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

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This Week – June 21, 2019

Dear All:

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

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

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

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

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

Sunday's Homily

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

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

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

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

    • William and Christine Kretz and their children William and Margaret

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

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

Your Pastor’s Brag


HEROS IN OUR MIDST – MIND, BODY, AND SPIRIT

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

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

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

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

With continued blessings and gratitude for all,

Fr Hank

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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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This Week – June 14, 2019

Dear All: 

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

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

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

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

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

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

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

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

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

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Pastor’s Brag


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

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

With continued blessings and gratitude for all, 

Fr Hank

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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This Week – June 7, 2019

Dear All: 

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

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

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

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

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

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

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

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

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

    • Christopher and Courtney DeMauro and their son Nicholas

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

    • Anthony and Carolann Guidotti

    • Lisa Anne Hartnett and family members Anthony and Gail

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

    • Jozef and Barbara Murawski

    • John and Cheryl Papa and their daughter Brittney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Pastor’s Brag

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

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

    PLEASE KEEP THE BRAG MATERIAL COMING

With continued blessings and gratitude for all, 

Fr Hank

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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This Week – May 31, 2019

Dear All: 

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

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

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

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

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

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

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

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

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

Your Pastor’s Brag

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

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

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

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

Fr Hank

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

at Mass, Part V: Simplicity
 

The ability to welcome others

Strength for the mission

Discerning hearts and minds

Christ-like love.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This Week – May 24, 2019

Dear All: 

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

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

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

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

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

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

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

Sunday’s Homily 

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

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

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

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

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

Your Pastor’s Brag –  – OUR PRIZE WINNERS

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

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

KEEP THE BRAG MATERIAL COMING 

With continued blessings and gratitude for all, 

Fr Hank

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 17, 2019

Dear All: 

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

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

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

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

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

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

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

Sunday’s Homily 

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

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

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

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

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

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

Your Pastor’s Brag – The Italian Schools Connections!

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

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

With continued blessings and gratitude for all, 

Fr Hank

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 10, 2019

Dear All: 

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

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

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

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

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

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

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

Sunday’s Homily 

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

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

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

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

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

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

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

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

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

Your Pastor’s Brag – The Italian Schools Connections!

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

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

    With continued blessings and gratitude for all, 

    Fr Hank

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 3, 2019

Dear All:  

Christ’s Peace and continued Easter blessings.

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

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday’s Homily 

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

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

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

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

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

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

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

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

    • Rosaria Bet

    • Robert and Veronica Bracht and Theresa Urbaniak 

    • Brigid Brown 

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

    • Amelia Koster

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

    • John and Margaret Reilly and 

    • Jeremy and Christine Smith and their children Oliver and Noah

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

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

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

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


Your Pastor’s Brag – More Young Athletes!

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

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

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

Fr Hank

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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Dear All:

Alleluia! Alleluia! He is risen indeed! I hope this finds each of you in top health and spirits and renewed by our celebrations of Holy Week and Easter.

This week’s “This Week” is of the shortened variety – sort of the holiday version. Homily links are included but the summaries, along with the Pastor’s Brag, will return next week.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

  • Remarkable Teamwork – Greatest thanks to each of the scores of persons who made Holy Week and Easter so good. Thanks to the dozens of liturgical ministers (lectors, ushers, EMs, sacristans, and especially the servers), to the musicians, the folks who decorated the church and the staff members who went the extra distance. 

  • The Newly Initiated – Thanks too to our newly initiated for giving us all such great examples to behold. Thanks to: Andrew Washburn, who was baptized, confirmed, and made his First Communion; Donna Zamarin who was received into the church, confirmed and made her First Communion, and; Gracie Caliguari who was confirmed. Thanks to Andrew’s, Donna’s and Gracie’s families, sponsors and all who brought them to this moment, especially Kathy and Bill Gibson and the RCIA team.

  • Mother’s Day Remembrances – Please check out the announcements and bulletin for information about the adjustments being made to the prayer requests for our mothers on Mothers’ Day. 


Holy Week Homilies To listen to the Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday homilies, click here.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • Spring Cleaning – Fortunately, the weather report for tomorrow is quite good. Looks like we will have mild temperatures and reasonable amounts of sunshine for our Spring-Cleaning Day. Thanks to all who have already signed up for particular jobs and thanks to those who will decide tomorrow. Since we have extensive to-do lists, we will surely have work for people who show up unannounced. Opening donuts start right after 8:35 Mass.

  • 30-Hour-Famine – All best blessings for our 30 young people who are participating in this weekend’s 30-hour fast. The experience provides extraordinary insight and great fellowship. Bless you all!

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Seven New Names – I hope you exceeded the Lenten suggestion. Cards are still available if you want to write the names of your pew-mates and fold-mates.

  • SAGES MINISTRIES – Thanks and blessings for the dozens of folks who turned out on Wednesday for our first Sages event – “Come Laugh with Us.” The laughs were plentiful and the mood was superb. Remember to mark your calendars for the upcoming events:

    • Paint & Sip Party:  May 8th 2-4  (only 36 spots available, sign up in Gathering Space)

    • Genealogy/Ancestry Seminars:  May 16th at 1 pm and May 30th at 5:30 pm (right before Ascension Thursday Mass)

      Also, please check out the NEW Sages Senior Activities Calendar on the bulletin board in the Gathering Space – across from the big bookshelves.

  • Derby Party Scratched – Dang! A space scheduling conflict has scratched this year’s Derby Party (had been scheduled for right after the 4:45 Mass next Saturday, May 4). But don’t worry if you have already purchased your new hat or bow-tie. You can wear your new duds next year – the parish calendar already lists the Derby Party so there will be no conflict – just a party!

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

Fr Hank

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - April 12, 2019

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This Week – April 12, 2019

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace!

Extra blessings for every parishioner as we head into the year’s holiest week. Be sure to check the section below and the parish bulletin for times for all our Holy Week services. Greatest thanks, in advance, to the scores of people who make the Triduum so beautiful around here. What a grace it is to pray with all of you – the helpers and the entire congregation. I hope you can block out some extra time to quietly and sincerely recall what He has done for you and your loved ones. Blessed be.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

  • Palm Sunday – Please take palms on the way into church this weekend. Hold them good and high for the blessing at the start of the Mass.

  • Holy Week – Services are as follows:

    • Holy Thursday – Mass of the Lord’s Supper, 7:30 pm.

    • Holy Thursday – Adoration, 9:00-11:00 pm.

    • Good Friday – Passion Liturgy, 3:00 pm

    • Good Friday – Stations of Cross, 7:30 pm

    • Holy Saturday – Blessing of the Easter food, 9:00 am (Hospitality Room)

    • Holy Saturday – Easter Vigil (begins with fire in front of church) 8:00 pm

    • Easter Sunday – Masses at 7:15 am, 9:30 am and 11:30 am.

    • Easter Sunday – NO 6:00 PM MASS

Sunday’s Homily 

April 7, 2019 — Fifth Sunday of Lent
A Deeper Our Father? Part 5: “Deliver us from evil"?

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • SPRING CLEANING – Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 27, the Saturday after Easter. Check out the projects pictured and described in the gathering space this weekend and next. Then pick one. It is a great day for the workers and (weather permitting) a gigantic help to the parish. 

  • Ministry Recruiting – GREAT blessings for all who signed up for new ministries. Get this – 111 people (one hundred and eleven) committed to new ministries this year. That is an amazingly beautiful thing.

  • Virtus Training – Please complete the training if you can – and surely if you hope to work with children or vulnerable adults. Bob Ferretti will be offering two sessions on Wednesday, April 17 – one at 9:30 am and another at 6:30 pm. Register online today!

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Trivia Night – Who knew it would be such an outstanding night? More fun than I could have guessed. The table decorations were a riot – and the seeds are already planted for next year. Thanks to Bob Ferretti for taking a chance with a new fellowship event to subsidize our youth. GREAT work. 

  • Blue Storm Banquet(s) – Yes, the turnout was once again so strong that the organizers had to have two banquets on Sunday for our basketball players, their coaches and their families. Blue Storm truly is an enormous credit to the parish. Thanks to all who made the season and the banquet happen. And thanks, and thanks again to our players for using so well the gifts God has given you. You inspire us.

  • Seven New Names – How is that going for you? I have heard rumors that there will be “cash and prizes” for the fold that does the best at learning each other’s names. I do not comment on rumors!

  • Becca’s Friends (BF) – What great fun that was – the Easter Egg Decorating Morning last Saturday, April 6. The BF gang had a great time decorating the eggs and enjoying a delicious brunch compliments of Janet Pescinski, one of the coordinators for BF. 7th Grade confirmation students, as well as the BF Ministry members, enjoyed a fun morning enjoying each other and decorating eggs. You can see the finished project in the Parish Hall on the white trees on the stage.

  • SAGES MINISTRIES – Our “Sages Ministry,” our new parish ministry to identify and address the pastoral, spiritual, educational and recreational aspirations of our wisest parishioners (i.e., 55+) is off to a rollicking great start. The first go-round of programs begins right after Easter. Each of these most promising gatherings is on a Wednesday (the least active day of the week) from 2-4 pm (the least engaged time of day): April 24, old comedy clips; May 8, wine and painting (ZERO talent required); May 22, daytime game night, and; June 5, activities fair (learn more and voice preferences about upcoming programs). BE THERE.

  • A Parish Columbarium? – Learn more about the possibility of a Parish Columbarium. The first draft of the plans make it look quite beautiful. The financials make it look quite do-able. Plan to attend an information session: Sunday, April 28 at 10:45 or Monday, May 13 at 7:00 pm

  • Confirmation Reception – GREAT and overdue thanks to the folks who organized the reception after last week’s celebration of Confirmation. Big thanks to the 7th graders who made the reception beautiful. Special thanks to Ryan Sahns and his mom, Cindy, who led the charge. The 8th graders and their families truly appreciated everyone’s efforts!

  • Derby Party – If you are a 4:45 person, plan to stick around church on May 4 to watch the Kentucky Derby with your Mass-mates. There is talk of hats. Could be fun. Definitely BYOB and munchies.


Your Pastor’s Brag – This week it is all about folks with musical talent!

  • Musical Theatre Prize – Bravo for HHS freshman Kelly Irwin (11:30 S 4) who last week placed first in the musical theatre junior category at the Mid Atlantic Music Teacher’s Guild competition. Congratulations Kelly. May you break many legs for many years!

  • Many Drummers Drumming! – Lauren Ellis (6:00 S CHOIR) has been drumming since she was a little kid and now that she is a big kid she is keeping up the great work, for our 6:00 pm Mass and for Immaculata High School. Most recently, Lauren was part of the group that won the USBands Indoor Percussion Championships. How blessed are we to have Lauren drumming for us?

Please email me some of the good news you know about parishioners for “The Pastors Brag.”

Fr Hank

April 7, 2019 — Fifth Sunday of Lent
A Deeper Our Father? Part 5: “Deliver us from evil"?


We Catholics end the Lord’s Prayer with a bit of urgency as we pray “deliver us from evil.” Sunday’s readings invite us to wonder what we mean when we say that. They also invite us to wonder what God wants us to mean when we say that.

The readings suggest that God wants to deliver us from both the evil that comes to us and the evil that comes through us. God wants to lift us above all participation in evil, both the evil others do unto us and the evil we do unto ourselves and others.

Sunday’s first reading (Isaiah 43) describes two colossal events in Israel’s history. The first, the Exodus, lay in the past. The other, the return from Babylon, had yet to occur when Isaiah was written. Both the Exodus and the liberation from Babylon are stories of God delivering people from the evil others did unto the Israelites and the evil the Israelites did to themselves and others.

