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Dear Friends,
Once again I lied. I told you last week that that column would be my last for the summer, but here’s another one. THIS WILL BE MY LAST.
I often get letters expressing thanks for some event, some religious experience, some special moment in a person or family’s life. Printed below you will find a letter with some reflections on our recent celebration of the Mass of Anointing which I would ask you to read. The reason I print it is because it reflects not just on me, or another staff member, or several staff members, but on the whole parish, who we are and who we try to be. Think of that as you read.

Greetings to Fr. Ronald Rozniak, to Fr. Robert J. Salm, and to the Parish Community of Our Lady of Mount Carmel!

My name is Sister Meg McCann and I live at the Mother House of the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station, New Jersey. One of the sixty-three sisters I live with is Sister Mary Spano – Pastoral Associate for the Sick, Elderly, and Homebound – who kindly invited me to go with her on Saturday, May 20, 2017, in order to attend the Mass of the Anointing of the Sick, and to see, first-hand, where she currently ministers to God’s people in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

What a delightful day this was! Let me share with you my experiences and my impressions of your parish. First, Sr. Mary Spano and I went to the Religious Education Building where I noticed on one of the bulletin boards a string of kites with the words: “Soar to great heights with Jesus.” Next to this was a caption, boldly proclaiming that the “Ten Commandments are not Multiple Choice.” These were edifying first impressions, and so was my introduction to a friendly young man named Taylor, and later, my introduction to a gracious young lady named Ali, (whose name means wings in Italian) and who was working efficiently at the front desk in the Rectory, with a smile on her face, and several professional messages written on memo pads.

Next, Sr. Mary Spano introduced me to a dynamic extrovert named Peter Sicko, the Director of Music Ministry, and to a gifted violinist named Jeannie, who were both rehearsing their music prior to the beginning of the Mass. Upon entering the church, I was impressed with the four pillars of gleaming gold which encircle the Corpus of Christ on an ornate and gold-gilded Crucifix. Clearly, the Crucified Christ is central to this church and He is given such a place of prominence that we may assume that God has rewarded the parishioners’ love of the Cross with abundant blessings and special graces. Chandeliers of dignified elegance hang suspended in holy silence above the assembly of parishioners, many on their knees in prayerful devotion. Sounds of flowing water lend an atmosphere of peace and promise to this unique and grace-filled parish.

The Stations of the Cross are in three-dimensional marble, depicting the passion and death of Our Lord with classical beauty, combined with stark realism. The stained-glass windows spread flamboyant brilliance throughout the church and add a splash of colorful beauty to this lovely parish. Most captivating to the eye is a round, stained glass window of stunning majesty, depicting Our Blessed Mother with the Child Jesus at her knee, enclosed in a border of royal blue and spectacular pink mosaic.

Prior to the start of the Mass, Sr. Mary Spano exhibited an amazing degree of energy as she greeted the parishioners by name (Helen and Clair, included), whom Sr. Mary embraced with a smile and who greeted her, in return, with equal warmth and affection. An atmosphere of Christian charity pervades the walls of this pious parish, which manages to blend the holy and the human with equal dignity.

My observations included glimpses of Sr. Mary Spano, directing parish activities over her cell phone, which rings frequently before the start of the Mass. Evidently, the parishioners love one another and they embrace each other prior to entering the pews and settling down for the Mass. A steady hum of conversation pervades the Church as parishioners exchange with one another the latest news that’s fit to narrate. A marble statue of Our Lady presides over the buzzing assembly, accented by a stained glass window of Our Blessed Mother being crowned with a dazzling tiara by God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

In the meantime, Sr. Mary Spano distributes name tags to all the people who gather for this holy occasion. Everyone seems to know everyone else and a gracious degree of care and concern is apparent in how they greet one another. Exclamations of “Sister Mary! Sister Mary” are frequently heard as people give Sr. Mary Spano a five-finger flutter of greeting and affection. Occasionally, Sr. Mary receives text messages on her cell phone, one to the tune of: “Good morning! It’s Jen from Care One. Just checking to see if you need me to pick up anyone or anything on my way to Mount Carmel this morning.” This suggests that parish activity is connected to a vast, social network, that runs efficiently --- with charity as its primary fuel.

The Mass of the Anointing opened up with two altar servers: a boy with dark hair and a little girl with a long, blonde braid who glided down the aisle with white candles to usher in this special liturgy. A tall boy carried the Cross and walked solemnly past the pews that were now filled with their fair share of walkers, crutches, and canes. The beauty of the organ blended with the elegance of the violin, as the people sang to the guidance of their enthusiastic hymn director: “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.”

Most moving of all was the powerful homily delivered by Fr. Robert J. Salm. An abbreviated paraphrasing of his homily can be summed up as follows: “Some of us here are suffering from loneliness and anxiety. We must realize that God is with us, in spite of our suffering. It is only through His grace that we shall be free. Jesus Christ came to suffer for us and He came to heal us. Christ provides the sacraments to heal us of what is in need of purification within us. God permits our suffering so that our suffering will unite us to Jesus on the Cross. In our time of pain, we should pray for others, knowing that God brings good out of evil. Christ suffered and died for us and He was resurrected. We will see Christ and also be resurrected from all of our sufferings.”An unforgettable aspect of this Mass was receiving the hands of healing placed on my head, along with many other grateful recipients of this anointing of the sick. Silence pervaded the Church, accented by pretty piano music, while the sounds of a waterfall enhanced the anointing with oil of forehead and palms, reminding us of the sacramental power of the anointing and rendering us grateful for the abundant graces we all received at this Mass.

At the end of the liturgy, we went to the Parish Center for delicious refreshments, and friends gathered at the many round tables to continue their conversations and to celebrate the joy and beauty of this lovely Saturday in May. Already, we were reaping the fruits and benefits of our anointing, as our love for Christ and for each other continued to unfurl, from one table to the next. I thank Sister Mary Spano for inviting me to your vibrant parish and I will remember the priests, staff, and all of the parish family of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in my heartfelt prayers.

Yours in Jesus and Mary,
Sister Margaret (“Meg”) McCann
Convent of Saint Elizabeth
Convent Station, New Jersey

If we are a “vibrant parish” it is because so many have accepted the call of the Lord to contribute their time and talents to help us grow and they have done this out of a love for Christ and His Church. In the fall, we will once again have Stewardship Renewal and our Ministry Fair. If we are to continue (and even grow) as a vibrant parish, we need “all hands on deck,” with everyone doing their part for Christ and His Church. Over the summer, think of how you can help; how you can contribute your time and talents to keep us alive and well as the living presence of Christ in our world, so that other visitors may see Him in us.

Blessings for a wonderful summer,
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 

 

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Click Here for the Video in English and Spanish

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