I extend heartfelt sympathies and support to the family and friends of Angelo Mastrogiacomo.
Angelo died Monday at White Plains Hospital. He was only 59 years old. His Funeral Mass will be celebrated here at Saint Anthony’s tomorrow morning at 10 AM. And the entombment will take place following at Ferncliff Mausoleum.
Saint Rose of Lima said, “in the evening of life, we will be judged on love.” Angelo certainly loved and was loved by so many people in his relatively brief life on this earth. Let us pray that he live now in the Love of the Lord and all the Blessed ones in Heaven forever.
As we have been preparing for the changes to the translation of the Mass this weekend, it was anticipated that there would be what I have liked to call “Mass” confusion. I am happy to report that there was very little difficulty at Masses this weekend with the changes. Parishioners used the pew cards and followed along in the missalettes and all seemed to go very well. Thank you for your cooperation and patience as we adjust to these new liturgical norms.
One parishioner put it very well a few weeks ago following one of the “orientation” sessions we had in preparation for these changes. She said, “…the wording is very beautiful, very prayerful, and during the Mass we should use the most formal and beautiful language that we can muster, after all we are talking to God!” How insightful and true. So, I am happy that the Masses this weekend here at Saint Anthony’s were conducted as they always are, with reverence, respect, devotion and love. Well done!
I take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy and blest Thanksgiving. Each year on this occasion my family members say what they are thankful for around the table before eating our thanksgiving dinner. Today (in addition to life, and my family and friends) I am thankful for the gift of the priesthood and the awesome responsibility I have in pastoring such a vibrant and exciting parish. Thanks to all of you for your support and love throughout the year. God bless you all!
Above, I have included a photo of our turkey dinner! Gobble Gobble!!
ELVIRA DELFINO 1933-2011
All of us at Saint Anthony of Padua Church as well as the wider West Harrison, Harrison and White Plains communities extend our heartfelt sympathy and love to Mayor Joe, Joe and Cynthia as well as their extended family on the death, at age 77, of Elvira Delfino this morning at White Plains Hospital.
Mayor Joe has become a close personal friend to me over the years that I have been pastor here at Saint Anthony’s. I first met His Honor at a restaurant in White Plains months before my appointment as pastor here. I was dining there with another priest. It was a casual dinner and as we talked and ate Mayor Joe wisked by the table. My friend recognized him and he sat down. Immediately Mayor Joe and I began to talk about various subjects and quickly I knew that I had met a kindred spirit. We talked about our ideas of leadership and who we looked up to for inspiration. And, Mayor Joe was unafraid to voice his strong faith in God and the reality that none of us are anything without Him in our lives. I was so impressed with Mayor Joe that night and I never forgot him. A few months later, soon after Cardinal Egan appointed me pastor of Saint Anthony’s, I made a visit to Mayor Joe at his office at City Hall in White Plains. I asked him if he remembered me and he said he did with great happiness. I asked him if he would be my special guest at the Mass where I would be installed as pastor on January 25, 2008. He immediately agreed and told me that he would be “deeply honored”. Not only did Mayor Joe attend but he brought with him a personal letter of congratulations from the Governor of the State of New York along with an Official Proclamation declaring January 25, 2008 “Father Christopher Monturo Day” in New York State. Every time I have asked Mayor Joe to be present for functions here at Saint Anthony’s he has always made himself available. And, frequently when I have needed advice he has always been at the other end of the phone to dispense the sound, measured and wise counsel I have needed.
Through Mayor Joe, I had the great privilege to meet his beautiful wife Elli. Unfortunately I did not know her in the earlier years of her life when she enjoyed better health. Most of my visits and time spent with her were occasions in the hospital when she was recovering from various surgeries or bouts with illness. Always did I find her cheeful and her sense of humor intact. She was truly one of the most beautiful ladies I have ever met.
