The Christian Roots of Halloween

10-28-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

I read a few years ago that – much to my surprise – Halloween has become the second largest commercial holiday in our society. In other words, people spend more on Halloween than they do on any day other than Christmas! Driving around town and seeing all the ghosts and other decorations, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Halloween today is a far cry from the days when kids of my generation dressed up like baseball players and clowns!

What many people do not know is that Halloween has its roots in our Christian history. As you know, All Saints Day is November 1. At certain times in history, it was customary for Christians to "dress up" as their patron or favorite saints on the eve of All Saints Day – called All Hallows (saints) Eve. From this came the custom of dressing up for Halloween.


It is a Good and Holy Thing to Pray for the Dead

10-21-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

I had a nice time at last Sunday's Roast Beef Dinner at our parish school. The Knights, Columbiettes, and all their helpers are to be commended for a job well done. I had both lunch and dinner there – and enjoyed both meals! Even better was the time spent with so many good people that day.

As I was looking ahead in my envelope packet, I noticed that it's time to complete our All Souls Envelopes. That being the case, I thought it would be a good idea to spend some time explaining why we do that.

St. Monica was a woman of great faith who lived in the 300's. During her final illness, her sons asked if she wanted them to send her body back to her native land for burial. Her answer to them was classic: "Bury this old body anywhere. Don't trouble yourself over it. I simply ask you to remember me at the Lord's Altar wherever you are."


Matrimony: A Sign of God's Love

10-14-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

I had a great time at my seminary reunion a couple of weeks ago. Not only was it nice to see old friends, it was even nicer to be at the place where my priestly vocation matured in so many ways. I made a point of praying for all of you both at the Tomb of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and the National Grotto of Lourdes (a beautiful place of prayer on the mountain behind the seminary). To those of you who gave me special intentions – please know that I made a point of reading each one and mentioning it in my prayers.


St. Francis and Respect for Every Human Person

10-07-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

The Blessing of Animals in honor of St. Francis of Assisi will take place today (Sunday) at 12:15 PM. Everyone is welcome to bring their pets (or other animals) to the parking lot next to Mercy Hall for the blessing. As Catholics, we ask God's blessing upon our animals as a way of thanking Him for them, acknowledging the special role they play in creation, and asking Him to protect them. I always enjoy seeing people and their pets at this brief ceremony.


Blessing of Animals

09-30-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

This Tuesday morning, October 2, I will head to the seminary for my annual reunion. In addition to reconnecting with many brother priests with whom I studied years ago, I will also concelebrate a number of Holy Masses. I will keep all of you in prayer during each of them.

I will also visit the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who is buried in Emmitsburg, MD – the same town in which my seminary is located. As usual, I will be happy to pray for your intentions while there. If you wish, you can write down your intentions on a piece of paper and give it to me by Monday afternoon or first thing Tuesday morning. I always bring these papers to Mother Seton's tomb and mention each one of them in my prayers there.


The Campaign Continues!

09-23-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

I want to begin by thanking all the 8th graders (and their parents) who attended one of the Confirmation meetings last week. It looks like we will have a wonderful group of young men and women preparing to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit in that sacrament this year. Please keep them in your daily prayers!

If you are an 8th grader (Public or Catholic School or Home School) and did not attend one of the meetings, please call me or Mrs. DePillo (our Confirmation Coordinator) as soon as possible so we can help you get started! High school students who – for whatever reason – have not yet been Confirmed should also call. We will be happy to help you take this important step in your relationship with Jesus!


Our Personal Pentecost

09-16-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

It was nice to see so many people at the Communion Breakfast last Sunday morning. While the weather was lousy, a good number of people showed up for breakfast and fellowship. The Knights of Columbus – who did most of the cooking and donated the food – the Columbiettes, and the Legion of Mary all deserve thanks for their efforts.

Although I've been here for almost 10 years, I still meet new families at events like the Communion Breakfast. Sometimes they are new to our parish. Sometimes they are familiar faces that I see all the time, but never had a chance to speak with personally. Getting better acquainted with more and more of the wonderful people in our parish is one of my favorite parts of such events.


A Busy Time of Year

09-09-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

I hope everyone had a good Labor Day weekend and is ready to get back into the swing of things! Our parish – which is always busy in some way or another – really seems to get busy this time of year. The beginning of school and CCD is a big reason for this, but there is much more happening.

