Tuesday, September 22, 2020

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, over 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's 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 vital importance of voting Pro-Life!
Fr. Ed Namiotka

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Mary, Our Mother of Sorrows

An image of Our Lady of Sorrows

Dear Parishioners,

This past week we celebrated the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14th) followed immediately by Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15th).  Are you familiar with the Seven Sorrows of Our Blessed Mother?  Mary experienced pain and sorrow during her life, in union with her Son and His Passion.  

When Jesus was Presented in the Temple (1), Simeon foretold that Mary’s heart would know pain: 

"Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."  (Lk. 2: 34-35)

Subsequently, Mary knew additional grief and anxiety when she and Joseph, her spouse, necessarily fled to Egypt (2) to escape from King Herod and his command to kill all Hebrew boys two years old and younger.

. . . The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”  Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.  He stayed there until the death of Herod . . . .  (Mt. 2:  13-15a)

Later, Jesus was eventually Found in the Temple (3) at age twelve after having been missing for three days.  “Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." (Lk. 2: 48)

Although she raised and cared for Jesus, her Divine Son, she was at the same time His faithful follower until the bitter end.  She met Him on the way to his crucifixion on the road to Calvary (4) as we reflect on the 4th Station of the Cross.   She was present during His death, standing at the foot of the cross (5).  The image of the Pieta reminds us of her holding His lifeless body in her arms (6) after His death.  She also watched as He was subsequently placed in the tomb (7) as we again reflect on the 14th Station of the Cross.

Mary, from the moment of her Immaculate Conception, had God’s special graces and protection from sin.  She was chosen to be the mother of Our Lord and her “yes” to God at the Annunciation showed her obedience and willingness to cooperate with God’s plan for our salvation.  Although she had some uncertainty concerning how God’s plan would unfold in her life, she trusted in God completely.  How could a virgin have a child?  The power of the Holy Spirit could transcend what is humanly impossible.   Nothing is impossible for God!

After showing us an example of her unselfish love by helping her relative Elizabeth who was also with child (Visitation), she gave birth miraculously to Our Lord in the humble surroundings of Bethlehem (the Nativity).

Mary was present at the Wedding Feast of Cana (Jn. 2: 1-11) where she requested her Son's assistance, leading to His first public miracle: changing water into wine.  Her fidelity, love and continued intercessory role are evident as she was given to us as our Spiritual Mother at the cross (Jn. 19: 25-27).  When her earthly life was complete, she was taken body and soul into heaven (the Assumption) and she reigns as Queen of Heaven and Earth (the Coronation).

The Blessed Virgin Mary should have a special place in the life of every Catholic (Christian).  Traditionally, the month of May has been dedicated to her, and the month of October dedicated to her Holy Rosary.

These mysteries of our faith (as well as many others) are found in the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary--meditations which are meant to have us reflect on some of most important aspects of our faith.  Together with wearing the Brown Scapular (of Mt. Carmel) as an outward sign, we can show our love for and devotion to Our Lady.  True, healthy devotion to her will only lead us to her Son Jesus and never detract from Him.

May we learn to imitate the faith and trust in God, the obedience to God’s will and the love for Jesus that Our Lady gave witness to in her life.  Her example of purity and sin-less-ness is much needed in today’s world.  May she continue to intercede for us as our patroness.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Edward Namiotka


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Religious Education of Our Youth

Dear Parishioners,

The religious education of our children is a very important concern of mine.  With Catechetical Sunday upon us (September 20, 2020), I think it is good to reflect on the faith of our children and young adults.

What is frustrating to religious education teachers, to priests and to others involved with the religious education of youth is the “disconnect” often present when it comes to formal religious instruction and to living out the faith on a daily basis.  Too often, in so many of my former parishes, students were dropped off for class but were not present in church for Mass on a regular weekly basis.  Let’s face facts.  We inevitably do not see anywhere near the same number of children at Mass as we may see registered for and coming to religious education classes.  Their absence is even more apparent during times like summer vacation and especially now during this unprecedented coronavirus pandemic.

What do we do?  An hour or two of religious education each week for several months each year is not and has never been an adequate solution.  The Church has said continually that parents are the first educators of their children when it comes to religious faith and practice.  When we bring a new life into the world we realize that we have to feed, clothe, and educate our children.  We want the best for them if we love them.  Hopefully we realize that we are also responsible for an immortal soul and the eternal salvation of a person as well.  We cannot leave this responsibility to chance in an often amoral--if not immoral--world.

Do I teach my children to pray and pray with them at various times daily?  Do I read Bible stories to them or teach them what Jesus said and did?  Do I take them to confession and show them (by my own example) that the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is important?  Outside of these extenuating circumstances, do I normally take them to Mass weekly?  Do my children understand that Jesus is truly present in the Most Holy Eucharist?      

What has been said for students in religious education programs is also true for our students who attend a Catholic school.  There must be a connection with the local parish, with weekly Mass attendance and with the everyday living out of the Catholic faith.

I have been a priest long enough (over three decades) to see the rapid decline of those who actively participate in the faith life of their parish.  (I also understand there may be multiple reasons for this.)  Unfortunately, however, each subsequent generation seems to know less and less about even some of the essential teachings of the Catholic faith.  This should be troubling for all believers. 

I always welcome your ideas and suggestions concerning how we can continue to close this gap and have our young people more active and involved in the life of the Church.

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

“God Will Still Be God Tomorrow”

Dear Parishioners,

The ancient Hebrews often saw God as the stable force in their lives.  They referred to Him as my rock, my fortress, my deliverer (Psalm 18:2) and my rock of refuge, my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold (Psalm 18:3).

I wonder how much we realize our true dependence on God for everything?

In our American society we might think of ourselves as rugged individuals.  We speak of the self-made man or woman.  We might save and plan financially for retirement so that we can be comfortable later in life, free of all worries.  With this mindset, perhaps there is an affinity to songs like My Way (Paul Anka or Frank Sinatra) or My Life (Billy Joel) because they speak of our independence and freedom to do what we want, when we want to do it. 

If it were not for God willing it, however, we would not be in existence at all.  Every breath we take, every thought we think, every action we attempt are all within God’s permissive will.  He allows them to happen.  All good things that we have, things that we might often take for granted, are pure gift from God—His Grace.

Yes, it is also true that God has given us intelligence and free-will.  We are made in His image and likeness and He gives us tools that we are expected to use responsibly.  We might sometimes think that we act independent of Him, especially when we choose to do something on our own, even against His will.  However, it is because He has given us free-will in the first place that we are capable of various diverse acts such as loving, forgiving, hating, or sinning at all.

Jesus reminds us not to worry about material things.  He speaks of the importance of relying on God for everything, and not on ourselves:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. (Mt. 6: 25-29)

Jesus continues:

But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil. (Mt. 6: 33-34)

Personally, I use an expression with those I know, reminding them in the midst of worry, or during some trial and tribulation that God will still be God tomorrow.”  God is always here—with us—in some mysterious, unseen way.  He remains constant, a rock, a source of refuge for us.  He is here now and will continue to be here for us tomorrow and beyond.

We should reflect often on God’s ever-abiding Divine Providence.  Once we realize that He is with us always, even the greatest of obstacles no longer seems so insurmountable.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Being in the "State of Grace”

Dear Parishioners,

Whenever I ask someone “What is Grace?” I have to be prepared to hear some varying answers.  I also need to be ready to give a clear and understandable explanation myself.

Simply stated, Grace is God’s life within us. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an "adopted son" he can henceforth call God "Father," in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church. (#1997)

Because of original sin, we are not naturally born into God’s Grace.  We need to be baptized for this to happen.  Therefore, Christian parents should be ready to baptize their children as soon as possible.  Church (canon) law states the following:

Parents are obliged to take care that infants are baptized in the first few weeks; as soon as possible after the birth or even before it, they are to go to the pastor to request the sacrament for their child and to be prepared properly for it. (Can. 867 §1)

To remain in the state of God’s Grace, a person should not be conscious of having committed any serious (mortal) sin.  All serious (mortal) sin is ordinarily forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (confession), not merely by recourse to an act of contrition or something similar.  This is not to say that God cannot work in other ways, at His discretion and according to His will.  However, a Catholic Christian who is conscious of having committed a serious sin should ordinarily avail himself or herself of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.  This sacrament restores us—reconciles us—to God’s Grace.

To me, it is essential to strive to remain constantly in God’s Grace.  There should never be a time when I want to be alienated or disconnected from the Source of all life, love, goodness, truth and beauty.  I should endeavor to eliminate all serious sin out of my life—realizing that I need the gift of God (His favor or grace) to do that.  In other words, we are totally dependent on God and His goodness to us for all we have, and we need to cooperate with Him constantly.

