Thursday, June 20, 2013

This week in the bulletin

Last week someone rang the doorbell to the friary to tell me that every toilet in the church was overflowing.  Needless to say, I called Bill, our maintenance man, and headed over to the church. What  we found was that every toilet had been stuffed with toilet paper. There was graffiti in the bathroom and both the Peck Street doors in the church and the kitchen windows had been pried open.  Maybe they were planning to come back and finish what they started.  About a month ago, I was agonizing over spending the money for the security system in our Church.  Now I’m glad that we did. In the near future, if the vandals try anything like that, they will either be caught on camera or set off the alarm.  For now, I have no intention of locking our church during the day.  I am always so edified at the number of people who stop by during the day to visit our Lord.

Some parishioners are about to start fixing up the parking lot on the KGS property. They are also going to try to put in a sidewalk from the parking lot to Alling Street.  All of this will be done at no cost to the parish.  We are so lucky to have so many good, talented and generous parishioners who care about our parish. Thank you to all who are helping us with this important project for the future.

Kindergarten Graduation
This week we had Kindergarten Graduation. The gym was packed with families watching their little ones move on to first grade. Kim Pelzar, our Kindergarten teacher and a “Rock Star” in my book, did a great job. She even smiled when I had the little ones throw up their hats like they do in college. Did you know that every single one of our Kindergarteners were reading by the end of the year?  When they came in, some of them didn’t even know their letters.  When I was in Kindergarten, we learned colors, shapes and numbers... Wow!  What will these kids be when they graduate from college? We have so much to be proud of about St. Paul School.

I will be away this week, so please go easy on  Fr. Peter.  I guess I’m kind of boring.  All I’m doing is going to Florida (yep, in the summer) to stay in a priest’s house.  I’m looking forward to not setting the alarm, reading, relaxing and hitting the beach.

Summer Camp starts this week
We have a good number of campers registered and a great group of young adult counselors, who are all from our parish. Our summer camp is a great opportunity for families. Cost wise, it is very competitive with neighboring programs, and Mrs. Scalora has very flexible options for registration.  Grandma and Grandpa, Babci, Nonna or Nonno, Meme or Pepe, would you like to have your grandchildren over but are afraid you won’t be able to entertain them all day?  Why not have them come to stay with you, send them to camp during the day and enjoy them at night?

Thanks, Thanks, Thanks for the compliments
Many have noticed that the gardens are all planted and growing well.  It takes us about two weeks to prepare the beds and plant all of the gardens. This year I goofed up and was unable to call for help.  I won’t make that mistake again.  Please compliment Bill and the boys, Alex and Anthony, who help him. They are doing a great job.  Now all we have to do is keep them weeded and watered.  God Bless You and thanks again for noticing.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

11th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C - 2013

May the peace of Christ reign in our hearts,

Today’s gospel is very moving...
A tired soul, a wounded soul, a sinful soul had finally had enough.

She realized that she needed to live a better life and she understood that the only way she could get a fresh start was by publicly atoning for her public sins.

And so in a very dramatic way she came to the house of the Pharisee to ask forgiveness of Jesus and begin a new.

No one told her what to do or how to say I’m sorry she chose the way.

You know people sometimes convince themselves that sin is glamorous, or fun, or pleasurable, and it may be for a moment,
but once sin takes hold of you heart, once sin  wraps itself around your soul,  it is often painful and humiliating and degrading and most of all lonely.

Whenever I’ve talked to a person who has danced with sin for a while I am always so saddened by how lonely they are.

It’s next to impossible to sustain relationships with a person who is dupped or taken by sin.

When you look at Jesus in the Gospel you notice that even though he didn’t tell the woman what to do he didn’t stop her either.

He knew that she wanted and desperately needed forgiveness.

He knew she had lived a sinful life and had made horrible choices

He knew that she needed to say I’m sorry in a very public way and so he let her anoint his feet.

He didn’t push her away or rebuke her even though he knew it might cause a scandal.

And when she had finished her gesture, her apology, he forgave her publicly.

This Gospel shows us that God is rich in mercy.

Finally the pharisee considered himself a righteous before God and man yet He immediately jumped to conclusions...

He was sure that Jesus was a false a prophet because he allowed the sinful woman to anoint his feet.

