Get Those Babies Baptized

06-24-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Today we celebrate the Birth of John the Baptist. We usually think of John the Baptist during Advent, because he was the last great prophet to prepare people for the coming of Christ. But – for many centuries – the Church has celebrated his birth on June 24th. It is one of those feast days that is so important that it supersedes the regular Sunday Mass!

As Catholics, we make a big deal out of John the Baptist for a very good reason – Jesus made a big deal out him, too! Jesus went to John for Baptism and gave His approval to John’s work. He also told the people that John was the greatest prophet of all. That’s pretty high praise.

I’m sure that most of us – indeed most Catholics around the world – associate John the Baptist with Baptism. This makes sense because John spent so many years Baptizing people in the Jordan River. His baptisms were a preparation for the Sacrament of Baptism which is so important to us today.


Graduation, Retreat, and Father's Day

06-17-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers, grandfathers, godfathers, and spiritual fathers in our parish! Although my own father has been deceased for many years, I have so many fond memories of him. Even today, I am very aware of all the positive ways that he influenced my life! For this reason, I am always inspired when I see fathers spending time with their children – in church, on sports fields, or just around the parish. You are all in my prayers today.

My father had an especially positive influence on my academic life. Prior to college and seminary, I was the kind of kid who really hated school. Left to my own devices, I would have rarely – or very poorly – completed homework or studied for tests. But my father kept on top of these things. Although he and my mother were married shortly after high school, he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees by going to college at night. I remember the two of us sitting at the kitchen table doing homework together (him more willingly than me!).

Speaking of school, I want to congratulate all the graduates of our parish. Whether you're graduating from college, high school, middle or elementary school, this is an important milestone in your life. My prayer is that you will use what you have learned to do good things for the people around you, and for God.


There is no Vacation from God

06-10-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Last Sunday afternoon I had the pleasure of attending a Holy Mass celebrating Msgr. Corona’s 50th anniversary as a priest. I was especially happy to see about 15 people from our parish at the Mass, which Msgr. Corona offered in St. Luke’s Church, where he is currently serving. A number of priests were there, including Fr. Tom from our parish, and many priests who served here with Monsignor over the years.

Please keep Msgr. Corona in your prayers, thanking God for his years of priestly service. As anyone who has been around long enough can tell you, fifty years of service is no small thing! It is only accomplished with the help of God’s grace, upon which Msgr. Corona has relied these many years.

I will always be grateful for Monsignor’s many kindnesses to me over the years – dating way back to when I was a newly ordained priest over at St. Mary’s. He was a good neighbor and a source of good advice. He also did a great deal to ensure a smooth transition when he left Phillipsburg nine years ago.


Corpus Christi

06-03-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Today we celebrate Corpus Christi, the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. This celebration–one of the most solemn of the Church year–honors the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, under the appearance of bread and wine. This indeed is the Mystery of Faith–that what looks and tastes like bread and wine is really the Risen Jesus.

Speaking of the Eucharist, Jesus once said, “The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” In other words, receiving Holy Communion establishes an abiding relationship between us and Jesus. It gives us a special closeness to Him.

In these days of electronic communication, we have many ways to keep in touch. E-mails, text messages, and skyping allow us to speak to friends and family members around the world at almost any time. But actually sitting down with each other and enjoying each other’s company–simply being with each other–doesn’t happen as much as we’d like.


Upcoming Corpus Christi Procession

05-27-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Last Saturday our parish was blessed to have two of her sons – Matthew Marinelli and Joseph Illes – ordained deacons. This is the next to last step on the long road to priesthood that they have been walking for several years. God willing, they will be ordained priests around this time next year. Please pray for them!

Deacon Matthew preached his first homily at the 4:30pm Mass last Saturday, while Deacon Joseph preached his at the 11:00am last Sunday. They both did a great job! Deacon Matthew made special mention of how much it meant to him to preach his first homily in his home parish, with so many people he has known for years in attendance. Deacon Joseph spoke of how the Holy Spirit helped the first disciples spread the Gospel – and how we can rely on that same Holy Spirit to help us serve Christ today. Both thanked everyone for their prayers and support over the years!


What have you done to spread the Gospel?

05-20-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

What have you done to spread the Gospel lately? That’s a good question to ask yourself on this Pentecost Sunday.

On Pentecost, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to help the disciples spread the Gospel to many peoples and places. In Baptism – and especially Confirmation – Jesus sent that same Holy Spirit to help us spread the Gospel in the world today. Many of you did this by teaching your children about the Faith and sending them to Catholic school or CCD classes. Many also do it by supporting the missions. Still others do it on a personal, one-to-one basis – sharing their faith with others in conversations and other ways.

