Saturday, May 31, 2008

Faith in Service

Today's Scriptures provide a call for Christians to put their faith into service. It's not enough to confess Jesus as Lord, we need to show it by the way we live our lives. Let's pray for each other throughout the week, that we may continue to strive to be a community of service and faith.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ray of Hope Award to St. Anselm

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Trenton has honored our parish with its annual Ray of Hope Award. This award is presented to our parish in recognition of our Stewardship practices and our commitment to helping the poor and those most in need. Because of our commitment to being a community of hospitality and welcoming, Catholic Charities is honoring our parish family with this recognition.

The award will be formally presented at a lovely dinner-dance on Friday, September 26 at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Princeton. All members of our parish are invited to take part in the dinner/awards ceremony. The cost is $200 per person. The proceeds from the dinner, and from the silent auction and the ad journal will benefit Catholic Charities of Trenton, and help them to continue the many and fine services that they provide to help those most in need throughout the entire Diocese of Trenton.

Back to Ordinary TIme

This week we again take up the Sundays of Ordinary Time. Perhaps this time of the Liturgical Year should be better called Ordinal Time. During this period of the year, we "count" the regular Sundays. We had a few Sundays of Ordinary time after the Christmas Season and before Lent. Now that we've completed the strong season of Lent/Easter/Pentecost, we again take up the green vesture of Ordinary time.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New Deacons

Last Saturday, Bishop Smith ordained three men to the diaconate. All three will be ordained priests next year, in May.

Bishop Smith ordained the three guys at nearby Our Lady, Star of the Sea parish in Long Branch. The church was filled with well-wishers and family members and many of the deacons of our diocese. I'm sure that the parishioners of Star of the Sea were honored to host an ordination ceremony in their beautiful building.

I've been floating an idea around for the past year or so. I have a dream of our diocese establishing an outstanding new program to train current deacons for future ministry as parish administrators. Given the dismal numbers of male celibates presenting themselves for presbyteral ministry, we will need to start training deacons to take real positions of leadership in parishes, and even in diocesan ministries.

We should be sending deacons for Masters-level training right now, to prepare for the priest-shortage that will hit our diocese very dramatically in the year 2010.

Good luck to the new deacons. My best advice to you is "Be prepared for a ministry that will look nothing like what the seminary is training you for, right now. Be open to the new and exciting ministries that will come at you in the very near future."

Monday, May 26, 2008

Body and Blood of Christ

Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We celebrate our Feast of Feasts....we celebrate our VERY ESSENCE!

We celebrate who and what we are FOREVER.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Welcome New Parishioners!

This evening, members of the Parish Council helped to welcome several new families to our parish. We had a lovely time at the Parish House, and we had a chance to share some light refreshments and drinks to open up our Summer season of welcome. The best part of the evening is the sharing of stories of how people have journeyed to this place and to this community. It's amazing to hear how very similar are the stories of the people who've come to St. Anselm. May all find in our community a place of welcome, family, and friendship.

Getting Ready for the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ

A setting of Cesar Franke's "Panis Angelicus" sung by the St. Phillip's Boys Choir of Norbuck, UK. Soloists are Jaymi Bandtok and Sam Harper.

For Catholics of a certain generation, this song was in the "Liturgical Top-Ten" of Eucharistic Songs.

This Weekend's Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ ia a wonderful reminder for all of us of the gift of the Eucharist that Jesus has given to the Church.

There is much current debate about who should preside at the celebration of the Eucharistic celebration, but the Church's belief about the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of parishes and local churches is never questioned. This weekend, may we all come to better appreciate the gift in our midst.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Deanery Study, .....once again

This coming Wednesday, we have our next meeting of the Deanery Study. All of the 15 parishes in the area have been asked to consider what might some possible "collaborations" look like in the future.

We've begun talking about what our parishes share in common, what our similar hopes are, and what our similar dreams are.

We've also looked at differences....and while that's always pretty easy to do, it's also helpful to the whole process.

Personally, I've come to a point of acceptance that I may be called to pastor a community far away from here. Perhaps it may come as a call to pastor two, or even three former parishes.

And so, personally, I've come to a point that will be open to whatever the Church asks of me. If the Church (the people of God) wants me to stay at St. Anselm....fine. If the Church wants me to pastor two parishes together....fine. If the Church wants me to pastor three parishes together....fine.....(but just give me a small bump in my salary, please! Have you seen the price of gasoline these days?)

Trying to be positive in these uncertain days.....

Yours in Christ.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The WORD today

As someone who has lots of contact with young people, I've long been concerned about the decline of our language, and the "cool" substitutions that often pass for modern communication.

I saw this and laughed and laughed. I hope you find it amusing as well.

