All Hallows Eve

10-25-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

As I drive around town these days, I can’t help noticing all the decorations for Halloween. Some of them are quite elaborate, much like we usually see at Christmas time. Seeing all this made me think about just how much Halloween has changed over the years.

As Catholics we should remember that Halloween has its roots in Christian history. As you know, All Saints Day is November 1st. At certain times in history, it was customary for Christians to ‘dress up’ as their patron or favorite saints on the eve of All Saints Day – called All Hallows (saints) Eve. From this came the custom of dressing up for Halloween.

I know this is probably asking a lot – but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could reclaim the Christian nature of Halloween? Over the years I’ve known families whose children do indeed dress like saints for this holiday. It shouldn’t be that hard to do. If it’s too late for this year, start thinking ahead to next.


World Mission Sunday

10-18-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

This weekend we observe World Mission Sunday. It is a day to pray and support the work of missionaries around the world. Since our Lord first commanded His disciples to ‘teach all nations’, the Church has endeavored to do just that.

Among other things, there is a special collection on World Mission Sunday. Unlike the Mission Co-op Appeal which was held a few months ago to help support a specific mission, the collection on World Mission Sunday is used to support the missionary work of the universal Church. Many of you have no doubt already submitted the Mission Sunday envelope in your packet. If not, you may send it this week and we will add it to the overall offering. It is a wonderful way to support the priests and deacons, religious sisters and brothers, and dedicated lay persons working to spread the Gospel around the world.


The Rosary and Public Prayer

10-11-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

Last Sunday was a busy one in our parish. The Blessing of Animals at 12:30 was one of the best attended I’ve ever seen. Fr. Pat prepared 48 programs–and used them all! Of course it was nice that it was outside, in good weather, both of which were helpful in our current circumstances.

Later that afternoon a smaller group of about 25 people gathered along the sidewalk in front of our Church for the Life Chain. While not a chain per se, it is a line of people, most of whom hold signs about the dignity of human life as they quietly pray the Rosary. Again, being outside in good weather was a big help.

These events got me thinking about public prayer. While we are accustomed to praying in Church, both the Blessing of Animals and the Life Chain were opportunities for us to pray in public. It was interesting, especially during the Blessing of Animals, to note the curiosity of passersby. I hope they were inspired by our faith.


St. Francis, Human Life, and Conscience Formation

10-04-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

Today (Sunday) is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Accordingly, Fr. Pat Boyle, OFM, will lead The Blessing of Animals in honor of St. Francis today (Sunday) at 12:30 PM. Everyone is welcome to bring their pets (or other animals) to the parking lot next to Mercy Hall for the blessing. As Catholics, we ask God’s blessing upon our animals as a way of thanking Him for them, acknowledging the special role they play in creation, and asking Him to protect them. I always enjoy seeing people and their pets at this brief ceremony.

The love that St. Francis of Assisi had for animals grew out of his love and respect for all of God’s creation and creatures. St. Francis showed that love most especially by the way he treated all the people he met. He freely associated with the poor, and did what he could to alleviate their sufferings. He bathed, fed, and nursed lepers. St. Francis believed that each human person was a child of God who deserved the respect, love, and protection of every other person.


Give People a Chance

09-27-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

I write these words on September 21st, the Feast of Saint Matthew. We all know that St. Matthew was a tax collector when Jesus called him to be an Apostle. But it’s hard for us to understand just how hated Matthew was because of his profession.

People in Jesus’ time didn’t despise tax collectors simply because they collected taxes. They knew back then as we do today, that taxes are part of life.

Reasonable people, then as now, tolerated reasonable taxation to pay for things like roads and government.

What made Matthew and the other tax collectors in Israel so hated was that the government for which they collected taxes was a foreign one. The Roman Empire had occupied and oppressed Israel for many years. Thus the money Matthew collected from his own people paid foreign soldiers who kept them in line.


Back up and running!

09-20-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

It’s good to see that some things are getting back up and running in our parish. I have taught a few classes at school, and it’s really great to see the students, both in class and online. Of course, just like at Church, all kinds of precautions are taken for safety, which is simply what has to be done at this time!

By this point, public school children in our parish should be registered for CCD. As you have read here, we are offering a completely online at home option for CCD this year. The other option is to pick up your child’s CCD books to work on at home. Mrs. Scott, our faithful Director of Religious Education, will be happy to assist you and answer any questions you may have. You can reach her through the Parish Office at 908-454-0112.


St. Peter Claver

09-13-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

I want to begin by congratulating all the children who will be receiving their First Holy Communion in our Church over the next couple of weeks. Some of them received this past Saturday and some will receive on an upcoming Saturday morning. Still others will receive at one of the regular Sunday Masses this or next weekend.

They are all part of ‘last years’ First Communion class. Like so much else, their preparation for this Most Blessed Sacrament was interrupted by the virus. I am so happy that most of them will finally have the joy of receiving Jesus in Holy Communion for the first time.

