The last few days have been spent saying goodbye to beloved parishioners and friends and tomorrow we will do that, once again, for Frank Ferranti. Frank is the father of Francine Ricciardi, of our rectory staff. His Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10am tomorrow at Saint Frances de Chantel Church in the Bronx. Please pray for Frank and his family at this difficult time.
As we look ahead to this weekend, Sunday we will celebrate our Family Mass and it will be a special “Spirit” Mass! I invite all of our young people to wear the jersey of their favorite football team to the Mass and find out a little bit more about how team sports and our faith share many important ideals. Our 6th grade students will be hosting the Mass and refreshements will be served after in the church lobby.
From February 14th-21st I will be traveling, along with a small number of parishioners, to Rome for the ceremonies surrounding the Consistory elevating Archbishop Dolan to the College of Cardinals. I am happy that our parish will have a nice representation at these festivities. I will do my best to “blog” and “tweet” the events along with photographs, if possible, so that as many of our parishioners as possible may be included.
Today is the last day of January and we are having one of the most mild winters anyone can remember! I have heard no complains and I do not want to speak too quickly in the hopes that February and the beginning of March will be equally mild. As we welcome February tomorrow we look ahead to the Lenten season which begins February 22nd. And, this year during Lent we also look forward to our Lenten Mission which will be held from March 12th-14th in Church. The retreat master will be Father James Villa. I am sure that you will find his presentation most interesting and inspiring. I hope all parishioners will plan to come and take advantage of this time of spiritual renewal during Lent 2012.
I am sure there are many other things happening but these are just a few to keep in mind as we look ahead. God bless you all and have a good week!
The last couple of days have been very busy ones. My time has been spent almost exclusively with several parish families who have experienced deaths of loved ones. Not only were they parishioners but they have all been parishioners I have known and even been close to during my time as pastor here at Saint Anthony’s. So, these have been emotional days for me personally as well.
Yesterday I celebrated the Funeral Mass for Nancy Leonard. Nancy was a wonderful young lady. She was only 46 at the time of her death but her rather short life was filled with love and service. She had been a White Plains Police Officer for 8 years and then had moved several years ago to Florida where she joined the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. Nancy was the ultimate “giver”. I celebrated Nancy’s Funeral Mass yesterday and she was buried at Mount Calvary Cemetery.
Just a couple of hours before Nancy’s Funeral Mass, I was called to White Plains Hospital where Ralph Serra had just passed away. Ralph was still in the Emergency Room and his children, Denise and Bob, and I gathered around him in those moments just after his death to commend him to Almighty God and anoint him and bless him. Ralph has been in ill health for the last few months but his death yesterday morning caught all of us by surprise. Ralph was here at Saint Anthony’s every Saturday evening at 5pm without fail for Mass. He was a “faithful” parishioner and a dear friend. This parish and its pastor will miss him very much. Ralph’s wake will be held Saturday evening from 7-9pm and Sunday from 2-4 and 7-9pm at Coxe & Graziano Funeral Home in Mamaroneck with a Funeral Mass celebrated on Monday morning at 11:00am here at Saint Anthony’s. He will be entombed at Ferncliff Mausoleum in Hartsdale next to his beloved wife.
Immediately upon leaving White Plains Hospital yesterday morning from being with the Serra family, I learned of the death of Francesco Gallo. Francesco became a friend. He is the brother of long-time parish trustee Mario Gallo. Last Wednesday evening I spend a wonderful time with Francesco and his entire family for dinner. Frank was tired and weak but we had a beautiful visit. Frank worked for Alitalia Airlines for more than 40 years. He was entrusted with the responsibility of purchasing the airplanes and making sure they were “fit” for service. In Francesco Gallo I found a kindred spirit. We both loved airplanes and anything related to aviation or the sky. Francesco’s wake was held tonight from 4-8pm at McMahon, Lyon & Hartnett Funeral Home in White Plains and his Funeral Mass will be celebrated tomorrow morning (Saturday) at 11:00am here at Saint Anthony’s. He will be entombed at Gate of Heaven Mausoleum in Valhalla.
