Work is scheduled to begin this week on adjusting and repairing the main entry doors to the church. The repairs will be capably handled by Merrick Builders who have been completing much of the construction left undone or only partially completed by our construction manager and subs.
Faith to Move Mountains
As you know, the Diocesan Endowment Campaign Faith to Move Mountains has been underway in the diocese for many months. It is now our turn to enlist support for the fundraising which will endow trusts to fund designated areas of pastoral ministry. Details about the diocesan fund can be found on their website and will be mailed to parishioners in the coming weeks. Our parish goal for the campaign has been set at $ 940,000. The parish is in the process of organizing the campaign material and you will hear more about it in the coming weeks.
The overall average was a bit higher this week than last, but we still have a way to go.
Let us encourage each other to attend mass.
It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.
For in this visible house that you have let us build
and where you never cease to show favor
to the family on pilgrimage to you in this place,
you wonderfully manifest and accomplish
the mystery of your communion with us.
Here you build up for yourself the temple that we are
and cause your Church, spread throughout the world,
to grow ever more and more as the Lord's own Body,
till she reaches her fullness in the vision of peace,
the heavenly city of Jerusalem.
Join us in prayer at 9:00 AM Eucharist tomorrow morning to commemorate the First Anniversary of the Dedication of our parish church. The special mass has its own readings and prayers and is a solemnity (Gloria, Creed).
In some ways, it doesn't seem like one year ago!
The church has served us well in the last year accommodating groups large and small, joyful celebrations and mournful ones.
We're excited to report that two sisters from the Dominican Community in Nashville
will be visiting Holy Cross on December 5th.
It was an amazing coincidence to discover that the sisters would already be in our diocese that week and were able to extend their visit and add us to their itinerary.
The sisters will make a presentation to our Holy Cross students during the day. Monday evening they will discuss the topic of Family Prayer with school parents and parishioners alike based on their publication
We will be extending an invitation for parishioners in our cohort and surrounding parishes to join us for this prayerful recollection in Advent.
Catholic Bishops of New Jersey Correct "Catholics for Choice" Misleading Advertisement With The Church's Message
The ads will run this tomorrow in the Star Ledger and the Bergen-Record, two of the papers in which the deceptive ads from "Catholics for Choice" ran.
September 14 was the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, our patronal feast, and we defer its commemoration until a weekend so that many more members of our parish family may pray together. Join us at Mass on this festive and joyful occasion. There will be hospitality after the 10:30 AM mass. Check our our just-finished Hospitality Room in the St. Joseph Room.
The Finding of the True Cross window on the west wall of the church depicts the story of St. Helena's discovery of the cross through a divine healing. Since its cleaning and restoration, there are spectacular views of the window at various times of the day, especially during the fall.
Monday also commemorates the first year anniversary dedication of our new church, another cause for great joy.
P.S. This is a "before cleaning" picture. We'll have to take an "after restoration" picture for comparison.
The US Civil Rights Commission released a briefing report to the President entitled "Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties." It studied the conflict between the expanding Federal legislation and regulations on sexual identity and marriage vs. freedom of Religious organizations, institutions and individuals to practice their faith.
The Commission's recommendations are troubling, but telling
- Overly-broad religious exemptions unduly burden nondiscrimination laws and policies.
Federal and state courts, lawmakers, and policy-makers at every level must tailor religious exceptions to civil liberties and civil rights protections as narrowly as applicable law requires.
- RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) protects only religious practitioners’ First Amendment free exercise rights, and it does not limit others’ freedom from government-imposed religious limitations under the Establishment Clause.
- In the absence of controlling authority to the contrary such as a state-level, RFRA-type statute, the recognition of religious exemptions to nondiscrimination laws and policies should be made pursuant to the holdings of Employment Division v. Smith, which protect religious beliefs rather than conduct.
- Federal legislation should be considered to clarify that RFRA creates First Amendment Free Exercise clause rights only for individuals and religious institutions and only to the extent that they do not unduly burden civil liberties and civil rights protections against status-based discrimination.
- States with RFRA-style laws should amend those statutes to clarify that RFRA creates First Amendment Free Exercise Clause rights only for individuals and religious institutions.
- States with laws modeled after RFRA must guarantee that those statutes do not unduly burden civil liberties and civil rights with status-based discrimination.
The full report (over 300 pages) is linked here Peaceful Coexistence.
Comments from Chairperson of the US Civil Rights Commission, Martin R. Castro, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2011.
“The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian
religion.” —John Adams
The phrases “religious liberty” and “religious freedom” will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia,
Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.
Religious liberty was never intended to give one religion dominion over other religions, or a veto power over the civil rights and civil liberties of others.
However, today, as in the past, religion is being used as both a weapon and a shield by those seeking to deny others equality. In our nation’s past religion has been used to justify slavery and later, Jim Crow laws. We now see “religious liberty” arguments sneaking their way back into our political and constitutional discourse (just like the concept of “state rights”) in an effort to undermine the rights of some Americans.
This generation of Americans must stand up and speak out to ensure that religion never again be twisted to deny others the full promise of America.
Faith and the Full Promise of America
A Statement from Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty
For the current Chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, religious liberty is reduced to "nothing except hypocrisy," and religion is being used as a "weapon… by those seeking to deny others equality." He makes the shocking suggestion that Catholic, evangelical, orthodox Jewish, Mormon, and Muslim communities are comparable to fringe segregationists from the civil rights era. These statements painting those who support religious freedom with the broad brush of bigotry are reckless and reveal a profound disregard for the religious foundations of his own work.
