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Pastor’s Letter

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time February 3-4, 2024

This is the last notice for the following:

  • The Blessing of Throats in honor of St. Blasé will take place at all Masses this weekend.
  • Please bring in old palm from previous Palm Sundays, so we can use them to make ashes for Ash Wednesday.
  • Today is the deadline for the Parish Appreciation Dinner on Tuesday, February 13 from 6:00 to 8:00. This is a self-invitation event; if you have contributed to the well-being of our parish then you should attend.
  • Our next Mario Lanza Concert will be held this Friday, February 9 at St. Paul Church at 7:00 PM. This concert will feature our very own Felicia Punzo. Tickets can be purchased on line through Eventbrite or purchased directly from Brooklyn after Mass or at the parish offices.

Other February Events

  • Our first Liturgy of Sacred Music will take place at the 5:00 PM Mass on Sunday February 11. Please read the insert in today’s bulletin about the music for next week.
  • February 10-11 is our next Welcome Weekend; the theme is All Things Chocolate. If can make or bake something, it will be greatly appreciated.
  • We will hold a Healing Mass for the Sick and those in need of prayer on Sunday February 25 at 2:00 at St. Paul Church. Besides the elderly and ill, anyone who will have surgery in the coming months is invited to attend.

The Gospel on the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time is about Jesus healing a leper, and the music selections will reflect on an interpretation of the healing message. 

Jesus heals the hearts of those who feel alone and those who are troubled. 

In Jesus we find the strength to overcome our own trials in life.

The first two pieces are from the late Baroque era. During this time, it was typical for composers to be employed either through the court, or through the church. George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) and Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) both found employment through the church. Bach spent most of his life composing for the Lutheran Church (which is why we have endless amounts of sacred works from him), while Handel found his church employment when he arrived in England in 1710.

The entrance hymn, “Jesus, Sun of Life, My Splendor“, features text by Johann Franck, a German poet, that was set to a “Ach, wie hungert mein Gemüthe” a chorale from Handel’s Brockes Passion (1712). The choral melody is clean and clear, with an active organ accompaniment, which is not uncommon to hear during the Baroque era. The clarity of the music allows us to hear the text and meditate on the soaring soprano exclaiming “Jesus, Bread of Life, I pray Thee, Let me gladly here obey Thee, By thy love I am invited, Be thy love with love requited…”

The presentation of gifts hymn, “Jesus bleibet meine Freude”, or by its popular English title, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”, is a chorale taken from Bach’s Cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147 written in 1723. Bach began a new position as the music director in Leipzig, and within the first year of his employment he composed a new Cantata almost every week from the Sunday after Trinity Sunday 1723 to the following Trinity Sunday in 1724.

This chorale is recognizable to most people today; it has stood the test of time. The piece begins with a continuous stream of triplets from the accompaniment followed by a strong entrance from the chorus singing with praise “Jesus remains my joy, my heart’s consolation and juice”. This work will be sung in German; the text reflects a gratitude for Jesus, “Jesus fends off all suffering, He is my life’s strength”.

For the last two pieces of the Mass, we will be skipping to the Romantic era.  Harmonically, this era becomes more complex, as composers of this time period were finding ways to break the music composition rules of the Classical period.  Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) was a French pianist, composer, and master of the organ. While Saint-Saëns is most famous for his Symphonic Poems and Carnival of the Animals, he also wrote a handful of sacred works.

The communion hymn, “Panis Angelicus”, was written by Saint-Saëns in 1898. While his version is not performed that often (César Franck’s setting is heard most), it has a simple yet haunting melody that accompanies the Latin text which celebrates the Eucharist. The text comes from the last two stanzas of the hymn “Sacris solemniis” written by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274).

The closing hymn, O God Beyond All Praising, is originally from Gustav Holst’s (1874-1934) Jupiter movement in his orchestral suite The Planets (1914-1916). Holst took the melody, THAXTED, from this movement and set it to the words of an English poem “I vow to thee my country”. Michael Perry (1942-1996), a prominent hymn writer and Vicar in England, felt moved to set text to this melody that would be appropriate for Christian worship. The music from Holst is incredibly grand, and it was a formidable task for Perry to set text to the melody. In 1982 Perry completed the hymn. Perhaps the most striking moment is the harmonic changes reflecting the text in verse two “…And whether our tomorrows Be filled with good or ill, We’ll triumph through our sorrows And rise to bless you still….”