This Sunday morning is our annual Parish Communion Breakfast, following the 9 AM Mass. If you are reading this before then and would like to attend, you are most welcome to do so. The Knights of Columbus always have enough food to go around – and then some! More than that, it will be good to see you there.


Do You Also Want to Leave?

09-02-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

It's nice to be back from my vacation, on which I had a very nice time. As you can imagine, I watched a lot of trains, took some great pictures, and listened to some good books in the car. One, called The Yanks Are Coming, was about American involvement in World War I. The other was about Attila the Hun. (What can I tell you – I like history!)

I also had the pleasure of attending three Appalachian League baseball games. Being a Rookie League, the teams in the Appalachian League are populated by very young ball players. Indeed, there were several players as young as 17 on the field – and the oldest player I saw was 21. They had an energy and enthusiasm that was truly tangible.


Communion Breakfast & Other Great Things!

08-26-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Whenever I have to write a column before I leave for vacation, I have to think about what to write. Last week I addressed Pope Francis' recent statements about the Death Penalty. This week I'm going to talk about some upcoming Parish Events – because by the time I get home, many of them will be just around the corner!

On Sunday, September 9, our Parish will have a special Communion Breakfast to honor our Blessed Mother's Birthday. For those who may not know, Communion Breakfasts are an old Catholic tradition. The idea is to go to Mass, receive Holy Communion, and then gather for a special breakfast together.


Catholics and the Death Penalty

08-19-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

As you read these words, I am on my annual vacation. Last week I told you that I would use this column to address the recent news that Pope Francis had "changed" Catholic teaching on the death penalty. It is best that I begin by reminding people that not even a pope is free to change the unchanging Doctrines of the Catholic Church. Doctrines are those central Truths of the Faith that have been given to us by Christ–either in person while He was on this earth or through constant, unbroken teaching of His Church.


The Assumption

08-12-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Last Sunday I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Eagle Scout Court of Honor for Mitchell Frasca. Mitchell is the Boy Scout who recently renovated our Confessionals and Crying Rooms. I was very happy that he agreed to take on the project – and even happier at the thorough job he did.

Not only do I want to congratulate Mitchell on becoming an Eagle Scout, but also thank him for a job well done. I also want to say what a nice time I had catching up with a number of young men who have graduated from our parish school or Boy Scout Troop over the years. It is good to see them doing so well.

Following Mitchell’s ceremony, I was happy to attend a picnic/party given by one of our basketball teams. The team – mostly boys headed into sixth grade – have played in a summer league the past two years. They had a good time and improved their skills – and I was happy to be invited to their party.

Both the Eagle Scout ceremony and the basketball team’s party are a testimony to the many good families that are such a blessing to our parish. I have recently been training some new Altar Servers – who also learned so much about our Faith from their families. As Catholics, we believe that families are the basic building blocks of the Church – the place where most of us first learn and practice our Faith in Jesus Christ. I am always inspired by the number of families in our parish who take that role to heart!


Let's Be Missionaries!

08-05-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

We all know that, before ascending to Heaven, Our Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples to spread the Gospel to all people. Strengthened by the Holy Spirit, those disciples made a great start at this mission. Within a generation after Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension, the Gospel had been preached in most of the Roman Empire, and many people had been converted to Christ.

Today, our Church continues the mission that the apostles began in many ways. One of them is the annual Mission Co-op Plan. As part of this plan, every parish in our country – and in many others, too – is visited by a missionary who preaches about the missions at Sunday Mass. A collection is then taken to support the work of that missionary and his or her community.

Next weekend our parish will welcome a priest from the Diocese of Kohima. Located in the state of Nagaland in Northeast India, Kohima is a beehive of missionary activity. Fifty years ago, there were but a few hundred Catholics there. Today, there is over 60,000 – and the number is growing rapidly. The family of Fr. Mhoncan Ezung – who served as a deacon in our parish a few years ago – came to the Catholic Faith thru the efforts of the
missionaries in Nagaland. He is living proof of the great work that is happening there.

As always, I encourage everyone who can to support the missionary work of the Church. Not all of us can go to the missions, but all of us can support them through our prayers and, in many cases, financial offerings. In doing so, we continue that great mission that Jesus gave to us through His first disciples.