Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

Today I am writing about a topic I don’t like to talk about: Sunday contributions! Yet, I am doing it for two reasons: First to thank all of you for your tremendous support – in every sense of the term – of our parish community of St. Matthias. It has been a truly humbling experience for me to see the efforts our parishioners are making, to make sure that the contributions reach the parish. Thank you for the trouble you have taken to drop the envelopes in the collection baskets in the church, mail them, drop them physically at the office, or give online through Parish Giving.

A word about the last method of online giving, which is my second reason! My sincere thank you to over 660 of our parishioners who have signed up to give through Parish Giving, which has helped us reduce administrative costs as well as the costs for printing and mailing the envelope packets, while increasing the overall collections. This also allows us to better forecast our revenues, as the giving is more consistent. Therefore, this is the best method of contribution, though some are reluctant to sign up. Let me address some of the reasons I have heard for not signing up online:

  • The fear that giving out your bank info could be dangerous: It is good for everyone to know that the ‘Parish Giving’ company has been providing this service to hundreds of parishes for over 10 years and has in place all the latest security features to ensure that your financial information can never be accessed by anyone. But, at the same time, I wish to respect those who wish to continue the use of envelopes – no matter what.
  • The fear that you have no control over the amount once you sign up: Not true. You are in full control of the timing and amount of your donations. You can even login to the system or call the Parish Giving customer service team to make updates or even un-enroll/cancel at any time.
  • The fear of embarrassment that you are putting nothing in the basket while others do: True, but there is an easy solution. You can download and print “Collection Plate” coupons right from your account page, so you can still have something to put in the basket.

Therefore, I request you to please consider enrolling in Parish Giving – if you haven’t done that already. It is secure, easy to use and gives us the ability to count on your contributions each and every week, even when you might not be able to join us in person. Simply visit our St. Matthias website www.stmatthias.net and then click on “Donate” at the top. Follow the simple registration steps. Should you need support, Parish Giving is available to answer questions and even help set up your account. They can be reached M-F from 8:30- 4:30 pm at 866-307-7140.

I do appreciate your support to our parish community. Most importantly, I, together with Msgr. Seamus Brennan, Deacons John Radvanski, Russ Demkovitz, and Ron Caimi, look forward to engaging and nourishing everyone spiritually as we grow closer to our Lord wherever we may be in our lifelong faith journey. And our parish staff is ever ready to serve the people of our parish.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

You may have heard of or even attended the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), the Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962 which is in Latin. Following the reforms after the Second Vatican Council, the Church implemented a new Roman Missal in 1970, which is what is followed all over the world generally. The old Mass (TLM) in Latin was still allowed for those who didn’t want the new vernacular language Mass. The TLM had more prayers, chanting, rituals, incensing, communion on tongue only, women expected with veil on head, genuflections and other long-held practices – all of which are meant to bring about the sense of the mystery of the Real Presence, reverence to the sacredness of the heavenly liturgy and participation in the priestly sacrifice that Jesus Christ himself (the priest in persona Christi) is celebrating.

Those who followed the TLM felt that this Mass was the true liturgy and believed that a greater availability of this Mass could bring about a revival in the Church when more and more Catholics are leaving the Church. Others opposed this idea. In order to avoid a division, Pope Benedict XVI had given freedom for all priests to offer the TLM from 2013 onwards, hoping for unity and understanding. Last year the Vatican took a world-wide survey with all the Bishops to assess the situation in their own dioceses. The result made it clear that instead of the expected unity, the division was widening. The Pope writes:

“An opportunity offered by St. John Paul II and, with even greater magnanimity, by Benedict XVI, intended to recover the unity of an ecclesial body with diverse liturgical sensibilities, was exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division. I am saddened that the celebration of the extraordinary form is now characterized by a rejection of the Second Vatican Council and its liturgical reforms. To doubt the Council is to doubt the Holy Spirit himself who guides the Church.”

Therefore a week ago, on July 16, Pope Francis issued a “motu proprio” (an edict by the Pope personally) limiting henceforth the use of the TLM. Explaining his decision, Pope Francis wrote: “In defense of the unity of the Body of Christ, I am constrained to revoke the faculty granted by my Predecessors. The distorted use that has been made of this faculty is contrary to the intentions that led to granting the freedom to celebrate the Mass with the Missale Romanum [Roman Missal] of 1962.”

This decision is very disappointing and upsetting to the adherents of the TLM. You will hear many comments of disagreement on this decision even from some bishops and cardinals. The context I explained above should help you judge for yourself as to why Pope Francis made this decision to stem the tide of division. May the Holy Spirit continue to guide the Church towards greater unity and grace.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

Registration for GIFT, First Eucharist, & Confirmation 2021-2022 sessions now open!

