Christmas is more than a day!

12-29-2019From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. I had to write this about a week before Christmas, so I can’t tell you how mine went! Instead, I’ll tell you a little bit about the Christmas Season.

As Catholics we believe that some things are so wonderful that it takes a lot more than a day to celebrate them. Christmas is certainly one of those things! That’s why, as Catholics, we celebrate Christmas for a season which began at Mass on Christmas Eve and will continue through the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism on the Sunday after Epiphany (January 12). While the rest of the world often takes down decorations the day after Christmas, we continue celebrating the birth of our Lord for nearly three weeks! Keeping your trees up and homes decorated is one way to celebrate this season of joy.


Merry Christmas!

12-22-2019From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

I want to begin by thanking all those who took tags and brought gifts for the Giving Tree. Your generosity provided gifts for many children and elderly parishioners and members of our local community. It is a testimony to your charity and faith!

It was great to see our Year of Spiritual Renewal finally culminate in our Consecration to Jesus thru Our Lady of Guadalupe last week. The Mass at the Cathedral, which I had the blessed pleasure to attend, was prayerful and inspiring. As was reciting the Prayer of Consecration with all of you at Holy Mass last weekend.

My prayer is that this consecration will move each one of us to think about how we might truly dedicate ourselves more completely to Jesus and His Blessed Mother. Adoring Him in the Holy Eucharist and serving Him in our poor and suffering neighbors are some ways we can do this for Jesus. Praying the Rosary each day, or perhaps attending and praying the Miraculous Medal Novena on Monday evenings in the chapel, are some ways we can be more dedicated to Our Blessed Mother – and thru her, to Jesus.


Gaudete Sunday

12-15-2019From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

This past Thursday, our Bishop consecrated our diocese to the Lord thru our Blessed Mother, Mary, under her title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This weekend, we will join ourselves to that consecration by saying a special prayer at all our Masses. The prayer is a special consecration to Our Lady.

It is important that, as we move forward, we remember that we are consecrated to our Lord and His holy Mother. To be consecrated means that we belong to Jesus and Mary in a very special – indeed in a sacred – way. We should do our best to live our lives according to Jesus’ teachings and Mary’s example – and help others do the same.

Today is the Third Sunday of Advent. In the ‘old’ days, this Sunday was called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete basically means ‘be happy’ or ‘rejoice’. On the surface, we are rejoicing because Christmas is almost here.


Consecration and Confession

12-08-2019From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

I hope your Thanksgiving was as nice as mine! Fr. Wojciech and I watched most of the P’burg – Easton football game on TV together that morning. Then I headed over to my sister Natalie’s home in Hillsborough. Some relatives we don’t see too often, my Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Jack, were there along with some cousins from my father’s side of my family. It was great to spend the day with them. My mother was there – of course- and we ate a lot more then we should have!

Next weekend we will consecrate ourselves to our Lord through His Blessed Mother, under her title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We have been preparing for this all year – and I am excited that it is finally here. Our Bishop will consecrate the whole diocese the evening of December 12th, the actual Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He has asked all our parishes to do the same at all our Masses next weekend, which I am happy to do.



12-01-2019From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! Bulletin deadlines required me to write this column before Thanksgiving, so I can’t tell you how mine went. I can tell you that I was looking forward to it as I wrote these words!

Today we begin the holy season of Advent. While it’s easy to think of Advent as a time to prepare for Christmas, it’s really much more than that. The word Advent means ‘coming’ – and Advent is indeed a time to get ready for the coming of Christ.

As Catholics, Advent makes us think about not just one – but two – of Christ’s comings. While we are certainly getting ready to celebrate His First Coming at Christmas, Advent also reminds us to get ready for His Second Coming on Judgement Day. Indeed, it is that Second Coming that is the main focus of today’s readings. In the Gospel Jesus tells us to be ready for His Second Coming. He reminds us that we don’t know when it will be – so we should be ready for it all the time.


Jesus Christ: King of Kings!

11-24-2019From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

It was wonderful to see so many people at last week’s celebration of our parish’s 160th anniversary. There was a nice crowd at the 11am Mass – who were treated to the return of our pipe organ. We were also honored by the presence of many religious sisters and three priests who are natives of our parish.

Mercy Hall was packed after Mass with people enjoying a nice continental breakfast. Some artifacts and photos from our parish archives were on display, attracting a great deal of attention. Best of all was seeing so many people – some of whom hadn’t seen each other for some time – having a good time together. Thanks to everyone who made it happen!


Happy Anniversary!

11-17-2019From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

I am so happy to have the opportunity to celebrate the 160th anniversary of our parish with you this weekend. Our celebration makes me think of all the people who made this parish their spiritual home over the years. It boggles the mind to think of all the people who were Baptized, married, received First Communion and Confirmation or just stopped in to say a prayer over the years.

