The Ascension of the Lord

Dear Friends,

We kicked off our 60th Anniversary two weeks ago. The reception after each Mass was well appreciated. The 5 pm Mass saw the cafeteria filled with parishioners having a wonderful fellowship. Thanks again to the Martin de Porres Society and other parishioners who hosted all the receptions. Thanks to the Anniversary Committee who have lined up more events in the coming months, earliest of which is the St. Matthias 60th Anniversary Cook Book. In this context, there are two initiatives that I like to invite us all to consider.

The first is SPIRITUAL DIRECTION. Many will remember Pat Leposa who did the ministry of spiritual direction (SD) here at St. Matthias for a number of years until she moved out of state two years ago. In her parting message to our community, Pat wrote: “If you are moved to draw closer to the God who loves you, and to seek out a new perspective in your life, then I urge you to consider Spiritual Direction.” She had recommended Mr. Bill Isele as a good spiritual director who could continue this ministry for our parish. With the pandemic, we could not follow up with this possibility. Recently I met with Mr. Isele and he was open to be available to those who wish to have spiritual direction with him. He was trained at the Quellen Spiritual Center in Mendham, NJ. Last week he wrote in our bulletin: “Have you heard of Spiritual Direction (SD)?” Be on the lookout for more details from him in the coming bulletins.

The second is RETROUVAILLE, a proven program for married couples who struggle in their marriage to put the pieces of their marriage back together and rebuild loving relationships. When I was the Director of the Family Life Office of our Diocese, this was a program that I supervised with a wonderful team of couples coordinated by Rich and Annette Colasuonno. The presenters are ordinary couples who share personal stories of their marital struggles and the tools they utilized to rediscover their love. (The word Retrouvaille means rediscover). This weekend program is all about improving communication, building a stronger marriage, and helping couples rediscover the love they had for each other.

We may know many couples having difficulties in their marriage. Some may have tried interventions and counselling. What I have seen with the couples who attended Retrouvaille is an amazing rediscovery of their original love and they returned home happily with a renewed hope. It made me see for myself that no marriage is beyond hope as long as there is openness.

During this 60th Anniversary of our parish, it will be wonderful if many of our parish couples who are experiencing marital problems can rediscover their original love and feel new life. The next Retrouvaille session will be on August 19-21, 2022. If interested, call Rich at 732-236-0671. Take a flyer from the church and give to someone you may know will benefit. Also check out their website: www.helpourmarriage.org

On this Ascension Sunday, let us be upbeat and hopeful about living happily by strengthening our family life. Remember the promise of Jesus: “I will be with you always, even to the end of times” (Matthew 28:20)

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

Sixth Sunday of Easter

 

Dear Friends,

Biblically, Ascension took place 40 days after the Resurrection and so the actual Ascension Day falls on a Thursday – which is what we used to celebrate every year. Recently the bishops of New Jersey met and after discussing the pros and cons of this practice have discerned that the Solemnity of the Ascension be permanently transferred from Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter to the following Sunday. The bishops’ discernment included a great desire for more of the faithful to participate in this integral dimension of the completion of Our Lord’s paschal mystery by the Ascension observed on a Sunday – which will be next Sunday.

This year, Thursday, May 26 will be observed as Thursday of the Sixth week of Easter and the Memorial of St. Philip Neri (1515-1595) who is known as the founder of the Congregation of the Oratory. We have Oratorian priests and brothers in our diocese and so it is their feast in a special way. As a layman, Philip spent several years in Rome performing all kinds of good works – especially in ministering to the sick, in catechizing the youth, and in providing for pilgrims. Under constant advice and persuasion from his spiritual director, he decided to be a priest and was ordained in 1551. He was almost 36 years old, a “delayed vocation” in the extreme by the standards of the day, but without the least difference in priestly zeal and vigor.