He was sure that the woman was a public sinner not worthy of mercy and forgiveness.

He was wrong in all his judgements.

He was wrong about Jesus because by allowing the woman to say she was sorry and by forgiving the woman Jesus proved that God was merciful and that God loved sinners.

He showed us all that forgiveness is possible no matter what the sin or transgression.

He was wrong about the woman because while she may have been a sinner at one time God’s grace and God’s mercy had inspired her to change and ask forgiveness in a very public way.

With God’s forgiveness with God’s mercy she was a new creation. What was in the past was in the past.

And finally He was wrong about himself.
He was not righteous before God or man

He judged others. He put them in a box and he knew nothing of God’s mercy and God’s love which all of us are called to imitate.

There a lot in this gospel for all of us to ponder

How often do we put people in a box and judge them even when we don’t know the whole story.

How often do we fool ourselves into thinking that we are righteous.  

How often do we say I’m sorry, or make amends for our poor choice and angry words, and selfish actions ?

Many of us fly off the handle and then cool off and act if nothing happened.

Never saying I’m sorry and never admitting that we are wrong.

I think we all know in our hearts that to be forgiven you have to ask for it.
The woman in the story was a great sinner who became a great saint.. because she asked for forgiveness

What’s holding us back?

Friday, June 14, 2013

In the Bulletin Week of June 16th

Confirmation Program Enhancements
This summer, we have begun to look at our Confirmation program.  As many of you know, we are one of the largest programs in the state. If everyone who was in 8th grade last year follows through, we will have over 120 in the class. I promise to keep you posted on our progress, but here are some of the things we are looking at: Increased preparation for our catechists, a new sylabus patterned to the needs and skill set of our students, the possibility of a service day to help our students get their service hours in, keeping the program fresh by using a variety of teaching methods, increased accountability for both catechists and staff with weekly online quizzes and a final assessment before allowing a young person to proceed to the 10th grade program.  This is all in the development stage, but it looks good and I am most grateful to the people who have stepped up and are willing to be the catechists for this most important ministry.

KGS - Committee
We continue to work toward coming up with a comprehensive campus plan for our parish, including the KGS property. As I said before, we are developing the site plan so that we can immediately make better use of the KGS property and keep our options open for the future.  At  the last meeting, the KGS Committee felt that it would be good to have some informational meetings to get input from the parish at large. Keep your eyes on the bulletin for the dates and the times of these future meetings.

Marriage Convalidations
We are happy when a couple asks to have their marriage “blessed” by the Church. When a person asks to have their marriage blessed, they are actually asking to have their marriage convalidated, or recognized by the Church. To have your marriage convalidated, the couple must have no previous marriages recognized by the church. For example: If you and your spouse are both Catholic and  were married by a Justice of the Peace, it is indeed possible for your marriage to be convalidated. If you or your spouse were married previously and divorced, and  if that previous marriage was annulled or if your previous spouse died, there is a good possibility that your current marriage could be blessed or convalidated.  A convalidation ceremony is usually private in the company of two witnesses. If you have any questions please feel free to call the Parish Office and we’d be happy to discuss the possibility of having your marriage convalidated here at St. Paul’s.

Church Security Enhancements
Maximum Security is in the final design stages of the fire/security enhancements we have planned for our Church. These projects were paid for by the End of the Year Appeal. We are making sure the design is exactly what we need and we are in discussion with the Fire Marshall to make sure he is in agreement. The whole project should start in the next month or so. The project includes,  a new fire and security alarm, access control on key doors, and CTV to catch anyone who might vandalize the Church. We are very fortunate that we can keep our church opened all day. I have discussed this project with members of the Berlin Fire and Police Departments and they feel that we are being very proactive and making a great move to keep everyone safe in our beautiful little Church.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C - 2013

The readings today leave us three important lessons.

The first is simply that God has power over death.
Yes God is stronger than death.

Belief in the resurrection is one of  cornerstones on which everything rests.
If you don’t believe that God has power of death,
if you don’t believe that all of us will rise again,
then your time would be better spent elsewhere.

Stand up right now and head over to Josie’s for Breakfast and have some of their great homemade bread or go over to the Timberlin Golf course and play a round of golf.

The fact that God’s power over death puts our life in perspective.

