Tuesday, December 13, 2016

"How Did We Get Here?"



Dear Parishioners,

I recently began hearing the confessions of the children in school and in the religious education program (PREP) for Advent with my brother priests.  I try to put the children at ease and try to help them realize that God is a forgiving God, if only we request His mercy.  I tell them that there is no sin God can’t forgive, if we are truly sorry.  My emphasis is on how merciful God is to all of us.  I want this sacrament to be one in which children will never be afraid and will continue to keep a positive attitude as they mature into adulthood.

Without going very long I usually begin hearing from the young children how they are “too busy” to go to Sunday Mass, that they “have sports on Sunday,” that their family “usually goes to Mass for Christmas and Easter” but not necessarily each week, and a whole bunch of similar comments.  All this is unfortunately telling me that going to Mass each Sunday is far from a priority in many, many families.  I dare not even mention Holy Days of Obligation—like the recent Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary  (December 8).  Holy Days of Obligation have taken on the attitude of optional at best, similar to the attitude of approximately 75% of Catholics who think in similar manner about Sunday Mass attendance each week.

Do Catholics still have an obligation to attend Mass each week? (Yes)  Hasn’t this requirement changed over the years? (No 

"Sunday . . . is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church." "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass." (2192, CCC)  

[Please refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) under the section on The Ten Commandments for the complete explanation.]  

So what is a pastor to do?  I have an obligation before God for the spiritual well-being of my people.  I care about them.  I love them.  I pray for them each day.  

1) Maybe I can pretend that there is no problem.  Just be silent and not bring up the topic.  I will only alienate people further.  (How much worse can it get?  Three-quarters of the average parish is missing each Sunday already!?)  2) Maybe I can gently urge and try warmly to invite people.  (Realistically, I have been attempting to do this almost every day of my priestly life.  The results, unfortunately, have not been overwhelming.)  3) Should I preach hell, fire and damnation like the good, old days? (While I think that the Fear of the Lord is a much needed virtue for our times, most of society does not want to be told what to do—rarely, if ever.)  4) Should I go on trying to live and lead by exampleWill my striving for personal holiness and my desire for conversion of life became contagious and lead people to Christ?  (I can only hope and pray!)

Growing up as a child in the 60’s and 70’s was, in my humble opinion, a very crazy time.  Free-love, the drug culture, Vietnam, the Cold War, unrest on college campuses, racial tension, etc. all seemed overwhelming to me as a kid.  Yet, somehow God was present to me in the midst of it all.  Despite the many adversities, I mysteriously heard the call to be Jesus’ disciple.  God could truly penetrate even the most difficult of situations—then and now.  Just look at the cross.  Didn’t this, too, seem to be the worst of all situations?  When I ask myself today “How did we get here?” as a culture and as a Church, I know deep down I must trust that God is still in charge and in His plan for salvation good will ultimately triumph.

Please come to Mass each week.   I will never stop asking (begging).  I care about your eternal salvation too much.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Pastor

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Spending "Gaudete" Sunday with Marriage Encounter



Dear Parishioners,

The liturgical season of Advent originated as a fast of forty days in preparation for Christmas.  This, the third Sunday of Advent, is called Gaudete Sunday—from the Latin word “rejoice.”  We rejoice because the Lord is near.  Advent is halfway completed.  Priests have the option of wearing a rose colored vestment and we light the rose candle of the advent wreath.

However, I will be away from the parish this weekend presenting a Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend in Cape May.  When I was a newly ordained priest, a couple from my parish asked me to make a Marriage Encounter Weekend.  As you might expect, my reaction was somewhat puzzled. I am obviously not married. What would be the benefit of me attending such a weekend? 

Nearly 30 years 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 on my own.  It would certainly not have been on my bucket list.  Yet, what happened as a result can only be described as truly life-changing.  And it was thanks to a couple who simply invited me to try such an experience.