St. Philip Neri is commonly known as the “patron saint of joy,” and the “humorous saint.” He wasn’t exactly a comedian, but he did enjoy poking fun at himself, using humor to maintain his humility. For example, according to author Shaun McAfee, “Neri was known to show up to important events with half his beard shaved, give incorrect walking directions to his disciples, read a book of jokes … When he did each of these things he caused a mix of emotions in others, but it always ended up producing the same end state: increased humility, and increased patience.” St. Philip Neri hung this sign on his door: “The House of Christian Mirth.” He used to say: “A heart filled with joy is more easily made perfect than one that is sad.”

Holiness is related to humor. That is why many saints laughed at themselves; they knew that this earthly life is only a stop on our journey to heaven and so to take this world seriously is utter foolishness. Bishop Sheen once said, “A divine sense of humor belongs to poets and saints because they have been richly endowed with a sense of the invisible, and can look out upon the same phenomena that other mortals take seriously and see in them something of the divine.”

This is what Pope Francis has been reminding us when he said, to be a Christian doesn’t mean being “gloomy-faced,” but being filled with a levity of heart that recognizes the beauty and joy of Christian life. Humor in the right context can be a good thing, and even a pathway to holiness. St. Philip Neri practiced it. His joyful spirit was one of the reasons why many were attracted to him. They saw the joy he had and wanted to know the source of that joy. They realized that the source was Jesus who said: “I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22).

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Dear Friends,

This is our 60th Anniversary kick off weekend! We are entering into the celebration-phase of the 60 years of our existence as the Catholic Community of St. Matthias: 1962 – 2022. We are very privileged to have Msgr. Joseph Celano, a St. Matthias alumnus, as our Presider for the 5 pm Kick-off Mass. A special thanks to the St. Martin de Porres Society which is organizing and taking care of the reception after each Mass this weekend. Our Anniversary Celebration Committee, co-chaired by Anne Marie Francis and Jeff Hentz, has already announced many activities that will take place in the coming months. Responding to the Committee’s invitation to come up with an Anniversary Logo, Carolyn Merrill designed a beautiful logo that you can see from now on. Thank you to Carolyn who, with her husband Dave and two adult children, is a long time parishioner of St. Matthias. Being an experienced Graphic Designer, she has helped with our GIFT program brochures and also created the GIFT logo some years ago.

While appreciating the importance of visible celebrations, it is equally or even more important that our anniversary should help us grow more spiritually. We have prepared a special anniversary prayer card to pray together in the church. You can take a card and use it for your family as well as for individual prayer. The Committee is also looking into arranging a Parish Mission/Retreat later this year.

Kicking off the celebration on the feast of our patron saint has special significance. The name ‘Matthias,’ similar to Matthew, means “gift of God.” The Acts of the Apostles describes the process of choosing Matthias to replace Judas: “it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1:21-22) Since there were two candidates fitting these conditions, the Apostles “cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:26)

It is believed that Matthias was also one of the 72 disciples that the Lord Jesus sent out to preach the good news (Luke 10:1). The Apostles were convinced of the credibility of choosing Matthias to join them. He remained with Jesus until His Ascension. According to various traditions, Matthias preached in Cappadocia, Jerusalem, the shores of the Caspian Sea (in modern day Turkey) and Ethiopia. He is said to have met his death by crucifixion in Colchis or by stoning in Jerusalem. There is evidence cited in some of the early Church fathers that there was a “Gospel according to Matthias” in circulation, but it has since been lost, and was declared apocryphal by Pope Gelasius.

As we celebrate the feast of our patron saint, we honor him as someone who knew Jesus personally, and was a witness to the resurrection – that Jesus wasn’t dead, but is very much alive. This is where we can imitate him. May all our celebrations help us to increase our intimacy of friendship with Jesus. May we give witness to his risen life by our joyful attitude and the invitation we can give others about our experience here at St. Matthias Community in worship as well as service.

Happy Feast of St. Matthias!

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

Catholic Church’s Stand on Life Issues

Through the sacrificial efforts of faithful Catholics, the Church serves millions through diocesan ministries and agencies, Catholic hospitals and healthcare systems, immigration clinics, shelters, and Catholic schools and parishes. Read more about the Catholic Church’s stand on life issues and the threat to them and what can be done.

