Good things to do for Lent!

03-31-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

It was wonderful to see so many people at the Evening of Spiritual Awakening! Many people commented not only on the good crowd, but also on the evening itself. It was a prayerful and inspiring experience – and a good thing to do for Lent.

I want to thank the choir members and music ministers who provided such inspiring music for the evening. It really helped to set a prayerful tone. Thanks also to all the people who took time out of their normal schedule to spend extra time in prayer.

Remember that we will have our parish Lenten Penance Service this Monday, April 1, at 7 PM in Church. Many priests will be on hand to hear Confessions and help you experience God's loving mercy. While a lot of people went to Confession at the Evening of Awakening, I know that a lot more still need to make a good Confession this Lent. Coming to the Penance Service is another good thing to do for Lent.

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24 Hours for the Lord

03-24-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

This Friday our parish will host 24 Hours for the Lord. The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed in our Church (rather than the chapel) from 9 AM Friday until 9 AM Saturday. People are invited to come and spend some quiet time with our Lord that day and night. You may come and stay for as long or as little as you like. It would be great if you could spend at least an hour with Jesus.

There will be some special prayer services during this time. A special Holy Hour at 9 PM Friday evening, and prayers at 8:30 AM Saturday morning. Confessions will be heard after Stations of the Cross Friday evening and at 9 AM Saturday morning. Stations of the Cross will be prayed in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament at 3 and 7 PM Friday, and the Daily Masses will be offered as usual.

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Awaken Your Faith

03-17-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of attending the Rite of Election at St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral. It was a special prayer service in which our Bishop prayed with the catechumens and candidates of our diocese. Catechumens are unbaptized persons who are preparing for Baptism. Candidates may be baptized non-Catholics or Catholics who were Baptized, but never received First Communion or Confirmation.

Several catechumens and candidates from our parish took part in the Rite of Election. They are preparing to be received into Full Communion with our Holy Catholic Church this Easter. Please keep them in your prayers as that day draws near.

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Christian Spring Training!

03-10-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Today is the First Sunday of Lent. My favorite analogy for Lent is Spring Training. Just as baseball players get in shape during Spring Training, Catholics use Lent to get in better "spiritual shape". The traditional ways to do this are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We are encouraged to do a little more praying, fast as a penance for our sins, and be generous to the poor. What follows are some suggestions for doing this.

Try to get to Daily Mass during Lent. If you can't get there every day, at least try to get to Daily Mass at least once a week. The Mass is the most powerful prayer we have, and we do well to make good use of it. Another good way to pray this Lent would be to attend the Parish Lenten Mission on Wednesday evenings at 7 PM. Each evening will include time for prayer, as well as a Lenten homily, followed by Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. I would especially encourage families to come to these evenings – at least once this Lent – just to expose your children to the beautiful practice of Benediction.

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Here comes Lent!

03-03-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Believe it or not, this Wednesday is Ash Wednesday – the beginning of the Holy Season of Lent. Masses will be offered in our Church that day at 6:45 and 8:00 AM and at 12:10, 5:00, and 7:00 PM. Ashes will be blessed and distributed at all those Masses.

There are several ways of looking at Lent. Some people see it simply as a time of penance. We give up treats we like to show that we are sorry for our sins and want to do better in the future. This is a good way of looking at Lent.

Other people look at Lent as a time to do something extra for God. They go to Daily Mass or practice extra charity as a way of going the extra mile for God during this holy season. This is also a good way of looking at Lent.

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Our Wonderful Young People!

02-24-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

This is one of those times when I had to write my article earlier than I like, due to the President's Day holiday. I hope you had a good one!

By the time you read this, about 75 young men and women – mostly eighth graders – will have received the Sacrament of Confirmation. Since I had to write this before the ceremony, I can't tell you much about it. But I can tell you how much I have enjoyed working with these candidates as they prepared for this great day.

I especially enjoyed giving their Confirmation Retreat, and seeing them grow in their understanding of what it means to be a witness for Jesus Christ. Teaching some make-up classes for those in CCD was a pleasure, as was teaching the 8th graders in our school each week. Reading what they admired about the saints whose names they chose for Confirmation was very inspiring – as many of the young people clearly put a lot of thought into their choices.

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"I came that they may have life, and have it fully."

02-17-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Our parish honored several religious sisters at last Sunday's 11 AM Mass. Their good work is a blessing to many people in our community. Sister Clare, SJH, teaches a "make up" class in our CCD program – where she gets children who did not receive First Communion at the usual time ready for that Blessed Sacrament. Sr. Ellen, SJH, and Sr. Megan, SJH, both teach religion in our parish school. Sr. Michaelita, RSM -- who once was principal of our parish elementary school, now runs the local Catholic Charities, and helps many local families by her work.

