Friday, July 3, 2020

Time to Say Goodbye . . . Again.


Dear Parishioners,
Unfortunately, I have come to the end of my time at Holy Angels Parish.

One of the most difficult times for me as a priest is when I have to say goodbye to people that I love. Maybe they move away.  Perhaps I am being transferred to a new rectory or assignment.  Then there are those times when death strikes—undoubtedly the hardest goodbye of them all.   I admit that I am not good with these circumstances.  I would rather avoid the situation and just move on.  Maybe it will cause less pain.
Sadly, I have been at Holy Angels only three years.  This has been a great assignment because of the wonderful people!  I hope that I have been able to contribute just a little to making the parish a bit better.  I especially hope and pray that the presence of Jesus Christ was more apparent by something that I have tried to say or do.
Have I been able to accomplish everything that I wanted to do?  Unfortunately, the answer is no.  Many plans were left undone.  Any unfinished business will have to be left to the next pastor.  Sorry for that.  Priests are all too human.  We struggle.  We fail.  We hurt.  Unfortunately, we sin as well.  I have realized both my fragile humanity and my mortality over the past few years.
Looking back, many things have happened in three years.  First, there was my myocardial infarction (heart attack) after only being here for three months.  About six months of rehabilitation followed.  Meanwhile, Holy Angels School was opened at its new location.  Sadly, the sale of the former Most Holy Redeemer campus occurred subsequently.  Then came the purchase and renovation of our new office building at 81 Cooper Street.  I still chuckle that I was not even able to use my new office even once after not having an office in the rectory for the past three years.  Oh well.  Then the coronavirus and quarantine came . . . .  It has been some roller-coaster ride!
Now I am off to be Pastor of St. Thomas More Parish, Cherry Hill, NJ.  I will begin this new assignment next week.  Fr. Joseph Byerley, a former Parochial Vicar, will return to Holy Angels as the new Pastor, effective July 15, 2020.  I know that you will show him your love, support and encouragement.   

I plan to continue writing.  I have posted my past parish bulletin articles online for almost a decade. The blog is entitled A Pastor's Thoughts (www.fr-ed-namiotka.com).  If my thoughts and writings were interesting, helpful or amusing to you, I invite you to check out my blog.
Otherwise, this is goodbye to all of you.  I thank God if I have helped you in any way.  I ask His and your forgiveness if I have hurt you or caused pain or sorrow in your life in any way.
I ask you once again for your prayers.  Just a little remembrance, every once in a while?  Please.  I will continue to remember all of you in this parish in my prayers and at the altar during Mass.

I was told many years ago that when a priest leaves a parish, 20% of the people will swear by him, 20% will swear at him, and for 60% it won’t make much of a difference at all.
I hope this isn’t really true.
In Jesus and His Mother Mary,
Fr. Ed Namiotka
(Soon to be former) Pastor


Fr. Joseph Byerley

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Patriotism




Dear Parishioners,

Recently on June 14th, Flag Day, I participated in two virtual ceremonies for the Knights of Columbus.  Over 300 men made their 4th Degree Exemplification online due to the COVID-19 restrictions on crowds and gatherings. The 4th Degree concerns Patriotism and it reminded me and all of the men making their degree of our Catholic, American heritage.  Patriotism is the principle of the 4th Degree as Charity, Unity and Fraternity are the core principles of the other three degrees.  I encourage the men of our parish to investigate and consider joining the Knights of Columbus, if you are not already a member.

It is sad and it angers me to see certain crowds throughout our nation defacing or attempting to destroy some of our civil and religious monuments and statues.  I am proud to be an American and I think that we should be grateful to live in this country.  Yes, our country is imperfect—it is not heaven nor will it ever be so—but some evil elements are trying to hijack and undermine some valid concerns and turn them into anarchy and lawlessness.  There is a deliberate attempt to cause civil unrest and foment hatred of our police.  Peacefully protest and be civilly disobedient, if and when necessary.  People pray the rosary and participate in sidewalk counseling in front of abortion clinics.  However, anarchy, looting, rioting, the destruction of property and other forms of lawlessness are not the solution to any kind of racism or injustice and should never be accepted or tolerated.