CALL TO ACTION

In response to the leak of a draft opinion in the Supreme Court case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, majority leader Sen. Chuck Schumer has scheduled another Senate vote to try to enshrine abortion on demand in federal law through the so-called Women’s Health Protection Act, S. 4132. The vote will be held next Wednesday (May 11) and is the second time this year that a vote on the bill will take place. The Senate held a vote on February 28 to advance this bill, and that vote failed.

This deceptively-named, extreme bill would impose abortion on demand nationwide at any stage of pregnancy through federal statute. Even worse, it would eliminate modest and widely supported pro-life laws at every level of government — the federal, state, and local level — including parental notification for minor girls, informed consent, and health or safety protections specific to abortion facilities. It would force all Americans to support abortions here and abroad with their tax dollars. It would also likely force health care providers and professionals to perform, assist in, and/or refer for abortion against their deeply-held beliefs, as well as force employers and insurers to cover or pay for abortion.

We need to send an unmistakable message to the Senate that this horrible bill must never be enacted. Join Archbishop Lori, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Cardinal Dolan, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty in urging the Senate to oppose S. 4132

Check out the chairmen’s letter and this fact sheet to learn more about this radical bill. Please also check out and amplify this statement, issued by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and chairmen of USCCB committees serving women and families, in anticipation of the Supreme Court of the United States issuing its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

 

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Fourth Sunday of Easter

Dear Friends,

Today we thank our mothers and honor them by celebrating Mother’s Day and by offering our mothers on the altar of God as we pray for them. This is a day to admit gratefully the fact that none of us is able to return, in the same measure, all the love that our mothers have given us. Their influence on us, their children, is so great that it affects us throughout our lives. Our mothers not only gave us birth but nursed us, nurtured us, trained us in our religious beliefs and practices, taught us good manners and ideal behavior, disciplined us as best as they could and made us good citizens of our country, our Church and our society.

Thomas Edison once said, “I did not have my mother long, but she cast over me an influence which has lasted all my life. The good effects of her early training I can never lose. If it had not been for her appreciation and her faith in me at a critical time in my experience, I should never likely have become an inventor. I was always a careless boy, and with a mother of different mental caliber, I should have turned out badly. But her firmness, her sweetness, her goodness were potent powers to keep me in the right path. My mother was the making of me. The memory of her will always be a blessing to me.”

I think we all can relate to such sentiments. Hence, it is only right and proper for us to express our love and gratitude to our mothers by our presence, gifts and prayers on Mother’s Day. The Mother’s Day intentions and offerings remind us of our prayers of thanksgiving for all the mothers in our congregation, whether they are alive or have gone for their eternal reward. The word “mom” is synonymous with sacrificial, agápe love in its purest form, as given by Jesus in his farewell speech: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Hence, let us lavish our love on our mothers and express our gratitude for them in the form of fervent prayers offered for them, before God – not just for one day, but every day! God bless you dear mothers!

The Catholic Church proclaims the great nobility of the Mother of Jesus, and presents her as the supreme model for all mothers. What a good feeling we get each time we sing that beautiful song, “Gentle woman, peaceful dove, teach us wisdom, teach us love.” Let us show our love and appreciation for both of our mothers, and let us ask our Heavenly Mother to take care of our earthly mothers. We need to be persons for others, sacrificing our time, talents and lives for them, as our mothers are.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

“New” St. Matthias Cookbook! 60th Anniversary Edition

Calling all ‘Foodies’!! The 60th Anniversary Edition of the St. Matthias Cookbook is looking for your favorite recipes!

Have you been struggling on what to cook that’s a tasty and proven recipe? We have a solution for you! In honor of St. Matthias’ 60th Anniversary, the cookbook that was created by the Altar Rosary Society 25-30 years ago is going back to print! There are already 228 delicious recipes to choose from.

But wait! We need new, contemporary recipes also! If you have a favorite recipe to share, submit it on the Official Recipe Collection Website or submit hardcopies of your recipes to the Parish Office on the Official Recipe Collection Form available for download in PDF Format.  For your convenience, forms are also available in the Parish Office. Please submit your recipe by May 22nd so we can meet our deadline.

