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2011 at Saint Anthony’s – A look back
Dec 31st, 2011 by Father Chris

2011 was an exciting year here at Saint Anthony’s!  In this post I will look back at some of the “highlights” of the year and include, where possible, appropriate photographs which might help us relive some of the memories. 

2011 began with a life-changing pilgrimage to the Holy Land for 30 of our parishioners and me.  We visited Israel, Jordan and Egypt stopping at all of the holy places made sacred by Christ.  The pilgrimage began on Saturday January 8th as we gathered for the 5 PM Mass in church and then proceeded to JFK Airport for our departure on El Al to Tel Aviv.  During the next 13 days we would travel throughout Israel and then on to Jordan to the place of Christ’s Baptism and then finally to Egypt.  We departed from Egypt only three days before the uprisings in that region which became world news.  As we watched the coverage on the news, those of us who were there only days before, felt as if we were eyewitnesses to it.  We thank God for the graces and blessings given to us during that wonderful journey.

Above, our group from Saint Anthony’s gathers for a photograph in front of the “Wailing Wall” in Jerusalem.

January also brought the sad news from the Archdiocese that after 54 years in operation our school would finally close.  It was not a surprise but it was a disappointment.  With only 48 students enrolled kindergarten through eighth grade and an almost $500,000 a year subsidy from the Archdiocese it was easy to understand why the Archdiocese came to this decision.  However, those facts did not make the reality of the end of the school here at Saint Anthony’s any easier.  Our Principal, Mrs. Ann Marie Zagaglia and the faculty did a wonderful job making the school shine in its last year.  And, each faculty and staff member as well as each student rose to the occasion and closed the school with dignity and grace.  Each family was given a set of glasses with the school picture and the years of operation 1957-2011 etched on them.  These will serve as a wonderful memory for years to come for those who were schooled at Saint Anthony’s during its final chapter.

Saint Anthony of Padua School building as seen from Columbus Avenue.

But, as they say, each time a door closes two windows open.  And, sure enough, shortly after the closing of our school we were able to negotiate a contract with the REACH Academy of the Greenburgh/North Castle School District insuring that our school  building would continue to be used for the education of young people and for good work for the wider community.  This contract has also insured the much needed  funds to pay off the trailing costs of our school without Archdiocesan assistance.  And, it is hoped that this contract will finally make our parish financially stable for many years into the future. 

March 2011 saw the arrival of Father Joy Devassy as a Parochial Vicar here at Saint Anthony’s.  Father Joy served here with us until his return to India in October.  Father Joy came to us from Saint Margaret’s Parish in Pearl River and he brought to us a very warm and gentle sprituality.  His simplicity and kindness made an impression on our entire parish and we will always be grateful for his time here with us at Saint Anthony’s.

March also saw the beginning of a new tradition in our parish.  On Friday March 4, 2011 we celebrated our First Annual Founder’s Ball Gala.  Not only did this Gala Dinner, held at the Fountainhead in New Rochelle, provide much needed monetary support for the parish, but it also allowed us to recognize and honor several parishioners for their dedication and fidelity to our parish for many years. 

Above, parishioners gather for the First Annual Founder’s Ball Gala.

The spring months flew by rather quickly and suddenly Holy Week and Easter were upon us.  Holy Week is always a very special time in any parish but this especially the case here at Saint Anthony’s.  Our church is always so beautifully decorated and the liturgies for these Sacred days are always well planned and well prayed!  Holy week 2011 was no different.  One of the highlights of every Holy Week is the “Living Stations of the Cross” which the teens of our parish put on.  It is always very moving and these young people walk the way with Christ with such devotion and love.  We welcomed new members into the Church at the Easter Vigil and the events from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday brought us all closer to our Lord and allowed us to enter more deeply into the mystery of our Life in Christ.

Palm Sunday Procession.

 

Nelson Contreras is welcomed into the Church at the Easter Vigil.

The Final Blessing of the Mass on Easter Sunday morning.

