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Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,
Advent is a special time when our hearts are often touched by the gift of believing that God loves us so much He came to share life with us, and the reality of that fills us more with hope than at any other time of the year. It is also the time to “put things right” with that God, a time to acknowledge our sins and seek forgiveness and reconciliation. For those who have been away a long time, I guarantee it will make a big difference in your celebration of Christmas. In that light, I repeat a column I wrote several years ago.

“Several weeks ago, in response to an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, I wrote a reflection on the article and on the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As we come closer to the Feast of Christmas, the parish will once again offer extended hours and opportunities for the celebration of this Sacrament. I repeat below some of that article as an invitation for the parish to celebrate with us this Sacrament of Peace.

Dear Friends,
From the mundane, to the sublime, I hope.
Inserted with the bulletin this week is the annual Financial Statement of the parish for the Fiscal Year that ended June 30, 2018. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me and I will either answer them myself or pass them on to a member of our Finance Council.

I want to point out a few things about the report. You will notice a very large surplus. This is totally due to the generosity of a deceased parishioner in whose will Mount Carmel was the sole beneficiary. What extraordinary generosity. In some way, probably in the renovated former convent, the parish will have to recognize that generosity by name. And as the notes explain, a final remainder distribution is yet to be received. If you were to subtract out what has already been received from the Net Operating Surplus, the parish would be operating in the red, ending the Fiscal Year with a deficit. Because of the size of our reserves, we are by no means in a financial crisis, or anywhere near one. But it does call us to seriously re-examine the operations of the parish and carefully plan for the future. While our expenses keep rising, our ordinary revenue is flat. And so serious questions must be asked, among them, can we any longer afford the luxury of four priests? Are there other areas of staffing that could be trimmed? Can we cut programs or, at least, look for ways to reduce the expenses related to them? Do we need to reduce the Sharing Our Gifts tithe from 10% to 5%? Can we in any way increase operating revenues? These all remain unanswered questions but, at least, because of these bequests, the parish does have the time to plan.

Each fall, we do Stewardship Renewal and when we come to the Stewardship of Treasure, I always ask that each of us reflect on the many material blessings God has given us and the need for our support of the parish to be, first and foremost, a sign of gratitude for those gifts, and not because of the expenses of the parish. Nothing has changed. I just wanted to share the reality with you because this is the first time Mount Carmel faces these challenges. I also want to put in a quick plug for the use of electronic giving. It really does help to stabilize parish support. Please consider it as a way of helping us do that planning that I was talking about.

You will notice in the narrative the bullet point related to the “We are Living Stones” capital campaign. Once again, I thank all who pledged and ask you to continue to meet those commitments. From the proceeds of the campaign, we not only continue to fund the Ministry to the Sick, Elderly and Homebound, we continue to tithe to the three charities (The Nurturing Place in Jersey City, Good Counsel Home in Spring Valley and Free the Kids, the American Foundation supporting Project Hope in Haiti) and we have completed the first two projects on the parish buildings, new windows in the rectory and in the lower level of the school. We are now embarking on the most ambitious – the major re-purposing (and renovation) of the former convent building, for which we will need to use some of the reserves created by the recent bequest and it is somewhere in that renovation I would hope to recognize the generosity of the now-deceased donor. I will keep you up-dated as we move through this process.

On the final mundane note, also as an up-date, I have signed (at last) the contracts for the installation of the solar panels on the roof of the school.

Now to the sublime. It’s Advent. I think there is no doubt that the Christmas season always brings with it a renewed awareness of and commitment to that yearning that lives inside each of us – for a better world, for a more loving world, for a more peaceful world, for a world where the hungry are fed, the homeless are housed and the lonely find comfort and hope. And you and I know that this yearning doesn’t come from the gifts we give or receive, and it doesn’t come from Santa, and it doesn’t even come from renewed family relationships. The underlying but often unspoken reason for renewed hope comes from the realization that we – the whole human race – are so loved by God that he came as one of us, in the flesh, to walk with us in our journey through life. The greatest, deepest aspirations of the human heart for a world that should and could be better comes from that Solitary Life we welcome again on December 25th.

