This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - November 22, 2017

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Dear All:
 

Count on three prayers for you this week: that God will make you even more aware of the gifts God gives you, that God will make you even more aware that “all good gifts around us are sent from heaven above,” and that your celebrations of the holiday will be just what God wants for you.

 

This Week in Prayer

 

The green Sundays are now behind us. This coming Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King. The Sundayafter that is the first Sunday of Advent. Hence, this coming Sunday’s vestments are white, and the next four Sundays’ are purple. These last three green Sundays have included valuable advice from Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians. On November 5, he reminded us to work hard at our God-given missions. The message on November 12 was “persevere.” Last Sunday, the 19th, he urged us to know when to trust our choices and when to defer to others or to keep praying and consulting.

 

In Sunday’s brief second reading, 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-6, Paul tells the Thessalonians six times that they are good, inspired, and trustworthy. In most matters, they can trust that their choices. Those choices – about faith and family and community and kindness and other matters – probably line up with God’s hopes. Ironically, those affirmations follow some significant reprimands. Chapter four contains a very stern message: “When dating and marrying, you Christians of Thessalonica should not immediately trust your instincts or choices.” They needed to recognize that, on some topics. their instincts and choices lined up with God’s hopes and were trustworthy. On other topics, not so much.

 

Sunday’s gospel (Matthew 25: 14-30) alters the message slightly. It reminds us that, at certain times in our lives, it is probably better not to trust some of our instincts and choices. The gospel’s one-talent fellow illustrates the point. He clearly possesses observable aptitudes. The master in the story would not have given him even a single talent, the equivalent of three-years’ wages if that servant had not demonstrated good judgment. But fear overtook the servant. Excessive worry prompted him to bury the assets rather than grow them. Wouldn’t he have been better off if he had acknowledged the fear and admitted to himself, “this is not a good time for me to be making such choices”? 

 

Each of us is gifted in many ways. Each of us has what it takes to make inspired choices that align with God’s hopes. But not a one of us is all-knowing. Each of us has limits. Each of us is a more effective disciple when able to admit “I’m not good with this topic” or “I’m not good at this time.” What about you? How do you know when the topic or the time renders your judgment unreliable? How do you know when your choices probably line up with God’s hopes and when they probably do not? Is it a gut feeling? If so, how would you describe that feeling? Is it a more spiritual feeling? Do you notice the ebbs and flows of faith, hope, charity, and serenity? Maybe we experience more of those graces when our choices are inspired and less of those graces when our choices do not align with God’s. How would you explain to another when you know your choices are inspired?

 

And in sorting it out, we recall, “feel good” is not the criterion. Jesus made the world’s most inspired decision when he chose to give his life for us. He did not make that choice because it provided immediate gratification. How do you suppose he knew that choice was the right one?

  • Remember the special Mass times for Thanksgiving Masses. There will be a 5:00 pm Mass on Wednesday followed by an hour or so of indoor tailgating for adults. There will also be an 8:30 Mass on Thursday morning. There will be blessings of food after both Masses. As far as I can tell, the custom in this part of the world is to leave your turkeys at home and bring a bit of the bread and or wine or some other small thing that will be a part of your celebration.

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily

  • Read last Sunday's readings 
  • Read the coming Sunday's readings 

 

This Week in Community

  • Maybe it will be the start of a new parish thing. Maybe not. But no harm in trying. Join the hour or so of indoor tailgating after the 5:00 pmMass on Wednesday. If we get it going, it could easily become a prime time for our college students to reconnect. Plus, it is a great time to chill – between the shopping and the major cooking push. Bring your own munchies and bring a friend. We’ll have the fireplace in our renovated Hospitality Room going for you.

  • Thanks to all who made Sunday’s wreath-making event such a fine one. Special thanks to Donna DeLucia and Holly Canica and all who pitched in. And great big blessings for the families that will light their Advent wreaths at home and will be extra attentive to God’s promise to give us Christmas and all it implies.

  • We still have two big Advent events in the offing:. 

    • The annual Advent Pancake Breakfast is Sunday, December 3, Feast of St Francis Xavier! That is also the morning of the CYM Young Minister’s Mass.

    • The Raritan Valley Chorus will hold its Advent/Christmas/Winter concerthere at St. Joe’s on Sunday, December 10 at 3:00 pm. Tickets are free for parishioners who stop by the office to pick them up. Otherwise, admission is $10.

This Week in Service

  • Friday night and Saturday mornings were moments of exceptional devotion here at St. Joe’s.

  • On Friday night, members of our Becca’s Friends Ministry painted Christmas pictures for cards to be sold for an ARC summer campership fund. The paintings can now be viewed in the Gathering Space.

  • And while Becca’s Friends were painting, members of our Advent Giving Tree Ministryinstalled the Giving Tree in the Gathering Space and did a most remarkable job of decorating it. They also attached 800 tags – each connected to a nifty little angel handmade by Krissy Case. (Please notice the due date on your tag. The gifts that are going to Appalachia are due December 3. The rest are due December 10.) 

  • Meanwhile, back in the Memorial Hallway, members of our Youth Ministry sorted over two thousand  pounds of Thanksgiving food for Saturday morning distribution to 5 area agencies

  • Then came Saturday morning when the Knights of Columbus picked up and delivered 75 rolling carts for food bank clients in Somerville – while several others came to load and deliver all the food that the UTES had sorted on Friday night. 

Again, it was one of those moments when all parishioners could lean back for a moment and think, as the poem almost says, “We are a church that has done what a church should do, a church that has sheltered life . . . “

  • The Baby-Bottle Project is well underway. If you haven’t already picked up a bottle to fill, give it some thought. If you already have, think about returning it full, if your means allow. 

  • January and February will be time for ministry recruiting. Give it some thought. Is it time to try something new? Is it time to keep doing what you are currently doing well and enjoying?

May these next days be days of great blessings. A prayer for all travelers and, for those who might overdo it just a little, a prayer for only inspired amounts of self-recrimination. And absolutely a prayer for those who feel the absence of someone special at the table. 

 

Fr Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - November 17, 2017

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Dear All: 

 

This Week in Prayer

 

Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians continues to inspire our November Sundays. In last week’s passage, Paul urged us to work hard at the at whatever mission God has given us. This week he urges us to persevere in that work, especially when the going gets rough.

 

Paul loved the Thessalonian Christians. He wanted whatever promoted their spiritual welfare. Thus, he worried when their excessive concern with the details of Jesus’ Second Coming threatened their faith. Rather than give up on them, he redoubled his efforts. Sunday’s explanation of the Parousia expresses Paul’s devotion. He wanted them to relax. He wanted them to trust that everything he had taught them about the resurrection was true. Paul could have washed his hands of the Thessalonians and their uninspired preoccupations. But he did not give up. He persevered.

 

Sunday’s gospel also underscores the need to persevere. The wise bridesmaids might have been tempted to share their oil with the others, but doing so would have been a bad idea. The sharing might have generated goodwill, but the sharing would have prevented everyone from achieving their goal. Had the oil been divided ten ways, nobody would have had enough to light the groom’s way back to the house. The wise women had to keep their oil so they could complete their task. They had to persevere in their task, even though doing so would have reduced their popularity.

 

Jesus gives us the perfect example of one who persevered in his God-given task, even when the going became unimaginably tough. He stuck to his mission even when giving in might have saved his life and rescued him from torture. Every effort to persevere benefits from contemplation of our persevering savior.

 

What about you? When have you persevered in your God-given mission, even though giving up and giving in would have reduced the hardship? When have you stuck with it – in relationships, in your work, in your prayer, in your vocation, in your avocation, in your inspired recreation or inspired studies, or in many other places – even though sticking with it made your life difficult? Our celebration of Veterans’ Day reminds us that many among us had to hang tough even when all seemed lost. They had to keep believing the goal was inspired and achievable and worth pursuing. When have you lived a similar resolution? When have you persevered and been glad you did? And where might God be asking you now to hang in there, to persevere, to “toil and not to seek” escape?

 

This Week in Community

  • Thanks to all who made our Veterans’ Day celebration a truly inspired event. Dozens of people pitched in to honor and thank our veterans. Special thanks to Debra Grimmer and her main co-pilots, Dianne Mantilla and Anna Maria Realbuto. Great thanks to the Knights and Columbiettes who did more than their share. Extra kudos to those who showed up before dawn to get the ovens going and the preparations started, especially John Rossi, Guy Gubitosi, Steve Tafaro, Tom Kelly, Rick Jankowy and Michael De Lucia. Big thanks too to the confirmation students who helped with the lunch. You looked quite spiffy in your white shirts and blue jeans. You were great and gracious help.

  • Light is on the way! The building inspector has just granted the permits we need to install additional lights by the church’s front door – to make it safer and easier to come to and go from Sunday Masses in this darker time of year.

  • We will have two Thanksgiving Masses and blessings of food. One on Wednesday evening at 5:00 and another at the usual time, 8:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. 

  • Yes, it is already time to mark your calendars for our parish’s Advent and Christmas events. 

    • The family afternoon for making Advent Wreathes is this Sunday, November 19 from 12:30 to 3:00 pm in the Parish Hall. You can still sign up on Friday. 

    • The Giving Tree has appeared in the Gathering Space. If you are in a position to buy a gift, take a tag and return your tagged gift to the Memorial Hallway. You will make someone’s Christmas a blessed day.

    • The annual Advent Pancake Breakfast is Sunday, December 3, Feast of St Francis Xavier! That is also the morning of the CYM Young Minister’s Mass.

    • The Raritan Valley Chorus will hold its Advent/Christmas/Winter concert here at St. Joe’s on Sunday, December 10 at 3:00 pm. Tickets are free for parishioners who stop by the office to pick them up. Otherwise, admission is $10.

  • Thank you very much to the many people who, after the 4:45 Mass on Saturday, helped get the Memorial Trees back in order – and got the names alphabetized, no small task. 

  • The Blue Storm uniforms have now been distributed. And get this - - - This year we have more than 300 parish hoopsters. God bless the athletes, the coaches and all the program organizers.

This Week in Service

  • The list of remarkable service projects has a new and somewhat dazzling entry – the Shopping Cart Project. The Paul Gubitosi Charitable Fund – along with the Knights of Columbus, the Columbiettes and our Social Ministries coordinators – has purchased 75 shopping carts to be given to individuals who walk great distances to obtain food for their families at area food pantries. Think of how ingenious this project is. Many people who rely on the pantries must walk several miles to get there and several miles home. The collapsible shopping carts will make life much better for these people. God bless all who helped.

  • The Thanksgiving Food Collection was a resounding success! Thank you to everyone that donated food - your generosity will allow many families that would otherwise not be able to enjoy the holiday to celebrate Thanksgiving.

  • The Baby-Bottle Project is here. Proceeds from this collection enable young women to live in a safe and respectful setting as they “yes” to the graces and challenges of motherhood. Fill a bottle!

  • Great thanks to all who participate in our Music Ministries – as you head into the season of extra rehearsals and other demands. God bless you for all you do to help all of us to pray.

  • It is almost the season to start thinking about your ministerial life at St. Joe’s. All ministries will be recruiting in January. Might it be time to try a new ministry or return to an old one? Or maybe it is time to keep doing what you are currently doing well and enjoying. Either way, think about it.

May God bless each one of you as you head into Thanksgiving week. It will be a great grace to welcome back all our college students, especially those first-year folk who will be coming home for their first extended stay since August. May God multiply the joy of all for whom the holiday is full of delight. May God divide the sadness of those who will be missing someone this year. And for all who travel, may God bring you safely back home to St. Joe’s. 

 

Fr Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - November 10, 2017

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Dear All: 

 

This Week in Prayer

 

These first three Sundays in November give us the privilege of hearing Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians. It is a pioneering Epistle. Saint Paul wrote it before any other New Testament letter or Gospel had been written. It is also a very relevant Epistle. Saint Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians is great advice for us. This week’s message is simple: work hard at whatever work God is asking you to do.

 

God was asking Saint Paul to teach the nations about Jesus Christ. Paul did exactly that and he did it with unswerving energy. He supported himself by making tents during the day and he answered God’s call by teaching about Jesus most evenings. This week’s reading, 1 Thessalonians 2: 7-9, 13, reminds us that Paul worked “night and day in order not to burden any of you” and that, with great “toil and drudgery” he “proclaimed . . . the gospel of God.” Paul is subtly criticizing the itinerant preachers of his day who preached little and relied heavily on others for material support. Paul wants the Christian preachers to work hard. His words and his example convey the same message.

 

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus takes aim at the Scribes and the Pharisees for, among other flaws, being so lazy. Jesus tells us to honor their words but not to imitate them. They “tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.” They lay on both spiritual burdens and temporal burdens and are too lazy to imitate Jesus or Paul or anyone else who answered others’ calls for help.

 

Elsewhere in his writings, especially in Romans and Corinthians, Paul encourages us to know what our gifts are and what they are not. He advises people to use the gifts God has given them and not to try to use gifts they have not received. Paul knows that no single person can solve all the world’s problems. We are to work hard only in those ways in which God is asking us to use our God-given gifts. And in those works, we are to work very hard. We are not to sit on the sidelines.

