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


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.)


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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

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.