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Fr. Ron's Blog

Fr. Ron's Blog

Dear Friends,

As I was preparing to write this week's column, the news brought yet another horror into our lives, minds and hearts, the incomprehensible shooting of (at the most recent count) 19 students and 2 teachers at a school in Texas. 10 year olds! 10 year olds! What on earth runs through the mind of anyone, even those with serious mental issues, to lead them to such a violent attack on such innocent and helpless children? And the description of the event, as I heard it this morning (Wednesday) conjures up such a painful picture as to want to cry out loud. These children are the "Holy Innocents," victims of the cruelty of a broken world. While we know they share the light of the Kingdom, we hold their grieving families close to our hearts and certainly in our prayers.

Dear Friends,

Thank you to all who took the time to stop by the mock up pew and share their reaction with me or one of the other priests. What surprised me most was that the overwhelming choices were either of the two extremes, either the lighter end on the right or the darker end on the left. The "odd man out" was the one in the middle. A final choice has not yet been made. But as you can see, the project has begun with the removal of the first section, the two transepts, as phase 1. First, the pews will be stripped and after that stained. We've been told that each phase will take approximately 4 weeks. Please be patient if your favorite place to sit is "out of commission" for a few weeks. And as the old sign would say, "pardon our appearance." Hopefully, the floors will be done in each of those areas while the pews are missing. If you've ever tried to coordinate the different trades in your own renovation projects, you know what I mean by "hopefully." Let's all hope that it works out.

Dear Friends,

If you looked at the cover of last weekend's bulletin you would have seen the names of 160 2nd graders who approached the altar for the first time as they received their 1st Holy Communion. Before each of the six masses on those three Saturdays (4/23, 4/30, 5/7) I spoke to the children, telling them it was a special moment for them, for their families and for the parish family. That's all of us. And I thanked them for the gift they gave to the parish family. Their gift to us was their desire to receive Christ in the Eucharist, their faith, and the faith of their parents and families, that receiving Christ was a special moment to allow Christ to walk with them in their journey of life, to be one with them each time they come to the Sacrament. I hope all of us see that as the children's gifts to us-to see that, with everything happening in our world, there are still families who want God in their lives and want to follow Jesus as disciples. So often we hear things in the media which lead us to question whether there is a future for faith. 160 children, and their families, have given us the answer. Yes, there is. How blessed we are as a community to have been given that example.

Dear Friends,

Today is Mother's Day. With all the political rhetoric surrounding and engulfing any possible decision of the Supreme Court that has filled the airwaves recently, on this special day let's remember the special place a mother has in the hearts of her children. I offer this prayer for all our mothers and hope that your families have extended to you their deepest love, affection and appreciation for all you have done for them , especially as you helped your families through these two years of pandemic. In addition to this column, we will show a special tribute to mothers at the conclusion of all our masses.

Dear Friends,

This weekend is the middle of three weekends for the celebrations for one of the happiest moments in the life of a parish, the reception of the Eucharist for the first time for our children, 160 in all. After eight months of preparation, they will come to the altar to receive Jesus' greatest gift to His Church, HIMSELF, IN HIS REAL PRESENCE, for the life of the believer. And in less than a month, I will give the gift of the Holy Spirit to 162 of our 9th graders in the Sacrament of Confirmation. And all of these celebrations have returned to normal.

Dear Friends,

Many things to write about on this Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday. First on the list should be the celebration that stands at the heart of this Sunday's liturgical activities. From reading the bulletin you know that the parish welcomed Gabriela Blacido who celebrated the Sacraments of Initiation, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, at the Easter Vigil last weekend. She walked in the RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, the process by which adults prepared for baptism. But she didn't walk alone, others walked with her, some who were baptized Catholic but never completed their Sacraments of Initiation (Confirmation and Eucharist) and one who was baptized in another ecclesial community (Presbyterian in this case) but is now seeking admission into the Catholic Church. Today, at the 11:00AM Mass we celebrate those sacraments for these individuals, Jason Marquard, the Profession of Faith for full communion in the Catholic Church and, for him, and for Melanie Blacido, Diane Blacido, Rossy Gusman-Salzer, Mark Ramos, Roberto Piccininni and Conor Lynn, baptized Catholic, Confirmation and Eucharist. We rejoice with them and for the parish. We never live our faith alone, but in a community. And that faith is strengthened when we see others deepening that faith. In this case, we should be encouraged and strengthened by these seven baptized to experience the fullness of Christ's presence in their lives through the anointing with the Spirit and the reception of Jesus' very Body and Blood to strengthen them on their journey through life. Be inspired by their dedication and example and resolve to live that life of Christ more fully in your own lives.