St. John Paul II – and his successors Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis – said that our world has need of a "New Evangelization." By "new" they do not mean that we are to preach a "new" message about Jesus – for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Heb 13:8) Rather, the popes mean that – as Catholics – we need to make a new effort at spreading the Gospel in the world.


Good News!

05-13-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers and great ladies of our parish!

I have so many good things to report this week – which is always good news! The First Communion Masses went beautifully in our parish. The children were excited and devout as they received Jesus in Holy Communion for the first time.


May: The Month of Mary

05-06-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Our Parish Carnival wraps up this weekend. If you can stop by – perhaps after Mass on Saturday evening or this afternoon (Sunday) – please do. It's a great place to have some fun, see other parishioners, and enjoy great Carnival Food! (From last year, my favorites were the meatballs and the Deep Fried Twinkies). Hope to see you there!

May is, of course, the Month of Mary. With that in mind, try to do some little things to honor Mary this month. If you don't already pray the Rosary daily, this would be a good time to start. If you can't pray a whole Rosary, why not pray at least a decade of it a day? It is a powerful prayer – one of my favorites – and is recommended by countless saints. For those who may not know, pamphlets on how to pray the Rosary will be placed around the Church.


Carnival's Coming!

04-29-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

I really enjoyed our parish school play last week. The kids performed "The Little Mermaid" – and did a really nice job. I attended the performances on both Thursday and Friday evenings and enjoyed it both times. As you can probably imagine, it takes a lot to get me to sit still for an entire play – and our students pulled it off! Special thanks also go to Mr. Yesenosky (our music teacher and regular organist) and Mrs. Ciccalese (our gym teacher) who put in quite a lot of time with the students. All those who helped with the sets, refreshments, costumes and all the other details also have my gratitude, as do the students themselves.


Upcoming Parish Events

04-22-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

I had a nice time at a couple of parish events last weekend. The Knights of Columbus and others put together a Pasta Dinner last Sunday afternoon. I want to thank them for a job well done. Throughout the afternoon a steady flow of people enjoyed dinner and conversation – and a good crowd showed up for the last hour or so.

Last Saturday I had the pleasure to attend the Annual Faith and Service Dinner at Flynn's. This event is organized by our School Advisory Council as a way to honor various individuals who make a contribution to our school. This year's honorees – Dr. James Finegan and Mr. John Stana – were particularly deserving. I was especially touched to hear so many people speaking of all the good things these gentlemen have done for our school, parish, and the community at large.


Capital Campaign Update

04-15-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Can you believe that April is already half over? Before long it will be time for our Parish Carnival and other Spring events. One such event is the Pasta Dinner, which will be held in the school cafeteria on Roseberry Street this afternoon. The school will have an Open House at the same time. I'm looking forward to having a nice time and a nice meal with lots of you!

A few weeks ago, I told you that I would give you an update on our Parish Capital Campaign this month, and I want to dedicate the rest of this column to that. We have reached (actually gone just over) our goal of $1,400,000 in pledges. To date we have already received $379,242 in payments.


Good News for Easter

04-08-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

I hope your Easter was as nice as mine. Although I thought we were going to my mother's house on Easter, the plans got changed, and we were at my sister Natalie's home instead. We had more food than you can imagine, and plenty of family and friends. Some of my niece's friends from college joined us – since they live a distance and could not get to their family homes for Easter – and it was nice to have them. It all made for a great day.

As I announced at the Easter Vigil and the 11 AM Mass on Easter, our parish is happy that two of her sons – Matthew Marinelli and Joseph Illes – will be ordained deacons on May 19. They have been studying for the priesthood for several years and have reached this important point in the journey. God willing, they will spend about a year as deacons while continuing their studies – then be ordained priests.


Happy Easter!

04-01-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

I want to begin by wishing each and every one of you a blessed and happy Easter. The Resurrection of Jesus stands at the very heart of everything we believe as Catholics. I am pleased to celebrate it with you.

Easter is so important to us that we celebrate it not just for a day – but for a season of fifty days. The Easter Season is longer than Lent because the joy of the Resurrection is greater than penance of Lent. As part of our celebration of this joyful season, our Church will be decorated throughout the Easter Season. The new Paschal (Easter) Candle will stand near the pulpit, rising high into the air as a symbol of Christ's glorious Resurrection.