Spring time brings First Holy Communion and Confirmation dates.  On April 30th we celebrated First Holy Communion.  Almost 60 2nd graders received Jesus for the first time in the Eucharist on that day.  And, on May 11th Bishop Dominick Lagonegro, a native son of this parish and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York, returned to confer on our 8th graders the Sacrament of Confirmation.  It is always exciting to have Bishop Lagonegro here because he always brings such joy with his presence!

 Above, Bishop Lagonegro celebrates Confirmation at Saint Anthony’s.

On May 13th, our parish welcomed Cardinal Edward Egan, who presided over our 4th Annual Blue Mass.  At this Mass held each spring, we honor our Fire, Police and Emergency Personnel as well as our local civic leaders.  The Mass seems to become more appreciated and better attended each year. 

 Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, lower left, joins hundreds of Police, Fire, Emergency Personnel and local residents and parishioners in the singing of the National Anthem at our 4th Annual Blue Mass.

Cardinal Egan smiles as he enjoys the festivities during the Blue Mass.

One of the highlights of the Blue Mass is being able to go up in the Tower Ladder outside of church after Mass to bless the vehicles that are assembled there.  This year Cardinal Egan and County Executive Rob Astorino, above,  join me for the blessing.  I always wear my fire helmet at this point in the Mass because I proudly serve as Fire Chaplain.

On May 21 we hosted a “Youth Mass”.  The Mass was well attended and it was an opportunity for the young people of all ages to come to Mass in a very informal way and at a different time than they would be use to.  The teens read the readings, brought forward the gifts at the offertory and they helped plan the entire liturgy.  It was a great experience and this tradition has been carried on throughout the year with our “Family Masses” which we celebrate on two Sundays each month.

Young people of our Parish attend the Youth Mass.

June 3, 4 and 5 saw one of our most successful Festas ever!  Thousands of people packed our parish campus during these three wonderful days honoring our patron, Saint Anthony of Padua.  As always, the home cooked food was one of the highlights.  And, for the first time in memory we had no rain!  Thanks to the hundreds of volunteers and helpers our Festa was enjoyed by people from all over the tri-state area.  On Sunday we processed with the Statue of Saint Anthony through the streets of West Harrison blessing our community and all who live here.  We look forward to an ever bigger and better Festa in 2012. 

 People fill the parking lot and enjoy the 2011 Festa!

Festa Procession 2011.

On Saturday June 11th we hosted another spectacular concert in our church.  One of the artists was Drew Santini, a very talented baritone and member of our music department here at Saint Anthony’s.  Drew and the other instumentalists treated our parishioners to a variety of music ranging from popular to chant to gospel.  It was truly well done and an enjoyable experience for all who attended.  This was just another in a long series of musical concerts of different varieties we have had here in our parish over the last several years.

As we progressed into the summer we wanted to be sure to have something for the young people of the parish before everyone left on summer vacation.  So, on Saturday, July 2nd, we had our first annual 4th of July Bike Parade.  The parade was held in the school parking lot and it was alot of fun.  The kids brought their bikes (and themselves) decorated in as much patriotic and religious “stuff” they could possibly find.  There was a prize for the one with the most impressively decorated bike.  Well, at the end, everyone wound up being a winner because each bike and rider was amazing!

July also brought the addition of Mrs. Jean Jacksen to our staff as the new Coordinator of Religious Education.  Jean has brought a very energetic and enthusiastic spirit to our Religious Education Program this year.  And, taking into consideration the closing of our school, it is even more important than ever, to invest as many of our resources as possible of time, money and effort into our Religious Education Program so that we can give the youth of our parish the very best we have to offer.  Jean is doing a great job in this department as are our Catechists, volunteers, families and all who help make our Religious Education Program so successful!

September saw the beginning of a new academic year and a new start for our Religious Education Department.  Under the leadership of Jean Jacksen many new ideas and concepts have been implemented.  The Family Masses have returned and the young people of our parish are becoming more involved than ever in the various liturgies and events that happen in our parish throughout the year.

