This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - October 4, 2019


This Week – October 4, 2019
Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace.

Next Saturday is TRIVIA NIGHT. Have you already arranged to join the fun?

Today we celebrate the patron saint of animal lovers and tomorrow at 9:15 we bless their pets. See below for more details. PLEASE GATHER WITH YOUR ANIMALS NEAR THE PARISH HALL DOOR RATHER THAN AT THE CHURCH DOOR. We have a 9:30 funeral and it is best if we leave the church doorway clear for the mourners and do the blessing by the parish hall door. I look forward to seeing you! Because of the funeral, there might not be time after the basic blessing to bless the animals that need to stay in the cars. Because we also have an 11:00 funeral, I am not able to schedule those drive-by blessings tomorrow. Stay tuned for more info. We will get your car-bound or house-bound pet blessed one way or the other!

Please be sure to check out the information below about the Parish Record Update Project (PRUP?). Your response so far – to the request for people to help staff the project – has been completely edifying – 110 people agreed to help and came to the training sessions. You truly are made of the best stuff. I trust we will get a similar reply on the weekends of 10/19, 10/26 and 11/2.


  • THE BLESSINGS OF THE BRAINS – ATTENTION ALL STUDENTS. PLEASE BRING YOUR BLESSING FORM TO CHURCH THIS WEEKEND. Whatever your aspiration for the school year, your parish wants to bless you in that adventure. Fill out one of the forms and turn it in before Sunday at 6 pm. If you need an extension of a day or two, let me know. And remember – ALL STUDENTS BRAINS WILL BE BLESSED AT ALL MASSES NEXT WEEKEND (except the 7:15).

  • THE BLESSINGS FOR OUR DECEASED LOVED ONES – You still have until next weekend to submit the names of your deceased loved ones. Click here to connect to the form for having the names of your nearest and dearest loved ones put on the Memorial Scrolls. For all the others, complete one of the Green Memorial Cards on the Moses Table and put it in the Communications Box.

  • THE BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS – Bring your pet to church – TOMORROW, OCTOBER 5 AT 9:15 – for the annual blessing of the animals. If your animal has four legs, be sure to bring it on a fixed-length leash. Given the morning’s funeral schedule, the animal blessings will start promptly and gladly at 9:15.

  • BIBLE STUDY— A completely unexpected and serendipitous turn of events has brought Father Nick Gengaro to our Adult Ed program. Fr. Nick has not one but two degrees in scripture from the world-renowned Gregorian University in Rome. He is the real deal. Plus, he is a terrific human being. I will be with Fr. Nick for the class sessions, but he will be driving the proverbial bus. This year’s scripture study is one class broken into three segments. Click here for the list of dates. You need to pay $35 for the course books, but only once. We will be using the same books in the winter and spring. Signup sheets will be posted in the gathering space this weekend. Because of space limitations, we need to limit registration to 30 people. Please check in on your commitment level before you sign up. THANKS!

Sunday’s Homily

September 29, 2019 - Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Inspired Curiosity, Part Five: Wondering about Our (Pachydermatous?) Selves

To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.
To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.


  • UNPLANNED – Thanks to the great work of our Respect Life Ministry, we will have two showings of “Unplanned” in the Parish Hall – at 7 pm on Wed. October 16 and at 2 pm on Sat. October 19. The movie tells the story of a woman who worked for an abortion provider until she underwent a Damascus Road experience that transformed her completely. It is, ultimately, a story of hope.

  • CAREGIVERS MORNING OF RECOLLECTION – The folks who organized last week’s event deserve wagons-full of credit and thanks. You arranged a first-rate program and thought of every detail. The folks who spent the morning with us clearly derived much from it. God bless all of you and God bless every parishioner – and all others – who supply the extra TLC that their loved ones need these days.

  • BECCA’S FRIENDS – Saturday night’s wing-ding could not have been more fun. The turnout was excellent and it was especially consoling to meet people who were with Becca’s Friends for the first time. The perfect weather, great food, full-throated singing, and wondrous vibe made the night superb. I hope many of you felt that buzz of our Lord smiling on the people gathered around the fire. GREATEST blessings for all who put the evening together.

  • OUR AWARD-WINNING DJ – Three cheers for George Graham, the oh-so-generous man who serves as DJ at many of our Becca’s Friends (BF) events. The BF committee nominated George for the Somerset County Freeholders “2019 Disability Advocate Award” and guess what – HE WON! George will receive the award this week and many of our BF folk will be there to cheer him on – as will people from the many other special needs events George enriches. Thank you George and CONGRATULATIONS.


  • PARISH RECORDS UPDATE PROJECT – Enormous thanks to the 110 parishioners who have agreed to help us distribute, correct, and collect the records. Thanks in advance to the members of every household for helping us to correct your records. A few things to keep in mind:

    • CCD Families – You can pick up and correct your records at CCD classes beginning Oct.13

    • New Parishioners – If you have registered AFTER June 1, we will not yet have a packet for you, but we will let you know when we need to correct yours.

    • Unregistered Folks – Even if you have been praying here for a long time, if you have never registered in the parish, we will not have records for you to retrieve.

    • To everyone else, thanks in advance for helping us update the records. Doing so really does help us get a better handle on God’s hopes for us. We are doing everything we can to keep the lines short.

  • SAGES – The next few weeks will be particularly rich ones in the SAGES programs.

    • FEAR of FALLING? – If you find yourself bothered regularly by a fear of falling, come to the Sages gathering on Monday, October 7. Caitlin Witucki, from the Somerset County Department of Aging will present “A Matter of Balance – A Fall Prevention Workshop.” As with all Monday events, lunch is at 11:30 and the program starts at 12:30.

    • HOW TO USE YOUR SMARTPHONE – As my nephews have told me, “smart phone, goofy user.” Have you ever felt that way? Then come to the Smartphone seminar on Wednesday, October 16 at 3 pm in the Parish Hall.

    • CO-ED POKER – Thanks to the brave women who joined what had been an all-male poker table. Good for you and blessings for all who are willing to learn new games.

    • DANCING GUYS AND DOLLS – Starting October 17, Feast of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, we will have a Thursday 12 PM dance class, following our Chair Exercises, that runs for 8 weeks. Lea promises to keep the routines very fun and very easy to follow. PLUS, research shows that LEARNING new dances keeps the brain young. That is a real-live fact. Join the fun.

  • TRIVIA NIGHT — The fun starts right after 4:45 Mass on Saturday, October 12. The game is played in teams of 7 or 8. If you already have a team, terrific. If not, ZERO worries. Sign up early and indicate you are a free agent. The organizers will place you with a team. The evening benefits the youth service trips. Also, if you already have a team, have fun developing your theme and costumes!

God bless all of you extra in this glorious season
Fr Hank

September 29, 2019 - Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Inspired Curiosity, Part Five: Wondering about Our (Pachydermatous?) Selves

Three weeks ago, the readings invited us to wonder about Jesus, to use our inspired curiosity to ask questions that open our hearts more widely to Him. Last week the readings encouraged us to wonder about other people, to use our inspired curiosity to wonder about the people who challenge us, to see the difference between the prophets who challenge us according to God’s hopes and the badgers who challenge us to serve them (i.e., the badgers). Last week the gospel and the first reading asked us to wonder about ourselves, about what brings out the good in us, and what tends to make us pachydermatous. This is a worthy use of our inspired curiosity.

Pachydermatous? Really? It means to have skin like a pachyderm – skin like an elephant, a rhino or a hippo. To be pachydermatous is to be excessively thick-skinned, not in the good sense of, “little things don’t bother me” but in the not-so-good sense of, “other people’s difficulties don’t matter to me.”

Amos (chapter 6) blasts his high-income neighbors for being completely insensitive and inattentive to their needy neighbors. Amos makes it very clear that their excessive callousness offends God horribly and that God plans to punish them for their insensitivity. The high-flyers enjoy the luxuries of fine meat, harp music, expensive wine and extravagant body oils. But they pay no attention to the destitute at their doorsteps. The pachydermatous so disgust God that God will make sure they “shall be the first to go into exile, and their wanton revelry shall be done away with.” The problem is not that they are prosperous. The problem is that they are self-centered and utterly pachydermatous.

Sunday’s gospel (Luke 16) tells the tragic story of Lazarus, the poor man and the rich man that tradition has come to call “Dives” (pr: DIE-veez). Dives practically steps over Lazarus every day and seems not to know Lazarus’ name. Neither does he notice or care about Lazarus’ hunger or the sores on his skin. The wild dogs do more for Lazarus than Dives does. Dives takes “pachydermatous” to a new level. And Dives’ choices disgust God. His insensitivity to Lazarus – not the mere fact that he has done well in this world – gets him sent to Hades and its manifold miseries.

So what about us? The task is not to criticize Dives or Amos’ rich neighbors. The task is to admit, “there but for the grace of God go I,” and to wonder about what keeps us from becoming pachydermatous, to use our inspired curiosity to notice those things that increase our concern for people who are down-and-out, people who are destitute, people with addictions, illnesses and injuries, people with what we still call “disabilities,” and people who number among “the last, the least and the littlest.” Sound financial status and a good 401k don’t endanger us. Insensitivity, and whatever causes it, is the real danger.
What keeps the many types of “have-nots” on your radar? I go with the names-and-stories theory. I argue that we become more sensitive and less pachydermatous when we know the names and the stories of the Lazarus figures in our lives. What has been your experience of not really caring, until you learn the name and the story of a person who is in a very rough patch? One of my particularly attentive pals – the antithesis of pachydermatous – knows the names and the stories of the people who essentially live in the various corners of her subway station in Washington Heights. What is your version of that success?

And how about the Lazaruses with whom we live? Sometimes our children, parents, close relatives and neighbors are going through a Lazarus period and need us to shed every trace of pachydermatous-ness. We already know their names and stories, and still, we need to be more attentive, even when they wear us down.

Not a one of us can save the world. Nobody can eliminate sadness from every human life. Messiah complexes do great damage. But we can figure out who it is God wants us to help and we can use our inspired curiosity to wonder about ourselves and what makes us less pachydermatous and more Christlike.