Yesterday was an exciting day! I had the great privilege of celebrating the 100th birthday Mass for Sister Ermalinda, C.S.J.B. at Mount Saint John Convent. After the Mass we enjoyed a wonderful luncheon in the Convent dining room. We offer our heartfelt congratulations to Sister Ermalinda on this milestone occasion and we thank God for the long and fruitful life He has given her and ask the Lord to continue to bless her with many more happy and healthy years.
Sister Ermalinda and me in the Convent Chapel following Mass.
This table full of gifts for Sister Ermalinda was on display in the dining room.
Sister Ermalinda enters the dining room to applause and the singing of “Happy Birthday”.
One of the gifts given to Sister Ermalinda was a month of prayer offered by the students of Saint John Villa on Staten Island where she taught for many years.
Everyone enjoys the celebratory birthday luncheon.
Last Sunday at the 10:30 Mass the homily was a little different. In fact, it was a very “moving” homily in more ways than one. After the Gospel reading was concluded and everyone in the church had comfortably settled back into their familiar seats I asked everyone to gather their belongings and if they were on the left side of the church to move to the right side. If they were on the right side of the church move to the left. If they were in the back of the church please move to the front. If they were in the front of the church please move to the back. And, if they were in the middle of the church move to any other location except where they were. I was very happy that everyone cooperated with my request.
After everyone was re-settled into their new “unfamiliar” and somewhat “uncomfortable” seats I left the pulpit and came down into the aisle. I said to the congregation, “what we just did is what Lent is all about.” Lent is about moving to a different place, a new place. Lent is about growing and seeing things from a different perspective. Then, I reminded everyone about the readings for the first three Sundays of Lent. On the first Sunday of Lent Jesus is led out into the desert where He was tempted for 40 days and 40 nights. On the second Sunday of Lent Jesus takes Peter, James and John up onto a high mountain and there He is transfigured before them. They are so comfortable in that place and in basking in the glory of God that they express their desire to stay in that place even suggesting that they set up 3 tents, one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah. But, Jesus says no. It is not good enough to stay in the comfortable place where they were. Rather, He tells them they must take that glory down the mountain and out to the whole world. And, last Sunday the Gospel shows us Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman. And, in that encounter not only does Jesus bring the Samaritan woman to a new place in her life but through her He also brings the leaders and the entire community to see things differently and He offers them a way to grow and learn.
Lent for us should be like this. It is a journey into ourselves and out of ourselves. It is a journey that leads us to see our faith and our life in relation to God and others differently. Sometimes that requires us to move from the secure and comfortable places we have created for ourselves to a new place of life and growth.
Above, I invite the parishioners to “move” to a different place in the church.
Parishioners change their seats at the beginning of the homily last Sunday.
Today at the 12 Noon Mass we were delighted to welcome Michael Mohr, a Jesuit Novice who is making his “pilgrimage” across the country. This pilgrimage is something every Jesuit Novice does at the direction of his superiors. It is an effort to imitate the pilgrimage Saint Ignatius himself took from Paris to Rome. The work of the pilgrimage is quite amazing. Michael was given a $5.00 bill and a one way bus ticket from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and told to “beg” his way across the county and end up in Saint Louis, Missouri on a specified day in March. He was given a few names of people to contact along the way who would be able to be of assistance to him. But that was all.
Yesterday I received a message from Brother Dennis Gunn, C.F.C., a friend of almost 25 years from Iona College. Br. Gunn and I were students together at Iona in the early 1990′s. He told me that Michael would be in town and what he was doing. He asked me if they could come to one of our Masses today and speak telling the people about what he was doing and “beg” them to help him. “It’s Lent, I thought, perfect! Tell him to come on, I said!” Well he did! Michael assisted me at the 12 Noon Mass today and then with several baptisms immediately following. After that we returned to the rectory for an inspiring and animated conversation before heading out for some dinner. What an enjoyable afternoon. I was delighted to be able to share some of the wisdom I have gained about the priesthood over the last 11 years with him and he was able to tell us all about his vocation and how God is working in his life. Wow! It doesn’t get much better than that!
Micheal wishes to express his heartfelt gratitude to everyone who generously assisted him financially after the 12 Noon Mass. I do not know the exact total of what you gave him but I assure you it was more than enough to get him to Saint Louis and then some. And, he has plenty left over to be of help to others along the way too. That’s what it’s all about. Thank you! Michael was overwhelmed with the support, prayers and love he felt from everyone here at Saint Anthony’s. That was no surprise to me because that’s the way we are here. You made me proud again!
Please keep Michael in your prayers these next few weeks as he continues on his formation pilgrimage. And, be refreshed to see an enthusaistic and gifted young man who has followed God’s call in a vocation to the priesthood.
Today we celebrate Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten Season. The services here at Saint Anthony’s are as follows: Mass at 8:00AM and two services, one at 3:00PM and another at 7:00PM. If a family member or friend is not able to come to church please bring with you a small envelope and we will place ashes in the envelope for you to bring to them.