With all of the above in mind, I believe too many people in our culture sometimes think that only something as extreme as murder is a serious sin.  Believe me, there are many other grave sins out there!  Serious sin meets the traditional criteria of sufficient reflection (I thought about it and know it is wrong), grave matter (the subject matter is objectively serious) and full consent of the will (I freely choose to do the act even though I know it is seriously wrong).  Actions including theft, calumny, detraction, adultery, fornication, worship of a false god, perjury, euthanasia, abortion, blasphemy and various other sins can ordinarily be considered objectively grave.  If the person knowingly and willing carries them out, they can certainly fall into the category of mortal sin.  Moreover, the seven deadly sins (pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth) can be examined as a root cause of all grave sin.  Then, to add some more food for thought, there are the various sins of omission that Jesus mentions in the Gospel passage of the Final Judgment (See Mt. 25: 31-46)

Our striving to remain in God’s Grace and to avoid all sin—but most especially serious sin—can be difficult, but remains always possible thanks to God’s unconditional love for us!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The "Cancel Culture"


Dear Parishioners,

Years ago, I was informed and educated about ad hominem attacks in class during my college seminary days.  In such an attack, the person himself or herself would be ridiculed or demoralized, instead of focusing on the person’s position or argument.  The issue would get pushed aside in favor of trashing the person.

Let me tell you I love a good debate.  I can also become extremely passionate about my point of view.  However, what is happening too often today is a shutting out of opinions (and even sometimes hiding or distorting facts) with which a person or group of people may disagree.  It happens on social media frequently.  Sometimes a person may be defriended or doxed as a result of a controversial or politically unpopular point of view.  A “cancel culture” has resurfaced in our society where, according to the New York Post we find “the phenomenon of promoting the ‘canceling’ of people, brands and even shows and movies due to what some consider to be offensive or problematic remarks or ideologies.”

Unfortunately, people can sometimes be unwilling to listen to each other and to hear each other’s opinions or thoughts.  In general, people deserve a hearing.  Everyone needs some time and attention at some point.  In doing so, however, we should be respectful of appropriate times, places and topics of conversation.  Sadly, I have found some people also may have hidden agendas, ulterior motives or even sinister intentions. 

While I may disagree with another person or persons, I do believe people generally have a right to be heard.  Wanting people to be completely silenced, censored or cancelled is as dangerous as letting free speech go unchecked, go unchallenged or to morph into violence and looting.  In the entire process, there needs to be some checks and balances.  We need both mutual respect and law and order in a civilized society.

Obviously, God gave us two qualities that have us resemble Him:  intelligence and free will.  We can think and reflect or we can rush to judgment.  We can react and confront immediately or we can walk away.  We can choose to listen or can turn someone off.  How we act or react will always be our choice.  No matter the choice, it needs to be done civilly and respectfully.

With the election season upon us once again, sadly I suspect that there will be more polarization within our society.  Ad hominem attacks will come out.  Some people will shout others down.  Protests of some sort will inevitably occur.  Some may stir up civil unrest.  I cannot wait! . . . Not!

May I suggest that we all take a good look at traditional Church teaching, party platforms, a candidate’s past performance (usually a good indicator of future possibilities) and remain civil towards one another.

Here is something else to consider:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.  (Mt. 5: 43-45)

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for Us!

 The new Our Lady of Lourdes statue at St. Thomas More Church

Dear Parishioners,

As I began a new calendar year annually, I customarily entrusted and consecrated my parish family (wherever I have been pastor) to the care of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Rather than waiting until the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on New Year’s Day, I have decided to make this consecration on the evening of August 15th (the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary).  I give this parish and all of you, its parishioners, over to the loving care of the Mother of God.  I can think of no better way to begin my time as pastor here.

In addition, the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, now in the sanctuary, will be officially blessed.  My sincere thanks to all who made this statue possible.

Why not take the time to entrust your individual families to the Blessed Virgin Mary’s maternal care as well?  Parents, you can (and should) pray for your children and families at home daily.  Here is a prayer of consecration to help:

Prayer of Consecration of the Family
to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Oh, Mother Most Pure, we come to You as a family and consecrate ourselves to your most Immaculate Heart.

We come to You as a family and place our trust in Your powerful intercession.

Oh, Dearest Mother Mary, teach us as a mother teaches her children, for our souls are soiled and our prayers are weak because of our sinful hearts.

Here we are Dearest Mother, ready to respond to You and follow Your way, for Your way leads us to the heart of Your Son, Jesus.