 

So what about you? In what situations have you gone from not helping to helping? In what settings have you gone from thinking “that is not my problem” to thinking “God wants me to help,” and then given yourself to it energetically? Perhaps your conversion had to do with the care of an ailing loved one. Maybe you went from thinking “not my job” to thinking “how can I help?” and then helped with the sort of dedication Paul showed the Thessalonians? Maybe it had to do with household chores or with a pressing community or global problem. Maybe it was a parish ministry or a neighborhood project. Clearly, God is not asking us to take on the world, but God is asking us to say “yes” and work as hard as we can when the divine voice says, “Help me with this one.”  

 

This Week in Community

  • A great and heartfelt welcome to our newest parishioners: Thomas and Maureen Buneo; Daniel Cunning; Darryl and Rikki Erickson and their six-year-old son; Paul and Kelly Greco and their two daughters, 6 and 2: William Herterich and the five Herterich children ranging in age from 8 to 17; Ryan and Shana McDonough and their three children, ranging in age from 6 to 11; and Dennis and Maureen Routledge. May God bless all of you abundantly in your lives at Saint Joe’s. And may you find the warmest of welcomes at Mass and everywhere else. Thank you for joining us.

  • Thanks in advance to the many who have worked very hard preparing our celebration for the Veterans. There will be more on that later, but for now, great thanks to all who have been hard at it all week.

  • We will have two Thanksgiving Masses and blessings of food. One on Wednesdayevening at 5:00 and another at the usual time, 8:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. 

  • Yes, it is already time to mark your calendars for our parish’s Advent and Christmas events. The family afternoon for making Advent Wreathes is Sunday, November 19 from 12:30 to 3:00 pm in the Parish Hall. Have you signed up yet? 

  • The annual Advent Pancake Breakfast is Sunday, December 3, Feast of St Francis Xavier! That is also the morning of the CYM Young Minister’s Mass.

  • God bless the Blue Storm’s approaching season! May our hundreds of young parish hoopsters find great exhilaration and blessing in the new basketball season. Great thanks to the coaches and all the program organizers. Without you the program would fizzle. 

  • The Raritan Valley Chorus will hold its Advent/Christmas/Winter concert here at St. Joe’s on Sunday, December 10 at 3:00 pm.Tickets are free for parishioners who stop by the office to pick them up. Otherwise, admission is $10.

This Week in Service

  • Thanksgiving Food Collection: St. Joseph Youth Ministry is collecting food for Thanksgiving to feed those in the community. Please see the bulletin and pick up a leaflet in the gathering space for directions for food donations. All food donations need to be placed in the Memorial Hallway before Friday, November 17.
  • The Baby-Bottle Project is here. Proceeds from this collection enable young women to live in a safe and respectful setting as they “yes” to the graces and challenges of motherhood. Fill a bottle!

  • Many cheers for the many parishioners who are jumping in to host the Interfaith Hospitality Network’s upcoming session at the Dutch Reformed Church on the corner. Our shared effort with our neighbors is a great grace and it would not happen without YOU.

  • Thanks to all who prepared “Stars for our Troops,” especially John and Mary Kelly, Tom and Joanne Delasko, Tony D’Angelo and Mario Lugo. Veterans and families of deceased or active duty military are encouraged to take one of the stars after Mass this weekend. Each star is a small “thank you” from your grateful parish community. Happy Veterans Day!

  • Where would we be without the people who launder our altar linens. Did you ever wonder how the altar cloths and the purificators (used to wipe the chalices after you receive) are always so clean? We have several unsung heroes who pick up the liturgical laundry every week and keep us on track. THANKS! 

With all best blessings for you and your loved ones, especially your deceased loved ones as we pray our way through the month of November. 

 

Fr Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - November 2, 2017

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Dear All: 

 

Today, on the Feast of All Souls, we pray for your deceased loved ones with extra vigor:

 

Eternal rest grant unto them oh Lord,

And may perpetual light shine upon them

May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed,

Through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

 

For what deceased loved ones do you want to pray that prayer with particular passion today?

 

All are encouraged to come to this evening’s 7:30Mass, at which we will read the names of all loved ones who have died since last All Souls’ Day. We will also read the names of the deceased children and grandchildren of all parishioners, regardless of when those children died.

Also, I apologize for a recent misstep and I thank the parishioner who pointed it out. To the 11/12 celebration of our veterans, I absolutely should have invited the spouses of deceased veterans. I apologize for not thinking of that and encourage all spouses of deceased veterans to join us. Please contact me directly to let me know if you can attend the 11:30Mass and the Veterans’ lunch on 11/12.

 

This Week in Prayer

 

Last Sunday’s readings pointed us back to the question of the preceding week: “What does God seem to expect of our relationships with people of other faiths and with Catholics who have suspended their participation in the Eucharist?” 

 

Two weeks ago, the readings asked us to do two things: (a) connect with those others in ways that are charitable and that uphold our personal integrity, and (b) respect the ways in which God works through those others. Last week’s readings added a third reminder: protect them.

 

Sunday’s first reading, Exodus 22: 20-26, invites the children of Israel to remember their sorry lives in Egypt: “Thus says the LORD: ‘You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.’” God wants the Israelites to recall that misery, not so that they will want to get even or hurt others. God wants them to remember that sorrow so that they get motivated to make sure nobody else goes through it. They are to make the Promised Land a place that holds no trace of Egypt, no mistreatment of aliens. They are to welcome and protect those others. 

 

Jesus’ executive summary of the law and the prophets, Matthew 22:34-40, makes a similar point. Jesus tells his listeners and us to keep it simple: love God and love our neighbors. Luke’s version of the passage leads into the story of the Good Samaritan, a powerful reminder that the aliens in our midst – i.e., people who belong to minority religions and Catholics who do not receive the Eucharist – have much to teach us and deserve our welcome and our protection when the situation requires it.

 

What about you? Right here in Somerset County in 2017, as we welcome people of faiths not formerly represented here, as we continue to love Catholics who are not receiving the Eucharist, how have you been particularly welcoming or even protective? When have you stood up for those folks when idle chatter turned against them or when they were made to feel unwelcomed? And what about current opportunities to get it even more right? What person – at work, at school, at the gym or in the neighborhood – could use a little more welcome from you? A little more connection or respect? A little more evidence that active Catholics habitually welcome others? Where might God be nudging you to be even more of an “ambassador for Christ,” even more of an imitator of Christ?

  • It has been a pleasure to pray with you during this week’s many extra Masses. The turnout has been most excellent and the prayer a real consolation.

  • GREAT thanks to all who labored to organize the Trees of Remembrance in the Church. Superb.

  • We will be adding a special Thanksgiving Eve mass at 5 pm on Wednesday, November 22followed by a blessing of the food (and some light refreshments). In addition, Fr. Hank will bless the Thanksgiving food after the 8:35 ammass on Thanksgiving day.

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily

  • Read last Sunday's readings 
  • Read the coming Sunday's readings 

 

 

This Week in Community

  • Last weekend provided still more reminders that our parish is greatly blessed. Friday night’s dance for Becca’s Friends, complete with shocking Halloween edibles and music by our beloved DJ Count Graham, was another smash hit. At the same time, the Weekly AA meeting was in full swing down the Hall. On Saturday, several of our CCD teachersparticipated in a most excellent training session at the Chancery while a handful of volunteers, sort of a flashmob of landscapers, completely overhauled the Colonial Avenue approach to the Church. Then on Sunday, the Baby Bottle Collectionramped up in the morning and members of the youth group celebrated Halloween in utterly inspired costumes based on the theme “biblical twists.” The activity level was marvelous to behold.

  • The day for families to make Advent wreathsis almost here. Mark your calendars for Sunday, November 19 from 12:45 – 3:00 PM. Registration forms have gone out to all CCD families and are also available in the bulletin. 

This Week in Service

  • The Baby-Bottle Project is here. Proceeds from this collection enable young women to live in a safe and respectful setting as they “yes” to the graces and challenges of motherhood. Fill a bottle!

  • Calling all scouts (Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of all ages), remember that the 9:30Mass this Sunday is your “Young Minister’s Mass,” -- the Mass at which you help with all liturgical ministries. Come one come all.

  • Where would we be without our ushers and money-counters? Both groups keep our communal train on the track in very important ways. Thanks to all who give their time to both ministries.

  • Thanksgiving Food Collection: St. Joseph Youth  Ministry will be collecting food for Thanksgiving to feed those in the community. Please see the bulletin and pick up a leaflet in the gathering space for directions for food donations.

With all best blessings for you and your loved ones, especially your deceased loved ones as we pray our way through All Souls’ Day. 

 

Fr Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - October 26, 2017

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Dear All: 

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

This Week in Prayer

 

Mission Sunday reminds us that we, as Roman Catholics, share the planet with people of many faiths. The church’s emphasis on ecumenism provides a similar reminder. In our lives with people of other faiths, God sometimes calls us to facilitate conversion. At other times, God calls us simply to dwell peacefully. Last Sunday’s readings remind us that God always invites us to connect with and to respect the others. The readings also clarify the meanings of “connect” and “respect.”

 

In Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 22: 15-21), Jesus provides a perfect example of how to connect with people of other faiths. His famous phrase, "Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God" is pure genius. That single expression tells us precisely how to connect with people of other faiths and how not to do so. 

 

First, it tells us not to adopt the Zealots’ approach. The Zealots would have forbidden any contact with the Romans, including the connection that comes with paying taxes. They shunned the Romans. Jesus’ suggestion to pay the Romans encourages connection and disavows the Zealots.

 

Second, Jesus’ advice also distinguishes him from the Herodians, a group of obsequious little toadies who did whatever the Romans asked. Herodians would betray their faith’s deepest beliefs in order to gain Roman approval. They would be whatever the Romans wanted them to be. Jesus’ advice to save something for God rejects the Herodian approach. Jesus disapproves of excessive compromise. 

 

Jesus plays it right down the middle. He does not shun people of other faiths and he does not become their lapdog. His way of connecting is a win both for charity and for personal integrity.

 

Sunday’s first reading (Isaiah 45: 1, 4-6) clarifies how we are to respect people of other faiths. Isaiah is reminding his audience that God makes powerful use of people of other faiths. God used King Cyrus of Persia, a Zoroastrian not a Jew, to liberate the children of Israel from their captivity in Babylon. God armed Cyrus though Cyrus “knew him not.” 

 

What about you? The readings for mission Sunday raise many questions but two can be helpful right here in Hillsborough. The readings invite us to wonder, “Right here in my neighborhood, or my school, or my workplace or my gym – where have I connected with people of other faiths and come to respect the ways God uses them?” Who are some of the people of other faiths with whom you have connected in Jesus-like ways and then come to respect the ways God has worked through them? And what about people who have stopped practicing their Catholicism? Have you listened to their stories while maintaining your own convictions AND observing the ways God has acted through them? And in what relationships might God be asking you to connect and respect a little more?

  • Please join us at the Mass of Remembranceon All Souls Day, Nov. 2nd at 7:30 pm. We will be reading the names of all loved ones who have died since last All Souls’ Day.

  • Wednesday, November 1 is All Saints Dayand a Holy Day of Obligation. Masses for the Holyday are at 7:30pm Tuesday (Vigil Mass) and then at 8:30 am. and 7:30 pm. on Wednesday.

  • Masses for the Feast of All Souls will be at 8:30 a.m. and 7:30 pm. on Thursday, November 2.  
     

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily

  • Read last Sunday's readings 
  • Read the coming Sunday's readings 

 

This Week in Community

  • Friday’s turnout for MONSTERS INC was excellent. Special thanks to the teens who set up and cleaned up and double thanks to the folks who dazzled us with their movie-watching PJs. Great stuff.

  • Attention Veterans – you can still turn in an RSVP card to join us for the 11:30 Mass and lunch on November 12. We hope you and your spouse will be part of the celebration of our Veterans. 

  • Parents and spouses of currently active service members – we would be honored if you too could join us for the Mass and lunch on 11/12. Please fill out a card with your service-person’s info.

  • Stay tuned for updates about our ways of welcoming new parishioners. There will be plenty of chances for plenty of parishioners to be part of the welcome process. 

  • Weather permitting, there will be a fire drillbetween the masses (around 11 a.m.) on Sunday for the CCD program. If the predicted monsoons strike, we will re-schedule the fire drill. 

  • A week from Sunday (November 5) at the 9:30Mass, the Scouts will be serving in most ministries at the Young Ministers’ Mass. 

  • Our high school youth ministry Halloween Party is Sunday evening at 7pm. If you are in high school it’s a great way to learn about the youth group, have some fun, food, and experience a little foolishness.

This Week in Service

  • Our PUMPKIN PATCH KIDS (PPKs) did a great job in gathering and selling the pumpkins. Big thanks.

  • Congratulations to Mikey DeLucia and Keira McDevitt who will be honored by Bishop Checchio this Saturday at the cathedral. They are receiving the Diocese of Metuchen’s St. Timothy Award for their outstanding contributions to the church for their faith and service. 

