This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - May 24, 2019


This Week – May 24, 2019

Dear All: 

Happy Memorial Day! May God bless you and your summer adventures in marvelous and unexpected ways. For now, may God bless you as you assemble your summer bucket-list – including your summer spiritual-bucket-list. 

Other than enjoying those “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” along with the “soda and pretzels” and whatever, what is on your summer bucket list? How about your summer spiritual-bucket-list? A retreat day or two? Extra prayer time? More scripture or spiritual reading? Getting in better shape of one sort or another? A few service projects? Enjoying inspired time with loved ones? And don’t forget the sunscreen!


  • CONGRATULATIONS FIRST COMMUNIONS – Once again, our First Communicants were exemplary. You prayed beautifully and sincerely and carried yourself with exceptional grace. I loved having you around the altar and it was an exceptional gift to give you your first communions. Truly. Blessings all around, especially for your parents and grandparents. Great thanks to your CCD teachers and program leaders.

  • MICHAEL TABERNERO’S ORDINATION – Consider yourself invited – sincerely invited – to Michael’s Ordination on Saturday, June 22 at the Metuchen Cathedral at 10:30 a.m. (If you plan to go, let me know and I will let tell you about the double-secret parking spaces located very close to the cathedral.) Also, consider yourself sincerely invited to Michael’s First Mass, that afternoon at 4:45. Michael will be doing first blessings after the ordination and after the First Mass. (NB – lines will be shorter in Metuchen).

  • MEMORIAL DAY MASS – We will have the regularly scheduled 8:35 Mass on Monday morning, Memorial Day, with extra prayers for eternal rest for all who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. I wonder if maybe we should we do for Memorial Day what we do for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day? – i.e., put on the altar the names of relatives and friends who died in uniform? Just a thought.

  • ASCENSION THURSDAY – This Thursday, May 30 is the Feast of the Ascension. It is a very good idea to participate in Mass. Masses for the feast are Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and then on the feast itself at 8:35 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. I look forward to seeing you at Mass. Bring a friend.

Sunday’s Homily 

May 19, 2019 – Fifth Sunday of Easter
God's Gifts to the Early Church and to Us at Mass, Part IV: Christ-like Love

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

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


  • SHELTERING THE HOMELESS – More blessings for the many St. Joe’s parishioners who are staffing this week’s homeless shelter at Hillsborough’s Dutch Reformed Church. Yours is a labor of love.

  • FEEDING THE HUNGRY – Our parish ministry to Elijah’s Kitchen clearly brings peace to people and glorifies God. Thanks and blessings for all who cooked the fish there on Sunday.

  • VISITING THE SICK – Several conversations this week reminded me again that our ministries to the homebound and to those living in long-term health care facilities are flourishing. Blessings to the visitors and PLEASE – MAKE THAT DOUBLE PLEASE – let me know of anyone in your life who would benefit from a communion visit.

  • DEFENDING THE DEFENSELESS – In the gathering space June 1 & 2, representatives of our Respect Life Ministry will help you learn how to support a piece of federal legislation that would protect babies that survive abortions. Interestingly, the bill has not received sufficient support in either the U.S. Senate or the U.S. Congress. 

  • IDENTIFY YOUR CONCERN – Also in the gathering space June 1 & 2, the reps from the Respect Life Ministry will provide a chance for you to identify your concerns. Are there people out there whom you feel are not treated with dignity and love? People whose lives might be endangered? In addition to the unborn, what groups’ welfare concerns you? And are we as a parish doing our bit to help them?


  • COMEDY NIGHT – Saturday’s comedy night was truly a rip-snorting good time. Great thanks to the McDevitt and Wund families for putting it together. And of course, thanks to our comedians and to Bob Ferretti for all the help. GREAT blessings for George Meyer who won the 50-50 and donated the winnings to support the Youth Group’s summer service trip. 

  • ESTATE PLANNING – Thanks to the ministries that have organized the seminar "Getting your Estate Planning House in Order" on Saturday, June 8th at 10 a.m. Anna Marie Gentile, Esq. will discuss basic estate planning.  To register, please contact Carol Jorgensen at  

  • 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 chair!

