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June 2012

Tentative Schedule for Last Liturgies in Church Before Construction Project Begins

Business_groups_195043The Pastoral and Administrative Staff are discussing when we should close the church in order that the renovation project may begin.

We are exploring moving all the masses at the end of the Chrismas season, i.e. The Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord, January 6th. Scozzari Builders' first estimate of the duration of the project was 12 months. A more detailed project schedule is being prepared.

This gives us enough time to remove those items we are salvaging from the church during the final stretch of cold weather, in time for the renovation to actually begin in early Spring. First Communions could be held either early next year before the move, or in May in the gymatorium. We will poll the Second grade parents to see if they express a preference.

During the Christmas break of the school year, a suitable chapel space will be prepared in the school/parish administration building for daily mass, private prayer and reservation of the Blessed Sacrament for at least until the renewed church is opened.







New Liturgical Movement on Holy Cross Church Design Plans

It's interesting to read about the first impressions others have about our church plans, especially given the fact that most of those giving comments are not privy to the nearly twenty year controversial history of this project.

While the bloggers seem to have fastened on the eastward orientation of the church for theological and liturgical reasons, the major improvements possible to the entry doors, gathering space, baptismal font and the welcoming garden plaza to the parishioner entryways from the parking lot seem lost in the current discussion about the reasons for re-orienting the church. 

Check out the article and the comments.

Article on Holy Cross at New Liturgical Movement

NLM masthead

Exciting Day for Holy Cross Church Project

Today saw two exciting developments in the Holy Cross Church project. 

ContractFirst, Fr. Manning delivered to our architect James McCrery his contract for the church renovation project which had reviewed by our own Committee, the Diocesan attorney, and approved and signed by Bishop O'Connell yesterday. 

Second, many members of our project team got together to establish their communication network, timelines for meetings and project milestones and to get acquainted with each other and the parish staff. Our architect James McCrery and his assistant Michael Meszaros, our structural engineer, Valerie Gillespie, members of the Scozzari Builders team, our business manager Roger Trendowski, a parish volunteer Tony Rosa and Fr. Manning. Father Manning opened the meeting with a prayer and the team immediately set to work, first by reviewing and commenting on the design development plans which are 85% complete, then after adjourning for lunch, to inspect, measure and assess the church structure itself.


After input from today's meeting is finalized, the project timeline will be adjusted and a new pricing estimate for the project will be generated very soon.

Tomorrow afternoon, our Liturgy Committee will meet and discuss selecting the dates for the last liturgies in our church before the construction project begins.

One priority will be to determine when our First Holy Communions might be celebrated in the church, including the possibility of celebrating our communions at an earlier date this year so that groundbreaking might be scheduled in early Spring.


New Second Grade Teachers Appointed

2729_elementary_school_design_with_text_welcomeIt is with great pleasure we announce the appointment of our Second Grade teachers. They were chosen from a highly competitive pool of applicants. Our search committee valued post-graduate educational credentials and specialized certifications, teaching experience in the primary grades especially second, a demonstrated love for the Catholic faith and experience in catechetical formation of children for First Reconciliation and Eucharist. Enthusiasm for learning, love of children and an optimistic, nurturing attitude were also essential.

Kristen Johnson is already known by some of our school community, having helped with our own Pre-K and as a substitute teacher in the Rumson School district. Kristen Johnson has a Bachelor of Science degree from Fairfield University and her Master of Arts in Teaching Childhood and Elementary Education from Monmouth University. She has also coached tennis at both St. Leo the Great and here at Holy Cross.

Nicole DePalma Huthwaite earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Marketing from Monmouth University along with a minor in Information Technology and her Master of Arts in Teaching from Monmouth University. Her experience in the classroom and her familiarity with the use of modern teaching technology will be of great benefit to our students and faculty alike.

Welcome to Holy Cross!