On Tuesday, Grace Terlizzese died at the Northern Manor Nursing Home in Rockland County. I did not know Grace personally since she had departed from the parish five years ago just before I arrived. However, Father Peter rememered her fondly and tonight at the wake he children spoke of how involved she always was and how much she loved Saint Anthony of Padua Parish. So, it is appropriate that we bring her back home tomorrow to this church she loved so much for her Mass. Grace’s wake was held tonight from 5-9pm at McMahon, Lyon & Hartnett Funeral Home in White Plains and her Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:00am tomorrow morning here at Saint Anthony’s. She will be entombed at Ferncliff Mausoleum in Hartsdale.
Yesterday as we began to learn of the deaths of each of these wonderful people in such close succession I could only think; “well, the good Lord is gathering all the Saints to Himself!” And, while that may not necessarily help our feelings at this difficult time, we are consoled by the support, love and prayers of so many people in our parish “family” who gather around us to remind us of the everlasting love God has for each one of these who have passed from us as well as for those of us who still remain here on our earthly pilgrimage awaiting the Glory which is our hope – our everlasting home in Heaven.
Requiescat in Pace!
The 10:15 Family Mass today was hosted by our 5th graders. Students proclaimed the readings and brought the offertory gifts to the Altar. And, during the homily I explained to them and to the rest of the congregation a little bit about the communion hosts that we use at Mass and the Holy Oils we use at various liturgical celebrations.
I explained that the word “host” comes from the latin word “hostia” which means “sacrificial victim”. Jesus gave his life for us as a sacrificial victim. So, we use the term “host” for the Body of Christ we recieve in the Eucharist. I also showed the students the box and plastic sleeve the bread comes in before it is “consecrated”. And, after the consecration the bread no longer is bread but rather the Body of Christ – the Eucharist. After the Eucharist is consecrated at Mass the Tabernacle is the special place where the Body of Christ – the Hosts are reserved. The red “sanctuary lamp” near the tabernacle reminds us that Jesus is present in the church and therefore we must show utmost respect, reverence and prayerfulness. I also explained to everyone that in the room where the priests and other ministers prepare for Mass, called the “Sacristy”, there is a special sink called a “sacrarium”. This special sink has a drain that goes straight into the ground not into the sewer system. Whenever a host falls on the floor it is taken to the sacrarium and dissolved with water and returned to the elements of the earth from which is came so that it cannot be desecrted in any way.
I also explained about the Holy Oils. There are three oils that we use for our litugical practices. Oil of Chrism used for ordinations and blessing of churches and Altars, Oil of the Infirm used for blessing the sick and dying and the Oil of Catechumens used at Baptism and Confimation. These oils are blessed by the Bishop at the Cathedral during Holy Week at a special Mass called the ”Chrism Mass” and then each parish in the Diocese or Archdiocese is given a portion of the oil to care for the needs of their people during the year. I showed everyone the special place in the church where the Holy Oils are kept called the “Ambry”.
At the end of the homily I opened the Tabernacle and the Ambry and invited the 5th graders to pass each to see the inside. As each young man or lady passed the Tabernacle they genuflected and made the sign of the Cross. And, as they passed the ambry I allowed them to smell the beautiful aroma of the Chrism.
At the conclusion of the Mass all joined in the lobby of the church for refreshments and a time of fellowship.
Above, I show the 5th graders assembled with me in the sanctuary one of the large hosts we use during the celebration of the Mass. The host is unconsecrated.
Here you can see as each young person reverently passes the tabernacle and ambry. I am holding the Oil of Chrism up for each to smell.
This afternoon our parish held a Holy Hour for Life in Church. Thanks to all who attended and who came to pray for all the unborn and for all who have in any way been affected by this terrible tragedy in our nation.
Today marks the 39th anniversary of the Supreme Court Decision, Roe. v. Wade, which legalized abortion on demand in the United States. Since that time 53 million pre-born Americans have been legally put to death through abortion. If there is any cause we must speak out for today it is for the cause of the right to life of every human being and the truth of the gift of life which is God’s unique and special gift to us – the Creator to the created.