I have been presenting the Marriage Encounter Weekend, usually once or twice a year, for over a quarter century now.  Together with a team of three couples, we share 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.  (There are experiences such as Retrouvaille for this purpose.) The Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend is meant to open up the lines of communication between husband and wife in what is essentially a private experience between the two.

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 feelings.  Feelings, in particular, are not something most men know how to deal with or might not realze the importance of in the first place.

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 marriage and 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 or more.  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.  For further information, you can check out the South Jersey Worldwide Marriage Encounter website or call the information line at 609-741-8012.

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 an upcoming Marriage Encounter Weekend. 

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

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Pastor


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Advent Mission and an Upcoming Holy Day of Obligation



Dear Parishioners,

I hope that you were able to participate in our 3 day Advent Mission.  We thank Fr. Jim Greenfield, OSFS for his inspirational talks at the weekend Masses and Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings!

Among some Catholics and various others, there is still a misunderstanding regarding what is meant by the term (or title) Immaculate Conception.  Some people mistakenly think that this title refers to Jesus and His being conceived miraculously in the womb of His Mother Mary.

In 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the following in the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus:
The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.
This proclamation was one of two notable times in the history of the Catholic Church when a pope declared an infallible dogma ex cathedra (that is, from the chair of St. Peter’s teaching authority).  The other occasion was the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven.

Our catechism instructs us:  “Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception.  That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses . . . .”  The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 491.  Mary was redeemed by Christ as all humanity is, but her redemption began at her very conception in the womb of her mother by a singular grace--hence, the term Immaculate Conception.

Around the same time as the pope, bishops and theologians were wrestling with this theological matter, Bernadette Soubirous was born in Lourdes, France in 1844.  Saint Bernadette, as she is now known, is remembered for having received eighteen apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary between February 11 and July 16, 1858.  Our Lady asked for a chapel to be built at a grotto in Massabielle where the apparitions occurred and a miraculous spring of water now flows.  During these apparitions, Our Lady identified herself to St. Bernadette with the phrase “I am the Immaculate Conception.”  St. Bernadette, an illiterate peasant girl with no formal training in theology, had no idea what the phrase Immaculate Conception meant.  She was only fourteen at the time of the visions.  It seems that in these apparitions Our Lady herself confirmed what the Church had formally declared just four years earlier.  The Church holds these apparitions as worthy of belief.

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated December 8th and is a Holy Day of Obligation. Catholics are supposed to attend Mass this day and our Catholic school children in the Diocese of Camden are given off from school so that they can go to Mass.  The schedule at the parish is 7 PM vigil Mass on Wednesday, December 7, and 8:30 AM, 12 Noon (new!) and 7 PM bilingual (English and Spanish) Masses on Thursday, December 8.

Our Lady, as the Immaculate Conception, is the patroness of our country and our diocese.  She should certainly have a special place in all our hearts.


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent Has Arrived!


Dear Parishioners,

It’s hard to believe that another liturgical year begins this weekend.  Welcome to the First Sunday of Advent!

Advent is a time of commemoration, anticipation and preparation.  We recall the Birth of Jesus Christ while the Church reminds us that Christ will come againWhen?  This has been an unanswered question for the last two thousand years.

Hopefully, we as Christians have not become too complacent or even indifferent towards this teaching of our faith.  What if Jesus did return in glory to judge the living and the dead tomorrow, next week or next month?

I guess some people would panic:  “When was the last time I was in Church?”  “I haven’t been to confession in years!”  “My life is not really in order right now!”  “I never did forgive my dad!” “I haven’t spoken to my sister in years!”  “I’ve been preoccupied with so many things and never take the time to pray!”  “I really do not know Jesus Christ.”

Jesus warns us: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.”  (Mark 13:33) We are told by St. Paul that the day of the Lord “will come like a thief at night. “ (1 Thessalonians 5:2)

I do not want people to become fanatical like those who run around with signs claiming that the end of the world is near.  However, as Christians we need to live continually in the presence of the Lord.  Christ is aware of us and is there for us at all times.  Unfortunately, as humans we can not consciously realize this at every moment, nor do we always live appropriately even if we believe it.