The flight from Egypt rescued the Israelites from the horrors of slavery that Pharaoh inflicted on them. The forty years of desert wandering were then years of purification when God dialed down the Israelites’ evil inclinations to worship false gods, to torment Moses and others, to gripe about God, and to perform other evils. The Exodus delivered the children of Israel from both external and internal evil.

The Liberation from Babylon is a similar story. God used Cyrus of Persia to deliver the exiles from the evils Nebuchadnezzar and his minions did to the Chosen. And God used the time in Babylon to purify the exiles of their worst tendencies to sin as they did before the exile. God delivered the Israelites from the evils others did to them and the evils they did to themselves and others.

The gospel story (John 8) Follows the same pattern. The religious leaders were eager to stone to death the woman caught in adultery. Jesus rescued her from their wicked intentions. He also rescued the woman from the evil she did to herself. After dismissing her accusers, Jesus told the woman, “Go and from now on do not sin anymore.” He delivered her from the evil that came to her and the evil that came through her.

What about you? From which evils do you really want God to deliver you? What evils do you have in mind when you close the Our Father? What evils do you suspect God wants you to have in mind when you close the Our Father? More specifically, from which evils committed by other people do you want God to deliver you? Are there people who seem out to hurt you? Are there situations in the world that hurt you, and those responsible for the hurt don’t even know you exist? Which evils in the world seem most threatening to you and your loved ones and your larger community?

And which of your misdeeds seem to require God’s intervention? Do you have some dopey little sinful habits that you seem unable to escape? Perhaps you have addictions that hurt yourself and others? From which participations in evil do you want God to liberate you?

We praying people ask God so frequently to “deliver us from evil.” What might be your next two or three steps in meaning that more? When you stop and think about it, from which handful of evils – both those that others commit and those that you commit – do you most want to be delivered? And as you gain clarity on your intentions, can you sense God gaining delight in your prayer?

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

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This Week – April 5, 2019

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace!

Tonight’s Trivia Night – a very fun fundraiser for our summer work trips – is welcoming walk-ins. I tend to be great with bible questions and certain aspects of history. I can also name New Jersey’s 21 counties in alphabetical order but something tells me that will not be one of the questions. I stink at Hollywood questions and at most (but not all) areas of sports history. Let me know if my skills complement your team’s. It would be good to form a winning team. The games start at 7:00. Remember to BYOB and BYOmunchies.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYERA Week of Amazing Graces 
– The flow of grace around here this week has been remarkable. 

  • The Confirmation Retreat and Concert – Rea Larangeria, one of our most cherished parishioners-in-law, led a most dynamic, all-Saturday retreat for our confirmandi. The joint was jumping for much of the day as they prayed, talked, and sang with gusto. Thanks to Rea and to Bob Ferretti and the many members of the Youth Group who helped Rea.

  • Confirmation – Thursday’s celebration of Confirmation was a night of exceptional grace. Blessings for Bishop Checchio who introduced us to a new and marvelous way for him to move among the confirmandi. Thanks and blessings for our 66 Confirmandi, their parents and sponsors, their CCD teachers, our CCD Program leaders, Jim Jungels and Linda Mackiw and, once again the ushers. Thanks to the choir from the 6:00 pm Mass and thanks to the folks who organized the refreshments and to Michelle and Bill for organizing dinner for the bishop. It was a giant team effort and it worked out beautifully. A special cheer for the confirmandi for making deliberate eye contact with the bishop and shaking his hand firmly! 

  • The Lenten Penance Service – We had a few hundred people come to the ten priests for confession. It was especially excellent to celebrate the sacrament with the scores of 7th graders who “had to go” and many of their parents who used the night as an excuse to go. I still cannot put my finger on it, but there was something rare in the air that night. Extra special thanks to the ushers for doing such a masterful job of managing all the movements. And thanks to Carol Valone for being a superb QB and Matt Viola for the terrific music. 

  • Stations of the Cross – The turnout continues to be impressively strong, both in the morning and the evening. Thanks to Peggy and Rich Fullam and all who lead that prayer. If you hope to pray the stations and haven’t done so yet, you can still join the prayer tonight and/or next Friday. 

  • Monday Evening Mass – I for one will be a little sad to see that Lenten offering end. We have Mass this Monday and that is it. The following Monday is the Chrism Mass and the week after that, Lent is only a memory!

Sunday’s Homily 

March 31, 2019 — Fourth Sunday of Lent
A Deeper Our Father? Part 4: “As we forgive those who trespass against us”?

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) – Once again, thanks and blessings for the many St. Joe’s parishioners who volunteered at this week’s IHN at Hillsborough Reformed Church in Millstone. Great work. Our next opportunity to help homeless families will be the week of May 5 to May 12, right here at St. Joe’s. As we will be supplying all the labor, it will be “all hands on deck.” Plan to help if you can.

  • Ministry Recruiting – Blessings for the dozens of parishioners who have signed up for new ministries in the last few weeks of ministry recruiting. This is the last week of recruiting and the tables will host: 

    • CAREGIVERS MINISTRY – Help the parish help the people who care for loved ones.

    • COLLECTION COUNTING – A group of unsung heroes who give one or two Monday mornings each month (though one group meets on Sunday) to count the collection.

    • EUCHARISTIC MINISTERS: CARRIER CLINIC – These amazing ministers bring Communion to people at Carrier Clinic, many of whom are feeling an extraordinary need for Christ.

    • LECTORS – Just try to imagine Mass without them? Unthinkable. If you have a talent for reading out loud, sign up. If you can read out loud you are probably old enough.

  • Virtus Training – I completely get that it consumes your scarce time. Still, we know that in our current reality it is non-negotiable. All of us who work with children or vulnerable adults need to complete the training and have our backgrounds checked. To make it as easy as possible, Bob Ferretti is once again offering Virtus Training right here at St. Joe’s. He is conducting one session at 9:30 am on Tuesday, April 17 and another that evening at 6:30 pm. If you are considering a ministry that requires Virtus training, please register online for one of the sessions. The more parishioners who are Virtus-trained, the better off we all are.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Seven New Names – How is that going for you? Cards are still available if you don’t have one already. The cards help us to achieve the goal (of learning seven names of people near whom you regularly sit). So does using the person’s name at the sign of peace and at the dismissal. And remember, charity and manners. As soon as you sense someone is struggling to come up with your name, tell them!

  • SAGES MINISTRIES – Our “Sages Ministry,” our new parish ministry to identify and address the pastoral, spiritual, educational and recreational aspirations of our wisest parishioners (i.e., 55+) is off to a rollicking great start. The first go-round of programs begins right after Easter. Each of these most promising gatherings is on a Wednesday (the least active day of the week) from 2-4 pm (the least engaged time of day): April 24, old comedy clips; May 8, wine and painting (ZERO talent required); May 22, daytime game night, and; June 5, activities fair (learn more and voice preferences about upcoming programs). BE THERE.

  • A Parish Columbarium? – We have several more hurdles to get over before we can make any promises, but we are still exploring plans for a parish columbarium (like a mausoleum but only for cremains/ashes). Let me know if this prospect interests you.


Your Pastor’s Brag – This week it is all about folks who finished high school ... a few years ago!

  • 65 Years Out – All best blessings for Frank Colpini (11:30 S3) who soon heads out to his 65th reunion at West Point. Frank, the king of suave, was part of the occupation force in Germany at the end of the Second World War. Greatest blessings for Frank and his classmates.

  • Purple Hearts Among Us – John Tamburini (7:15 S3) is one of our parish’s Purple Heart Awardees. John was granted a Purple Heart for his meritorious service in Vietnam in 1970. Thank you John! 

  • Carol Tyukody – Carol (4:45 S5) was just granted a “Core Values Award” by our beloved Gigi’s Playhouse for “her continued efforts to educate and inspire others to believe in the Down Syndrome Community.” Thanks to Erin Sweeney and Gigi’s for acknowledging Carol’s brilliance.

Please email me some of the good news you know about parishioners for “The Pastors Brag.” 

With gratitude and all best blessings and hopes to see you at Trivia Night.

Fr Hank

March 31, 2019 — Fourth Sunday of Lent
A Deeper Our Father? Part 4: “As we forgive those who trespass against us”?



Forgiving – Step One: Disavow retaliation.

Forgiving – Step Two: Reject the impulse to equate the trespasser with the trespass.

Why step two? Four reasons. First, we ask God to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others.” If we equate our trespassers with their trespasses, then we are asking God to equate us with our trespasses, to treat us only as a person who sins, to dwell on our misdeeds and forget everything else about us. Seriously, do we want God to see us that way? If not, then we need to move beyond the impulse to see others only as the creature that sinned against us. Second, we know that we become like the realities we habitually contemplate. We cannot help it. If we habitually contemplate Christ, we become more like Christ. If we habitually contemplate others’ trespasses, we become like those trespasses. Sooner or later, if we obsess about someone’s dishonesty or aggression or self-destructive choices or whatever, we become far more likely to replicate their sins. Third, dwelling on others’ sins makes it very hard to disavow retaliation. If we play the trespass movie over and over and over, we reduce our ability to disavow retaliation. Fourth, and most importantly, Jesus tells us to reject the impulse to equate those who trespass against us with their trespasses. Sunday’s readings make that clear. God gives us an example to follow and God tells us to follow that example.

Sunday’s first reading gives us an example to follow. It comes from the Book of Joshua (Joshua 5). The passage recounts the time when the Israelites first crossed the Jordan and entered the land God had promised. They had reached home after 40 years of wandering. God led them into the Promised Land despite their terrible deeds. They had built the golden calf, rebelled against God at Meribah and Massa, ganged up on Moses in a reprehensible manner and committed countless other sins. But God did not equate them with their sins. If God had, God would not have led them into the Promised Land. God saw them in their entirety. God acknowledged their virtues and their vices and, ultimately, responded to their better moments.

Sunday’s gospel story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) features three people: the dopey younger son who made some terrible choices, the cranky older brother who refuses to welcome his returning brother, and the gracious father. Clearly, the gracious father is the one worth imitating. He is fully aware of the younger son’s rotten choices. But the father does not dwell on the young son’s worst actions. If the father had dwelt on those actions, he surely would not have killed the fatted calf. The older brother opted for a different response. He decided to think only of the younger brother’s transgressions. That thinking seems only to have intensified his self-absorption. Jesus is plainly inviting us to imitate the father. He is inviting us not to equate people with their worst choices.

What about you? In what circumstances have you gone from mimicking the son to mimicking the father? With what people have you moved from seeing them only as the committer of a trespass against you to seeing them as a human who – like you, me and every person – makes both inspired and uninspired choices? And what helped you to make that change? What helped you to see that trespassing other as something more than the maker of the uninspired choice that hurt you?
And where might you be called to move to that higher road? Who in your life has hurt you or someone you love in a way that makes you see that person as nothing other than a source of pain? And, given the lessons from your past, what might help you shake off that perception?

We surely do not want God to see us only as a wad of sinning gunk. And if we want God to see the whole “me,” don’t we sometimes need to change our take on others? When have you morphed from the son into the father and where might you be called to do that now, for your own serenity and because God is asking you to? (NB – The person in the mirror might be the one you need to see in a bigger and more forgiving way.)

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - March 29, 2019

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This Week – March 29, 2019

Dear All:  

Christ’s Peace!

Thank you for responding so very generously to last weekend’s request to learn more of your fold-mates’ names. For some, it is a real chore and I very much appreciate your generosity. For others, it is an excuse to do what they have wanted to do for a while. For still others, it is redundant as they already know the names of most of their pew-mates, fold-mates, and Mass-mates! Thanks to all.

Remember to bring your cards to church this weekend. The longer-term hope is to have most people know the names of most of their regular pew-mates and fold-mates. Why? Three main reasons – to help welcome new parishioners (more on that later), to let me know if someone is missing (though Gladys-Kravitzing is strictly prohibited), and to enrich your experience of Mass. Again, thanks.