Let's all get ready to hear and proclaim THE WORD at this weekend's liturgies.

Peace to all!

Thanks, Austin!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Future of the Deanery.....

It appears that our parish has been registering new parishioners from some of the nearby parishes. This past weekend, we had over 10 new families register for our parish.

While we're glad that new people are joining the good things that are happening at St. Anselm, I wonder if people are finally rejecting the outdated ways of the parishes which surround us.

I wonder why people who live in Ocean and Long Branch and Eatontown and Holmdel are joining our parish.

Whatever the reason, I pray that our community may prove to be a place and a people who welcome those from near and far. Let's be the community that truly sings: "All Are Welcome."

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cinco de Mayo Party/Mother's Day Eve

Tonight, we celebrated our Cinco de Mayo dinner and party, and we ushered in our celebration of Mother's Day too!

We had a great gathering of young and old, and in typical St. Anselm style, we had LOTS of great food thanks to Henry Tindall and the crew from the Parish Life committee. We enjoyed lots of great food and conversation and dancing, and I'm sure the leftovers will be enjoyed for a long time by the clients of The Center of Asbury Park.

Thanks to everybody who helped to make this such a great parish event. Special thanks go to Sangria Sue Nappi, Mary Buchwald, and our beloved parish chef, Henry Tindall.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Getting Ready for Pentecost

This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday.

The color for the feast is RED. If you want to wear something red to Mass this weekend, that would be fine. If you don't, don't let that keep you from celebrating in great style this wonderful feast ending the Easter season, and commemorating the beginning of the Church.

Some people in the church today yearn for a return to the church of yesteryear: they want the church today to return to the ways things were back in 1957. Some folks want us to return to the ways things were in 35 A.D. Some folks want something like the church in 1492.

That's all nice.

But I wonder if Pentecost is really a celebration that calls us to look to the future!

Sure, it's nice to look back to the "good ole days" and to remember with fondness the simpler ways of the "old style"......

But maybe we're being called to some new ways of being Church......

Maybe, perhaps, the Spirit calls us to evaluate, and discern its presence in every age.

Personally, I think that the Church in the Long Branch area, is being called to evaluate, and discern some future directions that may look very different from the "traditional" ways of thinking about parish, and even Catholic Education.

Let's continue to pray for the leadership of our parish, as we continue on the paths of our Deanery Study. Let's pray together that the Holy Spirit will lead us to a better appreciation of the ways necessary to serve ALL of the Catholics in the Deanery. Let's expand our horizons, and together "Sing a New Church" into being.

Monday, May 5, 2008

What if the Pope came back here again?

Let me link you to another blog, a friends blog, who's got a very interesting article on a "possible Papal visit to the U.S.......what would B16 find?"

Here you go....