I am also happy to announce that Deacon Enock will be restarting the Prayer Group meetings on Wednesday evenings at 7 PM. They will meet in the Church for prayer and praise – being sure to observe all the necessary protocols (masks, distancing, etc.). Deacon Enock will preach a reflection each week on the readings for the upcoming Sunday – to help people prepare prayerfully for next Sunday’s Mass.


Working for the Lord

09-06-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

I want to start by wishing a Happy Labor Day to all the working people of our parish. Much more than just a holiday marking the unofficial end of summer, Labor Day is a time for all of us to reflect on the meaning of human labor. While we often think of work in negative terms-as something we have to do to make a living, the truth is that there is more than that to work.

As Catholics we believe that human work is a way in which God allows us to participate in His work of creation. This is especially apparent in the case of those whose work produces useful things, such as farmers who grow food and those who provide us with clean water-to name just a few. But it is no less true for those whose work helps other people in less obvious ways.


A new priest for our parish!

08-30-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

I am happy to report that, as we announced at the Masses last weekend, Bishop Checchio has assigned a newly ordained priest to our parish. His name is Fr. Gilbert Starcher, and his home parish is St. Ann’s in Hampton, New Jersey. He will begin his assignment at St. Philip and St. James on September 1st .

I was privileged to attend the Mass at which Fr. Gilbert was ordained last Saturday. It was a beautiful and uplifting Liturgy, held at the outdoor Blue Army Shrine in nearby Washington, NJ. I have always found that attending an ordination somehow rejuvenates my own priesthood–and this was no exception.

After the ordination, I was able to speak to our new priest for a few minutes. His joy and enthusiasm were palpable– which was wonderful to see. He told me he is very happy to be coming to our parish, and I assured him we will be happy to have him!


Farewell, Fr. Wojciech!

08-23-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

This weekend we bid a fond farewell to our good friend Fr. Wojciech. He has been such a blessing to our parish since he arrived here last year. I will especially miss his help with so many things, and the fraternity we enjoyed in the rectory.

Please keep Fr. Wojciech in your prayers as he moves to his new assignment. I know he will be a source of many blessings to the people there as he has been for us. Let’s also pray that he continues along the road to incardination in our diocese, and to serving permanently among the priests of the Metuchen Diocese.

That fraternity of priests is being enriched this weekend with the ordination of new priests. Two of them spent time in our parish as seminarians–and I am so happy for them. Indeed, I am happy to have all of them as brother priests, and will pray daily that God grant them a long and blessed priestly ministry.


Priests, Seminarians & Our Parish

08-16-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

This coming Saturday, our Bishop will ordain several young men to the priesthood. Two of them, Deacon Thomas Lanza and Deacon David Keyes, spent a summer in our parish as seminarians. I am happy to see them reach priestly ordination, and look forward to attending the ordination. Please keep them in your prayers.

Speaking of seminarians, I want to thank Joseph Ho for all he did in our parish this past summer. He arrived in our parish in the midst of the pandemic, and immediately went to work. Most of the things I ask seminarians to do, like helping at Vacation Bible School, was not possible this year, but that didn’t stop Joseph at all. He helped serve all our Masses, distribute Holy Communion (even in the parking lot before public Mass restarted) and was a big help in cleaning and sanitizing our Church. Joseph’s willingness to serve in many different ways will help him be a great priest!


The Year of Doing Things Differently!

08-09-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

In a year when it seems we have done just about everything differently than usual – for good reason–it makes sense that we had to do the Mission Co–op Appeal differently, too. As our priests mentioned at Mass last weekend, our scheduled missionary–Fr. John Tigatiga– could not be with us. He and I spoke early last week and decided it would be best if he did not travel to our parish at this time. I did invite him to come and visit us at some later date when things get back to normal.

That said, I want to thank everyone who supported this year’s Mission Co–op Appeal. Many of you sent in envelopes ahead of time or gave online–and many others took advantage of the boxes in the Church last Sunday. Thanks–one and all–for your usual generous support of the missions. The overall amount collected will be posted and updated elsewhere in the bulletin.


A crazy summer!

08-02-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

Can you believe it’s already August? It’s been such an unusual summer. I don’t know about you, but for me it’s been such an unusual summer that–in so many ways–it seems like it wasn’t summer at all! I expect that’s true for many of you, too!

And now, with the arrival of August we get the news that our wonderful parochial vicar (associate pastor), Fr. Wojciech Kusek, is being transferred on September 1st . As I explained at Mass this weekend, while this is sad for us, it is part of the necessary process that has to happen for Fr. Wojciech to realize his dream of being incardinated into our diocese.

Incardination is the name the Church gives to the process by which a priest changes from one religious order or diocese to another. Fr. Wojciech, following what he believes to be God’s call for him, has asked to be incardinated from the Redemptorist Fathers to our own Diocese of Metuchen. For that to happen, he must first spend time in a couple of our parishes. This allows the diocese to get to know him better, and for him to earn the recommendation of several pastors in our diocese.