  • The Baby-Bottle Project is almost here. Proceeds from this collection enable young women to live in a safe and respectful setting as they “yes” to the graces and challenges of motherhood. Fill a bottle!

  • Thanks and more thanks to all of our Eucharistic Ministers. Your willingness to share Christ’s Body and Blood enables us to be who we are. Endless thanks. 

  • Young adults (ages 18-25) looking to spend a week volunteering this summer? Download the Appalachian Institute service trip information packet. This trip could change your life! 

With all best blessings for you and your loved ones – and special blessings for all parishioners facing medical and other challenges these days.

 

Fr Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - October 19, 2017

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Dear All: 

 

Christ’s Peace!

 

This Week in Prayer

 

Our heavenly father is perfectly fair. The second part of Sunday’s gospel might seem to depict God as somewhat unfair, but a closer look helps to dispel that misperception.

 

The first part of Sunday’s gospel (Matthew 22: 1-10) describes a tragic situation. A king invites people to his son’s wedding but the invited guests kill the messengers. The king has an extreme reaction; he executes the murderers and destroys their city. The destruction is a little hard to reconcile with our belief in an all-loving God, but beneath the king’s rage lies an anger we might regard as “fair.” The king is entitled to be sad, angry and outraged.

 

The second part of Sunday’s gospel (Matthew 22: 11-14) is harder to absorb. The poor fellow described there gets the bum’s rush. And why did the king’s attendants tie him up and throw him out the door? Because he did not dress properly. The extreme reaction to a dress-code violation seems quite unfair – until the parable is considered more carefully.

 

The pieces of the parable are easily grasped: the king is God the Father, the Son is Jesus, the wedding feast is the early church, and the messengers are the later prophets including John the Baptist who invite people to follow Christ in the church. The wedding garment is a symbol of conversion. Like an adult’s white baptismal garment, it symbolizes conversion. It shows that the person has put off the old habits and put on the new. 

 

Thus, the person who shows up at the banquet without discarding the old garment is the one who comes into the church but has no intention of converting or repenting. The person who shows up without changing clothes is the person who says, “I am fine the way I am; I have no need to change.” Such a person would not be at home in the church, a community of imperfect humans who recognize their imperfections and continually strive for conversion and the symbolic putting on of new garments. Seen from that perspective, the dress code violation and the king’s reaction seem to be fair.

 

What about you? Chances are you accept as “fair” God’s invitation to ongoing conversion. Chances are you are wearing the proverbial wedding garment, you are dressed for conversion, you are willing to answer God’s invitation to greater holiness. What are some of your recent conversions? What have been some of the small steps – not dramatic overhauls, or radical alterations, just the simple next steps – that indicate your availability to ongoing conversion? How have you grown in prayer, in service, in the building up of the community? Which of your choices remind you that God is fair in asking for ongoing conversion and you are good at responding? And what about next steps? Where might you be feeling the nudge to take that next step in prayer, in service, in community? That next step that reflects God’s completely fair invitation to ongoing conversion.

 

This Week in Community

  • MONSTERS INC. – Do what you can to get you and your small ones to the hospitality room at 7:00 pm on Friday for the first children’s’ movie night of the season. The big screen is ready and the carpet is all scrubbed up! Feel free to come in your PJs and bring blankets. Unlike Sunday’s gospel, no dress code!

  • Thanks to those Veterans who have already submitted their cards for the 11:30 Mass on November 12, at which we will pray for and honor our veterans. We hope that most will be able to join us for lunch.

  • N.B. – Parents and spouses of currently active service members – we would be honored if you too could join us for the Mass and lunch on 11/12. Please fill out a card with your service-person’s info.

  • Those who participated in Sunday night’s Taizéprayer service know what a gift the evening was. Thanks to the diocesan festival choir and to all at St. Joe’s who supported the effort. Special thanks to our youth group for providing hot dogs and pizza between the 6 pm Mass and the prayer service.

  • BIG thanks to Natalie Zuccarello and the teen volunteers who restarted CHILDREN'S LITURGY OF THE WORD on Sunday. Your efforts are a great gift to the entire community. 

  • High Schoolers - are you ready for Scare Farm? See you Saturday at 6pm. Don’t forget your permission slip!

  • Seventh graders - great work at the Young Ministers’ Mass this Sunday! You were an inspiration to the community.

  • Stay tuned for updates about our ways of welcoming new parishioners. There will be plenty of chances for plenty of parishioners to be part of the welcome process. 

This Week in Service

  • Our PUMPKIN PATCH KIDS (PPKs) will be selling pumpkins after the 9:30 and 11:30Masses this Sunday. Proceeds will help combat hunger in our very own part of the world. Superb work PPKs!

  • Great thanks to all the St. Joe’s folk who participated in our effort to co-sponsor last week’s shelter at the Dutch Reformed Church. Your effort to support the Interfaith Hospitality Network is exemplary.

  • The Baby-Bottle Project is almost here. Proceeds from this collection enable young women to live in a safe and respectful setting as they “yes” to the graces and challenges of motherhood. Fill a bottle!

  • Great thanks to Susan Wund, Peter Tabernero and our entire squad of sacristans. Your efforts draw so little attention and provide such a terrific service. Think of how befuddled we would be without you.  

Today’s feast is quite a special one. St. Isaac and his companions demonstrated extraordinary devotion to their communities. They lived and moved in our part of the world and have so much to teach us – especially those parishioners who are facing significant challenges. For every parishioner, for the upcoming week and always, may God continue to multiply your joys and divide your sorrows.

 

Best blessings

 

Fr Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - October 12, 2017

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Christ’s Peace!

 

This Week in Prayer

This month’s gospels continue to convey truths about the Father, truths that Jesus is eager to share. This Sunday the message was about the Father’s eternal benevolence. Our father in heaven always provides what we need in order to choose peace and to glorify God.

 

The first reading (Isaiah 5: 1-7) and the gospel (Matthew 21: 33-43) describe a 5-star vineyard. It includes well treated soil, a protective hedge, a time-saving and money-saving wine press, and a deluxe tower that can be used for resting, surveying and several other purposes. The vineyard described provides everything for which its tenants could hope. God provided everything ancient Israel needed to achieve the end for which it was created and led to the Promised Land.

 

Our father’s benevolence did not end with ancient Israel. As much as ever, God provides all we need to make the choices that lead to our peace and God’s glory. We cannot always choose comfort. Neither can we always choose pleasure or enviable circumstances. But we can always make the choices that lead us to peace and that glorify God. Just as our benevolent Father provided everything the proverbial ancient farmers needed to achieve their proverbial goal (an abundant crop of good grapes), our benevolent Father provides all we need to achieve our goal (our peace and God’s glory).

 

Sunday’s second reading, from Philippians 4, reminds us to keep an eye on those provisions. Saint Paul encourages us to notice all that is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and gracious. That is, Saint Paul wants us to contemplate and cultivate all those things that can lead us to peace and can glorify God. True peace is always an option. Remembering that, we continue to look for true peace and for God’s glory.

 

What about you? Has there been a moment when you thought peace was no longer available to you? Was there a moment when you forgot that God loves you entirely too much to close the path to peace? What helped you remember that peace was always a reachable goal, even if it meant pursuing a very difficult path? What helped you renew the quest for your peace and God’s glory? And who in your life might be wondering if she or he will ever truly feel God’s peace again? Who needs a reminder that our benevolent Father always gives us what it takes to achieve our goal, our peace and God’s glory? Even in the rough patches, those goals are attainable.

This Week in Community

  • Thanks to Kevin Buist for spending his Columbus Day holiday repairing and improving our parish internet – enabling us to provide more services to more people.   

  • Thanks to those veterans who have already submitted their cards for the 11:30 Mass on November 12, at which we will pray for and honor our veterans. We hope that most of the veterans will be able to join us for lunch.

  • Kudos to the dozens of well-behaved animals who posted for the blessing on Saturdaymorning. The morning went off without a hitch, and with many greatly blessed pets and pet-owners!

  • The Taize (pr: tezz-ZAY) concert will be Sunday at 7:30. If you have never heard Taize chant, you owe it to yourself to be there. If you have heard Taize chant, you already know you want to be there. The youth group will be selling hot dogs and pizza for any folks coming from the 6PM mass (or early to the concert).

  • MONSTERS INC will be coming to Saint Joe’s on Friday, October 20 at 7:00 PM. This Movie Night will launch the year-long series for kids (come in your PJs and bring a blanket) and will be the maiden voyage for the new TV in the newly refurbished Hospitality Room.

  • CHILDREN'S LITURGY OF THE WORD starts back up this Sunday at the 9:30 Mass. GREAT thanks to Natalie Zuccarello and to her talented and oh-so generous High School Helpers. 

  • Stay tuned for updates about our ways of welcoming new parishioners. There will be plenty of chances for plenty of parishioners to be part of the welcome process. 

This Week in Service

  • The second collection and poor boxes have so far gathered $8,900 to help the victims of the recent natural disasters. The poor boxes will continue to be dedicated to this project for a few more weeks.

  • Extra blessings for our Lazarus Ministry and our Ushers who have recently worked overtime on several occasions. Both groups provide invaluable service to the parish.

  • The Baby-Bottle Project is almost here. The proceeds from this collection enable young women to live in a safe and respectful setting as they undertake the adventure of motherhood. It enables young woman to make truly inspired choices. Be as generous as you can. And thanks to the Knights and the Respect Life crews for making it happen. 

  • Attention young adults (18-25)! This summer we will be running our first young adult service trip to Appalachia. If you are interested in more information please contact Bob Ferretti or download the application form from our website.

With extra special prayers for our college students who are reading this at a distance – as you gear up for midterms. Know that your home town crowd is cheering for you! And big blessings for all who face challenges this week and for all who are celebrating great achievements.

 

Best blessings

 

Fr Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - October 5, 2017

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Dear All: 

 

This Week in Prayer

 

In this current stretch of gospels, Jesus tells us something he wants us to know about Our Father. He does that in the gospels of last Sunday, this coming Sunday and the one after that. Last Sunday he told us about how forgiving Our Father is. 

 

Sunday’s first reading made the same point; Jesus’ father, who is our father, forgives lavishly. Ezekiel 18 reveals two shocking truths about the father’s mercy. First, the father does not punish children for their ancestors’ sins. Neither does he punish the parents for their children’s sins. This was an earth-shattering revelation for Ezekiel’s audience. Second, if a sinner puts down the sinful habit and takes up a better way, God the Father will not rub the former sinner’s nose in the old dirt. Sunday’s first reading assures us that if the sinner “turns from the wickedness he has committed, and does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.” As the saying goes, “Every sinner has a future.” God calls each of us to a future of true peace, even after we have done something awful.

 

God’s happiness about our conversions also shines through Sunday’s gospel. The good son in the story is the one who sinned and then repented, the one who said “no” with his words and then “yes” with his actions. The father in the story evidently has no intention of punishing the boy for his earlier transgressions. All the father seeks is the sinner’s true conversion. Jesus suggests that even tax collectors and prostitutes – viewed as the lowest of the low by his peers – need only put down the old sin and lay hold of the peaceful future God the father has prepared. Every sinner has a future.

 

So what about you? When have you teetered on the brink of despair? When have you thought “it’s all over” because of some blunder great or small? What helped you reclaim the path to peace? What helped you remember that it was not “too late,” that true peace was still possible? And maybe, is there someone in your life who is dwelling right at the edge of despair? Someone who thinks they have committed an unforgivable sin? Who might need to be reminded, with great sensitivity and deference, that Jesus’s father, our father, is a trillion times more forgiving than the most forgiving person who ever lived (except Jesus of course!). Where might you be called to spread that good news: Every sinner has a future?

  • All best blessings for the dozens of women who, on Monday night, started the new year of “Walking with Purpose.” Special blessings for those who are both new to the program and new to the parish. May your adventure be greatly inspired. And special thanks to Mary MacPhee and all program leaders.

  • Hats off to the several parishioners who joined the “Life Chain” on Sunday in Somerset to, among other things, pray for a more pervasive respect for every human life.

  • Thanks to Fr. Greg Uhrig for Wednesday’stalk about St. Francis. In typical Fr. Greg form, it was fun, informative, and challenging. How do we “rebuild the church” as “imitators of Christ?”

  • The Remembrance Trees return on November 1. Help us remember your deceased loved ones. If you turned in their names last year, you are set. If not, put their names in the communications box ASAP.

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily
  • Read last Sunday's readings 
  • Read the coming Sunday's readings 

This Week in Community

  • Attention Gluten-intolerant parishioners – Eucharist for the gluten intolerant will start this weekend. Check with Fr. Hank or the ushers to learn more. (Also, please see the handouts on the Moses Table.)  

  • The new and improved parish calendar is up and running on the parish web page. Good for us! PLEASE NOTE – over the next few weeks we will try to put EVERYTHING on the calendar. If you expect to be in church other than at Mass time, make sure your event is listed on the calendar. Otherwise, the space you expect to use might be given away. The surge in parish activities is a huge blessing – and requires good coordination. Thanks for helping. We will soon have a parish email address for you to use to submit your entry for the calendar. 