The Next Visit by a Pope: my Dream

Like many Catholics, I followed the whirlwind 6-day visit to the US by Pope Benedict XVI on TV and in the newspapers. The media brought Benedict’s journey into my living room. I saw throngs of people cheer Benedict at every turn of the pope-mobile. When I saw the crowds, I wondered how this visit would be helpful to the church and in particular to Catholic women. I was exhilarated watching the Pope celebrate the Eucharist in a packed sporting arena converted for this occasion, feeling a connection to the holy ritual and traditions that have been part of my life from childhood. I was surprised at the intensity of the connection I felt. But it was satisfying to locate the leader of my church within my familiar and personal world.Faces of many races streamed across my TV screen, women and men in worship at the papal mass. As the Pope left the altar constructed on the field of the stadium in the Bronx, the TV cameras panned out, providing a wide-angled view of the multitude assembled in the stands and on the field. Those nearest the departing Pope strained to catch Benedict’s gaze, to touch him, to reach out and kiss the papal ring. A few received that touch; yet many were constrained behind physical barriers, making it impossible to move toward the Pope, to catch his gaze, or to speak words of welcome.The cameras lingered on the image of the Pope surrounded by a cohort of acolytes and cardinals and bishops, a sight that at first conveyed the notion of unity, a conformity in the posture and dress. Yet, despite the joy of the occasion, I realized the starkness of this image - the absence of the feminine presence in the group nearest the Pope. The all-male procession exiting the altar area did not truly represent my understanding of the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church;” these men were my church hierarchy. When people finally began to leave and the sports stadium emptied, I was left with a lingering image of a man-made structure that will soon be obsolete to the new stadium construction unfolding nearby.As I reflect on the Pope’s visit, I am heartened by the model of pastoral sensitivity and compassion of the Pope, evidenced in his meeting with a representative group of victims of clergy sexual abuse who came from the Boston area. I am heartened that Benedict voiced our shame that so many have been abused and victimized, and shame that so little was done to stop the evil and help heal the wounds caused by the abuse and cover-up. But I am also saddened that some events did not take place during Benedict’s visit. I think about those in ministry who are relegated to unimportant or powerless positions because of their gender and the structural fault lines that marginalize the laity from leadership in our church. I think of the man-made barriers and disciplines that separate women from greater roles in the church, in particular women who serve the church in ministry. Meeting with women in ministry during the papal visit would have helped identify these women as an untapped resource waiting to serve in an even greater ministry within the church.My parish does not differ greatly from many other Catholic parishes. If Benedict came incognito to my parish, whom would he encounter? A woman greeting him at our door, a woman cantor leading us in song, confident and well-prepared female lectors, numerous women serving as Eucharistic ministers, and a choir rich in women’s voice, a male pastor and perhaps a male deacon. According to data from the 2008 Pew Foundation report, fifty-four percent of Catholics in the US are women. If Benedict called my parish office, he would first speak with one of the women secretaries, or the lay religious woman who is our pastoral associate, and then perhaps with the female religious education coordinators, the female volunteers who teach religious education, and perhaps with women serving on our parish and diocesan pastoral councils. If Benedict happened on our Sunday Evening Prayer services, he might witness a woman breaking open Holy Scripture, preaching a richly insightful and often-overlooked female perspective on what has been revealed to us through Jesus and Scripture. The Pope would see women’s service to the life of our parish, and he would sense the desire of women to participate more fully in all fields of the church’s apostolate. And surely, Benedict would encounter the feminine presence of God in my Catholic parish.For women bring a unique human quality to their work in ministry. Undeniably, there are rich differences between men and women, which is the very dynamic of creation. It is this difference that makes life possible, that gives life variety, and that demonstrates God’s glory in all facets. It would have been helpful for women in ministry to participate in a meeting with the pope because meeting with the head of our church validates their ministry. The act of meeting would be a visible sign of recognition of their ministry and a valuation of their status as ministers. I have this dream.I dream of a future papal visit to the US during which women in ministry would meet with the Pope and spend time in conversation. In my dream, women would benefit from the pope’s undivided attention and talk openly of their concerns as female ministers in our church. The Pope and women in ministry would talk of fair wages and opportunities for advancement. With compassionate ears, the Pope would hear of their attempts to overcome obstacles and limitations placed on their service to the People of God because of their gender. Surely, Benedict will encounter the Spirit in their struggle and in the many unique gifts that women bring to their ministry.If a Pope would meet with women in ministry anywhere in the US, he would encounter female lay ecclesial ministers, women in religious congregations, female pastoral life coordinators, female parish secretaries and clerical staff, female nurses, doctors, and administrators in Catholic hospitals, women college presidents and professors, school principals and teachers in Catholic education, and female religious education directors, volunteers, music and liturgical ministers. The reality of my dream is that the Pope would experience the warm, inviting welcome of dedicated women who live Christian lives of service in the world. In my dream I envision women in ministry breaking bread with the Pope. And in the sharing of their food and stories of service to the church, women would be offering nourishment for the body and spirit. The Pope will see first hand the vast potential of leadership in the women who work in church ministry; the Pope will see these women who are called and gifted to lead within the universal Church.What topics would women in ministry want to discuss with the Pope? Women in ministry would talk about the church. Pope Benedict XVI himself named the church “God’s instrument.” And he has called members of the church the “People of God,” reminiscent of Vatican Council II proclamations issued by his predecessors. Women would want to talk of ministry by women as vital to the daily life of the church and as an indispensable tool for the church. Women are accomplishing so much of the work of the church. The often-subservient roles women have in church ministry may be influenced by social and cultural beliefs. I dream of a church that will name this social injustice and elevate the work of women in ministry and invite women into leadership and governance positions. Women would talk with the Pope of being catalysts for change in society, of being the channels for the working of the Spirit in the world. The gifts of women are often the means by which God cares for his people. Another topic at a meeting between the Pope and women in ministry would certainly be the need to re-examine the role of women in church ministry and church governance.During the next papal visit to the US, I dream that the Pope will cross barriers, will reach out and meet with women who serve the church, and will personally encounter women ministering with all their talents and abilities to serve the people of God. Surely, such meetings would enrich the Pope’s understanding of the need to invite women into greater ministry in the church. Such is my hope and prayer.Echoing the words of Peter Steinfels in a recent New York Times article on Pope Benedict XVI and the lasting impact of his trip to the US: it is not every brief visitor to the US who leaves his hosts thinking about a kingdom of justice and peace. This papal visit has given me hope: hope that there will be understanding that women are being called into greater ministry in the church, hope in the workings of the Spirit, and hope for change. And with the psalmist I believe I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.-Patricia Gomez

Saturday, May 3, 2008

New Church Building for Mary, Mother of God in Middletown

Tomorrow, at 3:00 P.M., I'll be up in nearby Middletown, at a dedication of a new church building. The parish is popularly known as "St. Mary's." But it's canonical and official name has always been "Mary, Mother of God" parish.