The Fall also brought about the beginning of our 5 Year Strategic Planning Process for Saint Anthony’s.  This plan was begun in response to the Parish Survey which was conducted in the Spring and early Summer 2011.  The 5 Year Strategic Plan has as its goal to secure the health and wellbeing of every aspect of our parish for decades into the future. 

In October we said goodbye to Father Joy who returned to India.  And, Father Pete was able to extend his stay until after Christmas to continue to assist us. 

On November 27th our parish finance council published our annual parish financial statement.  Along with this publication I also delivered my annual ”State of the Parish” Address.  The fulltext can be seen on a previous entry on my blog.  However, I was happy to be able to report many positive and encouraging things that are happening at Saint Anthony’s.  And, I hope all would agree that this community is “moving in the right direction”. 

Also, in November I announced that our parish had now joined the social networking site Twitter.  This is now being used to engage all of our parishioners, but especially our young parishioners, to get important and interesting parish and catholic information out in “real time”.  I encourage all parishioners who have Twitter or who can sign up to do so.  Our parish is also on Facebook and both can be easily accessed on the homepage of this site. 

November 27, the First Sunday of Advent, this year brought the inauguration of the “New Translation” of the Mass.  In preparation for this major change in our liturgical practice, our parish hosted three “orientation sessions”.  One of these sessions held in mid-October was termed a “Teaching Mass”.  This was the first time we had ever hosted such an event.  It was very well received and we are looking forward to doing it again soon.  During the Mass we paused at various points and explained with some detail exactly why we do the things we do and say the things we do.  Explaining these actions and prayers has helped to give our parishioners a better understanding of why we do the things we do when we do them.  In this way we can all enter more deeply into the mystery of the liturgy that we celebrate.   

In late November our parish received word that Archbishop Timothy Dolan would be making his first visit to Saint Anthony of Padua Parish on April 28, 2012.  This news brought great excitement to our parish and we are very much looking forward to His Excellency being with us this spring.

Christmas 2011 was a grace-filled time for our entire parish.  The Masses were beautifully celebrated and the music was the finest I have ever heard.  Many parishioners commented on how nicely everything came together this year.  And, it was very rewarding to hear how so many people were uplifted by what our parish was able to do to facilitate a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ the King of Kings and Lord or Lords!

On Tuesday December 27, 2011 we saw Father Pete off for his journey back to India.  Father Pete is very much missed here at Saint Anthony’s.  He is a very special man and he brought so many talents to us.  Father Pete’s sense of humor and his beautiful artistic style endeared him to every one in our parish.  I truly hope Father Pete will be able to return to assist us here at Saint Anthony’s sometime soon again.

Before we close 2011, we pause to remember those in our parish community who, during this past year, were baptized here, married here, those among our parish who are sick or suffering in any way, especially those in the hospital.  And we also, remember in a very special way, those parishioners we said goodbye to this year (the list below are only those whose funeral Masses were celebrated here at Saint Anthony’s in 2011), who, we pray, are now with God – Michael Furilla, Christopher Mayo, Mary Triano, Salvatore Casarella, Concetta Barbato, Angelo Palmieri, Dora Arturi Chiodo, Ida Lomuscio, Paulette Desjandins, Rocco DiSavino, Daniel James Cummings, Eva DeMarsico, Jack Lorentoni, Teresa Casarella, Catherine Harris, Christina Marie Gilmore, Lillian Russo, Peter Cutignola, Anna Fertile, Marie Salcuni, Rocco Macchia, Vito Foglia, Gennaro Salcuni, Ignatius Mercurio, Jack DelSoldato, Maria Cicoria, Viola Gaudenzi, Carmen Libonati, Nicholas Libertella, Elvira Delfino, Angelo Mastrogiacomo and Doris Zaccagnino.  May they rest in peace.  We shall not forget them.

As we finish out 2011 tonight and begin the New Year of 2012 tomorrow Father Peter joins me in wishing all of our parishioners a very Happy and Blessed New Year in 2012.  May God’s grace and love be with you and your loved one’s in this upcoming year and always!