  • Remember Veterans – Mark your calendars for the 11:30 Mass on Sunday November 12, the day after Veteran’s Day. Your parish wants to honor you. Check out the Moses table for the cards we want you to fill out and return before November 5. (It will take you about 90 seconds to complete the cards.)

  • Great blessings for Fr. Greg and for all who facilitated the festivities on ST FRANCIS DAY. It was a great day to participate in Mass, learn about St. Francis, join the prayer for the rededication of the St. Francis garden and room, and enjoy the remarkably great food. 

  • Special thanks to the Knights for the new TV in the Hospitality Room, to Al Garlatti for the renovations, and to the Bogado family for enabling the painting to happen so very well. Big thanks too to all who worked in the garden, especially in the hot months, to dig out the old soil, put in the new, and get the planting going: Walt Rusak, Elizabeth and Roger Prince, the Girl Scouts, Michelle Tuck, John Tamburini, Ken Wetzel, Mark Dorrler, Vin and Suzanne Kral, JoAnne Delasko (who always seemed scheduled to work on the hottest days), and Rich Pennachio. Extra special thanks to Ken and Donna Scherer and Hillsborough Irrigation for providing extra labor at the clutch moments and for installing the sod and irrigation system, but only charging us for the downspouts! Thanks to Jane Lappin of Wainscott Farm for donating the truckload of plants that launched the whole project.

  • The blessing of the animals will take place on Saturday morning, 10/7 – right after the 8:30 Mass. Bring your pet, whatever it is. Just make sure that if it can move it is on a FIXED-LENGTH LEASH!

  • The diocesan festival choir will provide us with a Taize concert on Sunday, October 15 at 7:30 pm. If you have never heard a Taize chant concert, seize the opportunity. If you have heard one, you know you don’t want to miss this. The music reflects themes found in Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato si' (On Care For Our Common Home). I will be giving a brief reflection on the encyclical. 

This Week in Service

  • The poor boxes will continue to collect money for disaster relief. The situations in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands call for even more help. Thanks for your continued generosity. 

  • Thanks to the parishioners who have generously agreed to join the two new committees of the Parish Council: the Social Ministries Advisory Committee and the Mission and Planning Committee. Both groups are off to rollicking great starts and both are situated to make great contributions to our parish life.

With prayers for the many parishioners who, this month, are bravely facing difficult medical situations. You are an inspiration to us all. And with hope that these spectacular days are days of great grace for every last parishioner. 

 

Best blessings

 

Fr Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - September 30, 2017

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Dear All: 

 

This Week in Prayer 

 

This weekend, for the fourth and final time this fall, the readings prompt reflections on what it takes to love the tough customers, those whom we aren’t inclined to love spontaneously. Jesus asks us to love them too, even if they are the envious sorts described in last weekend’s readings.

 

The passage from Isaiah 55 refers to “the wicked.” Several Old Testament readings in recent weeks have contained a similar reference. Once again, the group referred to as “the wicked” includes those who worship false Gods. And why do the children of Israel fall so frequently into idolatry? Envy of the apparent benefits of such worship often drives the misstep. People envy the perceived goods that the non-existent gods seem to dole out. A craving for those goods then stirs them to put down worship of Yahweh and take up the worship of Baal or other non-existent sugar-gods. Time-and-again the prophets warn against false worship, frequently taking a page from Moses’ playbook, imploring the people to recall the astonishing things God has done for them – starting with the liberation from Egypt. A healthy recalling of God’s great gifts tempers the urge to envy and imitate the misguided. A deeper sense of gratitude has a way of dispelling envy and the calamities it produces.

 

Sunday’s gospel passage from Matthew 20 underscores envy’s dangers and gratitude’s benefits. Instinct tells us to side with the first-in workers who labored all day and receive the same pay as the last-in workers. The compensation schedule makes little sense. The first-ins’ envy and resentment of the last-ins’ makes good sense. The underlying comparison is, however, a little more appealing. Some members of the early church apparently believed that first-ins should receive greater benefits on earth and in heaven. The logic suggested that Peter, James, Andrew, and John – the first disciples – were entitled to more than the apostles who landed later. More importantly, the mindset suggested that the children of Israel, the first believers, were entitled to more than those who came to the faith later. The whole tussle results from the envy of the first-ins. Jesus upbraids the envious and reminds them that they are getting everything he promised and for that they should be grateful, not envious.

 

What about you? When has envy trapped you? Can you think of a time that the desires for another’s gifts – especially their relational gifts – drove you to envy? Noble aspirations are great. So are lofty ambitions. But envy is destructive – of the envier and of the community. When have you fallen for it and do you see gratitude as part of the force that rescued you?

And how about a person or two in your life, members of the glass-half-empty crowd, who are chronically dissatisfied with their lot and envious of others. They are tough customers. They are hard to love. But love them we must. One of the best expressions of love is to help them be more grateful, to affirm what is good in their lives and to encourage them to do the same, pastorally and subtly. Leading by a sincere, grateful example can work wonders. Who needs your help to escape envy?

This Week in Community:

  • Great big thanks to all members of the PatriotStadium Concession ministry. They have had a remarkable year and have made a giant contribution to our mortgage payments. God bless them all!

  • Watch your step! The center railings in front of church are still out for repair. We’d hoped to get them back this week but . . . As long as they are here before the snow falls.

  • Attention Gluten-intolerant parishioners – Eucharist for the gluten intolerant will start the weekend of October 7. Please see the handouts on the Moses Table.  

  • Check out the new and improved parish calendar on our home page. Its creators are certainly correct in crowing about its virtues. PLEASE NOTE – over the next few weeks we will be putting EVERYTYHING on the calendar. If you plan to be in the church at a time other than Mass, please make sure that your group has reserved a space so we don’t give it away. We will soon have a parish email address for you to use to submit your entry for the calendar. 

  • Remember Veterans – Mark your calendars for the 11:30 Mass on Sunday November 12, the day after Veteran’s Day. Your parish wants to honor you. Keep on the lookout for more information in October. And start digging up (a) the best picture of you during your military days and (b) the best picture of you in recent days

  • ST FRANCIS DAY – Fr Greg Uhrig will preside at the 8:35 Mass on Wednesday, October 4, the Feast of Saint Francis. After Mass Fr. Greg will offer a most enjoyable 20-minute reflection on St. Francis’ experience of “REBUILD MY CHURCH.” We will then move to the hospitality room for its rededication. Following all that comes the usual round of “First Wednesday” great food and honoring of birthday folk. Even if you have never been to the 8:35 weekday Mass, join us on 10/4! 10-4?

  • The blessing of the animals will take place on Saturday morning, 10/7 – right after the 8:30 Mass. Bring your pet, whatever it is. Just make sure that if it can move it is on a FIXED-LENGTH LEASH!

  • The diocesan festival choir will provide us with a Taize concert on Sunday, October 15 at 7:30 pm. If you have never heard a Taize chant concert, seize the opportunity. If you have heard one, you know you don’t want to miss this. The music reflects themes found in Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato si' (On Care of Our Common Home). I will be giving a brief reflection on the encyclical. 

  • High school youth group will meet this Sunday night at 7pm. It’s a night of welcome - both old and new members. If you are in high school we hope to see you there. 

  • We could still use two used lap-top computers to connect to the video screens – one for the gathering space and one for the Hospitality. If you can help, contact Bob Ferretti.

This Week in Service:

  • Thanks to the many parishioners who completed Virtus training on Monday. You make a difference! 

  • The poor boxes will continue to collect money for disaster relief. The situation in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands calls for even more help. Thanks to your great generosity, we have already collected $6,000. 

Saturday is probably your last chance to swim outdoors. I can’t, in good faith, encourage you to take the plunge in October. What a difference a day makes. Enjoy the end of summer and all the blessings that autumn promises. And bravo for all the young people who are jazzed up about answering the toll-booth question “what was your best class this week and why?” Many of the answers have been superb. Thanks.

 

Best blessings

 

Fr Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - September 14, 2017

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Dear All: 

 

Happy Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. Today we celebrate the truth that Jesus transformed an instrument of humiliation into the locus of our salvation. The feast reminds us that every time we “take up the cross” in accord with Christ’s hopes, we are imitating him and stepping toward his glory.

 

This Week in Prayer

 

Sunday’s readings, like last week’s, remind us how hard it can be to love the tough customers. Jesus asks us to love even those who make it hard to do so. The obstinately self-destructive ones present a particularly thorny challenge. What are we to do when people we love insist on pursuing ruinous choices? Sunday’spassages remind us of the answer: We always love them and hope and pray for what is best for them EVEN AFTER we must admit that we are powerless to change their choices.

 

Sunday’s first reading comes from Ezekiel 33. It is part of the fourth of the book’s five sections. In it, God reminds Ezekiel to do everything he can to turn the people away from their wickedness – i.e., from their inclination to worship false gods. Ezekiel will be in big trouble if he fails to admonish the people. But God tells Ezekiel that the people might not listen. The prophet’s best efforts might not turn the people from idolatry. That is not Ezekiel’s issue: “If you warn the wicked . . . and he refuses to turn . . . you shall save yourself.” Do your best Ezekiel and admit it when you cannot change them.

 

Sunday’s gospel comes from Matthew’s 18th chapter. Some refer to that chapter as “the book of church order” because, in it, Matthew proposes solutions to problems that disrupted the early church. One such problem was the tendency of church members to cling to rotten habits. According to Matthew, Jesus provides very specific instructions about redirecting offenders. Start with a one-to-one conversation. If that doesn’t work, bring in a few pals and, if that flops, engage the whole church. After you have tried all these things, if the person still will not hang up his proverbial cleats, pray for the person (see the second paragraph of Sunday’s gospel) and admit you yourself cannot change him. The message is a little like “Shake the dust from your feet” and “Know when to fold ‘em.”

 

The obstinate pursuit of self-destructive habits takes many forms. Sometimes it involves substance abuse. It can also involve terrible forms of recreation, financial irresponsibility, running with wild crowds, and choices that worsen rather than improve physical, mental and spiritual health.

 

Chances are you know someone who is stuck in lousy choices and needs rescuing. Chances are even better that you know someone who is trying to rescue a loved one from self-destructive choices. Focus on the latter, the would-be rescuer. Might it be appropriate to affirm the rescuer’s inclination to admit his or her inability to persuade the offender to make better choices? Might it be very charitable for you to remind the would-be rescuer that Ezekiel and even Jesus faced moments when they could not prevail on obstinate self-destructors to change direction? Of course, we are called to keep loving the self-destructors. That does not mean God expects us to rescue them. They must choose peace.

This Week in Community

  • Last weekend was one for the record book. Boundless thanks to all who made it happen. Thanks to all who labored mightily to make the installation Mass as beautiful as it was. Thanks too to all who joined the celebration and to all who shared such kind thoughts. 

  • The Parish Picnic was, by all accounts, a record-breaker in terms of attendance. Once again, enormous thanks to all who put it together. Thanks first and foremost to the Knights of Columbus who demonstrated once again their unparalleled ability to throw a party/ food-fest. You guys are priceless. Thanks to the staff and all the volunteers who helped the Knights set up and then take down the party. Thanks to Mike DeLucia (the younger) for the music and to the Youth Group for the face-painting and the ice-cream. A special shout-out to the new parishioners who displayed their gold badges and thanks to Gail Bellas and Anna Maria Realbuto and co for welcoming the new folk. Thanks to Bob Ward for the magic show and thanks to all who finished behind me in the croquet tourney! Most of all, thanks to God for giving us our community and that spectacular weather.

  • Speaking of new parishioners - great thanks to Johanne Mueller, Linda Kenyhercz and Gail Bellas for their superb efforts, over many years, to welcome new parishioners. As of next month, we will alter the “on-boarding” process in three ways. First, new parishioner welcome and registration packets will be available at all times in the gathering space. Second, new parishioners will be strongly encouraged but not required to participate in a New Parishioner Information session BEFORE they register. Third, we will be recruiting parishioners of longer-standing to serve as “welcomers” to the new folk. Stay tuned for details on these changes. Again, welcome to all new parishioners and thanks to Gail, Linda, and Johanne for the fine work.

  • God bless all the CCD teachers who start their missions on Tuesday. May your experience be terrifically rewarding and great fun. And God bless the CCD students. May it be a fine year of becoming even more of the priests, the prophets and the kings God calls you to be.

  • Remember Veterans – Mark your calendars for the 11:30 Mass on Sunday November 12, the day after Veteran’s Day. Your parish wants to honor you. Keep on the lookout for more information in October. 

  • Work on the Hospitality Room and St. Francis garden are on track for the St. Francis day celebration. If you are a gardener and are dividing plants, the garden could use sedum (all strains), Montauk daisies, and any other low-maintenance plants that reach their peaks around St. Francis day (10/4).

  • Attention all parishioners, but especially who love Francis of Assisi – please join the 8:35Mass group for the October 4 Mass and rededication of the Hospitality Room and St Francis garden

  • Calling all St Francis fans and all Music lovers – Come to church on Sunday, October 15 at 7:30 pm to hear the diocesan festival choir’s Taize concert. Not familiar with Taize? It’s a wonderful back-and-forth chant way of praying and singing. The music reflects themes found in Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato si' (On Care of Our Common Home). I will be giving a brief reflection on the encyclical. And the really great news – the youth group will be selling hot dogs in the parish hall before the concert. This is especially great news for those who attend the 6:00 pm Mass and want to go to the concert.