In the first reading Eliajh raises a widow’s son from the dead.
In the Gospel Jesus does the same.

Most of the time our resurrection happens in the next world but these scriptures remind us that God can certainly raise a person from the dead even in this world.

I’ve been thinking a lot about death these last few months and of course there have been moments when I simply forgot that God is stronger than death,

Of course there have been moments of saddness as I mourn the my Mom’s loss.

The other day I walked into my Office saw my Mother’s purse laying there and the tears began to flow.

Yet, I know without a shadow of a doubt that Mom is in a better place. God loves her and she no longer has to struggle to breath.
She is no longer struggles to speak to us on the phone.

I understand that my tears are often more about me than about her.
And I believe that that’s ok

Time will heal.
love will endure, life will go one for me, and life has gone on for her an new and more beautiful life.

Holy Fr. Raymond drove this point home to me the day before his surgery.

I was with him in his hospital room and I was getting all emotional worried sick about him. He looked me in the eye without fear and without any trace of regret and simply said...

Robert if you gotta go you gotta go.

Yesterday he told me when he opened his eyes in the recovery room he said... "Oh I'm still here" and he started to laugh.

These scriptures and our eyes of faith teach us that Death has no real power over us.
It has no power...

Death is simply a door from one life to the next, a door through which all of us will one day pass.

The second lesson is as simple as the first.
Not only does God have power over death but He also has power over life if we let him in

St. Paul hated the followers of Jesus
He made it his mission to seek them out and prosecute them.

He did everything in his power to stomp out the little community of believers that was blossoming all over Palestine
and yet God reached down and and changed Paul’s hardened heart.

Just like God changed Pauls heart,
I have the consolation of knowing that
God can change my heart or God can change your heart.

God can free us from our prejudices.
He can help us save our marriages
He can challenge us to be better people.
He can free us from our addictions and our shame.
God can open our eyes to the needs of others.
God can forgive our sins.

He may have to knock us off our high horse like he did for Paul but He can change us for sure.

Yes, God is indeed powerful, powerful over death, and powerful over life.

Finally, the first reading and the Gospel illustrate so clearly for us the loving compassion of God.

Elijah and Jesus could just not bear to see those two widows mourn the loss of their sons.

During the time of Jesus a widow was the poorest of the poor with no rights and no way to sustain themselves.

Jesus and Elijah didn’t just say oh I’m sorry I’ll say a prayer for you.

The sprang into action and they turned to God for help.

We all need to be more compassionate people.

So often when we see a need we cop out and say oh that’s none of my business,who am I to get involved>

So often when poverty or suffering or hunger or whatever show their faces in our community we say to ourselves and our friends something like what a shame but what can I do?.

Yesterday as I was going to see Fr. Raymond during the driving rain there was a lady with a flat tire standing on the side 84 looking distraught.

By the time I could get off and get back on and get off again and get going in the right direction, there was already a man hunched over a jack changing the tire in the driving rain.

The lady told me he was just someone who stopped, she didn’t have a clue who he was, but there he was drenched to the bone changing her tire.

He was a compassionate man indeed.

With the incarnation our compassionate God jumped into all of our messes.

He didn’t just look on and say what a shame I’ll just stand by and see when they get it right.

No God pulled up His sleeves and started to help and for his efforts he was crucified.

The world would be such a different place if everyone showed  more compassion

Jesus did and so must we.

Let us begin to look at death confidently with the eyes of faith.

Let us trust that God can change our lives if we let him.

Like Jesus and Elijah let us be compassionate people willing to get involved in the lives of those who need.

Thanks you Lord for the gift and challenge of faith.