We anticipate a great demand for our cookbook, and we want to be certain to order enough. To reserve your copies, download the Advance Sales Coupons  from the website and hand in, with complete payment, to the Parish Office. You may also pay online via Parish Giving. To make an online payment, please click hereOrders must be in by June 1st.
The book will go to print in June and will be here sometime in July for $20 each.

If you have any questions, please email Pat Cullen at: fitpro436@gmail.com, and put “Cookbook” in the subject line! 

 

Instructions and Tips for entering/writing recipes

To Submit Recipes Online:
• Go to www.typensave.com and click ‘Login’
• Enter the User Name: pcullen
• Enter the password: pepper084
• Enter your name and click ‘Continue’
• Click ‘Add Recipes’ to begin adding your recipes

Recipe Writing Tips:
• When adding recipes, review the “Tips” and use standard abbreviations.
• Only enter 1 ingredient per ingredient line.
• List ingredients in order of use in the ingredients list and directions.
• Include container sizes, e.g. (16oz.) pkg., (24oz.) can, (1 lb.) box
• Write directions in paragraph form, not in steps
• Use names of ingredients in the directions, e.g., “Combine flour and sugar.” DO NOT use statements like, “Combine first three ingredients.”
• Include temperatures and cooking, chilling, baking, and/or freezing times

 

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Dear Friends,

We enter the month of May, the month of Mary, with the feast of “St Joseph, the Worker.” This year it falls on a Sunday and so the “Day of the Lord” takes precedence over this feast. But it is good to recall that it was Pope Pius XII who instituted the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker in 1955, in order to foster deep devotion to St. Joseph among Catholics, and in response to the “May Day” celebrations for workers sponsored by Communists. This feast extends the long relationship between Joseph and the cause of workers in both Catholic faith and devotion. The dignity of human work has long been celebrated as a participation in the creative work of God. By work, humankind both fulfills the command found in Genesis to care for the earth (Gen 2:15) and to be productive in their labors. Saint Joseph, the carpenter and foster father of Jesus, is but one example of the holiness of human labor.

I wish to highlight a special milestone in the life of someone who has been laboring in the vineyard of the Lord for fifty years. Msgr. Seamus Brennan is celebrating his golden jubilee as a priest. He was ordained on June 4, 1972. He has served the people of God in many different parishes of our diocese in various capacities. Pope St. John Paul II elevated him to the rank of Papal Chamberlain, with the title Monsignor, in 1991. We are very fortunate to have his priestly ministry with us here at St. Matthias. We will celebrate his golden jubilee on June 4 at the 5 pm Mass with him as the presider. But Msgr. Brennan asks that we respect his wish not to have any other celebration here. Instead, he is inviting us to join him for the Jubilee Mass he will celebrate at 3:30 pm on Sunday June 5th at his former parish of Immaculate Conception, 35 Mountain Ave, Somerville. Light refreshments will be served in the Immaculate Conception School cafeteria after the Mass. All are welcome.

May is Marian month, and our St. Matthias School students will have the ‘May Crowning’ on this Friday, as we help them have a filial devotion to Mary. Though our devotion to Mary is often misunderstood by many Protestant churches, an increasing number of Protestants are now more open-minded about the role of Mary. In an article titled: “Protestants and Marian Devotion – What about Mary?” Pastor Jason Byassee (Shady Grove United Methodist Church in Providence, NC) wrote:

“Recently there has been a flurry of publications by Protestants on Mary, works that suggest she could be an ecumenical bridge — or at least that the Protestant aversion to Marian devotion is eroding. Beverly Roberts Gaventa, a biblical scholar at Princeton Theological Seminary, has led the charge with Mary; Glimpses of the Mother of Jesus (1995) and with a collection of essays she coedited called Blessed One; Protestant Perspectives on Mary (2002). Meanwhile, Robert Jenson’s monumental two-volume Systematic Theology (1997 and 1999) and another collection of coedited essays, Mary; Mother of God (2004), has given a certain pride of place to the Mother of God. Church historians of all stripes have long granted that Marian teaching and devotion dates from the earliest days of the church. And they grant that devotion to Mary was not discarded even by the leading Reformation figures Luther, Calvin and Zwingli. The fruit of ecumenical labor on this topic can be seen in such balanced and helpful resources as Mary in the Plan of God and in the Communion of the Saints (1999), a product of years of dialogue between French Catholics and Protestants that calls for both Catholic and Protestant “conversions” on the subject.”