At today’s Holy Hour I gave a brief reflection during which I told the story of Tim Tebow. Tim Tebow, of the Denver Broncos football team has become well known recently for “Tebowing” – kneeling down at the time of a touchdown or at the beginning or end of a game to pray and bless himself. He is unapologetic about his faith and his belief in Jesus Christ. Tim Tebow is a wonderful example to the young people of today but many do not know his story.
Tim Tobow’s parents were Baptist missionaries in the Phillipines in 1975 when Pam Tebow, his mother, was several months pregnant with ”Timmy”. The doctors believed the “mass of tissue” within the mother would be deformed and so they strongly encouraged Pam to abort the baby within her. Mr. and Mrs. Tebow refused and told the doctors they would accept whatever God granted. A second time a month or so later, the doctors again recommended that an abortion be performed fearing that the “fetus” (which comes from the latin word for “child” by the way) would most likely be mentally handicapped and it would be better to “get rid” of the “burden”. Again, the Tebow’s refused. Tim Tebow was born perfectly healthy and “normal”. And, today Tim Tebow has gone on to become one of the greatest football stars of our time. But much more important than any of his athletic achievements is his extraodinary example as a faithful Christian man and a proud pro-life advocate!
Let Tim Tebow be an example to all of us to be fearless in our defense of the truth – Life is a precious gift from God which must be cherished, protected and nurtured at every stage from conception until natural death when the Lord will finally call us home to Himself.
Our prayers are with the hundreds of thousands of people who will march on Washington tomorrow to remind our national leaders of their obligation and duty to work for the common good, to build up and promote society not destroy it and for the protection of the unborn, the most vulnerable among us, in their deliberations as our representatives.
This Sunday at the 10:15 am Mass the Fifth Grade Students of our Religious Education Program will present their “Year of the Mass” project. The project will be an explanation of the Holy Oils and Communion Wafers we use at Mass.
The homily will center around the Holy Oils and the Eucharist as well. It is guaranteed to be an exciting and informative experience. So, I invite everyone to join us Sunday for the Family Mass and learn something you may not have heard about before.
Following Mass the 5th graders will host a reception in the lobby with cookies and beverages. Plan to stay for a little while and visit with other parishioners.
Hope to see everyone there!
All parishioners, family members and friends are invited to a Holy Hour for Life this Sunday, January 22, 2012 from 3:00-4:00 pm in Church.
The Holy Hour will include Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary for Life, a reflection on the sanctity and value of life and the relationship and importance of the pro-life movement in today’s society, opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Benedicition of the Blessed Sacrament.
Please come and spend some time in prayer as we remember the tragic decision of the Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade 39 years ago which legalized abortion on demand in the United States. Since that time more than 50 million innocent, pre-born Americans have been legally put to death and millions more, men and women, have suffered because of it.
We especially invite to this Holy Hour anyone who has in any way been affected personally by abortion as we pray for God’s healing and peace in our lives and in our nation. Let this Holy Hour be a time of grace for you. You are WELCOMED!
I encourage you to go to our “photo” page or to the homepage of our website and click on the link about the Midnight Mass and Christmas Concert videos.
I continue to be amazed at the sound of our choir. Our Choir now numbers 35 members which does not include those participating in the orchestra, organist, pianist, harpsicordist, director, etc. I am so proud of the work our choir has done and the dedication of each of them as well as that of Laurence Broderick, our Director of Music and Choirmaster which is exceptional! I thank each of the members of our music program here at Saint Anthony’s for allowing your God given talents to be used in our parish. Know how much you are appreciated and how your voices help us in our worship and praise to God.
Thanks to Bob Serra also for editing the videos and for all he does to make our website first rate at all times!
In addition to the musical selections from the pre-Midnight Mass Concert, there is a video of “highlights” of the Midnight Mass. Please feel free to share these videos with family members and friends who might be in other parts of the country or the world. I hope they will be a blessing to all who see them.