Students from our parish school and CCD program presented the sisters with flowers, as the assembly at Mass gave them a grateful ovation. It was especially inspiring to me to see so many of our people stop to say a word of thanks to the sisters after Mass that day.

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Things You Can Do for God -- and Yourself

02-10-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Last Monday I had the honor of celebrating a Funeral Mass for Sr. Helen Rado, MPF, who passed away after 77 years of religious life. She had been the Religious Education Director in my previous parish, and was a wonderful example of a person who did an awful lot for God in her life. While her 77 years as a religious sister are her most obvious gift to God, Sr. Helen never rested on that. She was a teacher, principal, Director of Religious Education, RCIA Director, and parish visitor of the sick who also made a life-long effort to grow in prayer and good works every day of her life.

Her service to God over the years made me think of the ways that we can serve God. All of us are called to serve God by living our faith and growing in holiness each day. Like Sr. Helen, we do this by making the effort to grow in prayer and good works each day. But we also do it by finding things we can do for God.

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Parish Mish-Mash

02-03-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

My column in this week's bulletin is going to consist of a mish-mash of news about things that are happening in our parish. Today (Sunday), is ordinarily the Feast of St. Blaise – a bishop who lived in Armenia and was martyred for his faith. Because a boy – who was choking to death from something caught in his windpipe – was suddenly healed when Bishop Blaise blessed him, Catholics traditionally have their throats blessed on his Feast Day. This blessing of St. Blaise is an act of faith in God's power over illness, and a prayer for protection against illness and evil. Everyone is invited to remain after Mass today to have their throat blessed.

This Sunday is Boy Scout Sunday in our parish. For this reason, some of the Boy and Cub Scouts from our area will attend the 9 AM Mass together. A number of them will be recognized for earning their Catholic Religious Awards – and I want to offer each of them my sincere congratulations.

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Catholic Schools Week

01-27-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

When I was first asked to become a pastor back in 1996, I was very hesitant to do so. I had been a priest for about 9 years and loved being a priest. But I was afraid that becoming a pastor – and taking on all the administrative and managerial tasks that are part of running a parish – would give me less time for more spiritual parts of the priesthood that I enjoyed so very much.

Bishop Edward Hughes, of blessed memory, gave me some very good advice. He told me that the best way to avoid that was to make sure I kept doing the things I loved about being a priest. I knew that he meant what he said, because even when he was our bishop, he used to teach 8th grade religion at the cathedral's parish school.

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The Most Important Issue of Our Time

01-20-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Many people are surprised to learn that my favorite pope of recent times is the retired pope, Pope Benedict XVI. Having said that, let me say unequivocally that I do not think that popes should be the subject of popularity contests! But we all find different people more or less to our liking for any number of reasons.

My personal reasons for finding Pope Benedict so likeable has a lot to do with the many books he authored – especially his series "Jesus of Nazareth" in which he offered an almost line-by-line reflection on the Gospel. My sister, Christine, read one of these books and told me it did a great deal to deepen her faith. I also was deeply affected by the humility Pope Benedict showed when he retired, believing the Church needed a younger and healthier leader at the time.

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Wrapping Up the Christmas Season!

01-13-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

This weekend we finally bring the Christmas Season to a close as we remember the Baptism of Jesus. While many of us remember when Epiphany marked the end of this season, the Church – since Vatican II – has extended her celebration of Christmas to today's Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Ending the Christmas Season with this celebration reminds us that the same Jesus Who was born as a Child in the manger chose to be Baptized and to make Baptism one of His holy sacraments.

Last Saturday evening a whole lot of my family came to the 4:30 Mass at our Church. Afterward they visited with me and the other priests in the rectory. I've told you before that my family enjoys coming to Mass at our Church – and I thank each of you for making them feel welcome. Gathering with my family made me think of how, at our own Baptism, we became part of Christ's family – the Church. This is yet another aspect of today's Feast of the Baptism of our Lord.

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Epiphany

01-06-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

I hope everyone's Christmas was as nice as mine! It was wonderful to see so many people at Mass – especially on Christmas Eve. Celebrating the Solemn Mass at Midnight was the highlight of my Christmas – and I want to thank all those who filled the Church for it! The choir also deserves thanks for leading us in song and lending a great deal of solemnity to that Mass. It was a fitting celebration of our Savior's birth. I also want to make special mention of the Children's Nativity Pageant that preceded the packed Mass at 4 PM on Christmas Eve. They did a great job telling and acting out the story of Jesus' birth! Thanks also to all those grown-ups who worked behind the scenes to make the pageant so nice!

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