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Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

When I was in the Seminary back in the 60’s (1960’s that is) we used to call this time of year a Darlington February. The formal name was Immaculate Conception Seminary but more often than not we used the shorter form, Darlington, the name for that section of Mahwah, to refer to the place we lived and were schooled. The February referred to that time of year from our return from Christmas break to the Easter break and usually in the negative, because we were never allowed off the grounds. Thus, a Darlington February was a kind of bleak time in our lives.

As we are almost at February I can’t help but think back to those days even though our days at OLMC are nothing like that. As I write this, Discovering Christ, fully booked, begins tomorrow evening. In another two weeks, our first Men’s Cornerstone since 2020 will be held and a week after that only the third Journey Retreat (Confirmation retreat) at the retreat center in Kearney since March of 2020. The faith community here at Mount Carmel is growing and coming back to life after the pause created by the pandemic.

February also brings with it the 2023 Annual Appeal of the Archdiocese of Newark which will begin with Pledge Sunday the weekend of February 4-5. Pledge Sunday refers to the weekend of the in-pew solicitation but letters from the Cardinal on behalf of the Appeal should already be arriving at parishioners’ homes. But before all of that, I want to give you a report on the 2022 Appeal which just concluded. The Appeal saw an increase in the amount donated from the parish from $303,386 in 2021 to $330,557 in 2022. And the number of donors increased from 419 to 481. As we began the Appeal last year I wrote that I hoped we could get to 500 participants. We didn’t make it but an increase of 62 donors is a sign of great progress. You may remember that my goal, over these last 25 years, has always been the increase in the number of our parish households who support the many ministries of the Church of Newark. Thank you, to each and every one of you who participated, in this work. And because of your kind generosity to the Archdiocese, the parish has received a rebate of $166,467 which has gone a long way to help with the shortfall to parish revenues caused by the pandemic. On the homepage of our website you will find a Thank You Message from the Cardinal.

I want to go back again to the Men’s Cornerstone Retreat. Since the slow-down in the pandemic, if we can call it that and if it holds true, the thought has been coming to me over and over again of how much more Jesus wants to offer us. Maybe it started in the days of the lockdown when life was so radically changed in ways we could never have imagined. So much of our lives were changed by that experience and I doubt that any of us are truly back 100% to where we were before March of 2020. I see that in the number of people whom I saw regularly before the pandemic but I haven’t seen since. I see that in the ebb and flow of mask wearing, as each new variant makes its mark on our health. And it seems to me people are more conscious of how close they are when speaking with others. And I think we are all conscious of how things can quickly change and are beyond our control.

In all of this, the Lord walks with us, by our side, never abandoning us. Jesus wants to offer us fullness of life no matter the circumstances that surround us, to offer us a friendship that will sustain us every day, in our personal struggles, societal challenges, international crises and more. But we need to open that door for him. Cornerstone offers a way to open that door, not through lectures but through the eyes, hearts and experience of men just like you who have found in Jesus a source of support and friendship. I have a very practical suggestion for the men who attended the House Gatherings we had in the fall. If they opened a door for you, take the next step. If you had an experience of faith, either yours or another man’s, follow up with Cornerstone. You never know how the Lord may want to continue to touch your heart. Registration information can be found to the right of this column. I look forward to sharing 26 hours with you on the 27th-28th.

God Bless,
Fr. Ron


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