Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Is Your Marriage Ready for Some Fine Tuning?


Dear Parishioners,

I have been involved with the Worldwide Marriage Encounter community for approximately 35 years. The Marriage Encounter community has shaped me as a person and has helped to direct my priesthood and the ministry flowing from it. I have learned (and am still learning) many valuable lessons to apply to myself and my relationship with others as a result of my many years of participation.

During a Marriage Encounter Weekend, a team of three couples and a priest, present a series of talks to couples (and sometimes to priests and religious) with the goal of making good marriages better. The Marriage Encounter Weekend is not primarily designed for troubled marriages. It is meant to open up the lines of communication between husband and wife in what is essentially a private experience between the husband and wife.

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

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

I am scheduled to be the presenting priest for a Marriage Encounter Weekend from Friday evening September 29 to Sunday, October 1. The weekend is being held at the Holiday Inn right here in Cherry Hill. If you are interested and want to join us, the contact couple is Michael and Marge Walsh and they can be reached at 609-741-8012.

As the traditional definition of marriage is challenged, and there are increasing attempts to redefine it, we should refer to the teaching of Jesus in the Sacred Scriptures:


Jesus said . . . “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate. (Mt. 19: 4-6)

Marriage is sacred. It is one of the seven sacraments of our Catholic Church. As something divinely instituted, it needs to be respected and defended. A Marriage Encounter Weekend is designed to help that married relationship grow. I invite our married couples to investigate what this weekend is all about!

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Something about Our New Parish Staff Members


St. Thomas More

Dear Parishioners,

As you have been recently informed, we have two new people joining our St. Thomas More parish staff: Sr. Rosangela Ganau, FMIJ and Fr. Victorino Coronado. Sr. Rosangela will be helping to coordinate our catechetical program (religious education) and Fr. Victorino will reside at the rectory while primarily working as chaplain to St. Mary’s Catholic Home, Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital and Jefferson Stratford Hospital. I thought that you would like to know a little more about each of them.

From Sister Rosangela:


I’m Sister Rosangela Ganau, a Franciscan Missionary Sister of the Infant Jesus (FMIJ), born, educated and trained in Italy. Now I am a citizen of the world. I have spent 34 years outside my own country, in various nations and continents. I have gone wherever the Lord--through the voice of my Superiors--has sent me. My prior service/mission was mostly in education, catechesis, formation and social services.  


The many, different experiences, cultures and people I have encountered have greatly formed me! YES, I think it is more of what I have received than what I have given that I increasingly consider an undeserved, beautiful, precious GIFT from my God and Lord Jesus.


I am happy now to be here in the USA, where I share the Franciscan way of life in prayer, community and mission with the FMIJ sisters of Cherry Hill. This is now my community where we sisters try to grow together in the Lord, through our Franciscan vocation and mission.

I have willingly accepted to journey with all of you here at St Thomas More Parish. I pray we try together to open ourselves more and more to the love we receive from Jesus through the Eucharist, His Word, the Sacraments, and the events and persons that surround us. Then we can share this love with a missionary heart with our own family and to everyone.

I personally thank Sr. Clare, our FMIJ sister, who for so many years, with competence and loving dedication gave herself for the good of the parish and for each one she has encountered in her ministry. I, also, thank her with you for the generous support she continues to give us. May the Lord keep her in His Heart and give her all the blessings and gifts she needs.

Fr. Victorino Coronado was born in the Philippines. He studied for the priesthood at Maryhill School of Theology in Manila and was ordained on March 27, 1995 by Bp. Albert Biamonte for the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CICM). Some of his previous assignments included: parochial vicar at Our Lady of Peace, Williamstown; chaplain at Cooper Medical Center, Camden; coordinator of the Filipino Apostolate; parochial vicar at Our Lady of Guadalupe, Lindenwold; parochial vicar at Saint Bridget, Glassboro; parochial vicar at St. Rose of Lima, Haddon Heights and parochial vicar at Saint Andrew the Apostle, Gibbsboro. He also previously did mission work in Haiti. He will be helping us with a weekend Mass and a daily Mass and at various other times where his schedule permits.