Many people remark about how exceptional a Mayor Joe Delfino was for the City of White Plains during his twelve year tenure. And, it is true that his vision, enthusiasm and insatiable drive to make the City of White Plains everything that it possibly could be accomplished virtual urban miracles. But, it is safe to say too, that none of these accomplishments would have ever been possible if Mayor Joe did not have the quiet, strong and loving support of his wife Elvira. She permitted him to be the public servant that he was and, to a large degree, still is. Elli knew that Mayor Joe had a mission and, much like a good pastor, that he had “sheep to tend”. And, she allowed him the freedom and flexibility to do all of the things that he did do. They did it together. Mayor Joe was the “public” servant but Elli was very much the “private” servant who worked behind the scenes in support and care for Mayor Joe and her family. We all owe Elli a great deal. And, in the days to come we must express a deep love and affection for all that she did as a partner to the man who created a “renaissance” for White Plains and for all of us who have been the beneficiaries of their hard work.
Elvira A. Delfino was born November 27, 1933 in Elmsford, New York to Paul and Emily Trapp. She spent most of her life in White Plains. After graduation from Alexander Hamilton High School she worked for many years as an administrator at several of Westchester’s corporate headquarters.
In 1953 she married Joseph Delfino and they have two children, a son, Joseph, and a daughter Cynthia Rubino and her husband, John. Elli and Mayor Joe were married for 58 years.
A wake for Elli will be held Monday evening from 5:00PM to 9:00 PM and again Tuesday from 3:00 PM to 9:00 PM at McMahon, Lyon and Hartnett Funeral Home in White Plains.
The Funeral Mass will be celebrated here at Saint Anthony of Padua Church at 10:00 AM on Wednesday morning. Interment will follow at Mount Calvary Cemetery.
Rest in Peace Elli until we meet again!
STATE OF THE PARISH ADDRESS
REVEREND CHRISTOPHER W. MONTURO
PASTOR, SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA CHURCH
DELIVERED AT ALL MASSES
NOVEMBER 19 & 20, 2011
FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING
This weekend, as you know, I am giving my annual report known as the “State of the Parish Address”. And, a lot has happened since this time last year, but from the very outset of my remarks I would like to acknowledge that we have an extraordinary parish here at Saint Anthony’s and this is due, in large part, to the devotion of our priests like Father Peter and Father Pete, our excellent office staff, as well as many, many dedicated parishioners including our Parish Council and Finance Committee members (who will be available after the 10:15 Mass for all of you to speak with should you have any questions) who take the initiative, get involved and work hard, often with little or no credit, to insure beautiful liturgies which are conducted with reverent prayerfulness, inspiring music, community service programs, successful fundraisers, fine parish societies and outreach to those less fortunate just to name a few.
Having said this, I frame my words to you using two Archdiocesan-wide initiatives which have already or which will soon affect our parish and every parish in the Archdiocese of New York. These two initiatives are: “Pathways to Excellence” and “Making All Things New”.
“Pathways to Excellence” is changing the way Catholic Schools are administered. In the past, each Catholic School was autonomous and each parish had the responsibility to maintain and govern the parish elementary school. In the near future the “Pathways to Excellence” program will shift the governance of Catholic Elementary Schools from the parish level to a regional model where schools will be overseen by a regional board which will include and involve every parish in the region. This initiative has already impacted us here at Saint Anthony’s. As you know, last school year 2010-2011 Saint Anthony’s School had a total enrollment from Kindergarten to Eighth Grade of only 48 students. As you will notice on the parish financial statement which is included in this weekend’s bulletin, last academic year our school alone required $483,000 of support from the Archdiocese as well as a nominal amount which the parish was able to contribute. Obviously, the seriously declining enrollment in recent years coupled with the enormous financial subsidy required led to the decision on the part of the Archdiocese to close our school.
We were fortunate through the efforts of the Archdiocesan Real Estate and Legal Departments to be able to rent the school building for the next two years. This rental agreement has saved the parish from incurring major Archdiocesan financial support which we would likely have had to pay back and which would have created a substantial debt for the parish. The rental of the school building has meant that every one of us individually, as a parish and as a community have had to make some adjustments. As part of the contract, the parish is allowed to use the school building at certain specified times and at other times is not able to use it with the same freedom and flexibility which we have had in the past. This has caused some consternation among a few and this is understandable. Change is never easy. You should know that the rental of the school has also been a major adjustment for the school tenants who are using the building. And, it has taken the faculty, students and staff time to make the changes they have needed to amend their program to this setting and to their new facility. Your patience, cooperation and understanding in all of this is very much appreciated.