This Week in Service

  • Greatest thanks to all who made the Caregivers’ morning of reflection so helpful to so many caregivers. The committee covered every detail and supplied some great insight for parish and area caregivers.

  • Virtus training – will be available on Monday, September 25, at 6:30 pm in the Parish Hall. Sign up here if you are already committed to a ministry that requires Virtus OR if you might be willing to join our “Virtus bullpen” – i.e., folks we can call when we need a Virtus-trained person in the room. Sign-up now!

  • Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) – If you are involved or thinking of becoming involved, please join us for 8:35 Mass and the information session that follows on Saturday, September 23. The session will include light refreshments and an overview of IHN. RSVP to Sue Calamoneri (matlison@yahoo.com) .

  • We will continue to do what we can to assist the victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. The poor boxes this week and next will go to Catholic Charities in the appropriate areas. This weekend’s special collection will also go to those branches of Catholic Charities.

Once again, heartfelt thanks to all who made last weekend a terrific one. And continued blessings for all the back-to-school folks. The questions for students will continue in front of the church for several weeks. I am most eager to learn more about the aspects of school that are getting you most amped up this season!

 

Best blessings

 

Fr Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - September 7, 2017

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Dear All: 

 

Christ’s peace! 

 

Before we consider the great graces around us – even as you are reading this – maybe say a prayer for Harvey’s victims and another for Irma’s. In addition to praying for those victims, we will provide material aid. From now until mid-October, all donations to the poor-boxes will go to Catholic Charities in the devastated areas. There will also be a second collection the weekend of September 16/17, the proceeds from which will also go to the appropriate offices of Catholic Charities. Finally, several parishioners are exploring additional ways for us to provide material assistance.

Our concern for those suffering from the storms coincides with a period of great graces for us. 

  • Friday, September 8 is the Blessed Mother’s birthday. Remember to send her a good message;

  • Saturday, September 9 (Feast of St. Peter Claver, SJ) at the 4:45 Mass, Bishop Checchio will install me as St. Joe’s 25th pastor. Join the prayer if you can and greet the bishop afterwards in the Gathering Space. (N.B., installed as 25th pastor in the summer I celebrated my 25th year of priesthood . . . try 0 2 5 in the lottery?);

  • Sunday, September 10 is the parish picnic – and the current forecast is for 75 degrees and sunshine. Bring towels for the kids on the waterslide. You might also want to ponder where you want to be at 2 pm, given the competing options: 

    • Bob Ward, our official parish magician, will start the magic show at 2; 

    • the 4th annual croquet tournament (to which I will bring my new, customized mallet) also starts at 2 and I am feeling mighty lucky; 

    • the volleyball round robin also begins at 2.

      And if you would prefer just to sit back and enjoy the company, the food (Go Knights!), the music (Go Mikey D!), that also presents an inspired option. Also – consider the picnic challenge: get to know the names and a little bit about three people. Name tags are encouraged for all. New parishioners will be wearing specially designed name tags.
      If you want to share a special salad or dessert with the parish, please feel free to bring one for the ‘potluck’ portion of the picnic. Disposable bowls/trays and utensils are greatly appreciated. Finally, the most important thing about this Sunday: Be there!
       

  • Monday is September 11. Join us if you can for the 8:35 AM Mass to pray for world peace.

This Week in Prayer

 

Loving the tough customers is a tall order. Would that tough customers didn’t enter our lives but they do and the call to love them is, as the poem says, “a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied.” Every Sundayin September, the readings invite us to focus on a different group of tough customers. And by “love” let’s agree to mean “act benevolently toward.”

 

That is, let’s hear the call to love as a call to want what God wants for the troublesome other.

 

Last Sunday focused us on those who repay nastiness for kindness. “Hostile” might be one way to describe them. “Malevolent” might be another. But let’s stick with “hostile.” And let’s recall that we are called to be benevolent toward them too. Just like Jeremiah was. Just like Jesus was.

 

Sunday’s first reading recounts Jeremiah’s most bitter lament: “Lord, you duped me and I let myself be duped.” He had had it. More than enough. Over the top. He was doing exactly what God wanted him to do for the people, exactly what was best for the people. And how did they reply? With “. . . mocking . . . derision . . . and reproach.” But as disgusted as he was, as tempted as he was to ditch the whole project, Jeremiah stayed the course of benevolence. He continued to do what was best for them. His benevolence was anything but spontaneous. It was quite deliberate, quite willed.

 

Jesus gives us the perfect example of deliberate benevolence (i.e., acting benevolently toward others when they treat us shabbily and benevolence does not automatically arise). Sunday’s gospel contains Matthew’s first passion prediction “(I) must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed.” Jesus had a pretty solid hunch that hostility would pour down on him, yet he stayed the course of benevolence, the course of doing what is best for all. That course reached its summit on Calvary when he prayed “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Talk about “deliberate benevolence.” 

 

We can never encourage sinful behavior. Neither can we volunteer to be a punching bag or a doormat. But Jesus is always asking us to maintain clarity of heart, to remember that what I want for this troublesome other is what God wants for this troublesome other, what is best for this troublesome other, perhaps the conversion of this troublesome other.

 

Where are you getting that just right? Where are you hoping for the best and doing what is best for a hostile someone who does not treat you too well? Is it a family member? A colleague? Someone in the neighborhood? An in-law or an out-law or maybe a former relation? The grace of deliberate benevolence – the ability to will ourselves to want what is best and do what is best for a hostile other – is a great grace. God gives us that grace and invites us to use that grace and, no doubt, you are using it well. Where are you using it well and where might you use it even more effectively?

This Week in Service:

  • Need Virtus certification? Complete the process on Monday, September 25, at 6:30 pmin the Parish Hall. Sign up here if you need it. And please think of getting certified even if you don’t have a current commitment that requires it. We would be in a very good place if we had a bullpen of Virtus folk.

  • Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) – If you are involved or thinking of becoming involved, please join us for 8:35 Mass and the information session that follows on Saturday, September 23. The session will include light refreshments and an overview of IHN. RSVP to Sue Calamoneri (matlison@yahoo.com) .

  • CAREGIVERS! This Saturday is our morning of recollection. Come to Mass at 8:30 and the morning or recollection that follows. This retreat is for professional and lay caregivers (mostly the latter).

  • GREAT thanks to all who regularly and generously contribute to the parish FOOD PANTRY. Your donations enable us to provide priceless assistance to local food banks. The parish has also responded brilliantly to the recent request for soap, detergent and personal products.

This week in Community:

  • Truly terrific CCD news – truly. For the first time in several years, we filled all teacher slots BEFORE Labor Day Tuesday. This represents a very impressive improvement. Great thanks to all who answered the call. May God bless you abundantly in your ministry and may you have a rollicking good time. Thanks too to our Religious Ed Committee and of course to our staff. This is a giant achievement.

  • Attention all CCD Teachers – Remember the big kick-off meeting is this Monday at 7:00 pm. This is a great chance to connect with the other teachers, learn about our brand-spanking new curriculum, and help pump each other up for this most worthy of undertakings.

  • Attention Veterans – Please mark your calendars for the 11:30 Mass on Sunday, November 12, the day after Veteran’s Day. Your parish wants to honor and thank you. We will soon be requesting photos.

  • Work on the Hospitality Room and St. Francis garden are moving into the home stretch and should be in good shape for the rededication of both areas on the Feast of St. Francis, October 4. 

  • Becca’s Friends Ministry ART SHOW. Check out the bulletin board in the gathering space hallway. All of the art work by the Becca’s Friends Artists. Colorful, happy and a great job!!

Students beware! It's that time of year. On your way into church, I will be asking you about your most favorite aspect of the new school year. Can’t wait for your replies. (Remember some answers are out of bounds. “Nothing” is totally not ok. ”Gym,” “lunch” and “recess” are only a little better!)

 

Fr Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - August 18, 2017

ThisWeekStonePastor.png

Dear All:
 

May the peace of Christ dwell in your hearts and in the hearts of all whom you love.
 

This Week in Prayer
 

Jesus Christ wants us to relax. He also wants us to help others to relax. Of course “we have miles to go before we sleep, and miles to go before we sleep” and the tasks that await us are, for the most part, inspired. But God wants us, from time to time, to put down the proverbial hoe and put up our actual feet. God also wants us to help our loved ones take some Sabbath rest, regardless of the day.

 

Sunday’s first reading, from 1 Kings 19, describes the magnificent moment when Elijah, in the cave on Mount Horeb, recognized God’s voice in the tiny whispering sound. Elijah reached that cave precisely because God wanted him to get some time away. Poor Elijah, as recounted in 1 Kings 18, had had a miserable go of it with Baal’s prophets. The exasperating exchange made Elijah head into the wilderness for safety and serenity. An angel of the Lord met Elijah in the wilds and supplied him with food and water for the 40-day walk to Mount Horeb. Clearly, God was all in favor of Elijah getting away from it all.

 

Sunday’s Gospel, from Matthew 14, also connects to a story of God-given rest. The passage’s opening line speaks volumes: “After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.” The disciples had just helped Jesus to feed more than 5000 people. Imagine the effort; each apostle fed several hundred people and then cleaned up. Of course they were exhausted and naturally, Jesus wanted them to go away. They were en route to a potentially restful spot when the storm kicked up and Peter leapt overboard. Jesus had encouraged them to get away from it all.

What about us? For whom are we playing the role of (a) the Angel of the Lord in 1 Kings and (b) Jesus in Matthew 14? Whom are we encouraging to take some time off, to snatch some Sabbath rest even on days that aren’t the Sabbath? It's not about giving speeches or admonishing people to elevate their feet. It is about enabling them to do so. Our youngsters do that when they get ahead on their house chores. Grandparents do that when they volunteer to babysit for the young parents who need a date-night. Spouses do that for each other when one arranges coverage for the other who usually does the elder care. Colleagues do that when they say, through their actions, “I have it from here.” The act of enabling others to relax a little is not just a courtesy. It is a Christian gift. It is a way of imitating Christ. Where are you getting it very right?

  • Mass attendance on Tuesday, the Feast of the Assumption, was terrific. What an uplifting experience to pray with so many, especially at the morning Mass. I hope you all had a chance to honor the holyday in whatever playful summer way aligns with your cultural background.

  • Thanks to all the men who made Monday’sCornerstone session such a grace-filled one. We are a work in progress – with so much for which we can be grateful.

  • Attention graduates – More than half of you have already picked up your bibles in the gathering space. A gentle reminder to others whose bibles still await – to take the word with you as you head into your next adventure – which we trust will be greatly blessed.
     

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily
  • Read last Sunday's readings 
  • Read the coming Sunday's readings 

This Week in Service:

  • Feeling the inkling to feed the hungry? Check out the bulletin for more details about how to participate in our parish’s renewed effort to serve at Elijah’s Promise one Sunday each month. You can click this link to sign-up to help.

  • Thanks to all the parishioners who continue to keep the parish in tip top shape during the summer – especially those who weed and water the outdoor plantings.

  • Hello, Caregivers. Remember the morning of recollection – prepared just for you and your serenity – is September 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon. The program starts with Mass and continues with talks and talk.

This Week in Community:

  • Remember to mark your calendars for the Parish Picnic on Sunday, September 10.

  • Thanks to the dozens of CCD teachers who posted for the information sessions with the publishers on Monday night and Tuesdaymorning.

  • We still need a few new CCD teachers and aids to cover this year’s classes.  Once teachers are placed, aides and other volunteers will be assigned.  Please contact Jim Jungels at x 224 for more information.  

  • This just in – as of now, it seems that Bishop Checchio will be here to celebrate the 4:45Mass on Saturday, September 9. That will be the Mass at which he officially installs me as your pastor. Since we had such a big wing-ding in June, and since the parish picnic is the next day, the festivities on that Saturday evening will be very low key. Plan to stick around for a few minutes after Mass to greet the bishop – who is always eager to meet you – and to enjoy a few munchies. 

  • And special thanks to our Youth Minister, Bob Ferretti, who is in Australia visiting distant relatives for the week. Even while he is down under, Bob is getting this “This Week” to you.

Remember – if you can take some down time before school starts, you really ought to take it. Meanwhile, all best blessings for every parishioner.

 

Fr. Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - August 10, 2017

Dear All: 

 

Happy Feast of St. Lawrence. And as today’s first reading reminds us, “God loves a cheerful giver.” May your heart continue to know the great peace that cheerful giving supplies. 

 

This Week in Prayer

  • Tuesday is the Feast of the Assumption. Holyday Masses are: Monday evening at 7:30(Vigil Mass), Tuesday morning at 8:30 am and Tuesday Evening at 7:30 pm. (Remember – If you have roots in Spring Lake, Allenhurst or Monmouth Beach you have a cultural obligation to jump in the ocean three times.)

