I write these words on September 21st, the Feast of Saint Matthew. We all know that St. Matthew was a tax collector when Jesus called him to be an Apostle. But it’s hard for us to understand just how hated Matthew was because of his profession.
People in Jesus’ time didn’t despise tax collectors simply because they collected taxes. They knew back then as we do today, that taxes are part of life.
Reasonable people, then as now, tolerated reasonable taxation to pay for things like roads and government.
What made Matthew and the other tax collectors in Israel so hated was that the government for which they collected taxes was a foreign one. The Roman Empire had occupied and oppressed Israel for many years. Thus the money Matthew collected from his own people paid foreign soldiers who kept them in line.READ MORE
It’s good to see that some things are getting back up and running in our parish. I have taught a few classes at school, and it’s really great to see the students, both in class and online. Of course, just like at Church, all kinds of precautions are taken for safety, which is simply what has to be done at this time!
By this point, public school children in our parish should be registered for CCD. As you have read here, we are offering a completely online at home option for CCD this year. The other option is to pick up your child’s CCD books to work on at home. Mrs. Scott, our faithful Director of Religious Education, will be happy to assist you and answer any questions you may have. You can reach her through the Parish Office at 908-454-0112.READ MORE
I want to begin by congratulating all the children who will be receiving their First Holy Communion in our Church over the next couple of weeks. Some of them received this past Saturday and some will receive on an upcoming Saturday morning. Still others will receive at one of the regular Sunday Masses this or next weekend.
They are all part of ‘last years’ First Communion class. Like so much else, their preparation for this Most Blessed Sacrament was interrupted by the virus. I am so happy that most of them will finally have the joy of receiving Jesus in Holy Communion for the first time.
I am also happy to announce that Deacon Enock will be restarting the Prayer Group meetings on Wednesday evenings at 7 PM. They will meet in the Church for prayer and praise – being sure to observe all the necessary protocols (masks, distancing, etc.). Deacon Enock will preach a reflection each week on the readings for the upcoming Sunday – to help people prepare prayerfully for next Sunday’s Mass.READ MORE
I want to start by wishing a Happy Labor Day to all the working people of our parish. Much more than just a holiday marking the unofficial end of summer, Labor Day is a time for all of us to reflect on the meaning of human labor. While we often think of work in negative terms-as something we have to do to make a living, the truth is that there is more than that to work.
As Catholics we believe that human work is a way in which God allows us to participate in His work of creation. This is especially apparent in the case of those whose work produces useful things, such as farmers who grow food and those who provide us with clean water-to name just a few. But it is no less true for those whose work helps other people in less obvious ways.READ MORE
I am happy to report that, as we announced at the Masses last weekend, Bishop Checchio has assigned a newly ordained priest to our parish. His name is Fr. Gilbert Starcher, and his home parish is St. Ann’s in Hampton, New Jersey. He will begin his assignment at St. Philip and St. James on September 1st .
I was privileged to attend the Mass at which Fr. Gilbert was ordained last Saturday. It was a beautiful and uplifting Liturgy, held at the outdoor Blue Army Shrine in nearby Washington, NJ. I have always found that attending an ordination somehow rejuvenates my own priesthood–and this was no exception.
After the ordination, I was able to speak to our new priest for a few minutes. His joy and enthusiasm were palpable– which was wonderful to see. He told me he is very happy to be coming to our parish, and I assured him we will be happy to have him!READ MORE
This weekend we bid a fond farewell to our good friend Fr. Wojciech. He has been such a blessing to our parish since he arrived here last year. I will especially miss his help with so many things, and the fraternity we enjoyed in the rectory.
Please keep Fr. Wojciech in your prayers as he moves to his new assignment. I know he will be a source of many blessings to the people there as he has been for us. Let’s also pray that he continues along the road to incardination in our diocese, and to serving permanently among the priests of the Metuchen Diocese.
That fraternity of priests is being enriched this weekend with the ordination of new priests. Two of them spent time in our parish as seminarians–and I am so happy for them. Indeed, I am happy to have all of them as brother priests, and will pray daily that God grant them a long and blessed priestly ministry.READ MORE
This coming Saturday, our Bishop will ordain several young men to the priesthood. Two of them, Deacon Thomas Lanza and Deacon David Keyes, spent a summer in our parish as seminarians. I am happy to see them reach priestly ordination, and look forward to attending the ordination. Please keep them in your prayers.
