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


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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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  

  • 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?