  • SAGES MINISTRY – The next big event (after this week’s terrifically fun Daytime Game Night) is the Line Dancing wing ding at 2 p.m. on June 5th. Remember, “makes no difference if you win or lose, long as you got your dancing shoes.” That session will also offer an “Activities Fair” at which you can learn more about Sage program offerings and make suggestions about what you would like to see offered.

Your Pastor’s Brag –  – OUR PRIZE WINNERS

  • OUR PRIZE-WINNING NURSE – Anita Ciano (9:30 S3) has received one of the area’s highest awards for nursing, The Mary Gemeroy award. The Community VNA conferred the award on Anita for her exceptional care for patients and for her dedication to public health. We also know Anita and her husband Rob as the mainstays of our Sunday Donut Program. They are also our top Eagle-ologists!

  • THE PICCOLO PRIZE – Allison Dorrler (9:30 S2) a Hillsborough HS Senior who assists with the Sunday children’s liturgy – AND, LIKE ANITA, WITH SUNDAY DONUTS!!!! – is receiving the Brian Piccolo Award and Scholarship from the Hillsborough Chapter of UNICO. The award is given to high school student-athletes of Italian-American heritage who exhibit the qualities modeled by Brian Piccolo in his life and career – excellence in athletics, integrity, leadership, courage, loyalty, friendship, teamwork, dedication, a sense of humor and an inspired intolerance for bias. God bless Allison and her family.


With continued blessings and gratitude for all, 

Fr Hank

May 19, 2019 – Fifth Sunday of Easter
God's Gifts to the Early Church and to Us at Mass, Part IV: Christ-like Love

God gave astonishing gifts to the early church.
God continues to give many of those gifts to many people today.
Sunday Mass plays an important role in the conferral and development of those gifts.
This week’s readings focus on the gift of Christ-like love – then and now.

In Sunday’s gospel (John 13), Jesus beseeches us to love one another as he has loved us. But what is so different about his ways of loving? What makes his ways of loving unique? One could assemble a very long list of differences. One that stands out, and that seems particularly important in that gospel passage’s context, is his habit of asking first, “What is best for the other?” He surely would not have touched the people with leprosy or defended the woman caught in adultery or called Zacchaeus out of the tree or raised Lazarus if he had asked first, “What is best for me?” He spoke those words just after he had washed the disciples’ feet. He also spoke them just a few hours before he died on the cross, in the ultimate expression of asking first, “What is best for the others?”

Sunday’s first reading (Acts 14) depicts Paul and Barnabas asking the right question, the question that leads us to Christ-like love. After a few years of fulfilling but very rough travels around Asia Minor, they discerned that it was time to head home. Had they asked first “What is best for us?” they would have headed straight home from their last stop, a stop that was relatively close to their home. Instead, they doubled back and re-visited all the places where they had started churches. That return route added many hardships to the trip. Their hearts were clearly filled with the right question, the question that leads to Christ-like love: “What is best for the other?”

Of course, we can overdo that question. We can ignore our own wellbeing in pursuit of uninspired martyrdom and self-destruction. Jesus isn’t asking us to do that. He is asking us to love one another as he loves us, with a love that asks first about the other’s peace and welfare.

You have been loved with Christlike love and you have loved others with Christlike love. That isn’t up for grabs. The question is how has Sunday Mass helped you to stay the course of Christ-like love? How has God used Sunday Mass to do for you what God did so often in the early church, give people the ability to love as Jesus loves?

Take a look at the three aspects of Sunday Mass that get our attention this month – the congregation, the Word and the Eucharist. First, what do you recall when you consider moments when the Christ-like love of other people in the congregation inspired you to love like Christ loved? Maybe somebody shared a story before or after Mass or maybe you just observed selfless dedication in action? How has the congregation nurtured your Christ-like love for others? Second, what about the Word? What passages, Old Testament or New Testament, have made you want to love more as Christ loved? Was it in the life of Christ? The life of some other person in the scripture? Third, what about the Eucharist? Can you recall a time or two when you were contemplating Jesus’ love for others – in the consecration or in the reception of his body and blood – when you were taken by his love and felt called to imitate him?

The gifts given to the early church keep coming our way. One of those gifts is the gift of Christ-like love. How has the experience of Sunday Mass increased your ability and will to ask first “What is best for the other? How would Jesus treat this person?”