Rest in Peace, Monsignor Michael Corona

02-13-2022From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

By the time you read these words, we will have buried Monsignor Corona, who served our parish for 30 years, and was a priest for 54 years! May God reward him for answering the call to the priesthood so generously.

I first got to know Monsignor Corona nearly 35 years ago, when I was a newly ordained priest. As many of you know, my first assignment was in our neighboring parish, St. Mary’s in Alpha. Monsignor, then Father Corona, was always good to me. I remember several occasions on which he invited me to join him and the other priests of this parish for dinner. He always made me welcome, whether at Confirmation or the carnival.

Monsignor and I shared a great interest in education. He had served in several parishes with large Catholic schools before coming to Phillipsburg, notably St. Peter’s in New Brunswick and St. James in Red Bank. In each of those assignments, Monsignor took a very active role in educating the next generation of Catholics, as he did here in Phillipsburg.

I never dreamed I would succeed Monsignor Corona as pastor of this wonderful parish. I assumed he would be here forever. I’m sure that many of you thought that, too. But he once told me that, if he ever left this parish, he hoped I might consider coming here. When I asked him why he would ever leave this parish, he told me ‘you have to do what the bishop asks.’ A few months later, the bishop asked Monsignor to move back to his home parish in Raritan, and asked me to come to Phillipsburg.

When I consider all the years that Monsignor has been a priest, I cannot help thinking about all the grace that our good God poured into people’s souls through his priesthood. Just imagine the number of babies Monsignor Baptized, the weddings he blessed, the people who were absolved by him in Confession or fed with Christ’s precious Body and Blood at the Masses he offered. Indeed, God uses a faithful priest to bring many graces to countless people.

Please pray for Monsignor Corona’s soul. We will have a Memorial Mass in the very near future for those who could not attend his Funeral. Our prayers, especially at Holy Mass, are not only a way to thank Monsignor for his many years of faithful service, but also a way we can help speed his soul to Heaven.

Before I close, I want to mention Monsignor Terry Lawler – a native of our parish – who also died this past week. Monsignor Lawler was a wonderful neighbor to our

parish during his tenure as pastor of St. Mary’s in Alpha. The thought that these two good priests died within a day of each other is amazing.

It is also a reminder for each of us to pray for priests, and to encourage young men to consider whether God may be calling them to the priesthood. May those He is calling answer that call as generously and whole heartedly as did Monsignor Corona and Monsignor Lawler. I can attest that answering God’s call to the priesthood has been an awesome and joyful – if at times challenging – adventure for me. I hope that many young men from our parish will answer God’s call and share that adventure.

Have a great week!
Fr. John