Registration for the upcoming 2021-2022 sessions of GIFT-our family-based Religious Education program (Growing In Faith Together), First Reconciliation/First Eucharist (all 2nd graders regardless of school), and Confirmation (all 7th & 8th graders must register, regardless of school attending).

To learn more and register for GIFT please click here.

To learn more and register for First Reconciliation/ First Eucharist preparation please click here.

To learn more and register for Confirmation preparation please click here.

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

In ancient Athens a man noticed the great storyteller Aesop playing childish games with some little children. He laughed and jeered at Aesop, asking him why he wasted his time in such frivolous activity. Aesop responded by picking up a bow, loosening its string, and placing it on the ground. Then he said to the critical Athenian, “Now, answer the riddle, if you can. Tell us what the unstrung bow implies.” The man looked at it for several moments but had no idea what point Aesop was trying to make. Aesop explained, “If you keep a bow always bent, it will break eventually; but if you let it go slack, it will be more fit for use when you want it.” Aesop was talking about balance.

As followers of Christ we need to realize that Jesus advocated balance in life. He never asked us to be so involved in doing good that we neglect our need for leisure, for rest, for family, for friends. He showed it by his own example as we hear him telling the disciples in today’s gospel: “Let’s get away to a lonely place by ourselves and rest a while.” Read Mark 6:30-32 and you will see that Jesus realized that he and his disciples were overstretched in attending to the constant demands the people made on their time. They needed a break away from everyone and everything.
We are half-way through the summer time of vacation and relaxation. But are we really relaxed? Some parents may find that what they thought was a relaxed summer is actually a stressful one. I was impressed by a blogger who reminded the parents that summer is a break from routine, and not a break from parenting: “Seeds grow slowly; chicks hatch when they are ready; important things take time. Children and teens don’t understand time — they want what they want when they want it. We too often react by jumping on their timeline. When we contort ourselves to suit their whims, we not only upend our lives, we give away the opportunity to teach them about patience.”

The same applies to our inner life too. Can this summer be a time to attend to and grow in our spiritual self? Can we use this summer as a wonderful opportunity to enrich ourselves with some knowledge of our faith? When media gurus suggest summer reading lists, why not make our own list of faith-related summer readings? I would suggest to get any of the writings of Pope Francis that you can freely download. Whether it is “Evangelii Gaudium – The Joy of the Gospel” or “Laudato Si – On the Care of Creation” or “Amoris Laetitia – The Joy of Love” or “Gaudete et Exsultate – Rejoice and Be Glad,” (our newly Vocations Committee will be asking us all to read this last one), you will find that you are in for a treat.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

“The best way to FIND yourself is to lose yourself in the SERVICE of others.”

Dear Friends,

Did you notice a huge pile of mulch – 20 yards to be exact – in front of the church a couple of weeks ago? It was donated by the good will of Mr. Will Dupree of Spooky Brook Landscaping. A big thank you to Will for his good will donation. I was planning to arrange with Joan Seamon to get a group of volunteers to spread the mulch. But suddenly I saw some individuals doing that work on their own: Tom Mager, Debbie Evennou, Collette Edwards and Fr. Joe Curry. Their selfless example inspired even me to join them for a few hours in wheelbarrowing the mulch!

Seeing these wonderful parishioners stepping up, even without being asked to do this physically demanding work, made me realize the goodness of our people. We have so many parishioners volunteering for so many parish ministries. Some of them we see and recognize on Sundays: ushers doing hospitality, Lectors/Readers, Eucharistic ministers, sacristans, music and tech people. Others we do not see or recognize: youth group mentors, RCIA team, catechists, volunteers on the Pastoral Council, Finance Council, School Advisory Council, Property Management, Vincent DePaul Society, Home School Association, and many others. Our parish owes them a big salute as their good will to offer their time and talent is an important factor that helps this parish run smoothly.

Volunteering is their way to express their love and commitment to St. Matthias parish, bringing them so much satisfaction and contentment, with no expectation of any material or monetary reward. God who sees these good acts will be their reward (Matthew 6:4). Albert Schweitzer echoed the same when he wrote: “The interior joy we feel when we have done a good deed is the nourishment the soul requires.”

Volunteering is a great way to give back to the church community that is always there for us. The example of these numerous volunteers is an impetus for the rest of us to consider volunteering. Our Parish is in need of volunteers. Hence I propose to have a pool of volunteers who could offer some of their time and talent, as per their availability/convenience, for various parish needs from time to time. Could you email me at abraham@stmatthias.net if you are willing to be part of that pool, with a very flexible commitment? Let us know your name, email, phone number, and type of volunteer work you would be willing to do (e.g, answering phones, typing/data entry, yardwork, or anything else you would be willing to do.)

