Pentecost Sunday

05-31-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

On Memorial Day morning, I offered Mass in our chapel – assisted by our seminarian, Joseph – at 6:45 AM. As I read the list of names of those people buried in our parish this past year, I thought of many of you. Each name brought to mind family members and friends who – if it were possible – would have been at Mass praying for them that morning. Know that I included all of you – as well as our departed loved ones – in my Memorial Day Mass.

I was inspired to see the nice turnout for Communion in the Parking Lot last Sunday. It went well enough that we will continue to do this for at least the immediate future. People were reverent and thankful. The looks on so many faces as people received our Blessed Lord for the first time in months spoke volumes about their faith in His Real Presence in Holy Communion.


Happy Memorial Day

05-24-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

I want to begin by wishing a Happy Memorial Day to all. My wishes go especially to all the veterans in our parish. You – and your fallen comrades – are in my prayers today. Thanks for all you have done to protect our freedom.

As a priest, I am acutely aware of how many people around the globe do not have the freedom to practice their faith that we so often take for granted. The freedom to worship according to one’s conscience was one of the primary reasons many of our ancestors first came to this land. On Memorial Day, take some time to pray for those who died defending that freedom.


The Ascension

05-17-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

Believe it or not, this Thursday will mark the fortieth day since Easter. As Catholics, we call that day Ascension Thursday, because it is the day on which Jesus ascended into Heaven. After remaining present among the disciples for forty days in His Risen Body, our Lord ascended to Heaven as they looked on.

Ordinarily, Ascension Thursday is a Holy Day of Obligation. But with the current pandemic, we are dispensed from our obligation to attend Holy Mass that day – as we have been every Sunday for the past couple of months.

Moreover, for this year only, the Bishops of New Jersey have decided to transfer the celebration of Ascension Thursday to next Sunday! This means that those of you who watch next Sunday’s Mass on our website will be seeing the Mass for the Feast of the Ascension. The bishops did this to lessen the need for tech people to come out to help us livestream the Mass on that additional day.


Happy Mother's Day

05-10-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

I want to begin by wishing a very Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, and special women of our parish. Everyone who reads my words in the bulletin knows how much my mother means to me. I’m sure that’s true for all of us. There is a place in our lives that only a mother can fill.

As Catholics, we believe that’s true not only for us as individuals, but as a Church as well. The Acts of the Apostles – the book of the Bible that tells us about the very first days and years of the Church after Jesus ascended to Heaven – makes a point of saying that, when the disciples gathered at prayer, “among them was Mary, the Mother of Jesus” (Acts 1:14). Mary’s presence was important to the Church from the beginning!


Good Things Still Happening

05-03-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

One of the things that is helping me get through this current pandemic is noticing all the good things that are still happening. I thought I would spend some time in this week’s article sharing some of those good things with you.

The first is our parish soup kitchen – which is still operating on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. While we cannot host and feed people in Mercy Hall as we usually do, the Soup Kitchen’s dedicated volunteers have been distributing takeout food in the parking lot. As you can imagine, their efforts are very much appreciated by the local poor who rely on their services.

Catholic Charities – Diocese of Metuchen – also asked us to remind everyone that their local food pantry on South Main Street is still open. You can call ahead (908 – 859 – 5447) to check on hours. You can also make donations at their garage on Spruce Alley (#387).


Month of Mary

04-26-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

Next weekend we enter the month of May, which is traditionally dedicated to our Blessed Mother, Mary. I spoke in this column about praying for Mary’s intercession as helper of the sick. Today I want to remind everyone to honor our Blessed Mother this month by praying her Rosary – daily if possible.

I often tell you that I keep all of you in my daily Rosary – which I do. I find that, as I pray the Rosary, thoughts of people who have asked for my prayers come to mind. For that reason, I have developed the habit of mentioning the many people who have asked my prayers before I begin the decades of the Rosary. During the current pandemic, I have been praying several Rosaries daily. Not only do I find that time spent with our Lord and His Blessed Mother very comforting, it also gives me lots of time to pray for everyone.


Divine Mercy

04-19-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

It’s odd to write to you as I do today, the day after Easter, without having any family gatherings or things of that sort to speak of. My Easter was very different this year – as I suspect yours was, too! I did speak with my mother – and my sisters – over the phone.

After offering Holy Mass Easter morning, I spent some time praying in our Church. It was very quiet, and I couldn’t help thinking of how busy it would be at that time on a ‘normal’ Easter Sunday! Nonetheless, I said my Divine Office (prayers priests promise to pray each day for their parish, the universal church, and the whole world), followed by a couple of rosaries. I held all of you in prayer, especially those dealing with illness or special challenges at this time. I also prayed – as I’m sure you did – for an end to this pandemic!