Advent is here.  Don’t waste the time by getting caught up in all of the materialism that the world is concerned about and sells us everyday.  Take time for your spiritual life.  After all, we as humans are comprised of body and soul.  Take time for Jesus Christ.

I find that when my spiritual priorities are in order and Christ is forefront in my life, everything else mysteriously seems to fall into place.  I may have to learn this lesson over and over again, but someday I may finally get it right.  One can only hope!

Our three day Advent Mission begins Sunday evening.  Fr. James J. Greenfield, OSFS will be our guest speaker.  Please consider joining us each evening (Sunday 11/27, Monday 11/28, and Tuesday 11/29) at 7PM.  

It would be a great way to start the Advent season.


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

  
Fr. James J. Greenfield, OSFS

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Giving Thanks Again



(I wrote the core of this a number of years ago.  I thought maybe it was worth repeating.)

Dear Parishioners,

With Thanksgiving approaching, I ask that you take the time to consider and reflect on the things for which you are thankful.  Most of us will find times when we like to moan, groan and complain about many things.  We may tend to see the glass as half-empty rather than half-full.  However, it is a good practice to take an inventory of the things in our lives that we might take for granted or fail to fully appreciate each day.

A statement that I heard quite some time ago seems to put things into proper perspective for me: I used to complain about the shoes that I wore until I met the person with no feet.

Am I thankful for that fact that I am alive?
            Aborted babies never had that opportunity.

Do I thank God every day for my health?
          The hospitalized and homebound might long for days without pain and the ability to get out of bed.

Do I love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength?  Am I truly grateful that Jesus suffered and died on the cross for me?
            God loved us into existence and then sent His Son to show how much He truly loves us.  Have I thanked God daily and tried as best as I can to love Him in return?

Do I take my Christian faith for granted?
            There are still places in the world where people suffer and die for being a Christian.

Do I go to bed each night with a roof over my head and a full stomach?
            The homeless and those in line at a soup kitchen are probably envious.

Do I have a family with whom I can spend the holidays?
            The orphan, widow or widower, soldier in a foreign country, or person in prison might not have such good fortune.

Have I tried to cultivate a thankful heart?
            Complaining, in and of itself, doesn’t accomplish much.

If I can read and understand what this reflection is all about, am I truly grateful?
         The blind, the mentally ill, a person with Alzheimer’s, or simply an illiterate person might not be able to do what you are doing right now.

Need I say any more?

Please give thanks.  

There’s no better way to do this as a Catholic than by participating in the celebration of Mass on Thanksgiving Day.  

Hope to see you there!

Gobble! Gobble!




Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor (AKA, the main turkey)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

One (Divided) Nation, Under God


Dear Parishioners,

Writing my column this week is particularly challenging.  My message each week has to be sent to the bulletin publisher by Tuesday afternoon.  Today is Election Day in the USA and I will not know its results by the time I send this out.  So what should I say?

When I wake up tomorrow, of this I can be assured:  God will still be God and Jesus Christ is still King of the Universe

However, I have good reason to believe our divided nation will not suddenly come together and unite in a euphoric Kumbaya moment.  We will still have an astronomical national debt.  Laws will exist that the Catholic Church (and I) will continue to oppose (abortion and same-sex marriage being two of the most prominent).  The inner cities as well as suburbia will continue to encounter their many economic and social problems well into the foreseeable future.  As long as there is a market for them, various illegal (and some legal) drugs will indiscriminately infest our nation.  Prejudice will not magically disappear.  Government gridlock will exist. The future funding of entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare will be debated, but probably not fixed.  What about the future of healthcare?  In many instances the can will be kicked down the road for as long as possible.  I could go on and on.

Will life here in the USA radically change after this election? Will the many campaign promises and slogans (Stronger Together or Make America Great Again) effect the change they desire by the mere rhetoric?  Much damage has been done that, in effect, seriously divided rather than united us as a nation.   I am not holding my breath waiting for any immediate solution or quick fix.