Speaking of seminarians, I want to thank Joseph Ho for all he did in our parish this past summer. He arrived in our parish in the midst of the pandemic, and immediately went to work. Most of the things I ask seminarians to do, like helping at Vacation Bible School, was not possible this year, but that didn’t stop Joseph at all. He helped serve all our Masses, distribute Holy Communion (even in the parking lot before public Mass restarted) and was a big help in cleaning and sanitizing our Church. Joseph’s willingness to serve in many different ways will help him be a great priest!READ MORE
In a year when it seems we have done just about everything differently than usual – for good reason–it makes sense that we had to do the Mission Co–op Appeal differently, too. As our priests mentioned at Mass last weekend, our scheduled missionary–Fr. John Tigatiga– could not be with us. He and I spoke early last week and decided it would be best if he did not travel to our parish at this time. I did invite him to come and visit us at some later date when things get back to normal.
That said, I want to thank everyone who supported this year’s Mission Co–op Appeal. Many of you sent in envelopes ahead of time or gave online–and many others took advantage of the boxes in the Church last Sunday. Thanks–one and all–for your usual generous support of the missions. The overall amount collected will be posted and updated elsewhere in the bulletin.READ MORE
Can you believe it’s already August? It’s been such an unusual summer. I don’t know about you, but for me it’s been such an unusual summer that–in so many ways–it seems like it wasn’t summer at all! I expect that’s true for many of you, too!
And now, with the arrival of August we get the news that our wonderful parochial vicar (associate pastor), Fr. Wojciech Kusek, is being transferred on September 1st . As I explained at Mass this weekend, while this is sad for us, it is part of the necessary process that has to happen for Fr. Wojciech to realize his dream of being incardinated into our diocese.
Incardination is the name the Church gives to the process by which a priest changes from one religious order or diocese to another. Fr. Wojciech, following what he believes to be God’s call for him, has asked to be incardinated from the Redemptorist Fathers to our own Diocese of Metuchen. For that to happen, he must first spend time in a couple of our parishes. This allows the diocese to get to know him better, and for him to earn the recommendation of several pastors in our diocese.READ MORE
Last week I told that our parish would participate in the Annual Mission Co–op Appeal the weekend of August 1–2 (next weekend). Today I want to share a story about how I learned about the missions when I was just a boy.
My first memory of missionaries is of a man I never met, but with whom my father corresponded for many years. His name was Fr. Michael Reen and he was a missionary serving in Kenya. If memory serves me well, he was a priest from the New York area serving in the missions. When my dad was in the seventh grade, his religion teacher–a Dominican Sister –had him write a letter to a missionary as an assignment. When Fr. Reen answered the letter, my future dad wrote back. Thus, began a correspondence that lasted for many years.READ MORE
I am happy to announce that our parish will participate in the annual Mission Co–op Appeal the weekend of August 1–2. Fr. John Tigatiga, SDS will visit our parish and preach at all of our Masses that weekend. He is a Salvatorian Father.
The Salvatorian Fathers were founded by Fr. Francis Jordan in the late 1800’s. He was a German priest who was concerned about the effects of the Kulturkampf that was occurring in Germany at that time. The Kulturkampf – as some of you history buffs out there may know – was an attempt by the German chancellor at the time, Bismark, to secularize Germany. This led to harsh restrictions being placed on Churches and their ministries and pastoral activities.READ MORE
Last Thursday I had the pleasure of seeing my mother and having brunch with her. We were at my sister and brother in law’s home, where my niece was visiting. It was only the second time I saw my mom since the ‘stay at home’ orders were issued due to the coronavirus.
It was nice to see some family – even if it was just a couple of us. I’m sure many of you are having similar experiences as things begin getting back to normal, however slowly.
As we get back to normal at Church, I want to take a moment to really thank those who have been helping make this happen. The ushers who are helping people find their reserved seats and those who clean up after each Mass are offering our parish a truly indispensable service at this time. So are all of you who call ahead to reserve a spot at Mass. I know this is a nuisance for some of you, but it’s helping us ensure everyone’s safety. For this, I thank you!READ MORE
I wrote these words this past Monday-which was the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. As I wrote I could not help thinking of how these two great apostles are great examples for you and me. Although they lived long ago both St. Peter and St. Paul have a lot to teach us about following Jesus today.
Jesus gave both St. Peter and St. Paul a great mission in this world. As Catholics we believe that St. Peter was the first pope. Although Peter would not have used that term, the fact that Jesus made him the leader of the Church on earth is obvious from even a casual reading of the New Testament.
Peter is mentioned 191 times in the Bible-more than three times as much as any other apostle. After Jesus ascended to Heaven, Peter took the lead in many different ways. He proposed and led the process of picking a new apostle to replace Judas Iscariot, he preached the homily after the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost explaining why the crowd heard all of the apostles in their own languages. In the first disputes that arose in the early Church, Peter took the lead gathering the others, leading the discussion, and speaking for the Church once a decision was made.READ MORE