I am reminded of the words of Gandhi: “The best way to FIND yourself is to lose yourself in the SERVICE of others.” How reminiscent of the message of our Lord Jesus Christ himself!

God bless your goodness.

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

Happy Fourth of July! This weekend is a time for us to express and celebrate our patriotism – not only through flags, fireworks, and partying with family and friends, but also through serious reflection on our freedom, its high price, its sacred meaning and the way we need to pass it on intact to the next generation. When our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence two centuries ago, the American Dream was officially born on the foundation of freedom, democracy and hope. It is good to remember the four types of freedom President Roosevelt spoke of in January 1941, as he was building support for the World War:

“In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want–which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear — which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor– anywhere in the world.”
But when this American Dream is sought after by illegal immigrants, we have a problem. The ongoing national conversation shows how divided and polarized we are on this sensitive topic. Instead of taking any hardline position based on any political affiliation, it is good for us to know the united stand of our nation’s Conference of Catholic bishops. On the one hand, our Bishops assert our fundamental right to control our nation’s borders; on the other hand, they ask for humane and compassionate treatment of immigrants as our brothers and sisters created in God’s image and likeness. The following is excerpted from the US Bishops’ pastoral document, Welcoming the Stranger among Us: Unity in Diversity, www.usccb.org/committees/pastoral-care-migrants-refugees-travelers/welcoming-stranger-among-us-unity-diversity

“Without condoning undocumented migration, the Church supports the human rights of all people and offers them pastoral care, education, and social services, no matter what the circumstances of entry into this country, and it works for the respect of the human dignity of all—especially those who find themselves in desperate circumstances. We recognize that nations have the right to control their borders. We also recognize and strongly assert that all human persons, created as they are in the image of God, possess a fundamental dignity that gives rise to a more compelling claim to the conditions worthy of human life.”
More such passages from this pastoral letter, “Welcoming the Stranger Among us: Unity in Diversity” will give us a Christian perspective on this matter that goes beyond partisan politics. When we realize that the Church is not condoning undocumented immigration, we will be open to solutions that will prevent more illegal immigration even as we show loving compassion to those already here as our Bishops call our attention to the reality of the United States as largely a “nation of immigrants.”

Happy July 4th !

Your brother in Christ, Fr. Abraham Orapankal

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

The announcement last week that Msgr. Joseph Curry will be transferred was met with lots of sadness from all of us. Fr. Joe, as he is affectionately called, has been with us for less than two years. But within this short time, he has endeared himself to our community through his unique faith-filled ministry. He has an uncanny ability to put anyone at ease with his outgoing nature and his resounding laughter that can be heard from afar!

Fr. Joe has been an invaluable help in the school, both for our teachers and our students. His love for our students was evident in the way he mingled with them and taught faith matters. He had creative ways to teach the students despite the pandemic limitations. The teachers found in him a willing tech-guru, helping with their tech problems as the teaching went remote due to the pandemic. Fr. Joe was able to bring new life to our youth ministry through his natural gift of relating to young people. Coordinating with adult mentors, he was able to keep the youth ministry going even through the pandemic, using technology and media. Both the parish and the school are truly indebted to Fr. Joe. His inspiring presence will be missed by all of us as he officially leaves on July 6 to take up his new assignment at Immaculate Conception Church, Somerville.

At the same time, we are very happy to welcome to our parish Msgr. Seamus Brennan who has been serving as a senior priest at Blessed Sacrament Church in Martinsville. As a senior priest, Msgr. Brennan comes with lots of experience, after his ordination in 1972 at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Waterford, Ireland, for the diocese of Trenton. He has served as Parochial Vicar at St. Barnabas in Bayville and at St. Philip and James in Phillipsburg. Msgr. also served as pastor of St John’s in Lambertville, St. Matthews in Edison and Immaculate Conception in Somerville, and he served as Temporary Administrator of Nativity of Our Lord in Monroe Township. Monsignor’s hobbies include golf, walking, and cycling. The Catholic Community of St. Matthias heartily welcomes Msgr. Seamus Brennan.
We know that any change can give rise to conflicting feelings within us. While farewell to one priest brings us sadness, welcome to another brings joy. And we trust God’s Word: “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28). As we remain ever grateful to the wonderful presence and ministry of Fr. Joe, we pray that Immaculate Conception Parish will be blessed and enriched as we have been by his presence. I am sure that Msgr. Brennan will be a welcome asset to St. Matthias. He is looking forward to meeting all of you and serving the needs of our parish.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

A few weeks ago we celebrated our moms and offered Mass to them. Celebrating Father’s Day today, we are doing the same – offering our dads, on the altar of God during this Holy Mass and invoking our heavenly Father’s blessings on them while we thank God for the life of those dads who are called to eternal life. At a time when the Fathers’ role in the family and in society is not fully appreciated, it is good that today we can celebrate, congratulate and pray for the men who continue to reflect the Divine qualities of fatherhood as they lovingly establish, nourish and maintain their families.

