Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Spending the Weekend with Worldwide Marriage Encounter

Dear Parishioners,

I am away from the parish this weekend presenting a Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend at the Holiday Inn, Cherry Hill. 

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.

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 for me attending such a weekend?

Over 35 years later, I can honestly say that this experience (and especially 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 asked me to try such an experience. Like the couple that invited me, I extend an invitation to any married couple to consider attending a future weekend.
I have been presenting the Marriage Encounter Weekend, usually once or twice a year, for over thirty-five now. Our team wants to help strengthen marriages and give couples a set of tools to face the many challenges that our world holds for marriages and families. For further information, you can check out the South Jersey Worldwide Marriage Encounter website or call the information line at 609-741-8012. (For couples experiencing serious and difficult marriage problems, there are alternate experiences such as Retrouvaille for this purpose.)

Many people are afraid of the unknown, afraid of change or may not want to “rock the boat.” Why not take a chance and ask your spouse to consider the possibility of attending an upcoming Marriage Encounter Weekend?

I can tell you from personal experience that it has had life-changing possibilities on me and on so many couples who have attended over the years!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Respect Life Month

Dear Parishioners,

October is traditionally the month of the Holy Rosary.

It is also Respect Life month.

The two seem to go together so perfectly as I encourage you to pray the rosary each day for an increase of the awareness in our society of the sanctity of all human life—from the moment of conception until natural death.  We especially pray to end practices like abortioneuthanasia and embryonic stem cell research and pray that all human beings be treated with their God-given dignity and respect.

Sadly, on the news just recently I learned about two young drivers in Las Vegas who deliberately hit a man on a bicycle and killed him. The cyclist was a retired police chief, Andreas Probst. The video of the incident was boldly posted by the laughing perpetrators on social media. How life has indeed become so cheap and seemingly disposable! It is frightening that there are various incidents where the homeless are set on fire, elderly are beaten and robbed, children are tortured and sexually assaulted, the infirm or handicapped are physically abused, etc., etc. We need to insist that all human life never be treated with such lack of dignity and respect, but rather as a gift from God which is to be honored and preserved.

Do not be deceived by people who claim things like: “A woman has a right to choose.” First of all, without denying our God-given free will, the conceived baby is a separate human person who had no “choice” in the matter of his/her conception. Since we may never “choose” that which is intrinsically evil, no one can make the “choice” to take an innocent human life.

With regard to embryonic stem cell research, the same results can be achieved by using stem cells taken by other means. I quote the Document of the Holy See on Human Cloning:

“There are two potential sources of stem cells for human research, firstly "adult" stem cells, which are derived from the umbilical cord blood, the bone marrow and other tissues and secondly "embryonic" stem cells, which are obtained by the disaggregation of human embryos.  The Holy See opposes the cloning of human embryos for the purpose of destroying them in order to harvest their stem cells, even for a noble purpose, because it is inconsistent with the ground and motive of human biomedical research, that is, respect for the dignity of human beings.  However, the Holy See applauds and encourages research using adult stem cells, because it is completely compatible with respect for the dignity of human beings.”

Euthanasia, sometimes called “mercy killing” is usually presented as a humane solution to a life of suffering. However, “playing God” and actively putting a person to death by some direct means is morally wrong. (A person may choose, however, to take no extraordinary means to keep himself/herself alive.)

Human life needs to be respected and honored as sacred. After all, Jesus Christ chose to become one of us—a human being—in all things but sin.

Fr. Ed Namiotka


Tuesday, September 12, 2023


Dear Parishioners,
Throughout my life, there have been a number of inspirational examples of forgiveness that stand out for me. 
Undoubtedly the first example is Jesus’ words from the cross:  “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”  (Luke 23:34) 
Next, was the example that Pope John Paul II showed when he visited his attempted assassin, Mehmet Ali Ağca, and forgave him. 
Third, was the occasion of meeting the mother of a Polish priest, Blessed Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko.  He was brutally murdered by three members of the Polish secret police for his activities with the Polish Solidarity movement. When asked about forgiving her son’s murderers she said the following in my presence:  “How could I not forgive when Jesus forgave the thief on the cross?”
Finally, there is the example of Vicki Schieber, the mother of Shannon Schieber who was who was brutally raped and murdered in 1998 while she was a student at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Mrs. Schieber visited Sacred Heart High School in Vineland while I was principal there.  Rather than demand the death penalty for the person who raped and killed her daughter, Mrs. Schieber (and her husband) said there was no way they could demand the taking of another life. “The death penalty wasn’t going to honor Shannon’s life and it wasn’t going to bring her back . . . I thought about everything we ever taught Shannon to believe—to turn the other cheek, to show compassion and to be forgiving,” Mrs. Schieber said. “If you have a set of principles and then don’t live by them when you are tested, were they ever your principles to begin with?”

Christianity is about love, forgiveness and mercy—not hatred and anger. Whenever people foster attacks and retaliation—an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth mentality—no genuine, lasting good will usually come from the situation. Forgiveness, on the other hand, shows love accompanied by the supernatural gift of God’s grace.
I again reflect on the words of my patron saint, St. Maximilian Kolbe: “Only love is creative.”
When we or those we love are hurt, it may seem difficult or impossible to forgive. It is at times like these that we must pray for the grace of God knowing that all things are possible for God—and for uswhen aided by His supernatural grace.
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Tempus Fugit

Dear Parishioners,

Where did the summer months go?

School has begun and I’m sure there are some mixed emotions in many families. There may be disappointment that summer is over, a certain joy for students to be reunited with their classmates, relief for parents that the children are back in school, etc. etc. For many of us, it seems the summer just flew by too quickly!  Tempus fugit!  (Time flies!)

What is it about our fast-paced life in which so many of us seem to be carried away? For me, it can sometimes be described like a riptide experience. We often go about our lives doing so many things until we reach a point when we can be over our heads and become overwhelmed and overpowered by various activities and demands. We may seem rushed—maybe even a bit out-of-control. We may ask questions like: How did we get to this point? Where did the time go? Where did my life go?

When I was a child, it seemed there was more time in the day. It’s funny how various perspectives in life can change! There have always been 24 hours in the day. Why did there seem to be longer days back then?     

When I become recollected and reflective, I realize that time is one of the precious gifts we have been given. We don’t know exactly how much time we have left in our lives, do we?  How we spend those precious minutes, hours and days should have certain priorities. I suggest a few here:

  • Take time for prayer each day.  A life lived in prayer seems to be more manageable—especially when there are difficulties. I have found that when I take the time to pray, I am able to handle the day’s activities better and I find the necessary time to do what I need to do. When I push prayer aside, my days frequently are more chaotic.
  • Take time to worship God—at the very minimum, once a week at Mass. I am amazed that so many people find excuses why they can’t (or don’tmake it a priority to go to Mass. We need to be spiritually fed with the Word of God and the Holy Eucharist.  If we love God, then this small portion of my weekly time needs to be spent with my fellow Catholic Christians in prayer and worship.
  • Take time for the family. The people in our lives who should certainly be a priority when divvying up our time and attention are our family members. Sharing meals, regular conversation, family activities, and common prayer are good ways to spend family time.
  • Take the time to stay healthy. Physical, spiritual and emotional health are all important considerations for a well-balanced person. Do I exercise? Do I eat right? What productive activity do I use to release stress? Do I have a spouse, companion or good friend who I can talk to and share what is happening in my life? Do I take time for my spiritual needs? (After all, I am made of body and soul!)
  • Take the time to enjoy life. Everyone has different enjoyments in life. I have found that a walk on the beach, on the boardwalk or in a park can refresh the mind and uplift the spirit. A bicycle ride also helps me relax. I enjoy listening to music. The various wholesome activities that help to refresh and renew a person are certainly worth prioritizing.

Life’s journey when compared to eternity is simply a blink of an eye! Spend the time you have remaining wisely, living life to the fullest!

Tempus fugit, momento mori.  (Time flies, remember death.)

Fr. Ed Namiotka