Thursday, June 29, 2017

From the (New) Pastor’s Desk . . .

Dear Parishioners,

Hello!  This is a letter from your new pastor!
At my last two parishes, I was accustomed to writing a letter for the bulletin each week.  I hope that you will not mind if I continue the practice here at Holy Angels.

Change is usually not easy for any of us because it can cause a disruption in one’s routine, create an unfamiliar situation, and may necessitate certain adaptations.  As a priest ordained thirty years, I have had to move and change assignments quite a few times:  from National Park to Hammonton, to East Vineland, to Vineland, to Buena Borough, to Somers Point and now to Woodbury.  In each instance, the change involved leaving certain familiar circumstances and people whom I loved and cared for, to meet new people and face new challenges.  Each experience has contributed, I hope, to making me a better person and more compassionate priest.

Let me tell you something about myself.  I was born in Philadelphia but my parents bought property in Wildwood when I was just two years old and my family subsequently moved.  I am the oldest of five children, four boys and a girl.  My father is deceased and my mother still lives at the shore.

I attended St. Ann’s School and Wildwood Catholic High School.  After high school, I entered the seminary and attended St. Charles Borromeo Seminary (Philadelphia) for college.  My next four years were spent at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD.

I have spent twenty years educating high school students—six years at St. Joseph High School, Hammonton and 14 years at Sacred Heart High School, Vineland.

Typically, people have two regular questions about me.  1) What is your origin of your last name?  I am frequently told that it appears Japanese.  Then they meet me and see that I stand six feet six inches tall and hardly look Asian.  My heritage is Polish-American and my name is most easily pronounced two letters at a time:  Na-mi-ot-ka (Na-MEE-ot-ka).  2) Did you play basketball?  Yes, I played in my younger days but I was never really that good.  Unfortunately, height does not equal talent.

As I take on this new assignment I have a couple of requests of you, my parishioners.  First, please pray for me!  I will certainly need your prayers and support as I begin this new chapter of my life.  Next, please be patient as I try to learn the rhythm and personality of the parish.  Every parish is different and it takes some time for a pastor to become to become familiar with its unique character and challenges.

What I can promise you is that I will work hard, pray for you each day, take my priestly calling (vocation) very seriously and attempt to leave Holy Angels a better place because of my being here.  With the grace and mercy of God, I hope that we will all grow in holiness together.  Throughout my life I have sought the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary to help me follow whatever God’s will is for my life.  I invite you to do the same.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us. 

(What I write each week will be posted on my web site: with a link from the parish web site to follow.}

I look forward to meeting all of you over time!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

An End . . . and a New Beginning

Dear Parishioners,

For some reason, six years seems like an awfully short period of time in this instance.  I arrived at St. Joseph Parish, (Somers Point) just in time for the summer of 2011.  I was not familiar with the local community but I was welcomed quickly and warmly.  I was determined that I would do my best to serve the people where I was now assigned.  I was also the closest that I was ever assigned to my mom in North Wildwood, which has been an additional blessing. 

Little did I know that hurricane Sandy would subsequently take its toll on the Jersey shore.  The unforeseen consequence was that I would spend nine months getting to know the former pastor (Fr. Josef Wagenhoffer) as he moved back into the rectory after his home was damaged by the severe flooding.  This too was a blessing as it helped the transition to move smoothly.

Over time, I lived at the rectory with Fr. Joe, Fr. Bob Gregorio, Fr. Larry Polansky, Fr. Christopher Markellos, and seminarian (now deacon) Anthony Infanti.  I worked regularly with other priests including Fr. Peter DiTomasso, Fr. Alvaro Diaz, Fr. Christopher Onyeneke, Msgr. Arthur Rodgers, Fr. Steve Curry and Fr. Pat Brady.  Moreover, my two deacons, Bob Oliver and Steve Theis serve the parish well.

I truly hate saying “goodbye.”  I will miss you, the parishioners, the wonderful St. Joseph Regional School family, the religious education (PREP) students, the hard-working, dedicated staff, and the Sisters of St. Joseph (who have been part of my life since I was in the first grade).  Mr. Ted Pugliese, the school principal and I, have worked together very well and I am truly grateful for our friendship.   After I told the elementary school students, faculty and administration that I was being transferred at the final school Mass, many of the younger students lined up to say goodbye and this just about broke my heart!

Have I been able to accomplish everything that I intended to do?  Unfortunately, no.  I thought that I would have an additional six years to finish what has been started.  All the unfinished business will have to be left to the next pastor.  (As I write, I know that Bishop Sullivan and the Priest Personnel Board are discussing my replacement.)

As I have written before, priests are all too human We struggle.  We fail.  We hurt.  Unfortunately, we sin as well.  I hope that I have been able to contribute in some small way to making this 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.  My desire has been to help many more people to see Jesus more clearly present in their daily lives through my priestly ministry and leadership.  He must increase while I must decrease!

As of July 1st, I will be moving on to Holy Angels Parish, Woodbury.  There I will have an elementary school, a hospital and a parish approximately three times the size of this one.  Bishop Sullivan will be my neighbor—right up the street.  I have some familiarity with the area as I had served as a newly-ordained priest at St. Matthew’s Church, National Park (now a part of the parish since its merger).

I thank God if I have helped you in any way.  I ask His and your pardon if I have hurt you or caused pain or sorrow in your life in any way.  I can honestly say it was never done intentionally.  I ask you once again for your prayers.  Just a little remembrance . . . occasionally?  Please.  I will continue to remember all of you in this parish in my prayers and at the altar during Mass.

May our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, her spouse, intercede for us all!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

(soon to be former) Pastor