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June 2013

The 1000th Post on Diary of a Parish Priest

Well, I guess that is a milestone of sorts. The blog has proven more useful than I thought when I first started it years ago as cyberspace becomes a more important way to communicate - "the information superhighway" (groan). 

There have been a little over 114,000 page views of the blog in that time. Many of the views are surprisingly enough, from Google's image search - people looking for clip art, images I've tagged on the saints or architecture, Respect Life issues, etc.  It's difficult to know how helpful the blog has actually been in communicating parish news to parishioners. Some people still rely on the printed bulletin, a relatively slow moving method. Others primarily check the school website for information they need. In general, I've made it more difficult to leave comments, since the internet is generally not a place people feel compelled to be civil or polite.

In recent months, the blog has been helpful to me in disseminating news about the church construction project. Not only is the information helpful when it's actually read, but having it on the blog contributes to the project's transparency and is at least a rhetorical defense against "I didn't know" or "you didn't tell us."

Not many adults are using Twitter, I'm told, so that I shouldn't expect much of a following on Twitter anytime soon (@PastorHolyCross). I felt like a real rookie when I tried to figure out how to open the account! It seemed a good place to put brief project updates, we'll see.

I found Facebook too intrusive, so I've deactivated my account there, and though I receive many requests from Linkedin to connect, it seems more a business contact model not too useful for a parish. 

The Trenton diocese, like many others, is evaluating the effectiveness of its media communication, particularly the printed newspapers which were established by many dioceses decades ago before the arrival of the Internet, can you imagine? Many of the "The Monitors" we receive are not even taken from the church. Even so, much of the content is available online. Bishop O'Connell has informed us that in the coming months, the editors and circulation manager of The Monitor will be meeting with pastors to explore ways to increase readership of the Diocesan paper. Some of you may know that the Archdiocese of Newark has discontinued publication of its printed newspaper. 

Habits are hard to change, especially when it comes to our most preferred way of gathering information. I remember the resistance to changing the "Wednesday envelope" from printed material to an electronic format. The resources of paper, copy machine time and personnel to collate and stuff all those envelopes seem staggering now that they are saved.

We'll keep experimenting and certainly, for now, keep blogging. The New Evangelization certainly calls for novel and effective ways of communicating the Good News of the Gospel and the practical, everyday work of the parish communities striving to spread it.



A Long Time Coming

Today the deconstruction team met here on site with our construction manager to initiate the first phases of the church renovation. 

Disconnecting the church from power, gas and water lines will be early on in the order of business, along with activating power to the construction trailer and the rectory. The soil erosion control protections will be installed next week, and the serious work will begin right after the holiday weekend. Careful attention needs to be paid to buttressing the church steeple and the front section of the church, since these portions will remain as the other sections of the church are dismantled for expansion. 

All the properly executed contracts and documents are in the right hands, so we are off and building! The project timeline in the final maximal price agreement is 14 months.

Thanks to everyone for your faithful patience even during times of dimming  hopes. May the Holy Spirit now enkindle our zeal as our faith community begins this project in earnest.

Follow me on Twitter (@PastorHolyCross) for mini-updates to the construction process.


Meeting Tomorrow in Construction Trailer

Yesterday Bishop O'Connell signed the final amendment to the construction project contract setting a guaranteed maximal price for the nuts and bolts of construction.

Tomorrow there will be a meeting of the construction manager with the contractor handling the site management in order  to plan the logistics of disconnecting the utilities from the church and arranging the erosion control protections. 

Check here frequently for updates on the construction itself or follow me on Twitter @PastorHolyCross




Text of National Prayer Card Fortnight for Freedom

from your provident hand we have received
our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You have called us as your people and given us
the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God,
and your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Copyright © 2012, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved

Summertime Office Hours

Old Sol

Monday – Thursday

Parish offices

9 AM – 4 PM


Front desk for mass cards, sacramental certificates, etc.

9 AM - Noon


Parish offices

9 AM – Noon


Front desk

9 AM – Noon

Saturday / Sunday


Offices closed except for private appointments

Fortnight for Freedom

As a way of participating in the national Fornight For Freedom organized by the United States Bishops, Holy Cross will offer parishioners the opportunity to sign petitions alerting our elected representatives that we object to the HHS contraceptive/abortifacient mandate imposed administratively by Washington. 