I hope you run into many of your pew-mates, fold-mates, Mass-mates and Parish-mates at Rea’s Praise and Worship Concert on Saturday and at next Friday’s Trivia night.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • Parish Penance Service – I hope to see many of you on Tuesday at 7:30. Once again, we blocked out all the mean priests and only nice priests will be here to hear confessions. Feel the grace of the sacrament.

  • Confirmation Retreat – Please pray for our confirmandi (plural of “confirmandus,” i.e., one who is to be confirmed). Our 65 confirmation students, mostly eighth-graders, began their preparation with the Rite of Enrollment at the start of 7th grade. The training will reach a major milestone when they complete the Rite of Covenant at Saturday’s 4:45 Mass. Before coming to Mass, they will have spent the day making their confirmation retreat. After that Mass, they will enjoy Rea’s evening of Praise and Worship. We are proud of all of them and of those who have brought them to this moment.

  • Monday Evening Mass – It was once again very good to celebrate Mass with many of you on Monday evening. There will be Monday evening Masses this week (April 1) and the following week (April 8). There is no evening Mass on Monday of Holy Week as that is the time of the Chrism Mass.

  • The Little Black Books (LBBs) – Thanks to the many who keep me posted on their favorite passages. I am all ears when you are filling me in. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Stations of the Cross – Blessings for all who are praying the Stations. Whether you come every week (morning or evening), or only once, your presence is a blessing. The turnout has been very impressive.

Sunday’s Homily 

March 24, 2019 – Third Sunday of Lent
A Deeper Our Father? Part 3: “Our Trespasses?”

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) – Great blessings for the many parishioners who are, this week, helping to staff the IHN visitors at our much-loved neighbor, Hillsborough Reformed Church. Our parishioners are helping to host seven people who don’t have homes -- two moms and their five children. We have people cooking the dinners, staying overnight and doing all the work that helps the homeless among us trust in God’s love and find their way forward.

  • Prayer Shawls by the boatload! – Our knitting and crocheting groups are out-knitting themselves. They now have SIXTY afghans to deliver to our beloved homebound parishioners and to folks who live in long-term care facilities.

  • Ministry Recruiting – Bravo for the many parishioners who are committing to new ministries. The turn out has been inspiring. Several of our parish’s social ministries have experienced great interest. The liturgical ministries and the community ministries are also feeling the support. Good for all of you. This week there will be recruiting for: 

    • ALTAR SERVERS – we could use a few more, especially at the 4:45 and the 9:30 

    • INTERFAITH HOSPITALITY NETWORK – always good to have greater bench strength for this one – though it requires help only 3 times each year 

    • THE PARISH MEALS MINISTRY – to help our parishioners when they run into a rough patch – medically or otherwise 

    • SENIOR RESIDENCE EUCHARISTIC MINISTRY – the folks who bring communion to the nursing homes on Sundays and sometimes other days – a beautiful ministry.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Seven New Names – Right – the longer-term goal is to learn the names of all of your regular pew-mates and fold-mates and many of your Mass-mates. For now, you should be very pleased with yourself if you learn 7 new names this Lent. BIG CAVEAT – in the world of name-learning, there is only one major sin – to put someone on the spot. PLEASE offer your name at the first indication that the other is having a hard time coming up with your name. Good manners = Good Christianity! 

  • The Evening of Praise and Worship – The concert/retreat we have all been waiting for is this Saturday. After the 4:45 Mass, the Youth Group will be selling stadium food for dinner. You can go right from Mass to dinner to the Evening of Praise and Worship without ever going out in the rain. Hope to see you there.

  • Trivia Night – It is a terrifically promising night of fun for all big kids (i.e., those already confirmed) and adults. The proceeds will help support the dozens of young parishioners who will be spending a week of this summer on one of the two parish service trips – our college students will be working in Texas and our high-school students will be working in Pennsylvania. If you assemble eight friends for a whole table, great. But no need to worry about having a whole table. We welcome folks who come solo or with a friend or two. 

  • SAGES MINISTRIES – Our “Sages Ministry,” our new parish ministry to identify and address the pastoral, spiritual, educational and recreational aspirations of our wisest parishioners (i.e., 55+) is off to a rollicking great start. The first go-round of programs begins right after Easter. Each of these most promising gatherings is on a Wednesday (the least active day of the week) from 2-4 pm (the least engaged time of day): April 24, old comedy clips; May 8, wine and painting (ZERO talent required); May 22, daytime game night, and; June 5, activities fair (learn more and voice preferences about upcoming programs). BE THERE.

  • A Parish Columbarium? – We have several more hurdles to get over before we can make any promises, but we are still exploring plans for a parish columbarium (like a mausoleum but only for cremains/ashes). Let me know if this prospect interests you. 


Your Pastor’s Brag – This week its all about our fleet-footed young people

  • A mind-boggling marathon – Remember the horrible stories about the Bataan Death March? Get this, Josie Greenwood (4:45 S6), a freshman at the University of Oklahoma, is also an Army Cadet. She and 14 members of her troop recently completed a grueling 26 mile march across the White Sands missile range in New Mexico to honor the victims of the march.  Josie and her march-mates completed the trek while carrying 35-pound rucksacks. Go Josie!

  • High School Runners – Congratulations to Peter Cavanaugh (9:30 S2) and to Nicole La Mastro (4:45 S1) for their great athletic achievements. Peter was honored for running the 800 meter in 2 minutes and 4 seconds. Talk about fleet foot. Nicole was named Rookie of the Year. Thanks to both of you for the great example of wonderful use of the gifts God has given you.

Please email me some of the good news you know about parishioners for “The Pastors Brag.” 

With gratitude and all best blessings and hopes to see you at the Night of Praise and Worship.

Fr Hank

March 24, 2019 – Third Sunday of Lent
A Deeper Our Father? Part 3: “Our Trespasses?”



Who wouldn’t rather confess someone else’s sins? I notice the tendency in confession, both when I am the confessor and when I am the confessee! In discussing the context for a particular sin, how easy is it to drift into meanderings about others’ sins. How easy is it to make a similar move when we pray “forgive us our trespasses”? Perhaps we are calling them “our trespasses” but thinking mostly of “their trespasses.” Sunday’s readings invite each of us to take a closer look at “my trespasses” and to remember that God wants us to own them and to overcome them.

The people in Sunday’s gospel (Luke 13) start off paying a great deal of attention to the sins of other people – especially the people Pilate killed and the people on whom the tower fell. Jesus urges them to change focus. He wants them to stop speculating about other peoples’ sins and to own their own. His message resembles his advice to those who would remove a speck from another’s eye while ignoring the plank in their own. Start the anti-sin campaign with the one who appears in your mirror. His request seems to be “Own your sins; acknowledge them; admit you have committed them.” Doing all that points us toward peace and provides a far more meaningful experience of the Our Father when we pray “our trespasses.”

Jesus’s also wants us to overcome the sins we have owned – and he believes we can overcome them. While he doesn’t want us to trivialize our sins, neither does he want us to treat them as the end of the world. He wants us to avoid despair, even in the face of our recurrent sins. Otherwise, why would he have urged the people in the gospel to repent? Jesus never asks us to do the impossible. If repenting were impossible, he wouldn’t ask us to do it. But he does ask us. It must be possible to overcome our sins – with his grace.

Sunday’s readings also remind us that God makes great use of those who own and overcome their biggest sins. The first reading places Moses in Midian, the land to which he fled after he killed the Egyptian. He was a reformed murderer, and God made spectacular use of him. The same goes for Saint Paul, the author of Sunday’s second reading. Remember that Paul took great delight in tormenting Christians, really tormenting them. When he later owned his sins and overcame them, God made extraordinary use of him.

What about you? What makes it difficult for you to admit your mistakes and sins? Might it be an unholy fear of imperfection or maybe some other lingering issues? And what makes it easier for you to acknowledge mistakes, especially those that are sins? Do you need to have the right audience? Do you need to keep remembering that God does not equate you with your worst choice and God doesn’t want anyone to equate anyone with their worst choice? What helps you say “I have sinned.”

And what helps you move beyond sins, especially recurrent sins? Do other peoples’ stories of success give you hope? People in the bible? People in your life? Does good conversation with trusted friends keep you on track? What about confession?

When Jesus taught us to speak to Our Father about “our trespasses,” he didn’t want us to stop with lip service. He clearly wants us to admit our sins and to overcome them. What gets in the way of you doing those two things? And what helps?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - March 22, 2019

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This Week – March 22, 2019

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace!

I hope to see you at tonight’s Fish Fry. If you are bringing youngsters, encourage them to sit up front on the floor during the Irish dancing. The view is much better there. I hope too that your Lenten adventures are unfolding well and that God is blessing you with the graces one might associate with acts of self-denial and with next steps in prayer, service, and community.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • Saint Joseph Day – Great thanks to all who multiplied the blessings on Monday, the feast of our patron, Saint Joseph the Husband of Mary. (May 1 is the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, but we can celebrate that one too.) It was a grace to have so many people at church and to consider how Saint Joseph let God direct his choices. Extra thanks to all who organized the remarkable party after Mass. That was some spread and the lessons – about how certain foods became part of the feast – were terrific.

  • Monday Evening Mass – It was once again very good to celebrate Mass on Monday evening. The Monday evening Masses (6:15) will continue throughout Lent.

  • The Little Black Books (LBBs) – We still have a small collection of LBBs to give away. Check out the Moses table. Might you have a friend or relative who would benefit from having one? Take one and share it. And what was your favorite part this week? I particularly enjoyed Tuesday’s reflection on the Transfiguration and Thursday’s description of Corrie ten Boom. What about you?

  • Stations of the Cross – Blessings for all who are praying the Stations here and courage for all who would sort of like to check it out but are hesitating!

Sunday’s Homily 

March 17, 2019 – Second Sunday of Lent
A Deeper Our Father? Part 2: “Our Father?”

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • Ministry Morning of Recollection – Holy Smokes! – You people are completely excellent. Saturday’s morning of recollection reminded of that all over again. Great thanks to the 125 of you who were able to make time to reflect on how God uses you as instruments of divine kindness, justice, and humility. Thanks especially for your candid thoughts about what is working well in your ministry and what needs work. Great thanks to the ministry leaders for their invaluable input and boatloads of thanks to Suzanne Kral, our parish’s ministry liaison, for putting the whole thing together. Rockstars all.

  • Young Adults and Corned Beef ― Kudos to our Young Adult Ministry for cooking all that corned beef and cabbage for Elijah’s Promise. I’d never seen so many carrots in one pot. Your work is both inspired and inspiring and will surely engage even more of our parish’s 20 to 40-year-olds who are eager to serve, connect and pray.

  • The Bishop’s Annual Appeal – Thanks for all the goodwill that went into last week’s support of the Bishop’s Annual Appeal. Several have asked for clarity about filling out cards if you have already made your pledge. I am working on that. Thanks to the ushers for the extra help. Thanks to Bill Gibson (9:30 S7) for undoing the weekend’s one technological glitch. Thanks to all for supporting the Appeal.

  • Virtus – We will be running two Virtus sessions for anyone who volunteers with youth or the elderly/homebound on April 17. Pick the one that works best for you - 9:30AM or 6:30PM. Registration is required.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • New Parishioners – Please join me in welcoming the newest members of our parish. Please join me in greeting them when possible and in saying a prayer for them, that their years at St. Joe’s might be many and that God will use them to bless us and us to bless them. Say hello to:

    • Patrick and Karen Kelly

    • Megan Kubek

    • Danny and Caitlin Murano and their son Gabriel

    • Robert and Alyce Vornlocker and their son John

    • Bill and Amy Walsh and their children Laurel, Jack and Patrick

  • Ministry Recruiting – Ministry Recruiting continues in the Gathering Space this weekend. Check out the tables. Maybe it is time for you to join one of this weekend’s ministries: Becca’s Friends, Healing Prayer, New Parishioner Welcome and the Ushers. 