McCrery Architects and Scozzari Builders

Architects_designs_196781Our architect and contruction managers will spend this Wednesday reviewing the plans for our church renovation project at their first meeting as part of the design-development process.

It will be very exciting to watch ideas and dreams take specific shape, dimension, color and texture. Using the information the construction manager and architect develop, the estimated budget for the project will be refined over the next several months before the parish requests permission from the diocese to begin construction.

Please continue to pray for a fruitful collaboration between all those involved in our important project.




Catechetical Preaching Sundays

PreachBeginning in October of 2013 for the Year of the Faith, Bishop O'Connell has designated the Second Sunday of each month as "Catechetical Sunday."

The topic for each Sunday will be published well in advance so that homilies at every Mass celebrated in the Diocese on that particular weekend will be on the same topic of Church doctrine/faith using the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a primary reference.


Catholic preaching in the last decades has moved away from sermons -  topics chosen by the priest or preacher without any correlation to the lectionary readings. Priests were taught to preach homilies, which are specifically written to illustrate or complement one or more of the lectionary readings at the mass, frequently the gospel.

What exactly does catechetical preaching mean?  Don't worry, it does not mean that homilies will become lectures. But a catechetical homily should teach or inform us about a particular aspect of the Catholic faith. Illustrative stories can still be helpful, but the gospel or the 1st reading may not specifically relate to the topic of the sermon.  At daily mass, for example, if the priest preaches about the life of a saint, it could be a catechetical homily; we learn about the life of the saint, sometimes the controversies when the saint lived or the doctrines the saint might have taught or exemplified by his or her life.

The topics for these homilies are still being selected. Some of them might be grace, or original sin, or topics of belief in the Nicene Creed, etc. It's a noble experiment which I think will be well received. 



Heritage Donations for Holy Cross Church

PatsLSusan has been doing a great job of cataloging the names of the donors on the various memorial plaques on the walls of Holy Cross Church. We now have a good idea of the year(s) each plaque represents and for which purpose the donations were received.

The plaques themselves will be removed for cleaning and storage and restored in the renovated church, either as they are, or redesigned for a new memorial. So many of the names are from generations of famlies now gone, but living on in the parish through their descendants.



Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Happy Saint John's Day


  • The tradition of St. John's Eve bonfires survives in many parts of the world. A bonfire was blessed, old sacramentals were burned, torches lit from the bonfire were carried to fields, flocks and herds to bless their fruitfulness. Light a candle at home or in church to pray for someone; burn old missals, prayer cards; write a resentment down on a piece of paper and burn it. Bury the ash. Give someone hope or pray that God grant you more.
  •  This date traditionally marked the end of a quarter, the books were balanced, debts were settled, rents were due. Donate to charity, settle a dispute, mend a relationship.
  • Collect some flowers for drying or give them to someone.
  • Children who went strawberry picking this day were traditionally accompanied by Mary. The strawberry, a plant which has pure white flowers and mature fruit at the same time, has been a symbol for Mary, who is virgin and mother. Eat some strawberries or pick some.
  • St. John's Wort is in bloom at this time of year. It was gathered to ward off evil spirits and can be used in a tincture to treat depression or enjoyed in a tea. Pray for someone who is depressed or help brighten someone's day.
  • Ashes from the bonfire were saved and mixed with water to bless the sick. Pray for the sick and dying today. 

Almighty God, by whose providence your servant John the Baptist Was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of your Son our Savior by preaching repentance: Make us so to follow his teaching and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and, following his example, constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Farewell and Thank You

6024859054_af7465fa28Friday was Mrs. Graham's last day at Holy Cross, since she will be taking vacation the last week in June. 

She bravely undertook the healing and leadership of the school during a period of tumult. During her time at Holy Cross the expansion to two grades for each glass was completed. The PTA became a more collaborative partner in not only fundraising but spirit raising in the school. Our new gymatorium and renovation of the old gym with its conversion to classrooms, library and media center was completed. An after care program was begun and the Pre-K and K programs were enhanced. Middle States Certification was renewed, TerraNova test scores were superior and our graduates went on to competitive high schools and colleges. 