Blessed and Happy Easter!

04-12-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

I had the pleasure of speaking on the phone with my mom on Palm Sunday afternoon. We spoke – among other things – of how odd it was to celebrate Palm Sunday without visiting. We spoke as well about how different Easter will be this year.

The good news is that it was not a sad conversation – as we all understand that this is simply how it must be right now. I’m sure many of you feel the same way. Being with family and friends is a big part of our Easter celebration. But, if we have to stay home to keep our loved ones safe, it’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make.


A Very Different Holy Week

04-05-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

Anyone who knows me even a little bit, knows that Palm Sunday is one of my favorite days of the year! That being the case, I’m sure you can imagine how sad I am that we have to celebrate this Palm Sunday so differently than usual. The same, of course, is true of Holy Week and Easter. While we will most certainly post the Liturgies on our parish website – where I hope you will prayerfully watch them – it’s just not the same!

Perhaps we can take some comfort and hope from the example of some of our Catholic ancestors who likewise had to maintain their faith without being able to celebrate Mass or receive Holy Communion. One such group was the Catholics of Japan, who were without a priest for nearly 300 years! By the early 1600’s, the Japanese government had either killed or exiled every Catholic priest in the country – hoping to stamp out the Catholic faith.

But the good Catholics of that country maintained – and even passed on – their faith just the same! Parents taught the Gospel, catechism, and prayers to their children. While they could not have Mass or receive Holy Communion, they prayed and received Spiritual Communion by asking Jesus to come at least spiritually into their hearts.


Let's keep praying!

03-29-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

Last weekend was truly the most unusual weekend of my life. It truly broke my heart to offer Mass without all of you there. The weirdest part was how quiet it was around the Church and rectory last Saturday and Sunday! Fr. Wojciech and I both noticed it, and we assure all of you of our continued prayers and good wishes as we combat this dreadful pandemic.

On the bright side, some 863 people watched last Sunday’s Mass on our parish website. We will make sure that Mass is there every Sunday for everyone who wants to watch it. I am especially happy that some of you took the time to call and let me know it was helpful to you to hear and pray along with the Mass from our parish.

While our office must be closed at this time, please know that we are checking our phone messages and email several times a day. Fr. Wojciech and I are available for priestly emergencies such as Last Rites. You need only call 908-454- 0112 and follow the prompts to leave a message for either of us or the secretary. In an emergency, follow the directions to press 1 and it will forward your call to whichever priest is on call that day. We will be happy to do our best for you.


Holy Mary, Health of the Sick, Pray for Us

03-22-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

We are all well aware of the threat posed by the Coronavirus outbreak. In his concern for public health and the well-being of each of us, Bishop Checchio has temporarily suspended the public celebration of Holy Mass in the churches of our diocese. This means that Holy Mass will not be celebrated publicly in our church from Wednesday, March 18th until at least Friday, April 3rd. The Bishop will reconsider the situation, in consultation with public health officials, at that time.

During this time, all scheduled Masses will be celebrated privately by our priests. The intentions for each Mass will be honored and prayed for – as required by Canon Law.


24 Hours for the Lord

03-15-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

I am excited to announce that our parish will host 24 Hours for the Lord. The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed in our Church (rather than the chapel) from 8:30am Friday until 7:30am 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.

Confessions will be heard after the Stations of the Cross, Friday evening from 7:30-9:00pm and at 9am Saturday morning. Stations of the Cross will be prayed in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament at 3pm and 7pm Friday, and the Daily Masses will be offered as usual.


As Lent continues...

03-08-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

I want to start by thanking everyone who came to the Parish Meeting in Mercy Hall last Sunday. It was a pleasure for me to speak about our parish with everyone there. Our parish is blessed to have some very dedicated and supportive people who care deeply about it. They are an inspiration to me.

Remember that we will have fellowship in Mercy Hall following the 9 and 11am Masses next Sunday. It is good to share some time with other parishioners, and to enjoy a cup of coffee and some snacks with them. Such gatherings remind us that, as Catholics, we belong to a family of faith that extends beyond ourselves.


What are you doing for Lent?

03-01-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

Today is the First Sunday of Lent. I personally think of Lent as Catholic Spring Training! Baseball players head to Spring Training around the same time Lent begins, and spend several weeks getting into shape for the coming season.

In the same way, Catholics use Lent as a time to get in ‘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.