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


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.


  • 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.


  • 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.)