Please pray for Sr. Rosangela and Fr. Victorino as we welcome them to our parish family.

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Tuesday, August 15, 2023

A Parish Update

St. Thomas More Sanctuary

Dear Parishioners,

Every so often, I think that it is a good practice to look objectively at our current situation here at the parish. I am reminded of a professor I had in college who would typically begin class by asking two questions:  Where are we? and Where are we going? Let’s look at our parish with this in mind.

I began as pastor on July 15, 2020—three years ago.  The circumstances were not exactly ideal. I replaced Fr. Dabrowski who died here after only six months as pastor. I also arrived with the pandemic and all of its implications and difficulties. Now that matters have somewhat normalized, where do we stand as a parish?

We have three weekend Masses averaging approximately 100 people per Mass. The summer crowds are usually less since many (including myself) take their vacations at this time. The weekly collections vary, averaging somewhere between $5000.00 and $7000.00. Our parish staff currently has three full-time positions (pastor, business manager, director of lifelong faith formation) and various other part-time and volunteer positions. This year our income did not meet our annual expenses and approximately $80,000.00 had to be transferred from the parish savings to pay our ordinary expenses. Needless to say, this cannot continue to happen. We necessarily need to keep a balanced budget since no parish will survive for very long by continually withdrawing from its reserves to pay its bills. (If you do not do so already, would you consider some form of electronic giving so that we can be more assured of a regular income weekly?)

The amount of children in the religious education program is approximately fifty. First Holy Communion classes have been less than ten and the number in the Confirmation class this coming year is about the same. I have not had a single wedding of a parishioner here since I arrived. In recent years, funerals have slightly outnumbered baptisms. Our daily Mass crowd, however, is encouraging—usually from twenty to forty. A small Latino prayer group is in its fledgling stage, being organized by Sr. Rosa Narvaez, FMIJ.

What is planned for the coming year is a consolidation of the position of Pastoral Associate for Lifelong Faith Formation with Director of Religious Education/Catechetical Leader. Additionally, the person hired for this new position will be in charge of Evangelization for the parish. The future position will be titled the Coordinator of Catechesis, Lifelong Faith Formation and Evangelization. In the meantime, Sr. Rosangela Ganau, FMIJ is temporarily assuming the former duties of Sr. Clare Sabini, FMIJ, until the new position is filled later this year. Sr. Clare decided that it was time for her to retire from her position as Director of Religious Education/Catechetical Leader. We thank her for her years of service to our parish.

I also announced at Masses last weekend that a new priest will reside at St. Thomas More rectory with primary duties as hospital chaplain and nursing home chaplain. Fr. Victorino Coronado will join us sometime in September (official date to be announced).

Too often people become nostalgic for what a parish used to be like without realizing the lack of personnel and finances currently available in any given parish. Only about 20% of the parishioners attend Mass weekly, and the number is even less of those willing to volunteer, to contribute financially and to be committed to a particular parish, as in days gone by.    

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Public Worship and Private Devotion

Dear Parishioners,

Prayer is something that can be a very personal, intimate and private experience and yet it can also be part of a public act of worship.  We can quietly make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, pray the rosary while taking a walk or read the Bible before going to bed. Yet, when we attend Mass, pray the rosary together as a group in church or participate in Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, our prayer is very much a public form of worship.

The reason I bring this distinction up is to make a simple point. A public act of worship should not become confused with any individual private devotion. They should be two distinct entities. What I write here is not meant as a criticism but rather more of an instruction concerning the nature of certain forms of public worship—especially the Mass. 