  • Thanks to Sister Victoria of the Daughters of Divine Love. Sister’s energy and passion for her mission are indeed contagious. Thanks to all who listened so attentively to her talks at each Mass this weekend (in place of the homily). Thanks too to all who supported her so generously.

  • Attention Men of Cornerstone. This month’s session has a special meeting time. Because of the Feast of the Assumption and Mondaynight’s vigil Mass, our conversation will start right after the 7:30 pm Mass. If the preacher doesn’t prattle on too long, that means we will start at about 8:15. We focus this month on Jeremiah and his efforts to console the bereft (Jer 29: 1—14). 

  • Attention graduates – Many of you will soon be heading off into your new adventures. Hence, the promised bibles are available this weekend in the gathering space. Look on the Moses table for the bible with your name in it – and remember to read it frequently as you take this next turn in your faith journey. May the new chapter be greatly blessed. Know that we pray for you and – whether your adventure takes you to foreign countries or to other parts of central Jersey – we look forward to seeing you at St. Joe’s. I will be most eager to get the updates on your new pursuits.

  • Read last Sunday's readings 
  • Read the coming Sunday's readings 

This Week in Service:

  • Feeling the inkling to feed the hungry? Check out the bulletin or click this link for more details about how to participate in our parish’s renewed effort to serve at Elijah’s Promiseone Sunday each month.

  • Thanks to all the parish farmers who continue to work wonders in the parish vegetable/pumpkin farm down by the solar panels. Notice the produce on the tables in the gathering space. All donations will go to feed area people who go about hungry. Just put your donation into the “Social Concerns” poor boxes near the doors of the church.

  • Hello Caregivers. Remember the morning of recollection – prepared just for you and your serenity – is September 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon. The program starts with Mass and continues with talks and talk.

This Week in Community:

  • Attention CCD teachers – Come to one of the Teacher Workshops. Join us either (a) Monday August 14 at 7 pm or (b) Tuesday August 15 at 9:30 am.  You will have a chance to meet the publishers of our new books, ask questions, get answers, and meet other teachers.  All are invited! RSVP to Mr. Jungels.

  • We still a few new CCD teachers and aids to cover this year’s classes.  Once teachers are placed, aides and other volunteers will be assigned.  Please contact Jim Jungels at x 224 for more information.  

May God bless every parishioner in summer’s home stretch.
 

Fr. Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - August 4, 2017

Dear All: 

 

We are back on track with “This Week,” and God willing will stay that way. Thanks for your patience.

 

This Week in Prayer: 

 

This Sunday’s gospel gives us two descriptions of people passionately pursuing all-consuming goals. In the first, the would-be farmer sells, with joy, all he owns to obtain the treasure. In the second, the merchant surrenders all for the pearl of great price. Both persons organize their lives around a single burning desire. Every choice they make considers that goal.

 

Many members of the early church harbored similar passions. But rather than pursuing earthly treasures or jewels, they discovered and pursued relationship with the risen Christ. Like the farmer and the merchant, they asked a single question to evaluate their choices: “Does this option lead me closer to Christ or not?” If yes, then pursue it. If not, then skip it. Their example challenges us. We know that on our good days, we are as single-minded as the merchant, the farmer, and the early Christians. We wonder what helps us imitate them and what gets in the way of being so focused on Jesus.

 

This Sunday’s gospel presents another, equally important challenge. It is the challenge of recognizing that each of us is Jesus’ pearl of great price, His priceless treasure. Our peace in this life and our eternal happiness is all that matters to Him. Every choice he made promoted our peace and eternal life. It matters now as he intercedes for us at the Father’s right hand. 

 

Regrettably, the evil spirits like to tell us that we are not His pearl of great price, that we are not His great treasure. The evil spirit lives to remind us that we have sinned, have made bad choices and are flawed. On our bad days, the dark spirits convince us that our sins and flaws deactivate Christ’s longing for us, that those sins and flaws prevent Christ from seeing us as pearl or treasure, that our sins and flaws are deal-killers. 

 

Fortunately, there are no deal-killers in Christ’s passion for us. He calls us to conversion. He invites us to repent. But he does not abandon us. There are no deal-killers. Peter’s denial, Martha’s interrogation, Matthew’s occupation, Bartimeus’ blindness – none of them was a deal killer. And none of our choices and flaws is a deal-killer. Slow, quiet repetition of two Jesus prayers can help us soak in Jesus’ eternal devotion.

 

  1. Lord Jesus Christ, Living Son of the Living God, Help me to trust that ________________ is not a deal killer.
    (insert that sin or flaw that the dark side likes to tell you is a deal-killer)

  2. Lord Jesus Christ, Living Son of the Living God Help me to trust that I am your pearl of great price.

 

What piece of your past – what sinful choice or a regrettable result – makes you want to pray those prayers? What aspect of your nature makes you want to pray them? And who in your orbit might be feeling the weights of uninspired self-recrimination or self-doubt and needs for you to pray the prayers for them?

This Week in Service:

  • If you haven’t already seen the parish’s vegetable farm, take a walk past the far end of the solar panels. The view justifies the effort. That field of green close to the fence is the pumpkin patch. If these pumpkins make it to market, you can expect a significant dip in world pumpkin prices. (OK, slight exaggeration)

  • Attention Caregivers. If you are a caregiver – for friends, relatives or if it is your job – Mark your calendar for our annual caregivers retreat on Saturday, September 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon in the parish Hospitality Room. The morning will start with Mass, followed by the retreat program and lunch. If you have friends and relatives who are caregivers, please invite them, regardless of their parish affiliation or religious affiliation. More details to follow.

  • Elijah’s Promise! Our parish is renewing its commitment to serve in the dining room of Elijah’s Soup Kitchen. The current plan is for St Joe’s to staff the dining room on the third Sunday of each month. It is an ideal ministry for those who have limited time to provide weekday ministry. It is also a terrific ministry for families that like to serve together. If you can join us on Sunday, August 20 – from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. – terrific! Please fill in this form or contact Terry Lee or Michelle Laffoon

This Week in Community:

  • Thanks to the Acoustics Task Force. Six parishioners have agreed to manage the renovation of the church acoustics. Many of you mention that you have good hearing but cannot hear in church. We are in the very first stages of analyzing and correcting. Please let me know if you have any special concerns. You can read the initial planning document here.

  • Thanks to all who have pitched in to renew the courtyard garden. Jeremy Goldstone built the fence to keep the deer out. Brian Gilmurray (staff) and Walt Rusak did a yeoman’s job on a sweltering day removing the overgrown junipers and roses. Rich Pennacchio (staff) removed all the stumps and Ken Scherer arranged to have the top layer of clay removed from the new beds. Suzanne and Vince Kral pulverized the underlying clay and mixed in the hi-test peat moss. We will spread the new topsoil on Saturday and the manure on Sunday, after the last Mass. The soil is in tip top shape and ready for any colorful perennials you care to share. The garden re-dedication is currently scheduled for St. Francis’ feast. 

  • Please let me know if you have any suggestions about types of adult formation programs you would like our parish to provide during the upcoming school year.

  • Contact Michelle Laffoon if you have home medical equipment to donate. Also, let Michelle know if you would like to help coordinate that emerging ministry.

  • Many thanks to the more than 250 families who have completed their registration process for 2017-2018 religious ed classes by the 7/31 deadline! We are currently sorting through it all, and figuring out where we still have a need for teachers and aides. If you are interested in sharing your faith this way, we would love to have you. Please contact Jim Jungels.Also, anyone who has already registered should hear by the end of the month about their class placement. Anyone who still needs to register can go to the website. We will place your children as soon as we have finalized classes for those registered by the deadline.

  • HELP NEEDED: Please let me know if you might help us fill one of the following positions:

    • A Security Pro. If you have worked in corporate or industrial security, the Buildings and Grounds Committee could use your help as it figures out how to reorganize the parish lock and key system.

    • A Municipal or Corporate Planner. If you have ever worked as a strategic planner, the Parish Council could use your expertise as its planning committee sets about the work of formulating a spiritual/pastoral/formational/facilities/financial plan for the parish. 

    • An Acoustics Expert. See above for report on Acoustics overhaul.

    • A Communications Professional.The Parish Council is still seeking just the right person to chair the communications group – to help us communicate more richly with each other and our community.

Remember, August is here. If you are thinking of getting some down time, get it while the getting is good. You deserve it! 

 

Best blessings

Fr Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - July 27, 2017

Dear All: 

 

Sorry for the interruption in “This Week” dispatches Two weeks ago, we ran into a technical glitch. Last week Bob Ferretti, who sends this to you after I write it, was knee deep in Tennessee’s weeds. We are now back on track. If you want to read the letter from 7/13 you can download it below.

 

This Week in Prayer

 

The parable of the wheat and the weeds invites us to welcome unlikely solutions. Our heads, hearts and guts sometimes act at lightning speed. They swiftly propose enticing methods for dealing with apparent troublemakers. Sunday’s gospel reminds us that those first and very appealing inclinations sometimes fail to align with Christ’s hopes. Jesus might be urging us to embrace a solution that takes more time to articulate.

Jesus is the householder in Matthew’s story. He owns and manages the farm. The wheat symbolizes people who make inspired choices and the weeds represent people who habitually make uninspired choices. We are the slaves who love our boss. The weeds make us cringe. We want whatever the boss wants and he does not want weeds. Good souls that we are, we hasten to resolve the weed problem.

 

Regrettably, our slave counterparts in the story embrace a flawed response. Their proposal, to attack the weeds, does not align with Jesus’ hopes. Jesus, therefore, vetoes them, explaining that they would ruin the wheat. Soldiers call that unintended harm “collateral damage.” Economists call it “negative externalities”. 

 

Jesus proposes an entirely different and unlikely solution. He plans to let the weeds and the wheat grow together until harvest time. His angels will then take do the separating. The slaves need not worry.

 

Jesus’ plan minimizes collateral damage. It honors the first reading’s guidelines for managing evil – it promotes justice AND mercy. It makes the world the way God wants it to be (justice) and it does so in a way that treats as many as possible in a loving way (mercy). Taken together, the first reading and the gospel invite us to wonder whether our way of dealing with weeds/ troublemakers, is as merciful as it can be. Does our plan pass both the justice and the mercy sniff test or do we need to adopt a less conspicuous and better strategy?

 

What about you? What are some of the weedy situations in your life these days? Who are some of the people who seem quite ready to reduce your quality of life or the quality of life of someone you love? And how are you responding to them? Does your way of responding to them promote justice AND mercy? Is it too harsh to be considered “merciful?” Too wimpy to be called “just?” What evidence do you have that Jesus endorses your reaction? What other possible reactions have you considered and do any of them leave you feeling more peaceful and more confident that your reaction to the weeds is both just AND merciful?

This Week in Service:

  • We continue to say “welcome home” to the 54 parishioners who ventured to The Catholic Heart Work project outside Nashville, Tennessee. It was an extraordinary week of service, prayer, and community – of becoming even more effective, respectively, prophets, priests, and kings. Extra-large thanks to the chaperones who spent a week of their limited vacation time making the trip possible: Laurie Ferretti, Josh Huang, John Lanahan, Rea Larangeira (who came from Florida to join the adventure), Terry Lee, Maria LoCicero, Maryellen Tobia, Grace Tobia, and Betty Zobre. And of course, God bless Bob Ferretti!!!

  • Thanks to the young people of our parish who are making our parish vegetable garden grow so magnificently. Our garden, located just south of the solar panels, is rich with vegetable of all sorts and with what promises to be a dazzling pumpkin harvest. The vegetables will be given to local food pantries and the pumpkins will be sold in October and the proceeds donated to local organizations that prevent hunger.

  • Attention Caregivers. If you are a caregiver – for friends, relatives or if it is your job – Mark your calendar for our annual caregivers retreat on Saturday, September 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon in the parish Hospitality Room. The morning will start with mass, followed by the retreat program and lunch. If you have friends and relatives who are caregivers, please invite them, regardless of their parish affiliation or religious affiliation. More details to follow.

  • Great thanks to those who coordinate the marvelous event for our adult parishioners and friends with special needs. Our Becca’s Friends ministry coordinated a truly inspired event on July 23 – at the evening’s concert at Duke’s Island Park. Energetic dancing and singing and a good time were had by all as the rains held off. Extra special thanks to Linda Imperato and Janet Pescinski. For more info and great pictures visit the Becca’s Friends website under the Social Concerns tab of St. Josephs website. The next event will be August 11: the second annual Picture Painting Party.

  • Elijah’s Promise! Our parish is renewing its commitment to work the dining room of Elijah’s Soup Kitchen. The current plan is for St Joe’s to staff the dining room on the third Sunday of each month. It is an ideal ministry for those who have limited time to provide weekday ministry. If you can join us on Sunday, August 20 – from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. – terrific! Please fill in this form or contact Terry Lee terrytulee25@gmail.com or Michelle Laffoon mlaffoon@stjosephsparish.com

  • Attention all who want to pay less in taxes! – Several parishioners have recently reminded us that it is more tax efficient to (a) transfer funds directly from your retirement account to the church than to (b) withdraw money from your retirement account, deposit it in another account, and then donate. If you have questions, email Monica McDevitt in our business office monica4sjp@comcast.net 

  • Thanks to all who made last Sunday’s blood drive so successful. The program technicians reported that they obtained more than 30 “products” – a gigantic help to health institutions that frequently run low on blood at this time of year. Special thanks to Ken Mayti for all his behind-the-scenes work, and to our whole gaggle of Knights of Columbus who do so much for all of us.  

