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!

Fr. Gilbert was kind enough to invite me to his First Holy Mass–which he offered in St. Ann’s Church at 3 PM last Sunday. It was a prayerful, reverent, and joyful celebration. Afterward I met some of his family at an outdoor celebration held on the grounds of St. Ann’s Church. It was a beautiful, grace filled day!

Personally, I believe that it is a special grace for a parish to receive a newly ordained priest. Their zeal and enthusiasm and all that goes with it always seems to give a parish a real lift. I am certain this will be the case with Fr. Gilbert, and look forward to the many ways in which our good God will bless all of us through this new priest.

As we welcome Fr. Gilbert, we also welcome a new school year. I don’t have to tell any of you that our new school year is going to be different–as was last year! At our parish school, most students will be attending in person, with some attending online. I know that many school districts have had to work very hard to work out a schedule that is safe and workable–which is not always easy to do!

Please join me in praying each and every day of this new school year for all teachers and students in our school and all the schools around us. Let’s also pray for the parents who have to find ways to balance work and the needs of their children. May God grant insight and prudence to all of us during this challenging time.

Many of you are well aware that the collection taken in Church on Good Friday is for the needs of the Christians in the Holy Land. Proceeds from that collection help support schools for some 10,000 children and assist Christian migrant workers who had to flee their homelands and those displaced by the war in Syria. It also provides support for what we call the ‘Holy Places’–the Churches and Shrines that have grown up in the places where Jesus lived, taught, died and rose from the dead.

Since we did not have public worship on Good Friday, Pope Francis has asked that his collection be taken the weekend of September 12 – 13th. The reason for that weekend is that it is close to the Feast of the Holy Cross (September 14th), which is a big celebration in that part of the Catholic world!

Many of you already gave to this collection by sending in the envelope from your packet back in April–when the collection is usually scheduled. If anyone else wants to make a donation, please feel free to do so by putting it in an envelope marked “HOLY LAND” and sending it to the parish office by September 21. We will happily forward it to the diocese for forwarding to the Commissariat of the Holy Land (the office that handles those things). Thanks!

As always, I ask you to pray a Hail Mary for me every day–and thank all of you who do! Let’s start praying one for Fr. Gilbert, too. We do well to keep praying for an end to this pandemic, for the sick, and for those working for a cure.

Have a great week!

Fr. John