Blood Drive Registration is THIS weekend
Dec 31st, 2011 by Father Chris

This weekend is the registration for our Blood Drive which will be held NEXT weekend, January 8th, after all Masses in the Lower Church Hall.  If you are between 17 and 75 and in good health please seriously consider donating blood next weekend.  There is no easier or more important way to help save lives than by giving blood.  And, at this most critical time of the year when blood is in such short supply, contributions are more needed than ever!  You may register after all Masses this weekend at the exits of the Church.  The life you save may be your own or one of your loved one’s.  Your generosity is, as always, most appreciated!

Erma Paul, Sister of Monsignor Eisler, has died.
Dec 29th, 2011 by Father Chris

Erma Paul (1942 – 2011)

All of the people of Saint Anthony of Padua Parish offer our most sincere condolences and prayers to the family of Erma Paul, Sister of our former Pastor, Monsignor Rudolph Eisler.  Below is a full obituary and photo. 

Erma C. Paul

LAGRANGEVILLE – Erma Catherine Paul, 69, a resident of LaGrangeville since 1969 and formerly of Stony Point, passed away peacefully surrounded by her loving family on Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie.

Born in Mount Vernon on June 12, 1942, she was the daughter of the late Joseph and Charlotte Schoen Eisler. On June 3, 1963 at St. Ursula’s in Mount Vernon, she married Raymond V. Paul. Mr. Paul survives at home.

Erma was a 1963 graduate of the Mount Vernon School of Nursing, and worked as a Registered Nurse for many years. She was a member of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Church in LaGrangeville. She loved her street and her neighbors, and they loved her. She enjoyed gardening and bird watching, but most of all spending time with her family, especially her children and grandchildren.

In addition to her husband, Erma is survived by her children, Raymond A. Paul of LaGrangeville, Michael J. Paul and his wife Tracey of Hyde Park, Vincent J. Paul and his wife Christine of the Town of Poughkeepsie, Kathleen Caston and her husband Jeffrey of LaGrange, and Annemarie Pfitscher and her husband James of Hyde Park; her grandchildren, Nicholas, Danielle, Ryan, Deirdre, Gabrielle, and Jayara; her brother, Randolph Eisler and his wife Judy of Pawling; and several nieces, nephews, and cousins. She was pre-deceased by her brothers, Monsignor Rudolph Eisler, former Pastor of St. Anthony of Padua in West Harrison and Joseph Eisler.

Calling hours were held on ThursdayDecember 22, 2011 from 4 – 8 pm at the McHoul Funeral Home, Inc., 895 Route 82, Hopewell Junction. A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Friday, December 23, 2011 at 11:00 am at Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Church, 1925 Route 82, LaGrangeville. Entombment followed at St. Peter’s Cemetery, 147 Salt Point Road, Poughkeepsie.

Father Pete has left the Parish (Unfortunately)
Dec 27th, 2011 by Father Chris

Emotion was high this afternoon as we said goodbye to Father Pete at JFK Airport.  At about 3:30 PM we saw him through security and then headed to his gate at Terminal 1 where he boarded his Lufthansa flight which would take him first to Frankfurt and then on to his hometown in India. 

Father Pete has been such a tremendous blessing to all of us here at Saint Anthony’s over these months that he has been with us.  But, I must say, he has been a special blessing to me and Father Peter!  He has been a true joy and pleasure to share the Rectory with and to minister with here in this Parish.  We will miss him very much as will everyone at Saint Anthony’s. 

Father Pete is a very selfless, thoughful, loving person.  This has been shown in his many acts of kindness like his various paintings and pieces of artwork that he has created for so many parishioners.  His spirit is very unique and he has endeared himself to all of us during his time here.

It is my sincere hope that Father Pete will be able to return to assist us here at Saint Anthony’s again in the very near future so that we might continue to benefit from his beautiful priestly ministry and spirituality which has been such an invaluable asset these past months to all of us.

Above, Father Pete and I stand in front of a sculpture which was created to memorialize the 9/11 tragedies.  The sculpture is on the 2nd floor of Terminal 1 at JFK Airport.  We thought this would be an appropriate and meaningful place to take a final photo before his departure.  This is especially true given his extensive involvement as a chaplain for so many months after 9/11 at Ground Zero which is what caused him to become sick and be here in New York for treatment.  Don’t let the smiles in the picture fool you, we were both sad! 