From a Church perspective, will the election of a new President become some amazing motivating factor causing more people to attend Mass each week?  Will I see more people turning to God and radical conversion of lives?  I have no delusions that the victor of this year’s election is some national messiah.  Sorry.  Both major candidates are horribly flawed and are among the two most unpopular in recent history.  I am just glad that the campaigning is finally over.

Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus recently proposed six concrete ideas for us as Catholics to lead the way towards unity in our nation.  I present them here for your consideration:

First, he said, is “the renewal of parish life as a true Eucharistic community,” with a greater appreciation for the Eucharist as the source and summit of unity, charity and Christian life. 
Next, a “renewed evangelization of family life” is needed, “centered upon the calling of every Catholic family to be a domestic church which, in solidarity with other families, would be a source of unity, charity and reconciliation.”
In addition, Anderson said, Catholics should grow in their devotion to Mary as the Patroness of the U.S., seeing in her a model of “understanding our responsibilities toward our neighbors and for the common good as citizens.” 
Also necessary is a “deeper understanding of those moral principles and issues that are non-negotiable for us as a faith community,” which leads to a deeper understanding and application of the Church’s Social Doctrine.  
A greater commitment to authentic Catholic education that forms the entire person at every academic level is also important for Catholic identity, he said.
Finally, he concluded, the Church in the U.S. needs “a greater appreciation of the office of bishop as the source of unity for the local church” and deeper communication among clergy, religious and laity.

Please continue to pray fervently for our nation!  We still have turbulent times ahead.


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Vocation Awareness



Dear Parishioners,

This week we have Logan Nilsen, a seminarian of the Diocese of Camden speaking at all of the Masses to encourage priestly vocations.

To supplement what Logan has to say, I thought that I would share my own vocation story with you.  My vocation to be a priest started in the family, in the home and in the Catholic schools.  My parents were not overly religious.  We attended Mass faithfully each week and my siblings and I were in contact with priests and sisters primarily through the Catholic schools that we attended.  Priests and sisters were regularly invited to our home for dinner.  My parents never pushed the idea of being a priest on me.  However, being an altar server from about third grade on through high school and being in a Catholic elementary school put me into close and regular association with my parish priests.

I really began to think seriously about being a priest in high school.  I could remember standing in my high school cafeteria during a school dance (checking out the girls there) when a priest who taught me religion came up to all the guys.  He was asking if we ever thought about becoming a priest.  When he came up to me, I told him politely that I had thought about it but I don’t think that it was for me.  Sometime later in my senior year, however, I went back to the same priest and admitted to him that I thought that God was indeed calling me to be a priest.  I wanted some information at that point about entering the seminary.

After going through the necessary application procedures, I entered the college division of St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia at the age of eighteen studying for the Diocese of Camden.  Many people questioned whether I knew what I was doing, some suggested that I experience more of life first, but I knew what I was hearing internally was this mysterious call from God—an invitation from Jesus to be his disciple, his priest.  After four years of college, four years of graduate school theology at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary (in Emmitsburg, Maryland), and a pastoral year in a parish, I was ordained a priest at the age of twenty-six.

This May I will be thirty years a priest.  I can distinctly remember praying in high school that God would give me a good wife.  In fact, He answered this prayer in a way that was quite remarkable.  Jesus gave me His own bride—the Church.  It was not quite what I expected, but it was what He had planned for me.  And I am truly grateful beyond words.

I know that today there are many more distractions preventing young people from even considering being a priest.  I genuinely do not think that our faithful God ever stops calling.  Rather, I truly think people stop responding to the “call.”   They stop saying “yes.”  God with His invitation never takes away our free choice.  He offers us as priests a unique privilege to act in persona Christi capitis (in the Person of Christ the Head).

A Catholic priest is called to preach and teach, to govern and to sanctify the People of God.  In the sacraments he is necessary for us to have the Holy Eucharist, to forgive sins in confession and to anoint the sick and dying.

