability to get a handle on what God wants, so that we can want it and do it.

Sunday’s first reading (Acts 13) nudges us toward the start of Paul’s first missionary journey. Paul and Barnabas reached Antioch in Pisidia (the other Antioch), preached up a storm, gathered many new disciples, and then experienced profound rejection. That fluctuation between success and apparent failure enabled them to get a handle on what God wanted. The evidence of their lives – carefully considered and with a soul-deep desires to know what God wants – indicated that they should keep moving. They should not spend more time in that Antioch. Paul and Barnabas evidently discerned well. So did the people who came to hear them. Paul, Barnabas, and their true supporters got a handle on what God wanted them to do. They remind us that we too have what it takes to discern well. We don’t always discern God’s desire but we always can.

Jesus reminds us of that truth in the unconditional claims he makes in Sunday’s gospel (John 10). Jesus invokes no conditions or limits in His three-phrase-assertion: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” It can help to rephrase that claim and to imagine Jesus speaking it directly to us: “You are my sheep; you hear my voice; I know you; and you follow me.” The words express Jesus’ confidence in our ability to discern. If we could not discern, He would say neither “you hear my voice” nor “you follow me.”

The bishops at the Second Vatican Council further remind us of our ability to know what God wants. In a brilliant passage from the document “Gaudiem et Spes,” which has been included in the newest Code of Canon Law as Canon 1776, the bishops assert (again rephrased so it is addressed TO you rather than written ABOUT you”:

"Deep within your conscience you discover a law which you have not laid upon yourself but which you must obey. That voice, ever calling you to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in your heart at the right moment . . . the voice of conscience when necessary speaks to your heart: do this, shun that.. . . . For you have in your heart a law inscribed by God . . . Your conscience is your most secret core and your sanctuary. There you are alone with God whose voice echoes in your depths."
The gift of discernment was clearly given to the early church in a very big way. Time and again we read stories of people getting a handle on God’s desires. God continues to give the gift of discernment, especially at Sunday Mass. When we put our minds and hearts to it, we can see that, time and again, we get a handle on God’s desires, especially with the help Sunday Mass provides. Each of the Mass’ three main components – the congregation, the Word and the Eucharist – help us to want to know what God wants and then to know it.

So what about you? When has the congregation activated and shaped your discernment? Has there been a time when one of your parish-mates or Mass-mates or fold-mates influenced you – through their words or their example – in ways that made you want to know God’s desire? How did their words or example shape your discernment? And what about the Word? What scripture passages have made you want to know what God wants and then informed your understanding of what God wants? Can you name a few? And finally, how about the Eucharist? As you have contemplated Christ’s infinite love for you and your loved ones – in the consecration and in the reception of His body and blood – how have you been moved to become more like Him, more loving, more self-giving? How has the experience of the Eucharist made you want to know what God wants and then helped you go understand what God wants?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - May 10, 2019

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

May 10, 2019

Dear All: 

Continued Easter blessings for all and special blessings for all who have engineered the parish hall scene-changes this week. It has been a monumental task. We are blessed to have three families staying in the Parish Hall for seven nights. Their presence requires privacy dividers and places for children to play and families to eat and TVs to be watched. During the day, the hall has accommodated several recreational activities, ministry meetings and, on Wednesday, the Paint and Sip Gathering for dozens of our wisest parishioners. Every setup and re-setup requires muscle and cooperation and we seem to have plenty of both. God bless everyone who keeps the parish agile, helpful and clean.

COMEDY NIGHT (May 18) is almost here! Tickets are selling briskly, and memories of last year’s hilarity are ramping up the vibe. Remember – it is a BYOB night AND parishioners under the age of 18 should not plan to visit church that night. Pray! (at the 4:45). Eat! (starting at 6). Laugh! (after dinner).