“Making All Things New” is the second program initiated by the Archdiocese. This initiative deals not with schools but rather with the parish itself. Many of you participated in the Archdiocesan Survey conducted this past spring. Every parish in the Archdiocese is currently being evaluated and it is likely that this initiative will result in the consolidation or closure of some churches. Specifically, the Archdiocese is looking at the following areas related to each parish – Strengthening Life-long Faith Formation, Engaging Youth and Young Adults in Church Life, Educating and Encouraging Lay Ministries, Encouragement of Vocations and the Promotion of Good Stewardship. This initiative will also change the way many parishes operate. Again, flexibility and cooperation are two important watchwords here. You need to be aware that within the next 10 years the number of priests just in the Central Westchester Vicariate which we are part of will shrink from 25 to 10. 10 priests will be expected to cover the needs of 37 parishes. This spring the Archbishop will ordain 1 man for service here in the Archdiocese. And, each year we lose between 30 and 35 priests due to death or retirement. We have been very fortunate here at Saint Anthony’s over the years that we have had an abundance of clergy to assist us. We have been use to having at least 2 priests at all times and at other times even three. This will likely become a thing of the past in the not too distant future in almost all parishes. And, again, these changes, whatever they may be, will require flexibility and cooperation on the part of all of us, priests and laity alike.
We are fortunate to have proactive members of our Parish Council who along with me, initiated a five year strategic plan over the last several months with the goal of taking what is already a vibrant and active parish and improving the viability of this faith community over the next five years and beyond. You can see clearly that we are not just “marking time”. We want to be “forward thinking” and “forward acting” so that when we meet with the Archdiocesan “Making All Things New” Committee we already have a plan in place to present to them for the sound operation and maintenance of our parish for the future. I am very grateful to those parishioners who participated in our Parish Survey which we conducted in the late spring. We received and have now summarized all of the survey responses which were submitted. I would like to give you a brief summary of what you and we have recognized as the major items highlighted by the survey some of which have action steps already underway.
First, younger people must be more involved and must contribute to the vitality of the parish. This is, by the way, a challenge which faces every parish trust me.
Second, we must look at concrete ways to improve attendance at Mass. We have 1035 registered families, which equates to around 3,500 parishioners as part of our parish yet our average weekly attendance is only 740 people – sometimes slightly more, sometimes slightly less. Again, this is not a challenge which is unique to Saint Anthony’s. But, if we are going to present a plan for sustainability we must have more parishioners active and attending Mass each week.
The survey results included many comments on the need to make improvements in our Religious Education Program. And, as you know, since the time of the survey, a new young, dynamic and faith-filled Religious Education Coordinator has been hired in the person of Jean Jacksen. She has already done a great deal to enhance our program and she is working hard with the support and cooperation of our dedicated catechists to continue to improve it and take it to new heights. This year for her is certainly a time of learning and adjustment and we can expect many new and exciting initiatives in our catechetical classes and programs which we offer our youth in the years to come.