People of faith have often been the ones to carry the full promise of America to the most forgotten peripheries when other segments of society judged it too costly. Men and women of faith were many in number during the most powerful marches of the civil rights era. Can we imagine the civil rights movement without Rev. Martin Luther King, Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel? In places like St. Louis, Catholic schools were integrated seven years before the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Jesus taught us to serve and not to count the cost.
Our record is not perfect. We could have always done more. Nevertheless, we have long taught that the one God, maker of heaven and earth, calls each and every individual into being, loves every individual, and commands believers to love and show mercy to every individual. The idea of equality, which the Chairman treats as a kind of talisman, is incomprehensible apart from the very faith that he seeks to cut off from mainstream society.
Today, Catholic priests, religious and laity can be found walking the neighborhood streets of our most struggling communities in places abandoned by a "throwaway culture" that has too often determined that quick profits matter more than communities. We are there offering education, health care, social services, and hope, working to serve as the "field hospital" Pope Francis has called us to be. We wish we were there in even greater numbers, but we are there to humbly offer the full promise of America to all. Rest assured, if people of faith continue to be marginalized, it is the poor and vulnerable, not the Chairman and his friends, who will suffer.
Catholic social service workers, volunteers and pastors don't count the cost in financial terms or even in personal safety. But, we must count the cost to our own faith and morality. We do not seek to impose our morality on anyone, but neither can we sacrifice it in our own lives and work. The vast majority of those who speak up for religious liberty are merely asking for the freedom to serve others as our faith asks of us. We ask that the work of our institutions be carried out by people who believe in our mission and respect a Christian witness. This is no different from a tobacco control organization not wishing to hire an advocate for smoking or a civil rights organization not wanting to hire someone with a history of racism or an animal rights group wishing to hire only vegetarians.
In a pluralistic society, there will be institutions with views at odds with popular opinion. The Chairman's statement suggests that the USCCR does not see the United States as a pluralistic society. We respect those who disagree with what we teach. Can they respect us? We advocate for the dignity of all persons, a dignity that includes a life free from violence and persecution and that includes fair access to good jobs and safe housing. People of faith are a source of American strength. An inclusive and religiously diverse society should make room for them.
A Statement from Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities
An abortion advocacy organization called "Catholics for Choice" (CFC) placed deceptive full-page newspaper ads in multiple cities on September 12 calling for taxpayer funding of abortion in the name of the Catholic faith.
As the U.S. Catholic bishops have stated for many years, the use of the name 'Catholic' as a platform to promote the taking of innocent human life is offensive not only to Catholics, but to all who expect honesty and forthrightness in public discourse.
CFC is not affiliated with the Catholic Church in any way. It has no membership, and clearly does not speak for the faithful. It is funded by powerful private foundations to promote abortion as a method of population control.
The organization rejects and distorts Catholic social teaching -- and actually attacks its foundation. As Pope Francis said this summer to leaders in Poland, "Life must always be welcomed and protected…from conception to natural death. All of us are called to respect life and care for it."
CFC's extreme ads promote abortion as if it were a social good. But abortion kills the most defenseless among us, harms women, and tears at the heart of families. Pushing for public funding would force all taxpaying Americans to be complicit in the violence of abortion and an industry that puts profit above the well-being of women and children.
According to a July 2016 poll conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, 62 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, including 45 percent of those who say they are pro-choice.
Finally, the CFC pits the needs of pregnant women against those of their unborn children. This is a false choice. Catholics and all people of good will are called to love them both. Consider supporting local pregnancy help centers, which do incredible work caring for mothers and children alike in a manner consistent with true social justice and mercy.
from the USCCB Cardinal Dolan's Message
Welcome back to our volunteer catechists and to both new and returning children in our Religious Education Program. This year a few interesting changes have been made: an online programmed instruction section and a Monday afternoon bi-weekly session of all age groups with the pastor and Mrs. LaPlante.
For Monday's sessions we will be using the Pflaum Gospel Weeklies and associated teaching materials.
Once per month, a supplemental collection will be taken up for our monthly mortgage payment. This new monthly expense will challenge our capacity to meet all our financial obligations from our regular collections.
I've included a letter in this weekend's bulletin with more details.
Thank you to everyone who have been faithfully fulfilling pledges made to A Time to Build. We depend on your pledges!
Please consider a modest increase in weekly giving, especially to the special Mortgage Collection.
Let's work on the attendance throughout the year to bring the average class attendance up well over 50%
We signed a contract with Beyer Studio to fabricate two additional stained glass windows from the glass we have from our St. Francis purchase. They depict events in the life of St. Francis.
They will fill the North Transept with color and beauty!
Once we have a timeline for completion and delivery, we'll let you know.
It seemed like everyone was bright and early!
(It seemed like a good day to change the blog format to a "mobile friendly" theme builder. Who knew?)
The driveway by the rectory which provides access to the barrier free parking court is closed until Saturday's 5 PM Vigil Mass. The new concrete has been poured and is curing and we have been asked to prohibit vehicular traffic until then.
Sorry for the inconvenience, but we're glad the weather cooperated and the job planning proceeded just as expected.
The Diocese of Trenton's Office of Communications has a Resource Guide available for parish use of electronic technology and social media. It is a timely discussion of prudence, reasonableness and transparency as electronic evangelization becomes widespread.
Our parish will be using an online option for some of our Religious Education classes this year. It's important for all parishioners to be familiar with the diocesan guidelines, which make really good sense in our online world.
This morning we welcomed our faculty and staff to 9 AM Mass. It was good to see familiar faces and a few new ones as the teachers and staff get ready for the children to arrive next week. I'm sure the teachers have mixed feelings saying goodbye to summer, but all seemed in good spirits and happy to see each other again.
We ask God's blessing on students and their families for the coming year.