  • Where You Sit – Now that we all know how to describe our usual locations, it is time to take one simple and important next step. Stay tuned this weekend.

  • Mark Your Calendars – Tonight’s Fish Fry marks the start of our Spring Fellowship Tripleheader. Our Parish Fish Fry is tonight. The Evening of Praise and Worship is next Saturday after the 4:45 Mass and Trivia Night is the following Friday. This is a great season to meet new folks and to reinforce connections with people we already know and love. 

  • Kentucky Derby – Yes. We will be having a Kentucky Derby party after the 4:45 Mass on Saturday, May 4 in the Hospitality Room – unless the crowd gets too big in which case we will move the action down to the Parish Hall. If the preacher doesn’t prattle on too long, Mass will be over a little more than an hour before the race goes off at 6:50. And it is definitely BYOMJ.

  • A Parish Columbarium? – We have several more hurdles to get over before we can make any promises, but we are still exploring plans for a parish columbarium (like a mausoleum but only for cremains/ashes). Let me know if this prospect interests you. We will make a proposal to the parish before we make the all-important proposal to the diocese’s College of Consultors. Word is that the chancery takes a brighter view of columbaria than they do of skating rinks.

Your Pastor’s Brag – 

  • Doctors in the House? – Giant congratulations to DOCTOR Ann Harris (11:30, S5) who successfully defended her dissertation, in the Education School at Seton Hall University, on Thursday afternoon. Bravo and great strawberries and a wonderful recuperation for DOCTOR Harris. And great and overdue congratulations to Anthony Carter (11:30, S1) who, last year, was granted an honorary doctorate by Fordham University. Fordham had many wonderful reasons for conferring the honorary degree on Anthony. I still have not found out how much they considered the fact that Anthony occupied room 1106 in Walsh Hall the year before I did – and evidently left some holiness in the air. 

  • Keeping the Faith – One of the big things we hope for our high-school grads is that when they get to college, they will not only keep going to Mass but will become active members of the community. And so it is with Fred Shaw (11:30, Lector, S1 or S5). Fred regularly plays the flute and generally helps out with the big student Mass on Sundays at 6:00 pm at, where else? Loyola in Baltimore. Fred is majoring in Accounting and Computer Science. He has made the Dean’s list again and my spies tell me he is doing an overall great job. 

Please email me some of the good news you know about parishioners for “The Pastors Brag.” 

With gratitude and all best blessings and hopes to see you at the Fish Fry.
Fr Hank

March 17, 2019 – Second Sunday of Lent
A Deeper Our Father? Part 2: “Our Father?”



Sunday’s first reading (Genesis 15) describes an elaborate ritual wherein Abraham chops up livestock, lays out the pieces and then falls into a deep sleep and, while sleeping, sees a flame pass through the animal parts. The mysterious floating fire is God’s way of saying “Abraham, I am making with you the strongest possible covenant I can make. I am completely in; I trust you are too.” The covenant is a cause for great rejoicing. It does not, however, change the basic relationship between God and Abraham. Both before and after the covenant, Abraham is still God’s chosen servant.

Compare Abraham’s link with God to Jesus’. At the end of Sunday’s Transfiguration gospel (Luke 9), the Father says of Jesus "This is my chosen Son; listen to him." The link between the Father and the Son is precisely that, a father/son relationship that is, by its very nature, indissoluble.

In calling Jesus “my Son”, the Father invites us to understand their Father/Son relationship as we understand blood relationships among humans. Relationships rooted in consanguinity cannot be reversed. If you and I are related by blood, we cannot stop being related. We might move to different continents and not see each other for decades, but we are still related. Nothing can change that. Jesus is the first and only person God has called “My Son.” The Old Testament refers 14 times to those who are God’s children, but the reference is always to the nation, never to an individual. The Father acknowledges only Jesus as being the equivalent of a blood relative.

Consider the difference in the ways that Abraham and Jesus are related to the Father. Abraham is God’s beloved servant. Jesus is God’s beloved Son. Which would you rather be? Both are chosen but only one of those relationships, Jesus’, is indissoluble. Of course, we would prefer to share in Jesus’ relationship to the Father. And the good news is that we do.

Jesus has taught us to call His Father “Our Father.” He alone among all human beings has the right to do that. Doing so makes good sense. We know that Jesus is God’s Son. We also know that Jesus is truly human. He is one of us. He is our blood relative. That means God is Our Father too. And if God is Our Father, God is in an indissoluble relation with us, one that cannot be broken.

What about you? Has there been a time when, because of life’s difficulties, you wondered if God had dissolved your relationship? Maybe a profound personal tragedy made you think that? Or a major reversal of fortune? Maybe there was a time when you thought that perhaps God had forgotten or abandoned you. (NB – The Psalms are full of stories of people who wonder that very thing.) But then you regained your conviction that the appearances were misleading you. God had not forsaken or abandoned you. God was loving you “from the other side of the clouds” as the poem says. When have you gone from not wanting to call God “Our Father” back to a willingness to do so?

And who in your life might be going through a similar darkness wherein it feels goofy to call God “Our Father”? Who is living through circumstances that suggest that God has checked out, is behaving like a “deadbeat dad” and perhaps no longer wants to be Our Father? Who needs a patient, empathetic listener?

Before Jesus, it made no sense to call God “Our Father.” Since Jesus, it makes no sense to call him anything else. When have you lost sight of that? Who might be losing sight of it now?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - March 15, 2019

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This Week – March 15, 2019

Dear All:

Christ’s peace.

I look forward to seeing many of you on Saturday morning at our Lenten Morning of Recollection for volunteers from every parish ministry. And whether that gathering is part of your plans, I hope your Lent is continuing down consoling paths of self-denial and of next steps in prayer, service and community-formation. Good stuff.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • Monday Evening Mass – Sorry the announcements about the additional Monday evening Mass didn’t come out until Sunday. But there will be an additional Mass during Lent – at 6:15 p.m. Monday evening – for those who would like to participate in an additional Mass during Lent, but who cannot get to the 8:35 a.m. It was good to celebrate Mass with Monday evening’s cheery group and it will be good to share the prayer with a few more people this Monday. 

  • The Little Black Books (LBBs) – Most of the special stash of LBBs will be on the Moses table this weekend. Thanks for taking only one per household up until now. Now that we have provided time for every household to secure one, we can make more available to those who are sharing LBBs at home. Enjoy them and keep praying. What is your favorite passage so far?

  • Stations of the Cross – What a consolation it was to learn that we had sizeable groups, both in the morning and the evening, praying the Stations last Friday. Feeling the urge? Join the prayer! 


Sunday’s Homily March 10, 2019 – First Sunday of Lent
A Deeper Our Father? Part 1: “THY Will Be Done” or “MY Will Be Done?
To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • Ministry Morning of Recollection – Tomorrow – The gathering begins with Mass at 8:35. We then migrate down to the Parish Hall for coffee, carbs and chat time. My talk will last 30-40 minutes and will be followed by two rounds of conversation for people in your ministry. It will be lunchtime before you know it and then time to go home and gussy up for your St. Patrick’s celebrations. As always, many folks must choose which of their multiple ministries to spend the morning. The good news is that there is plenty of time to extend the conversations during breaks and lunch. It will be good to be together.

  • Caregivers Morning of Recollection – Last Saturday – What a terrific bunch! Great thanks to the highly dedicated organizers and to the speakers who provided a consoling and informative morning for more than 60 caregivers. Many of those caregivers are Saint Joe’s parishioners and many came from other parishes and other faiths. People also came from a wide array of caregiving situations. Some are caring for spouses, others for parents or children or siblings or other loved ones. It was a blessing to reassure our caregivers that they are appreciated and loved.

  • The Parish Meals Ministry – Thanks again to the 15 cooks who answered the call to help our parish meals ministry. We have regained our ability to balance demand and supply! Extra thanks to the ministry leader Lee Parasol. If you or another parishioner is in a difficult period, especially if you are undergoing demanding medical treatments, please let your parish help. Contact Lee at leeparasole@gmail.com or call the church office.

  • Young Adults and Corned Beef ― Our recently launched Young Adult Ministry (think 21 to 40 year- olds) will be making a Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner for Elijah's Promise Soup Kitchen on Saturday, March 16 at 1:30 in the St. Joe's kitchen. If you are actually in that age group (don’t just wish you were) join the cooks in the kitchen. It is an excellent project and a great way to serve and connect. If you would like to learn more, email Bob Ferretti at bobf@stjosephsparish.com 

  • The Bishop’s Annual Appeal – This weekend is the “In-pew” weekend for the Bishop’s Annual Appeal. Part of the homily time will be devoted to viewing Bishop Checchio’s message and to filling out the pledge cards. Once again, if this is a rotten financial year for you, do not worry about the Appeal. Give a dollar or two to help increase our participation rate. If it is a good financial year, do what you can – and then some. The Appeal funds greatly inspired and inspiring works.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Where You Sit – Now that we know how to describe our respective sections/folds, the next step will be to make our sections/folds a bit more familiar. Stay tuned.

  • Mark Your Calendars – We are moving into the peak season for Fellowship Events:

    • Our Annual Fish Fry with Irish Dancers – Friday, March 22.

    • An Evening of Praise and Worship with Rea Larangeira – Saturday, March 30

    • Trivia Night – Friday, April 5

    • Parish Spring Cleaning – Saturday, April 27

    • The Gubitosi Golf Classic – Monday, April 29

Your Pastor’s Brag – 

  • John Reilly’s Blood – John (9:30, S 1 or 11:30, S 1) has very unusual and appealing blood. His type is O-, a type that anyone in the world can receive. It is extremely valuable blood, but only 7% of the world’s population has O- blood. John feels strongly about giving his blood to others. He is particularly eager to share his platelets, which aid in clotting and are particularly helpful to people in treatment for various forms of cancer and for accident victims. John has already donated more than 125 times and continues to do so. Three cheers for O negative and attitude positive.

  • Rowan de Wet Wrestles on the Frontier – Girl’s wrestling is a new thing and new to the area. Earlier this month, fifth-grader Rowan de Wet (11:30, S 6) won second place in her division at the statewide match, the “Wrestle Like A Girl Challenge” in Bound Brook. This was the first time the girls-only statewide competition was held. It attracted 70 athletes, including Rowan. How excellent that Rowan is out there on the athletic frontiers and doing so well.

  • Maritza Arango Teaches above and beyond – Maritza (9:30, S4) was recently selected for special recognition by the South Brunswick Board of Education. Teachers can only receive this award if a student writes a very persuasive letter about the teacher. Keep up the great teaching Maritza. What profession is more important than yours?

    Please email me some of the good news you know about parishioners for “The Pastors Brag.

With gratitude and all best blessings,
Fr Hank

March 10, 2019 – First Sunday of Lent
A Deeper Our Father? 

Part 1: “THY Will Be Done” or “MY Will Be Done?


Lent’s scripture readings invite reflection on that most familiar of all prayers, the Our Father. The readings that lead us further into the Our Father help us take a very valuable next step in prayer.

Each synoptic gospel (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) describes the temptations as events that occurred immediately after Jesus’ baptism. Jesus went from the unimaginable consolation of hearing the Father’s affirmation to the inconceivable desolation of confrontation with Satan. The abruptness of that transition boggles the mind. So does the content of the temptations.
 
In Sunday’s gospel (Luke 4), the second temptation is the one in which Satan promises to give Jesus power over the whole earth if only Jesus will worship Satan. Of course, Jesus refuses, rebutting Satan with another quote from Deuteronomy “It is written: You shall worship the Lord, your God and him alone shall you serve.” Jesus will have none of it.
 
