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Our “Journey” begins
Nov 26th, 2012 by Father Chris

This evening we presented our first installment of our 10 part series: “Catholicism, Journey of a Lifetime.”  Thanks to all who came and enjoyed this first episode. 

The second chapter will be shown on Monday December 17th at 7:00PM in the Lower Church Hall.  Refreshments will be served following as we did tonight.  As we see this second part we journey around the world and deep into our faith.  The Church extends a stunning invitation to a unique way of life.  In Episode 2: “Happy Are We: The Teachings of Jesus,” Father Barron journeys from Galilee to Krakow, Warsaw, New York City, Kampala, and beyond and presents throughout what it means to be a disciple of Christ.

Please join us!

State of the Parish Address 2012 Fulltext
Nov 25th, 2012 by Father Chris

STATE OF THE PARISH ADDRESS

DELIVERED AT ALL MASSES ON THE WEEKEND OF

NOVEMBER 24TH AND 25TH,  2012

BY

FATHER CHRISTOPHER MONTURO

PASTOR OF SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA CHURCH

It is hard to believe that next weekend I will begin my 6th year as pastor of Saint Anthony of Padua.  In that time, I have come before you once a year to discuss the “state of the parish.”  I do that this weekend as we publish our annual parish financial report and as we bring to a close this liturgical year.

During the last five years I have worked very closely with the members of the parish council and finance committee as well as with the wider parish membership.  Always our goal has been continuous improvement on every level.  I believe, and I am sure you agree, that we have a wonderful, vibrant and active parish.  This is certainly due to the devotion of an extraordinarily capable staff.  I am proud to serve alongside Father Peter and to collaborate with all of our pastoral team, as well as so many of you, hardworking and dedicated parishioners who work tirelessly ensuring that we have beautiful liturgies, inspiring music, an outstanding religious education program, community outreach and successful fundraisers just to name a few items.  I would also be remiss if I did not acknowledge the extraordinary generosity of a small number of our parishioners who help insure the financial health and stability of our parish.  These parishioners always seem to come through every year and they really make the difference!

Last year I mentioned two Archdiocesan initiatives.  You should become very familiar with them as they will soon change the way we think about the structure of the church in the Archdiocese of New York.  The first initiative is called “Pathways to Excellence”.  This initiative is changing the way Catholic schools are being administered and funded.  Regionalization of schools here in the archdiocese is underway and should be complete within the next two years.  The second initiative is called “Making all Things New”.  The Archdiocese is in the process of evaluating all of its parishes.  With more than 400 parishes this is a big undertaking and it will take some time.  However, the result will certainly be that some parishes will be consolidated and some will even have to close.  One thing is for sure, this new initiative will change the way all parishes operate.  The two watchwords that are important here are: “flexibility” and “cooperation.”  No one likes change but we must be open to whatever changes lie ahead in the Archdiocese and be ready to cooperate. 

Here at Saint Anthony’s we hope to be affected minimally by these changes because we have been working very hard over the last year and more to implement a five year strategic plan with the goal of taking our already vibrant and active parish and improving and securing its viability well into the future.

One of our first priorities was to improve the Religious Education Program we offer to our young parishioners.  As you know, this year it has a new name – it is now called the S.T.A.R.S Program.  This catchy acronym stands for Saint Anthony’s Religious Studies Program.  Under the direction of our Religious Education Coordinator, Jean Jacksen, I believe we have taken giant steps forward in bringing a more contemporary, hands-on program to the youth and families of our parish.  This is visible at our Sunday Family Masses, in the new curriculum, books, initiatives and, most importantly, the enthusiasm of our students and families.  Our youth program is beginning now and is integrated into the S.T.A.R.S Religious Education Program so that hopefully, as students grow older and reach Confirmation age, they remain connected and do not “drift away” as so often happens with high school aged students. 

Technology is extremely important in the efficient operation of any parish today.  I am pleased to report to you that in the last year we have made some significant improvements to our technology here at Saint Anthony’s.  As you know, we have an extraordinary website which is one of the finest in the Archdiocese of New York and one of the finest of any parish I have seen anywhere.  If you are not familiar with our parish website, please get familiar with it because this is how information is being transmitted these days.  You may or may not know that within the last few months we have totally updated our parish phone system.  Gone are the old 1982 answering machine and the 1985 Merlin phone system.  We now have a new, modern, state of the art phone system which we have found has been much easier and more efficient for staff and parishioners alike.  We have also introduced new software which has streamlined our office operations.  This is making it easier for us to keep track of our parish census and other important data.  As a direct result we will be conducting a parish census in the New Year to assure that all of our records are up to date.  As we progress into the future, we continue to work on finalizing a short and long-term maintenance program for our buildings and taking other steps to improve the efficiencies of our parish operations in general.