Please pray for our seminarians and priests.  Please encourage young men to think and pray about a priestly vocation.  God will continue to do the calling.  We should do our part to support and promote whatever God intends.


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor

Logan Nilsen     
Diocese of Camden Seminarian

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

“Crash-Proof” Retirement



Dear Parishioners,

Maybe you have seen an advertisement on television touting a “crash-proof” retirement plan.  Quite frankly, I do not have enough knowledge in the area of investments and finance to tell anyone whether this is or is not valuable financial advice to help plan for the future.  You would have to check it out for yourselves.  Sorry. 

What I do know, however, is that no matter what we may plan for in the future, unless Jesus is at the center of it, our plans may, in fact, be ill conceived.  Do you remember the parable that Jesus told regarding accumulated wealth?  Listen to the words from St. Luke’s Gospel:

Then [Jesus] told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong? Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.” (Lk. 12: 16-21)

The first thing that I noticed here was that the rich man questioned himself for advice.  What shall I do?  From my perspective, it seems it would have been much wiser to ask God first for advice.  What do You, Lord, think I should do?  We need to pray constantly for the wisdom to make good decisions in life. 

Next, Look at God’s response to the rich man’s plan:  You fool.  That often characterizes the result of any situation when we think that we—and not God—are ultimately in charge of everything.  Many people today may not overtly proclaim that they do not believe in God.  However, so many of us live in a manner as if God did not exist.  We foolishly depend more on ourselves—to a greater or lesser degree—rather than seek out God and let God (speaking through the Sacred Scriptures and the Church) influence our thoughts and actions.  Pope Benedict XVI referred to this mode of living as a practical atheism.  The tragic result of it is that Jesus’ teaching frequently goes unheeded and ignored.  Nobody, not even God Himself, is going to tell us what to do.  And we become all too comfortable and complacent with this attitude.

Third, death becomes the great equalizer.  Tempus fugit, momento mori.  Time is fleeting, remember death.   We may not want to face the inevitable reality that we all are going to die, face final judgment before God, and live either with God (heaven) or alienated from God (hell) for all eternity.  The choices we make here do have eternal consequences.  Are we prepared for this?

Finally, what are the spiritual treasures that we are storing up now?  As we near the end of this Jubilee Year of Mercy, I suggest that we refer to the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy for some sound advice.

Don’t be like the foolish rich man in the parable.  Act now to prepare for eternity.  

Forever is a really, really long time.


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Legislating Morality



Dear Parishioners,

My late father, in his own humorous way, could make a point stick in your mind.  He used to say "The smarter they get, the dumber they get!" with reference to the supposedly educated elite.  My father never had the privilege of going to college--just about making it through high school.  However, he did see to it that his five children received a college education.  In fact, he saw us all attend Catholic colleges, Catholic high school and Catholic elementary school.

Sometimes the rationalization, the doublespeak, and the deception, that is created by an allegedly educated elite baffles the mind.  Take the example of those who say that government should not legislate morality.  Has anyone really stopped to think how truly ridiculous this statement is?  Government legislates (makes laws) all the time.  They tell us that we must not speed when driving nor drink alcohol to excess when operating the vehicle, that we cannot rob a bank or convenience store, that rape and child molestation are illegal, and even, at times, try to tell us how big of a soft drink that we should be allowed to purchase!  Government gives us an age at which we can legally consume alcohol, purchase cigarettes, gamble in a casino, drive a car, own a gun, vote, etc.

Usually the argument about legislating morality gets fuzzy in some people's minds when it comes to topics like abortion, contraception, homosexual acts (e.g., sodomy), same-sex unions, and other various bedroom issues.  It's at this point when people don't want government telling us (legislating) what to do.

The fact is every civilized society determines right and wrong in their culture.  What is permitted or not permitted has to be based on a standard of norms which the society mutually agrees upon.  The basis of these norms has generally been natural lawNatural law can be defined as a body of unchanging moral principles regarded as a basis for all human conduct.  Notice that up to this point there has been no direct mention of God or religion in this process.  (Christians can, however, experience a deeper understanding behind many moral issues through recourse to what is given by Divine revelation--i.e., Sacred Scripture and Tradition).
        