But, because it was a temptation, there were aspects of the proposition that Jesus found attractive, at least until he thought it through. To what human does the prospect of greater influence not hold some appeal? Who doesn’t want things to go their way? Would the ability to call the shots all around the planet not appeal to each of us, including Jesus? One need not be a control freak to enjoy that prospect.
 
The Our Father teaches us the main drawback to possessing that power. The Lord’s Prayer instructs us to tell God “Thy kingdom come” and “Thy will be done” not “my will” or “my kingdom.” If Jesus had succumbed to that temptation, he would have been ditching “Thy will be done” and “Thy kingdom come” and adopting “My kingdom come” and “My will be done.” Succumbing to that temptation would have been incompatible with the prayer he taught us, with the life he lived, and with his own prayer on the night before he died, “Let not my will but thine be done.” He felt the urge to seek “my kingdom” and “my will” but ultimately chose “thy kingdom” and “thy will.”
 
What about you? You have surely imitated Jesus’s choice. There have been moments when you felt inclined to impose your will on a situation and then your good angels persuaded you to choose God’s hopes. Maybe you were thinking of retaliating, and then recalled that doing so insulted God. Maybe you were trying to force someone to make the choice you wanted them to make, and then you thought of God’s hopes and changed your approach. Maybe you were determined to think only of yourself when making a choice that affected many and then Christ’s light went off in your heart? You have surely felt the urge to seek your will and then regained your spiritual wits and prayed earnestly “Thy kingdom come” and “Thy will be done.” When have you imitated Jesus in facing down that temptation? And maybe just maybe where do you need to check in on your thy/my balance now?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - March 8, 2019

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This Week – March 8, 2019

Dear All:     

Christ’s peace.

I hope your Lent is off to a very good start.  What might a “good start” include?  A degree of confidence that the Lenten observances you have chosen will ultimately deepen your connection with Jesus.  I hope you are feeling peaceful about what you have chosen to give up and what you have chosen to take up.  And under the “take up” heading, I especially hope that you have considered inspired next steps in prayer, service and community-building.  Given how good you all are, I am pretty sure your Lent is off to a good start.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER

  • The Little Black Books (LBBs) – This year’s demand for the LBBs has been especially robust.  Good for you!  The main supply is all gone but we still have a few tucked away for the late arrivals.  If your household does not yet have one, please let me know after Mass this weekend and we can get you squared away.  The six minutes spent each day with the LBBs are six well spent minutes.  Onward!

  • Stations of the Cross –   Stations started this morning (Friday) after the 8:35 Mass and will be prayed every Friday morning in Lent.  The Friday evening sessions start at 7:30.  It is a beautiful prayer led by very kind and welcoming people.  If you haven’t prayed the stations in a while, or even if you have never prayed them, give it a shot.  

  • Monday’s Scripture Study – The number of people that signed up is a little more than the limit, but we will for sure make it work.  It will be good to explore the Book of Genesis with you.  A few people will have to share books.  Maybe some of the wife/husband teams won’t mind sharing.  Also, BRING YOUR BIBLE WITH YOU ON MONDAY NIGHT AT 7:30   


Sunday’s HomilyEighth Sunday in Ordinary Time Inspired Challenging, Part 5: Knowing When to QuitTo listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • No Such Thing as “Too Many Cooks” –  Great thanks to the fifteen people who signed up to cook for our parish meals ministry.  We have recently seen a significant increase in the number of parishioners requiring meals during difficult circumstances.  We also have a number of our old-reliable cooks away on extended vacations.  Greatest thanks to the 15 cooks who answered the recent pulpit call.

  • Ministry Morning of Recollection – LAST CALL! – we are just about at our seating limit for the March 16 Morning of Recollection for volunteers in every parish ministry.  We still have a few spots and will be ordering the food midweek.  So, seize the moment and RSVP to Suzanne Kral at skral@stjosephsparish.com   Be sure to tell her the ministry with which you want to spend your time. 

  • Young Adult Ministry ― The Young Adult Ministry will be making Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner for Elijah's Promise Soup Kitchen on Saturday, March 16 at 1:30 in the St. Joe's kitchen. If you are between 21 and 40 years old and looking for a chance to meet some great people and perform some service, send an email to bobf@stjosephsparish.com for more information.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • New Parishioners – Please join me in welcoming the newest members of our community.  Also join me in saying a praying for their years at St. Joe’s – that God will use the community to bless the newest arrivals and that God will use the newest arrivals to bless the community.  We welcome:

    • Linda Gallo

    • Michael and Amanda Marciniak and their children Jamie and Jenna

    • Vivian Okrepk

    • Salvatore and Bernice Romano and 

    • Salvatore and Helene Saladini

  • Mr. Bober’s Movies – These movies should be required viewing for just about every Hillsborough resident.  Mr. Bober teaches filmmaking at the high school and uses his considerable talents to make movies in which students with special needs are featured.  One of his most recent movies was a whodunnit that included many students from St. Joe’s – AND Christine Demetriou who worked with many of the students for many years.  The movies were the high point of the most recent and very energized gathering of Becca’s Friends.  Blessings for Mr. Bober, Mrs D., and all the movie stars.

  • Where You Sit  –  In case you missed last weekend’s big reveal.  The church has voted and the results are clear.  Section One is by the choir and Section Seven is behind the altar servers.

  • Mark Your Calendars –  We are moving into the peak season for Fellowship Events:

    • Our Annual Fish Fry with Irish Dancers – Friday, March 22.

    • An Evening of Praise and Worship with Rea Larangeira – Saturday, March 30

    • Trivia Night – Friday, April 5

    • Parish Spring Cleaning – Saturday, April 27

    • The Gubitosi Golf Classic – Monday, April 29

  • Parish Personnel Changes

    • Outgoing Parish Trustees – Our parish has been blessed with wonderful trustees.  For nearly three years, Marybeth Delisi and Rich Realbuto have done a thoroughly excellent  job.  But they have both had to step down.  Marybeth had to resign in the Spring when her husband Bryan became our Facilities Manager.  Rich had to step down last week when his wife Anna Maria became the Director of our Senior Ministries and Parish in-reach programs.  All of us, especially me, are greatly indebted to Marybeth and to Rich

    • Incoming Parish Trustees –  Thanks to Susan Wund and Guy Gubitosi for agreeing to serve as our newest parish trustees.  Both Susan and Guy have been involved in many ministries for many years.  They know the place very well and can give excellent advice.  God bless Susan and Guy.

    • Parish Staff – Great blessings for Gail Bellas (Social Ministries) and Anna Maria Realbuto (Sages Ministries and Parish In-Reach) who officially joined the parish staff this week.  Both Gail and Anna Maria are terrifically talented in their fields and are great additions to the staff.

Your Pastor’s Brag –

  • Matt Toste – Matt, son of Patty and Paul Toste (9:30, S 6) graduated from HHS in 2017 and is about to observe his second anniversary in the United States Marine Corps.  Matt is currently a Lance Corporal and is stationed stateside.  Matt, a master at driving giant-sized vehicles that support infantry activities, will probably remain in the States through the summer.  God bless Matt and the USMC and all our service people.

  • Megan Stanton – Megan, daughter of Lilly and Rick Stanton (9:30, S 2), was recently the subject of a very impressive article in one of Rutgers’ leading online magazines.  Megan has excelled in her studies of German and spent a semester in Berlin.  Having been on the Dean’s List every semester, Megan has been accepted to graduate school in education and has been a member of the marching band all four years.  Way to go Megan!

  • Tom Comiskey – (9:30  S 1)  Tom graduated from Scranton U about 1000 years ago and from Dartmouth Business school a little after that.  More recently, Tom was featured in the online magazine “ROI.”  The article reports that Tom, who is the Regional President of M&T Bank, has enabled the bank to become a significant presence throughout New Jersey.  Tom’s wife (Maryann) and their daughters (Malia and Maggie) clearly provide much of the inspiration that energizes Tom’s professional success.  (Comiskey is pronounced like  COMMonwealth rather than like the Chicago ball park, coMISSkey)

Please email me some of the good news you know about parishioners for “The Pastor’s Brag.” 

With gratitude and all best blessings

Fr Hank

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - March 1, 2019

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This Week – March 1, 2019

Dear All:

Christ’s peace.

The verdict is in! The people of God have spoken! The show of hands at each Mass was consistent and persuasive. We will henceforth refer to the section by the choir as “Section One” and the section behind the servers as “Section Seven.” Section Four is Section Four no matter which way you go. We might not be able to call it the “sensus fidelium” but we can call it “our consensus.” More on this as Lent unfolds. Thanks for keeping it fun and clear.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER, SERVICE, AND COMMUNITY: SPECIAL EDITION – MAPPING OUT LENT

Yes. Lent is days away. It is hard to imagine that we are here already but here we are so let’s get going. The season invites us to renew our focus on Jesus. It calls us to become more intentional in our discipleship. It recruits us to take next steps as priests (peoples of prayer), prophets (who challenge and console others) and queens/kings/monarchs (who build up the community). Yes, it is a season of giving things up. And yes, it is a season to do the work of adopting habits we want to maintain over the long run. Perhaps it makes good spiritual sense for you to consider some of the following options. Regardless of your Lenten plan, I look forward to seeing you on Ash Wednesday.

  • Prayer – Ash Wednesday Services. Masses are at 8:35 a.m. and 7:30 pm. Ashes will be distributed at both Masses. There will be a service to distribute ashes at 5:00 pm.

  • Prayer – Daily Mass. We have a delightful group – sometimes up to 50 or 60 people who come to daily Mass. Think of joining the celebration. You will also discover that the regulars are a delightful bunch of Christians. The “8:35 Club” is there to welcome you every morning, Monday through Saturday. On Saturdays, we make extra time for everyone to pray their intentions out loud at the Prayers of the Faithful. Warning – many of the people who started coming for Lent ended up coming all year round!

  • Prayer – the Little Black Books. I never knew about the Little Black Books (LBBs) before I landed here. They are a great idea. It is already pretty much of a parish thing and is becoming even more so. Good for us. Are we at the point where we can assume that every adult around us (i.e., big kids and taxpayers) is spending a few minutes a day with the LBBs? If not, we are quite close. The LBBs are available in the Gathering Space this weekend. Here is a big favor. For this weekend, please take just one for each household. Next week, if we have extras, we can provide more. We bought plenty but they are in huge demand. Thanks. Pray well.

  • Prayer – Stations of the Cross. Stations are prayed twice every Friday – in the morning right after the 8:35 Mass and in the evening at 7:30 pm. Even if you aren’t in a position to go every week, go at least once if you can. It is a beautiful part of our tradition

  • Prayer – Confessions. Lent is a great time for Reconciliation. I am “in the box” at 4:00 pm every Saturday. The last two Saturdays in Lent include extra confessions times. We have a parish Penance Service coming up and I am always happy to hear confessions in my office. If you want to go but don’t want to go with me, totally fine. I can help you find just the right confessor. 

  • Prayer – Scripture Study – The Book of Genesis – Not that scripture study is synonymous with prayer, but the study can enrich the prayer. I am going to lead a new scripture study program that I have not used before but that comes well recommended. We will study the book of Genesis – and will not complete the entire book. The Scripture Study meets in the Hospitality room on Monday nights from 7:00 to 8:30. The class is limited to 35 people. Signups are in the Gathering Space this weekend. The classes will meet on March 11, 18 and 25 and April 1 and 8.

  • Prayer – Church Teaching – Pope Francis’ “Rejoice and Be Glad: The Call to Holiness” – Father Greg Uhrig will continue his very popular Thursday morning classes. But this time registration is not limited to those who attend 8:35 Mass. This letter of Pope Francis’ is excellent and Fr. Greg has a marvelous way of making it real. Registration is limited to 40 and the classes will be on Thursday mornings from 9:15 to 10:30 on March 14, 21 and 28 and on April 4 and 11. Signups are in the Gathering Space this weekend.