Let’s talk about finances for a moment.  We are fortunate to have a beautiful church building and a beautiful parish campus but the reality is that these require material support, yes money and a lot of it, to maintain.  We continue to work on financial stability with the objective that the church on a stand-alone basis will be able to meet all of its operating expenses and maintain its buildings and grounds.  We have been successful in reducing our yearly deficit by $80,000 over the past three years but as you will see in the Annual Parish Financial Report which is published in this weekend’s bulletin, this year’s deficit is approximately $12,000.  While our weekly collections have increased over the last three years and we continue to very carefully monitor expenses, the reality is we still have a $5,000 weekly shortfall.  This means that we remain totally dependent on our Christmas and Easter collections, our Annual Festa and other fundraising events we hold throughout the year.  This also means we have to come up with creative and fun ways to raise money to keep our parish financially alive and solvent.  You have heard in our Sunday announcements that we will, once again, this February be holding our Second Parish Gala Dinner on February 8th at the Fountainhead in New Rochelle.  I ask you to please carefully consider coming and supporting that important event.  While I realize we are all in challenging economic times, each of us always seems to find money when we want something.  And I hope you will want to support our parish through that event because the truth is we need it to be both a social and a financial success for the good of our parish. 

Let me end these remarks with the most important part of what we do here – the spiritual.  After all, we are a church, we are THE church.  We are a family of faith bound together by the Love and Spirit of Jesus Christ.  This makes Saint Anthony’s a special and unique place made up of special and unique people.  As you know, we are now in the “Year of Faith.”  During this special year we have a number of parish initiatives.  One will be happening this Monday evening at 7:00PM.  It will be the first installment of a ten part series on the Catholic Faith entitled – “Catholicism –Journey of a Lifetime.”  I encourage all of you to come Monday night and to each episode.  It will change your spiritual life.  We also must ask if there are vocations to the priesthood here at Saint Anthony’s.  And, if there are we must be willing to support and answer that call.  After all, without priests there is no Eucharist and without the Eucharist there is no church.  We will need priests in the future and I encourage men in our parish to pray about and consider the possibility of the priesthood for your own life if God is calling you to it.  In this year one important thing we must all do is work to bring back to church those who have drifted away for whatever reason.  Please share with your family members and friends the good things that are happening here at Saint Anthony’s and don’t force but invite them to join you.  Please let them know that whatever has happened in the past, they are welcomed here!  Improving Mass attendance is not just any parish initiative.  It is not something we can plan, execute and quantify.  If Mass attendance is going to improve it is going to happen by the movement of the Spirit in the lives of the people of this community.  That Spirit is alive and active here at Saint Anthony’s which is an indispensable part of what makes this parish such an attractive place to be.  But Father Peter and I can’t do that alone.  It will take the prayerful, joyful, faithful cooperation of all parishioners.  So, let’s join together in that most important initiative during this Year of Faith.  Let’s try our best to get our people back to Mass and back to living their faith!

So, I am proud to report to you today that the Parish of Saint Anthony of Padua is strong.  Over these past few years, as you can see, we have not just been marking time, we have been working hard to see to it that our parish will grow stronger and continue as a vibrant and life-giving force in our community for present and future generations.  Certainly this report is not exhaustive, but I have tried to highlight a few of the important things happening here at Saint Anthony’s.  Every parish has its challenges, we do too.  But, thank goodness ours seem small compared to many other churches.  We are going “in the right direction” by all accounts and we can thank God for that and for so much more.  And, as your pastor, I thank all of you for what you do each and every day to make our parish great.  Thanks for your friendship, your confidence and, most importantly, your faithfulness.  God bless each of you and God continue to bless our parish we all love so much.

State of the Parish Address
Nov 23rd, 2012 by Father Chris

This weekend at the conclusion of all Masses I will give my annual State of the Parish Address.  I invite all parishioners to please make every effort to be at Mass this weekend and be attentive to the information that I will impart to the entire parish.  There will be important information that everyone should be informed about so that we are all “on the same page” so to speak. 

As you know each year since I have been pastor of Saint Anthony’s, I have reported to the parish on our condition and progress on the same weekend our Parish Finance Committee publishes our annual parish financial report.  That report will be published in this weekend’s bulletin.  This weekend also marks the last weekend of the liturgical year, Christ the King Sunday, making it a perfect time to give the State of the Parish Address before we begin the new liturgical year with the First Sunday of Advent next weekend. 

I look forward to seeing all parishioners this weekend at Mass and to imparting to you important information about the state of our parish.

Welcome Father Quinn
Nov 23rd, 2012 by Father Chris

This weekend we are happy to welcome Father John Quinn who will be speaking on behalf of Cross Catholic Outreach. 

Father Quinn will preach at all of the Masses this weekend and will inform us about the missionary work done by Cross Catholic Outreach for the poorest of the poor around the world. 

While there is NO collection associated with Father Quinn’s presentation we do ask that all parishioners pray for the work that he and others do and if you would like to be supportive of their efforts I am sure Father Quinn will let us know he we can do that. 

Happy Thanksgiving!
Nov 22nd, 2012 by Father Chris

Father Peter joins me in wishing all of our parishioners and friends a very Happy Thanksgiving today!  We pray that God will bless you today and always as we give thanks to Him for all He gives us. 

Our custom of celebrating a day of Thanksgiving traces its origin back to the year 1621 when Governor Bradley of the Plymouth Colony appointed a day of public praise and prayer after the first harvest.  The practice soon spread throughout the other colonies.  President George Washington at the request of Congress proclaimed the first national observance on Thursday November 26, 1789.

We as Catholics know whom to thank, and we know how to go about it.  We acknowledge that all life and every good gift comes from God.  He is the one whom we thank.  We come together today to celebrate the Mass as our thanksgiving to God.  That is the right way to express our thanks.  In fact, every Mass is our great act of thanksgiving.  The word, “Eucharist,” is Greek and means “thanksgiving.”

George Washington himself created the proper spirit of this day in his first Thanksgiving proclamation.  He set aside a day which, in his own words, was to be “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.”  He went on to urge his fellow citizens “to beseech God to pardon our national and other transgressions, to promote knowledge and the practice of true religion and virtue, and to grant unto all mankind a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.”

On this day we can follow the advice that we should count our blessings.  When we have added them all up and reached our sum, we should look up to heaven and with Christ as our priest we embrace the old words of the third eucharistic prayer: “Father, calling to mind the death you Son endured for our salvation, his glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven, and ready to greet him when he comes again, we offer you in thanksgiving this holy and living sacrifice.”

Thanksgiving Family Mass – apples and oranges!
Nov 19th, 2012 by Father Chris

Yesterday at the 10:30 Mass we celebrated Thanksgiving as a parish.  Several hundred people gathered as we gave thanks to God (as we do in every Mass) for all of the blessing He has given to us as a parish and as individuals.  We are so grateful to God for everything He gives to us – life, love, friendship, family, etc.  Thanks to all who participated yesterday and helped make this special Thanksgiving Family Mass beautiful!

Many of our S.T.A.R.S. students brought canned goods and various food items which the Harrison Food Pantry will distribute to those who are most in need this week for Thanksgiving.  In return, to thank everyone for their generosity, I invited each of the families up at the end of Mass to take an apple or an orange to enjoy for Thanksgiving. 

Above, you can see the beautiful display of apples and oranges which families took home after Mass yesterday to enjoy for Thanksgiving.

 

6th Grade Scripture Study
Nov 19th, 2012 by Father Chris

The 6th Grade students of our S.T.A.R.S. Religious Education Program have been studying particular stories of the Bible the last couple of weeks.  Part of their lesson has been to do research and create a project about the story they studied and how it applies more deeply to our daily lives as Christian people.  At the 10:30 Family Mass yesterday they presented their projects and many of them were displayed after Mass for everyone to see.  We are very proud of the work the 6th graders and all of our students are doing this year.  Keep up the good work!

 A brief introductory description accompanies the 6th graders work on the display board.

The 6th graders projects are displayed in the lobby of the church after Mass.

Annual Spaghetti Dinner
Nov 19th, 2012 by Father Chris

Yesterday we held our Annual Spaghetti Dinner in the school auditorium.  It was a great event as always.  Thanks to the hard work of all of the volunteers about 300 people came to enjoy a delicious pasta dinner.  This event held for decades every November here at Saint Anthony’s is yet another occasion that serves to bring our parish and our community together as a family of faith and friendship.  Thanks again to all who worked so hard to make the Annual Spaghetti Dinner a huge success!

A few of the many special volunteers who helped at our Annual Spaghetti Dinner yesterday.

 Our kitchen volunteers are the best!

The Cirioni family enjoys the Spaghetti Dinner with other parishioners.

Harrison Thanksgiving Interfaith Service
Nov 15th, 2012 by Father Chris

Earlier this evening I attended the annual Harrison Thanksgiving Interfaith Service.  The event this year was held at the Greek Orthodox Church of our Saviour and it was sponsored by the Interfaith Congregational Laymen’s Committee of Harrison.

The theme for tonight’s service was “Building Bridges – Communities Joined in Faith and Understanding”.  Mayor Ron Belmont welcomed everyone and read the Thanksgiving Proclamation.  Music was provided by choirs from the various congregations represented. 

Representatives from the following churches were in attendance – All Saint’s Episcopal Church, Saint Anthony of Padua Church, Saint Gregory the Great Church, Congregation Emanu-El of Westchester, Greek Orthodox Church of Our Saviour, Jewish Community Center of Harrison, Memorial Community Church and Purchase Friends Meeting. 

Mayor Ron Belmont reads the Thanksgiving Proclamation at tonight’s service.

Members of the All Saint’s Episcopal Church choir sing “Sim Shalom”.

The choir of the Greek Orthodox Church of Our Saviour sing a musical selection.

Thanksgiving Family Mass
Nov 15th, 2012 by Father Chris

 

Please plan to be here so that we can celebrate Thanksgiving together as a parish family.  I hope to see everyone there!

All parishioners are invited to join us THIS Sunday morning at 10:30am for a Thanksgiving Family Mass.  Students from our STARS Religious Studies Program will be bringing canned goods and other non perishable foods to be included in the offertory.  These food items will be donated to the Harrison Food Pantry and will be used by those in our community who are needy so that they can have a happy thanksgiving. 

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