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SACRAMENTS AT SAINT ANTHONY’S
Apr 30th, 2011 by Father Chris

Earlier today we celebrated First Holy Communion for the young people of our parish.  This was a wonderful celebration for this community.  The church was filled to capacity and was even overflowing with people here to attend the Mass. 

In my homily I showed the children photographs from my own First  Communion on April 28, 1979 as well as a card and note given to me on that occasion by my great uncle and aunt and a book about the Mass given to me by my parents.  I told them that they would take many pictures today too and receive gifts as well but that this was all being done because today was such a special day in their lives – the day they receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time but certainly not the last time.  I instructed them to come to Mass every Sunday and as often as they can to continue to keep the “friendship” with Jesus alive and vibrant!  It is my hope that today will be only the beginning of an exciting faith life for all of our young people that will last their whole lives through.

Almost as soon as the Mass for First Communion is ended we begin to turn our attention to the conferral of the Sacrament of Confirmation in just over a week.  Tomorrow afternoon I will join our catechists in interviewing our candidates for Confirmation.  And, Bishop Dominick Lagonegro will be here for Confirmation next week on Wednesday May 11th at 6:00pm for the Confirmation Mass.   

We are so proud of our young people and their families at this special time of the year.  God bless you as God works in your lives in so many special ways through these important Sacraments that you receive!

4th Annual Blue Mass
Apr 28th, 2011 by Father Chris

Time is passing very quickly and so now is a good time to remind everyone that our 4th Annual Blue Mass here at Saint Anthony of Padua is just TWO weeks away! 

This Mass at which we take time to honor the members of our Police Departments, Fire Departments, EMS and Civic Officials will be held on Friday May 13, 2011 at 7:30 pm in Church.  A reception will follow in the Lower Church Hall. 

Each year we have had the opportunity to single out certain individuals or groups worthy of special recognition.  In 2008 it was our First Annual Mass.  In 2009 we honored Mayor Joseph Delfino of White Plains upon his retirement after a lifetime of public service and 12 years as Mayor of White Plains.  Last year we had the privilege of honoring Police Office Robert Salerno, one of our own parishioners, who survived being shot in the line of duty in March of last year.  This year we will honor our own West Harrison Fire Department on the 100th Anniversary of its founding.  Really, however, every one of our uniformed service workers and public officials are our honorees! 

This year His Eminence, Edward Cardinal Egan, the Archbishop Emeritus of New York will preside at the Mass and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will also be in attendance.  In addition, we expect Police Officers from Harrison, White Plains, Westchester County, New York State Police, 2 municipalities in New Jersey as well as Atlanta, GA Police Department to be represented.  Also, Fire Departments from around the Sound Shore and neighboring communities are expected to be here.  Our own Ambulance Corps. and EMS Officials from Harrison I hope will also be here.  Our local public officials will attend as they customarily do.  We welcome everyone and I know that this special Mass is going to be an exciting and beautiful experience once again this year!!

Please spread the word and plan to be here on Friday May 13 at 7:30 pm!

Above, members of the Harrison Police Department salute during the National Anthem at the 3rd Annual Blue Mass held at Saint Anthony of Padua Church, West Harrison, New York.

First Holy Communion 2011
Apr 28th, 2011 by Father Chris

This evening at 5:30 pm we will have the rehearsal for our First Holy Communion on Saturday.  This is always a very special time of the year at any parish but especially here at Saint Anthony of Padua it is a wonderful time for our families and young people. 

I want to express to all of our youngsters who will be receiving Jesus for the first time in the Eucharist this Saturday at 11:00 am and your families congraulations, best wishes and prayers from me, Father Peter and Father Joy.  We are very proud of you and wish the best for you as you take this wonderful step in your spiritual lives and faith formation! 

Thanks so much to all of our Catechists and to everyone in our Religious Education Program and School Communities for the preparation that has been given in anticipation of this great event. 

God bless you all and we look forward to your special day on Saturday!

HAPPY EASTER!
Apr 24th, 2011 by Father Chris

HAPPY EASTER!

The day we have been preparing for has arrived!  Happy Easter to all!  May the glorious resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ, fill your hearts and lives with Joy, Peace and Love now are forevermore!  Below I have included several photos of our magnificent Easter Vigil Mass last night at 8:00 PM here at Saint Anthony of Padua Church.

Above, I am blessing the Easter Fire from which the Paschal Candle was lit.

Here you can see as I bless the Paschal Candle prior to the procession through the Church.

The Paschal Candle is lit.

“Christ our Light”…”Thanks be to God!”  The Paschal Candle is carried through the Church and the smaller candles carried  by the members of the congregation are lit.  The church is in darkness and Christ who is forever the Light of the world enlightens the hearts and minds of all who believe in Him!  Soon the Church is ablaze with light as our lives are enflamed with God’s love, mercy and peace!

The candles of those in the congregation are lit.

Above, I pray the opening prayer of the Mass at the Easter Vigil.