Isn’t it interesting? You can read this article at: www.religion-online.org/article/protestants-and-marian-devotion-what-about-mary Let us continue our devotion to Mary because her only desire for us is what she told the servants at the Marriage feast of Cana: “Do what He tells you” (John 2:5).

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

St. Matthias School & Parish YARD SALE

St. Matthias School & Parish YARD SALE

St. Matthias School and Parish will be hosting a huge multi-family yard sale on Saturday, April 30th, 2022, from 10 am to 2 pm in the rear school parking lot located at 170 John F. Kennedy Blvd. in Somerset. Rain or Shine. Hot Dog and Ice Cream Food Trucks will be on the premises. Raffle tickets will be available, and the winner need not be present to win.

Many school families and parishioners will be selling items during the event. In addition, the School will be selling older tech equipment that we no longer have use or space for, at bargain prices: Apple iPads (4th gen), Hitachi projectors, Dell 22 in LCD monitors, Dell monochrome Laser Printers, and other computer accessories and freebies. All items are out-of-warranty but in working condition, and priced to sell ($20 to $40).

Help support our school and community by attending this fun event and by spreading the word to family, friends, and social media accounts.  Thank you for your support.

Sunday of Divine Mercy

Dear Friends,

It was very gratifying to see so many of our people returning to join the Church services in person. The Easter Masses saw the biggest crowds since the pandemic began. Thanks be to God for the greater sense of a return to normalcy. We continue to pray that the new life and new hope from the Risen Christ will bring more blessings and a total freedom from the pandemic even as we are conscious of the need to take reasonable precautions.

Do you know why Sundays after Easter are named 2nd Sunday of Easter, 3rd Sunday of Easter, etc.? Easter is such a foundational feast of our faith, which the Church continues to celebrate it for about seven weeks. The power of Easter has transformed the face of the earth as believers began to increase and Christianity began to spread all over the world. It is unbelievable but true that after the preaching of Peter: “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day.” (Acts 2:41). Besides the preaching of the apostles, the early Christians themselves were the best missionaries to their own neighbors and friends, sharing the power of the Resurrected Jesus to bring about change in hearts. It still continues to happen in our own times.

We have a wonderful opportunity to refocus our call to be missionaries to our own people. Next month we will kick off the 60th anniversary celebrations of our parish with the 5 pm Mass on May 14, on the feast of St. Matthias, our patron. The Celebration Committee has been working hard to focus on some practical events to make this anniversary year fruitful in many ways, especially spiritually and socially. But I like to ask each one of us to consider how we can imitate the early Christians who were so enthusiastic about bringing others to Jesus.

How do we do that? We can follow the advice of Pope Francis, whose approach to mission might be characterized as a “missiology of attraction.” He wants us to draw people to Jesus by way of attraction, not by proselytizing, or imposing our faith. And he reminds us that the attractive message is contained in the merciful love of God. When the church makes the mercy of God real by becoming an inclusive church, a church where saints and sinners are welcome, then more people will be drawn to Jesus.

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday – a feast instituted by St. John Paul II, in order to realize the depth of the mercy of God for each one of us personally. Sister Faustina who had revelations about this desire from Jesus wrote the words of Jesus in her diary entry # 206: “On the day of My feast, the Feast of Mercy, you will go through the whole world and bring fainting souls to the spring of My mercy. I shall heal and strengthen them”.

May the Risen Lord help us experience God’s mercy in ourselves and may He help us to offer the same mercy to others, thereby becoming true witnesses who will attract others to our church and our faith in Jesus Christ.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal