The Ascension

05-17-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

Believe it or not, this Thursday will mark the fortieth day since Easter. As Catholics, we call that day Ascension Thursday, because it is the day on which Jesus ascended into Heaven. After remaining present among the disciples for forty days in His Risen Body, our Lord ascended to Heaven as they looked on.

Ordinarily, Ascension Thursday is a Holy Day of Obligation. But with the current pandemic, we are dispensed from our obligation to attend Holy Mass that day – as we have been every Sunday for the past couple of months.

Moreover, for this year only, the Bishops of New Jersey have decided to transfer the celebration of Ascension Thursday to next Sunday! This means that those of you who watch next Sunday’s Mass on our website will be seeing the Mass for the Feast of the Ascension. The bishops did this to lessen the need for tech people to come out to help us livestream the Mass on that additional day.

Many of you may know that most of the dioceses in our country already transfer the celebration of the Ascension to the following Sunday. It is only in here in the northeast – and in the state of Nebraska – that we continue to celebrate Ascension Thursday on the actual day. While the reasons for this are many, the bishops of New Jersey have made it clear that they do not intend to make this change permanent.

To me, the most important thing about the Ascension is what Jesus did just before it happened. He sent the disciples out on a mission to preach the Gospel to all the world. As His disciples today, we share the mission of those first disciples – and we fulfill that mission in many different ways.

Parents do it when they teach their children about God and how to pray. Parishes do it by running religious education programs and Catholic Schools. We do it by supporting the work of missionaries around the globe – with our prayers and offerings. Individual Catholics do it when they put their faith into practice – by helping the poor, praying each day, and striving for holiness in their personal lives. We also do it when we give a good example of what it means to be a Catholic – and help others understand our faith in Jesus Christ!

This summer, our parish will have some more work done as part of the capital campaign we undertook over the past few years. Your extremely generous support of that campaign has allowed us to do so many great things – from improved lighting in our Church, to a new roof for the gym, a repaved parking lot at the school, upgraded electrical work in the Church and rectory and the complete renovation of our historic pipe organ. The next work will involve the repair of plaster in the body of the Church – and it’s repainting. This work is currently scheduled to take place between the end of June and the beginning of August. I will give you more details as that time approaches. Right now, I just want to keep you up to date about the good work we are able to do because of your generosity!

Another good work is our ongoing parish soup kitchen, which is now handing out food to local families every Saturday. The Soup Kitchen committee wants to make food available weekly during this pandemic – and I’m so happy that they do! Again, this is how we put our faith into practice – and do what Jesus commands us to do!

Finally, our parish has the pleasure of welcoming Joseph Ho, a seminarian studying for the priesthood of our diocese, this week. He moved into our rectory on Monday, and it is a pleasure to have him. You will begin to see him at our Masses online – and hopefully in person when things start getting back to normal. I’ll tell you more about him next week, after I’ve had the chance to become better acquainted with him.

Please pray a Hail Mary for me each day – and know that I pray daily for you. Let’s add a prayer for Joseph, all those who are suffering, and for an end to this terrible pandemic.

Have a great week!

Fr. John