Tuesday, April 27, 2021

A (Rescheduled) Trip to Oberammergau

Dear Parishioners,

Where is Oberammergau and why am I planning to lead a pilgrimage there in September 2022?

According to the website for the Passion Play, which is held in an open-air theater in the Alps of Bavaria, Germany (about one hour from Munich):

It all began with the pledge by the people of Oberammergau to act out the Passion Play once every ten years.

Pastor Daisenberger writes in his village chronicles: “The first decades of the 17th century went by in peaceful calm for the people of Oberammergau. . . . As early as 1631, infectious diseases spread in Swabia as well as in Bavaria. This village was spared by dutiful vigilance until the church festival in 1632, when a man named Kaspar Schisler brought the plague into the village. Faced with the great distress that the terrible illness inflicted upon the population, the leaders of the community came together and pledged to hold a passion tragedy once every ten years. From this day forward, not a single person perished, even though a great number of them still showed signs of the plague”

The year 2020 was supposed to be the 42nd play year for performances. It was postponed to 2022 because of the pandemic.  This Passion Play has become world-renowned as the entire village takes a part in the production.

When I was a seminarian, I was made aware of this Passion Play after one of my priest-friends had attended a performance there and brought me back a small statue of Our Lady. This statue currently sits in my rectory chapel and I have prayed and trusted that if I was meant to go to see this Passion Play, it would somehow happen.

Well, things are progressing once again and my trip is now re-scheduled for September 2 to 12, 2022. The pilgrimage will include visits to Prague (Czech Republic), Budapest (Hungary), Vienna (Austria) and Munich (Germany). We have the convenience of departing from the Philadelphia airport (PHL).

Since I have no idea what will happen by 2030, the next regularly scheduled performances of this Passion Play, I plan to go this year while I am still young enough and healthy enough to travel. Lord, please just keep my heart ticking!

If anyone is interested in joining us for this special pilgrimage, there are still some spaces available.  People from my last parish assignment had already signed up for the postponed trip and they now plan once again to go on the rescheduled trip in 2022.  While some may procrastinate thinking that next September is still too far away, the time will fly and this opportunity may be lost.

A pilgrimage is a spiritual journey. We will pray, offer daily Mass and attempt to highlight various religious sights (famous churches and cathedrals, etc.).

For more information on this trip, contact the parish office and our staff will provide a detailed itinerary or will direct your questions and concerns to me.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Passion Play Open-Air Theater

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

“Did You Ever Think About Becoming a Priest?”

Dear Parishioners,

I can remember that it was my junior year of high school.  I was standing with some of my friends in the cafeteria of Wildwood Catholic High School during a school dance.  I was checking out the girls there in the rather dark setting, trying to get up the courage (because I was so shy) to ask one of them to dance.

Then along comes this priest.  He was new to the school, not ordained for too long, and was assigned to teach my theology class.

“Did you ever think about becoming a priest?”

He asked me that question.  It still resonates in my mind.  What should I say?

Maybe I was unusual, but my prayer life at that time included a prayer for a good wife.  I prayed that God would give me the wife that was best suited for me and that we would be happy together.  It’s funny how I can remember quite clearly how I regularly prayed that particular request.

“Yes, Father, I’ve thought about it but I’m not sure that it’s right for me.”  It seemed to be a good enough response to get him to go away and let me resume what I was doing—at least for the time being.

After nearly 34 years of ministry as a diocesan priest, I realize clearly that Christ answered my prayer and gave me the best bride that He possibly could—His own spouse, the Church.  I can honestly say that I am truly grateful that God called me to be His priest and for the gift of the ordained, ministerial Priesthood.

On this 4th Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd SundayBishop Sullivan asked us to speak about and to encourage vocations to the diocesan priesthood.  Parishioners are asked to pray specifically for vocations to the diocesan priesthood.  Please take the time to do so every day.

The privilege to offer Mass daily, to bring healing and forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, to anoint the sick, to baptize, to teach and preach the Catholic faith, to act in the person of Christ in the sacraments and so many other blessings have humbled me and reminded me of God’s great love and mercy for His people.

“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Luke 10:2

I don’t believe that God ever stopped calling young men to be His priests.  God remains faithful from age to age.  Pray that those who are called by God can hear and discern “the call” and have the courage to respond to it.

Fr. Ed Namiotka

A Prayer for Vocations

Lord Jesus, we ask you to bless the Diocese of Camden
with an increase in vocations to the priesthood.
We pray that young men from our parishes and families will
hear your call and be both generous and courageous in their response.
May more young men serve you as priests who teach the faith, preach the Gospel,
celebrate the sacraments and make you present among us through their ministry.
Encourage them to embrace the joy-filled and fulfilling life of a diocesan priest.
May parents support priestly vocations in their families by prayer and good example.
We entrust these prayers through Mary Immaculate, our patroness,
hopeful that you will bless our diocese with more priest in the near future,
who live and reign forever and ever.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Jesus, I Trust in Thee!

Dear Parishioners, 

Happy Easter! 

We continue in the octave of Easter. A single day is not enough to celebrate this great solemnity. The Church gives us eight days and then an entire Easter season to rejoice in the Risen Lord. Alleluia! This final day of the octave has been designated Divine Mercy Sunday.

Sister (now Saint) Maria Faustina Kowalska, a young uneducated nun, lived in Poland from 1905 until her death in 1938. Baptized Helena, she was the third of ten children. She entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy just prior to her 20th birthday. She had only three years of formal education at the time. During her thirteen years in the convent, she worked as a cook, gardener and porter.

At the same time, Sr. Faustina heard an inner voice speaking to her. She wrote down the messages which she said were given to her by Jesus into her notebooks. The compilation of notebooks was eventually published as The Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska (Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul). The content of these notebooks centered on God’s Divine Mercy. Sr. Faustina described how Jesus gave her the task of “Secretary” of His Divine Mercy.

According to the Divine Mercy website (thedivinemercy.org): 

The years Sr. Faustina spent at the convent were filled with extraordinary gifts, such as revelations, visions, hidden stigmata, participation in the Passion of the Lord, the gift of bilocation, the reading of human souls, the gift of prophecy, and the rare gift of mystical engagement and marriage.

At the time of her canonization in the year 2000 by Pope (now Saint) John Paul II, he also declared the Sunday after Easter Divine Mercy Sunday for the Universal Church.  Sr. Faustina described Jesus speaking to her about this day in her dairy:

On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. (Diary of Saint Faustina, 699) 

I realize we are living under some very unusual conditions at this time in history with the coronavirus pandemic. I suggest that we all intend now to make a sacramental confession as soon as possible when we are able to see a priest personally. Sacraments are administered person to person and not remotely by phone, by TV or by the internet. These are only stop-gap solutions. In the meantime, continue to pray the act of contrition as perfectly as possible each day.

There is a very important spiritual lesson for us here: time and opportunity will run out for all of us. We will not live forever. If we want to experience God’s Divine Mercy, we have first to admit our guilt and acknowledge our sins to Him through the instrument of the priest—as Jesus instructed His apostles (see Jn. 20:23).

Place your trust where we can have absolute certainty of God’s Divine Mercy: Jesus, I trust in Thee!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska

Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday 2020 - Fr. Edward Namiotka