 This is a better view of the sculpture which is called “Love of Country”.

Here is the insciption and dedication which is on the base of the sculpture.

Here is a really nice photograph of Father Pete, Laurence Broderick (our Director of Music and Master of Choirs) and Me taken after the 12 Noon Mass on Christmas Day.  We were exhausted but envigorated by the beauty of the Liturgies celebrated for Christmas here at Saint Anthony’s which were all so prayerful and inspiring!

Goodbye Father Pete…until we meet again!
Dec 26th, 2011 by Father Chris

Tomorrow we will say goodbye to Father Pete as he returns home to his native India.  Father Pete’s presence with us here at Saint Anthony’s these past several months has been a great blessing to everyone in our parish.  But, especially to Father Peter and I he has been a wonderful coleague and a good friend.  We will all miss him very much and pray that he will be able to return to help us again here at Saint Anthony’s very soon.  May God bless you, Father Pete, until we meet again!

Above, I am with Father Peter and Father Pete at last year’s Spaghetti Dinner. 

Merry Christmas
Dec 24th, 2011 by Father Chris

I take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!  Now that all of the hustle and bustle of shopping and preparations is over be sure to take time to celebrate the REAL meaning and reason for Christmas - Jesus Christ!

I invite all of our parishioners, friends, family members and visitors to join us for our celebration of Christmas Masses here at Saint Anthony’s.  I guarantee you that you will be inspired and you will leave with your hearts and souls filled with the Glory of Christmas!

Please take a few moments to look at the beautiful photograph below of our church at Christmas time.  Meditate on the magnificence of the creche scene and the simplicity and humility of the Christ child who is our Savior and the Savior of all the world!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

2 Days and counting!
Dec 23rd, 2011 by Father Chris

T-minus 2 days and counting until Christmas!  The past few days here at Saint Anthony’s have been busy and have been spent preparing in every way for the Christmas season. 

The last couple of days our liturgical committee has been beautifully decorating the church.  The choirs have been practicing.  Yes, I did say “choirs” since we have begun our children’s choir and they will be singing for the first time at the 5:00 PM Family Mass on Christmas Eve.  Those of you who will be there are in store for a real treat.  Dozens of our young parishioners have been preparing for our Living Nativity Christmas Pageant at the Family Mass.  And, on a personal note, I have been trying to prepare myself to stay up into the weeeee hours of the morning on Christmas so that I can celebrate the Midnight Mass.  As many people know, I am an “early to bed, early to rise” person.  So, staying up until 3:00 AM is a sacrifice for me!  But, to celebrate Jesus’ birthday I’ll do anything!!

I mention all of this because if we are not careful we will allow ourselves to get “caught up” in all of these rather worldly preparations without allowing ourselves to slow down and truly prepare spiritually for exactly what this great feast day is all about – the celebration of the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ!

The Mass Schedule for Christmas here at Saint Anthony of Padua is as follows – All are welcomed!

Christmas Eve – 5:00 PM Family Mass with Children’s Choir/Christmas Pagaent, 12:00 Midnight Mass with Musical Prelude of Christmas Music beginning at 11:15 PM, Choir & Orchestra.

Christmas Day – 8:00 AM, 10:15 AM with Choir and Orchestra, 12:00 Noon with Orchestra and Cantor.

 

Family Mass – Apples or Oranges?
Dec 18th, 2011 by Father Chris

The Family Mass this morning at 10:15 was exciting!  The Church was packed with families and parishioners and the 6th grade students from our Religious Education Program hosted the Mass.  They proclaimed the readings and presented the gifts during the offertory.  And, at the offertory they also brought forward and explained their project which was based on the “Year of the Mass”.  Because the 6th grade lesson plan this year deals with the Bible and Scripture in general, their project had to do with the “Parables” found in the Bible.  A parable, as we know, is a short, simple story used to illustrate a deeper moral or spiritual truth. 