We are ready to be cleansed and purified.

Come then Virgin Most Pure, and embrace us with Your motherly mantle.

Make our hearts whiter than snow and as pure as a spring of fresh water.

Teach us to pray, so that our prayers may become more beautiful than the singing of the birds at the break of dawn.

Dear Mother Mary, we entrust to Your Immaculate Heart of hearts, our family and our entire future.

Lead us all to our homeland which is Heaven.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

My Masses and prayers are continually offered for your spiritual well-being.  Please remember me as well so that I have the graces necessary to live up to my responsibility as your pastor.

 Fr. Ed Namiotka,



Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Do Not Be Afraid! (God is Still in Charge)

Dear Parishioners,

I write this letter to you on the feast of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests.  I pray I may have a portion of the love and zeal he had for the salvation of souls.  I also pray, through his intercession, there be a renewed practice of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (confession) in our parish and throughout the Catholic Church.  Incidentally, they tell us he spent eleven hours in the confessional in winter months and sixteen hours there when the weather was warmer.  Oh, that this would be the case today!

Having been in the parish for less than a month, you can only imagine what must be going through my mind.  While administration is not new to me—this is now my fifth parish as pastor, in addition to having been a principal and president of a Catholic high school—each parish has its unique challenges and particular character.  Moreover, entering a new situation during a "pandemic" adds to the number of circumstances to which one needs to adjust.

In my former parish (Holy Angels in Woodbury) we had eight weekend Masses in three locations served by four priests.  Fortunately, I was not aware of anyone getting ill or dying because of the manner in which we celebrated Mass, distributed Holy Communion or conducted ourselves in and around the churches / worship center.  Those whom I was aware of dying with the virus were often situated in long-term care facilities or assisted living centers.  (We had at least six such places in my former parish.)  Often they were quite elderly and had underlying conditions.  I pray for the repose of their souls.

Why I bring this up is because of what appears to me to be a type of paralyzing fear of this coronavirus I have sometimes seen exhibited.  If you are not aware, I have an eighty-six-year-old mother whom I try to go and visit weekly.  I usually spend an overnight with her in her condo to keep her company.  I am privileged to offer Mass in her presence and give her Holy Communion.  I would never want to infect her (or anyone else) or accelerate her demise.  Ever.  I am well aware of the recommended protocols, which have varied in importance, effectiveness, etc. on more than one occasion.  Yet, I also remember we are dealing with a virus—invisible to the naked eye, without a current vaccine or guaranteed  cure, and which may be around for quite some time.  While I try to do what is reasonable, I also will not let fear paralyze me.
At this parish there are more than enough safety precautions in place, probably more so than my last parish.  I have joked that you can probably do surgery in the building, it is so sanitized.   However, when a person leaves this artificially created safe space, he or she still has to face the rest of the world with all of its complexities.  The virus is still out there somewhere.

But so is God.  God is still in control.  He knows everything about everything.  He knows about this and other corona-viruses.  That is why I trust Him completely and I concern myself with the spiritual health and well-being of my parishioners first and foremost.  I am not disregarding the other aspects of a person's life, but I take Jesus' words seriously:

And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.  (Mt. 10:28)
Please don't think I am heartless or insensitive.  I am not.  Rather, I consider myself somewhat of a realist  .  .  .  and I place my faith in Almighty God.  

Jesus, I trust in You!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

St. John Vianney

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Some Sacred Silence

Dear Parishioners,
Before Sunday Mass this past weekend, I hid myself in the balcony to pray my rosary before Mass.  I prefer some extended quiet time before Holy Mass begins. 

Someone told me that Pope St. John Paul II would literally spend hours in prayer preparing to celebrate Mass.  It was said that he became oblivious to his surroundings, so deep was his spiritual communication with the Lord.
I dare not compare my self to such a holy man as St. John Paul II.  However, I do see the value of and the need for the time to prepare spiritually prior to Mass.  Sometimes I may be thinking about the readings from Sacred Scripture.  Other times I may be contemplating exactly what I am going to say in the homily.  Frequently, I think about the people that I want to remember to pray for during the Mass.  Perhaps I may be finishing some prayers committed to memory.  At other times I just want to be quiet, clam and reflective.
No matter what I may be doing at the particular moment, the time prior to Mass is really important for me to focus on the sacred mysteries about to be celebrated.
So, do not be surprised that I do not seem “talkative” or “conversational” prior to Mass.  Sometimes I have walked into the sacristy in my previous parishes and the topics of conversation ranged from politics to sports to the latest gossip.  I do not think that I am wrong in saying that there is a time and a place for everything--and for me, prior to Mass is not the place for small talk.  The pandemic restrictions have somewhat curtailed this small talk prior to Mass, but not entirely.  Please realize when I am preparing myself to celebrate sacred mysteries--to re-present the events of the Last Supper and the Agony and Death of Jesus on the Cross--I am trying to focus on what I am about to do.  Nothing else is more important to me at that time.

