The flowers and plants that will decorate our church at Easter are a sign of our joy in the Resurrection of Christ and our hope in the resurrection of those who have gone before us.
We invite you to remember deceased members of your family and friends with a donation for our Easter decorations.
Please fill out this form and return it with your offering to the reception desk.
The names of those received by Friday, April 3 will be included in the Easter bulletin of April 12.
Please print clearly.
In Memory of: _______________________________________
Email (phone no. if no email) _______________________________________
Donation: ___$20 ___$50 ___$100. Other:_______
The following is from the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis following the recent synod on the Amazon. These are the Holy Father’s Four Dreams for the Amazon region.
• I dream of an Amazon region that fights for the rights of the poor, the original peoples and the least of our brothers and sisters, where their voices can be heard and their dignity advanced.
• I dream of an Amazon region that can preserve its distinctive cultural riches, where the beauty of our humanity shines forth in so many varied ways.
• I dream of an Amazon region that can jealously preserve its overwhelming natural beauty and the superabundant life teeming in its rivers and forests.
• I dream of Christian communities capable of generous commitment, incarnate in the Amazon region, and giving the church new faces with Amazonian features.
On this Third Sunday of Lent we hear about Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan. It is odd that he would meet this woman at the well at noon because the typical time to draw water was in the morning. Jesus acts in his usual manner by engaging the woman in conversation. She is shocked that he is talking to her– a woman, a Samaritan, and in public. Jesus discovers much about her and her broken life. The conversation seems to heal her and she ends up going back to town telling the people that she may have found “the Christ.” Jesus certainly shows us the way to deal with others – non-judgmental and accepting.
We have begun certain measures to protect ourselves from the spread of the coronavirus. While they may disturb our usual pattern of life in church, they are necessary. There is no holy water in the fonts. No handshake at the sign of peace. The Precious Blood is not given. Some are disturbed by taking Communion in the hand. This was the way that Christians received Communion for centuries. When Communion is given on the tongue, frequently it is difficult to put the Host on a person’s tongue and the minister ends up with saliva on the fingers which then is given to the next person when they receive Communion. We are called to protect ourselves and others. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.
-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.
Almost 30 years ago, John Paul II reminded us just what is at stake. Each person “is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God. The loftiness of this supernatural vocation reveals the greatness and the inestimable value of human life.”
We are all called to that great life, to the communion of heaven where “a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people and tongue [stand] before the throne and before the Lamb.” That Lamb, showed us that the very life of God is love, and love requires something of each of us. We pray that the reader will join us in striving for the end of racism in all its forms, that we may walk together humbly with God and with all of our brothers and sisters in a renewed unity.
For there is no place for racism in the hearts of any person; it is the perversion of the Lord’s will for men and women, all of whom were made in God’s image and likeness.
(to be continued)
The scene described in today’s Gospel is amazing. Not only is Jesus transfigured before Peter, James and John, but Moses and Elijah appear alongside Jesus. It is no wonder that they want to stay on the mountain. Ordinary, daily life is not that captivating, but sometimes you need moments such as these to carry you through days that might be challenging. The problem is that we don’t have that mountain and will probably never have an experience such as the one described; however, when we slow down and when we focus on God’s presence in our world, we may have something similar. Meditation and contemplation are two ways that any Christian can have a deeper experience of God. This may not be easy, but Lent presents the opportunity for us to be “transfigured.”
In response to the Coronavirus, please see the advice posted online and in the bulletin for steps we are taking at St. Francis of Assisi to help prevent the spread of this virus. We are concerned by what we hear and read, so we need to take some steps locally. We will try these practices for the time being and then evaluate the need to continue them. We ask for your cooperation in observing them. If you are sick, stay home – it is not a sin. Coming to Mass and spreading your illness is a sin. We don’t know what is going to happen here in the United States, but we must be cautious.
-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.
This past February 7-9, 2020, marked the 2nd Annual Retreat for Volunteers and Ministers at St. Francis of Assisi. Thirty-three members of our parish, including the RCIA team, hospitality ministers, lectors, eucharistic ministers, and other St. Francis volunteers met at the Loyola Jesuit Center in Morristown, N.J. for a weekend of prayer and community. Our pastor, Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M., and Joseph Nuzzi, Director of Evangelization, led the event, along with Meredith Augustin, Director of Music Ministries, and Ed Trochimczuk, Director of Volunteer Ministry.
The program was structured around the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours with Night Prayer on Friday, Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer on Saturday, and Morning Prayer and Mass on Sunday. Inspired by St. Augustine’s writings, the weekend’s theme of “Restless Hearts” asked those in attendance to reflect on the ways we can strengthen our faith in a materialistic world. Participants shared in small groups how their faith informs their lives and guides their relationships. Special thanks to volunteer Jennifer Wiler, who helped organize the event, and to all those who attended.
FAQ’s About Finances at St. Francis of Assisi
Q: I thought the Archdiocese of New York gives the parish money. How much do we receive from the Archdiocese?
A: We receive no money from the Archdiocese. It’s the other way around: as a parish of the Archdiocese we are required to support archdiocesan endeavors. We pay to support the regular functioning of the Archdiocese and our Catholic schools.
Q: I thought this is a rich parish because the church is always so beautifully maintained. Doesn’t St. Francis have a lot of money?
A: We are rich in faith, love and good people, but we are not financially rich. St. Francis struggles each year to meet our budget. We survive because of people financially supporting the church on a regular basis.
Q: Has online giving affected our income?
A: Absolutely! Online giving is the best way to make your contribu- tions, and our online givers are our best supporters. The average in-pew donation per week is only $4.00, while the average per- week donation online is about $25.00.
Q: I give to the St. Francis Breadline – doesn’t that support the Church too?
A: No. Breadline donations only support the Breadline, not the Church. Giving to the Breadline is great, but we need people to contribute to the Church.
Q: I put a dollar in the basket each week. Isn’t that enough?
A: If that is all you can afford, of course it is enough! But we would not be able to keep this Church open if everyone gave just a dollar each week. If you are earning a decent salary in New York, actually, a dollar is not enough. The Bible calls us to a 10% tithe. We are asking a 2.5% tithe because we know that it is expensive to live in New York. Our giving should be a sacrificial support of the Church’s mission, not a symbolic offering of just one dollar.
Q: Why does the church need money?
A: Like everyone else, we have expenses to make the work we do here happen. Just our monthly electric bill is about $8,000 to $10,000! We have bills to keep the church heated and clean and well maintained. The music at Mass costs money. We have to pay for security services because we are open every day, all day. We also have staff that we must pay to keep our Church running as well as all the ministries and services we provide.
Q: How much does St. Francis need from each person to meet our budget?
A: About 2,500 people attend Mass at St. Francis each week. If cover our budget. In other words, if we all commit to contributing $100 per month, our Parish would be okay. Our membership in the church is worth at least that much.
We need everyone to do their part to keep St. Francis on firm financial ground. The best way to use this is to make your offering using our online giving system. We want to thank everyone who supports the Church of St. Francis throughout the year. Our income comes only from our members and visitors who financially support our community.
The Lenten season is a fresh invitation to explore again who God is, who we are, and what it means to be human. We begin by hearing the tragic story of the first humans in the book of Genesis. As Paul describes in Romans, our struggles started when our ancestors broke the bond of unity with God, sought self-sufficiency, and grew apart from their true purpose and identity. In Matthew’s Gospel, we see how Jesus resists the lure of living outside of unity with God. Jesus rejects false promises of possessions, power, and status. Instead, he puts his life in his Father’s hands. As our model for living as a fully human person, Jesus demonstrates that we are created to live in relationship with and trust in God, and in harmony with and for all of creation.
Being like God
The story of Adam and Eve, in Genesis 2 and 3, considers the origins of the trials and sufferings that we experience in human life. Part of the problem, the story suggests, is the human effort to be like God. Humans are therefore forbidden to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The story is quite a contrast from Genesis 1, which proclaims that we are made in the image and likeness of God, and called to seek to become more like God. This creates a tension that points to a challenge in our life of faith: we are created both to embody God by developing our God-given human capacities, and also to live in radical trust and dependence on God. We are called to embrace and to live into this tension.
When the people of Israel were freed from Egypt, they were declared to be God’s chosen and beloved people. They wandered in the desert for forty years, often with great resistance, as God prepared them to enter the Promised Land.
Jesus’ forty days in the desert echoes their story, and offer a contrast. At his baptism, just before being led into the desert by the Spirit, Jesus was declared by a voice from the heavens to be God’s “beloved Son.” So, twice in today’s passage, he is lured with the words“If you are the Son of God . . .” The devil tempts Jesus to redefine his sonship of God on his own terms, instead of following his Father. Israel had failed to understand its identity as God’s people, but Jesus demonstrates how to live as God’s Beloved.
These contrasting stories of Israel and of Jesus present us with a challenge. We are regularly tempted to redefine our identity as Christians on our own terms, to make faith comfortable and non- threatening. This Lenten season can re-mind us to allow God to transform our minds and hearts on God’s terms.
© J. S. Paluch Co., Inc.
Our Commitment to Life
The injustice and harm racism causes are an attack on human life. The church in the United States has spoken out consistently and forcefully, against abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia, the death penalty, and other forms of violence that threaten human life. It is not a secret that these attacks on human life have severely affected people of color, who are disproportionally affected by poverty, targeted for abortion, have less access to healthcare, have the greatest numbers on death row, and are most likely to feel pressure to end their lives when facing serious illness. As bishops, we unequivocally state that racism is a life issue. Accordingly, we will not cease to speak forcefully against and work toward ending racism. Racism directly places brother and sister against each other, violating the dignity inherent on each person. The Apostle James commands the Christian: “show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.”
(to be continued)
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