Friday, June 07, 2013

In the Bulletin - Weekend of June 9th

June 9, 2013 In the Bulleting

You Spoke, They Listened
For several weeks, we informed you that the state government was going to cut funding for Busing for our Catholic Schools.  Many people called from our parish.  We are happy to report that the Appropriations Committee  has made a decision.  Our school  kids will continue to have busing.  It just goes to show you  how important it is to advocate for just causes.  Thank you so much  for your response  in this important matter.  You spoke, they listened. Thanks be to God.
Fr. Raymond
As some of you may know,  Fr. Raymond went into the hospital unexpectedly on Monday and ended up having quadruple bypass surgery on his heart. The surgery lasted 5 hours, but we are happy to say everything went well. Fr. Raymond has a long recovery ahead of him; they tell us his recovery period may last 3-4 months. Please join us in thanking God for Fr. Raymond’s successful surgery.  I know we can count on your prayers.
The KGS Committee
The Committee met again last Monday and continued its review of possible site plans for our new property across the street. While the whole project will be very expensive, it will increase our campus by 60% and position us well for the future. Of course we all knew that the primary expense would be the abatement and demolition of the building.  Sadly,  it has simply deteriorated beyond repair.  When this project is complete, we will be leaving those who will follow us a very beautiful parish campus.
Our Eighth Grade
Our Eighth Grade graduated last week.  Some of them had attended Saint Paul School for 11 years, from Pre-K all the way through. We will miss the families as much as we will miss the kids. All of us know how successful Saint Paul School is, we have the national test results to prove it. Please say a little prayer for our eighth graders as they take the next step in their lives. I assure you they are well prepared. Also, please spread the word about the incredible success we are having at your parish school. It just goes to show you what differentiated instruction, dedicated families, great teachers and the support of a faith-based community can do for a bunch of terrific kids.
Word is out and there are only a few places left in our Pre-K3 and Pre-K4 programs. With the hiring of more staff and the addition of another classroom for Pre-K4,  we have significantly increased the size and scope of our very successful program. As soon as people heard that we were expanding, there was a rush to get their child’s name on the list. If you are interested in Pre-K at Saint Paul School, please make sure to call the school office ASAP. Spaces are very limited.
Summer Camp
Our parish summer camp is one of my favorite things we do here at St. Paul’s. It benefits everyone. The families who participate have the peace of mind knowing that their children are in a safe and fun place for the summer, for the week, or for the day. For stay at home Mom’s and Dad’s,  its a great place to put your kids for a week or two when you are running out of ideas on what to do for them. It gives you a breather and it gives them something different to do.  The program is staffed by young adults from our parish who have an incredible amount of energy and who seem to enjoy the campers presence as much as the campers enjoy theirs. This is the third year that the camp is under the able direction of Mrs. Scalora.  She and her return staff have really developed a great program.  Space is still available and we have a very flexible registration program to meet families’ needs. Please see the parish or school website for more information. Here’s a thought,  maybe Saint Paul Summer Camp could even be a gift that a Grandma and Grandpa could give their grandchildren over the summer. You could let them stay over at your house at night and go to camp during the day.
The Year of Faith Mass
Last week after our Masses, Sal, the Crenella’s and I took a small group of young people to the Cathedral of St. Joseph for the Year of Faith Mass. We arrived early because I was worried about parking (I’m my Mother’s son) so I had a chance to take our kids around the Cathedral and show them things particular to a Cathedral Church, like the Bishop’s chair or “cathedra” and the Oils which are blessed at the Chrism Mass.  In the early afternoon when the light pours through the windows of the Cathedral, it’s beautiful. After the Mass, I treated them to supper and a ride on some go karts. I took off my habit for the go kart ride, and I came in 4th.  Not bad for 58 years old. I even beat Sal.
The High School Youth Group
The High School Youth Group was packed last Monday night. The group had a great time doing what High School Youth groups do, and celebrating Sal’s Birthday. Sal stands out after each of the Masses and tries to greet people as they come out of Church. If you see him, please stop and thank him for the good work that he does with our youth.  I know you agree, that we have to do a better job at reaching out to the young people of our Church. The addition of our Youth Minister has been a huge step in the right direction.
It’s free and fun
The Family Life Committee is planning another Drive-in Movie Night.  Last year it was so beautiful to see families bring their kids and watch a movie together in our parking lot. The date is June 14th, and if you are looking for something fun and free to do with your kids, add the Saint Paul Movie night to your Summer bucket list. You won’t be disappointed.
The Census Update
Our census ladies are still hard at work updating our census. It is a huge task, but they are making progress. The pile of forms to be processed shrinks every week. It almost takes 20 minutes to fix a record and update everything. The volunteers promise me that they pray for every family they update. If you have not returned your census update form, please do so as soon as you can, so that we can keep this very important project moving forward.

Whew that’s enough for this week...
God bless you,

Fr. Robert