This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - September 14, 2018


This Week – September 14, 2018

Dear All:     

Christ’s Peace.

Happy Feast of the Triumph of the Cross.  The feast invites us to recall that, because Jesus did what he did, death no longer gets the last word.  From the cross arises the triumph.  From death arises the eternal life.  He triumphed at Calvary. He continued to triumph. The final triumph will be his.  The feast is a reassuring day for all of us.


  • Our Bishop’s Next Visit –  Bishop Checchio will be here to celebrate the 9:30 Mass on Sunday, October 7.   As always, it will be a great blessing to pray with our bishop  

  • Taize Prayer (Pronounced “TAY-zay”) – Mark your calendar – for 7:30 pm on Sunday, October 7.  The Diocesan Festival Choir is coming back to St. Joe’s to lead us in an evening of Taize prayer – a beautiful form of simple, consoling, sung prayer.  The evening will consist of music and prayer for our church and its healing.  For those who will be coming to the prayer/concert after the 6 pm Mass, The Youth Group will be selling hot dogs and pizza before the prayer/concert.  And if you are going to the bishop’s Mass or another Mass on October 7, you are still invited to enjoy some stadium food before the prayer/concert. 

  • Men’s Prayer Group  —  Blessings for all who returned to the Men’s Prayer Group on Monday night at 7:30 – and blessings for those who will be joining them this week.  Got questions?  Email Bill Grimmer at  

  • Meeting Christ in Prayer – There are still three open slots for people who want to make the 8-week program “Meeting Christ in Prayer.”  It starts Monday 10/29 and concludes on Monday, 12/17.  

  • Spiritual Exercises –  Check last week’s bulletin or the parish web page for the meeting dates for this year’s Spiritual Exercises.   The meetings begin on October 10 and conclude on May 22.  One spot is still open.  If you have questions or want to join, email me at

  • Walking With Purpose – Walking with Purpose – our very highly praised bible study for women – is gearing up for its 4th year and will be offering two studies (Keeping in Balance AND Opening Your Heart) and two meeting times (Monday evenings AND Tuesday mornings).  Information and registration forms will be available in the gathering space on the weekends of 9/15-9/16 and 9/22-9/23.

  • Michael Tabernero’s First Mass – The date is set – Saturday, June 22 at 4:45.  All are invited to Mass. Following the Mass, Michael’s family will be providing a reception for their many invited friends and relatives.  God’s great blessings for Michael.

  • Children’s Liturgy of the Word will be back beginning on 9/30/2018 at the 9:30 mass.  If you are interested in volunteering for this wonderful ministry, contact Natalie at  We could use at least one more adult and a few high schoolers!

  • Sunday’s Homily – “Ephphatha, Part 2: “Listening to God in our seasons of loss”

    • To listen to past homilies, click here.  (Note: due to a technical glitch, the homily was not recorded this week. Sorry for the inconvenience).

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


  • CCD Classes – 42 of this year’s 44 classes have teachers. We need only two more teachers AND a few aids – but we really need them! Might you share the faith with our young people?

  • Food Pantries – It is a great grace for me each weekend – to encounter people bringing groceries to church – groceries that are given to area food pantries. Until recently, we helped three local pantries. As of this month, we are helping a fourth – the food pantry at Christ the Redeemer Church in Manville. There is huge demand for food from their pantry and we are happy to help.


  • A Fantastic Picnic – Three cheers and then some to all who made Sunday’s Parish Picnic such fun. Despite the crummy weather and the indoor setting, the vibe was superb and the fellowship excellent. Once again, we owe much to our Knights of Columbus for making it happen. We have a K of C chapter like no other. Special thanks to Tom Kelly and to the grill guys and all who cooked, set up, and cleaned up. Big thanks too to Gail Bellas for taking care of the name tags and to Mike DeLucia and Got 35 for keeping us entertained. According to the best available count, we had nearly 350 people at the picnic. Most of all, thanks to all who made time to spend time with old church pals and to meet new church pals. Your generosity benefits all of us.

  • Parish Council ― We are greatly blessed to have such a dedicated Parish Council. The twelve members consist of six at-large members and six committee chairs. The at-large members (and their probable year of term-completion) are Chair Nina DeLucia (2019), Amy Dahl (2021), Bill Strawderman (2021), Bernie Demsky (2020), Secretary Suzanne Kral (2020), and Dotty Lucazik (2019). The Committee Chairs are Pam Cunning (Adult Ministries), Cindy Norfleet (Communications), AnnaMaria Realbuto (Planning), Kristen Ross (Religious Education), Paul Toste (Social Ministries), and Natalie Zuccarello (Fellowship). Great thanks to every Council member.

  • Family Bingo Night ― Mark your calendars for Friday, Oct. 5 at 6:30 pm for our family-friendly Bingo Night sponsored by our youth ministry. Food, Bingo and Games and Prizes! $5 per person or $15 for your family. All money raised supports our youth service trips.

  • Tech Upgrades – Thanks and more thanks to Kevin Buist, John Demetrio, Billy Gibson, Bob Ferretti and Bryan DeLisi for getting our Wifi project over the finish line this week. Your effort enriches our parish!

  • High School Youth Ministry kicks off this Sunday after the 6:00 pm mass. It’s going to be a great year. Encourage your kids to come ― and to bring a friend!

With blessings for each parishioner – especially those who return to school (on both sides of the desk!)

Fr Hank

Summary of September 2 Homily:
Ephphatha, Part Two: Listening to God in our seasons of loss

Experiences of loss can be divided, according to our Catholic tradition, into two categories. “Privative Loss” occurs when we have a wonderful thing and it goes away. That wonderful “thing” could be a relationship, a person, an ideal job, robust health, you name it. “Negative loss” occurs when we realize that some good I’ve always hoped for is not going to materialize. Perhaps I was aching to get into a certain law school, or I always wanted to be a singer, or I hoped my children would be a certain way – and then we realize “It is not going to happen.”

Both types of loss tend to generate a tough call, either to (a) give up on God for not helping us out or (b) be sad and eventually welcome God back into the picture. Giving up on God means we lose interest in listening to God. Being sad and available to God means we keep listening.

Sunday’s first reading (Isaiah 35) speaks to people who endured the catastrophic, privative loss of the Babylonian Exile. Those children of Israel had enjoyed life in the Promised Land and then they lost it all. The Isaiah passage alludes to their return from exile, to their decision to stay close to God despite the agonizing, privative loss.

Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 7) speaks of negative loss. The deaf man in the Gentile territory never had hearing, never had the ability to speak, and never had faith. Oddly enough, the experience of negative loss prompted the man’s friends to bring him to Christ and the deaf man cooperated. The negative loss brought them to Jesus, not away from him.

What about you? You have been like the children of Israel – you have suffered privative losses and, even though you could have held God responsible and soured on God, you continued to listen to God. When have you done that? When have you let privative loss draw you closer to God rather than push you away? You have also been like the deaf man. Aware of your own imperfections and flaws, you have let that sadness bring you closer to Jesus rather than drive you apart. When have you done exactly that? You have weathered significant losses and, at a moment when you might have considered distancing yourself from Jesus and his voice, you in some way heard him say “Ephphatha,” (“be open”) and you kept your heart and mind and soul and ears open to him and his voice and it made all the difference. When have you kept listening to him when privative loss broke your heart? When have you kept listening to him when negative loss made you incredibly sad? And what does your past success say about your ability to keep listening when the going gets treacherous?