During the Olympics I am proud to hear our National anthem played as I see our dedicated athletes awarded their medals.  Having been born in and living so close to Philadelphia, I treasure the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the many other reminders of the founding of our country.  I look forward to the fireworks and various celebrations on the 4th of July.
 
Our nation, like every person who may ever live in it, is flawed.  Unjust laws and decisions unfortunately exist (e.g. Roe v. Wade) and we should peacefully work to change them.  We should strive for equal justice under the law.  Yet, what I have seen happening recently in certain parts of our country is neither productive nor divinely inspired.  There is an underlying evil source causing chaos, which I can clearly see is not from God.

Our nation has been a continual force for good throughout the world.  Foreign peoples long to live here.  Judeo-Christian principles have guided the rule of law throughout its existence.  Although our past has some undesirable elements, we should learn from them and try to improve upon them and correct them.  We should not attempt to destroy our history and try to pretend that it was something other than what it was.  We should not attempt foolishly to eliminate the rule of law or abolish the police.  The result will be an absolute disaster, as we can see playing out in the streets of some of our cities.

I pray you can celebrate this 4th of July peacefully with family and friends.  I know there are still warnings about social-distancing and restrictions around the gathering of crowds.  However, be proud to be a Catholic and be proud to be an American.

I certainly am!

Vivat Jesus! God bless America!

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Friday, June 26, 2020

On the Road Again



Dear Parishioners,

I think that you are probably wondering why I am being transferred after only three years as pastor at Holy Angels Parish.   Let me fill you in with the details.

Approximately three weeks ago, Bishop Sullivan requested me to come and meet with him at his residence.  When I talked with him, he asked me to become pastor at St. Thomas More Church in Cherry Hill, NJ.  Needless to say, I was shocked.  I had not requested a change or put in for a transfer.  I was in the midst of a number of projects, including the move to a new parish office building across the street from St. Patrick Church and the rectory.

I asked Bishop Sullivan if I could pray about the situation he had proposed and I would then present any objections that I could think of for his consideration.  This I did.  He then asked if he could take my objections and concerns to prayer himself.  When we met again, he still requested that I make the move. 

One of the bishop’s major concerns was my health and well-being.  He knew that I had a heart attack a few months after arriving here.  Moreover, there is considerable responsibility (and stress) attached to this parish, including three worship locations and eight Masses each weekend, the operation of a school, numerous facilities for the elderly, etc.  He said the assignment I would be going to would reduce the stress in my life.  He thought that it was in my best interest to go.

That night, I went before the Blessed Sacrament telling the Lord that I wanted to do whatever He wants.  Obviously, I was going to be changed and if He did not want this to happen, then He would have to do something to prevent it from happening.

Initially, I was upset by the sudden change.  Again, I did not ask for it nor did I expect it.  However, I am at peace knowing that I took it to prayer and told the Lord that I would do whatever He wanted.
 
You have heard me preach about the brevity of our lives here on this earth.  While I genuinely love and grow fond of the people whom I am asked to be a pastor over, I know that nothing lasts forever in this world.  Change comes to us all at one time or another.  I am simply grateful for the time (albeit brief) that I have been given at Holy Angels Parish.

For the next few weeks, I will try to absorb and reflect on the many blessings I have received while I was here.  Hopefully, I contributed a little to your spiritual growth and well-being.  I know my experience here has had a profound impact on my life as a priest.  I am most grateful to God and to you for my time here.

May we continue to pray for each other and support one another.
 
Fr. Ed Namiotka

Pastor  (for a few more weeks!)

St. Thomas More

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Thy Will Be Done


Dear Parishioners,

If we pray regularly, we probably recite the words thy will be done quite a few times daily.  It is one of the central petitions of the Our Father.

Do you ever stop to think about this prayer-petition?  Do we really think that God’s will is not going to be accomplished in the end?  I don’t think so.  After all, God is, well, God.  At God’s command absolutely anything can be achieved before we could even grasp what was happening. 

