Ever wonder what it is like to be a pastor during Holy Week? How about life as a Pastor in a pandemic? On this Palm Sunday, Tara Smith and Jerry Wutkowski from the Diocesan Office of Communications, sat down with Fr. Abraham Orapankal, Pastor of St. Matthias Parish, Somerset, to discuss the lessons of the year and how implementing communications tools have become the gifts in sharing the Gospel Message. Listen to the podcast by clicking here.
Does the ongoing challenging situation make a difference in the way we say “Happy Easter!” this year? Do we heave a sigh of relief, “Lent is over, Alleluia!” or exclaim with a heartfelt joy, “He is Risen, Alleluia!”? Our pandemic experience was aptly described by Pope Francis: “This disease has not only deprived us of human closeness, but also of the possibility of receiving in person the consolation that flows from the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist and Reconciliation. In many countries, it has not been possible to approach them, but the Lord has not left us alone! United in our prayer, we are convinced that he has laid his hand upon us (cf. Ps 138:5), firmly reassuring us: Do not be afraid, “I have risen and I am with you still!”
We have been very fortunate to offer all the Church services both in person and online – thanks to our St. Matthias YouTube channel. Easter brings so many promises of God to us: life is stronger than death, love can overcome hate, goodness ultimately triumphs over evil, and eternal glory with God in Heaven is our destiny. Yes, we celebrate Easter with heartfelt joy.
The historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth is both long-established and widespread. Besides the New Testament references, Jesus is mentioned by Jewish and Roman historians, as well as by dozens of Christian writings. These establish the historicity of Jesus beyond doubt. Compare that with, for example, King Arthur, who supposedly lived around AD 500. The major historical source for events of that time does not even mention Arthur, and he is first mentioned some 300 or 400 years after he is supposed to have lived. The evidence for Jesus is not limited to later folklore, as are accounts of Arthur. Hence any challenge to the reality of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is not entertained in educated circles.
But the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is not simply a fact of history to be retold at Easter. The retelling we had these past days of Holy Week is meant to remind us that this happy mystery is to be lived everyday. How?
Like the first disciples, we, too, know that Jesus is not found among the dead but among the living. He lives among us whenever we gather in His name: not only for the Eucharist or for Lenten small groups, but also when we come together for every association or ministry meeting and whenever we organize any parish event – both of which are in abundance here at St. Matthias. He is present in our homes when we gather as a family not only for meals or prayer, but also for any family event. When we reach out to the less fortunate with help, we lift up the hand of Jesus. In these and many other ways, we give witness to the mystery of Jesus living among us. Indeed, we become the Body of Christ for the world.
Let us experience more of that Easter Joy!
Easter Blessings to you and to your dear ones!
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal
Sister Maria and Sr. Marie Therese Invite Us to Fight Hunger
We invite everyone to view the short video of Sister Maria and Sr. Marie Therese on our YouTube channel – youtube.com/c/StMatthiasSomersetNJ
We are very saddened by the sudden passing of our beloved Mary Beth Oria, the Parish Business Administrator, this Saturday evening, February 27. Mary Beth joined our St. Matthias Parish staff in June of 2020. She brought in a breath of fresh air by her professional expertise as Business Administrator, her deep spirituality that touched us all especially in leading the faith-sharing, and her human relations skills that made everyone feel respected and heard. We are indebted to her for her presence, her goodness, and her excellent leadership ministry with us at St. Matthias Church and St. Matthias School. Within such a short time with us, she made us all experience the love of God. Our prayerful condolences are with her beloved family, siblings, and all those who knew and loved her. As we mourn her untimely demise, we pray she will continue to bless us from heaven. May she rest in peace.
ALL ARE WELCOME via ZOOM to join the LENTEN DAY OF REFLECTION on Saturday, February 27th brought to you by the St. Martin de Porres Society of St. Matthias. St. Martin is the patron saint of racial harmony. It’s fitting therefore, that the Society brings to the parish this important topic on “Racism in the Church, Creating a Culture of Life.” Even though this retreat was originally planned for the Liturgical Ministers, it is open to all of our parishioners. It is presented by Deacon Mel Tardy, President of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus and Deacon and Youth Minister at Saint Augustine Church in South Bend, Indiana.
Our goal for this Lenten Day of Reflection is to help all, particularly liturgical ministers, To work together on a path towards creating a culture of life through the liturgy by focusing on our social action as it pertains to racial justice. The first part of the reflection, 10:00 – 11:30 am, is open to the whole parish. You can join by accessing the Zoom link below.
The second part of the reflection, 11:30 – 12:30 is specifically for liturgical ministers’ group reflections on questions aimed at examining our liturgical practices as they pertain to how we help our parishioners leave our liturgies having been named, blessed, encouraged, admonished, reconciled and fed to go forth to promote reconciliation in the world.
Join us using the following link:
Meeting ID: 970 288 3550
Note: If you are a Liturgical Minister, watch your email for registration information or contact Phyllis Stone at firstname.lastname@example.org or (732) 828-1400, ext 127
Resources for background reading:
NBCC Statement on Racism
Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism Mandate – https://www.usccb.org/committees/ad-hoc-committee-against-racism
Racism Backgrounder. Confronting the Poison In Our Common Home
Brothers and Sisters to US. 1979 Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on Racism
On the 25th Anniversary of ‘Brothers and Sisters to Us’
Open Wide Our Hearts. 2018 Bishops’ Pastoral Letter in Racism
Practical Steps to Eradicating Racism
Fr. Bryan Massingale – Professor, James and Nancy Buckman Chair in Applied Christian Ethics at Fordham University
How Can the Church Combat Racism and White Privilege
YouTube Interview w/America Magazine
How to Make Spiritual Sense of the Attack on the Capitol
Let’s Be A Church Where Black Lives Matter
The Racist Sitting in the Church. A Webinar for Black Catholics sponsored by the National Black Sisters Conference and the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus