Church of the Assumption - Galloway, NJ


A Time of Celebration

In the second reading this Sunday St. James tells us that the “wisdom from above is…full of mercy and good fruits.” God’s wisdom was truly present last Friday evening when we held our liturgical celebrations for our new parish.  We began with a remembrance service at each Church, recalling the memories of our former parishes. At the closing of the service we processed out of the Church, with members of our community carrying 4 symbols that represented the experiences of faith that we shared over the years.

 

These symbols (the sacramental record books, the Holy Oils, holy water, and a statue of each patron: St. Nicholas in EHC and the Assumption in Galloway) were brought to the “seat” of our new parish where they were placed at the foot of the altar – the Holy Oils and the Holy water being blended as a sign of the integration of two former communities into one.   The merger was several years in coming about but God graced us with His mercy that evening and the good fruits were already witnessed in the sentiments of those who were able to participate in Friday’s services, a small but faithful remnant. The celebration of the Eucharist, with elements of English and Spanish deeply reflected the ‘communion’ of our new parish.

 

It was a time to give thanks to God for all His blessings. The only mishap was at the conclusion when, after I gave a general thank you to all people involved in the parish ministries and committees, I singled out certain groups involved in the liturgy and I forgot several people – including Fr. John! But he is a good man and a great priest and gave me forgiveness.

 

Then on Sunday we joined in the secular celebration of our new parish. The family-style, pot luck event was a huge success experienced by well over 500 people, with some estimates of closer to 700! The advertized promise of fun for the whole family, with games, music and food was fulfilled to unexpected levels. By the way, Fr. John’s famous (and delicious) meatballs and the grilled chicken I prepared (lemon-lime marinated with artichokes hearts and roasted peppers in a Sambuca butter sauce) ended in a tie!  The Sunday celebration was clearly a sign of hope. The Lord blessed us with a beautiful day, parishioners came to enjoy - many also displayed their culinary skills in the savory, succulent and sweet treats they brought, representatives of our ministries were present, choirs sang, the Boy Scouts assisted the numerous other volunteers who set-up, served and cleaned up.  And all of this coordinated by the dedicated Celebration Committee: Jerry Vekteris, Sue Decker, Ralph DeSimone, Joe Steiner, Maureen Wormann, Dorothy Lairdieson, Norman Turiano, Dan Bartolini, Marc Jourdan, June Grentz, Tom Grentz, MaryAnn Schussler, Mike Feeney, Bob Szamreta, Don Szwak, Ed Vizthum, Kathy Garcia, Rosemary Metzen and Claudia Saraceno. My personal thank you to the committee and everyone who participated in this historic event!  We continue to move forward with our Lady’s help. I ask that the energy and enthusiasm that has begun to be generated within our new community open your hearts and minds to seeing how we need to be involved!

 

The Lord wants to bless us, but very often we receive as we give away. The Comedy Night Social is this week – buy a ticket and come join us. The next Evangelization Committee movie night is in October – plan to be there. The bus trip to Washington is sold out.

 

Peace, Fr. Nick

 
The Price of Discipleship

We are challenged by Christ in this Sunday’s Gospel.  The scene is a familiar one. Jesus is walking with His apostles and disciples and through simple conversation He teaches them. First He allows them to express their thoughts and feelings by asking a question: Who do people, and you say that I am? Eventually, Peter formulates the correct answer – The Christ! A statement of true conviction.   Then Jesus shakes their faith with a revelation clearly outside of the box’. Yes, He is the Anointed One – the Messiah, and He will be killed and then raised to life. This is too much for Peter. Why would the Savior have to suffer? It makes no sense. They were hoping for a victor not a victim. So the pupil gives in to his own arrogance and chastises the teacher. Hasn’t pride gotten the best of all of us at some point in our lives? 

 

 

Then comes the challenge (and the lesson). Unless you deny yourself – empty yourself of your desires, ideas and judgments – you can’t be a follower. Discipleship begins with death. Taking up our cross and dying to ourselves is the only way to accept what Christ offers: eternal life. 

 

A NOTE OF THANKS

 

 

In the process of consolidating all the activities and ministries of parish life there were many challenges. One of which was the decision concerning the number of staff members needed to handle the administration of the new parish. In the end, through the diligent and conscientious efforts of the Core Team, a reduction from 9 to 7 total staff members was deemed necessary – though unfortunate.    The two workers who were not retained are Mary Skudalski and Debra Sprague. At this time, on behalf of the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, I wish to thank them for the years of employment and service that they shared with our community. I ask all parishioners to keep Mary and Debra in your prayers during this time of transition, that the Lord will bless them and give them comfort and strength.

Peace, Fr. Nick

 
Our Family Tree

On November 6, 1789 the Diocese of Baltimore was erected as the Catholic Diocese for the entire United States of America. In April of 1808 this Diocese was sub-divided and 4 other Dioceses were created: Boston, New York, Bardstown and Philadelphia (which included 7 counties in Southern New Jersey). Twenty years later  the first Catholic Church in South Jersey was founded: St. Mary of the Assumption in Pleasant Mills, which was then part of Galloway Township in Gloucester County.  In 1853 the territory of the State of New Jersey became its own Diocese, under the leadership of the Bishop of Newark. In 1858 the Catholic community in the new city of Egg Harbor developed and a mission Church (named St. Mary’s) was built to replace the Church in Pleasant Mills. On August 22, 1864, under the approval of the Bishop of Newark, Most Rev. James Roosevelt Bayley – nephew of St. Elizabeth Ann (Bayley) Seton, this mission became a parish with a new Church and school and the name was changed to St. Nicholas. In 1881 the Diocese of Trenton was

established which encompassed all of South Jersey. By 1925 Assumption Church began as a mission to St. Nicholas in Egg Harbor City. On December 9, 1937 the Diocese of Camden was erected and Bishop Eustace was named the first bishop. On May 15, 1952 Assumption Parish in Pomona was created.    On September 5, 2012 the parish of  Our Lady of Perpetual Help was established.

 

We give thanks to God for the gift of our Faith and that He has allowed us to share in the great work of building up His Church. At this historic time of our local experience of the universal Catholic Faith we move forward with hope that through the grace of the Holy Spirit, the promise of Christ to be with us always is being fulfilled. In the establishment of our new parish there are many people to thank. We thank Fr. Mike Matveenko and the Core Team Members: Susan Wolf, Patrick Einwechter, Jim Ferguson, Sandra Perna, Joe Steiner, Joe Laudisio, Kathleen Moreland and Dan Bartolini. We are grateful for all the priests, deacons and staff members of both former parishes for their contributions in this mission. Assisting in the entire process was the Diocesan Merger Committee headed up by Mr. Larry Farmer, all of whom helped me personally in finishing the task at hand. And gratitude is expressed to all parishioners who helped in varied ways but most especially by the prayers they continued to offer. And finally, through the intercession of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, we thank God and ask for the grace to accept this as a new journey of faith and labor of love to renew and strengthen our entire Church.

 

Peace, Fr. Nick

 
Mass Intentions

 Some of you may have a question about Mass intentions and the procedure for making an offering and receiving the Mass card. Since the Mass book will be held at the ‘seat of the parish’ (at the new parish office in Galloway) you can come in for a Mass intention/card anytime during business hours. For those who may not be able to get to the parish office easily you can call the parish office for a Mass intention. The intention will be recorded in the Mass book and a card will be written out. There will be three options to receive the Mass card. 

1.  You can pick the Mass card up at the parish office.

2.  For those in the Egg Harbor City area, you can pick the Mass card up the following day (Mon-Fri) in the back of St. Nicholas’ Church from 9 am -12 pm. There will be a designated place for this. Simply take the card with your name on it.

3.  You can have the card mailed to you.

As to the donation for the intention, if you call in to have a Mass offered you can bring the offering into the parish office when you come to pick-up the card; or you can place the offering in the Sunday collection basket (but  please write on the outside of a plain white envelop that it is an offering for a Mass intention and the date); or you can mail in your offering. 

As we move forward there are some changes that have to be made. We all need to work together to make the transition as smooth as possible. We will use the new procedures and evaluate them in the future. I thank you for your patience and cooperation.   

 

Peace, Fr. Nick

 
A Practicing Catholic

In the first reading this Sunday, Joshua - in challenging the leaders of Israel as to whether they will follow the true God or the false gods - affirms that his household will serve the LORD. The word ‘Lord’ is used in place of the proper name of God (in Hebrew Yahweh or Jehovah). For Joshua, God was a real eing, the great I AM, and there was a real relationship between the Lord and His people. From the covenant made on Sinai, Joshua knew that the Lord would provide for Israel as long as the Chosen People would follow the commands of God. Serving God would bring them more than their hearts desired.

 

 

 

Due to our sinful pride, we human beings do not like to serve. We prefer doing things our way and for us. Yet, if we make the claim of being a Christian then that means that we agree to follow Christ and His teachings; to become a servant in imitation of Christ who “did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” In the Catholic world we call this ‘practicing our faith.’

 

 

For some people, however, practicing their faith only means going to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. But Jesus didn’t serve just one hour a week. He gave his entire self to fulfill the Father’s plan to save us. Therefore being a ‘practicing’ Catholic requires following Christ in all aspects of our life. Every decision, action or word of ours MUST prove our service to the Lord: to Christ’s teachings as expressed in our Catholic dogmas, doctrines, morality, ethics and worship.  

 

Practicing our faith goes beyond Mass attendance and daily prayer, because our spiritual life is to be the foundation upon which our active life finds understanding, wisdom, guidance, strength and comfort. Practicing our Faith requires having a fundamental concern for the poor, the outcast and the immigrant. Practicing our Faith means fostering religious education; and not  just for our children but for our own growth in learning about Catholic teaching and in becoming familiar with Sacred Scripture. Practicing our Faith involves choosing to obey God’s laws [which are given through His word (the Bible) and by means of the authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church (the Magisterium)] in  all matters. Practicing the Faith means reflecting Christ to  everyone you meet – including ‘the person in the mirror.’

 

Do you practice your Faith? Do we comprehend that just as with the people of Israel, we will be blessed in what we do ONLY if we are living out our commitment to the Lord? How can we learn to move from contemplation to action when it comes to what we believe? What things can we do that will bring our faith to life? 

 

Well, borrowing from the old saying that, “charity begins at home,” I think that ‘home’ is the best place to begin. First, in our hearts - for home is where the heart is; then in our individual family home and finally in the parish family home. These are the ‘places’ where we can put our faith into  living action. If not, then our Faith will die. So, GET INVOLVED! JUST DO IT!   

With a humble disposition that recognizes Faith as a gift to be used according to the intentions of the giver, we can practice our Faith as we stand with Joshua and proclaim: “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD!”  

Peace, Fr. Nick

 
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