Some people have occasionally asked me why I do not regularly pray certain devotional prayers during Mass (perhaps after Holy Communion). My answer is simply that they are not officially part of the Roman Catholic Mass. I know that I do not have the authority to take it upon myself to try to add to or improve upon the Mass. The Mass is the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ and its celebration should be in accord with the General Instructions of the Roman Missal. As a priest, I should be faithful in celebrating Mass according to the official guidelines set out for us in the Roman Missal. (However, when I do lead people in additional prayers, a special blessing or an act of consecration, it is almost inevitably after Mass has finished, at the end of the homily or at the time of announcements.)

Does this mean that various devotional prayers should not be said? Of course not. There is a time and place for them but not necessarily in the Mass itself. Prayers can preferably be said before or after Mass, or at another time altogether. However, it must be kept in mind that by doing so we should never think that the Mass is somehow imperfect or incomplete in and of itself withoutadding something extra or additional to it. I state it again very clearly: the Mass is the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We can do no better than that.

Far too often I have been asked to offer Masses that included various blessings, installations of ministries or officers, recognition of various achievements, etc. Sometimes the emphasis on the extra, added elements seemed to overshadow the importance of the Mass itself. This should really be avoided as much as possible.

Hopefully, this will help people to understand why I do what I do. I just try to be faithful to the intentions of the Church and attempt to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in its purity and simplicity as it is intended.

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Tuesday, August 1, 2023

When Should I Call for the Priest?

Dear Parishioners,

From the days when I was trained to be a priest in the seminary, we were reminded of a rather important consideration: the sacraments of the Church are intended for the living.

Usually being in close proximity to a hospital and various facilities for the aging, priests receive a significant number of requests to visit people in the hospital and nursing homes. Some people call asking for the last rites for their loved one. Others call for a priest to hear their confession or to bring them Holy Communion.  Unfortunately, there seems to be a great variety in the levels of understanding—and even some confusion—regarding when a priest should be called to visit a patient/resident.

As a general rule of thumb, whenever there is an emergency, call for the priest immediately. Tragedies such as car accidents, heart attacks, strokes and any unforeseen grave situation should prompt an immediate call for a priest.  Please realize, however, that most priests lead a busy daily schedule and are not usually sitting around just waiting for an emergency call. We try to act promptly, but sometimes we are in a meeting, teaching a class, hearing a confession, answering an important phone message, etc., and may not be able to drop everything we are doing instantly. If we hear that it is an emergency situation, we will do our best to respond as soon as possible.

If a patient is terminally ill or in a hospice situation, it is certainly appropriate to call for the priest to administer the last rites.  The last rites of the Church include the opportunity for the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (confession), Holy Communion (Viaticum), and the Anointing of the Sick (formerly Extreme Unction). Ideally, these sacraments can be most beneficial when the person is conscious and is able to respond. Please do not wait until the person is at the point of death or unconscious before calling for the priest, especially if the illness is prolonged. The sacraments are available to bring spiritual consolation and comfort to the patient. Remember, the sacraments are intended for the living.

Additionally, there are times when a person should ask for the Anointing of the Sick.  According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

The Anointing of the Sick "is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death.  Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived."
If a sick person who received this anointing recovers his health, he can in the case of another grave illness receive this sacrament again.  If during the same illness the person's condition becomes more serious, the sacrament may be repeated.  It is fitting to receive the Anointing of the Sick just prior to a serious operation.  The same holds for the elderly whose frailty becomes more pronounced. (#1514 & 1515)
It is not unusual to find some people unwilling to request this sacrament for themselves or to hesitate to ask for it for their family member because of fear of sending the message that death is imminent. This sacrament, in conjunction with the reception of Holy Communion and a sacramental confession, may be a great spiritual consolation and a means of healing for the sick or elderly person. Again, the sacraments are intended for the living.

Moreover, in those difficult circumstances when the person has already died when the priest arrives, the priest is certainly available to pray for the deceased and to help to comfort the family.

Fr. Ed Namiotka