Some words by Trevor Thomas are worth considering at this point:


It is absurd and ignorant to lament conservative Christian efforts when it comes to abortion, marriage, and so on as some attempt to "legislate morality." The other side is attempting the very same thing! In fact, the lamenter (whatever his political persuasion) has also taken a moral stand. Thus, he is like the bank robber who calls the police because his getaway car gets stolen. 



What's more, those who attack Natural Law (because an attack on a position that stems from Natural Law is an attack on Natural Law) do so with arguments derived from Natural Law. It is a self-defeating effort. They are attempting to saw off the limb upon which they sit.

So where am I going with all of this? When people start telling the Catholic Church to stay out of an issue (e.g., keep out of the bedroom), that we as a society cannot legislate morality, or anything similar, please realize a few important observations. First of all, the bedroom issues have regrettably become part of the public forum. I would say in response: keep your bedroom out of our public life! Keep the pornography off TV, out of the cinema, not so readily and easily accessible on the internet, etc.  And don't try to force me or our society to pay for your abortions.  That is what a repeal of the Hyde amendment would do.  Don't legislate same-sex unions.   

Next, please finish your thoughts with regard to the slogan:  the right to choose.  The right to choose whatMurder of innocent children (a.k.a., abortion)?  Yes, we all have free will but we can certainly determine what we can or cannot choose.  Often we put this into law.   We, in fact, do it all the time.  We can choose as a civilized society to protect all human life in the womb.  We can unequivocally state that the choice to kill an innocent baby in the womb (terminate a pregnancy) is wrong.  We can use natural law and the light of reason to help us (perhaps made ever more clear by certain Judeo-Christian principles).  If we can scientifically determine when a new human life begins (at conception), then we as a civilized society can and should choose to protect that new human life.  We have in our history made laws protecting a bald eagle's eggs and our environment, haven't we?  Why did we ever allow the Supreme Court to legislate legalized abortion for us as a society in 1973 by Roe v. Wade?

I  am tired of lies and deception and the confusion that this creates.  We need more clear, critical thinkers and not those who become brainwashed by some educational or political elitists.

Their intelligence is much too dumb for me. 

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Bereavement and Praying for the Dead



Dear Parishioners,

Ministry to the sick and dying is an essential concern for us as Christians.  To visit the sick and to bury the dead are two of the corporal works of mercy included in the focus of this Jubilee Year of Mercy.   Our parish’s bereavement ministry tries to be of assistance at the time of death while also seeking to provide ongoing support as time passes.

Let me begin by reiterating the importance of having a priest visit when a person is seriously ill, is on hospice or is in the hospital.  Please call the parish office and request that a priest visit the sick person for the Anointing of the Sick, the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (confession) and Holy Communion.   Regular visits by an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion can also be arranged.

When death occurs, our bereavement ministry (currently headed by Sr. Jane Hill, SSJ) is available to meet with the family to help prepare the funeral liturgy.  Sr. Jane is always looking for additional people to be trained to assist her in this task.  I encourage families to have a Mass of Christian Burial offered for the soul of the deceased.  Joining our prayers to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the greatest gift that we can give to one of our deceased loved ones.

I am also looking for volunteers to be present for the funeral Mass.  People who can help to set up and clean up, to greet any parishioners and visitors, to serve during the Mass, to read the Scriptures (if no one does so from the family), can be a tremendous assistance during a funeral Mass.  Those who are retired or senior citizens seeking to get more involved would be wonderful for this task.

As time passes, it is important that those who have experienced the loss of a loved one not fall through the cracks.  I know that when I finish one funeral, it seems I begin preparing for the next situation.  I need people to help me by following up with a card or a phone call.  I want those who may now be alone to know that they are not forgotten.  This phase of bereavement ministry can be done right from home!  I hope this task is appealing to someone looking to do more for others.