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

  • First Communions – How beautiful was the celebration of First Communions at Sunday’s 9:30? Remarkably so. Hats off to the First Communicants. You prayed sincerely and comported (big kid word) yourselves beautifully at the altar. Thanks to the parents and the grandparents who deserve so much credit for the First Communicants’ faith. Thanks too to our Religious Ed volunteers and staff and to all who made the liturgy beautiful. We will celebrate our next First Communions on May 19.

  • Mother’s Day Remembrances – This weekend the Prayers of the Faithful at every Mass will mention the mothers whose names are on the cards on the altar. If you didn’t get your cards in, chances are pretty good that God knows your intention and hears our prayers for your mother as well.

  • Lectors Young and Not-so-young – Several of our recent Sunday Masses have benefited from the efforts of our youngest lectors – grades 7-12. You are a terrific supplement to our more experienced lectors who make every Sunday reading a pleasure to hear. Thanks for preparing and for going slowly enough for all to hear. I have much to learn from you.

  • Sunday’s 6:00 pm Mass – It being mother's day, there will be a 6 pm Mass on Sunday but there will not be music.  Pray Well!

Sunday’s Homily 

May 5, 2019 — Third Sunday of Easter
God’s Gifts to the Early Church and to Us at Mass, Part II: Strength.

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • Parish Housing – Thanks to everyone who is chipping in to enrich our week of hosting homeless families. The project is inspired, inspiring and very labor-intensive. Thanks to every volunteer for bringing palpable compassion and good humor to the Parish Hall. I try to keep my visits short but am always tempted to stick around just to observe how cool you are and how blessed you make our visitors feel. The world could use a few million more like you. Special thanks to our helpful youngsters.

  • Caregivers Ministry – On Saturday morning at 10 am in the Parish Hall, the Caregiver Ministry will be showing “Being Mortal” by Dr. Atul Gawande. The movie provides great insights about planning for life’s final chapters in ways that make those chapters great. If you or a loved one is aging, you might benefit from the movie and the conversation that follows.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • A Columbarium? – Thanks to the many parishioners who have inquired about the columbarium we are investigating. Already, a few dozen are eager to sign up. The project still has several hurdles ahead – the most important being the level of demand. Since the project will be self-funded (i.e., will be paid for by people who buy niches, not by parish operating funds), the initial level of demand is a most important issue. If you have any thoughts you would like to share, or if the prospect concerns you in any way, please email me or speak to me after Mass.

  • CCD: Summer Session – Summer CCD is officially a “Go.” We have more than enough students. A few spaces are still available. 

  • CCD: Next Year – Sign up early for CCD for the 2019/2020 year. The registration period lasts for several more weeks, but the sooner you sign up the more likely you are to get the program you want!

  • Becca’s Friends – Saturday’s Cinco de Mayo party was a rollicking good time. Thanks to all who made it that way, especially Count Graham, our indefatigably upbeat DJ! The next big Becca’s Friends’ event is the June 7 outdoor movie. That should be one for the record books!

  • Sages Ministries – Whooda thunk the response would be this strong? Wednesday’s Paint and Sip session sold out and provided a very refreshing afternoon for 40 parishioners. The next event is a daytime “Game Night” on Wednesday, May 22 from 2 to 4 pm. Come prepared to play Mahjong, dominoes, Rummicube (my personal favorite), Poker, Pinochle, Mexican Train and more. NO EXPERIENCE necessary. Sign up in the Gathering Space.

Your Pastor’s Brag – The Italian Schools Connections!

  • Ninety-three going on sixty-two – Maria Teresa Marabini Moevs (11:30, S4, SECOND ROW!) graduated from the University of Bologna (founded 1088, the world's oldest) as a classical archaeologist, and became an internationally recognized authority on ancient Roman ceramics.  While working at the American Academy in Rome after WWII, she met and married U.S. Air Force pilot Robert Moevs. The couple came to New Jersey in 1965 where both became renowned professors at Rutgers, she in archaeology, he in music.