Nelson Contreras received the Sacrament of Confirmation at the Easter Vigil.

Above, I congratulate Nelson and his sponsor, Carolina, and the congregation expressed its approval with applause.  On Nelson’s left is Br. Richard Morgado who organized Nelson’s catechism during the past year. 

Here you can see as I bless the Easter Water and as we renew our Baptismal promises. 

The Body of Christ is raised for all to adore!

The Blood of Christ is raised for all to adore!

Above, I give the final blessing and wish everyone a very Happy and Joy-filled Easter!

I thank EVERYONE who contibuted by giving of your time, talent and effort to help make the celebrations of Holy Week and Easter here at Saint Anthony of  Padua so beautiful.  God bless you all and HAPPY EASTER!

HOLY SATURDAY 2011
Apr 23rd, 2011 by Father Chris

The reading this morning at our Tenebrae Service sets the tone for this Holy Saturday – “Something strange is happening…the whole world is silent”.  Yes the whole world waits now in mourning and anticipation until the great climax of the liturgical year tonight at the Easter Vigil.  In keeping with the solemn mood of today I shall keep this entry brief.  I include below the image (taken during our pilgrimage to the Holy Land in January) of the Holy Sepluchre in Jerusalem where Jesus was placed in the tomb before His Resurrection on Easter morning!

Above, a priest incenses the entrance to the sepluchre where Jesus was buired in Jerusalem.

GOOD FRIDAY 2011
Apr 22nd, 2011 by Father Chris

The Service of the Lord’s Passion and Veneration of the Cross today at 3 PM was a very moving experience once again this year.  For me, however, this year it was different particularly because of the pilgrimage our parishioners and I made to the Holy Land this past January.  Below I will share with you some of the photographs I took while in Jerusalem at the various locations that pertain to Good Friday.  That first Good Friday took place at these places and I feel so fortunate and blest that we were able to be there. 

This is the place where, as Jesus was being led away, Peter denied Him.  You can see the bronze images and the cock on the top of the column.  In the background you can see the “Dome of the Rock”.  This is the site where the Temple stood in Jerusalem.

These steps have remained untouched since Jesus walked on them 2000 years ago.  The plaque to the left attests to the authenticity of the fact that Jesus used these steps as He left to travel across the Kidron Valley to the Garden of Gethsemane.

At the very beginning of the Passion account on Good Friday we read that “Jesus went out across the Kidron Valley”.  Above you can see the Kidron Valley taken from the Garden of Gethsemane.  Olive trees and palm trees fill the valley.  And, the wall to the Temple area  is at the top of the picture.

This is the church at the Garden of Gethsemane inside which is the Rock on which Jesus rested and prayed.

This is the Rock where Jesus rested and prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.  The Altar where we celebrated Mass is located just behind the Rock.

Above, you can see the beautiful plaque in the Garden of Gethsemane with the words of our Blessed Lord which He prayed here.

The Garden of Gethsemane is filled with olive trees.  The olive tree above is the only one in the garden to have been authentically documented as having been alive at the time that Jesus prayed there over 2000 years ago!

This is the Church of the Condemnation.  It was here that Jesus was condemned to death and where He began His journey carrying the Cross to the Crucifixion. 

The description above is in the Church and tells of its history and meaning.

The “Stone Pavement” which you see here, which is referred to in the Passion account proclaimed on Good Friday, is the place where Jesus walked as He was given the Cross to be carried by Him to Calvary.  The stones you see here have not been changed and are the stones on which Jesus walked on Good Friday!

This sign marks the “Way of the Cross”.

These are the narrow streets of Jerusalem Jesus walked on as He went to Calvary.

Above you can see me pointing out and explaining one of the Stations.  The Cross you see beside me was carried by each of us on the pilgrimage at different points as we walked, prayed and sang the Way of the Cross.

Here I am carrying the Cross.  Each of us took turns carrying it as we prayed and sang.

The 6th Station.

This is the Church of the Holy Sepluchre.  The last three stations are actually within the walls of this church. 

Jesus was flogged and scourged at this pillar.

This is the place where Jesus was crucified.  You can see that the Altar and walls are adorned with many icons and candles.  When you venerate this spot you are able to go individually and touch the place where the Cross was mounted and kiss it.

After Jesus’ body was taken down from the Cross it was laid on this stone table and anointed.  Today this would be equal to a modern embalming table.  People come and pour perfumed oil on it and kiss it in reverence. 

Above I am seen kissing the stone table. 

The entrance to the Holy Sepluchre where Jesus was buried.

We celebrated Mass here in the grotto of the Holy Sepluchre.  This was an amazing experience for me as a priest and for all of us who traveled on the pilgrimage.

I hope these images which I have included here are meaningful to all of you.  They are not from a sound stage or from a Hollywood movie set.  They are the real places where Jesus suffered and died for you and me.  I pray that this Good Friday will be an occasion of grace and growth for all of you and for me as well.  May our Lord who suffered and died and rose again for us be praised now and forevermore!  AMEN.