During this past week I took a look at the projects the students had made and I was very impressed with each of them.  Several students’ projects had to do with Old Testament parables.  And, several chose the accounts of Creation from the Book of Genesis.  The item most found intriguing was the “apple”.  So, today at the Family Mass, I showed the students an apple.  And I explained to them that the story is about much more than just the apple.  The apple was just a “type”, it was used as an example to bring us to a deeper point.  And, as I explained to them, the deeper point is that we should always do the things God wants us to do, virtuous things, and avoid things that lead us away from God, sinful things.

I told the students that each day they, and all of us, are confronted with many choices.  We see things on the computer that are not good or someone in school offers us some drugs and tells us it will make us feel “good”.  I mentioned that years ago one of our presidents’ wives had a campaign called “Just Say No”.  When she was asked what she would do if someone offered her drugs she said, “I would just say no”.  And, that, I reminded the young people, is what each one of us must do too if we are confronted by evil – we just say NO!  And, we stay close to God, keeping His Commandments and living according to His teachings and then we have the joy, peace and love that we all want in this life.

At the end of my homily I told the students that it was ok to eat apples.  In fact, God gave them to us and they are a very healthy food.  They all chuckled a bit.  But, I said, just to emphasize the point a little more, I bought all of you an orange and so each one of you can take an orange home and enjoy it later.  They really liked that!

After Mass, the 6th graders hosted a light reception of refreshments and beverages in the lobby of the church and everyone gathered for some time to visit and enjoy oneanother’s company.  Below are a few photographs of this morning’s Mass with captions.  If the photo is too small you can click on it to enlarge it.  I hope you enjoy!

  6th grade students gather around the Altar for the homily during the Family Mass this morning.

I began the homily with two cute stories which were actually jokes.  You can see here everyone laughing.  They worked just as I had hoped to get everyone’s attention!

Above, you can see me holding up the apple for everyone to see.  I used the apple to help make the point that we must always avoid evil and do good.  That is always what God wants us to do.

During the homily, I asked the students how many of them would be willing to committ themselves to doing eveything they could to avoid bad things and evil things are try their best to live according to the teachings of Jesus and do what is right and good.  Everyone raised their hands!

The 6th graders listen intently to the homily.

Above, you can see the orange in my hand.  I gave each of the 6th graders an orange to take home to remind them to always do good and avoid evil. 

May God bless each of your 6th graders and their families and all of our parishioners!

Monsignor Paul Reynolds – A Year Later – A “Saint” Among Us
Dec 17th, 2011 by Father Chris

Monsignor Paul H. Reynolds

1938-2010

One year ago, at this hour, on this day  Monsignor Paul Reynolds passed from this world into eternity (the date was December 18th but it was Saturday last year).  From the distance of a year his death still seems difficult to absorb at times.  Perhaps this is because, for me atleast, I feel as if he has not left us.  Daily I still sense his presence, his power and his love.  And, I have become aware over the last twelve months or so that I am not alone in these feelings.  Hundreds, if not thousands, of people think of him and, yes, pray for him and to him each day.   Always I recall many of his words of advice.  I still miss the ability to pick up the phone and know he would be at the other end ready with some wisdom, some deep insight and spiritual truth that would be able to sustain me until the next pastoral “crisis” or personal worry developed.  All of us, I am sure, will always miss his unique way of telling a joke that, most often, left the listener wondering if he or she had missed the punchline somewhere but because he found it so funny we laughed and laughed and laughed again.  I cannot imagine that anyone ever left a meeting or a visit with him that they did not feel inspired, motivated or enriched.  And, if they did it certainly wasn’t his fault.  