  • An Italian family affair – The Realbuto family goes back and forth between the 9:30 and the 6:00, depending on their liturgical and other duties. But they ALWAYS sit in S1. Depending on which cousins are in from Italy and which grandparents are in town, they take up anywhere from one small pew to two big ones. Currently missing from their ranks are Anna Maria’s and Rich’s two oldest children. Vittoria is a sophomore at the U. of Perugia and Marco is a freshman at Bocconi U. Both are flourishing. If you are thinking of studying overseas, V. and M. might have some valuable wisdom to share.

    With continued blessings and gratitude for all, 

    Fr Hank

May 5, 2019 — Third Sunday of Easter
God’s Gifts to the Early Church and to Us at Mass, Part II: Strength.


Throughout this Easter season, a single hypothesis is guiding the Sunday homilies: The greatest gifts God gave to the early church are still being given by God today, frequently at Sunday Mass. This week’s readings focus on the gift of strength to fulfill one’s vocation.
Sunday’s passage from Acts 5 provides yet another look at Saint Peter at the top of his game. The local authorities are circling him and threatening to do to him what they did to Jesus. And how does Peter reply? Defiantly. He tells the religiously approved bullies that “We must obey God rather than men.” This strength-of-spine carries no resemblance to the fear that made him deny Christ. This sort of astonishing strength is a gift frequently given in the early Church and always enables people to answer the call.

The excerpt from John’s gospel (John 21) provides a bracing example of God giving Peter a different sort of strength. Jesus gives the apostles fishing advice that fills their nets. The heavy net is too heavy for Peter and his six pals to lift. Following the failed lift, Peter discovers that it is Jesus on the beach. That awareness gives him an almighty rush of spiritual adrenalin. After swimming to the beach, he, by himself, drags the hundreds of pounds of fish up the beach by himself. That physical feat has been interpreted in many ways over the centuries. Many view Peter’s physical strength as a symbol for the power God gave him to serve the early church. God gave similar remarkable strength to many members of the early church.

God did not stop giving that gift when the bible stopped being written. God continually gives us the strength we need to fulfill our vocational calls. God does that in a special way at Sunday Mass – through the congregation, through the word, and through the Eucharist.

What about you? Can you name a moment when each of those parts of Sunday Mass gave you the strength to fulfill your vocation? When, specifically, have the congregation, the word, and the Eucharist enabled you to do what needed to be done? Perhaps it was a chance encounter with a pew-mate that inspired you toward greater achievement? Perhaps it was something you heard in the readings that gave you the strength to say “yes” to a demanding aspect of your vocation? Perhaps it was an experience of receiving communion that left you feeling “I can do this difficult thing.”

The season’s readings describe fantastic gifts that God gave to members of the early church. Those gifts keep coming. When we stop and think it over, we notice that many of those gifts are given through Sunday Mass. What’s your story? When have the congregation, the word and the Eucharist done for you what the encounters with Christ did for Peter – i.e., given you more strength than you guessed you had? And what does that say about God’s hopes for your future?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - May 3, 2019

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

May 3, 2019

Dear All:  

Christ’s Peace and continued Easter blessings.

We are now two weeks away from one of the most enjoyed fellowship events of our year – Comedy Night – Saturday, May 18. The laughs begin right after dinner which begins right after the 4:45 Mass. Pray! Eat! Laugh! (Or Eat and Laugh on Saturday and then Pray on Sunday. God is OK with both options.)

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • First Communions – These are inspiring days for all of us. Remember your First Communion? Remember the weather? Remember who was there? Remember how it felt? That incredibly memorable moment is now here for 40 of our second graders. Twenty will make their First Communions this Sunday at the 9:30 Mass. Twenty more will do so on May 19. Thanks to the parents, grandparents and guardians who have brought your youngsters to this great blessing. Thanks too to their CCD teachers. May these First Communions mark the start of exceptional Eucharistic relations with Jesus. 

  • May Crowning – Thanks to Dianne Mantilla for crowning our Blessed Mother statue on Wednesday morning. Thanks too to all who arranged and participated in the May Crowning and the wing-ding afterwards. The crowning expresses a beautiful devotion to Jesus’ perfectly beautiful mother.

  • Mother’s Day Remembrances – Please check out the Moses Table for instructions about arranging prayers for your mother on Mother’s Day. The pink cards are for living mothers. The yellow are for our mothers who have gone to God.

  • Thirty-Hour Famine – The project combines prayer, service and fellowship, so it could be mentioned in any part of “This Week.” What I remember most is the prayer – the dozens of hungry teenagers and program organizers who came to Mass twice – at 8:35 on Saturday morning and again on Saturday evening. And the only thing they had consumed since Friday noon was the Body and Blood of Christ. Three cheers for all the youngsters and the facilitators.

  • Funeral Team – Great thanks to all the volunteers who make funerals so excellent around here. All members of the Lazarus Ministry have had a lot of duties lately and have carried them off with great grace. You are a terrific blessing for the parish.

Sunday’s Homily 

April 28, 2019 – Second Sunday of Easter
“God’s Gifts to the Early Church and to Us, Part I: ‘Come as You Are’.”

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • Spring Cleaning – Thanks to everyone who chipped in. The weather was superb and the spirits similarly uplifting. We completed a ton of projects and the joint is in far better shape because of you. Special kudos to the many members of the Gengler family who worked very hard and won the tickets to the Patriot Game.

  • Elijah’s Kitchen – Many thanks to Terry Lee and all the volunteers who prepare meals for Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen every 3rd Sunday of the month. A special thank you to those who spent Easter Sunday morning preparing meals.  Your reputation is a beautiful thing that is spreading around the diocese. What beautiful work.

  • Prayer Shawl Ministry – Our parish knitters and crochet-ers (is that a word?*) are hard at work and making a delightful difference. The ministry has recently delivered 60 lovingly received shawls and blankets to two long-term health care facilities in the area. That’s a lot of knits, purls and Christian kindness.

  • Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) – Our parish is a locus of extra grace this week as we begin our week of hosting the IHN families. According to current plans, this Sunday evening two families – consisting of 2 moms and five children – will be staying with us overnight. Two weeks later we will help our dear neighbor, Hillsborough Reformed Church, as they host IHN. We are pretty well set for this week at St Joe’s but could use some extra help at the Reformed Church for the week of May 19.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • New Parishioners – All best blessings for our newest parishioners. May our time together in prayer, service, and community-building be a time of great blessings for our newest and, with their help, for all. The presence of new parishioners is an enormous blessing in countless ways. Welcome to:

    • Rosaria Bet

    • Robert and Veronica Bracht and Theresa Urbaniak 

    • Brigid Brown 

    • Mike and Jessica Franciscus and their children Sophia, Samantha and Michael

    • Amelia Koster

    • Kenneth and Andrea Maurer and their children Kenneth, James, and Joseph

    • John and Margaret Reilly and 

    • Jeremy and Christine Smith and their children Oliver and Noah

  • Seven New Names – How’s that going? Two folds are so confident in their command of their fold-mates’ names that they want to challenge all folds from all Masses in a “Name your fold-mates” contest. Special thanks to some folks in Section Four of the 11:30 Mass. They noticed that one of their fold-mates was missing for a few Sundays, put their heads together, came up with the name and let me know – which was a great help. If you see something, say something!

  • CCD: Summer Session – Will we assemble the needed numbers? We are half way there! The Summer CCD program needs 30 students to run. We currently have 16. Sign up by May 7 if you want to join.

  • CCD: Next Year – Sign up early for CCD for the 2019/2020 year. The registration period lasts for several more weeks, but the sooner you sign up the more likely you are to get the program you want!