  • Prayer – 2 Mornings of Recollection – Our Lenten calendar includes two mornings of recollection for different groups. If you are a caregiver, come to the Morning of Recollection for Caregivers on March 9. You will gain a great sense of inspired connection with people who know first-hand the ups and downs of doing what you do. Sign up in the Gathering Space this weekend. The other retreat morning is the Morning of Recollection for All Ministries on March 16. Whatever your ministry, you are encouraged to participate in this retreat morning. It is a great time to reflect on the ways God uses you and to connect with the others in your ministry. Be there. RSVP via Suzanne Kral at skral@stjosephsparish.com

  • Service – Ministry Recruiting – For Five Weekends Starting March 10 – Many of you perform great acts of service outside of the parish. Good for you. Whether you have an outside service commitment or not, Lent is a great time to rethink your ministerial commitments. Perhaps it is time for you to up your game – especially in the liturgical ministries (maybe as a Eucharistic Minister, an usher, a server or who knows what) or in the social ministries. It might even be time for you to dial it down or find a new ministry. And perhaps the reflection will reveal that you have it just right. My hope is that you will take that long loving look at how you are answering your baptismal call to serve as a prophet of consolation and challenge. The Ministry Recruiting can help.

  • Community. This Lent includes more than the usual number of fellowship events in the parish. Each provides a chance for you to get to know a new parishioner or two and to renew your connections to people you know. But before all that happens, please wonder about the place where you usually sit on Sundays and how many names you know. This Lent’s Fellowship Events include:

    •  Our Annual Fish Fry with Irish Dancers – This is a perennial favorite, and rightly so. Mark your calendar for Friday, March 22. If you have registered in the parish in the last two years, let me know if you want complementary tickets. It truly is one of the BIG fellowship moments of the year – and GREAT food. 

    • An Evening of Praise and Worship with Rea Larangeira – After the 4:45 Mass on Saturday, March 30. The Youth Ministry will sell food between Mass and the concert. The concert is a big part of the Confirmation students’ retreat day. All are invited to this Praise and Worship Service. Rea rocks.

    • Trivia Night – This is a new one and promises to be a keeper. See the posters in the Gathering Space for more information. There is a rumor going around that the game’s organizers are going to raffle off the pastor to the highest bidder to help with the trivia questions about religion. I sure hope he gets at least one bid and I sure hope he doesn’t embarrass himself. Trivia Night is Friday, April 5 and the proceeds help support our Youth Group’s Summer work projects.

Next week’s “This Week” will be in the usual format. Have a great start to Lent
Sunday’s HomilyFebruary 24, 2019 – Seventh Sunday in Ordinary TimeInspired Challenging, Part 4: Disavowing RetaliationTo listen to Sunday's homily (and access to past homilies), click here.To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page
With gratitude and all best blessings
Fr Hank

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Inspired Challenging, Part 4: Disavowing Retaliation


Has any human NOT felt the urge to retaliate? Who among us has never experienced the desire to “inflict injury in return for an injury”? When someone hurts you, or worse yet, hurts someone you love, revenge crosses your mind, right? The impulse comes with our human nature. The call to control that impulse and use it for good comes from Jesus. Sunday’s readings clarify his call for us to disavow retaliation, again and again and again.

Sunday’s passage from Luke 6 comes from “The Sermon on the Plain” (Luke 6: 20-49), Luke’s version of Matthew’s “Sermon on the Mount.” The passage we heard this week provides Jesus’ instructions for loving our enemies. To understand Jesus fully, it helps to consider his uses of “enemy” and “love.”

Who is an enemy? Anybody who wants to injure us. And why do they want to injure us? Because they hate us. And why do they hate us and want to injure us? Do we ever really know the answer to that question?

Moreover, when Jesus speaks of “love,” he is referring to a genuine devotion that labors for what is best for the other. Jesus takes a dim view of love-talk that does not find expression in love-action. Jesus’ life and words justify what so many saints remind us: “true love finds expression in action, not simply in words.” Jesus wants us to enhance the other’s quality of life, to deepen the other’s peace in this life and the next.

When we assemble the pieces, we hear Jesus speaking the seemingly preposterous order: “labor for the wellbeing of people who want to injure you.” That command leaves no room for retaliation. That command also points the way to a peace that no pursuit of retaliation can supply. Retaliation is a fool’s errand. It never gets us to the peace we crave. Retaliation is a losing proposition. To misquote the old bromide, “Winners don’t retaliate, and retaliators don’t win.” Disavowal of the retaliation impulse is the only way to go. Jesus never asks us to condone bad behavior or encourage any form of abuse. He wants us to champion “justice” – the world the way he wants it. But retaliation is incompatible with the pursuit of justice.

Sunday’s first reading (1 Samuel 26) depicts King David as a poster child for those who disavow retaliation. The passage describes the second time that David could have retaliated against King Saul. Sunday’s verses come from the part of the story when Saul is still King and is trying to kill David so David will not become king. Funny turns of events twice put Saul within David’s reach but David did not retaliate. David made plenty of mistakes in his life, but in this case, he got it right. He worked for the wellbeing of a person who hated him.

What about you? You have done what Jesus requires and what David did. You have felt the urge to retaliate and you have resisted the urge. It might have happened at school, on your team, in your study group, at work, in the neighborhood, in the family, with former in-laws, or even at church. You could have gotten even, or at least tried to, and you did not. You subsequently felt the peace that comes from disavowing retaliation. When have you experienced the grace to disavow retaliation and who might need to hear your story? Is there a person in your life who is contemplating revenge? Is there a way in which your story might challenge that other to make a better choice? In this season of reflecting on our mission to challenge others, is there a way in which your story of struggle and success might challenge a loved one to disavow retaliation and know Christ’s peace in a deeper way?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - February 15, 2019

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This Week – February 15, 2019

Dear All:

Christ’s peace.

The not-so-great news? We did not get the subsidies for the air conditioners or for the lights. We staged a mighty and a well-coordinated effort but the folks who administer the subsidies determined we do not have enough energy-hog lights to qualify for air-conditioner subsidies. A bit confusing, I know, but so it goes. The people with whom we interacted have been very helpful and kind. Special thanks to Paulette Matis for playing QB for our efforts. It has involved a load of paperwork and Paulette coordinated it masterfully. Fortunately, we are in a financial position to fund the needed improvements but doing so means we will have to postpone other important work. We thank God for the gifts given and continue to explore every opportunity to save without sacrificing safety or the serenity that the right surroundings provide.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER:

  • First Reconciliations – Three dozen of our youngsters will make their First Reconciliations this Tuesday, February 19 at 7:00 pm. Please say a prayer for them as they enter this new phase of their relationship with Jesus, a phase in which they truly know the difference between right and wrong, and in which they know Jesus as the Merciful One who always welcomes those who seek his pardon. Blessings for all who prepared our students for this very important moment.

  • The 8:35 Prayer Lists – One of the many beautiful things about the folks who regularly attend our 8:35 daily Mass (aka the 8:35 Club) is that they really mean it when they say they will pray for someone. Each day before their 8:00 Rosary, they pray out loud for each person for whom prayers have been requested. On Saturday mornings, they recite all those names at the Prayers of the Faithful. It truly is a beautiful experience. If you have a special prayer intention, let me know and I will pass it along to the right 8:35 prayer-person.

  • Stations of the Cross – Have you marked a few Friday nights on your calendar, while Lent is still a few weeks away, so you will have time to pray with the wonderful folk who pray the Stations of the Cross in Lent? And remember there are also opportunities to pray the Stations on Friday mornings after Mass.

  • Your Sunday Prayer Area – Stay tuned for news about how to identify the area where you usually sit for Sunday Masses.

Sunday’s Homily
February 10, 2019 – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Inspired Challenging, Part 2: Inspired Self-doubt”

  • To listen to Sunday's homily (and access to past homilies), click here.

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • Feeding Hands – The goods continue to arrive at a terrific rate. As of this morning, it seems we will contribute even more than we did last year. Your kindness provides a great boost to our low-income neighbors. Think about how bad it would be not to have toiletries or cleaning supplies. And then think of how grateful you would be to the people who provide them.

  • Ministry Morning of Recollection – Calling volunteers in every ministry! Try to join your fellow volunteers/ministers on Saturday, March 16 for the Parish Ministries Morning of Recollection. The program starts with 8:35 Mass and concludes with lunch. Please RSVP to Suzanne Kral and be sure to tell her the ministry with which you want to spend your morning. You can email Suzanne at skral@stjosephsparish.com It will be good to share the morning.

  • The Caregivers’ Morning of Recollection – If you are helping a friend or relative who needs a bit of extra TLC these days, or if you are a professional caregiver, please join your mission-mates for the Caregivers Morning of Recollection on Saturday, March 9. You can sign up in the Gathering Space during the weekends of February 23/24 and March 2/3. 

  • Random Acts of Kindness – Our High School Youth Ministry's Random Acts of Kindness Day was a huge success. Thanks to every parishioner who supported it. Our teens made 60 bagged lunches for Somerville’s Samaritan Homeless Intervention Program, visited every Avalon resident and gave each a card, candy and a flower from The Flower Barn. Thanks to our Prayer Shawl Ministry, our students were able to give lap blankets and prayer shawls to 15 very appreciative residents. They also paid for several strangers’ coffee and clothes washing with the admonition to “pay it forward.” God bless our teenagers.

  • Sweet Treats and Sentiments ― Huge thanks to Jaqui Seelig's First Grade Class. They made lovely Valentine cards and bagged chocolate treats for members of our church. They shared these with the homebound and the 8:35 Club.


THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • All You Need Is Love – At this Saturday’s 4:45 Mass, we will begin our parish celebration of World Marriage day. During the Mass we will pray for all married couples and honor those who are celebrating their 25th and 50th anniversaries. The sold-out, BYOB frolic begins right after 4:45 Mass. The food, the DJ and the photo booth promise to be great fun, as do the two short rounds of . . . live entertainment. 

  • Where You Sit – How do you describe where you usually sit at the Mass you usually attend?

  • Your Pastor’s Brag – I want to brag all about you to your fellow parishioners who are eager to learn of the good things fellow parishioners do, in all areas of life. So please let me know the good news about parishioners who have done good things (e.g., won an award, succeeded at academics or at sports or at extracurriculars or in service or have done something great at work or in the community). Also, let me know which Mass the person usually attends and the section in which the person usually sits. The section closest to the choir is Section 1. The section behind the servers is Section 7. Email me the news at fhilton@loyola.edu Be sure to put “PASTOR’S BRAG” in the subject line.

    • Nils Dahl – Nils Dahl (6:00 PM Sunday, Section 2) recently triumphed in the Wodapalooza – one of the world’s most celebrated CrossFit competitions. Nils and his two teammates finished 10th. That’s right, we can brag that our very own Nils’ team is basically tenth in the world. And get this – the nine teams that finished ahead of them are all full-time CrossFit folk; they don’t have day jobs. Nils does. From my perspective, that makes Nils and his teammates the world’s best self-supporting CrossFitters! Congratulations Nils. What a great use of the gifts God has given you. And congratulations to Nils’ wife Amy (Also 6:00 pm Section 2) for enabling it all to happen.

    • Fran Hoh – This week’s Catholic Spirit contains a superb article written by our very own Fran Hoh (6:00 pm, Section 6). The article, “Understanding differences in palliative, hospice care” is great background reading for all and should be required reading for anyone dealing with end-of-life issues. How blessed are we to have Fran among us and willing to help?