And Advent is the time to prepare for that. Spend a little more time in prayer this Advent. Be sure to read the Advent Reflection Book every day and think about the lesson it teaches. Go to our Facebook page for a daily reflect ion. Attend the special Advent presentation, Advent: A season of Hope, Challenge and Change. But do something, especially as a family, to stir up those feelings of hope because we live in a world which daily, it seems, diminishes hope, raises anxieties and dampens the peace, fulfillment and happiness we all search for.

Happy Advent!
God bless,
Fr. Ron

PS. I will be away this week, visiting the Mission in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

PPS. The SHARING TREE is up in the Sacred Heart Shrine, to the left of the pulpit. Please take a tag (or two) and help make someone’s (child, teenager, the elderly) Christmas a little brighter because of your generosity.

Dear Friends,
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of Christ the King, and the last Sunday of the Church’s liturgical year.

As feasts go, Christ the King is really a late-comer. As I have written before, it was inaugurated by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as a counterweight to the growing trend to deify the state as the ultimate source of both power and loyalty. This was most especially exemplified by the totalitarian governments of the time, especially the communists in Russia, the fascists in Italy and, later, the Nazis in Germany. The Church was reacting to systems of government that sought to place themselves, instead of God, in the hearts of their citizens. While all three may have gone away, the errors they propounded have stayed, taking other forms.

Dear Friends,
Before I re-publish the original proclamation of President Lincoln in establishing a national Day of Thanksgiving, I want to publish another letter from Cardinal Tobin. This letter, though, is not to the Archdiocese, it is to me and to our parish. You will recall that back in September, we held an Open Forum on the abuse crisis in the Church. 250 people attended and were given the opportunity to speak their concerns, frustrations and angers. One purpose in calling it was precisely to give that opportunity. Another purpose was to send a transcript of the unedited comments to the Cardinal so he could read what was on the minds of one small part of the Archdiocese. I sent him those unedited transcripts on September 18th.

Dear Friends,
“What in the world is going on here?” Does anyone remember that old line, usually used by exasperated parents walking in on the chaos of ruff-housing siblings or some other commotion? (It may have been out of style for decades already). I’ve been thinking of that line in these past few weeks. What in the world is going on – in our world?

Dear Friends,
Ideally, in the in perfect world, Stewardship Renewal would take place on three consecutive Sundays. That’s because Stewardship, as a Way of Life, encompasses three major components of the way we live. (Unfortunately, this year we’ve had to disrupt that flow because of Academy of Our Lady Weekend, two weeks ago and Mission Sunday, last weekend.) In the past, I used an analogy that might help in understanding what Stewardship, as a Way of Life, is about. You know we are always being told that we Americans live an unhealthy lifestyle. What do we need to do to regain a healthy lifestyle?

Dear Friends,
Of things material.

I want to say thank you and congratulations to all our young people who attend the Academy of Our Lady for the excellent job they did last weekend, serving in so many liturgical ministries. The readers, the musicians, those who led the General Intercessions, gift bearers, greeters—everyone did such a fine job and all represented the Academy so well.

Dear Friends,
This weekend marks our fifteenth annual Academy of Our Lady Weekend. It is a time when we try to highlight one of the most important, but often unrecognized, ministries of our parish — our Catholic School. At all our weekend liturgies, the various ministries, readers, gift bearers, ministers of hospitality, will be filled by students from the Academy, just to remind us about the school’s presence as one of our apostolates. In addition, Dr. Patrick Martin, our school principal will introduce himself after all the masses. Please be sure to read his impressive biography which appears in this week’s bulletin.

Dear Friends,
Last weekend, we began our annual Stewardship Renewal, with the Stewardship of Talent. In many ways, I would have to confess that I believe the Stewardship of Talent is the most important leg of the stewardship tripod, because it really does have a profound influence on the way a parish lives and breathes. The parishes that are alive with the presence of Christ and active in bringing that presence into the world are the parishes that invite all parishioners to use their gifts to build the Kingdom of God, to engage all parishioners in the work of evangelization, announcing the message of the Gospel, both within and outside of the parish community.

Dear Friends,
I asked the question in last week’s bulletin, “Where do we experience Church?” Where is the Church most real for us? The obvious answer is that it is most real in the parish community to which we belong. It is here that we worship together. It is here that our children are formed as Christians and where we deepen our faith as adults. It is here where we support one another in good times (weddings, baptisms, the Block Party, the Christmas Concert)) and in bad (funerals, sickness, tragedies like 9/11). Here in this parish community we call Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.

weeklybulletin1

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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