Do we think that God Almighty actually needs us, needs me, so that He could be more all-powerful, more all-knowing, more all-loving, more all-just, more all-whatever?  On the contrary, God would be quite self-sufficient without any of us.  God created ex nihilo—out of nothing.  There was a time when nothing else but God existed.   So, obviously, God could get along quite well without us.

The fact of the matter is that God created out of love.  He brought into existence that which previously did not exist—the entire universe, our world and us.  His greatest achievement was the creation of the human person, made in His image and likeness.  We were given intelligence and free-will like God.  Amazingly, God chose to become one of us as evidenced by the Incarnation of Jesus.

So, when we pray that God’s will be done, we must realize with ultimate humility that in the end we are not in charge.  God will always be in charge.  Always.  His Will is going to be done with or without us.  And we, as humans, must conform to His Will, not the other way around.  God is creator and we are creatures. Period.  End of story.

What is so mind-boggling is that God has invited each of us into a personal relationship with Himself.  We can either accept the invitation or reject it.  We can believe or not.  We can cooperate with His plan or foolishly think that we can do whatever we want without consequences.  The choice will always be ours because God willed it so.

With this in mind, my personal prayer consists of a variation of this petition.  When I come before the Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament I simply prayI want what You want.  I sit and give my time over to the Lord.  I submit my will to His.  I realize my place before Almighty God.

Perhaps each of us could ask ourselves a few questions to evaluate where we are before God:  Does God really have control of me and my life?  Do I love Him with all my heart, mind, soul and strength?  Do I desire to do His Will?  Do I foolishly think that I am in charge?

In the 1960’s Paul Anka wrote the lyrics to a song popularized by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and various others entitled My Way.  I beg to differ with them with a rebuttal composition of my own: 

The Final Exam
“And now the end is near,
And so I face the final curtain”—
But after all life’s tests I’ve had,
Of little or nothing I’m certain!
Yet still, dear Lord, I ask your help
To guide me day to day—
And may the priv'lege be always mine
To say I did it Your Way.
© 1981 Edward F. Namiotka 


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

What You Need to Know (When Returning to Mass)




Dear Parishioners,

The time has finally arrived. You can return to public Mass.  Alleluia!  Alleluia!

However, there are certain parameters that we will guide you through as our two churches and worship center are reopened.

First, prepare yourselves for coming to church.  Before you leave home be attentive to proper hygiene (wash your hands, brush your teeth and gargle, etc.), use the bathrooms at home (since the ones at church will be for emergency use only) and bring a mask.

Enter through the designated door since we need to keep a count.  Look for an usher to greet you to be sure that people are properly spaced in the pews (social distancing).

People are asked not to socialize before or after Mass.  When you arrive please remain in your seats.  After Mass, please do not socialize by the church doors or in the parking lot.

Some changes to the Mass will be made.  There are no hymnals in the pews, no holy water in the fonts, bulletins will be distributed only upon leaving, there will be no offertory procession, no sign of peace, no altar servers, an absolute minimal use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (as the Precious Blood will no longer be distributed), the cry-room will be unavailable, and Holy Communion will be distributed, for the time being, at the very end of Mass.

Please follow the directions given at each Mass for the distribution of Holy Communion.  These will vary slightly by location.

Remember that we offer multiple opportunities to attend Mass each week.  There are eight (8) regularly scheduled Masses each weekend at three (3) locations.  Some Masses have traditionally had fewer numbers.  You might think about attending one of them if you are leery about larger crowds.

If you are sick, please stay home.  Think about the health and well-being of your fellow parishioners.  A live-stream Mass on Facebook will still take place at 10 AM for those who are homebound. The dispensation for the faithful from the obligation to participate in Mass on Sundays and Holy Days remains in effect.

For the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (confession), please wear a mask and keep the proper social distance regulations (6 feet apart) when waiting in line.

The complete list of regulations is found on the Diocese of Camden Website.  Please realize we might have to make some additional adaptations once we observe how many people initially return to Mass.

Welcome back!  I have missed you!

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Holy Angels Catholic School Graduation Homily (June 9, 2020)