We thank her for her committment to the students and families of Holy Cross School and will keep her in our prayers. 

Don't Anger the Queen

2 Kgs 11:1-4,9-18,20 Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Did you know there was a Queen of Judah? Queen Athaliah had been married to King Jehoram (from the House of David) and had persuaded him to allow the worship of Baal in Judah along with other pagan practices. When Jehoram died, his son Ahaziah became king but it was not long before he was assassinated by faithful followers of Yahweh. The Queen Mother Athaliah sought revenge by killing all potential successors to the throne, including her own grandchildren. In her rage, she exterminated all but one – Joash, an infant who was protected from the Queen’s murderous rampage and sequestered in the Temple where he was raised by the high priest. Queen Athaliah enjoyed an illegitimate reign of seven years, until a coup was arranged by the priest Jehoiada, who brought the young Joash out of hiding, crowned him rightful king and renewed the Davidic covenant. They slew Queen Athaliah and purged the kingdom of pagan worship. Quite a saga and quite a bloodbath.

Murderous anger is not confined to the pages of the Bible, and its consequences are no less deadly today than centuries ago. We might be tempted to cloak our own anger in righteousness, but righteous anger defends the powerless and right-wises injustice, it never deliberately harms others, defames or detracts from them. It is distinct from vindictiveness, resentment and rage. Righteous anger is a weapon best wielded by God; murderous rage is an armament of bullies.



St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Seminarian

Track_and_field_2c_16St. Aloysius Gonzaga was a Jesuit seminarian who died from the plague after contracting it from patients to whom he was ministering. He had been heir to the House of Gonzaga in Mantua and renounced his fortune and right to royal succession to enter the Jesuits. A pious, but relatively short period of formation was cut short by his chronic ill health worsened by his exposure to the epidemic. He died at the age of 23 years. 

St. Aloysius never lived to be ordained a priest, a goal toward which he had set out with his dramatic sacrifice of royal prestige. But as his canonization reminds us, there is no real sense in which he failed to reach his most important goal – heaven.  

If we measure our lives by goals – get a driver’s license, gain entry to a specific college, prepare for a career, marry, live in a certain neighborhood, have children, earn a certain amount of money… not only does such life accounting chop our life’s journey into arbitrary segments, but living purely toward a goal makes it impossible to live in the now. Goals are necessary, but we cannot live in the future.

If we focus on the present without dwelling on the past and worrying excessively about the future, it helps us experience God’s grace in our lives. Our gratitude for what we have grows greater than our resentments or fears. Gratitude and charity are especially effective at dissipating anger.  It’s providential St. Aloysius wasn’t waiting to work toward holiness after his ordination… his ordination never came. 


Scozzari Builders of Trenton, NJ Chosen as Holy Cross Construction Manager

ScozzariCongratulations to Scozzari Builders of Trenton, NJ for being chosen as Holy Cross Church's Construction Manager amid excellent competition from three other companies. We thank all who helped us by providing corporate documentation and answers to our proposals.

Our architect now continues the Design and Development phase of the project along with representatives of Scozzari in order to bring the project at budget and on time. Their first collaborative meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday.

The selection of our Construction Manager is an exciting and important phase of the church project. Thanks especially to our Committee members who donated time and talent to attend our interviews and deliberations.


Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time 2 Kings 2:1,6-14

Elijah's Mantle

3903801185_6835406cba_zThe bullying, uncontrollable tempers and disrespect for others in our school playgrounds mirror the troubles in our neighborhoods and our nation. Whereas previous generations were more likely to protect children from “adult” discussions and problems until a certain age, now we use children as pawns in our own battles.