That parish happens to be my first assignment as a priest!

For over 43 years, the people of this parish have been worshipping both at the small, intimate church building as well as in the gymnasium of the school across the street. Truth be told, we priests used to call the gym masses: "Our Lady of the Hoops."

Tomorrow, the over 6000 families of the parish of St. Mary will dedicate a new building for worship. Finally, after almost 50 years of worshipping in a gym, they'll be able to gather with their priests and the Bishop to celebrate worthily in grace and peace.

I'm looking forward to being one of the MC's for this celebration. Don't be surprised if you see me shedding a tear or two at the beauty of the celebration.

I don't know of any other celebration that can be more emotional than the dedication of a new church building. Especially, since I know of the real history of this particular, very special parish, it may be a very emotional day for me.

Yeah, I may be a weepy mess tomorrow at the ceremony. But so what? I'm looking forward to sitting down at the end of the night with my priest friends who've worked at St. Mary's, who currently work at St. Mary's, and having a small drink of "holy water" to celebrate this great accomplishment. May this wonderful new building be the beginning of a new chapter of Gospel living for the entire community of St. Mary, Mother of God in New Monmouth, New Jersey!

Catholic Charities, Monmouth County

Tonight, I attended the annual dinner/dance for Catholic Charities of Monmouth County. It was a wonderful event, held nearby in Farmingdale at Eagle Oaks Country Club. The event raised beaucoup bucks for CC of MC.

It was a great gathering of very generous people committed to helping the most in need. May God bless all of our efforts to share these blessings!

Parish Collaboration---Right Now!

Today, I'll be presiding at a celebration of First Holy Communion in nearby Long Branch, at Our Lady, Star of the Sea parish. I'm looking forward to this celebration. There are only four children celebrating, so you can bet that I'll have a little fun presiding at such a nice intimate celebration.

It's a snapshot of the future.....we'll see visiting priests presiding at celebrations like this in the very near future.

As the Diocese continues the study of the Deanery, we can expect more cooperation and collaboration among the parishes of the deanery, just like this. Let's continue our prayer for the rest of the Deanery Study!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Pre-Cana Day

Tomorrow, May 3, we'll host a Pre-Cana session for engaged couples preparing for marriage. It's an all-day affair here at St. Anselm, with up to 40 couples taking part. Our Pre-Cana team is made up of several married couples from the parish who each take a leadership role in presenting on different topics: communication skills, finances, in-laws, the gift of children, Natural Family Planning, and yours truly does a brief presentation on Christian Conscience.

The best part of the day is the end: We invite the couples to join us for the 5:30 p.m. Liturgy, in which we spotlight their presence as couples preparing for the sacrament of Matrimony. We bless their engagement rings, we offer the blessing for engaged couples, and most importantly, we ask the entire congregation to pray for the couples. Then, for the final blessing, I invite all of the married people to stand with me and extend their hands in blessing over the couples.

I'm never surprised to see some tears at this celebration.

For some of the couples, this is their "re-entry" into the active life of the church. We usually get some of the couples to register as new members of the parish, because of the great hospitality of the parish throughout the whole day.

If you would like to volunteer to become a part of the Pre-Cana experience, just shoot me an email, or see me after any of the Masses on a weekend.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Deanery Study

The Trenton Diocesan Study of the Central Monmouth County Deanery study continues. Look at the MONITOR for upcoming articles on the progress of the study.

In the meantime, here's what's going on.

We've completed the "Information-Gathering" phase of the study, and now we're asessing the real neads of the Church in this area. We're "dreaming" about what the Catholic Church might look like in this area, say 20 years from now. We're involved in a process of looking at the realities of the current parish configurations, and looking at the fact that we'll have 30% fewer priests available to be pastors in 10 years.

We must begin the process of training lay ecclesial ministers to take over 80% of the duties of ordained, male, celibate priests in the very near future.

Our parish, St. Anselm, is committed to sending people for adequate training in the areas of Spiritual Direction, Parish Administration, Catholic Education, and Catechetics. Thank God that our diocese offers professional-level training in these areas.

The Deanery Study, due to end in August, will present the Bishop with certain recommendations for the future of the Catholc Church in this area. Let's continue our prayers that this process will help us to grow into a more vibrant and vital Catholic Church in the Long Branch area.