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Fr. Ron's Blog

Fr. Ron's Blog

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.

Dear Friends,

-On things material.
As I have for the last two weeks, I begin with an up-date on the Annual Appeal. As of today, the total pledged is $136,525 from 276 donors, which means the parish is less than $900 from our stretch goal. That's fantastic and well ahead of last year. Thank you to all who have committed to the support of the many ministries supported by the Appeal. But you may recall that our goal was not so much in the dollars but in the number of donors. The Appeal ended last year with 420 donors and I was hoping we could get that to 500. So we have a long way to go. Why should I be a donor (it's a rhetorical question, because I already made and paid my own personal pledge)? First, because it is a good cause. The Appeal supports so many of the good things the Church does. Works like Catholic Charities, especially with its homeless shelters. And Campus Ministry, putting priests on the campuses of the secular colleges in our State, places like Newark Rutgers, Montclair State, Keane and Stevens in Hoboken. And the hospitals in the Archdiocese, putting priest chaplains to serve the sick in all the hospitals in the Archdiocese, including our own Valley Hospital along with Hackensack and Englewood. And the recruitment of future priests, the program headed by Fr. Geno. And a host of others. So many good works. So much needed to fund them. Please join those who have already pledged and let's make Mount Carmel a participant in all of these good works. Make a pledge today. Pledge envelopes are available in the rectory or you can go to the homepage of our website, scroll down the left hand side to the link for 2022 ANNUAL APPEAL. Be sure to select Mount Carmel-Ridgewood so the parish will get the credit for the gift. More about that next week.

Dear Friends,

I write this column the day after Ash Wednesday. So that would be a week and a half ago. By the time you read this, I will have just gotten back from a week in Vermont. As the friends I ski with have gotten older, we prefer a little warmer weather than the single digits of February. But I want to mention Ash Wednesday because it was the first time in two years that the church resembled what it looked like before the pandemic. I was moved, not just by the numbers, but by the reality that so many of the "faithful" were seeking God in their lives and making time to enter this Lenten season in person, accompanied by family and friends with whom they share that faith. Along with so many other moments in our lives, a return to a pre-pandemic life. And it was a special joy to spend some time with the families that came down to the Parish Center for the "traditional" (pre-Covid, of course) meatless supper, in this case, pizza and salad. It was nice to "see familiar faces," although the two-year hiatus changed a lot of the children, height, weight, facial expressions, etc. It was great!

Dear Friends,

As in the past, first the material, then the spiritual.

Covid 19. If you came to church Ash Wednesday or if you're in church this weekend, you may have noticed something different. The boards with the mask information are now gone. With so many places dropping the mask mandate, even New Jersey schools as of tomorrow, it is now up to the individual to decide for themselves whether to wear a mask or not. But please remember, let's all respect the decisions individuals make for their safety and the safety of their families. For now, we will continue the roping of the transepts and the staggering of the communion procession and the priests, deacons and Eucharistic Ministers will continue to wear a mask for the distribution of Holy Communion. I will certainly let you know if and when these remaining protocols are about to change. Speaking of the reception of Holy Communion, I received an anonymous note requesting that we only give Communion in the hand. I do not set that policy. The Cardinal does and many months back he lifted the ban on Communion on the tongue and so we are obliged to follow that policy. While I do believe Communion in the hand is the safer method in these days, we do sanitize after each distribution on the tongue. Let's all pray for continued progress against this pandemic.

Dear Friends,

Varia-a grouping of unrelated items, in this case, reflections.

Ash Wednesday-Wednesday of this week is Ash Wednesday the beginning of Lent, a journey about a journey. As I mentioned in last week's column, it is a 40 day reflection on our own journey through life, or, at least, through this past year and, perhaps, these last two years. This will be the first year since 2019 that we will be able to experience Lent as we have known it. It should be, and can be, a 40 day examination of my own interior life. Where am I in life? How did I get here? Is this where I want to be? Where am I going? Where do I want to go? And how can I get there? Pretty heady stuff, especially in light of the last two years.

Dear Friends,

On the material.
As of today, 130 households have made a pledge/contribution to the Annual Appeal, bringing the parish halfway to our goal. I thank all those who are part of these 130 households. It is a really good start since I only made the pitch two weeks ago. Someone asked me recently if they could restrict their gift to Catholic Charities. The answer is-yes. You can restrict your gift to any of the specific ministries outlined in the Appeal literature. On the back of the response envelope you will see that listing, with an appropriate box to check. That ability is also available if you make your pledge online. And don't forget to include your parish name, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel-Ridgewood, so that the parish benefits as well through the generous rebate policy of the Appeal. To be eligible for the rebate, all pledges must be made by June 30 and to be eligible for the 2% reduction in the parish assessment, the stretch goal must be reached in cash by June 30 as well. Please support the Appeal and do so now to help the parish (in these difficult pandemic times) by reaching our stretch goal by these deadlines. If you didn't get the materials in the mail, there are brochures and envelopes still scattered in the pews throughout the church and they will remain there through next weekend.

Dear Friends,

Happy Valentine's Day or, more accurately, Happy St. Valentine's Day-to all the lovers in the parish. And that should be everyone. Hopefully everyone loves someone else and is loved by someone(s) else. If Monday is Valentine's Day, then we are half way through February. That's amazing considering January seemed to be so long. Maybe it's because of all the cold or maybe it's just wishful thinking for that early spring.

I want to reflect on two things today, one material and one spiritual.

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