  • Caregivers Ministry – The group will be showing the movie “Being Mortal” by Dr. Atul Gawande on Saturday, May 11 from 10a-12p in the Parish Hall.  The documentary provides great insights into how to receive optimal health care in your final years. To register for this event, email Carol Jorgensen at carolJ623@comcast.net


Your Pastor’s Brag – More Young Athletes!

  • Put Him IN Coach! – John Sharbaugh (11:30 S4), an exceptional athlete and a most remarkable pitcher, was recently named “Athlete of the Month at Manville High.” John’s strikeouts-to-walks ratio is the fifth best in the state! Blessings for John and his family -- twin sister Emily, parents Cheryl and Jay and grandparents Jackie and Ed Wisbeski (all 11:30 S4).

  • Marvels on Ice – 7-year-old twins Saxon and Searle Conches (4:45 S5) have been skating up two storms. In a recent hockey tournament in Hershey, PA, Saxon won an award – in the 8-10 year old group – for the goalie with the fewest goals scored against him. Meanwhile, his sister Searle won a gold medal in the 9-year old division of the American Figure Skating Competition. Both are 7. Wow!

With continued Easter Blessings and great gratitude for all of you,

Fr Hank

April 28, 2019 – Second Sunday of Easter
“God’s Gifts to the Early Church and to Us, Part I: ‘Come as You Are’.”


Sunday’s readings ask us to consider two dear friends of Jesus – Simon Peter and Thomas the Apostle – at the top of their games and at the bottom.

The passage from Acts 5 depicts Peter working miracles. People are clambering to get close enough for his healing shadow to fall on them. He is working in Solomon’s Portico, a place of honor, and lighting his world on fire. This is the same Simon Peter who, in the readings we heard on Good Friday and Palm Sunday, disobeyed Jesus, insulted Jesus and abandoned Jesus. The Peter we encounter in Sunday’s first reading is the Peter who has climbed out of a spiritual pit. He has reached a spiritual mountaintop. He has morphed from failure to superstar, from distress to “eu-stress,” from disgrace to distinction. So much about Peter’s life has changed radically between Holy Thursday and the scene in Sunday’s first reading. But one very important thing stays steady – his place in the community. As we assemble the evidence, we know that Peter went right from denying Christ back to the community. His grave failure did not get him run out of the group. And in the days of his great achievement, he is also with the other apostles. His community accepts him, dare we say “welcomes him” in whatever form he lives.

The early church accepts Thomas in a similar way. The first part of Sunday’s gospel (John 20) recounts Thomas’ rejection of the resurrection. He dismisses the apostles’ ebullient report that Jesus has returned from the dead and visited them. But they do not reject him. He is still with the others a week later when the risen Christ speaks directly to Thomas. The apostles had not rejected him. They included him during his agony and his ecstasy, during his distress and his “eu-stress,” during his gory days and his glory days.

The early church seems to have accepted and welcomed anyone who earnestly desired a relationship with Jesus. God seems to have given the early church a marvelous ability to accept others, regardless of what those others were going through.

What about you? Have you experienced that gift? When have you been on the receiving end of it? When have you needed a community to welcome you when you were in a rough patch – whether or not they knew you were in a rough patch? And what about in the other direction? When have you knowingly welcomed people to church when you knew they were in a rough patch? Maybe you encouraged them to go to Mass? To hear the word? To receive the Eucharist when that was an appropriate and suitable grace.
And when have you welcomed the victorious? When have you congratulated fold-mates or parish-mates when they had achieved some noble goal? Perhaps you had to overcome a little envy to do that? Perhaps you who were in difficult straits and the other was on Easy Street and you sincerely affirmed them?

We all go through ups and downs, periods of distress and eu-stress, periods of great consolation and others of great desolation. Sometimes we are the ones who need the welcome. Sometimes we are the ones called to provide it. When have you had that experience like the early church’s – both giving and receiving a sincere welcome in periods of great light and great darkness? And how might God be asking you to dial up your welcome to others and your willingness to be welcomed?



*crochet-ers is not a word but crocheters is.