HOLY THURSDAY 2011
Apr 21st, 2011 by Father Chris

Today we celebrate the institution of the Priesthood and, many say, the beginning of the Church.  This is a very special day for all priests and for all Christians as we remember the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist in the Upper Room in Jerusalem.  As we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper this evening let us recall the words and the actions of our Lord on that most important night and His words to you and me which he still speaks to us today. 

Below I have included a beautiful image of the Last Supper as well as a few photos I took in the “Upper Room” in Jerusalem during our pilgrimage to the Holy Land in January.  It is the exact place where Jesus met with His disciples and celebrated the meal with them the night before He died. 

I like this image of the Last Supper because it is the most realistic one that I have seen.  The surroundings very much resemble the Upper Room in Jerusalem where the Last Supper was celebrated.  I include it here and pray that it is a meaningful meditation for you all.

 This bronze olive tree was a gift to the Holy Land from Pope John Paul II during his pilgrimage there.  The tree is located in the Upper Room where Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples. 

Above, parishioners from Saint Anthony of Padua who traveled on our pilgrimage sit and listen to the explanation of the “Upper Room” from our guide Sam.  It was in this very place that Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples. 

The columns in the Upper Room are beautifully ornamented with the image of the pelican.  The pelican is an image which exemplifies what Christ did for us in His suffering and death.  The pelican takes its own beak and cuts itself to allow blood to flow from its body and with its own blood the pelican feeds its young to give them life.  Jesus Christ suffered and died and shed His own blood for us so that we might have life in Him.  His great gift to us of His Body and Blood in the Eucharist we celebrate this evening at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and at every Mass.

PALM SUNDAY 2011
Apr 21st, 2011 by Father Chris

Well, it has been a while since I have updated my blog and I hope you will forgive me for the delay but I am sure you can understand that things have been busy! 

And, things are getting busier as we have entered into Holy Week and now the celebrations of the Sacred Triduum.  This is certainly the most important time of the year for all of us as Christian people.  I pray that these days will be a time of real grace and spiritual renewal for all of the people of our parish. 

Below I have included some photos of our Palm Sunday 10:15 Procession and Mass.  The liturgies of last weekend were the perfect beginning to Holy Week.

 Here Father Peter, Father Joy and I bless the palm before the procession through the church to the Altar.

The procession through the church blessing the palm.  The magnificent palm arrangements you see being carried here are very ornate and are made for me each year by the Sisters at Sacred Heart Church in Newburgh, New York.  I thank them for the time and work they put into these very special palm arrangements. 

Here you see the palm arrangements adorning the foot of the Cross.

Here you can see me incensing the Altar at the beginning of Mass.

The reading of the Passion.

Here I am incensing the Altar during the offertory.

Raising the host, Christ’s Body, for all to adore!

Raising the chalice of Christ’s Blood for all to adore!

2011 Communion Retreat.
Apr 9th, 2011 by Father Chris

Today from 9 AM to Noon we hosted our Annual Communion Retreat for the young people of the 2nd grade from our School and Religious Education Program here at Saint Anthony’s.  It was a wonderful experience for all of us who were there.  We are very excited for our young parishioners who, on April 30th, will receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament for the first time!  A special word of thanks is owed to the parents, catechists and families of these youngsters for their hard word and dedication especially during this important year!

At the conclusion of the morning, I ended the retreat in church by giving a presentation of some of the vestments and vessels we use during the celebration of the Mass.  I always have felt that we have a much deeper appreciation for the Mass and of our faith when we understand why we do certain things and what the significance of things is.  I think the students and their families were helped by the presentation and I hope so. 

Below are a few of the items that we talked about.  God bless our 2nd graders as they prepare for First Holy Communion!

A special little prayer!
Apr 9th, 2011 by Father Chris

Earlier this week I was having a particularly bad day (Yes, even priests have bad days!)  Well, it was a stressful time and I had several important parish items that were weighing heavily on my shoulders which needed to be resolved.  I have always felt that when you are going through a tough time you can do one of two things; either you can turn inward or you can reach out.  I have always been one to reach out.  So, I called a friend of mine who told me that when she was a youngster growing up in Saint Louis her home parish was Saint Theresa of the Little Flower.  And, she said that every morning when her grandmother would take her to school they would stop in front of the Church at the life sized statue of Saint Theresa which stood there and her grandmother would recite a special little prayer.  And, she said that anytime you are going through difficulty or stress say that prayer and Saint Theresa will hear you and help you. 

So, I thought I would pass this special little prayer on to all of you as well.  I know that someone who might read this blog entry is probably going through a time of stress and uncertainty and anxiety as well.  If you are, I hope you will offer this prayer and I promise you it will be heard and answered.  God bless you!

Here it is -

Saint Theresa, Little Flower, in this hour, show thy power, send a shower!

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