Part of our follow-up is our annual All Souls Day Mass during which we remember all our dead, especially those who died this past year.  Please fill out your All Souls Day envelopes with the names of your deceased as they will be placed on the altar for the entire month of November—the month of the Holy Souls.

If any of these phases of bereavement (helping to prepare the funeral liturgy with the family, serving on the day of the funeral Mass, or following-up afterwards) appeals to you, please contact the parish office for further information.  We could always use your help in some capacity.

Most importantly, please take the opportunity and encourage others to have Masses offered for the dead.  More than flowers that will wither quickly afterward, the spiritual benefits of the Mass are beyond what we as humans can fully comprehend.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Pastor


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Why the "Life" Issue is the Essential Issue



Dear Parishioners,

Since 1973 when Roe v. Wade opened the door to legal abortion in our country, America has been on a continual downward spiral.  What started as a 7-2 decision by US Supreme Court Justices who legislated rather than interpreted the law, nearly 60 million innocent children have been surgically or chemically killed.  The dissenting opinion of Justice Byron White (with Chief Justice William Rehnquist concurring) stated the following:

I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court's judgment. The Court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant women and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutes.
A member of the Pro-Life movement since 1995, Norma McCorvey, who was the Jane Roe in the 1973 Supreme Court decision, had the following to say years later:

It was my pseudonym, Jane Roe, which had been used to create the "right" to abortion out of legal thin air.  But Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee [her lawyers] never told me that what I was signing would allow women to come up to me 15, 20 years later and say, "Thank you for allowing me to have my five or six abortions.  Without you, it wouldn't have been possible."  Sarah never mentioned women using abortions as a form of birth control.  We talked about truly desperate and needy women, not women already wearing maternity clothes.
The simple reality is that unless human life matters, nothing else matters.  This world and all that is in it are important because all human beings are important.  Pope St. John Paul II words at the Denver airport (August 12, 1993) remind us of this:

America has a strong tradition of respect for the individual, for human dignity and human rights. I gladly acknowledged this during my previous visit to the United States in 1987, and I would like to repeat today the hope I expressed on that occasion: "America, you are beautiful and blessed in so many ways . . . But your best beauty and your richest blessing is found in the human person: in each man, woman and child, in every immigrant, in every native born son and daughter . . . The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless ones.  The best traditions of your land presume respect for those who cannot defend themselves. It you want equal justice for all, and true freedom and lasting peace, then, America, defend life!  All the great causes that are yours today will have meaning only to the extent that you guarantee the right to life and protect the human person".
When people argue that abortion is only one issue in this or any presidential election, the response of Priests for Life is worth noting:

The foundation of a house is only one of many parts of the house, but it is essential in order to build the other parts.  That is why the Catholic bishops have repeatedly asserted that among the many interrelated issues within a consistent ethic, abortion deserves "urgent attention and priority."

St. Teresa of Calcutta's words at the National Prayer Breakfast, (Washington, DC on February 3, 1994)—given in front of then President Bill and Hillary Clinton—included the following:

But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself.  And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?  How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion?  As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts.  Jesus gave even His life to love us.  So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child.  The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.  By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems.  And, by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world.  That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble.  So abortion just leads to more abortion.  Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.  This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.
I hope that you take the time to reflect on all of the above.  

Do not be deceived by arguments that omit or minimize the importance of voting Pro-Life!
                                                                                                                

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor




Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Who Do You Trust?



Dear Parishioners,


In a recent Gallup poll (9/14/16) “Americans' trust and confidence in the mass media ‘to report the news fully, accurately and fairly’ has dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history.  .  .  .“  The percentage of those who have confidence in the media was merely 32% of those surveyed.

With the current 24-hour news cycles, it appears that the media sometimes has to create irrelevant news stories, or report on matters really insignificant.  Who won Dancing with the Stars?  Frankly, with the world in the situation it is in—who cares?  Sometimes there is an apparent bias in the reporters’ views.  Just switch channels from Fox to CNN to MSNBC and you should notice the obvious difference in reporting.  Objectivity too often seems lost.  My biggest frustration is when the facts are distorted or purposely omitted.  Don’t we deserve the truth?

