Jesus Christ: King of Kings!

11-24-2019From Fr. John'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!

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Happy Anniversary!

11-17-2019From Fr. John'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.

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Thanks, Vets!

11-10-2019From Fr. John'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!)

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Helping people to see Jesus

11-03-2019From Fr. John'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.

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The Great Big Family of God

10-27-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

I write these words having just returned from the Roast Beef Dinner. The Knights of Columbus, Columbiettes, and all their helpers are to be congratulated for a job well done! Not only was the food very good – I had three dinners, spread out over the afternoon – but there were lots of great people, too.

The whole event reminded me of the big family dinners I remember from many Sunday and holiday afternoons. Although most of the people at the parish Roast Beef Dinner are not related by blood – they are part of our spiritual family. It was great to get together with so many of them last Sunday!

Remember that this Friday, November 1st, is All Saints Day. It is a holy day of obligation on which every Catholic who is able to do so has a serious obligation to attend Holy Mass. Masses will be offered in our Church on Thursday, October 31st at 5:30 PM and on Friday, November 1st at 6:45 and 8 AM and at 12:10 and 7 PM. I look forward to seeing many of you there.

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World Mission Sunday

10-20-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of making a pilgrimage with a busload of people from our parish. We went to the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I was inspired by the beauty of the Church and prayerfulness of the people there.

For those who may not know, the Miraculous Medal was given by our Blessed Mother to St. Catherine Laboure in 1830. While appearing to St. Catherine, Blessed Mary asked that she have copies of the medals made and distributed for people to wear. She promised to obtain great graces from God for those who obeyed her request.

As usually happens in such cases, not everyone believed St. Catherine’s story right away. But her confessor did, and helped her begin spreading the message. He also asked for an official investigation by the Church. The Church found the incident ‘worthy of belief’ – meaning that Catholics should take it seriously.

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A Busy Weekend!

10-13-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

Last weekend was a very busy one, as we welcomed Fr. Wojciech to our parish. Among the many activities was the Blessing of Animals in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. Fr. Pat conducted a beautiful ceremony – to the accompaniment of many dogs barking. About 40 people brought various pets and farm animals to be blessed. In addition to the usual dogs and such were a lamb, a goat, and a bunch of ducks! I want to thank everyone who came, and Fr. Pat for preparing and leading the celebration.

Later that afternoon, about 20 hearty souls took part in the annual Life Chain on South Main Street. I was afraid that the treat of rain might deter them, but they came out in defense of human life. It was a true privilege to be with them.

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Welcome Father Wojciech!

10-06-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

This weekend our parish welcomes our new priest, Fr. Wojciech Kusek. Father Wojciech was most recently stationed in Christ the Redeemer Parish in Manville, New Jersey. Prior to that he has served in a number of places, including Latin America. He is a member of the Congregation of the Redeemer, also known as the Redemptorists.

I am sure that Fr. Wojciech will bring many blessings to our parish. As you might imagine, the celebration of the Spanish Mass will be one of his main priorities each week, but he will also be involved in most parish ministries. Please take a moment to introduce yourself to him and welcome him to our parish.

It was great to have so many students from our school together at last Sunday’s 11 AM Mass. Especially enjoyable was hearing all those young voices in the choir! I hope that many of them will make a point of joining with the young people who sing regularly at the 9 AM Mass each week. Your joyful voices are a great gift to God and an inspiration to all of us!

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Pastor's News

09-29-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

It was great to have our choir back at 11AM Mass last Sunday, after their usual summer break. They add so much to our worship, and help us celebrate Holy Mass with joy and reverence. I’m sure they could use a few new voices – and would be glad to have anyone who loves God and wants to praise Him in song!

Later that afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending the annual choir picnic. It was hosted by our music director, Paul Kucinski, and his wife, Donna. I really enjoyed talking and eating with these wonderful people who serve our parish so well.

Last Sunday I also had the pleasure of joining our parish Boy Scout Troop at their annual Red and White Brunch. It was a time to celebrate the many merit badges and projects of these great kids – some of whom had just received their religious medals at the 11 AM Mass. These scouts do a lot for our parish, such as carrying the gifts we bring for the Giving Tree, collecting food for the Thanksgiving Food drive, and taking care of the fire during the Easter Vigil Mass. I appreciate all they do.

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Breath of Life

09-22-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

Last Saturday evening, Aliento de Vida – the Spanish Prayer Group in our parish – celebrated their eleventh anniversary. Aliento de Vida means ‘breath of life.’ It is a name given to the Holy Spirit. Just as we breathe regular air to support our physical life, so the Holy Spirit is the breath that sustains our New Life as God’s Children.

I was happy to give the group a blessing as they began a Prayer Vigil in Church at 6 PM. About three hours later, when the Vigil ended, I had the pleasure of joining them for coffee and refreshments in the Parish Meeting Room. It was great to see so many people praying and enjoying themselves together.

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Signs of Hope

09-15-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

I was truly inspired by the presentations by the gentlemen from the Corona Self Help Center that spoke briefly at Holy Mass last weekend. We are all well aware of the problems that come with the epidemic drug and alcohol addiction in our country. Hearing the testimony of these men, who are beating this addiction with the help of God, was very uplifting. To me it was a sign of hope!

Thank you to everyone who supported them. Please keep them in your prayers each day. I kept their contact information in my files, in case you know anyone who might need their help!

I was also happy to see the nice crowd at the Communion Breakfast in honor of our Blessed Mother’s Birthday (September 8 th). It was a simple, but very nice affair. What I especially enjoyed was seeing so many parishioners – of different ages and backgrounds – having a good time together. It fills me with hope for our parish and community.

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Getting in shape for the Lord

09-08-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

It has come to my attention that some of our parishioners have begun taking steps to prepare for the Walking Pilgrimage on September 21st! Specifically, they have been walking each day to build up their stamina for the pilgrimage. Their efforts remind me that we all have to work at getting our soul in shape each day.

St. Paul used this analogy in his First Letter to the Corinthians. “While all the athletes in the arena compete, the award goes only to one. Therefore, compete so as to win!” (1 Cor. 9:24). His point is that – as Christians – we should work as hard at getting to Heaven as athletes do at winning games. We do this best by regular prayer, works of charity, and frequent Confession and Holy Communion.

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Christians in the Holy Land

09-01-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

This Monday is Labor Day – a day to honor all those who work for a living. As Catholics we believe that work is part of God’s plan for us. St. Paul – in one of his letters – tells us to "earn the food we eat by working quietly." He also admonishes those "who do not keep busy – but act like busybodies." He even goes so far as to say that "those who do not work should not eat."

In this St. Paul is certainly not putting down those who cannot work due to age, disability, or circumstance. Neither is he, who constantly commands us to practice charity, discouraging us from helping those who truly are in need. But St. Paul is reminding us that work has a place in God’s plan – and we do well to reflect prayerfully on the good we can do by working according to His will.

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