It is my hope that this Season of Lent will not pass any of us by. Instead, I hope that it will be a time of real grace and change in our lives. Draw closer to the Lord and take this special season seriously so that when we come the Easter we truly will be people transformed and re-made by the grace and power of God.
Many today as, “Why do we use ashes? And, why do we apply them to our foreheads?” The roots of this tradition go back to the Old Testament. “I turn to the Lord God, to seek help, in prayer and petition, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.” (Daniel 9:3). When the ashes are placed on our foreheads in the sign of the Cross it is a reminder of several things. First, it is a call to repentance – a physical sign that we are sinners in need of forgiveness, which is how the Prophets used it in the Old Testament. Second, it is to remind us that God created us from the earth and when we die we will return to it. But here is the best part - man is dust and to dust he shall return, but dust is precious in God’s eyes because God created man and destined us for immortality. God so loves us that, even when our bodies return to the dust, our souls are meant to live forever with Him.
The ashes are a sign of all of this. So, please remember it as you recieve ashes today and live it during these days of the Lent and always.
If I had to give a title to my homily for this morning’s 5th Grade Family Mass I would call it “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. The 5th Graders have been working on a project about the Beatitudes and today they presented their projects and in my homily I explained to them what the meaning of the Beatitudes is. We call them the “Beatitudes” because in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus begins each of those teaching with “Blessed are you…”. The word “Beatitude”, of course, means “blessed” and “blessed” means “happy”. So, if we live according to what Jesus teaches us in the Gospels and particularly in the Sermon on the Mount we will be truly happy. The Gospel reading for this morning’s Mass reminds us not to worry about what we are to eat or drink or wear but rather to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to us. So, I told all of those gathered at the Family Mass this morning, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, live the Beatitudes and be blessed!
As part of my “show and tell” homily for the 5th Graders I showed them photos from our parish pilgrimage to the Holy Land a couple of years ago. I wanted to show them the exact spot where the Sermon on the Mount took place and that they could go there if they wanted to just like we did.
The 5th Graders projects are displayed in the lobby of the church after the Family Mass.
Last night’s “Jammin in the Gym” extravaganza was a spectacular evening of food, fun, dancing and entertainment. More than 300 people packed the auditorium to overflowing for the night’s activities. “Lights Out”, a tribute group to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, provided a show unlike anything we have ever seen in this part of the country. The talent of these four young artists is limitless and we were privileged to have had them perform for us here at Saint Anthony’s last night. While most people thought they would perform for 45 minutes or maybe an hour, they actually perfomed for a full 90 minutes. And, the selections of music they provided were astouding. My personal favorite was the montage of music through the decades from the 1950s through the 1990s. Interestingly, ”Lights Out” just completed several sold out shows in Las Vegas. I encourage everyone to go online and check out their music and if you are in an area where they are performing don’t miss the opportunity to see them.
The Master of Ceremonies for the night was none other than Dennis Nardone of WVOX Radio in New Rochelle and we were so delighted to have Dennis with us. He did a fantastic job as MC and he has become a fast friend to all of us here at Saint Anthony’s! We cannot thank Dennis enough. Mike Rinaldi served as the DJ and did a wonderful job as always entertaining everyone and providing perfect logistics for the evening’s festivities.
A special word of thanks is owed to the entire dinner committee and all who have worked so hard over the last several months to make last night a great success. Each one of you has our deepend gratitude. Thank you!
People dance the night away at “Jammin in the Gym!”
“Lights Out” performs a sensational show!
Members of “Lights Out” and I join for a photo after their performance.
Yesterday several of our parishioners and I joined with about 50 other people of good will for a kickoff rally for 40 Days for Life which formally begins on March 5th. The rally took place one block from the Planned Parenthood clinic on Tarrytown Road in Greenburgh. It was encouraging to hear and the see the support of many who were driving by some of whom beeped their horns with a “thumbs up” from inside the car and others who slowed down or stopped their cars to thank us for being there and to tell us they were with us. Again we join in prayer for all of those whose lives in any way are touched by the tragedy of abortion – the women who choose this option, the men who are complicit in these decisions, the doctors, nurses and administrations who have found themselves in the “business” of abortion. My prayer daily is that the light of God’s truth and mercy will melt these hearts and consciences to see life as the sacred and precious gift from God that it is. And, I also pray for healing and wholeness for all of those involved in these activiWith God all things are possible so keep up the prayers especially during these 40 Days for Life!
Father Ralph Berg, Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in White Plains, offers the opening prayer at yesterday’s rally.
People join for the kickoff rally for 40 Days for Life along Tarrytown Road in Greenburgh. Thanks to everyone who turned out and stood as a visible witness for life!
I encourage everyone to join Father Peter and me and a number of our parishioners at 2:00pm TODAY (Saturday March 1, 2014) for the kickoff rally for 40 Days for Life. The Rally will take place one block from the Planned Parenthood Clinic on Tarrytown Road in Greenburgh. Parking will be provided. Please come and be a visible witness for God’s gift of life at every stage and in every circumstance. It is important that we gather to pray and listen to those who will speak and most importantly to be witnesses to the truth. I hope to see many of you there!