With gratitude and all best blessings

Fr Hank 

 Sunday, February 10, 2019 – 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Inspired Challenging, Part 2: Inspired Self-doubt”


As persons baptized to “remain forever a member of Christ who is Priest, Prophet, and King,” every Christian is commissioned to challenge others at the times and in the ways God desires. That means you. That means me. It is part of our “prophet” thing.
Sunday’s readings point out the value of inspired self-doubt, that just-right amount of insecurity that keeps us from becoming puffed-up windbags. Without a touch of insecurity, how easily might we become the cocky know-it-alls Jesus derides rather than the inspired prophets he sends to his beloved. We do not want the uninspired self-doubt that immobilizes or paralyzes us. We want the inspired self-doubt that keeps us attentive to Jesus and kind to others.

Isaiah, one of the greatest prophets ever, seems to have possessed just the right dose of healthy insecurity. Sunday’s first reading (Isaiah 1) describes the supernatural scene in the temple in which Isaiah said “Yes” to God’s call. But before saying “Yes,” amid earthquakes and great clouds of smoke, he expressed self-doubt, telling the Lord “I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips.” Notice that God does not say “Oh no Isaiah. You are not a man of unclean lips.” God seems rather to agree with Isaiah and then sends a coal-carrying angel to burn Isaiah’s lips clean. Isaiah’s expression of self-doubt is typical of the many biblical figures God calls into service. They are aware of their frailty but not immobilized by it. God seems to like that mix.

Peter makes the same move in Sunday’s Gospel. Just as Isaiah confronted earthquakes, smoke and God’s glory, Peter confronted the miraculous catch of fish. The experience makes him aware of God’s presence. It forces him to his knees and to the declaration "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." Jesus doesn’t argue with Peter’s self-understanding. He simply promises to work with Peter’s limitations. Perhaps Jesus was aware that Peter would succeed most in those moments when he was most aware of his own human frailty and of God’s power flowing through him.

What about you? Who has challenged you in your life? Who has encouraged you to make more inspired choices about your health or your relationships or your studies or your athletic habits or your ways of taking care of others? When you consider the most effective challengers/prophets, perhaps you recall how their humility and empathy gave them credibility and made their challenge to you more appealing? Were they willing to admit they did not have all the answers? Were they at ease with their own human frailty? And what about people who came across as know-it-all windbags who were “often in error but never in doubt?” How much did they help you?

In what circumstances are you following the leads of your most effective prophets? In those relationships in which you are called to offer the challenging word, in which are you doing so as a fellow pilgrim on the way who is aware of your own frailty? In what circumstances are you OK with your limitations and willing to share them with those you challenge? Where are you following the leads of Peter and Isaiah? Where might you be acting a little bit like a puffed-up windbag?

NB – In every mission to challenge others, there is a time for inspired self-confidence, a time for knowing that you have discerned well and are proceeding well. In no mission to challenge others is there a time for the arrogance that alienates others and depletes our sense of dependence on God.

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - February 8, 2019

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This Week – February 8, 2019

Dear All:

Christ’s peace.

Two very good things about crossing February’s threshold? First, we can savor the wedding pictures posted in the Gathering Space in anticipation of the February 16 celebration of marriage. What astounds me is how amazingly good looking everyone was – and how well preserved so many are! Second, we can now say “Spring starts next month.” I like the sound of that. I also like that we can now expect some of the early spring flowers to start peeking out very soon. I will provide a reward, albeit a very meager one, to the first little kids (baptism to First Communion) and kids (First Communion to Confirmation) who can point out the first bud of spring on the parish grounds. BTW, the poor daffodil that popped up in December by the church’s front door doesn’t count.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER: 

  • Sacramental Preparation – With the approach of spring comes the home stretch of preparations for First Communions and Confirmations.

    • First Reconciliations – February 19 at 7:00 pm. Unlike some of the other penance celebrations, this one does not include an invitation to the entire parish – just to the second graders and their families. We do however invite everyone to pray for the children who are taking this big next step. This year we have 36 children making their First Reconciliations and First Communions. Thanks to Michele Tuck, our second grade CCD teachers, and all who have trained our First Communicants. Special thanks to Ginny Houle and Kathy Kafka who have worked closely with our young people with special needs.

    • Confirmation Conferences – Our 66 confirmation candidates will start their Confirmation Conferences this week. Each of our candidates has a conversation with a Knight of Columbus who invites the Confirmation candidate to reflect on her or his spiritual preparation up to this point. Great thanks to our confirmandi, to their teachers, families, and sponsors.

Sunday’s Homily – February 3 – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Inspired Challenging, Part 1: “You Have What It Takes”

  • To listen to Sunday's homily (and access to past homilies), click here.

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • Feeding Hands – We are off to a terrific start with our collections of toiletries and cleaning products for the people who rely on the Feeding Hands Center in Somerville. The collection portion of the project officially starts this Sunday but we have already collected 700 items. It seems very likely that we will meet our goal of 1750 items. If you haven’t already taken a labeled bag, think about doing so. This is one of those projects that produces immediate results for people who need them.

  • Random Acts of Kindness – On Saturday, members of our Youth Group will be doing kind things all around Hillsborough. We don’t want to give away all the secrets about what they are doing this year, but last year they delivered flowers to residents of nursing homes, prayer shawls to people who could use them, food to SHIP (Samaritan Homeless Intervention Program). They also purchased cups of coffee for unsuspecting folks all around town. Thanks to our Youth Group and thanks to all the parishioners who supported the adventure by putting money in the poor boxes for the last two weeks.

  • Ministry Morning of Recollection – Calling volunteers in every ministry! Try to join your fellow volunteers/ministers on Saturday, March 16 for the Parish Ministries Morning of Recollection. The program starts with 8:35 Mass and concludes with lunch. Please RSVP to Suzanne Kral and be sure to tell her the ministry with which you want to spend your morning. You can email Suzanne at skral@stjosephsparish.com It will be good to share the morning.

  • The Caregivers’ Morning of Recollection – If you are helping a friend or relative who needs a bit of extra TLC these days, or if you are professional caregiver, please join your mission-mates for the Caregivers Morning of Recollection on Saturday, March 9. You can sign up in the gathering space.


THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Basketball Stars – Hats off to the young people who won their age divisions in last Sunday’s Free Throw Contest: Patrick Kirwan, Julia Elmalis, Dillon Ludwig, Emily Albert, Cameron Diogene, Addison Harkin, Ethan Diogene, Kylie Freeman, Owen Albert and Scott Lentz. It is wonderful to know you are using your talents so very well. And greatest thanks to Dominick Ferrigno for organizing the competition on behalf of the Knights. 

  • Where you sit – If you had to indicate where you usually sit at Sunday Mass, how would you describe your location? This question will take on some amusing and helpful dimensions in the next few weeks. 

  • Broken Pipes – Great thanks to Bryan Delisi and Bob Ferretti, the staff members who led the recovery effort two weeks ago. What are the chances that, at the very same moment, a water pipe above the kitchen would break and a sewer pipe in the front yard would back up? The probability of that coincidence actually occurring is very small, but it happened and it was a mess. Thanks to Bryan and Bob for getting it under control and for overseeing both clean up efforts. BTW – the firm that came in to sanitize the kitchen has transformed it. Every square inch of the place was sanitized. Thanks too to our terrific vendors for riding to the rescue.

  • Pasta Dinner – Once again, great gratitude to the Knights for swapping dates for the Pasta Dinner (because of the broken pipes). That was a big effort that they completed with their usual style and grace. The food was excellent and the 200 parishioners who turned out had a fine time. It was a great grace to share the evening with so many of you. Thanks too to the folks from Petrocks for the wine tasting. 

  • Father messed up – Calling all Married Couples – “All You Need Is Love” – February 16 – I crossed my wires on Sunday at the 11:30 and . . . . long story short, there was no one there to take reservations for the marriage celebration after the 11:30. So there will be another chance for the 11:30 folk to sign up this Sunday. Remember – next weekend’s celebration of marriage begins with the 4:45 Mass and continues with the party in the Parish Hall – buffet and DJ. (I think it is BYOB but double check).

With great and ever-increasing gratitude for the grace of being your pastor,

Fr Hank

 Sunday, February 3 – 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Inspired Challenging, Part 1:

“You Have What It Takes”


“To challenge others” is one of our Christian duties. It comes under the “prophet” heading of our Priest-Prophet-King job description. As priest, each of us is a person of prayer who listens to God and speaks to God. As prophet we are servants who console others and challenge others. As king/queen/monarch we build up the community. The prophet/challenge part can be one of our trickiest duties. The Sunday readings from now until Ash Wednesday shed valuable light on that duty. Last Sunday’s readings remind us that inspired challenges begin with votes of confidence in the other, with overt or subtle claims that “You have what it takes.”

Sunday’s first reading (Jeremiah 1) recounts the story of God calling and sending Jeremiah to serve as a prophet. “Before you were born, I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” Jeremiah fires back that he is not up to the task – “I do not know how to speak. I am too young!” To Jeremiah’s objection that he (Jeremiah) does not have what it takes, God replies “Of course you do.” Sunday’s passage omits much of God’s rejoinder to Jeremiah, but it does describe the gifts God has given Jeremiah, “for it is I this day who have made you a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass.” God is telling Jeremiah, “You have what it takes to do what I ask.”

Many argue that, in Sunday’s gospel (Luke 4), Jesus is delivering just the opposite message to his hometown people. But there is another view, that Jesus’s challenge to the people of Nazareth reveals his belief that they have what it takes. He reminds his listeners that their ancestors rejected the great prophets Elijah and Elisha. But would Jesus bother to deliver that message only to browbeat them for their ancestors’ choices? Would he gripe just for the sake of griping? Might it be more accurate to notice that Jesus only delivers challenges to those he believes can get on board? Time and time again, His challenges reveal his conviction that each person he challenges has what it takes to say “yes.” Might he be telling the people of Nazareth, “your ancestors made poor choices, but I believe you can say ‘yes’ to me, otherwise I wouldn’t bother to challenge you?” Might the implied affirmation of their graces be for them a Jeremiah moment? A moment when God says “You have what it takes to make the inspired choice.”

What about you? What about your Jeremiah moments? When have others had more confidence in you than you had in yourself? When have others believed in you more than you believed in yourself? When has another delivered the message to you, probably on God’s behalf, “You have what it takes; quit doubting yourself?” Perhaps it happened when you had a setback that shook your self-confidence. Maybe it was in your professional life or in your life as an athlete or a student? Maybe it was during a challenging time in your marriage or in your faith-life. Maybe it had to do with your ability to get back on the proverbial horse after life had thrown you. When has someone said, “I believe you can rise to this challenge because you have what it takes?”

And where might you be invited to do that for another? To speak the challenging word of belief in the other? And what story does it make sense for you to share? When was that moment when, for good reason, you thought you couldn’t and someone thought you could? When have your mistakes convinced you that you have lost the program but someone else talked you out of that mistaken belief? Or when have you been the victim of someone else’s malice or stupidity and you were ready to quit and God used another to remind you “You still have what it takes?” Because you do.

God’s call only takes you where God’s grace can hold you. If God is calling, God is supplying. When have you, like Jeremiah and the people of Nazareth, been reminded of that? Who might need to hear your story? Who has been that prophet of challenging affirmation for you and to whom might God be sending you as a prophet of challenging affirmation?

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - February 1, 2019

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This Week – February 1, 2019

Dear All: 
    
EAT MORE SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS!!!!! GOD TOLD ME ON RETREAT TO TELL YOU THAT.

OK. Just kidding about the divine revelation concerning the noodles. That didn’t really happen. But our annual Pasta Night really is happening, tonight. I hope to see you there. And I hope to see many of you in two weeks at “All You Need Is Love,” our parish celebration of marriage on February 16.

THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

  • Retreat – OK. OK. So maybe God didn’t say anything about pasta, but retreat was excellent anyhow. The weather stunk; there were a few patches of sunshine and one fully sunny day, but it rained 6 out of 8 days. Then again, the lousy weather didn’t diminish the retreat. God was amazingly kind, even for God. It was one of those retreats that will take a very long time to sort out. But I am glad I get to sort it all out here rather than there. One of the very best parts of the retreat was returning to Saint Joe’s. I truly am one of the luckiest and most blessed guys I know. Time away did nothing but deepen that conviction. 

