This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - May 31, 2019


This Week – May 31, 2019

Dear All: 

Our music man has left us. Frank Viola, our director of music for more years than most can count, has gone home to God. He died Thursday morning just after 4:00. Frank had returned to the hospital yesterday morning after having spent much time there in the last few weeks. He had hoped to beat the cancer until just a few days ago. 

Frank’s faith in Jesus Christ never failed him. Right into his final hours, Frank spoke of God’s love. He knew that Jesus Christ was the rock to which he was clinging. He had complete confidence that Jesus Christ had opened heaven’s gates. Throughout his illness, the support Frank received from Sandy, his remarkable wife of so many decades, enabled him to keep that enviable faith.

We will miss Frank terribly. We will miss his music. We who work with Frank will miss his presence, his unique sense of humor and his inspired ability to tease and be teased. Thanks for praying for Frank’s eternal rest, for consolation for Sandy, for their children and grandchildren, and for all who will miss him, especially the people who made the music he led so well and so faithfully for so long.

Frank’s wake will be here at church on Monday evening and his funeral will be here on Tuesday morning. The “Eternal Rest” email will provide the details.


  • SPIRITUAL EXERCISERS – What a pleasure and a grace it has been to share the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius with this year’s group. They have given themselves to the process in most impressive ways and they have known the rewards of their spiritual labors. I will miss their extraordinary humor and esprit de corps. But mostly I will miss the lights they have discovered and described for seven demanding and glorious months. The year-long retreat will be offered again in 2020-21.

  • MICHAEL TABERNERO’S ORDINATION – Consider yourself invited – sincerely invited – to Michael’s Ordination on Saturday, June 22 at the Metuchen Cathedral at 10:30 am. (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).

Sunday's Homily
May 26, 2019 — Sixth Sunday of Easter
God's Gifts to the Early Church and to Us at Mass, Part V: Simplicity

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.

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


  • DEFENDING THE DEFENSELESS – In the gathering space this weekend, 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 this weekend, the reps from the Respect Life Ministry will provide a chance for you to identify your concerns. Are there people out there whom you believe 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?


  • CALLING ALL GRADUATES – Please let me know – via this link or via the forms on the Moses Table – the high-school, college or graduate school from which you are graduating and what your post-grad plans include. I hope to post one comprehensive “Graduate List” in late June. Your fellow parishioners are eager to learn about your success and to wish you well. So, let me know about your graduations.

  • 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 

  • 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. DJ Matt starts at 7:15 and the movie will start at 8:15. Hot dogs, ice cream and other snacks will be available for purchase. Bring a good movie-watching chair!

  • SAGES MINISTRY – As I write this on Ascension Thursday evening, the Hospitality Room is full of our sagacious Sage folk learning more about how to use The next big Sages event is the Line Dancing wing ding at 2 pm on June 5th. 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 KEEPER OF THE BYWAYS – Several parishioners have mentioned the selfless dedication of George Meyer (Mostly 7:15 S1). Many of you have seen George, usually with his white van parked nearby, doing way more than his bit to keep our local byways scenic. George removes all manner of clutter and junk from the roads around Hillsborough. Would that many more of us had George’s sense of civic duty and pride. When not keeping the town in shipshape, George does terrific work at church. Thank you, George!

  • A MASTERS RECITAL – Congratulations to Chris Aggabao (4:45 Piano Bench) who recently completed his Masters Piano Recital at the world-famous Westminster Choir College. Chris’ brilliance is great news for all at Saint Joe’s – where Chris first played (many years ago) at the 6:00 pm Sunday Mass. Congratulations Chris.

  • ANONYMOUS ACCOMPLISHMENTS – Boundless blessings for several parishioners who have recently marked milestones in their recovery histories. Of course, I will not mention your names, but I share your joy and want you to know that your fellow parishioners, if they knew of your heroic efforts, would celebrate with you. Special kudos for one parishioner who is marking one year of being clean and sober and another who is marking 25 years. God is good – all the time! 

With continued blessings and gratitude for all, 

Fr Hank

May 26, 2019 — Sixth Sunday of Easter
God's Gifts to the Early Church and to Us 

at Mass, Part V: Simplicity

The ability to welcome others

Strength for the mission

Discerning hearts and minds

Christ-like love.

Each of these is a gift that God poured out in powerful ways on the early church. The Easter season readings from Acts of the Apostles have described those gifts and the gospels have expressed Christ’s affection for them. Experience reminds us that God continues to give those gifts and that God gives them in special ways through the graces of Sunday Mass.

This week’s readings point our hearts and minds toward yet another of these gifts, inspired simplicity. We sometimes feel tempted to complicate our relationships with Christ, but God gives us the ability and the desire to keep that relationship simple.

Sunday’s first reading (Acts 15) recounts a time when people who had been part of the church for a few years tried to complicate things for the newest members. The old guard wanted to impose extraordinary demands on the most recently baptized. Those complicating demands – including brutal surgery, strict dietary rules and several other deprivations – threatened to drive away the new members. Those demands also plopped enormous distractions into the hearts of the newest Christians. Such stringent and uninspired requirements tend to take on a life of their own. They easily become a badge of honor for the compliant and a stumbling block for the weary. Either way, they promote the disastrous conviction, “this is what religion is about.” Fortunately, the Holy Spirit put the kibosh on those mandates. The Holy Spirit helped people to keep it simple, to live in the glorious conviction that our faith is about the conviction that Jesus loves us. That simple conviction – not surgery or diet or ancient customs – draws us into a love relationship with him.

Sunday’s gospel (John 15) also calls us to an uncomplicated relationship of love with Jesus. The words spoken at the Last Supper condense Jesus’ hopes for us: that we will love him, keep his word, experience the Father’s love and presence, and know profound peace. We know from several other places in the gospels that Jesus wants us to appreciate the primacy of his love for us. That is, our love for him is ultimately a response to his love for us. It all begins with our deepening appreciation of how much he loves us. As that simple awareness becomes larger and more influential, we love him more, and know his peace more profoundly.

God continues to give us that simple, transformative awareness that Jesus loves us. That gift of simple conviction animated the early church’s faith. It animates our faith. And it comes to us in a special way at Sunday Mass – through the congregation, the Word and the Eucharist.

So, what about you? Are there people in our congregation who remind you to stay rooted in the simple, transformative conviction that Jesus loves you? Maybe they are your current fold-mates? Other Mass-mates? Fellow parishioners from your past? What other believers give you a great example of people who care most about being loved by Jesus? Who loves you in ways that make it easy for you to believe Jesus loves you? And what about the Word? Do you have a small collection (maybe 5-10) of bible passages that carry you to the deep, simple conviction that Jesus loves you? Are they words of Christ? Passages from the epistles or the Old Testament? Psalms? And what about the Eucharist? Are there certain aspects of the Eucharist that deepen your simple conviction that he loves you infinitely? The words of the consecration? Other parts of the Eucharistic Prayer? The reception of the Body and Blood of Christ? Are there moments of encounter that often remind you of how much he loves you? What are they?

The dark side always wants to complicate our connection with Christ. Complication increases the odds that we will walk away from it. So, what helps you fight the good fight of simplicity? What helps you get to the simple and all-important ability to hear him tell you, “I love you more than you can ever imagine?”

That simple awareness inspired the early church and does the same for us. What’s your story?