Thursday, February 27, 2014

Helping to Build the "House of Charity"

Dear Parishioners,

I once heard it said that God can never be outdone in generosity.  I believe this is so true!  When we give from our substance, and not merely our excess, we are giving a truly sacrificial gift.  God so loved the world that He gave His only Son!  (John 3:16)  There can be no more perfect, sacrificial gift than this.  God showed us what it truly meant to give from substance.      

Within the next few weeks you should receive a letter and brochure from Bishop Sullivan regarding the 2014 House of Charity – Bishop’s Annual Appeal.  The theme this year is Unearthing the TreasureI hope you will take a few minutes to review those materials and the wonderful opportunity that a donation to this vital program will provide.

By your gift to the House of Charity, you show the many who are in great need of pastoral, charitable, educational and social ministry in our Diocese that you treasure them in Jesus’ name.  When you make a sacrificial gift to the House of Charity, you offer the treasure of hope.  You offer the treasure of God’s love.

You should be aware that here in our parish we benefit directly from this appeal.  It is the Diocese of Camden, through its House of Charity appeal, that supplies a full-time hospital chaplain to our local hospital—Shore Medical Center.  Hopefully, you are familiar with the long standing tradition of how our many chaplains have faithfully served the hospital, while also assisting at St. Joseph Church with Masses, confessions, etc.  For this reason, in addition to the many other services that are provided throughout the diocese, it is important that you consider making a donation to this appeal.

Remember too that if we make or exceed our parish goal, a percentage of the money collected comes right back to this parish for local use.

Please know that I am most grateful to you for your continued generosity to our parish, and for your willingness to consider the needs of those less fortunate in our community.  I ask you to pray for me and our community as we seek to live the Gospel and serve each other in Jesus’ name.

As we begin the season of Lent next week with Ash Wednesday (March 5, 2014), may I suggest that you reflect on the sacrificial love that Jesus offered by his passion and death.  His example of complete self-giving should inspire and motivate us to a more perfect love and charity for others.      

May God continue to bless you and your family.


Fr. Ed Namiotka


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Little Sisters of the Poor

Dear Parishioners,

As I write today, I am visiting a classmate from Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland.  The trip was more than social.  Fr. Bob was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bladder cancer and is preparing to undergo treatment.  He is currently living with the Little Sisters of the Poor in their home for the aged just outside of Richmond, Virginia.  Please keep him in your prayers.

This morning I went to pray in the chapel centrally located in the home.  It is such a blessing to begin my day being able to spend quiet time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.  No matter where I have travelled throughout the world, whenever I am with the Blessed Sacrament, I am truly home.

I watched as the sisters came into the chapel at varying times early in the morning to pray.  I was edified to see their love, reverence and devotion for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

Recently, it was this religious order, the Little Sisters of the Poor, who caught national attention by their lawsuit against the US Department of Health and Human Services Mandate (HHS), part of the Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”) requiring the sisters to provide contraceptive, abortion and sterilization services to their employees against their core religious beliefs.  On January 24, 2014 the Supreme Court sided with the sisters and has enjoined the federal government from enforcing the HHS mandate against the sisters, pending their appeal.

This HHS mandate has a direct impact on all religious believers—not just Catholics.  Regarding the mandate, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has written the following:  “. . . With its coercive HHS mandate, the government is refusing to uphold its obligation to respect the rights of religious believers.”  The First Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion without government interference (known as the Free Exercise Clause).  The US bishops have continually stated that the US government has clearly overstepped its bounds by this mandate.

The foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor, St. Jeanne Jugan, so cared for the poor and elderly of her time in France that she was able to establish a religious community respecting the life and dignity of every person, regardless of wealth or age.  To mandate a religious order such as this to provide anti-life procedures (contraception, abortion and sterilization) railing against their core belief (respect for the life and dignity of every human person) should make us all take note and become more vigilant regarding legislation which apparently violates both our US constitution and our religious beliefs as US citizens living in a free society.

I know that the power of prayer can do more than we could ever imagine.  I wonder how many silent prayers of these dedicated sisters have been lifted up to God early each morning on behalf of the sick and dying, the poor and the elderly whom they have chosen to serve?  Isn’t it strange that a lawsuit filed on behalf of these humble sisters resulted in an injunction with the unanimous support of the US Supreme Court?

Thank you sisters for your dedication to the poor, for your sacrificial love for Jesus and for the humble prayers you offer each day.  I pray that many other women be inspired to follow your example and the example set by your foundress and consider joining the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Fr. Ed Namiotka