When I arrived in St. Philip and St. James in 2009, the parish was in the midst of celebrating her 150th anniversary. At the time, I was surprised to learn that the actual date of the parish’s establishment is not exactly certain! Archbishop James Roosevelt Bayley – a nephew of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton who was the Catholic Bishop for all of New Jersey – appointed Fr. James Mc Kee the first pastor in 1858. That year marks the earliest known celebration of Holy Mass in P’Burg – in a house on Sitgreaves Street. But it was not until the following year, 1859 that the land on which the Church now stands was purchased by the parish.


Thanks, Vets!

11-10-2019From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

I’d like to start my words today by wishing a very Happy Veterans Day to all the veterans of our parish. We owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude and appreciate the sacrifices you made for our nation. I assure you of my prayers today and each and every day.

In our troubled world, I find that I appreciate our veterans more and more. Perhaps you do too. My experience with veterans over the years is that they tend to be level headed and ready to help at a moment’s notice. I see this in many of the veterans I know in our own parish. For this also I want to thank these fine men and women.

You may notice our ushers counting the crowds at the Mass this month. The reason is that our bishop asks that each parish conduct such a count at every Sunday (and Saturday evening) Mass during the month of November. The diocese uses this information for a number of reasons, such as deciding how many priests to assign a certain parish. It is also a measure of a parish’s vitality. (P.S. That being the case, this would be a good month to make sure we all get to Mass regularly!)


Helping people to see Jesus

11-03-2019From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

Today’s Gospel is about Zacchaeus – a short man who climbed a tree to see Jesus. His efforts to see Jesus make me think about my call to the priesthood. A priest – among other things – is a man sent by God to help people see Jesus.

While every Christian should help others see Jesus, a priest must do this in some very special ways. By his preaching, the priest helps people see Jesus’ message more clearly. By his willingness to sacrifice marriage and family for the service of the Church, the priest helps people see Jesus’ sacrifice. Most of all, a priest helps people see Jesus’ mercy in Confession and His continued presence among us in the Holy Eucharist – under the appearance of bread and wine. Indeed, every priest has a sacred duty to do his best – in spite of his human limitations – to help people see Jesus Christ.


The Great Big Family of God

10-27-2019From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

I write these words having just returned from the Roast Beef Dinner. The Knights of Columbus, Columbiettes, and all their helpers are to be congratulated for a job well done! Not only was the food very good – I had three dinners, spread out over the afternoon – but there were lots of great people, too.

The whole event reminded me of the big family dinners I remember from many Sunday and holiday afternoons. Although most of the people at the parish Roast Beef Dinner are not related by blood – they are part of our spiritual family. It was great to get together with so many of them last Sunday!

Remember that this Friday, November 1st, is All Saints Day. It is a holy day of obligation on which every Catholic who is able to do so has a serious obligation to attend Holy Mass. Masses will be offered in our Church on Thursday, October 31st at 5:30 PM and on Friday, November 1st at 6:45 and 8 AM and at 12:10 and 7 PM. I look forward to seeing many of you there.


World Mission Sunday

10-20-2019From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of making a pilgrimage with a busload of people from our parish. We went to the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I was inspired by the beauty of the Church and prayerfulness of the people there.

For those who may not know, the Miraculous Medal was given by our Blessed Mother to St. Catherine Laboure in 1830. While appearing to St. Catherine, Blessed Mary asked that she have copies of the medals made and distributed for people to wear. She promised to obtain great graces from God for those who obeyed her request.

As usually happens in such cases, not everyone believed St. Catherine’s story right away. But her confessor did, and helped her begin spreading the message. He also asked for an official investigation by the Church. The Church found the incident ‘worthy of belief’ – meaning that Catholics should take it seriously.


A Busy Weekend!

10-13-2019From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

Last weekend was a very busy one, as we welcomed Fr. Wojciech to our parish. Among the many activities was the Blessing of Animals in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. Fr. Pat conducted a beautiful ceremony – to the accompaniment of many dogs barking. About 40 people brought various pets and farm animals to be blessed. In addition to the usual dogs and such were a lamb, a goat, and a bunch of ducks! I want to thank everyone who came, and Fr. Pat for preparing and leading the celebration.

Later that afternoon, about 20 hearty souls took part in the annual Life Chain on South Main Street. I was afraid that the treat of rain might deter them, but they came out in defense of human life. It was a true privilege to be with them.


Welcome Father Wojciech!

10-06-2019From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

This weekend our parish welcomes our new priest, Fr. Wojciech Kusek. Father Wojciech was most recently stationed in Christ the Redeemer Parish in Manville, New Jersey. Prior to that he has served in a number of places, including Latin America. He is a member of the Congregation of the Redeemer, also known as the Redemptorists.

I am sure that Fr. Wojciech will bring many blessings to our parish. As you might imagine, the celebration of the Spanish Mass will be one of his main priorities each week, but he will also be involved in most parish ministries. Please take a moment to introduce yourself to him and welcome him to our parish.

It was great to have so many students from our school together at last Sunday’s 11 AM Mass. Especially enjoyable was hearing all those young voices in the choir! I hope that many of them will make a point of joining with the young people who sing regularly at the 9 AM Mass each week. Your joyful voices are a great gift to God and an inspiration to all of us!