Sharing Our Faith In Jesus

07-10-2022From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

I hope you all enjoyed a great Fourth of July. I can’t tell you about mine, since I had to write this article before it happened! That happens when holidays fall in such a way that affects the Bulletin Company’s schedule.

That being the case, I want to use this week’s column to speak about something very important. The recent visit of the missionary priest who spoke at most of our Masses a few weeks ago made me think about the importance of sharing our faith in Jesus with the children of our parish. Our parish offers several ways to help families do this.

First and foremost is our parish school. In their daily Religion class, students in Saints Philip and James School not only learn about their faith, but also prepare for their First Holy Communion and Confirmation. Concerning Confirmation, one of my greatest pleasures in my 13 years in this parish has been teaching our 8th graders once a week to prepare them for that Sacrament.

In addition to studying their religion, our school students experience many aspects of our Faith. They participate in both school wide and class Masses throughout the year and have adoration of the Blessed Sacrament monthly. Monthly Confession, weekly Stations of the Cross during Lent, and regular Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament all help the students not only learn about, but truly practice their faith.

Our parish also offers two different CCD programs for students who attend public school. Traditional CCD is offered every Tuesday from 4 – 5 PM at our school from late September until early May. In addition to their weekly class, these students go to Confession in Advent and Lent. For the past several years, Deacon Rob and I have taught the 8th grade CCD Confirmation classes – something I have enjoyed very much.

Because not everyone can make it on Tuesdays at 4, we also offer an On-Line CCD Program that can be done at home. We first offered this during the pandemic, and it was quite popular at the time. With that largely behind us, most people seem to prefer the Traditional Tuesday Classes once more. But we still offer the on-line option for those who really need it.

Children in all these programs are prepared for First Communion and Confirmation. Indeed, any parish children who attend public school must attend one of our CCD programs in order to receive these sacraments in our parish. Making sure that your children (or grandchildren) attend CCD (or Catholic School) is one of the most important ways that we can share our Faith with them.

Please feel free to call the parish office (908–454–0112) if you have any questions about Religious Education in our parish. They will be happy to help you get your children involved!

I want to wrap up my remarks about CCD and Religious Education with a very special thank you to Mrs. Jo Ann Scott, who has led the CCD Program in our parish for many, many years. Mrs. Scott also led the Vacation Bible School for many years – writing most of the material herself. Watching the puppet shows she authored, and watching the young children enjoy and learn from those wonderful shows, will always be a great memory for me.

Mrs. Scott is one of the people who really made me feel welcome when I arrived at St. Philip and St. James years ago. She was always friendly and reassuring, and was happy to try to implement anything I asked her to include in our religious education programs. Her wealth of experience, gained over so many years of teaching our faith, was a resource upon which I was happy to draw.

Perhaps my favorite memory of Mrs. Scott was seeing her beaming the day that Fr. Matt Marinelli – a ‘graduate’ of her CCD program – was ordained to the priesthood a few years ago.

If you know Mrs. Scott, and most of you do, please take a moment to thank her for all she has done for the children of our parish and community. While she will continue to be involved with our program, the day–to-day leadership of the CCD Program will be taken on by Escarlen Duran. Escarlen has been our parish Confirmation Coordinator the past few years. She has worked closely with Mrs. Scott to learn what it takes to share our faith in Jesus with our children.

Please say a Hail Mary for me today, and every day. You are always in my daily prayers.

Have a great week!

Fr. John