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.