Finally, we must find ways to achieve financial stability. As part of the “Making All Things New” initiative, the Archdiocese is looking carefully at each parish to see whether parish revenue is sufficient to support its ministries, Archdiocesan programs, ordinary operating expenses and also maintain its buildings and grounds. No one ever likes to talk about money and most of us don’t like to hear about money either unless, of course, we are the recipient of a financial gift. But as unpleasant as it may be at times, the reality is that it takes money to pay bills and a plant and parish as large as ours incurs a lot of bills in order to operate. And, believe it or not these bills have to be paid. This year’s financial statement, included with the bulletin, shows that, excluding school support, we were essentially at break even. We have worked very hard over the last couple of years to seriously control our costs and are grateful for several “one time” donations on that part of a few parishioners which helped us achieve this positive financial result. Our increased giving program initiated a year and a half ago has been moderately successful but weekly expenses remain approximately $4000 more than our weekly income leaving us highly dependent on the Christmas and Easter collections as well as the annual Festa (which this year raised almost $70,000). And, this does not allow us the opportunity to set aside any reserve funds for major repairs or investments. This is not a position we want to remain in for the long term. In the next couple of weeks you will be receiving a letter from me asking you to consider using a new option for your weekly parish contribution called “ParishPay”. ParishPay is a secure method of contributing through automatic deductions from your checking account or using your credit card. Again, you control and choose how you wish to contribute. I ask you to consider this option carefully. It is offered as a convenience to all of you and I think, those of you who choose to use it, will find it just that – very convenient.
As we speak the next steps in our Five Year Strategic Plan are underway. 15 committees, involving many new and young parish members, will be addressing the above items and other initiatives and programs with the goal of strengthening our parish for many years into the future. You will be kept up-to-date as this process progresses.
As you know, in the last year we have also initiated a wonderful parish website. You should familiarize yourself with it if you have not already done so, so that you can keep up with parish information. Our website is one of the finest parish websites I have ever seen. It not only provides all pertinent parish information, email addresses for all staff and clergy, but it also gives viewers an opportunity for daily reflection and prayer as well as links to commonly asked questions about the Catholic faith, about moral issues and about what the Church teaches on a variety of important subjects. The website features a photo gallery, my own recent blog entries which focus on parish and community events as well as a Facebook page. Our young parishioners especially should tap into this. And, this weekend I am announcing that you can now follow me on Twitter. If you are on Twitter enroll to follow me and you can get parish information and updates on important happenings in “real time”. Again, I hope this will be a way, through technology, to spread the faith especially to our young parishioners.
I have talked about many things, much of them involving finances. I come near the end now with what is most important and that which is the reason why we are all here – the spiritual. All of the other things I have informed you about are meaningless if they do not serve the only reason we gather each week, each day and as a community of Christian faithful – namely, to serve and worship God. This is why we are here and it is the very reason for our existence. Christ is the King of the Universe. He is the King of our lives. And, He alone is the King of this parish. And, within the last year, we have tried to initiate some spiritual programs which hopefully help parishioners to deepen their closeness to our Lord, our Blessed Mother, the Saints and each other. Within the last couple of months we have begun a rosary each morning before the 8 AM Mass. Last year we started Eucharistic Adoration with a Holy Hour on the first Saturday of each month following the 9 AM Mass. It is my hope, with your cooperation, to expand this in the future. Every Tuesday following Mass we pray in honor of our patron Saint Anthony of Padua. In early March we will have a Lenten Parish Mission which will last 4 days. This will be the first time in recent memory that our parish will have a traditional “Parish Mission”. Last January I led a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Jordan and Egypt which changed the lives of 30 of our parishioners and in March we will travel to Italy and Lourdes. These “trips” have not been organized to try to create a parish vacation club. Quite the opposite, these tours have been designed as spiritual pilgrimages intended to deepen our understanding of our faith and to lead us to the very places where our Lord was born, lived, ministered, died and rose from the dead. They also help us to understand with greater appreciation and depth the importance of Our Lady and the Saints in the life of faith.
As your Pastor, and as one who has visited and been involved in many parishes throughout my life, I can say that Saint Anthony of Padua Parish is a vibrant, active, loving, energetic and exciting family of faith. Have we done everything we can possibly do and done it perfectly? I’m sure we have not. But we have tried over the last few years to offer something for everyone in this community of every age and background and we will continue in this work in the years ahead. As they say, “Rome was not built in a day”, so please be patient as we continue these efforts. And, please continue to support the offerings here in our parish by being present at the various programs we plan. The presence of Jesus Christ is alive and active here. We have so much to be grateful for. And, we must celebrate with a lively faith the gift of God’s love which draws us and binds us together each day. I also end with exciting news which I received this week – that Archbishop Dolan will be visiting our Parish for the first time this coming April 28th. He will celebrate the 5:00 PM Mass and then each of you will have an opportunity to visit with him at a reception following in the Lower Church. We will each be able to give Archbishop Dolan a taste of the warmth, welcome and love which has always been the mainstay of our Church of Saint Anthony.