After all the weekend masses, we will also pray the novena prayer to protect religious liberty in America 


Holy Cross Parking Lot

  Parking lot

As we prepare for construction, just a reminder that the parking lot is not available for beach parking this summer and that there can be no overnight parking without express permission and the windshield display of a parking pass specifically issued for that purpose.  Vehicles on the lot in violation of these rules are subject to towing at the owner's expense. Parish staff members  and visitors to the school or parish offices will display parking passes during business hours.

The construction company will do its best to secure the construction site, both to maintain safety for our parishioners and to protect the site and our materials. Keeping aware of the comings and goings in our busy lot is prudent and necessary.

Summer camps and other school activities will proceed as usual and we hope with minimal inconvenience.



Parish Offices Summertime Hours

220px-Sol_de_Mayo_1928.svgDuring the summer months, many of the immediate needs of the parish diminish as parishioners vacation and the parish staff transitions to a planning mode. There are calendar meetings to coordinate events between parish and school, schedule the use of the gymatorium, etc. The Religious education curriculum is planned, registration is begun and class assignments are made to have all in readiness in September. 

The following office schedule will be in effect during the summer months:


Monday – Thursday

Parish offices

9 AM – 4 PM


Front desk for mass cards, sacramental certificates, etc.

9 AM - Noon


Parish offices

9 AM – Noon


Front desk

9 AM – Noon

Saturday / Sunday


Offices closed except for private appointments

 The parish secretary will answer the phone during "front desk" business hours. At other times during office hours, the parish staff will assume telephone answering responsibility, since the parish secretary will be helping in the Office of Religious Education.

Parish staff voice mails and emails are available after hours, as is an emergency contact number for anointing of the sick.

Parishioners are encouraged to arrange visits to the parish office for mass cards, sacramental certificates, etc. in the morning hours when the front desk will be staffed.

We can always modify this schedule to address unforeseen circumstances, but this is an attempt to preserve the availability of the pastor and parish staff while controlling costs. Hopefully, we have struck a good balance.

Church Construction Project Budget Approved

Cartoon_pink_thumbs_up_2012After weeks of value engineering and elimination or deferral of some of the frills to the church project, and the diligent collaboration of our architect and construction manager, we were able to approve the revised budget today which came in just slightly under our allowable cost set by the Diocese, our bank and our own Finance Committee.  The final amendment to our construction contract stipulating the guaranteed maximal price is at the diocese for review. Everything else is in readiness, the subcontractors are on board and we should be underway very soon!


Eucharist Ends School Year with Thanksgiving

Ckidfloatingpapers (2)This morning's parish mass was celebrated in our gymatorium and included most of our school students (the eight grade, pre-K and Kindergarten having graduated) and some of their parents. 

The mass ended with "Lift High the Cross" and the students returned to their classrooms for a final morning of goodbyes and packing up until September.

Jesus' admonition in this morning's gospel to "be perfect" might  be a tall for even just the summer months, an even greater challenge with God's help for our whole lives.

May God watch over our families now and forever.



End of Year School Mass Tomorrow Morning 9 AM

Tomorrow morning's parish mass will be celebrated in the gymatorium at 9 AM and will mark the end of the Holy Cross School year. All parishioners are invited to attend and our school students will be present at the mass as well. 

Seems only a little while ago that we began our year with hope and prayers for a fruitful academic and spiritual year.

Now we give thanks to God for the benefits we have reaped from this year and prayers for those we have sown for the future. 

Come worship with us tomorrow morning.


Proud of Our Confirmation Retreat Team

Many thanks to our CRE,  Mrs. Sallie Kabash, Barbara Mattone, the parish staff, Mike Feerst, Matt Butler and Mr. Beluzzi for coordination such a successful Confirmation Retreat experience for the parish youth who were confirmed last month. Special thanks go to the youth of our retreat team for not only volunteering their time, but sharing their faith.

Several years ago, we made the decision to defer the Sacrament of Confirmation until 8th grade when the children could reaffirm their faith in a more mature spirit and moved to a two year preparation process during 7th and 8th grade school year.  Recently the Diocese has made the 8th grade the minimum age for confirmation, so our program is already in place!

Here's a link to The Monitor article about the retreat at Holy Cross Parish.


Holy Cross Confirmation Retreat