I also think that the same quiet, reflective time needs to be honored immediately after the reception of Holy Communion.  With the rearrangement of the reception of Holy Communion after the conclusion of Mass, I worry about the practice of people taking off right out the door after receiving Holy Communion.  It seems to be so contrary to what I have been instructing people for the past decades concerning the necessity of making a proper thanksgiving after receiving Our Lord.  I deliberately take time after Holy Communion, once everything is settled, just to be quiet and to pray.  It is also important to remember that the faithful should make a Spiritual Communion, if they are unable to receive Holy Communion for some reason.
Our society is noisy enough.  A little quiet time helps us to tune in better to the spiritual things around us.  Here is something to think about:

Then the LORD said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will pass by.  There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound.  When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. (1 Kg. 19: 11-13a)
So please don’t think that I am rude, anti-social, or impersonal when I simply just want to be quiet and reflective.  Perhaps someone around you may feel the exact same way.   

The Lord is often found in the silence at the depths of the heart.
Fr. Ed Namiotka

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

A Most Unusual Summer

Dear Parishioners,

It is hard for me to believe that we are more than halfway trough July and I have not been to the beach even once.  I am something of a beach bum since I was a young child.  Growing up in Wildwood, it was frequently to the beach in the morning/afternoon and to the boardwalk in the evening with a babysitter, while my parents operated their hotel/restaurant business.  That is, until I was old enough to work.  Then, like most of the population in this seasonal resort town, I would tackle one or two jobs to earn tuition for Catholic school and to accumulate some spending money for the rest of the year.

Throughout the course of my life I have worked various summer jobs.  Growing up in the restaurant business, I did everything from busboy, to waiter, to dishwasher, to short-order and prep cook, to cashier, to maĆ®tre ‘d or host.  Then I worked for a few years as a short-order cook at the Wildwood Diner—the 7 to 3 shift (making breakfast and lunch).  I was employed as a checker (cashier) at the A&P Markets and in the deli for ShopRite.  During my seminary days, I drove a truck and did some sales for the Wildwood Paper Company.  But enough about my ancient past.  The last thirty-three years have been as an ordained Roman Catholic priest.

Once a week, I usually spend an overnight with my mom who has a condo in North Wildwood.  I check up on her, do some errands, cook a few meals, and keep her company.  During the quarantine, I went three entire months without visiting her.  Since she is now eight-six, I think it is ever-so-important to spend some precious time with her.

It is strange trying to get to know people in the parish as they are introduced to me with their face masks/coverings hiding their appearances.  Don’t people intentionally wear masks to rob banks?  It’s going to be hard for me to remember people’s faces under the current conditions and restrictions.  Please be patient!

I have felt like I was living behind the iron curtain for my first week—no internet, no TV and poor cellular service in the rectory.  I have had little contact with the outside world.  The internet and TV should be installed this week.  As for the cellular service . . . that’s another story.  I have often thought that I might like being a monk.  Maybe I need to re-think this?  I have been warned many times to be careful of what I pray for because I might get it.

I will be spending some time getting to know the life and rhythm of the parish, unpacking my stuff and finding my way in this new locality.  This part of Camden County is not as familiar to me as other parts of the Camden Diocese.

I probably echo the sentiment of many when I say that I hope things will return to some regularity or  normalcy sometime soon.  However, there is one thing that I am assured of despite the uncertainty of our times:  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13: 8).

Everything else seems to be something of a crap-shoot these days.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

The North Wildwood Beach

The Wildwood Diner

Monday, July 20, 2020

From the (New) Pastor’s Desk . . .

St. Thomas More

Dear Parishioners,

Hello!  This is my first letter to you from your new pastor!
At my last 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 St. Thomas More.

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, to Woodbury and now to Cherry Hill.  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 St. Thomas More 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:  www.fr-ed-namiotka.com with a link from the parish web.)

I look forward to meeting all of you over time!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

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