I conclude with these two simple but important words – “THANK YOU”. Thank you to each one of you for all that you do and all that you are which makes so much of what happens here in our parish each day possible. Without each one of you I really don’t know where we would be, but you ARE here and for that I and our Lord too are so very grateful indeed. God love you all!
This week I received word from Archbishop Dolan’s office that the Archbishop would like to make his first pastoral visit to Saint Anthony of Padua Church since his installation as Archbishop of New York. The visit will take place on Saturday April 28th. His Excellency will celebrate the 5:00 PM Vigil Mass and will visit with parishioners at a reception immediately following.
We are all delighted and excited that the Archbishop will be with us on April 28th. Please plan to be here and let’s give our Chief Shepherd a huge Saint Anthony’s welcome!
I use the title above from the invitation Christ gave to His disciples and to all whom He met during His public ministry. But, on this occasion I also use it to invite all of our parishioners and those who read this blog to follow me on Twitter. You can follow me @Cmonturo. I am still getting use to the way this social networking outlet operates so please be patient as I get use to it all.
I have joined this so that I am able to “tweet” important parish information in “real time” to our parishioners. I hope especially to reach the young people of our parish in this way. Please spread the word. I hope this will be a help to all of you. Soon I expect to have a link on the homepage of our website to direct viewers to follow along on Twitter if they wish.
This is the 200th post on this blog. I thought a fitting entry would be something about prayer which is such an indispensible part of our daily relationship with God. Prayer is something that is often misunderstood. So, for this milestone post a few words about it.
What is prayer? God invites each one of us to come to Him with our thoughts, worries, anxieties, thanksgivings and needs. This special time that we spend aware of God’s presence is called prayer. By taking time to become aware of God’s presence we can be open and talk with Him about whatever is on our mind or in our hearts.
We do not need special words to talk with God. We can “keep it simple”. Saint Ignatius of Loyola taught that conversation with God should resemble the way one friend speaks with another; God knows you and understands. He listens to you because He loves you as a parent loves a child.
Prayer is more than simply talking with God, however. In Saint Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he advises us to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) If prayer were simply understood as “talking to God,” then it might seem as though Saint Paul gave us the impossible task of talking constantly to God. If we understand prayer as the time we spend aware of God’s presence, however, it is indeed possible to pray constantly because God is with us at all times.
Most importantly, prayer is a gift from God. When we respond by accepting this gift, prayer nourishes our personal relationship with God. Through daily prayer we are able to develop the practice of acknowledging God’s presence in every aspect of our lives. And, we come to experience the joy of loving communion with God.
This morning as part of my homily I used the word TALENT as an acronym as an aid to the congregation and as a concrete way to make use of the talents that God has given to all of us. I mentioned that I would post my remarks on this blog here on our parish website, so here it is for any who are interested! I hope it might be helpful.
First T – TRY. There is no harm in trying they say. Sometimes we are afraid to try because we think we might fail. Try anyway. We just have to take time for it. I like to ask people the question, “what would you try, what goals would you set and ambitions dream of if you knew you couldn’t fail?” Just try. God will direct the path.
Second A – ACCEPT. Whatever talent we have, God gives us that because He knows that we are capable of developing it. We just have to accept it. The opposite of this is envy in which we look at other people’s success because they have something which we don’t have. God asks us to be who we are and to work with what He gives us. Remember, who you are is God’s gift to you, what you make of yourself is your gift to Him. Accept the gifts and talents God gives you and make something beautiful.
Third L – LOVE it. It is very important to love our skills. Those whom we often look to as “successful” people, atleast by worldly standards, did not become successful overnight. Because they love the gifts and talents they have they have taken time to develop them by making sacrifices, disciplining themselves and using self-control. Successful people are willing to sacrifice for love of God, love of others and also for love of who God has made them to be and for who they can become.