Our missionary speaker informed us last Sunday about the “Sunflower Children” in Ethiopia – young girls purchased cheaply from their families by farmers to run up and down rows of sunflowers and substitute for pollinating bees, until the girls outgrow their usefulness at age 13 when they are discarded. Taliban leaders recently announced that in protest of US drone strikes, no more children will be vaccinated against polio.  One prominent ethicist wondered, “Where is the outrage?”

Elijah passed his mission and his mantle to the younger Elisha , whom he had mentored and prepared to assume the difficulties of leadership of the Israelites. All young people, especially men, need an Elijah to help form them in fortitude, right reason and protective compassion for their loved ones and strangers alike. First the mantle protects and then it empowers. 

Every child deserves a childhood. Whenever company was visiting and I heard my grandmother proclaim, like a truce, “little pitchers have big ears,” it annoyed me because I knew I was going to miss some glorious grown up gossip or be excluded from some vociferous argument. Now that I understand what she was doing, I love her all the more.


Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Petunia_integrifolia2"To what shall we compare the kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade."


Some people wonder why I don’t pull the flowers up

that sprout from the cracks in the pavement and driveway alongside the rectory.

When I couldn’t tell the difference between

Weed and wildflower seedlings  

I did pull everything up.

In fact, I sometimes even sprayed to prevent anything from growing.


But one plant I have been trying to establish

Is the self-sowing petunia.

It’s more difficult than you would think.

After a couple of years of carefully planting, and cultivating the beds I had prepared for them to grow, where did they eventually spring up?

From the cracks!


I figured if they were able to survive in the cracks, maybe they were the best to allow to self-sow;

I began protecting them.


I’ve always had a hard time

Pulling up a beautiful flower

just because it has decided to grow

In the wrong place

And when I learned to tell what each wildflower seedling looked like,

I just had to leave them to grow too.


Every morning as I pass the

Blossoms in the concrete

I’m challenged to be mindful

That good things can grow

Even where they weren’t deliberately planted

in fact, they might be the best and only hope.


To be sure the whole garden needs protection

Even the tallest, most venerable shade tree.

But they usually have vocal supporters who can

Network and protest; They even have their own commission.


It's the seedlings above all that must be protected

Especially in a Christian community

And especially in the seed bed of a school.


All our seedlings need to be safe...

Even those that are sometimes

A bit different, disorderly

Or out of line.

New Principal to Begin Meetings with School Administrators

This week Mr. Bill Belluzzi, our incoming Welcomeprincipal at Holy Cross, will begin meeting with school adminstators for an orientation to the school and our parish. Many of you have already met Mr. Belluzzi at mass, and he has already met with our teachers in a group. During the summer months, he plans on inviting each teacher to make a private, get acquainted appointment with him.

His demonstrated skills at school administration, his years of experience as a Guidance Counselor, his classroom teaching experience of children and adults and his devotion to our Catholic faith will serve us well at Holy Cross. He officially takes over the reigns of Holy Cross School on July 1.



Committee To Select Church Project Construction Manager

Christian_012000598We anticipate that early next week, the Church Construction Project Manager will be selected and announced. Our architect has made his recommendation after assessing, along with parish committee members, the strengths and weaknesses of each firm and their initial proposal. Almost immediately after the selection, our architect and representative of the chosen firm will begin months of meetings to refine the design and development drawings of the structural features of the building and the grounds.

Every indication is that the project can be completed for the budget we proposed and include the features we most need. The range of construction time estimates we received from the four firms we interviewed was from 12 - 18 months. More refined estimates of the construction costs of the project will be developed over the next several months as our architect and construction manager collaborate on the project.




Think, Even Pray Before You Post



It's always good advice to think, even pray before you post. The Internet is "forever" as many of our students have sadly learned too late. Since I have always called for responsible and charitable comments towards others whenever email or internet posts have gotten out of hand against a particular student, teacher, or family in the parish, it is appropriate to ask for it again, especially in regard to school families, students, other parishioners and yes, even the pastor.