From a personal example and perspective, I have witnessed coverage of the March for Life in Washington, DC seriously underreported in past years, probably because it did not fit a particular political agenda or narrative.  Additionally, a very small group of protesters present at the March is magnified to escalate controversy to a scale much larger than it really was.  Controversy apparently sells more than calm.

Sometimes stories in the press contain inaccuracies, quotes are taken out of context, facts are omitted and people are left with a barrage of sound-bites.  Is this good journalism?

Now if I continue this line of thought into politics, I find it difficult to trust too many of the candidates—especially with the US presidential election just around the corner.  Obvious adversaries somehow become ardent supporters of one another.  Are we supposed to believe in some miraculous reconciliation without some consideration of possible future political appointments or favors?  One candidate’s advertisements state how supportive of children she is, while at the same time unapologetically supporting abortion on demand.  Aren’t babies in the womb pre-born children?  Something just doesn’t jive here.  Another candidate boasts about his business experience and making millions, while I personally heard from a local contractor how he wasn’t fully paid by the candidate for services rendered.  Something stinks here too.  Who do I believe?  Then there are issues involving the private e-mail server, unreleased tax returns and IRS audits, Congressional hearings, FBI investigations, possible past/present racial discrimination, Benghazi.  .  .  .   

I am sick of it all!  Please find me a remote island somewhere.

Our currency (at least until now) says IN GOD WE TRUST.  We claim to be one nation under God.  I find that my only true trust is in God as manifest to us through Our Lord Jesus Christ.  When He says “I am the way and the truth and the life” (Jn. 14:6) I know that He alone can say this with absolute certitude and authority.  

My only future consolation is that no matter who may be elected president, Jesus Christ is still King of my life.

Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor 

Jesus I Trust in You

Monday, September 19, 2016

Progress Update


Dear Parishioners,

As you know, we began our Celebrating 70 Years:  Embracing the Mission, Continuing Our Tradition capital campaign last Lent.  We exceeded our goal of $900,000.00 in pledges and outright gifts and I thank you all for this.  God is so good!

So where do we stand as of today?
 

  •  Next, we began working on all of the required fire code upgrades to ensure maximum safety for our congregation.  A fire sprinkler system was installed in the church basement.  Fire rated doors are ordered and soon will be installed in the basement and stairwells.  Everything mandated by the state fire marshal will soon be completed.

  • A new digital piano was purchased to replace the aging baby grand piano in the church.

  • The deteriorating slate roof on the rectory garage, with its loose shingles, was replaced.

  •  A new sound system for the church is near completion.  This process involved replacing the pre-existing borrowed amplifiers, all new wiring (installed beneath the sanctuary floor), equalizers, control panels, wireless microphones, headset components for the hearing impaired, and speakers for the body of the church.  While everything is not yet finished, we are getting very close!

  • The existing green carpets of the sanctuary had to be cut open to allow for the installation of the wiring channels for the new sound system below the sanctuary floor.  A decision was then made to install a new hardwood floor instead of replacement carpeting.  The hope is the new style floor will be dignified and visually attractive befitting the sanctuary area, be easy to clean and maintain, and should be durable enough to last for many, many years to come.



Thankfully, the redemption of pledges continues on a regular basis.  Very soon we will begin some security enhancements and building renovations to the parish office.  This will include an outside ramp to be more handicapped-accessible.  A future large-scale project will certainly be the church HVAC system (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) which will be one of the most costly expenses to date.  Please be aware that this will necessitate a very large portion of our raised funds.  Currently, the redemption phase of our capital campaign has not yet accumulated all the necessary funds to accomplish this particular project.

Regularly, I am meeting and working with our parish finance council and our capital campaign chairpersons to assure that we continue to make progress and properly maintain all our parish facilities.

It is only through your continued generosity that we will be able to bring all of our many plans to completion.


Fr. Ed Namiotka
Pastor