This Week in Community:

  • Three cheers and perhaps much more for all who made this summer’s CCD program such a great experience for so many. The two-week program ended on Thursday and filled the church with a wonderful vibe. We are all indebted to the volunteers who did so much, especially Carmella Battaglia, Kim Collison, Maryann Comiskey, Kristin D’Avanzo, Merry Emmich, Bree Gildea, Keri Krawski, Betsy Miller – Emily, Evan and Paula Obenauer – Lisa Sabo, Mariusz Siwiec, and Saemi Sparks.

  • This weekend’s use of the Parish Hall is a great reminder that there is nothing “lazy, hazy or crazy” about these summer days at St Joe’s. The hall was used for Summer CCD all week, welcomed our parishioners home from Tennessee at 2:00 am Sunday, was set up for the Blood Bank from 7 until noon on Sunday, and then was reset for the second week of summer CCD.

May every single parishioner find some time this summer to move a little slowly and to smell some of the proverbial roses that get overlooked (oversmelled?) during the school year. 

 

God bless all of you.

 

Fr Hank

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - July 7, 2017

Dear All: 

 

As Paul wrote to The Thessalonians: “Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”

 

This Week in Prayer

 

The more we contemplate God’s goodness, the easier it becomes to celebrate our dependence on God. If our God were a thorny god or a vengeful god or a dismissive god, who would want to declare dependence? But our God is everything we could hope for. The last Sunday in June reminded us that our God is infinitely compassionate and caring and loves us profoundly, even in those circumstances that suggest God has lost interest in us. Of course we want to re-declare our dependence on such a God.

 

The readings of July 4 weekend also nudge us to re-declare our dependence on God. Those readings remind us that God constantly enables us to find our way to the people who multiply life’s joy, divide its grief, and help us to say “yes” to God. They might not change our worlds, but they provide priceless company.

 

God enabled Elisha to find his way to the inspiring woman of Shunem, let’s call her “Claire.” Not only did Claire supply Elisha with food and first-rate lodgings, she enabled him to keep saying yes to God. Elisha first encountered Claire after his treacherous engagement with the Moabites and just before his negotiations with Naaman the Syrian. Perhaps Claire’s assistance kept Elisha from giving up during those difficult times.

 

Sunday’s gospel reading comes from Matthew’s tenth chapter, the “missioning chapter.” This week’s passage contrasts sharply with most of chapter ten. Having warned the disciples that hardship is inevitable, Jesus now tells them that some people will receive them and, on murderously hot desert days, supply cold water. Jesus is pointing to the Claires they will meet along the way. 

 

What about you? Who have been some of your Claires? Like Claire in the Elisha story and the water-providers in the Gospel, they might very well be people you didn’t know before the Claire-moment. Was it a coach or a teacher who restored you to self-confidence or help you set more inspired goals? Maybe it was a doctor or a nurse who steered you toward healthier choices? Was it a neighbor you don’t know too well or maybe someone at work? Perhaps the person was not a member of your inner circle but was still an agent of consolation and inspired self-assurance. Who have been your Claires and what is the best way for you to return the kindness? And finally, on Independence Day, we wonder about the persons who have enabled our nation to keep evolving toward the nation that God calls us to be. God bless them and God bless America.

  • The renovations of our Blessed Sacrament Chapel are basically finished, but our staff and our Buildings and Grounds Committee continue to welcome suggestions. Thanks to the parishioners who recently recommended that we replace the small votive lights with longer-lasting, glass enclosed candles. The candle changes will start to unfold next week. Be sure to let me know if you like the minor tweak.

  • Attention parishioners who bring communion to your home-bound loved ones – Most of our home visitors are EMs who went through the group training that Bill Gibson senior so graciously provides for those who would be EMs at Mass. They bring communion to parishioners who are homebound for relatively long stretches and who they did not know before the visits began. A very small number of other parishioners are bringing communion to loved ones who are homebound for short periods – e.g., the duration of chemo treatments. These EMs have been trained by me. If you are one of those EMs – i.e., trained by me to bring communion to a temporarily homebound loved one – please consider completing the training to be a regular EM. Also stop by the office for the updated instructions concerning your Eucharistic visit.
     

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily
  • Read last Sunday's readings 
  • Read the coming Sunday's readings 

This Week in Service:

  • Attention all servers – Your team names are IN!!! They will be posted on the servers’ bulletin board this weekend. You have until August 1 to suggest a new name. Thanks to the team leaders who submitted some terrific names.

  • More “attention all servers” – The competition to “lift high the candles” is reaching new heights. As more servers are grasping the notion that the goal is to make the candles visible to everyone in church, the flames are climbing. Please don’t strain yourselves but please keep them way high. Should we have cash and prizes for the team with the consistently greatest altitude?

  • A little advanced notice – the Buildings and Grounds Committee is organizing its list of small projects that small groups of parishioners could complete in a very few hours – e.g., clearing brush from part of the prayer path, pruning a few bushes and trees, etc. The list consists of projects that would be nice to have completed but never get to the top of our staff’s “to do list.” Maybe think of organizing a small crew?

  • Boundless thanks to all the members of our community who donated to our Catholic Heart Workcamp 'Giving Tree'. The scholarships are being put to good use helping to offset the cost of taking 54 young adults (and slghtly older chaperones) on a mission trip. 

This Week in Community:

  • This week’s “First Wednesday” Mass and celebration was our most-attended yet. Thanks to everyone who showed up and extra thanks to all who provided the great food. First Wednesday? The time each month when the 8:35 Club (i.e., the regular attendees at 8:35daily Mass – along with the occasional attendees) take a moment after Mass to enjoy superb carbs and caffeine and sing robust rounds of “Happy Birthday” to all present who celebrate birthdays that month. Put it on your calendar. Our next wing-ding is Wednesday August 2nd.

  • Attention would be ARCHIVISTS – Through the work of two very dedicated parishioners, we are making great progress in sifting and winnowing many of our old documents. Once the sifting and winnowing is complete, we will need help in organizing. If you have ever worked as a librarian or an accountant, or if you have that great mix of imagination and attention to detail, we could use you.

  • Pay extra special attention to the signup sheets for the Patriot Stadium ministry.There have been a few changes in the schedule. There is still plenty of room on the lists for newbies. See you at the game!

Hoping you are having a terrific week and enjoying consoling moments of connecting the dots between your happiness and God’s boundless love.

 

Fr Hank

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - June 30, 2017

Dear All: 

 

Here’s to a fun, safe and attentive Fourth of July for every parishioner. 

 

This Week in Prayer

 

Our celebrations of July 4 encourage us to thank God for the many forms of independence we currently enjoy. The same celebrations might also prompt us to notice our ways of being dependent. 

 

Some modes of dependence are uninspired. They require fixing. Dependence on destructive relationships and bad habits invite declarations of independence. Dependence on God is another story. Dependence on God is supremely good. We grow when we recognize and re-declare our dependence on our caring God – as in “God, I know you care and I will keep depending on you, even though I have my doubts.”

 

Last Sunday’s first reading, from the middle part of the Book of Jeremiah, details the prophet’s woes. The local officials want to destroy Jeremiah. His friends have betrayed him. His “yes” to the Lord has carried him into horrendous straits. Yet, despite the nightmare, Jeremiah does his best to recall God’s care and compassion. He summons the strength to assert “The LORD is with me.” That simple declaration says, “God, I know you care and I will keep depending on you, even though I have my doubts.” The claim rescues Jeremiah.

 

 Last Sunday’s gospel comes from Matthew’s tenth chapter. It is the “missioning chapter” in which Jesus sends the disciples into the world and advises them how to proceed. Jesus warns them that they will surely encounter violent resistance. He asks them to remember that, when the going becomes exceedingly rough and the notions of God’s care and love seem absurd, God cares profoundly. Matthew invokes the image of God’s care for sparrows. If God is attentive to the sparrows, surely God will always keep a caring eye on the apostles. Jesus is clearly hoping that, when the apostles find themselves in crisis, they will find the courage to say, “God, I know you care and I will keep depending on you, even though I have my doubts.”

 

What about you? In what difficult periods have you mustered the will to say “God, I know you care and I will keep depending on you, even though I have my doubts.” You surely used different words, but chances are you have made an equivalent statement to God. When have you done that? When have you re-declared dependence on God even when doing so felt illogical? And who might need to know that you're going has had its rough times and that, even in those rough times you found the courage to re-declare your dependence with “God, I know you care and I will keep depending on you, even though I have my doubts.”

This Week in Service:

  • Thanks to all the senior servers who took time out of their busy summer schedules to show the new servers how it is done. And a great big welcome to our new servers – we are very glad to have you on our teams

  • Thanks to Wendy Carter and Bob Ferretti for getting 28 new people through Virtus training last night. By having Virtus these trainers right in the parish, we make it much easier for more parishioners to get the certification that enables them to serve in many settings. Stay tuned for more sessions. Onward!

  • Thanks to Phil Russo and Miriam Larson for accompanying 11 more households through Financial Peace University. And of course great thanks too to Rich Realbuto for getting the program going at St. Joe’s. The dozens of people who have completed the program since last year have collectively eliminated tens of thousands of dollars of debt and accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in savings. Their households are far more peaceful and grace-filled than they were in the days of debt and distress. May this program continue to flourish. And congratulations to the most recent batch of graduates. By acknowledging that you felt called to a better way, and by pursuing that better way, you are an example for every parishioner.

  • Nearly 350 students have already registered for next year’s religious education programs. And they have all done so at the pre-July, discounted rate. In a spirit of holiday benevolence, Mr Jungels has just decreed that the discount will stay in place until Sunday night at 11:59 pm. Hurry in for the savings!

  • Happy holidays to all those that supported our Catholic Heart Workcamp Giving Tree this month. The money raised will be used to offset the tools and supplies that we will be bringing with us to Tennessee as well as supporting some families finding it difficult to swing the $600 camp cost. If you haven't returned your check yet you can still do so - just make it out to "St. Joseph", write "CHWC" in the memo and put it in the "Poor Box" this weekend. 

  • Speaking of CHWC, the Knights of Columbus have received a matching gift from their organization to assist the youth ministry with our costs for the trip. Big blessings to all the Knights!

This Week in Community:

  • Three cheers for our “Holy Rollers,” the recently founded “Saint Joe’s Motorcycle Club.” The founding members had a terrific ride through delightful landscapes the Sunday before last – before ending up at the Hillsborough Diner for home fries and bacon. The bikes included Harleys and Kawasakis AND two electric bikes. If you have had the urge to bike, use church as your excuse to do so.

  • Once again, we are making great progress in our effort to get every parishioner anointed as soon as they need it. As we strive for even more progress, please let me or the office know if you would like the Sacrament of the Sick. Also, please let us know if someone close to you has expressed a desire for the Sacrament.

  • Pay extra special attention to the sign up sheets for the Patriot Stadium ministry. There have been a few changes in the schedule. There is still plenty of room on the lists for newbies. Reporting from my own experience, it is great fun. If you have always wanted to sell beer or work a cash register, use church as an excuse to do so!

  • The Pumpkin Patrol is in full swing - there are more pumpkin mounds planted and the garden is looking great. Looking forward to a bountiful harvest in the fall! While we’re waiting lookout in the coming weeks for some other garden delights growing in our community garden. All donations will go towards the local community foodbanks.

I send this with best blessings for all of you and your loved ones and your celebrations of July 4.

 

Fr Hank

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - June 22, 2017

Dear All: 

 

Greatest thanks to every person who helped to channel extra grace and inspiration into Saturday’s4:45 Mass. The musicians outdid themselves and enriched our prayer in profound ways. Thanks for the kind words and for the very amusing video at the end of Mass and thanks for the extra sacristans, EMs, lectors, and ushers who kept the train on the track. And absolutely – it will be 25 years before we have another 90-minute Mass!

 

And still more thanks to every person who made the picnic so excellent. Thanks to the members of the staff and the volunteers who planned it and implemented the plans. Thanks to the members of the Youth Group who procured food for those who needed a bit of extra help. Thanks to everyone who set up and cleaned up. Thanks to everyone who joined the party and thanks to those who were there in spirit. It was an extraordinary moment of community fun. And thanks to whoever arranged the rainbow’s appearance.

 

Finally – thanks for the kind wishes and cards. I will be replying in the next few weeks. You have been terrifically kind. It will take a while for me to soak it all in. Thanks for being patient with me. 

 

This Week in Prayer

 

God has built a spiritual compass into each of our souls. It points us toward our peace and God’s glory.

 

The bishops of the Vatican Council referred to that spiritual direction-finder as a “voice” that emanates from “deep within (our) conscience” (Gaudium et Spes n 16). The bishops continue, “(that) voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, tells him inwardly at the right moment: do this, shun that . . . There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.”

