Previous Messages from the Pastor
May 17, 2020 – Fifth Sunday of Easter
There is great news about the reopening of churches in the Archdiocese of Newark! Next week we will begin opening our Parish church for quiet prayer a few days a week for a few hours. There will be guidelines as far as people being able to visit the church and this issue of the bulletin has an outline that the Archdiocese has given us (“What to Expect When Mass Resumes”). As you will see, there will be a three-phase approach to opening the churches. The first starts next week, as I mentioned above, and then it will progress to Phase 2 and Phase 3 accordingly. The outline from the Archdiocese also gives everyone a heads up on what to expect when they return to the church. Please read the included page titled “Phase One.”
Some important details to notice are that visitors will need to wear face coverings or masks, must be at least 6 feet away from each other at all times (according to pew and church indicators), visitors can only sit in designated areas at certain times and I ask everyone to bring your own hand sanitizers. I will have the Blessed Sacrament exposed during this time of prayer. I will also make the Sacrament of Reconciliation available next week, probably Saturday afternoon. (concerning this, please read point 11 in the “Phase One page.”)
There is other news in the Archdiocese is that unfortunately sad. Ten Archdiocesan Catholic schools have closed. That notification from the Cardinal is included in this bulletin as well. We are not one of the schools closing. As a matter of fact, St. Cassian School remains very, very healthy, even with a waiting list. I only mention the other schools so that you all are aware of news around the Archdiocese.
Some other immediate news that affects our Parish that is good is that we have been approved for the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and have in fact already received the assistance check that will be used solely for payroll. This is very helpful in maintaining the vitality of our Parish during these difficult times, at least for a two-month period. At the same time, I am very, very grateful to all of you who have maintained your financial support during this tough time. Using Faith Direct and mailing your weekly envelopes directly to the Parish office have been extremely helpful and I am grateful.
While we are certainly all excited about the reopening of our Church and the celebration of the sacraments, again, I ask you to please make sure that you are patient and follow the guidelines that our Parish and the Archdiocese set for it. Again, I am going to ask everyone to bring their own face coverings/masks, hand sanitizers (gloves is you choose to wear them) and follow the markings in the church. It would be impossible and unsafe for me to provide all of these for all of the visitors, so please bring your own.
While there will be many demands on those who return to church, I would ask that those who are vulnerable either because of health or because of age to please remain at home if there is even the slightest risk to your health. Parishioners are also asked to take their temperature before they come to church to make sure there is no fever.
We will continue the Sunday Mass live streams so there is no need for people who are susceptible to infection to risk their health in coming back. You can continue to watch our Mass on Facebook or YouTube or any other Mass, as it counts for your Sunday obligation.
I will keep you all informed as we move forward, but in the meantime, let’s all continue to pray for a safe and speedy end to this crisis. And let’s continue to pray for one another.
Fr. Marc A. Vicari,
May 10, 2020 – Fifth Sunday of Easter
We are one week closer to getting out of this crisis! With the nice weather and spring being in full bloom, it certainly is a time of hope and a time of looking forward to the good things coming soon for us.
I’m sorry if some of you were not able to watch the live stream of Mass last week on YouTube. In trying to perfect the sound for YouTube, we ran into some “technical difficulties.” I know that there were some glitches with Facebook, too. Hopefully, we get all of this worked out for Sunday and I ask that you please be patient as we are trying to get the live streams perfect.
As a parish, we do have much to look forward to, though. While at this time we have not yet been given a timeline for returning to church, clearly it is getting closer and closer. I would like to be fully prepared and ready to “hit the ground running” when we are able to resume having public Masses.
We have particular reason to celebrate in our Parish, as Mr. Roberto Demetillo, whom many of you have seen over the years as a lector and a server at the altar, will be ordained a Permanent Deacon soon at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Newark. We are very happy for soon-to-be Deacon Roberto and his wife and family. He has been in the diaconate program preparing for this upcoming day for over four years. After his ordination, Deacon Roberto will serve our Parish as a deacon by assisting the main celebrant at Mass, reading the Gospel and preaching, baptizing, and working faithfully for the parish. Please keep him in your prayers as he prepares for this wonderful day of ordination and his service to the Parish. Coincidently, the first reading for Mass on the 5th Sunday of Easter speaks of the call of the first Deacons in the Acts of the Apostles. Appropriately, Roberto who was called by the Lord to be a Deacon will be our lector for Mass and it is fitting, that he reads this particular reading during Mass.
Also, something to look forward to is the 125th Anniversary of our Parish! Remember in the months passed we have been reminding everyone that the celebration will begin on September 13th with a Solemn Mass in our church with Cardinal Joseph Tobin. I know in the midst of this crisis we probably haven’t given it much thought, however, I want to make sure that everyone keeps that date on your calendar so that we can robustly celebrate as a parish. Recall, we start our year-long celebration in September and will have a series of events to celebrate the history and life and growth of our Parish. I firmly believe that we will be out of that crisis by then and we will have a wonderful anniversary year.
So, dear Parishioners, I believe we are seeing the “light at the end of the tunnel.” I’m certain that the Archdiocese and the Cardinal, in particular, are working on ways that we can reopen our churches and our programs safely. I want to be fully prepared for this time, so I will keep you posted when I hear any news and I am certain that reopening will require masks, gloves and social distancing for all. I believe we will continue to live stream the Mass for a while, even after the church has been reopened as a way to provide the Mass for those who are at risk and vulnerable. We will obviously talk more about this in the future. All the while, I asked you to be patient as, the “new normal” will probably not be perfect, but it will begin to point us in the right direction.
I asked everyone to please continue to pray for our fellow parishioners, particularly all of the ill. Perhaps this could be a time of even deeper devotion to Mary, our Blessed Mother, whom we crowned last Sunday as our Queen and Mother, asking her to intercede on our behalf.
Lastly, I know many of you are eager to receive Holy Communion again. I invite you to view our Eucharistic Adoration on Wednesday evenings at 7:30, at least to see our Eucharistic Lord. Also, I recommend that you pray the Prayer of Spiritual Communion written by our own Cardinal Tobin which is included in this week’s bulletin. You can do this at the time of distribution of Holy Communion during the Mass, asking the Lord to give you the grace that you would have received in the Eucharist.
Again, please be assured of my prayers for all of you, especially the sick and the suffering, and please join with me in the hope of, not only the end of this crisis but of all the glorious things to come for our Parish.
Blessings to all,
Fr. Marc A. Vicari,
EASTER IV Message
Again, I pray that you are all well and healthy. We are far from returning to normal, but I think we would all agree that we are getting closer to that point. While we cannot ignore those who are still sick and will become ill yet, we are grateful that the overall number of COVID-19-related infections and deaths are decreasing, pointing toward some “light at the end of the tunnel.” Hopefully, we are still being vigilant about our safety. And perhaps, just as important, patient!
My hope is that we are also using this time as an extended Lent, where we continue to work on the things that the Lord would like from us: prayer, deeper appreciation of the Sacraments and Scriptures. While we can think of ourselves as being in “the desert,” often symbolically representing a place of fasting and prayer, we can also think of it as a “spiritual training ground,” where we prepare for something that affects us long-term.
A good question to ask ourselves is: How will we be better when all this is over? What are we doing right now, during these “desert” days that will help us in the future? We don’t want to waste these days, as they can use helpful and useful in learning, growing and practicing our faith. Do we need to work on our patience, our charity, our kindness, our prayerfulness? Learning new recipes and foreign languages and catching up on Netflix programs are good and help us through this difficult period, but will they help us get closer to Heaven? I would ask all to consider this: if the crisis were to end today, would we all be in a better place spiritually? Let’s not let this time go to waste; instead, let’s be better because of it!
This Sunday, we will have Mass at 9:00 am as we have in the weeks past. At this Mass, we will have the beautiful traditional ceremony of the May Crowning. This is a traditional devotion of placing a crown of flowers on the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, recognizing her as the Queen of Heaven and earth and as our Queen and Mother. May, of course, is the perfect time to do it, as it is the month of Mary. This is also an appropriate time as we petition our Blessed Mother to rescue us from this pandemic and to intercede on our behalf and the world’s behalf. While we will be honoring her with the crowning on Sunday, May 3rd, on Friday, May 1st, the Bishops of the United States will be consecrating our nation to the maternal care of the Blessed Mother.
Also, included in this bulletin is a message from Cardinal Joseph Tobin, our Archbishop, who very pastorally writes why
it is good and important that we turn to Mary during these difficult days. He gives us “Five Reasons We Turn to Mary
During Times of Crisis.” I recommend that you prayerfully read it.
My dear Parishioners, I am optimistic that we will get out of this “pause” and that we will be able to join around the “table
of the Lord,” our altar at St. Cassian Church, for Mass and the Sacraments and be in each other’s presence soon. We
have Mary, all the angels and Saints, and each other praying for us to the Lord. With a team like that and with our own
steadfastness in our spiritual training, we cannot lose.
Rev. Marc A. Vicari,
This bulletin message is including a few photos from around the church. I figured by now everyone is missing the full view and I wanted to include some so that you’re reminded of the beauty of our church building.
Our Gospel reading this Third Sunday of Easter Season is, as always, very appropriate for our situation in life these days. The two disciples on the “Road to Emmaus,” as it is often called, did not recognize Jesus even though he walked with them. They were downtrodden and sad and fearful and because of that, even though Jesus was in their midst, they didn’t recognize Him. We know how the story ends, though, in that it was when Jesus was going on farther, they invited him to stay with them. They finally recognized him in the “Breaking of the Bread.” How often we are so often like those two on the road to Emmaus: sometimes we don’t recognize that our Lord is with us in our darkest hours, when were fearful or anxious or downtrodden ourselves. Yet, like those two in the Gospel, Jesus is very much in our midst. Naturally, we are all looking forward to gathering again in the church for the Breaking of the Bread, the Mass. We will certainly recognize our Lord then, but it’s important that we recognize him now, very much in our midst!
Some of you may not be aware of it, but we have a beautiful stained glass window commemorating that moment that the gospel speaks of today. Our window shows Jesus breaking the bread and the two men who were with him, becoming amazed that he was with them all along. Such an appropriate window and Gospel theme for us these days.
Many of you are certainly missing the church, so I just wanted to let you know that since you’ve last been in it, it has been completely professionally sanitized and continues to be beautifully maintained. Take a look at the back of the church with our Rose window reflecting off the beautifully polished Church floor! I have to give Mr. Cosmo Brongo, our Director of Maintenance, so much credit for keeping all of our campus buildings in such great shape, particularly our church. You will find our church building spectacularly kept, I’m sure, upon your return to Mass.
Some have asked about the Parish’s financial vitality during these difficult days. Thankfully, many parishioners have been sending in their contributions, while others have been sending them in a month at a time. Others have been contributing through Faith Direct and I know we have many new Faith Direct members, as well. To all of you who have been so mindful of the needs of the parish financially, I want to say thank you very much!
At the same time, know that through our Parish bank, we have applied for the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) as a way for us to receive a loan (that will probably turn into a grant) which will provide for our Parish employees’ salary for 2 ½ months. We applied for this last week and our bank notified us that it received our application, but that right now the government funds have been exhausted. I am hoping that Congress will earmark more money for this program and that the President will sign it into law. Hopefully this will happen soon, so as to help us with our largest expense: salaries.
Finally, there are a couple of things to look forward to in the next week or so in the church. Mr. Greg Hann, Evangelization Director, is planning on having an evening of virtual Eucharistic adoration, as well as some short lectures that will be broadcast. Live Adoration will probably be next Wednesday and I will let you know about that for certain. This will be an opportunity through our social media, to sit and quietly adore the Virtual Presence of Our Lord for an hour. The schedule for the live streamed lectures is pending. Lastly, on Sunday, May 3rd, we will have our virtual crowning of Mary at the 9 Mass. This will be a great opportunity to honor our Blessed Mother while invoking her favor upon us during this difficult time.
The last photo I have in this message, is the view that many of you would have if you were attending Mass. It’s included with the intention of letting you see the altar and Easter decorations from your usual perspective.
Many blessings to all of you!