Throughtout the almost thirty-two years that I knew Father Reynolds I came to know him and love him first as my childhood pastor, later as an advisor and mentor during my seminary formation and finally as a brother-priest and a dear confidant and friend.  As my relationship with him grew over those years, I began to see that Father Reynolds was not the same “type” of priest I had encountered in so many others I had known.  There was a presence which was greater than the man you saw or heard – it was the presence of Christ Himself – which motivated every thought, word and action of his life.  In one of my last conversations with him before his death, I told Father Reynolds how I had been rather short tempered with a parishioner who was intent on telling me the ”proper” way to run the parish even though he attended Mass, to my knowlege, on only two occasions during the year – Christmas and Easter.  He seemed to know everything about the parish, the Church universal and in general how to cure every problem of the entire world.  To him everything had an easy solution.  We have all met people like this and generally we can let it go.  But at that moment, this man had all the answers and I had very little patience left.  Needless to say, the exchange was not as pleasant as either of us would have wanted it to be.  In the days following, I felt I had not been a very “gentle” shepherd.  I felt I needed to bring the situation together and I knew healing was necessary.  I called Father Reynolds and his words to me were these, “always try to make sure that Chris Monturo doesn’t get in the way of what God is trying to do through Father Chris Monturo!”  It was just what I needed to hear at that time to help me reconcile and put into proper perspective a difficult circumstance.  And, I always remember his words to me as I daily try my best to live this gift of the priesthood God has called me to.  He understood and cherished the priesthood.  He knew that it was more than just him – it was Him - using him to accomplish something greater than himself.  Many years ago, Father Reynolds told me – “the most important thing in life is to live your life for something more important than your life!”  For Father Reynolds, the most important thing to live for was Jesus Christ and he did it so well.

Perhaps what was most striking to me about Father Reynolds,however, were the ways in which he embraced his two bouts with illness, first in 2002 and then in 2010.  The eight years in between were a new chapter in his life.  He believed God had given him this time for a reason.  His perspective on many things changed.  His relationships with people deepened and  the man who had been almost painfully shy before blossomed and opened like a sun flower in warm weather.  The accounts I have heard and the behaviors I witnessed of him during both of these times of sickness border on the mystical. 

One of the great doctrines of our Church is the belief in and the teaching about the Communion of Saints.  In the Preface for Holy Men and Women in the Sacramentary we pray: “You renew the Church in every age by raising up men and women outstanding in holiness, living witnesses of your unchanging love.  They inspire us by their heroic lives, and help us by their constant prayers to be a living sign of your saving power.”  As we remember Monsignor Paul Reynolds on this weekend which marks the first anniversary of his death, we come with a great spirit of thanksgiving to God for ”renewing our lives” through him and for using this man of ”outstanding holiness” and his “heroic life” to allow us to see clearly a “living witness” of “God’s unchanging love” in our midst. 

And, as we remember him, I am sure he would want nothing more than that we recall the words of Saint Julian of Norwich whom he loved, words which became a creed for his own life to the very end - remember “all will be well, all will be well and all manner of things will be well!”

The photo above was taken on the day of my ordination to the priesthood at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, May 17, 2003.  I am seen third from the left and Monsignor Reynolds is imposing his hands upon my head.

 The marker on Monsignor Reynolds’ grave at Arlington Memorial Park in Sandy Springs, Georgia.  I took this picture during a recent visit to Atlanta.  Each time I am in Atlanta I make it a point to pay my respects and pray at his grave.

 This is how I remember Father Reynolds when he was our Pastor at Saint John Neumann.  He was always happy and always with his people!

This is a precious picture of Father Reynolds holding an infant he had just baptized. 

I really love this picture.  Father Reynolds in his glory driving a golf cart! 

Looking ahead…
Dec 14th, 2011 by Father Chris

 

As I look ahead just a few days on the calendar I notice that this weekend is already the Fourth Sunday of Advent.  Christmas is right around the corner!  And, this weekend at the 10:15 Mass we will celebrate our Family Mass.  This weekend the 6th graders will be hosting the Mass and they will present their class project.  I am looking forward to seeing what they have been working on.  No doubt, they have worked hard and will have an inpsiring presentation to make to the community and to the Lord.  The 6th graders will also serve as greeters at the doors of the church for our parishioners as we enter and leave Mass.  And, after Mass they will host a reception with refreshments in the lobby.  Please plan to stop by and have some “goodies” and spend a few minutes visiting with other parishioners.  All are welcome!

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