Our Lenten Journey

There will be a few changes to our Sunday liturgy during Lent. The Mass will begin with an entrance procession that is accompanied by the chanting of the Kyrie Eleison (Lord, have mercy). Incense will be part of the procession in order to remind us that Forgiveness requires sacrifice – letting go of our hurt when we are wounded and letting go of our pride when we harm others. After each reading from Scripture, we will have a brief pause. We hope that this insertion of silence is a time for prayer and reflection on the Word of God. Our music selections will be simplified.

The overall theme for Lent this year will be Forgiveness; we will examine it from several different perspectives over the course of the six weeks of Lent. Each Sunday Mass will begin with a short reflection on the role of Forgiveness in our spiritual journey.

There are a host of activities during Lent. We hope that you may find one or more that may help you on your spiritual journey. Please consider joining us at one of the following:

  • Daily Mass at 7:30 AM Monday through Friday at St. Paul Church
  • Stop by St. Paul Church for prayer – the church is open from 6:45 AM until noon Monday thru Friday
  • Conversations and Confessions are held each Monday from 5:00 to 6:00 PM at St. Paul Church
  • Bible Study Class will be held each Wednesday starting February 21 at St. Paul Friary at 7:00 PM
  • Stations of The Cross will take place Fridays at 7:00 followed by Adoration.
  • February 16 (Traditional Stations)
  • February 23 (Stations in Time of Suffering)
  • March 1 (Praying the Stations for Healing)
  • March 8 (Mary’s Way of the Cross)
  • March 15 (Praying the Stations of Mercy)
  • March 22 – Living Stations
  • March 29 – Good Friday (Walking Stations from St. Paul to St. Mary)
  • Forty Hours Devotion: March 10 thru 12 (Schedule to be published soon)
  • Lenten Reflections: In the bulletin, there will be a daily reflection for Lent

Putting Faith into Practice: there will be simple suggestions about how to live your faith

State of the Parish – Midyear Review – January 2024

The health of our parish is measured in much more than dollars and cents and that is what I hope to convey in this update. The first word that comes to mind when I look at the Parish Financial situation is: WOW! I was more than pleasantly surprised when I reviewed the numbers that are being presented to you today. On average over the last seven months, our Sunday weekly collection has risen by over 26% from 2022 to 2023. This increase in giving is commensurate with an increased attendance at our Sunday Masses. I do not have firm data on attendance just yet (I began counting in February of 2023), but I can tell you that on a weekly basis we are going from slightly over 200 people per week in the springtime to just under 400 people per week in the last four months.  Christmas 2022 vs. 2023 saw a rise in attendance from 400 people to 530. 

We are doing more and more social outreach through the work of our Homeless Ministry as well as the Knights of Columbus. Your donations of food, clothing and toiletries are nothing short of amazing.

Our sacramental life is also growing wonderfully. The Pastoral Council and the Liturgy Committee have put together various forms of prayer and worship to help the people of the parish express their faith: the Parish Mission with Fr. Tom, Meditative Rosary, Honoring Black Catholics, Lessons and Carols for Advent, Blessing Expectant Moms, Live Stations of the Cross, Outreach to the LGBTQ+ community, Easter Sunrise Mass. There will be more to come in the next six months.

Our major fundraiser, The Blast, brought in nearly $190,000 and after expenses will contribute about $130,000 to our operating budget. This may well eliminate the deficit we have been running for the last several years.

This fiscal year we will have prepared nearly 40 couples for marriage, the lion’s share of which are taking place here at our two churches. Our baptisms have remained steady but this past year we did have more baptisms than funerals.

Our Welcome Weekends and the introduction of the Mix continue to build the sense of family that is so important to the compassionate community we hope to strengthen. Our anniversary as an Augustinian parish, the Parish Appreciation Dinner and other social events bring us together to celebrate our lives. The Mario Lanza Concerts are our investment in the community of St. Paul Parish as we welcome artistic talent and open up the doors of the church to our neighbors.

Hiring Brooklyn as a full-time employee was an investment that is paying great dividends; we would not be able to do all that we are doing without her assistance. Our parish staff and volunteers continue to provide a level of service that fulfills the needs of our parishioners.