The last couple of days has brought some good news and some bad news. Well, the bad news first. Because of a change in his schedule Cardinal Dolan has had to cancel his parish visit to Saint Anthony of Padua which had been scheduled for Saturday, April 28th. This brings disappointment for all of us because we have all been greatly looking forward to his visit. We hope that the visit can be rescheduled for another time in the not too distant future.
However, as they say, “when one door closes, two windows open”. And, the good news is that everyone has been invited to the Consistory in Rome on February 18th. If any parishioners of Saint Anthony’s Parish are interested in attending you may pick up a brochure after Mass this weekend in the Sacristy or at the Parish Office. The deadline for registration in January 20th. This is guaranteed to be a once in a lifetime event. If it is at all possible for you to attend, I am sure you would not regret it. It will be a most memorable experience. I hope some of our parishioners will be able to join me in representing our parish in Rome for this most important and special event for our Archdiocese and for our shepherd, Cardinal-designate Dolan.
Archbishop Dolan will be created a Cardinal at the Consistory on February 18, 2012 at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome, where the Consistory will be held.
The Main Altar in Saint Peter’s Basilica.
These are the rings the new Cardinals will receive at the Consistory. Each one has an image of the Crucifixion of Jesus with Mary and Saint John at the foot of the Cross.
A new Cardinal receives the celebrated “Red Hat” from Pope Benedict XVI.
Tonight I received the news that yesterday’s blood drive which our parish hosted yielded 35 pints of blood. This is great news considering that by mid-morning only 10 pints has so far been collected.
I donated a pint at about 10:30 am and laying next to me on the next cot was our new Mayor, Ron Belmont. There were a couple of other parishioners giving at that time as well. Thank you to everyone who made that extra effort to come out and give the gift of life yesterday. Only God knows the number of people who will be helped by the small sacrifice that we made.
In other news, this evening Father Peter and I visited the Religious Education classes in the school building. As part of their lesson we explained the significance of Archbishop Dolan’s promotion to the College of Cardinals. We tried to make this as understandable as possible especially for the younger boys and girls. Each of the classes took some time to write congratulatory notes to Cardinal Dolan which I will forward on to him on Wednesday morning. I thank all of the students for taking the time to create such beautiful cards and I am sure that the Cardinal is going to be very moved by your thoughtfulness! God bless you and Way to Go!!!
This afternoon the new Officers were Installed at the West Harrison Fire Department on Lake Street. I am proud to serve as Chaplain to the Department and I always offer an Invocation Prayer at the start of the Installation Ceremony.
I offer my congratulations to Chief Steve Mancini and all of the other officers installed today! Our Fire Department always does a wonderful job keeping our community safe. The dedication and sacrifice of these men and women is unmatched.
Our new Mayor, Ron Belmont offered a few very nice words and members of the town board were on hand to share their support. Following the ceremony everyone enjoyed a delicious luncheon.
West Harrison Fire Department always does everything well. The entire department is a class act and I am proud to be associated with them!
Below is the prayer which I offered at this morning’s ceremony for the benefit of those who might not have been able to attend:
Heavenly Father, Protector of Your People, bless the men and women who have served and still serve us in our Fire Department.
In this time of increasing dangers and difficulties instill within these officers and personnel the special virtues of fortitude, patience and dedicated service.
We thank You, Almighty God, by whom all courage is sustained, for the contributions which these men and women have made to our community which they serve so fearlessly and so faithfully. Their presence and ready response assures the security and tranquility of this wonderful place we call home.
Protect them, we pray, against all dangers which ever lie in wait for those who think of their dedication before themselves. Sheild them from bodily harm. Fill them with the high-mindedness they need when they find themselves in trouble or anxiety. Keep in their minds the wholesome example that their sense of duty, their reliability, and their ready sacrifices offer to the youth of our community and our nation.
Bless them all, we beg You. Bless their families and friends, here assembled, their associates, and bless forever those who have given their lives to protect our community. Amen.
Above, I offer the Invocation at the Fire Department Installation of Officers. Behind me is New York Supreme Court Justice Dennis Donovan who conducted the Installation. And to my left is Fire Department President Tony Scavone.
We join in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Judge Donovan swears in some of the Officers.