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!READ MORE
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.READ MORE
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!READ MORE
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.READ MORE
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.READ MORE
Last week I told that our parish would participate in the Annual Mission Co–op Appeal the weekend of August 1–2 (next weekend). Today I want to share a story about how I learned about the missions when I was just a boy.
My first memory of missionaries is of a man I never met, but with whom my father corresponded for many years. His name was Fr. Michael Reen and he was a missionary serving in Kenya. If memory serves me well, he was a priest from the New York area serving in the missions. When my dad was in the seventh grade, his religion teacher–a Dominican Sister –had him write a letter to a missionary as an assignment. When Fr. Reen answered the letter, my future dad wrote back. Thus, began a correspondence that lasted for many years.READ MORE
I am happy to announce that our parish will participate in the annual Mission Co–op Appeal the weekend of August 1–2. Fr. John Tigatiga, SDS will visit our parish and preach at all of our Masses that weekend. He is a Salvatorian Father.
The Salvatorian Fathers were founded by Fr. Francis Jordan in the late 1800’s. He was a German priest who was concerned about the effects of the Kulturkampf that was occurring in Germany at that time. The Kulturkampf – as some of you history buffs out there may know – was an attempt by the German chancellor at the time, Bismark, to secularize Germany. This led to harsh restrictions being placed on Churches and their ministries and pastoral activities.READ MORE
Last Thursday I had the pleasure of seeing my mother and having brunch with her. We were at my sister and brother in law’s home, where my niece was visiting. It was only the second time I saw my mom since the ‘stay at home’ orders were issued due to the coronavirus.
It was nice to see some family – even if it was just a couple of us. I’m sure many of you are having similar experiences as things begin getting back to normal, however slowly.
As we get back to normal at Church, I want to take a moment to really thank those who have been helping make this happen. The ushers who are helping people find their reserved seats and those who clean up after each Mass are offering our parish a truly indispensable service at this time. So are all of you who call ahead to reserve a spot at Mass. I know this is a nuisance for some of you, but it’s helping us ensure everyone’s safety. For this, I thank you!READ MORE
I wrote these words this past Monday-which was the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. As I wrote I could not help thinking of how these two great apostles are great examples for you and me. Although they lived long ago both St. Peter and St. Paul have a lot to teach us about following Jesus today.
Jesus gave both St. Peter and St. Paul a great mission in this world. As Catholics we believe that St. Peter was the first pope. Although Peter would not have used that term, the fact that Jesus made him the leader of the Church on earth is obvious from even a casual reading of the New Testament.
Peter is mentioned 191 times in the Bible-more than three times as much as any other apostle. After Jesus ascended to Heaven, Peter took the lead in many different ways. He proposed and led the process of picking a new apostle to replace Judas Iscariot, he preached the homily after the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost explaining why the crowd heard all of the apostles in their own languages. In the first disputes that arose in the early Church, Peter took the lead gathering the others, leading the discussion, and speaking for the Church once a decision was made.READ MORE
As most of you know, I made my spiritual retreat a week ago. While it was very different than usual – since we listened to the retreat talks via a zoom meeting – it was better than I expected. If nothing else, I have a better idea of what it’s like for you to watch Mass online!
The speaker, Fr, Charles Connor, was excellent. Many of you may know him from presentations on EWTN and things like that. His words gave me a lot of spiritual ‘food for thought’ and inspired me to increase my time in prayer and spiritual reading!
This is our third week back to public Mass in our Church. So far, it seems to be going well. Please remember to call the parish office to reserve a space–so we can maintain proper distancing. Remember also that our Bishop continues to dispense everyone from the obligation to attend Mass at this time–especially those whose health places them at a higher level of risk. As I’ve said throughout this ordeal, the Spirit’s gift of counsel, which helps us make prudent decisions, is a big help right now.READ MORE
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 the sports fields, or just around the parish. You are all in my prayers today.
The fact that so many of you sent in your Father’s Day envelopes – with the names of fathers living and deceased written on them – tells me that many good men are in our prayers this week. As always, we will keep those envelopes near the altar for the rest of the month of June – and remember all the men named on them in our Masses and prayers.READ MORE
Today we celebrate one of my favorite feasts of the entire Church year: Corpus Christi. Corpus Christi means ‘the Body of Christ’ – and today’s feast celebrates our Catholic Faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, under the appearance of bread and wine. This is – as the priest chants after the consecration at Holy Mass – ‘the Mystery of Faith.’
So many of you have told me how much you miss receiving Holy Communion during this pandemic. Although you make a Spiritual Communion – and ask Jesus to come spiritually into your heart – we know it’s not the same as truly receiving His precious Body and Blood in Holy Communion. That – I believe – is why so many of you have experienced a deep sense of loss at not being able to come to Mass and receive Holy Communion.READ MORE
With last Sunday’s celebration of Pentecost, we brought the Easter season to a close. The Church now reenters the season she calls ‘Ordinary Time.’ The official reason for this name is the fact that its weeks are ‘ordered’ – meaning they follow a certain order. This past week was the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time, and this coming week be the Ninth.
But I find it helpful to see Ordinary Time – when we’re not focusing on special seasons like Advent or Lent or Christmas or Easter – as a time to remember that we serve God best by living our faith in the midst of ordinary, everyday life. Being patient with those around us. Performing acts of charity within our means. Finding time for prayer in the midst of a busy day. Striving to see Christ in the people with whom we interact with each day. Serving God in these ‘ordinary’ ways is our true path to holiness in life.READ MORE
My dearest parishioners,
By now you may have heard that we can finally begin returning to Church for Holy Mass. I know that the absence of public Masses has been very hard for you, and that some of you have been waiting very anxiously for this moment. That being said, we should remember that it is very important for us to use good judgment and every ounce of common sense with which we have been blessed as we begin gathering for Mass once more. The Holy Spirit’s gift of counsel (right judgment) will be most helpful to us in this!
These guidelines are intended to help you do this – and to know what to expect at Mass in St. Philip and St. James Church at this time.
Those who are considered high risk for infection should not come to Church just yet. Rather, you should continue to follow the guidelines of your doctor and the public health authorities. Those who are or feel sick must not come to Church at this time, for the good of everyone – including themselves.