  

We can call it a “voice” or call it a “compass.” We can call it anything we want as long as we honor it. 

 

Sunday’s first reading from Deuteronomy, like the second reading from First Corinthians, refers to the troubles that result when we ignore that inner spiritual compass. Moses’ audience in the first reading ignored that compass over and over and ended up wandering in the desert for 40 self-inflicted years. Paul’s audience in the second reading, because they have ignored that spiritual compass, have befouled their celebration of the Eucharist and heard Paul begging them to rethink their habits.

  

Sunday’s gospel, for the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, reminds us that those who receive the Eucharist remain in Christ and Christ in them. My personal compass is very much tied up in that bedrock truth. My personal compass has been pointing for decades toward remarkable Eucharistic communities and celebrations of Christ’s presence – in the bread that has become his body and the wine that has become his blood. My experience teaches me that the spiritual compass sometimes points us in scary directions we would rather not pursue. Experience also teaches me that those scary steps are made all the more doable by the presence of “priests, prophets and kings” – priests who pray with us and for us, prophets who console us and challenge us, and kings who welcome us into the community and encourage us to build it up. 

  

What about you? Who are some of the priests and prophets and kings for whom you are most grateful, precisely because they helped you honor your spiritual compass when it pointed in a scary direction? Who has been there to remind you that “the call only takes you where God’s grace holds you?” And for whom is God asking you to be there now? To whom does God want you to be present and kind and non-directive as they conjure the courage to step out in a scary direction, in relationships, in their professional or academic or spiritual or community lives? For whom is God asking you to be a reminder “It’s OK to follow your compass”?

This Week in Service:

  • Thanks to all the Liturgical Ministries – (Sacristans, Lectors, EMs, Servers, Leaders of Song, Ushers) – who made the new sign-in process work so well. It is very much an experiment but this weekend’s results seem to suggest it will make life much easier for many. Thanks and let me know if you think the forms need to be tweaked.

  • There are still tags on the giving tree! If you are in a position to support the Youth Group’s trip to Tennessee, please take a tag. Thanks.

  • Attention anyone who needs Virtus training, or is thinking of joining a ministry that requires Virtus training – the training session scheduled for here on Thursday, June 29 is almost fully booked. The next session will most likely be scheduled before the start of the school year. 

This Week in Community:

  • June 28 is the 19th anniversary of the dedication of the new church. Big blessings for all who were there. Big blessings for all who were there and are now gone to God. Big blessings for all who made the new church possible 

  • “Becca's Friends”, our parish ministry of and for people with special needs, enjoyed a terrific Father’s Day afternoon of baseball Patriot Stadium. And the afternoon wasn’t spent in just any old seats. It was spent in the comfort of the Somerset County Freeholder's box.  The group had a memorable day and was delighted by a visit from Sparkee, Slider, and General Admission. Thanks to all who made it happen.

  • We are making great progress in our effort to get every parishioner anointed as soon as they need it. As we strive for even more progress, please let me or the office know if you would like the Sacrament of the Sick. Also, please let us know if someone close to you has expressed a desire for the Sacrament.

I send this with best blessings for all of you

 

Fr Hank

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - June 15, 2017

Dear All: 

 

What a remarkable grace it is to write to you as your pastor. I am profoundly grateful to God and thankful to Bishop Checchio for the privilege of sharing this adventure with you. May God continue to bless our time together in remarkable ways. Yours is a parish greatly inspired. I am delighted to make my home with you.

 

This Week in Prayer

 

Make amends, Encourage one another, Agree with one another, Live in peace.” Saint Paul’s advice in Sunday’s second reading is solid gold counsel for community-formation. The first letters of each phrase give us the easy-to-recall mnemonic M.E.A.L.

 

“Make amends” comes through in some translations as “Mend your ways.” Either way – “mend” or “amend” – he was telling the divided people of Corinth, “Notice the ways in which you have hurt others and apologize and don’t do it again.”

 

“Encourage one another” is about cheering each other on to use well the spiritual gifts that Paul discusses at length in this letter. Don’t resent others’ talents. Don’t try to put others’ lights under bushel baskets. Do just the opposite. Remind them of how much the world needs them and urge them on.

 

“Agree with one another” isn’t about being a milquetoast or a mush and caving in when others hold differing views about how to proceed. It’s about doing the work of recalling common ground (those things on which we all agree, like “Christ is Lord”) and doing the work of reaching consensus. It’s about turning potentially destructive tension into highly productive and dynamic tension.

 

Finally, “Live in peace” is more of a summation than an additional bit of advice. If you do the M the E and the A, then the L will take care of itself. Paul’s advice to the Corinthians is simple: Do these things and the peace of Christ will dwell in your community and in your heart.

Jesus reminds us, in Sunday’s passage from John 3, that his mission is to bring us all into a first-hand experience of the Trinity, the perfect community. He wants us to be blissful for eternity. He wants to bring us into heaven’s direct encounter with the Trinity, whose feast we celebrated last weekend. Until we step into that community, we do the best we can right here and right now by following Paul’s advice for community.

Sunday’s first reading, the story of Moses trying to reboot the community after the golden calf debacle, anticipates Paul’s advice. It reminds the people of the Exodus that their greatest desire is to have The Lord stay in their company. That requires them to make amends with the Lord, to recognize the Lord’s astonishing acts of encouragement along the way, to agree with God always says, and to live in peace with God.

 

What about you? In which of your most important communities (immediate family, extended family, work place, team, play mates, neighbors, ministries at church, social organizations, parish, political groups) is the M.E.A.L. good and where does it need work? In which settings are you getting it right with each other and, together, getting it right with God? And where do you need to work on your M.E.A.L., knowing that God wants to help you build and experience inspired communities until the time you experience the Trinity?

This week in service:

  • All Liturgical Ministries – (Sacristans, Lectors, EMs, Servers, Leaders of Song, Ushers) – this weekend starts the new sign-in experience. The smartly designed sign-in sheets on the medallion stand will enable us to know that all jobs are covered or that we need to recruit. Thanks for your help.

  • Special thanks to George Meyers for his non-stop work on the parish grounds. Same to Ann and Josh Riding and Jo-Ann Delasko. Without you, our church grounds would not look so spiffy. 

  • Thanks to all for supporting the Youth Group trip to Nashville this summer. If you haven’t already taken a tag from the giving tree, and you are able to help them purchase $15 or $50 worth of tools and supplies, please take a tag and return the money so we can purchase the paint brushes, rollers, scrapers etc. If you are on a tight budget, zero worries. Say an extra prayer for them. We have much to celebrate in this summer’s work week. 

This week in community:

  • Thanks to all – the staff and handful of volunteers -who have organized Saturday’sfestivities. If the weather is lousy, so what? Bring a pop up tent if you have one and if you don’t celebrate under the big tent or in the parish hall. Please keep in mind, this celebration is ultimately about our parish and God’s gracious support of it for the last 152 years. Good for all of us! 
    **Editor’s Note: this event is to celebrate the grace that God has given all of us - but in this particular instance, it is to celebrate Fr. Hank’s 25 years of serving as a disciple of Jesus and leading others to fuller communion with Him.

  • It’s never too soon to think of being a CCD teacher next year. Contact Jim Jungels JJungels@stjosephsparish.com) if you think that MAYBE the Holy Spirit is prompting you in this direction.

  • If you are interested in working with our youth in any of our ministries - CCD, Blue Storm Basketball or Youth Ministry, you need to be Virtus trained. Great news - we are offering the Virtus training right here at St. Joe’s on Thursday, June 29th at 6:30pm. Sign-up today - there are only 6 spots left!

  • Did you run the St. Joe’s 5K? Are you interested in your time? View the race results here!

I send this with best blessings for all of you

 

Fr Hank

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - June 9, 2017

Dear All: 

 

As Paul writes in this coming Sundays’ second reading, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”

 

This Week in Prayer

 

You decide if it is good news or bad news: the season of white vestments is basically over. The white vestments came out of storage for Easter and were worn each of the next seven Sundays. Then came a lone day of red for Pentecost (last Sunday). The white vestments come back off the hangars this coming Sunday (Trinity Sunday) and next Sunday (June 18, The Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ). Then, on June 25, they go back into storage and the green are seen until Ordinary Time ends on November 26.

 

Why the tutorial in liturgical holidays and colors? To point out that the Sundays from Easter, April 16, until Corpus Christi, June 18, belong to the same batch of Sundays. The Sunday readings for this cluster of Sundays generate many questions, one of which concerns the inspired desires God has built into our DNA.

 

The Pentecost readings remind us that our hearts possess an inextinguishable desire to be competent prophets. Our very human nature gives us that desire. Our baptisms and confirmations intensify it. We might use different words to describe that urge, but one way to describe that urge is the desire to be a competent prophet who does a fine job of consoling others when that is in order and a fine job of challenging others, generally by our example and occasionally with words.

The great news is that Jesus says loud and clear “I believe in you and I believe that you have what it takes to be a competent prophet.” Pentecost Sunday’sGospel depicts Jesus saying, “As the Father has sent me so I send you.” Think about it. Jesus is comparing the apostles and all His true disciples (including you) to Himself. That is an astonishing endorsement. He then confers the Holy Spirit to reinforce their/our prophetic abilities.

 

Another favorable comparison emerges in the passage from the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Luke’s description of the Pentecost. The tongues of fire that descend on the apostles are meant to remind us of the fire that came down when Moses climbed the mountain to receive the Torah. Luke’s version of Pentecost thus compares the apostles to Moses. That’s another astonishing endorsement for them and for you. It clearly reveals God’s confidence in their/our ability to function as competent prophets.

 

Just about every day finds you doing the work of a prophet – mostly consoling others and sometimes challenging by example. Parents do it all the time. So do kids. Teachers rarely stop doing it and the same can be said of effective ministry leaders. Pretty much everybody does it in some way. Once in a while, however, especially when the going gets a little scary, each of us needs to be reminded that we have what it takes to be a competent apostle, one who has Jesus’ affirmation, one who has what it takes.

 

What about You? What helps you remember that Jesus is telling you “I believe in you?” What helps you hear his gentle message of affirmation? Our missteps and sins surely remind us that we aren’t perfect and that is good, but what helps you believe in your ability to be a great prophet in your sphere? What helps you know that your God-given desires to console and challenge others is matched by God-given abilities to do so? Is it certain types of prayer? Spiritual reading? Spiritual conversation? Art? Music? Exercise? What helps you?

 

This Week in Service

  • Altar Servers – Please let me know what name you would like to give your altar servers’ team. I suggest you go with a favorite saint, or perhaps a place or a group mentioned in the bible. Be as creative as you can be! 

  • Hats off to all the parishioners whose donations of food enable us to help our local food banks 52 weeks a year. Great thanks also to all who get the food from church to the food banks. 

  • Special thanks to the team of ladies who made our church look so beautiful for Pentecost. The doves raining down on us as we entered church last weekend was truly uplifting.

  • If you are interested in volunteering at St. Joes and need to get your Virtus certification we have good news! Register for a Virtus training that will be held right here at St. Joes on Thursday, June 29. Virtus is required for anyone working with youth. 

 

This Week in Community

  • Great thanks and blessings for the generous members of the Parish Council and Finance Council who have completed their terms. Thanks to Mike Seelig, outgoing chair of the Parish Council and to Parish Council members Billy Gibson, Anthony Carter, Frank Colpini and Carl Mueller. Great thanks as well to Bill Strawderman, outgoing Chair of the Finance Council, and to Finance Council members John Lanahan, Jim Blum and Donna Manuelli. To each of these persons, the parish owes a great deal.

  • And for the incoming members of both councils, best blessings for you as well! Nina DeLucia, currently a member of the Parish Council will serve as chair from this July until July, 2019. Joining the Parish Council are Dottie Lukazik, Bernie Demsky, AnnaMaria Realbuto, Natalie Zucarello, Amy Dahl and Bill Strawderman. Thanks to Beth Martello who has agreed to chair the finance council from this summer until the summer of 2019. Mike Seelig will be joining the Finance Council. Four other people are currently discerning the prospect of joining the councils. Best blessings for all.

  • After considerable effort by staff members Brian Gilmurray, Monica McDevitt and by members of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, the five-year spending plan for parish facilities’ upkeep and restorations is nearly complete. Soon after this week’s Finance Council review, the spending plan will be made available to the entire parish. The simple goal is to plan ahead to keep our facilities safe and welcoming while avoiding the emergency expenditures that always cost more than planned spending.

  • Great thanks to our workers from Hillsborough High and to their job coaches for making our workers’ time here so successful. We thank Jim, Mark and Wayne for their great work and we thank Lesia and Tammy for their job coaching.

  • Its never too soon to think of being a CCD teacher next year. Contact Jim Jungels if you think that MAYBE the Holy Spirit is prompting you in this direction.

  • Join us as we celebrate Fr. Hank’s silver anniversary on June 17. We start with 4:45mass and then we party. We’d like to know how many people to expect so if you haven’t already done so, please fill out this simple form

I send this with best blessings for all of you

 

Fr Hank