Lucille Ball, who became one of America’s top comedic actresses with the 1950s TV show, I Love Lucy, did a remarkable TV interview with Merv Griffin shortly before her death. He asked her a very serious and pointed question: “Lucille, you’ve lived a long time on this earth and you are a wise person. What’s happened to our country? What’s wrong with our children? Why are our families falling apart? What’s missing?” Lucille Ball answered without hesitation: “Papa’s missing. Things are falling apart because Papa’s gone. If Papa were here, he would fix it.”

Her pertinent comment has been confirmed with some recent studies that have demonstrated how important a father is to his child’s development. Children with fathers present have lower rates of delinquency, drug and alcohol use, teen pregnancy, and so on, than those with absent fathers. The father’s presence is also a significant positive factor in children’s getting a college education, finding a satisfying job, and making a lasting marriage. Psychotherapists today are saying that both parents are vitally important to the stable development of their children; the mother’s input is invaluable in the formative pre-adolescent years but the father’s most important influence is at adolescence. Single mothers tell us that it is terribly difficult to teach their children about the meaning of God the Father Who seems so impersonal because their children have been abandoned by their natural fathers. Adolescent daughters long to hear from their fathers that they are beautiful and loved. In fact, a girl’s choice of a partner and satisfaction in marriage is often directly related to the relationship she has had with her father.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the vital importance of the father’s role comes from the fact that, with his wife, he cooperates with God the Creator in bringing a new human life into the world. There is no power greater than that (#2367). I invite us all to have a look at a few Biblical references to fathers: Genesis 2:24, Exodus 20:12, Ezekiel 19:19-20, Sirach 3:1 16, Matthew 19:16-22, John 1:14, 2 Cor. 6:16-18, Ephesians 6: 1-4, 1 Thess. 2:11 – 12.

Happy Father’s Day!

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal

Faith, Caring and Excellence

Dear Friends,

We just went through the week of graduations. It was very heart-warming to see the graduation of the little ones in Pre-K and Kindergarten. Their innocent glow as they sang some beautiful songs and posed for the diplomas touched everyone. The graduation of our 8th graders was more of a defining moment that elicited mixed feelings of joy and sadness — joy at the fact of this class of 2021 crossing an important milestone in their lives. All the parents and family, school administration and faculty, priests and parishioners are happy to see them moving onto the next phase of the journey of their life.

At the same time, there is that tinge of sadness of missing these young vibrant students who were a part of our life here. Friday before graduation, their last day of class, was an emotional day for all. In the St. Matthias tradition, the parents and faculty made it special for them by clapping these seniors out, with the band playing. The parents wrote names and messages on the ground for the students to read.

My hope – as is that of everyone else – is that these graduates will carry the torch of St. Matthias wherever they go, in the way they live out the motto of our school: FAITH, CARING AND EXCELLENCE. My prayer is that the seeds of faith the Principal and Vice-Principal have sown in these students, with the help of the caring teachers, will keep them faithful to Jesus Christ and His Church. I wish to single out our Fr. Joe for special appreciation for his good will and initiative in imparting faith and religious practices to the whole school during the pandemic year.

As the school year is ending, Mrs. Elena Malinconico, our present principal, will be leaving us for another assignment. Everyone will agree with me that this year was the most challenging for every school principal and it is no exaggeration to say that Mrs. Malinconico did an excellent job in keeping our school open, offering both in-person and remote learning, and keeping all our students safe though this past uncertain and anxious year. Thanks to her vigilant leadership, St. Matthias did not have to close the school for any prolonged period, as many other schools had to do. As we thank her for her short but dedicated service to our school community, I wish her all success in her next assignment.

As already announced earlier, as well as in my letter in last week’s bulletin, we welcome Mrs. Mary Lynch as the new principal of St. Matthias. St.
Matthias School is an integral part of the mission of St. Matthias Parish, and all of us have a stake in its well-being and progress. Thank you to all who have been supporting our school in various ways. May our desire to pass our faith to the next generation bear good fruits.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal