September 19, 2021: 25th Sunday In Ordinary Time
I hope this finds everyone well during these most beautiful days of the year.
What a great experience it was last week with seeing so many returning parishioners and new parishioners at Mass. So great to see! And it was nice that everyone was careful and courteous towards each other, making sure to distance a bit and sanitize your hands. From the altar, I can see everyone doing that. While we are seeing an increase in attendance which is great, please realize that we are not letting our guard down against the virus. We continue to sanitize often and keep the church extra clean.
And speaking of the church, I hope everyone recognized the great condition that the church is in. The pews have all been polished, the windows cleaned, and the floor is extra shiny. A special “thank you” to our great maintenance staff.
This week we celebrate Catechetical Sunday. It is an opportunity for us to bless and commission all our volunteer CCD teachers. It is also an opportunity to thank them for their promise of service in teaching our young people throughout the year from first grade through 8th. It is a great task and responsibility that they are undertaking to assure that the Faith of Jesus Christ and His Church are passed on. The kids will learn about the faith and hopefully incorporate it into their daily lives as well as increase their participation in Mass and the sacraments, ultimately to grow in holiness throughout their lives.
I want to offer a very special “thank you” to Miss Mary Flanagan, our new Director of Religious Education (DRE), and all the hard work that she and Mrs. Judy Nash, her assistant, have been doing in preparation for this weekend and the school year. They have been fastidious in preparing for what will be a fantastic CCD school year by recruiting and training our CCD teachers, preparing the class rolls, and organizing the schedules. If you have any questions, especially regarding safety practices that will be incorporated into the school year, please feel free to call Miss Flanagan at the parish Office.
Next week is one of the most special Masses of the year at St. Cassian Parish. At the 12:00 noon Mass, we will be celebrating the Solemn Mass of Saint Cassian, our Patron feast saint. Our choir will be singing at that Mass (instead of the regular 10:30 am). Hopefully, you will be able to attend the Mass to honor, St. Cassian, thank him for his intercession, especially in helping us get through the pandemic safely, and we can continue to ask for his intercession. He is our patron; it is good that we pray for his favorable intercession for us. I always joke that since we are the only parish under the patronage of him outside of Europe, he can spend all of his time taking care of the needs of the only church in the Americas named after him. With the many miracles that I believe are attributed to him, especially since we've received his first-class relic almost 5 years ago, I am certain that he is looking out for all of us, whispering our prayers into Jesus’ ear in heaven. Please make a special effort to come to the noon Mass on September 26th.
At the same time, I want to wish all our school children in St. Cassian School and all other schools a great school year. Hopefully it will be a fruitful time of learning, as well as building the kingdom of God here on Earth. God bless all students.
Finally, please be aware that we will be having a Saint Cassian raffle starting in the next few weeks. This will be a major and much needed fundraiser for our Parish. We will only be selling 300 tickets at $100 per ticket. While the license is still caught up in the office where it is being processed, we are certain that we will officially announce the raffle and proceed in selling tickets. Please just keep a lookout for it.
Please, everyone, continue to return to Mass as it is quite edifying not just for me, but for all the other parishioners to see this great return. Also, enjoy these beautiful days of late summer.
Fr. Marc A. Vicari,
September 12, 2021: 24th Sunday In Ordinary Time
This weekend is one that I have been looking forward to for quite some time. Since Labor Day is essentially the end of the summer and people often return home from vacation, we always consider this weekend to be the beginning of the Church year, as far as activities go. Because of that I am hoping and expecting to have a good number of people return to church. I am excited about that.
Starting this weekend, we will be returning to many of our pre-pandemic practices. Except for Holy Communion not being distributed from the chalice, our Mass will be similar to the way we know it. For example, the gifts of bread and wine will be brought up from the back of the church, the collection will be taken by hand by our ushers, we will return to using the Worship hymnals and the Mass prayer cards, among other subtle things.
Be assured, that all the hymnals and prayer cards, pews and worship, area have been and will continue to be sanitized. By God's grace, we have had very few parishioners become ill and much of that is because we have been so scrupulous and methodical with our care of the church. I want everyone to feel safe coming back and I believe we will be.
Like many of you, last week's storm brought some flooding to the lower Church, Larkin Hall. While all the rooms, offices, and areas downstairs had water, we were able to get the water extracted and the rooms disinfected, cleaned and dried. Last week you may have noticed that there was some odor even in the church upstairs, but I believe it will be gone by this weekend. I also believe that the offices and the lower Church will be fully functional by this weekend.
While I mentioned that this weekend is special because of the return, next weekend is equally special as we will celebrate Catechetical Sunday. Our new Director of Religious Education, Miss Mary Flanagan, is preparing for Catechetical Sunday and we will have a nice blessing of our catechists followed by a meeting in the school gym with all of our wonderful volunteers who teach catechism. Please join me and our catechists at the 9:30 Mass, as we pray for them and bless them, that they will do an excellent job teaching our young CCD students. While parents are always the first and most important teachers of the Faith to their children and are most responsible for their faith formation, our volunteer catechists serve an invaluable purpose in teaching and encouraging the children to grow in knowledge and practice of our Catholic Faith. God bless our catechists.
Over the summer, I have been trying to keep everyone abreast of activities that will be going on in our parish starting in September. Please recall that September 26 will be the Solemn Mass of the Feast of St. Cassian, our patron saint. This year, as in years prior, the St. Cassian Mass will be at 12 noon. In the past, also, we have had a large parish celebration, but, unfortunately, we won't be able to have much, if anything after the mass this year. Again, this is because of concerns about the effects of the Delta variant. I'm sure it will be a beautiful event and encourage you and you and all of your family to attend, as we honor and pray for the continual intercession of our great patron saint, Cassian.
Please look out for events over the coming weeks and months that have been planned for a return to the great events and ministries that we have at the parish. One event that I would like you to be aware of is the St. Cassian raffle. We were planning to hold it in October, however, the license to have the raffle has been slowed down in the process, so I will keep you updated as I know more. The raffle will be one of our major parish fundraisers this year. There will be more details to follow.
If you have been away from the church since the beginning of the pandemic, or since the beginning of the summer, or if you have been attending regularly, whatever the case, I am very excited to see you on the first Sunday after Labor Day, when it all starts up again. May God bless you and keep you safe as you return home, return to work, and our kids return to school and CCD.
Fr. Marc A. Vicari,
September 5, 2021: 23rd Sunday In Ordinary Time
What an exciting time as we find ourselves about to return from the summer and back into “full swing” after so long. While it is sad for some that the summer is drawing to a close, it is also great that we begin to get closer to the way it was “pre-pandemic.”
In the church after Labor Day, we will return to normalcy as much as possible, as it pertains to worship. This means that we will see the return of the Worship hymnals, the collection taken by hand, the gifts of bread and wine being brought forward by the faithful from the back of the church, as well as several other regular practices. Recall that from October 10 to November 6 we will be emphasizing the joy of returning to church and we will do this by having specially themed music during those weeks to aid the excitement about coming back. We will also be rolling out the programs and events that we have been working on to encourage everyone’s return and continue the spiritual, social, and formative work of St. Cassian Parish. It will be an exciting time, for sure.
We have been making announcements the past few weeks about seeking anyone who is interested in serving as an altar server (grades 4 and up), lectors, and ushers. We can use more of all and if you have been considering it or are certain that you would like to take part in any of those ministries, please contact the office to speak with Mary Cavagnaro. There will be a training for all who are interested and those who need a refresher after perhaps being inactive for a while.
While we are moving ahead with returning to “normal,” I want to remind you that while masks are not required in the church, the CDC highly recommends those who are not vaccinated to wear masks in church. Also, those who are vaccinated, but would still like to wear masks, you can certainly continue to do so, especially if it will put you at ease, as well as continuing to social distance, getting tested for Covid as needed, and continuing to regularly wash your hands.
As for the vaccination, I want to remind everyone about what the Pope and our local Archdiocese of Newark (see the statement on the opposite page) as well as the US Bishops Conference have stated about the moral permissibility of receiving the vaccine. Pope Francis said: “Being vaccinated with vaccines authorised by the competent authorities is an act of love. And contributing to ensure the majority of people are vaccinated is an act of love.” (Video Message of the Holy Father to the people on the vaccination campaign against COVID-19, August 18, 2021) The Doctrine Committee of the United States Catholic Bishops Conference has addressed this moral issue in December 2020 stating that:
Neither Pfizer nor Moderna used morally compromised cell lines in the design, development, or production of the vaccine…. Thus, while either vaccine is completely free from any connection to morally compromised cell lines, in this case the connection is very remote from the initial evil of the abortion. In view of the gravity of the current pandemic and the lack of availability of alternative vaccines, the reasons to accept the new COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are sufficiently serious to justify their use, despite their remote connection to morally compromised cell lines. In addition, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine ought to be understood as an act of charity toward the other members of our community. (www.usccb.org/moral-considerations-covid-vaccines)
I hope this sheds some certainty on the vaccination issue, realizing that the Church’s position is clear on this moral question. Please feel free to read the full documents of the above statements.
Finally, please realize how excited I am about our return and how much I look forward to seeing all of you again at Mass and parish activities. Until then, please enjoy these last days of summer.
Rev. Marc A. Vicari,
August 22, 2021: 21st Sunday In Ordinary Time
I hope you are all well and I want to use this bulletin message as an opportunity to keep you updated on what we’ve been doing over the summer.
A few weeks ago, we installed speed bumps both in the driveway as well as in the church parking lot. The purpose of this was simply to keep our parish and school children safe and for everyone to recognize that they need to drive through the property slowly.
Over the past few weeks, the parish staff has been involved in a massive cleanup and junk removal. We have been cleaning out old spaces, closets, offices, file cabinets, etc., to make sure that our working storage areas are neat, clean, and easy to find what we need. Later this week we will be having all the junk removed professionally and we look forward to a neat and clean church and office space.
Either later this week or next week, a few dead trees and shrubs will be removed from the property both near the church and the rectory. We are using this as an opportunity to continue to beautify the property.
In order to keep everyone safe, especially during the wet, cold, and snowy months, the ramp on the side of the church that leads to the main doors is going to be neatened, resurfaced, and repainted. This is to make sure that it is not slippery and that the rubberized surface is safe. This work will be done over the next couple of weeks.
Finally, the old roof of the school will be replaced with a new roof. Because of that, our parking lot will have a couple of dumpsters positioned in it for when the old roof is removed and taken away. These dumpsters will probably be in our lot at least this weekend if not for the next two. I ask you for your patience in parking around them and I am sorry for the inconvenience. I'm sure you all realize that the best time to get all this work done is in the summer when many people are away, and the contractors and their work are less intrusive. We expect that the church and its environs will look as beautiful as ever when we warmly welcome everyone back, especially during September and October.
Thank you for your patience with all of this and I know you all realize that this is all intended to keep everyone safe as well as to continue to beautify our campus.
Please continue to enjoy this great time of year of relaxing and vacationing so that we are ready and energized for the busy time that we all anticipate come September.
Blessings to all,
Rev. Marc A. Vicari,
August 8, 2021: 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
I hope everyone is enjoying the summer and that it is restful and relaxing for you all and your families. It is important that we do relax these days because September promises to be a very busy time as we all hope to return to normal.
The topics of this week’s reading are two that are particularly appropriate—judging others and food. The Old Testament reading begins with Elijah calling out to the Lord that he is not better than anyone else and please take his life. After a brief nap, an angel wakes him up and ordered him to eat and drink. Trying to continue down the path of his unworthiness, Elijah lays down again but the angel gives him no peace, waking him up and ordering him to eat and drink so he could get on his way.
In the second reading, St. Paul tells us we need to get rid of all the unkind thoughts and feelings we have about others and live the way God intended us to live—with kindness, compassion and forgiveness.
Finally in the gospel Jesus encounters some of the people who knew his past. How could he be the “bread that came down from heaven”? After all, Jesus is the son of a lowly carpenter and his wife. How can he be ‘the bread of life” that will save everyone from death?
Summer, and probably this summer more than ever, we are outdoors mingling with not just family and friends, but people we don’t know at all. How easy it is to sit on the beach and criticize people. ‘She really shouldn’t wear a two piece bathing suit.’ ‘Somebody should tell that guy that Speedos are for those is great physical shape.’ ‘Why aren’t they watching that kid?’ ‘Don’t they read? There’s no food allowed on this beach.’ Instead of spending our time deciding what people should wear, how they manage their children, and whether or not they are obeying the rules, why not take in the beauty of our surroundings? Instead of judging others (or sometimes ourselves), let’s remember how lucky we are to be so close to the shore as so much of Jesus’ life and parables are centered around water. Rather than put our focus on others, take some time to think about how much we are loved by God who has given us such a beautiful place that refreshes us both physically and spiritually? And when we do leave the beach, let’s bring the renewed spirit and relaxed body not just to the dinner table with family and friends, but to the table of the Lord where we can be filled with the food of kindness, compassion and forgiveness that receiving the Body of Christ brings to all of us.
Please continue to pray for our Parish and for the success of our return to church, as well as God’s blessings and the safety of all this summer.
Prayers and blessings,
Fr. Marc A. Vicari,