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?