Fr. Marc A. Vicari,
PS: Some of you have requested the Music for the Sunday Mass ahead of time. We now have a link on the Parish website so that you can download the music and there is also a link for the readings. Please go to https://stcassianchurchuppermontclair.org
What a joy it was to celebrate Easter Mass this year! While it would have been so much nicer to have everyone gathered in the church, I realized that we had many, many people gather together, around the table of the Lord, while still in their own homes. What a unique experience! I received many notes and emails from many current and former parishioners who joined together to share in the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. One family of former parishioners watched and emailed us from Germany, witnessing to how small the world has gotten, especially in these last few months. Some people sent us emails attached with pictures of children and families watching the live stream. We even got a handful photos of the family pets paying attention and seemingly watching the celebration. Saint Francis of Assisi would be proud!
These communications speak of the piety of you all, our people, but also of the inherent need that so many have for God. In many ways we often get caught up in the rigors of life and squeeze God out of our daily activities. So often other things and activities take the place of the Lord like sports, fun activities, catching up on sleep, to name a few, but with many of those activities suspended these days, our lives are simplified to revolving around just family and God. Maybe this is what God wants from us: to focus on the most important things in life.
Spiritual writer CS Lewis (1898- 1963) often wrote about how God speaks to us in many ways, but that he uses His “megaphone” in communicating most loudly in our times of difficulty and pain. Perhaps, Lewis is right, especially these days: He has been trying to get our attention all the time and we keep looking in other directions, but now in the midst of the crisis, we hear Him, loudly and clearly speaking through His “megaphone” telling us to return to Him and the important things of our lives.
While it feels like our Lenten disciplines of fasting and praying and not eating meat on Fridays and any other self-imposed activity should have come to an end, perhaps the Lord is calling us to continue a different kind of discipline: one that teaches us to continue to focus on Him and be totally reliant on Him, to continue to pray more and act more lovingly, neighborly and charitably. In some ways, our Lent continues.
The Covid-19 virus has seemingly taken center stage these days, it was great that we put the celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection back in the forefront of our lives and is what we stay focused on. Recall that the Resurrection of Our Lord is at the core of our Christian belief, and while we celebrate Christ’s rising from the dead, we know that we will, too, as this is how Easter Sunday affects us personally. As sad as these days are we know that those who die now or died already as well as all of our loved ones who have died, will rise again “in the Resurrection on the Last Day.” This is why Easter Sunday and all the Easter Season is such a big deal!
I pray that we all will stay well and healthy. I look forward to when we are able to gather again to celebrate the Sacraments again: confessions, the Eucharist (and First Holy Communion for our Second Graders) as well as Confirmations. I particularly look forward to a Mass of Thanksgiving, thanking the Lord for allowing this illness to pass over us.
Let’s continue to pray for each other and for our whole Parish family.
Blessings to all,
Fr. Marc A. Vicari,
Palm Sunday Bulletin Letter – April 5th, 2020
Greetings to all of you and I pray you are all well. And when I say “well,” I mean physically well, spiritually well and emotionally well. I know these days can be very trying, even very boring for many, but please make sure that you are taking care of yourselves and going through your regular routines as much as possible. It is important that we keep doing what we usually do as much as possible so that there is a semblance of normalcy during these tough times. I tell this to the seventh-grade class that I teach each day that they should get up take a shower, comb their hair and be ready for class so that things feel as normal as possible. I encourage everyone to stick with their regular routines.
Last Sunday at 9:00 am we were able to livestream the Mass to the Parish and beyond. I was thinking how when Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876, would he ever in his wildest dreams imagine that it would be used to visually broadcast a religious service to people watching at home? Yet, that is what we did last week and we are planning on livestreaming this Sunday again and beyond at 9:00 am. I do not want to plan too far ahead because things are changing, especially with directives from the Archdiocese, but I will keep you as up-to-date as possible with Masses and services, especially regarding the rest of Holy Week after Palm Sunday.
Speaking of Palm Sunday, that is this Sunday. Technically, you recall, we call it Passion Sunday because it is the week that we celebrate and remember the Passion, the suffering of Jesus Christ for our sins. We start the Mass with the simple Gospel of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem to the cheers of the crowds. The Mass, of course, ends with Our Lord being crucified. We bless the Palms which are symbolic of the palms that the residents of Jerusalem laid on the ground as a way of celebrating Jesus in the city. Unfortunately, the blessed palms from this Sunday’s Mass will not be available for the Parish, as the Cardinal has asked that while we will bless them, we cannot distribute them until a later date, but make an earnest effort to virtually attend all of the Holy Week events. Below is the schedule as of now.
Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday) Mass: 9:00 AM
Holy Thursday Mass: 7:30 PM
Good Friday Stations of the Cross Service: 7:30 PM
Easter Sunday Mass: 9:00 AM
All these will be broadcast or livestreamed on both Facebook as well as YouTube which you can use the below URL. The addition of YouTube is just recent and I am glad to be able to provide this alternative to Facebook, as I know not everyone has it (me, included!).
The St.CassianOutreach2020 will continue to be making phone calls to parishioners to make sure that everyone is ok and also to see if anyone needs anything, i.e., groceries, prescriptions, etc. At the same time, while the Parish Office is closed to the public, we have continued to have a staff member to answer the phones, so if you need anything please call. You may also call if you have any prayer requests, particularly for the sick. I have been informed a those who are sick or family members who are not feeling well and I have included them in my daily Mass offerings. At the same time, please realize that if there are any emergencies, I can be reached at the emergency number: 201-704-7988. Emergencies only, please.
Many have mailed in their envelopes for their church offering and others have signed up to support the church during this time through Faith Direct. Thank you so much for your support for those who have continued their financial support. I understand that it might be hard for some, especially because of your loss or reduction in revenues. If you are able, please mail in your envelopes or even sign up for Faith Direct (www.faithdirect.net and use code NJ514). This will be very helpful to maintain the functioning of the Parish.
Lastly, please make sure that you are praying for one another, the sick, and the end of this crisis. The Pope is offering a plenary indulgence (yes, we still believe in them) to those who pray for an end to this crisis. You can find out more info by cutting and pasting the link below (“Indulgence”). Perhaps it is something you can read and do as a spiritual exercise during these quiet days. At the same time, since we are not all able to receive the Eucharist, perhaps you can make “Spiritual Communion” in the absence of the Eucharist, as it is the “desire” to receive the grace of the Eucharist as well as make an offering to the Lord. Read more about Spiritual Communion in this bulletin, as there is a two-page article on it.
In the meantime, be assured of my prayers for all of you, especially the sick and vulnerable, as well as for all our Country and our civic and Church leaders, that we will quickly recover from this difficult time.
Prayers and blessings,
Fr. Marc A. Vicari,
An update from Father Marc
I hope this note finds you well and healthy and anticipating the approaching Paschal Mysteries. Even though we are celebrating Masses in an empty church, we are praying for all of your Mass intentions and especially for an end to this health crisis. I am hopeful and confident that we will be back normal before we know it.
I use this note as a way of touching base with you and updating you about what is going on with our Parish. Perhaps you have already received an email from me from “StCassianOutreach2020@gmail.com” as a way of touching base and to make sure that no one who has any needs not cared for. As I said in last week’s bulletin and in the email, if there is anyone who needs anything such as food, prescriptions, baby needs, etc., and is not able to get them because of mobility issues or because of children/family obligations, please send an email to the above email address or call the office. Someone will reply to your email and we have someone in the Parish office each day from 9 am to 3 pm. I do not want anyone to “slip through the cracks.”
While we certainly consider the situation a difficult one, we can also recognize that there is some good that can come from the “Stay at Home” policy that Governor Murphy has mandated. For example, so often we say that there are certain things that we would like to do “if only we had the time.” We often list things like exercise, praying more, reading the Scriptures and spending more time with our family, just to mention a couple. God, in His divine wisdom, has now given us the time! Spending time with families is the most important thing that families can do together and now we are forced to do that. I hear and see that families are eating meals together again; they are exercising and playing together, and hopefully, praying together. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if these things that we are doing now that we have long desired to do are things that we will continue to do once we are all back to normal? This can be an extraordinarily fruitful time for our family life and spiritual life if we take advantage of this time that the Lord has given us.
Speaking of using time well, there is a wonderful app for your phone or tablet that might be useful in growing your spiritual life during these quiet days at home. There is an app called “Hallow” which is free and you can download it to your devices and it offers various types of reflections and prayers that are interactive. It is free and you have an option to upgrade if you would like. It might be the perfect way for you to boost your prayer life.
Another way that you can continue to prepare for the Paschal Mysteries and the Easter Season is to make a visit to our church during the days. The church building is open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 3 pm and Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed all day on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. This past Saturday, as always, the Sacrament of Reconciliation was available and it was nice to have a good number of people come for the Sacrament. (To be safe, the priest will sit in the front of the open church.) Perhaps going to Confession and receiving God’s forgiveness and grace this Lent is something that would be good for you.
I also want to use this note to give you an update on a few things. Firstly, we have received about $51,000 or 66% of our Parish goal of $78,000 for our Archdiocesan Annual Appeal. Thank you to those who have made contributions to the Appeal. Secondly, obviously, our offertory has been down quite a bit since there are no public Masses and collections, so I want to encourage those of you who are able during these very difficult financial times to please mail in your envelopes to the Parish office, or better yet, to use or sign up for Faith Direct, our online giving resource. Electronic giving is easy. By enrolling in online giving, you will simplify your monthly budgeting and provide St. Cassian Parish with consistent, reliable support. Please visit www.faithdirect.net and use church code NJ514. In any case, I simply ask parishioners to give whatever they can during this crisis
Finally, while there are several ways to view online streaming Masses already (the Cardinal’s Mass on Youtube, while Relevant Radio and EWTN all stream), St. Cassian Parishioners have requested that we stream a Mass on Sundays. Therefore, we are going Facebook Livestream Mass on Sunday at 9:00 am and if you would like to view it, please go to our Parish Facebook page, “St. Cassian Catholic Church.”
Please know that I am praying for the entire Parish, especially that you will all remain safe and that this “pause” in our routines will both end soon as well as produce great fruit.
Fr. Marc A. Vicari,
In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, our Holy Father will give an extraordinary blessing “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) this FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2020, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time (6:00 p.m. Rome time). All the faithful and other Christians in our local Church and beyond are invited to participate in the special prayer with Pope Francis, which will be broadcast by Mondovision and live-streamed on the Vatican News website at www.vaticannews.va. The Holy Father will grant to all participants in the livestream a Plenary Indulgence before imparting the Urbi et Orbi Blessing.
As Pope Francis has said, “To the pandemic of the virus we want to respond with the universality of prayer, compassion and tenderness. Let us stay united. Let us make those who are alone and tested feel our closeness.”
FATHER VICARI’S RESPONSE TO THE ABUSE CRISIS IN THE CHURCH
As many of you know, these past few weeks have been a difficult time for the Catholic Church, especially in the United States and in our Archdiocese.
Just in the last few weeks we have heard of credible allegations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick that led to his resignation as a cardinal. Then, just last week we heard about a grand jury report from Pennsylvania that named hundreds of priests with allegations against them in the state of Pennsylvania alone. Many of the allegations are extremely troubling, to say the least.
Like many of you who have expressed your feelings during these dark days, I, too, am hurt, embarrassed, scandalized, and angered by what has been revealed. I find it unfathomable that priests entrusted to the pastoral care of their parishioners, including children, would commit such heinous acts. I have always stated that there is absolutely no place in the church for those who take advantage of the vulnerable.
At the same time, I am disappointed by some of our leadership, mandated to oversee our dioceses, who did not make wise or pastoral decisions in dealing with these problems over the years. And now, many of these accusations which are decades-old, are just coming to light.
Most of all, however, I am saddened that children have been the victims of such awful abuse and have to live with the scars and wounds caused by the sins of so many of our clergy. No child or adult should have to suffer like that.
This is not the Church that Christ instituted. This is not how the Kingdom of God is built. This is not what those priests were called to do in their vocations. This is not the Catholic Church as you or I should have to know it.
While we are all angered and saddened and disappointed here at St. Cassian Church, we will not be discouraged or slow down our work of building the Kingdom of God. We will continue the good things that we do, recognizing that there is evil in the world, but it will not stop our mission of growing in holiness, celebrating the sacraments and glorifying God through Jesus Christ, I can promise you that.
Please pray for healing in our church, particularly for those who have been hurt and continue to suffer.
In Christ, Fr. Marc A. Vicari, Pastor