Dear Friends,

As with so many things, we celebrated the full rites of Palm Sunday last weekend, for the first time since 2019. Many times we have to guess what the attendance will be. This year, it was a "double" guess because for one thing the public schools had begun their spring break and for a second thing, the ever present Covid 19 is still having an effect on everything we do. Consequently we underestimated the numbers who would come to church and, therefore, didn't have enough palm. I apologize if you didn't get palm. We'll try to do better next year. By the way, if you didn't catch the pictures of the procession from Vet's Field, go to the homepage of the website and you'll find the link, directly under the ad for the housekeeping position. The pictures are really great and I think you'll enjoy them. Thank you to everyone who came for Mass last Sunday. I know it was a lift to all our spirits.

Dear Friends,

"As we enter Holy Week, it will certainly be better than the Holy Week we experienced last year." That was the sentence with which I began my column for Palm Sunday, March 28, 2021, last year. I could repeat it again for this year but would have to add-"and much more like the last Palm Sunday of 2019, before the pandemic, and the years before that." In those years before the pandemic, I repeated my Palm Sunday column quite frequently because it's easy to forget why we celebrate Holy Week the way we do and the column serves as a reminder and teaching tool about the importance of what happens this week. As happens so often, the schools are closed this week and the challenge is that many will forget that for all of us who call ourselves Christians, this is the holiest week on the calendar. And I hope for those who are away, that they may, in some way, remember what this week means. But for those of us who are around, I encourage everyone to see the significance of these days and observe them accordingly.

Dear Friends,

-On the Material. The Annual Appeal.
This will be the last report on the Appeal until after Easter. As of today (3/30/22), $219,525 has been pledged from 310 donors. Once again, thank you to all who have pledged and brought us over our stretch goal, not only in pledges but in cash received. You have supported the work of the Church of Newark and of the Gospel and have helped the parish meet all the milestones we need to in order to be eligible for the rebate which, as I have said, helps us make up for some of the shortfall caused by the ongoing consequences of the pandemic. But, as I have also said, our goal is to increase the number of households supporting the Appeal and we still have a long way to go, even to reach last years' number. Please join in supporting both the Church of Newark and OLMC as well.

Dear Friends,

-Annual Appeal Update

As of today, the total pledged is $157,775, from 283 donors. Thank you-to each and every one of these 283 households for helping us reach our stretch goal. But we are a long way from our goal of 500 donors, or even the 420 who donated last year. Last week, I posed the question. "Why should I be a donor?" And I answered it: First, because it is a good cause." To see a fuller explanation of that statement, please check out my column in last week's online bulletin. Today I give the second reason. Because it helps the parish. As I've said in the past, parish support (collections) are down. This is probably because we have not yet returned to pre-pandemic attendance at Sunday Mass. Though the numbers are increasing, we are still down about 800 people in attendance which, of course, effects the income of the parish. But we still need to carry on the ministries of the parish. A big help to offset that loss was the rebate the parish receives when we go over the AA stretch goal. But this year, they've tightened the strings a little on that rebate. The rebate the parish receives will only be based on pledges MADE NO LATER THAN JUNE 30, 2022 and fulfilled by December 31, 2022. So, if you make a pledge on June 25, and pay it off on Christmas Day, December 25, the parish will receive a rebate on that gift. But if you make the pledge on July 25, and pay it off that same day or a month later, the parish will not receive any rebate on that gift. So, I am asking everyone to make their pledge now, or at least by June 30, even if you know you will not make a payment until later in the year. As I mentioned at the beginning, the rebate on this Appeal helps the parish compensate for lost revenue due to the drop in attendance still being seen because of the pandemic. I hope this makes some sense to you. If not, please send me an email or call and I would be happy to try to explain it a little better.

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