Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Married? How’s your Relationship?

Dear Parishioners,

When I was newly ordained, a couple from my parish asked me to go on a Marriage Encounter Weekend.  As you might expect, my first reaction was somewhat puzzled.  I am obviously not married.  What would be the benefit of me attending such a weekend?

Over a quarter of a century later, I can honestly say that this experience (and its aftermath) had one of the most profound and lasting effects on me as a person and on my priestly ministry.  This is probably not something that I would have chosen to do myself.  It would certainly not even be on my “radar screen.”  Yet, what happened as a result can only be described as life-changing.  And it was thanks to a couple who simply invited me to try such an experience.

For approximately twenty-seven years, I have been presenting the Marriage Encounter Weekend usually twice a year.  Together with a team of three couples, we present a series of talks to couples (and sometimes to priests and religious) with the goal of making good marriages better.  The Marriage Encounter Weekend is not primarily designed for troubled marriages.  It is meant to open up the lines of communication between husband and wife in what is essentially a private experience between the husband and wife.

What it did for me personally was help me understand married couples (and their families) better, help me open up lines of communication, help me better understand my relationship to the Church—the Body of Christ--and also to understand my feelingsFeelings, in particular, are not something most men know how to deal with or choose to deal with at all

Ladies, have you ever felt that your husband sometimes doesn’t seem to understand you?  Guys, are your wives sometimes still a mystery to you in many ways?  Do you both ever wonder if there is more to life than what you are currently experiencing?  Then maybe it’s time to try a Marriage Encounter Weekend.  You can be newly-married or married for fifty years.  It does not matter.  The weekend can help to make any marriage better.

If you are married and desire more for your marriage, I invite you to consider attending such a weekend.  The next two weekends that I am scheduled to present are October 17, 18 and 19, 2014 and December 5, 6 and 7, 2014 (beginning on Friday evening) at the Golden Inn Hotel and Resort in Avalon.  For further information, you can check out the South Jersey Worldwide Marriage Encounter website (http://wwme-southjersey.org) or call (609) 742-4035.

Many people are afraid of the unknown, afraid of change or may not want to “rock the boat.”  I invite you, and ask you to suggest to your spouse the possibility of attending a Marriage Encounter Weekend

I can only tell you from experience that it indeed has life-changing possibilities!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Monday, September 8, 2014

Why a "Second Collection" Each Week?

Dear Parishioners,

The question has been raised to me at various times asking why our parish has a weekly second collection.  Let me take a few moments to explain.

Some collections are simply beyond our control.  They are mandated by the diocese for special causes.  These include the collections for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, the Catholic Communication Collection, the Retired Religious Special Collection, the Pro-Life Collection, and the Catholic University of America Collection, to name a few.

Then there are times when an unexpected and unplanned need arises and the Bishop asks for our assistance.  The collection to help the Brothers of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God with the Ebola virus outbreak in Africa, or the collection to help the victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines last year (2013) are such examples.

At other times we work with missionaries who make an appeal on behalf of their religious order or their diocese.  Fr. Wilson Paulose recently spoke to our parish on behalf of the people of India and the Diocese of Berhampur in which he works.  The second collection that week went to the missions in India.
Locally, we have used the money from this second collection to help with necessary maintenance, repairs and improvements to our grounds and buildings above and beyond what our budget would normally allow.  Have you noticed how recently five ceiling fans have been added to the nave of the church (which circulate the air in the warmer months but, more importantly, will keep the heat down—because heat rises—in the cold months).  Have you noticed that the interior church walls have been repaired and painted, and that the front church doors and exterior pillars are currently being repaired and painted?

What are some of our future needs (for which we could earmark some of our second collections)You probably realize that the cornerstone of the church building reads 1956 and I suspect that some of the repairs that we anticipate are a result of the age of this building (nearly 60 years old).
Our sound system is old and on its last leg.  While it is currently working, you might notice a black cord that runs discreetly across the sanctuary because the altar microphone died earlier this year.  Our body mic (which the deacon and priests sometimes wear) and handheld mics all need to be replaced.  The amplifier in the sacristy is old (and, incidentally, I am told is borrowed from the man who repairs it).  These repairs/replacements will necessitate a few thousand dollars to do properly.

Next, the heating and air-conditioning chillers (the green, rectangular boxes under the windows) are in need of cleaning and refurbishing.  Needless to say, they are far from energy efficient.  The estimated cost of doing all of these is in the tens of thousands of dollars.

We help subsidize St. Joseph Regional School.  In fact, every parish in the diocese, whether they have a school or not, is required to subsidize some regional Catholic elementary school.  Wouldn’t a special second collection to help with our parish subsidy seem appropriate?  Our current subsidy is about forty-four thousand dollars per year.

Then there is always the unforeseen.  Our current parish savings is approximately forty thousand dollars.  One unforeseen, major repair could wipe that out instantly!

Quite frankly, I wish I never had to take up a second collection.  I wish everyone would electronically tithe each week and we could eliminate most second collections.  (Electronic giving would help us to plan better and to be more assured of a regular source of income.)  I wish more than a quarter of our population went to church each week.  (Those of you reading this column in the bulletin are probably not the ones I actually need to reach.  Thanks for your ongoing support!)  I wish, I wish, I wish!

Until I find the genie in the bottle to grant these wishes, I guess a second collection each week is painfully necessary.

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Monday, September 1, 2014

Parish News and Information

Dear Parishioners,

First of all, at the request of Bishop Sullivan and on behalf of the Diocese of Camden our parish will be hosting a young man desiring to be a seminarian (and ultimately a priest) for our diocese.  Mr. Anthony Infanti will live at the rectory and will be working in our parish in various capacities:  visiting the sick in the hospital as well as the homebound, helping in the school, assisting with our religious education program, reading and serving at Mass, and various other tasks.  Please welcome and prayerfully support Anthony so that he will one day serve as a priest in our diocese.

Next, I remind everyone to keep in mind our three basic goals as we strive for the renewal of our parishlove God, love your neighbor and make disciples.  We will be working to create a welcoming atmosphere, attempt to provide good liturgical music while our priests and deacon will strive to deliver insightful, thought-provoking homilies primarily based on each Sunday’s readings.

I certainly hope that all Catholics would realize the importance of weekly Mass attendance.  The desire to hear the Word of God proclaimed and preached, and a longing for Jesus, the Bread of Life should be at the heart of a Catholic’s spirituality.  Quite frankly, there is nothing more important for parish life and for the life of the universal Church than attendance at and participation during Mass.  I was reminded by today’s reading for daily Mass (Luke 4: 16-30) how Jesus “went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day.”  If it was important for Jesus to have this custom, then shouldn't this be our practice with our Mass attendance?

We continually request volunteers to help around the parish.  There are needs at various Masses for readers, servers, ushers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, and choir members / leaders of song.  Perhaps you can help clean the church, join a service or fundraising committee, oversee parking during weekend Masses, teach religious education, or volunteer your gifts and talents in some other capacity?

A pastor with the clergy and religious can help set the tone for a parish.  Yet, the heart of any parish is its people.  The more prayerful and dedicated we all are to Jesus Christ, the stronger and more vibrant this (or any) parish will be.  The fruit of prayer will be the various good works that will be both inspired and accomplished with God’s grace.

I realize all too well that I can’t do anything without the grace of God and your support.  I hope that you recognize that I hate asking for money, but I comprehend all too well that we can’t pay our bills, maintain our buildings and grounds or continue our many programs without it.  Please be as generous as your means allow.

As our regional school reopens and the presence of our youth once again becomes a daily occurrence, please pray for our students and their teachers, and the administration and staff.

May we work together to build the Kingdom of God!

Fr. Ed Namiotka