  • Stations of the Cross – We are still five weeks away from Lent, but now might be a good time to mark a few of your chances to pray the stations. They will be prayed twice each Friday in Lent. 

  • Sacrament of the Sick – This is the last reminder in this series. Don’t hesitate to arrange the Sacrament of the Sick. Grab me after Mass and we can get right to it. Or email me to arrange an anointing for your loved one. God wants us to be at peace, especially in times of illness and injury.

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE: 

  • Help for Feeding Hands – The Feeding Hands food bank in Somerville supports 250 low-income families. Our parish, for the second year, supports Feeding Hands by providing items that are not eligible for public subsidies – e.g. laundry soap, toiletries, dish detergent, sponges and cleaning products. If you have not done so already, and you are feeling the itch to help, please pick up a shopping bag in the gathering space. The bag identifies a particular good for you to buy. That way we don’t end up with 700 razors and no sponges. The collection bins are in the Memorial Hallway. (P.S. – Over the last two years The Paul Gubitosi Charitable Fund has given Feeding Hands 100 shopping carts so the people who come to Feeding Hands can get their food home.)

  • Ministry Recruiting – Thanks to all the Ministry Leaders who have arranged to recruit in the Gathering Space this Lent. As of yesterday, all the slots are reserved. Here’s to God blessing this recruiting season and to God blessing each parishioner’s discernment about personal ministries.

  • Calling All Ministers – Please plan to participate in the annual Morning of Recollection for all parish ministries on Saturday, March 16. Volunteers in EVERY parish ministry are invited. The morning provides time to reflect on your ministry and to connect with others in your ministry. Please reply to Suzanne Kral at skral@stjosephsparish.com if you plan to attend. Please identify your primary ministry in the email.  

  • Are you a Caregiver? – Has God been asking you to make life better for a loved one who, long term or short term, needs some extra TLC? Or maybe you work as a caregiver of some sort? Either way, join us for the morning of recollection on Saturday, March 9 – the Saturday immediately before the Ministries Morning of Recollection. If you have participated before, you know how good it is to learn, laugh and pray with people who do what you do. You are not alone. If you are a caregiver who has yet to participate in one of these mornings of recollection, we are eager to welcome you. RSVP instructions will be available next week.

  • Congratulations Chris Cusack and Christina Androulakis – Christina and Chris, two very active members of our parish Youth Group, received the Diocese of Metuchen’s St. Timothy Award last week. Thanks and blessings for Christina and Chris and their families for representing our parish so well. Thanks to Bishop Checchio for granting the awards.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • The Rescheduled Pasta Dinner – I hope to see many of you tonight. As I am writing this, our stalwart Knights are knocking out the meatballs. Granted, I am a complete and utter dope when it comes to cooking things that don’t go in the microwave, but what these guys are doing sure looks like rocket science to me. I just got a detailed explanation of why they use only San Marzano tomatoes in the sauce (or is it “gravy”), and why it is best to soak the bread in milk before it goes into the meatballs. Who knew? Anyhow, hope to see you tonight.

  • All You Need is LOVE – Our parish celebration of the married vocation starts at the 4:45 Mass on Saturday, February 16 and continues with great food and fellowship, and some fine music, in the Parish Hall. Remember to submit a COPY of your wedding picture in the paper frame (don’t give us an original) AND remember to buy your ticket this weekend. Not only does this night promise to be great fun, but it is also the bargain of the year. (PS – Seriously, if you are in a tight financial spot, please let me provide you and your spouse with a ticket. Please.)

  • Summer CCD July 21-Aug 1― We are happy to announce that this year we will be using our Finding God Curriculum for the summer. There are so many great lessons, projects, and activities in this program, that it will be perfect for the relaxed, fun atmosphere we strive for in our summer offering. Our plan is to have the registration process begin in late March again this year, so stay tuned for more specific details when registration materials are available!

  • Trivia Night ― Friday, April 5th. Do you think you know it all? Get your team together and prove it at our first adult Parish Pub Trivia Night fundraiser for Catholic Heart Workcamp and our young adult service trip. Tables of 8 will compete for some great prizes! Tickets (and more information) are available at on our website.

It was good to be away and even better to be back. As always, great thanks and all best blessings. 

Fr Hank

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - January 25, 2019

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This Week – January 25, 2019

Dear All:

The Pasta Dinner has been rescheduled for next Friday – February 1.

Greatest thanks to the Knights and to the Parish Staff for managing the situation so adroitly and amicably. They are a dream team.

And I am innocent! As hard as I prayed for the grace to figure out how NOT to miss the dinner, I did not ask the Good Lord to sabotage the building – to burst one pipe or clog another. But things being as they are, I very much look forward to joining you at the dinner next Friday. I am scheduled to return from retreat on Thursday.


THIS WEEK IN PRAYER 

  • Retreat – I hope you don’t mind if the prayer part of this week’s THIS WEEK includes a bit about my prayer/retreat. Although I am only 40 hours into it, I am loving it. Other than getting this “THIS WEEK” to you, I am pretty much completely unplugged. As always, I started retreat with confession and I stumbled into a great confessor here. (N.B. – No, I do not plan to get my haircut down here. Retreat is the one exception to the haircut/confession deal.) This retreat house offers great places for each day’s meditations. Many of the places offer views of salt water and sailing vessels. Already, I am a bit surprised by the direction the Lord seems to be pointing me. It is a bit difficult to explain but it has something to do with a never-before-seen connection between a favorite Psalm, a favorite passage in Mark, the words of the consecration, and the amazing grace of being at St. Joe’s. Last thing, my retreat reading, for the times in between meditations, is Gerhard Lohfink’s “Jesus of Nazareth: What He Wanted, Who He Was.” Glad I saved it up for retreat. Please send up a good prayer for me.

  • Sacrament of the Sick – Just another friendly reminder, please do not wait to request the Anointing of the Sick for yourself or a loved one. Catch me after Mass and we can get right to it or arrange for me to visit your loved one. God wants you to be at peace and this sacrament helps that happen in times of illness and injury.

Sunday’s Homily – January 20 – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, “Getting Back on the Horse”

  • To listen to Sunday's homily (and access to past homilies), click here.

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

THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:

  • Ministry Recruiting – Our ministry recruiting season will occur in Lent this year. Suzanne Kral, parish liaison to all ministries, has invited all ministry leaders to sign up for a recruiting station. We have 2 or 3 slots remaining for the recruiting season. If you would like to claim one of the available tables, email Suzanne at skral@stjosephsparish.com 

  • Ministry Morning of Recollection – Mark your calendars. People involved in every parish ministry are invited to the annual morning of recollection on Saturday, March 16. The morning provides time for reflection on your ministry and it also provides an excellent opportunity to connect with the many parishioners who share your ministry. 

  • The Caregivers’ Morning of Recollection – The date for the Spring morning of recollection has been set for Saturday, March 9. If you are helping provide that extra TLC for a loved one in a tough patch, be sure to join us. It is good for people performing these labors to laugh, learn and pray together. Eating together is also good. 

  • St. Timothy Award - Congratulations to two of our high school teens who received the Diocese of Metuchen’s St. Timothy Award. Chris Cusack and Christina Androulakis have been key members of our youth group and are involved in myriad ministries and service work in our parish. We are blessed to have them in our parish and happy that Bishop Checchio is honoring them on Saturday at a special mass celebrating World Youth Day.

THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:

  • Our Government Shutdown – The shutdown makes life difficult for many government employees and for the many who work for government contractors. If the government shutdown has put you in a difficult financial position, please Contact Michelle Laffoon in our Social Concerns office. Your parish is praying for you and might be able to help you a little with your highest priority bills. While it won’t pay a bill, the youth group would also like to offer you a homemade turkey pot pie. 

  • Blessings for Our Newest Parishioners – The Good Lord continues to bless us with new parishioners. May all of the new parishioners find here a true spiritual home and even deeper awareness of Jesus’ love and Jesus’ call. Welcome to all of our newest community members:

    • Dan Calabrese    

    • James and Mary Castro

    • John and Nadya Furnari and their children Isabella and Alexander

    • Daniel and Jill Gleeson and their children Daniel and Cameron

    • Rashad and Stephanie Hix and their children Qua’sheed and Jackson

    • Arthur and Nancy Leo

    • John and Sharon Liszczak

    • Lauren Yackowski and her children Matthew and Caitlin

  • Dates to Mark:

    • Our Annual Pasta Dinner – ONCE AGAIN – IT IS NOW ON FRIDAY FEBRUARY 1.

    • Calling all Married Couples – “All You Need Is Love” – Saturday, February 16 – at the 4:45 Mass with dinner and a party afterwards, a celebration of marriage for all our married couples. Recall last year’s reception after the 11:30 Mass on Valentine’s Day? This celebration will be that excellent but different. Plan to be there. And make sure you do the paper frame thing for your wedding pictures.

    • Trivia Night ― Friday, April 5th. Do you think you know it all? Come and prove it at our first adult Trivia Night fundraiser for Catholic Heart Workcamp and our young adult service trip. Tables of 8 will compete for some great prizes! More details to follow.

I almost forgot to mention at the top of the page, the Passionists no longer eat standing up. A bunch of them chuckled when I asked about that tradition and if it really happened or maybe I was going delusional. They assured me they used to eat that way. They still have the “dining shelves” in parts of the refectory!

With gratitude for the time away, gladness at the prospect of returning, and all best blessings.

Fr Hank 

 January 20 – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Getting Back on the Horse”


Who among us has not felt a little confused, bewildered or befuddled in our relationship with Jesus? Is it too far a stretch to regard the unsettling spiritual moments as “inevitable?” And if such sad spiritual experiences are unavoidable, then isn’t it also true that each of us faces moments when we must decide whether to “get back on the horse that threw us?”

Sunday’s Gospel (John 2) about the wedding at Cana suggests that even the Blessed Mother had to make that choice. The depletion of the wedding wine would have been a mortifying embarrassment to the host. In order to prevent that embarrassment – at least that is what a good chunk of our tradition says motivated our lady – she asked Jesus to help. The request seems innocent enough and understandable.

But how did Jesus reply? “Woman, how does your concern affect me?” Both parts of that reply, the “Woman” part and the “your concern” (i.e., not mine) part, come across as more than a little abrasive. Scripture scholars over the centuries have tried to explain Jesus’ words as a friendly rejoinder but their efforts have faltered. Perhaps it is best to treat it as distancing and probably unsettling for Mary.

Given all that, Mary’s reply seems to be another Cana miracle. Rather than correct Jesus or distance herself, she expresses pure faith in him, telling the waiters “Do whatever he tells you.” That faith-filled reply offers a great example of someone getting right back on the spiritual horse that threw her. Jesus seems a little distant and she makes the choice she would have made anyhow.

What about you? You have had rough spiritual moments that have made you wonder about God’s love, and you got back on your spiritual horse. Despite the disappointment or confusion, you continued to make inspired choices. You didn’t deny the disappointment, but neither did you let it stop you. Everyone who has lived through the death of a child and still goes to church has done that. Everyone who has labored and prayed fervently for a particular outcome and then not received it – and still prays – has done that. When you have felt rejected by God or the church and have continued to bless God and the church, you have gotten back on your spiritual horse. You have, like Mary at Cana, participated in one of Cana’s less-known miracles – the miracle of perseverance. When have you done just that and who might need to hear your story, not just the victory part, but the part about feeling dismissed by God and ready to ditch the horse?

And the other miracle? The horses just keep on coming. It seems that whenever we feel spiritually pummeled, God provides an opportunity for us to re-profess our faith. God provides horse after heavenly horse for us to get back on. What is your story?