Fourth E – ENGAGE. Engage with people. We must share our talents with others. None of us has all the talents God can give. Therefore, we need each other. God created us to be “social” which means that we are most ourselves when we are engaged with others. Sometimes people let us down and disappoint us and we can, for a time, back away from engaging with others. But when the hurt subsides the need to engage rises to the surface once again. Yes, God made us to share our talents with each other and grow together.
Fifth N – NURTURE it. We need to train ourselves, to practice, to do every possible thing we can to make the best of our talents. In order to nurture our talents and make best use of the gifts God has given us we must always keep our relationship with God alive through prayer, through regular participation in the Sacraments and through reading the scriptures, God’s Word to us. In this way, God guides us and we are better able to nurture what He has given to us.
Sixth T – THANK GOD! This is the most important letter of all because without God none of us would be anything at all. It is God who has given us life. And, it is God who continues to sustain this life at every moment of our existence. We can never cease praising and thanking God for the gift of our lives. Through the gift of life God has also given us the talents which are so important to use not only for our benefit and that of the human family but also for the greater honor and glory of God Himself who is the author and sustainer of life. Sometimes when people are successful they forget about God until they find themselves in a moment of dire need. Then suddenly they become “religious”. But, in all of our successes and in all of our failures God is always there by our side to help and guide us. All we must do is open ourselves to His gifts and accept His blessings. Thank God for that!
Above, Archbishop Donoghue and I are seen at the wake for Monsignor Paul Reynolds at Saint Brigid’s Church in John’s Creek, Georgia December 22, 2010.
I received news late last night from Atlanta about the death, at age 83, of the retired Archbishop of Atlanta, John F. Donoghue. I remember Archbishop Donoghue very well from the time that I lived in Atlanta in the early and mid-1990s. I last saw the Archbishop at the funeral for my good friend and mentor Monsignor Paul Reynolds last December. Even at that time his health was failing and he needed help getting around. By all accounts, Archbishop Donoghue was a very fine priest and bishop who led the Archdiocese of Atlanta during a period of unprecedented growth and stability.
Archbishop John Francis Donoghue was born in Washington, D.C. on august 9, 1928, the son of Daniel and Rose Ryan Donoghue. Both of his parents were natives of Ireland. He had three brothers, all of them from the Washington, D.C. area.
All of his studies were in the Washington D.C. and Maryland area. He attended Park View School, Washington; Sacred Heart School, Washington; Gonzaga High School, Saint Charles College, Catonsville, Maryland, and Saint Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore. Following ordination, he did a year of graduate studies at the Catholic University of America School of Canon Law. He held the academic degress of Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Sacred Theology, Bachelor of Canon Law and Licentiate of Canon Law.
Archbishop Donoghue was ordained to the priesthood in Saint Matthew’s Cathedral, Washington, on June 4, 1955. He served as assistant pastor of Saint Bernard’s Church, Riverdale from 1955-1961 and as assistant pastor of Holy Face Parish, Great Mills, Maryland from 1961-1964. After a year of graduate studies in Canon Law, he joined the staff of the Archdiocesan Chancery (Washington) where he was Chancellor/Vicar General and served there until his appointment as Bishop of Charlotte. He served successively, the late Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle, William Cardinal Baum, now assigned to the Vatican, and the late James Cardinal Hickey.
In 1970, he was given the papal rank of Chaplain to His Holiness with the title “Monsignor”. A year later, he was further honored being named a Prelate of Honor.
Archbishop Donoghue was ordained bishop in 1984, becoming the second bishop of Charlotte, succeeding Bishop Michael Begley. He was named by Pope John Paul II to head the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 1993, and was installed as Archbishop on August 19, 1993.
Archbishop Donoghue retired on December 9, 2004.
Each bishop has a coat of arms and a motto. As his motto, Archbishop Donoghue chose “To live in Christ Jesus”.
May he now live eternally in the loving arms of Christ Jesus forever!