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Fr. Ron's Blog

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Dear Friends,
This weekend is Pledge Weekend throughout the Archdiocese – Pledge Weekend for the Annual Appeal, now called Sharing God’s Blessings. Pledge Weekend, everywhere but here at OLMC, because we did it last weekend. (If you didn’t guess why we did it last weekend, you might have guessed by now that it was because I am away this weekend, enjoying, I hope, what looks like Spring Skiing in Vermont.  But I want to write again about the Appeal because many seemed to be away last weekend because of the start of the winter break in the schools.

You may remember that the Appeal was rolled into the We are Living Stones campaign last year. The first dollars pledged and collected in that Capital Campaign paid off our annual goal for the Appeal, which has always been around $125,000. Once again I want to thank all who pledged to the Living Stones campaign and you can see the fruit of your support both in the presence of our new Ministry to the Sick, Homebound and Elderly, as well as the new, energy-efficient windows in the rectory. But we always said that after the hiatus of one year, the Sharing God’s Blessings appeal would return, because this appeal funds the so many programs of the Archdiocese.

Let me refresh our history in the last year the campaign was conducted here, 2015. In that year, $261,346. was received on a pledge total of $268,144. The parish goal that year was $126,315. And the number of donors to the campaign was 625. This year, the parish goal is $133,218. As in the past, the parish gets a rebate on everything over the goal. The rebate on the 2015 campaign was $93,889. Though it was two years ago, I want to say THANK YOU to all who supported the 2015 campaign, an incredible demonstration of generosity for local needs around the Archdiocese. I have always told you that you are the most generous people I know, and you have demonstrated it time and time again.

For the benefit of those who were not here, or those who were and may have been distracted, I want to sum up what I said after the showing of the video. Basically, the Appeal funds so much of the outreach programs of the Archdiocese, our parishes and schools, our youth, retired priests and seminarians, the poor, hungry, homeless and suffering through Catholic Charities. I understand that these causes don’t pull at our heartstrings (perhaps, with the exception of Catholic Charities), but they are felt needs just the same. The Campaign is a life-line to parishes in our cities that otherwise would have to close without this support from the Archdiocese. It is a life-line to the retired priests, especially those who live in the two retirement homes, giving them a clean and comfortable residence in their “golden” (and sometimes, declining years). But most especially, at least for me, it is the life-line that supports the work of Catholic Charities, and gives hope to the 80,000+ who come each year to Catholic Charities. A segment of the video highlighted the St. Lucy Shelter in Jersey City and I shared with the congregation my experience on one of my visits (I have been on the Board of Catholic Charities for over twenty years) when one of the “sheltered” gave me a drawing he did, with these simple words, “Father, thank you for this place.”

If I were to ask, “Does anyone remember from the last campaign in 2015, the message I have been trying to get across in all these years that I have preached on the former “AAA,?” would you be able to answer? Besides the worthiness of the cause, which is to help our brothers and sisters in need in the Archdiocese, I have always asked that the appeal be supported by our entire parish family – that everyone join in, no matter the size of the pledge. In my mind, that number should be about 1,000 households, based on the number of people who come to church regularly.

So my message about the campaign is the same as it has been over all these years. Though it is not as heart-wrenching as other causes, it does support and assist those in need, from the poor, hungry, homeless and jobless, served by Catholic Charities, to those with disabilities, to seminarians and elderly priests, to parishes that are barely surviving, but still provide a place of worship, education and community, often for the poorest of the poor. Sharing God’s Blessings is a life-line for all these people. The second message is also the same. If you had been a contributor, please contribute again. If you are paying off a pledge to We Are Living Stones (as I am), please make the sacrifice to make a pledge to Sharing God’s Blessings (as I will). If you have not been a contributor, or had been but stopped, for whatever reason, please consider a pledge this year, even just to show Cardinal Tobin that we are with him as he begins his ministry here in the Archdiocese of Newark. Pledge envelopes can still be found in the pews, as well as in all the bookracks at all the entrances of the church. They may be placed in the collection baskets or in the drop boxes at all the doors of the church.

Note — If you missed the Sharing God’s Blessings video, it may be viewed from the link on the parish home webpage.
God bless,
Fr. Ron

P.S. Wednesday of this week is ASH WEDNESDAY, the beginning of Lent. As you may have heard before, the word Lent derives from a Germanic root which meant spring (which, no doubt we are all eagerly awaiting), as in the season, but originally, long, referring to the time of year during which the days grew longer.

Lent should be a truly special time of the year for Christians, much the same as Ramadan is for Muslims. It is a time to take stock of our lives, at the same time performing acts of sacrifice and penance to change those aspects of our lives that turn us away from God. It is a time to allow God to grow Himself more deeply in our hearts and therefore in the ways we live our lives. Couldn’t we all benefit from that?

I encourage everyone, man, woman & child to take this Lent more seriously than at any other time. Do something that’s a real sacrifice. Challenge yourself in ways that you never thought possible. Sacrifice something you really like, like sleep, getting up a bit earlier to go to daily Mass (6:30, 8:30 or 12:00). Or say a Rosary everyday or read a chapter from one of the four Gospels each day. Or fast every day of Lent (Monday thru Saturday, like in the “old days”) or, if that’s too much, Wednesdays and Fridays (see the piece in the bulletin about what fasting entails).

Encourage your children to sacrifice something they really like and help them to stick to it throughout the whole season. As a society, we rarely speak about sacrifice but we practice it every day; teenagers sacrifice time with their friends in pursuit of athletic excellence, dads sacrifice early nights at home for that extra advantage at work, moms either sacrifice career opportunities to be stay-at-home or time with their children because they need to be “working moms.” People sacrifice all the time, without identifying it as we may focus all our spiritual energies during this “spring” time, lengthening the awareness of God’s presence in our lives.

Of course, don’t forget to get off to a good start by coming to church on Ash Wednesday to receive that one, special sign which is one of the signature signs of being a Catholic (but know that other Christian denominations have returned to the practice) – ashes. Masses will be celebrated at 6:30AM, 8:30AM, 12:00 noon, & 7:30PM, with services (but not Mass) at 4:00PM and 5:30PM. And special commuter services (for those getting off the trains) at 8:45PM and 9:30PM. Plenty of opportunity.

Make this Lent the most memorable in recent years.

Blessings for a fruitful Lent
Fr. Ron

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Mass Schedule

Weekend Liturgies
Saturday, 5:30 p.m.
Sunday
8:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m.,
11:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m.,
3 p.m. (Spanish), 6:30 p.m.
Weekday Liturgies
Monday thru Friday,
6:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m.,
and 12 noon
Saturday, 8:30 a.m. only
Holy Days
Eve: 7:30pm (anticipated)
6:30am, 8:30am, and 12noon 

 

weshare

 

sgbcross 
Click Here for the Video in English and Spanish

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