Through outside donors we have been able to accomplish the following: purchase of the large screen television in St. Paul, upgrade the kitchen at St. Mary Hall, pay the cost of the reception for the Pastor Installation, upgrade our sacred vessels and vestments, upgrade the live stream capabilities of St. Paul church, change the lights in St. Paul Church, put a new sound system in St. Mary Church, cover the cost of disinterring the founding pastor, as well as several other behind-the-scenes improvements. These outside donors are critical to our success – please pray for them.

Our religious education program is small but very well run by Theresa Smith. Our children receive a great faith foundation. Please join our children in their faith journey.

In the coming year we will welcome seven new members to our parish at the Easter Vigil. That people want to join this faith community is a great witness to all of you. You make people feel welcome.

The projects that will be completed in the second half of our fiscal year are: changing the lights in St. Mary, the construction of The Blessed Mother Garden and the installation of a LED screen on the front of St. Paul Church.

Our Sacred Music Initiative will provide a space for prayer and music to merge. On the second Sunday of the next four months, you are invited to join us in celebrating this inspirational time.

I hope to reconstitute the Project Nonna ministry before the summer. 

We are a small parish (as regards number of people) that is punching well above our weight. There is a great spirit of love here. We are doing more than parishes much larger than us.

Some future goals that I have include putting money aside for repairs to our aging infrastructure and finding ways to help the poor and elderly in our community. Once we get our own house in order, we can and must take care of others.

  • Thanks to all of you for your increased and continued support of the parish.
  • Thanks to the Pastoral Council and the Finance Council for their advice and concern for the well-being of the parish.
  • Thanks to Andrew Albergo and John Haydu both of whom just retired after ten years on the Finance Council
  • Thanks to Russell DeStefano, our Business Manager, for his patience during this time of transition of new realities and processes.

Thanks to all those who were connected to the Blast: donors, workers, guests, raffle ticket buyers and anyone who helped in any way.

St. Paul Parish Collections June-December 2023
Month202120222023Increase from 2022Average Increase
June$19,673$15,490$21,97641.87%
July$17,327$14,797$19,43931.37%
August$20,239$16,231$24,89053.35%
September$17,280$24,464$24,119-1.41%
October$17,794$19,352$24,14324.76%
November$21,427$20,714$24,16816.67%
December$19,001$20,016$23,38516.83%
7-Month Total$134,762$133,086$164,14326.21%
23.34%Increase from 2022
21.80%Increase from 2021
202120222023Increase
Christmas$9,812$11,665$13,250
18.89%13.59%From Previous Year
35.04% From Two Years Ago
Some Updates

Our plans for a Liturgy of Sacred Music are beginning to gel. At this point, this special Mass will be the second Sunday of each month at 5:00 PM (February 11, March 10, April 7 (Divine Mercy) and May 12 (Mothers’ Day). We are making sponsorships available; the cost to sponsor the Sacred Music is $400 to $600 (this money goes to pay the singers and musicians). Your intentions will be included in the prayers for the Mass and appropriate acknowledgement will be made. If you are interested is being a sponsor, please contact Brooklyn. (February and March has already been booked.)

The reservation form for the Parish Appreciation Dinner on Tuesday February 13 from 6:00 to 8:00 is now available at the entrance to the church. If you plan to attend, please let us know. This is a self-invitation event; if you have contributed to the well-being of our parish then you should attend. The deadline if Sunday February 4.

Our next Mario Lanza Concert will be held Friday February 9 at St. Paul Church at 7:00 PM. This concert will feature our very own Felicia Punzo. Tickets can be purchased on line through Eventbrite or purchased directly from Brooklyn after each Mass or at the parish offices.

This year, we will be presenting the Live Stations of The Cross on Friday evening, March 22nd. If you are interested in participating, please email Anthony Giunta at: (stations19147@gmail.com).

We will hold a Healing Mass for the Sick and those in need of prayer on Sunday February 25 at 2:00 at St. Paul Church. Besides the elderly and ill, anyone who will have surgery in the coming months is invited to attend.

During Lent we will have a Bible Study Class on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 in St. Paul Church. Soon we will be asking for people to join our Pastoral Council. Please consider it.