May 23, 2024

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Catholic schools and parish religious education programs across the Diocese are forming children to love God’s creation and respect the miracle of life. Kindergarten classes in St. Francis Cathedral School, Metuchen, were excited to see their chicks hatch in their Early Childhood Education Center, after keeping close eyes on the incubator and learning about their life cycle. See, also, our Respect Life poster contest winners on pgs. 24-25: The Beauty of Motherhood

THE To read more about the Eucharist and the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage see pgs. 6-7 INSIDE Eucharistic Revival 6 Our Faith 8 Perspectives 16 Movie Review 46 Diocesan Events 47 Deacon Ordination 9 Sixteen men were ordained to the diaconate, including one transitional deacon.
Lessons For Life
—Stephanie Monteleones photo

Celebrating May, Mary and the work of the Holy Spirit

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

May is such a wonderful month! The days are getting longer and warmer. I welcome this, especially for my morning walks. Flowers and lawns are renewed, adding beauty to our neighborhoods, too. We are getting ready for graduations of all kinds. Ordinations take place and so many of our children receive their first Holy Communion this month.

Of course, May is a month when we honor our Blessed Mother, so that adds a warmth and joy to the month, too. As I visit our parishes and schools, so many have had May crownings and I see the Blessed Mother placed in a prominent spot in the sanctuary with her crown! It is an opportunity for us to pray the Rosary more often and try to emulate more closely our Blessed Mother’s virtuous example for us. How blessed we are to have a dear, loving and intimate intercessor to watch over us. What would we do without having her to turn to so often?

During the month of May, my own prayer life is boosted through participation in Confirmations for our youth almost every evening during the week. It is such a joy to go around to different parishes each evening for Mass and to confirm and visit with our youth. I cannot fit them all in during this month since we have 90 parishes, so we usually start in March or so, and do some in the fall, too, but I think May is the most popular month requested. We have about 3500 8th or 9th graders confirmed each year! This is a powerful movement of the Holy Spirit.

How grateful I am to the many wonderful parish catechetical leaders and catechists in our religious education pro-

grams and Catholic schools who prepare our youth for this important sacrament which fully initiates them into our Church having already received Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. Thanks also to their parents, sponsors, and parish priests, deacons and religious who help and encourage them to prepare for this sacrament, too.

When they are confirmed, they are sent out to witness to Jesus in a world so in need of that witness. Of course, all of us are called to be witnesses. Jesus gave us the Sacrament of Confirmation to strengthen us to witness just as He did for the Apostles in that Upper Room in Jerusalem. We were all reminded of this when we celebrated Pentecost on May 19 this month. We each received the very same Spirit as the Apostles did at Pentecost who instructs us and reminds us of all that Jesus said and did.

The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and makes intercedes for us. What a gift from God, and how we need the help of the Holy Spirit to sustain us, to teach us, to lead us and even pray for us. Pentecost reminds us to stay in close contact with the Holy Spirit through our daily prayer, so He can lead us and teach us to make the right choices in life. Yes, the Holy Spirit protects us, too, even as He makes us bold in being a witness to Jesus.

Please join me in praying for the youth of our Diocese, especially those receiving the Holy Spirit at Confirmation this year. And prayerfully invite the Holy Spirit to fill you with His presence each day, too, a simple reminder and prayer as we begin the day, “Come Holy Spirit!”

The Holy Spirit will act in our lives and in our world if we open our hearts to Him more fully; we have been promised that. We just have to give Him permission.

Enjoy this beautiful spring season and longer, warmer days, and know that I will be praying for you, too, and all in our beautiful Diocese, that we may each help to renew the face of the earth though the witness we give to Jesus in our daily lives. Thank you, too, for praying for

me, which I appreciate and need. Know of my love and gratitude for you and God

Our Lady of China

Right, a mosaic of Our Lady of China is seen in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Our Lady of China, also known as Our Lady of Donglu, was made more popular during the Boxer Rebellion of 1899 to 1901. She helped protect Catholic Chinese who were fleeing persecution by the government who wanted to expel foreigners and Christians from the country. —OSV News photo/courtesy Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

The annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection, which takes place in the Diocese in December, is designated exclusively to support retired religious Sisters and Brothers of the United States.

In an April letter from the National Religious Retirement Office, Director John Knudsen expressed his thanks to Bishop James F. Checchio for the $211,701.53 donation in support of the 2023 Retirement Fund for Religious collection.

Knudsen wrote, “Please extend our heartfelt to your parishioners for their ongoing support of senior religious and their communities. Since the collection was launched, contributions from your Diocese have totaled $8,545,840.48.”

Gifts to the collection enable the national office to distribute financial and

educational assistance that help religious communities provide for older members while continuing to serve the People of God, wrote Knudsen, noting that proceeds offer much-needed support for medications, nursing care, and other dayto-day necessities. They also underwrite programming and education that promote long-term retirement planning, and focus on helping religious communities reduce costs, enhance eldercare, and identify additional sources of income.

“Joined with the 30,000 elderly sisters, brother and religious order priests who benefit from the Retirement Fund for Religious, I offer a daily prayer of thanksgiving for all whose love and sacrifice make the work of our office possible. May God bless you and your parishioners,” wrote Knudsen.

How to report abuse

If you were sexually abused by a member of the clergy or anyone representing the Catholic Church, or you know of someone who was, you are encouraged to report that abuse to local law enforcement, the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency at 1-877-NJ ABUSE (652-2873) or 1-800-835-5510 (TTY/TDD for the deaf), and also the Diocesan Response Officer at (908) 930-4558 (24 hours/7 days a week).

MAY 23, 2024 THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT UP FRONT 2 Diocesan support for Retirement Fund for Religious applauded by national office Serving the Catholic community in Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren Counties THE OFFICIAL NEWSPAPER OF THE DIOCESE OF METUCHEN atholic Spirit C THE The Catholic Spirit P.O. Box 191 Metuchen, NJ 08840 PHONE: (732) 529-7934 • FAX: (732) 562-0969 PUBLISHER Bishop James F. Checchio ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Adam J. Carlisle EDITOR-IN-CHIEF ADVISOR Mary Morrell Joanne Ward 732-529-7935 BUSINESS MANAGER GRAPHIC DESIGNER Mary Gregory • (732) 529-7934 Peter Nguyen • (732) 529-7956 e-Mail: The acceptance of advertising by The Catholic Spirit for print or online publication, does not constitute an endorsement of any product or service. The Catholic Spirit reserves the right to reject any advertising it considers objectionable. The Catholic Spirit is a member of the Catholic Press Association and the New Jersey Catholic Advertising Network The Catholic Spirit (U.S.P.S.#14-804) is published monthly by the Roman Catholic Church, Diocese of Metuchen, 146 Metlars Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854. Subscription price is $30 per year. Periodicals postage paid at Bellmawr, NJ and additional mailing office. POSTMASTER: Send change of address notice to The Catholic Spirit, 146 Metlars Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854.

Diocese’s Chinese Catholics represented at Asian, Pacific Island Catholics Marian Pilgrimage

Hosted by the Asian and Pacific Catholic Network in collaboration with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the 21st Annual Asian and Pacific Island Catholics Marian Pilgrimage was held May 4 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington D.C.

A group of Chinese Catholics and friends from both the Metuchen Diocese and the Newark Archdiocese joined the pilgrimage.

An opening procession, including a welcoming drum by St. Andrew Kim Korean Church of Maryland and led by the Knights of Columbus, saw more than 22 various groups from different Asian countries with their statues and portraits of Mary, flower arches and banners process to the front altar.

“A Call to Prayer” followed, featuring sacred songs and movements performed by three different cultural groups wearing their own traditional dresses. – Our Lady of Vietnam Catholic Church of Maryland, the Chinese Catholic community from New Jersey, and the Montagnard Catholic Community from North Carolina.

An Indonesian group crowned a statue of Mary. Before the pilgrimage Mass, for which Cardinal Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States served as principal celebrant, the joyful mysteries of the Rosary were led by five different languages from different Asian communities.

and Pacific Island Catholic Marian

This was the second year that the Chinese faithful group performed the “Call to Prayer” at the annual API Marian pilgrimage. Felician Sister Dong Hong Marie Zhang, liaison to the Chinese Community of Newark Archdiocese, who organized this event for the New Jersey Chinese group said “the worship dance is not only the way to praise and thank God, but also to share our culture with others. Furthermore, it could be a

vehicle to evangelize and reach out to others.” According to her, their dance group welcomes women of all faiths including Catholics, Protestants and those who seek God.

“We deeply appreciate those who offered support for us. Our heart-felt thanks to pastor Father David V. Skoblow, Our Lady of Mount Virgin Church, Piscataway; Deacon Rick Fortune and Father Timothy A. Christy, rector, of

the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, Metuchen, for offering their church basements for our final rehearsals. We also give our special thanks to Sherry Chen, our choreographer and dance teacher,” said Sister Dong Hong Marie.

This article was contributed by Felician Sister Dong Hong Marie Zhang, liaison to the Chinese Community of the Newark Archdiocese.

The Gospel of John Club: A beacon of faith and community at St. Joe’s

In the rush of daily life, where constant deadlines and schedules overwhelm, many feel lost, unsure of where to turn or what to believe. Finding a sense of calm and direction can seem like an impossible task. However, John Risely ‘24, president of the Gospel of John Club, presents a calm assurance on a weekly basis that, “Everything is going to be okay.”

Members of the Gospel of John Club gather with Bishop James F.

John Risley ‘24, president of the Gospel of John Club, offers a reflection while Bishop Checchio listens. Risley will be attending the University of Notre Dame next year. —Courtesy photos

Founded during the 2022-2023 school year by Robert Ilcyn ‘23 and Jeremiah Fairman ‘23, the Gospel of John Club started as a way to learn more about the Bible. This year, Risley has taken the group to a new level by sharing more with his peers, hoping to ignite a spark of hope and faith within the Saint Joe’s community.

“When I finally started to embrace my faith, I began to find the answers to those questions,” Risley said. “Who am I? Why am I here? This gave me a new insight and I started to discover what the Bible really means and what it has to offer. It was natural for me to become the leader this year.”

During one of the weekly meetings, Bishop James F. Checchio visited the

Saint Joe’s campus to see what the Gospel of John Club is all about.

“It’s so beautiful to see, all you young men coming here on your lunch break, to study the words of Saint John and read Scripture,” Bishop Checchio said.

Under Risley’s newfound leadership, students also meet to encounter God’s love and explore their faith. “God’s love is real, it exists,” Risley said. “You just have to say ‘yes’.”

More than just a place to discuss religious teachings, the Gospel of John Club is about forging a personal connection with Jesus and supporting one another on the journey of faith.

“It’s a great opportunity to begin a relationship with God, not just a transactional relationship with the Church,” Risley said. It’s this emphasis on relationship and community that sets this club apart.

For Jack Cummings ‘27, an avid member, the club offers both spiritual guidance and a sense of belonging.

“It’s the best part of my day,” he said. “It helps me realize that every single part of the Bible carries value and meaning.”

Checchio, front row center, and campus chaplain Father Thomas Lanza, during the Bishop’s recent visit. Chinese Catholics from New Jersey, representing the Archdiocese of Newark and the Diocese of Metuchen, performed a “Call to Prayer” May 4 in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception during the 21st Asian Pilgrimage. —Courtesy photo
Continued on page 38

The rich diversity of the Diocese of Metuchen was on full display at the Multicultural Mass and Fair which was held April 20 in the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, Metuchen. Organized by the Office of Multicultural Ministries, the event showcased a wide array of food, native tongues and colorful costumes. In keeping with this time of National Eucharistic Revival, the theme for the day was “Together as One in the Eucharist.”

The Mass, which was celebrated by Bishop James F. Checchio, began with a procession of representatives from eleven different ethnic groups carrying their parochial banners or flags and dressed in their native garb. After the opening prayer, members of the Kenyan Community processed to the altar to present the Lectionary while rejoicing to God by singing and dancing, which is their custom. The first reading was proclaimed in Spanish and the petitions were read in various languages, including Vietnamese, Tagalog, Swahili, Portuguese, Polish and Brazilian.

In his homily, reflecting on the

multicultural mass and Fair

Gospel reading (Jn 6:60-69), Bishop Checchio spoke about how the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of our faith, “unites us as Jesus intended it to, from all our different backgrounds, places and nationalities.” He referred to the Eucharist as “our home away from home,” where ever our lives take us. He concluded by urging the assembly of believers to never doubt the “fruits of your devotion to the Eucharist.”

Sister Miriam Perez, diocesan coordinator of the Office of Multicultural Ministries, thanked everyone for their presence, saying, “God calls us together to be one in the Eucharist and in gathering, we make a beautiful work of art, a mosaic! One in which one piece is as important as the other and when we give totally of ourselves, we build up the Church of Metuchen and we build up the Kingdom of God.”

After the Mass, several hundred people gathered downstairs in the Community Room for fellowship. Each ethnic apostolate prepared a display of cultural artifacts along with samples of their traditional food. The smells of dumplings,

Members of the Polish communities carry their flag (1) in the entrance procession, along with members of the Korean (2) and Kenyan communities (4), adding to the rich display of diversity that marked the April 20 Multicultural Mass and Fair. Bishop James F. Checchio (3) spoke of the Eucharist, which “unites us as Jesus intended it to, from all our different backgrounds.”

pierogis filled the hall. Following the food tastings, a program of ethnic performances was held which could be likened to a musical journey around the world.

• A group from the Vietnamese Apostolate began the program with a colorful “spring flowers” dance.

• Two Indian girls performed Bharatanatyam which is an ancient dance from South India featuring intricate footwork and expressive hand gestures.

• A group of women from the Filipino Apostolate performed subli which is a religious folk dance and is considered a Catholic devotional “prayer” honoring the Holy Cross of Alitagtag.

• Adults and children from the Portuguese Apostolate danced traditional folk dances accompanied by accordions, castanets, drums and foot stomping.

• Students representing Poland per-

Members of the Indonesian community (5) perform “We are all Family in Christ,” in their native tongue.

The Vietnamese (6) and the Portuguese (7) communities gather for group shots with Bishop Checchio.

—Gerald Wutkowski Jr. photos

• The Kenyans sang a Catholic song called Nimeonja a pendo lako.

• Members the Korean Apostolate danced with drums to the Arirang folk song.

• Women from the Chinese Apostolate performed an elegant dance to Above All Else.

• A trio from the Hispanic Community of Costa Rica wrapped up the program by dancing to the folk song, El Gamonal.

The Multicultural Mass and Fair was a joyous event. The day demonstrated that the Diocese of Metuchen is indeed one community of faith with many faces, languages, heritages and experiences. It was an invitation to each ethnic group to share their stories, gifts and cultures with each other. As the hymn goes, “We are many parts, we are all one body, and the gifts we have we are given to share!”

To learn more about the multicultural ministries in the Diocese of Metuchen,

esan Secretary for the Secretariat for

1 2 3 4

Faith ‘with many faces, languages, heritages’

Cultural dances were performed by women from the Chinese Apostolate (8) and girls from the Indian community (9). Members of the Costa Rican community (10) dance to the folk song “El Gamonal” and women from the Filipino community (11) perform a religious folk dance considered as a devotional prayer.

THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT MAY 23, 2024 5 SPECIAL FEATURE celebrates commun ity
8 9 5 6 7 10 11


Eucharist is the greatest manifestation of God’s love for humanity

I cannot remember how many times I have heard people saying they do not go to Mass anymore because it is always the same thing. They walk through those doors of the church, and they feel like they can predict every single move. The priest’s gestures, the words he says, how many times they must kneel and get up. It has all become so familiar that they have lost that sense of holiness. Therefore, that feeling of being in the presence of something greater than themselves is not there any longer. For them, it has become nothing more than a routine, and they are just not getting anything out of it anymore.

But I must ask, is the Mass really just a routine? The answer is a resounding “No.” First, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has a structure, a pattern that it follows. It seems the same, yet the reality is far from being that. Just by taking a closer look at the Roman Missal, which is the book that guides the celebration of the Mass, one will encounter that every Mass is the same, and not the same all at once. It is like a beautiful paradox.

It is the same because we were encountering the mystery of Christ Jesus’ presence every single time we go to Mass. But the words, apart from the ones used in the institution, are not always the same. Take the Eucharistic Prayers, each with its own unique wording and intention, yet they all follow the same basic structure. No matter what words are spoken during the Mass, whether it is Eucharistic Prayer I or IV or somewhere in between, we are encountering the real, living presence of Christ. Pope Benedict XVI said it

best in Sacramentum Caritatis when he called the Eucharist a priceless treasure. Just by celebrating it, just by kneeling in prayer before it, we are tapping into the very source of all grace.

In fact, the Eucharist is the greatest manifestation of God’s love for all of humanity. Jesus says, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15: 13). This is exactly what Jesus Christ does for each one of us at Mass. Christ becomes the sacrificial Lamb whose effectiveness to redeem humankind has an infinite capacity for forgiveness. This same sacrificial and redemptive dimension of the Eucharist is expressed in the words of Jesus over the bread at the Last Supper. The writings of Luke and

Paul make known that Jesus stated that the bread he was holding on his hands was no longer bread, but his own “body, … given for you” (Lk 22:19; 1Cor11: 24).

If one sees closely this manifestation of love known throughout history, one may realize that the holy sacrifice of the Mass is much more than a routine. It is an intimate, life-changing encounter with the living presence of Christ. It is a sign of unity, a bond of love, and a paschal banquet to anyone who receives it because he or she receives Christ Himself. Every time we go and receive the Eucharist, we are diving into the depths of the paschal mystery. We are experiencing the very heart of Christ’s Death and Resurrection. As St. Paul so beautifully put it, “For as

An image of Christ and a monstrance during the first Life Fest at the Entertainment & Sports Arena in Washington on Jan. 20, 2023. —OSV News Photo/Jeffrey Bruno, Knights of Columbus

often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor 11:26).

Ultimately, I invite you to approach the Eucharist with new eyes and a renewed heart. It is the source and summit of our Christian life, and that is not something to take lightly. So, the next time someone, or you yourself, tries to tell you that the Mass is just a boring routine, you can look them in the eye and tell them the truth. It is a transformative encounter with the real presence of Christ and his boundless love for us, and that is something worth showing up for, every single time.

Father Fredy Triana Beltran serves as parochial vicar in Immaculate Conception Parish, Spotswood.

Priests have worldwide reach in serving as national Eucharistic preachers

INDIANAPOLIS (OSV News) – Father Jonathan Meyer and Dominican Father Patrick Hyde have experienced great joy in speaking to people across the country about the Eucharist. Nearly two years ago, the two priests who serve in the Indianapolis Archdiocese were selected by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as two of more than 50 national Eucharistic preachers in support of the threeyear National Eucharistic Revival.

For Father Meyer, this has been “a powerful experience and a humbling one.” “I’m being asked to speak about the greatest thing that we have, which is Jesus himself,” he said. “This revival is about a person. It’s about us knowing

Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I have the honor to go out and introduce people to know Jesus and to enter into a deeper relationship with him.” I

It has been “eye-opening” to him that a large number of Catholics do not believe that Christ is present in the Eucharist. That’s a reason he has preached many times on the Mass as a re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary and how Catholics can incorporate that into their daily life of faith.

Father Hyde said that the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis July 17-21 will dramatically highlight the importance of Christ’s gift of himself in the Eucharist to the life of the Church.

Dominican Father Patrick Hyde, pastor of St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington, Ind., speaks about the Eucharist on March 16, 2023, during a Eucharistic evening of reflection at Holy Family Church in New Albany, Ind. As a national Eucharistic preacher commissioned in 2022 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Father Hyde has spoken about the Eucharist across the country and in many parishes in the Indianapolis Archdiocese. —OSV News photo/Sean Gallagher, The Criterion

National Eucharistic Pilgrimage pilgrims walk among American saints on Eastern route

By boats, over bridges and along byways, pilgrims on the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage’s eastern route will accompany the Eucharist to many sites associated with America’s saints as they make their way across eight states and the District of Columbia.

Beginning in New Haven, Connecticut, May 18, the day before Pentecost, the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Route is one of four National Pilgrimage Routes that will converge in Indianapolis ahead of the July 17-21 National Eucharistic Congress. The pilgrimage and the congress are part of the National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year initiative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that launched in 2022.

The roughly 1,000-mile route will be traveled by six perpetual pilgrims accompanied by Father Roger Landry, a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, who serves as the Catholic chaplain at Columbia University in New York. While Catholics may join the pilgrims for legs of their journey, they are especially encouraged to join the route’s public events, which include Masses, allnight adoration, a boat-based procession, service projects, testimonies, socializing and meals with regional flair. The route is named for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American-born saint, and includes stops at places she served in New York and Maryland.

The following is a list of selected highlights from the pilgrimage’s Eastern route. Find information for the full Seton Route at

Blessed Michael McGivney Parish, New Haven, Connecticut

The pilgrimage begins May 18 with a solemn, extended vigil Mass for Pentecost followed by all-night Eucharistic adoration at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, where Blessed Michael McGivney was ministering when he founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882. The parish church now houses his tomb. The pilgrims process May 19 to the nearby parish of St. Joseph for Mass before traveling by boat to Bridgeport.

St. Frances Cabrini Shrine, New York

After journeying through the Bridgeport Diocese, the pilgrims will spend time in the Archdiocese of New York, where they’ll stop May 25 at the St. Frances Cabrini Shrine in Manhattan to venerate the saint, who left Italy with six of her religious community’s sisters in 1889 to serve Italian immigrants in the New York slums. (Her life is the subject

of the recently released film “Cabrini.”)

That night, New York Auxiliary Bishop Gerardo J. Colacicco and the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne – whose Massachusetts-born founder, Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, was declared venerable in March – will host adoration at St. Vincent Ferrer Church. While still in the city, the pilgrimage will process across the Brooklyn Bridge into the Diocese of Brooklyn May 26, and the following day take the Dorothy Day Ferry – named for the Catholic Worker Movement co-founder and Servant of God – to the Statue of Liberty State Park for Eucharistic adoration.

National Shrine of St. John Neumann, Philadelphia

The pilgrimage continues through New Jersey’s dioceses of Metuchen and Trenton and into Pennsylvania. On June 1, the pilgrimage will be in Philadelphia for morning Mass at the National Shrine of St. John Neumann, who served as bishop of Philadelphia from 1852-1860 and was a champion of the Catholic parochial school system in the U.S. That evening, the shrine will host a “Eucharistic encounter” and open mic night for young adults. The following day, the pilgrims will venerate another Philadelphia saint, St. Katharine Drexel, who is entombed at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul.

National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Emmitsburg, Maryland

From the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the pilgrimage travels through the Diocese of Harrisburg into the Archdiocese of Baltimore, where the pilgrims will spend time at the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton June 6. Born in 1774, their route’s namesake was a wife, mother of five, teacher, Catholic convert and eventual founder of the first women’s religious community established in the U.S. She moved from New York to Emmitsburg in 1809 after her husband died

St. Frances Xavier

Cabrini is depicted in a stained-glass window at the saint’s shrine chapel in the Washington Heights section of New York City.

—OSV News photo/ Gregory A. Shemitz

while they were in Italy, which also is where she encountered Catholicism. The following day, the pilgrims will attend Mass and participate in a Eucharistic procession around the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Baltimore’s co-cathedral and the first cathedral in the United States.

Ohio River Sternwheeler procession

From Baltimore, the pilgrimage will continue into the Archdiocese of Washington with Mass June 8 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception followed by a procession with stops at the many Catholic sites around the shrine and The Catholic University of America campus. It then heads northwest through western Maryland; the dioceses of Altoona-Johnstown, Greensburg and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania; Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia; and Steubenville, Ohio, where the pilgrims will join adoration events at a Franciscan University of Steubenville Conference. On June 23, Bishop Mark E. Brennan of Wheeling-Charleston and Bishop Paul J. Bradley, apostolic administrator of Steubenville, will lead a “boater-cade” Eucharistic procession down the Ohio River aboard a sternwheeler, blessing pilgrims on shore at four sites.

Downtown Cincinnati

The pilgrimage continues through the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, with a July 6 Mass celebrated by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr at Cincinnati’s Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains. The Mass is followed by a Eucharistic procession through downtown and a Eucharistic festival at the city’s Fountain Square. The Seton Route enters the Archdiocese of Indianapolis July 8 with several events in Indianapolis ahead of the National Eucharistic Congress.

Maria Wiering is senior writer for OSV News.



REASON includes the ability to THINK logically and ARGUE persuasively.

Thus, REASON concludes That MIRACLES Are not real And can not be true

Hence, many believe that The use of REASON Rules out MIRACLES

However, LEWIS1 believes a MIRACLE To be the interference with NATURE By a SUPERNATURAL Power.

And, HISTORY asserts The TRUTH of certain Events can be discovered by Investigation of the FACTS NOT by adherence to MYTH

But what about MYTH? STRAUSS2 believes that MYTH is that which expresses RELIGIOUS Truth.

The SCIENTIFIC PROCESS Does not encompass MYTH But also posits that because of The world of EINSTEINIAN physics The universe has opened up to all POSSIBILITIES.


REGARDLESS of the Many Thoughts, Many Suggestions, Many Rejections, Many Possibilities

STILL, my heart leaps at the REALITY Of the RESURRECTION and the TRANSUBSTANTIATED EUCHARIST! My mind DOES NOT need to fathom The WHY or HOW of these

No matter how ridiculous It may seem to many, I believe the RESURRECTION And TRANSUBSTANTIATED EUCHARIST To be as REAL as anything That I can see, hear, touch, taste, or smell!

1 C. S. Lewis, 20th century author 2 Leo Strauss, Jewish philosopher


Written March by Sarah Colucci, St. Joseph Parish, Hillsborough inspired by the Eucharistic Revival and a comment that the transubstantiated Eucharist is not scientifically verifiable.
‘Give us this day our daily bread’ is a prayer we can answer

Article 186 - Catechism of the Catholic Church Series

Paragraphs 2828-2837

We’ve all heard the expression that “charity begins at home.” As noble as this notion might be, the fact is that there are millions of people beyond our homes who would be grateful to eat what we will not, even the food that many Americans, especially American restaurants, dispose of on a daily basis.

When reflecting on the petition, “Give us this day our daily bread,” in the Lord’s Prayer, my thoughts immediately jump to the poor in missionary lands who have nothing. I often recall the comment made to me by a missionary bishop from India. He told me that the people he serves can be divided into three categories – the poor, the very poor, and the destitute. He explained that the poor have little food, but generally have shelter (even if that means a cardboard structure made from discarded packaging). The very poor have little food and no shelter, but often have clothing. The destitute have no food, no shelter, and no extra clothing beyond the clothes they wear.

Ironically, what many among the “poor, very poor and destitute” share with one another is the deep “trust of children who look to their Father (in Heaven) for

everything” (CCC 2828). When they pray the words from the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread,” theirs is an abiding and deep faith that God will fulfill all their needs. The Catechism explains: “He gives to all the living their food in due season. Jesus teaches us this petition, because it glorifies our Father by acknowledging how good He is, beyond all goodness” (CCC 2828).

This phrase “Give us” acknowledges God “as the Father of all people” (CCC 2829). It likewise captures the idea that “we pray to Him for them all, in solidarity with their needs and sufferings” (CCC 2829).

Practically speaking, then, those who invoke these words in prayer, and follow through as witnesses to the faith with good deeds, should easily be able to accommodate the millions who are starving all over the world. Where is our solidarity when, according to current surveys, one in ten people worldwide continues to starve unnecessarily? Almost half live in India and China. Why do we allow such a travesty?

So-called “disadvantaged” nations often point to richer nations as being the source of their problem. These same nations often misdirect food and monies meant for their citizens to support their military and enhance its might with weapons and other machinery for war. This is sadly the case in places like Russia and with groups like Hamas in Palestine.

While there is certainly enough food to feed the masses, many companies prefer to destroy excessive food in their warehouses rather than face potential legal battles with claims of distributing spoiled or expired food. And many lack

Spotswood school celebrates consecration to Mary

May 1 was a unique day at Immaculate Conception School, Spotswood, beginning with an 8:30 a.m. “Consecration” of the school to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The entire 115-member student body, gathered outside in front of the statue of Mary to hear comments from Father John O’Kane, pastor, on the meaning of consecration, which he defined as “set aside for a holy purpose.

“That is our school. And you were consecrated at Baptism to be saints,” he said, then speaking to students about the importance of being good, obedient children, telling them the story from the Gospel of John of the wedding feast at Cana, when the wine ran out, and Mary asked Jesus to help. This was Jesus’s first miracle, when he did as his mother asked and changed water into wine.

In attendance was Felician Sister

the infrastructure to provide storage for excess food for the needy. Finally, companies often fear losing their bottom line if all their extra food is given away. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule.

One company that provides food and money to the poor as part of its company goals and objectives is GOYA. GOYA has also taken the lead in numerous disaster relief efforts, providing food donations in times of crisis and consistently working with local food banks, charities and non-profits to assist those less fortunate. If every food distributor did the same, world hunger would be significantly less. Such companies and many restauranteurs, by example, imitate the love and mercy of our Father in Heaven “who gives us life…[and]…cannot but give us the nourishment life requires –all appropriate goods and blessings…” (CCC 2830).

Consistent with Church teaching, the Catechism also states that, “the drama of hunger in the world calls [ALL] Christians who pray sincerely to exercise responsibility toward their brethren, both in their personal behavior and in their solidarity with the human family” (CCC 2831); the inference here being that only when ALL Christians act thusly, will world hunger be eradicated.

In short, those who are blessed with good fortune must be willing to share with those who have less. This should come to pass not through brute force or arm-twisting, but as a matter of justice. The Catechism reminds us: “there are no just structures without people who want to be just” (CCC 2832).

Thus, “Our daily bread” in the Lord’s Prayer, refers to “the one loaf

for the many” (CCC 2833). This prayer of Jesus “calls us to communicate and share both material and spiritual goods, not by coercion, but out of love, so that the abundance of some may remedy the needs of others” (CCC 2833). This may sound like Marxist socialism, or worse, atheistic communism, but it is not. Rather, it is the teaching of God’s Holy Word in Sacred Scripture, including 2 Corinthians 8:1-15, as embodied in the previous Catechism paragraph invoked above.

Taken literally, “Our daily bread,” refers “directly to the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, the ‘medicine of immortality’, without which we have no life within us” (CCC 1837). So, each time we invoke the Lord’s Prayer we are both spiritually and literally asking our Father in Heaven to provide Our Lord to us in Holy Communion.

Many have heard of the saying attributed to the fifth century monk, Saint Benedict: “pray and work” (CCC 2834). One thousand years later, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, took up this theme saying: “Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you” (CCC 2834). The Catechism explains: “Even when we have done our work, the food we receive is still a gift from our Father” (CCC 2834). This is the way Christians have understood their mission down through the ages. Not only our food, but ALL our worldly goods are provided through the loving initiative of God. We are but stewards of these great benefits.

Father Hillier is director, diocesan Office of Pontifical Mission Societies, the Office for Persons with Disabilities and Censor Luborum.

Teresa Soltys who teaches religion to grades 6 and 8. Sister taught at the school from 1986 to 2001 and returned in 2016.

“I like challenging the kids,” she said.

“I tell them that their parents promised when they were baptized that they would be raised as Catholics because it works.”

Overseeing the day’s events was Principal John Maresca, noting that “We build upon our Catholic identity … We are proud of it and we will strengthen it.”

Also in attendance was Felician Sister Antonelle Chukta who provides a unique academic element to the curriculum, teaching Latin to the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. Given that Latin is the foundation for a high percentage of words in the English language, and a particular basis for medicine, law, and writing, this is a very special advantage for students.

Following the Consecration ceremony, Mass for students, family members, faculty, staff and parishioners, was cel-

ebrated in the church. The student body then assembled in the auditorium for the induction ceremony into the National Junior Honor Society where 12 current members welcomed five new members who met the qualifications for membership: scholarship, service leadership,

character and citizenship.

Upon closing the event, Dr. Maresca reminded all that “our three guiding traits are Catholic identity, traditional values, and a warm family atmosphere.” Then he added, praising his kitchen staff, “We also have the best cafeteria, hands down.”

During a ceremony of Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Father John O’Kane, pastor, Immaculate Conception Parish, Spotswood, reminds students, staff and family members that they, like the parish school, were “set aside for a holy purpose.’ Robert Christie photo

1. Bishop James F. Checchio lays hands on the head of Deacon Anthony Woods, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Whitehouse Station. The gesture, rooted in Scripture and Tradition of the Church, signifies the conferral of the Holy Spirit. 2. The elect lay prostrate in an act of humble prayer and surrender to God, symbolic of dying to their old self and rising. 3. Wives of the deacons carry the liturgical vestments of the

diaconate to their husbands, where the elect are vested in the stole and dalmatic by their vesting clergy. 4. Msgr. Joseph Celano, pastor, Immaculate Conception Parish, Somerville, congratulates Deacon Tuan Bui from Immaculate Conception, after vesting him. 5. Bishop Checchio places the Book of the Gospels in Deacon Ketan Christian’s hands, as a sign of his duty to preach the faith of the Church in word and in deed.

Photos and headshots by Mike Ehrmann

Bishop Checchio ordains 15 permanent deacons, one transitional deacon

“What a wonderful day for an ordination,” said Bishop James F. Checchio as he began the Mass of Ordination for 16 men to the Diaconate on May 3, the Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles. He said these two saints will be “wonderful intercessors and inspiring examples for our brothers today.”

Reflecting on the lives of these two saints, Bishop Checchio told the men he was about to ordain that just as Jesus called down the Holy Spirit upon his Apostles, “the Church now calls down the Holy Spirit upon you. You are ordained today not to fulfill a role in the Church but rather to light a fire, to light a fire in our world, and in our Church.”

Bishop Checchio said St. James reminds us that faith must never be reduced to simply an abstract or verbal declaration but must always be expressed in acts. “So brothers, your ministry must be marked by good works, particularly loving the poor,” the Bishop instructed.

In the Gospel of St. John, St. Philip introduced the Apostle Nathanial to Jesus

using the Lord’s own words, “Come and see.” Bishop Checchio said that St. Philip thus urges us to become closely acquainted with and fall in love with Jesus. He assured the candidates that “Jesus promises to be with you always, don’t forget that. May your road to sainthood always be guided by him and by his Blessed Mother.”

Then Bishop Checchio questioned the candidates regarding their willingness to undertake the tasks and obligations of the diaconate. In response, the men expressed their resolve to fulfill the office of deacon in accord with the mind of Christ and of his Church.

In one of the most moving moments common to all ordination rites, to the diaconate, presbyterate and episcopacy, the 16 men prostrated themselves in the biblical gesture of humility. As they did so, they and the congregation were invited to pray the Litany of Supplication invoking “All holy men and women, Saints of God,” many by name, to pray for those men.

Bishop Checchio prayed that God would mercifully hear our prayers for his aid in sanctifying and blessing these candidates the Church has deemed worthy to

be tasked with the Office of the Diaconate. Through the laying on of hands by the Bishop on each man, the gift of the Holy Spirit was conferred upon them.

After they were vested with the Stole and Dalmatic, the signs of their new office, the Book of the Gospels was presented to each Deacon by the Bishop with the admonition, “Believe what you read. Teach what you believe. Practice what you teach.”

A recurring comment from many of the people attending the Ordination Mass was how joyful and moving the Mass was, especially when all the other deacons present exchanged the Kiss of Peace with the newly ordained men. “You could truly see the look of joy on all their faces,” said Anna Bui, wife of Deacon Tuan Bui of Immaculate Conception Parish, Somerville.

In addition to the men ordained to the permanent diaconate, Rev. Mr. Jerome Roxas Ocampo was ordained a transitional deacon as he continues his journey towards priesthood. Deacon Ocampo said, “Although I knew two deacons from my hospital ministry at St. Peter, I was overwhelmed by the welcome

I received from all the deacons present.”

Peter Cain, the son of newly ordained Deacon Paul Cain, paid tribute to his father when he said, “ Dad has been a blessing to our family all my life and now I know that he will be a blessing to all the people of our parish,” Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Bernardsville, where Deacon Cain will minister.

In his closing remarks as in his homily, the Bishop thanked everyone who had played a role in bringing the new deacons to that day, especially their wives and families. He also expressed his gratitude to all who contributed to making that Mass such a wonderful celebration.

May 3rd was also the eighth anniversary of Bishop Checchio’s episcopal ordination and installation as the Shepherd of the Diocese of Metuchen. In a message to the people of the Diocese earlier that day he thanked everyone for their love, prayers, and wonderful cooperation throughout those eight years, “And what a blessing it has been for me!”

Deacon Patrick Cline served as associate director of Formation for the Ordination Class of 2024 and serves in St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish, Bridgewater.

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Deacon Robert A. Barry converted to Catholicism in 2016, and his experi ence with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults created a desire for a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith.

“My resulting conversion to Catholicism transformed my life,” he said. “Finding God has fueled a passion within me to serve and to help others realize the amazing power of the faith. The permanent diaconate program has allowed me to develop a richer understanding and greater appreciation of my Catholic faith while fueling my desire to serve.”

He was ordained by Bishop James F. Checchio in the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, Metuchen, May 3.

The clergy and the people of St. James Parish, Basking Ridge, have been essential in his journey to Ordination: “Through my RCIA experience, I came to know so many very influential people who showed me by their example of how to live a life in Jesus Christ. This opened my heart and mind to be able to hear and respond to the call.”

His wife, Eileen, “has been truly instrumental in this calling, and I couldn’t have made it this far without her.”

At St. James Church he has served as altar server co-leader and an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. He is a member of the Men of St. James and volunteers in prison ministry.

“God has placed an intense passion in my heart to give back for what he has done for me so I look forward to engaging in my ministries and meeting people where they are on their faith journey so we can collectively help each other grow in faith and closeness to God,” Deacon Barry said.

Born in Hyde Park, New York, he is a graduate of the University of Vermont, Burlington, with a bachelor’s degree in biology and minor in chemistry. He is a 2024 graduate of Seton Hall University’s Immaculate Conception School of Theology with a master’s in theology.

His career in telecommunications includes work at AT&T, Lucent, Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia with roles spanning corporate strategy and development, product management, project management, operations, finance and supply chain.

The father of two enjoys biking, jogging, hiking, swimming, golfing, cooking and reading.

on the water, awaiting that catch his wife, Anna Thao Huynh, will transform into a delicious meal.

“In today’s society, people are scared of the silence, but for me, while I am fishing, the most productive and successful times are those quiet times,” said the deacon who was ordained at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, Metuchen, May 3, by Bishop James F. Checchio. “This carries over to my time when I write my reflections that soon will be my homilies. In the quiet and silence is when you can truly hear what’s in your heart …”

As for the patience and tenacity that fishermen need, he prays he will have these traits as he begins to serve the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Somerville.

Born in Saigon (now known as Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam, the 48-year-old deacon attended Bloomfield University where he received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2003 then attended Northeastern University, earning a master’s in Regulatory Affairs for Drugs, Biologics, and Medical Devices in 2010.

His training for the permanent diaconate was at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology at Seton Hall University for a master’s in theology.

Deacon Bui had the calling to be a deacon since he went to college, “but life was louder than the Holy Spirit at that time,” he said. After he got married, he and Anna spoke about it, and he spoke to his pastor; he decided to answer that calling.

The father of two works at Sanofi in Bridgewater as a digital quality expert.

Deacon Bui hopes to use his interest in artificial intelligence to help his parish. “Everything is about AI now, so once I graduate from diaconate formation, I will focus my attention on learning and working with AI products … which can quickly provide us with an analysis of what our parishioners need,” he said.

Deacon Bui serves as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and lector at Immaculate Conception Church, brings communion to the home bound, and volunteers in pastoral care at St. Peter’s Hospital, New Brunswick.

Deacon Paul E. Cain was motivated to pursue the permanent diaconate by a desire to help the Church better serve its people.

Ordained May 3 in the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, Metuchen, by Bishop James F. Checchio, Deacon Cain looks forward to celebrating the sacraments and to helping others find peace through Christ.

A member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Bernardsville, he is a lector, usher and parish finance committee member.

He brings Holy Communion to and is a lector at Morristown Medical Center and member of the school advisory committee for the School of St. Elizabeth/Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Bernardsville.

“It has been a privilege to serve on the finance council and to help the parish meet its current and future responsibilities, said Deacon Cain, acknowledging also, “I am especially grateful for the opportunity to serve at Mass as a Eucharistic Minister and as a Lector. Each time I serve in either capacity, my faith is renewed and strengthened.”

Deacon Cain began serving as an extraordinary minister of the Holy Communion with the spiritual care office at Morristown Medical Center during the third year of his diaconate formation at Immaculate Conception Seminary of Seton Hall University in the master of theology program.

“Bringing the comfort of Christ to patients who are feeling vulnerable and uncertain has been the highlight of my time in formation,” he said; he plans to continue that ministry.

A former product manager for AT&T, he resigned in 2002 to become a stay-athome dad. He and his wife, Katy George, have one son.

Deacon Cain, 63, was born in Albany, New York, and graduated from the University of Rochester (New York) in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He later earned a master’s in economics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

With his May 3 ordination to the permanent diaconate for the Diocese of Metuchen, Deacon Ketan J. Christian believes he is the first-ever Gujarati-speaking permanent deacon worldwide.

Raised Catholic in a small Catholic mission village called Mariampura in Gujarat, India, he came to the United States in 1985 at age 23 and is now a member of the Church of the Sacred Heart, South Plainfield.

He sees his fluency in Gujarati – an Indo-Aryan language native to the Indian state of Gujarat and spoken predominantly by the Gujarati people –º as an important element in his ministry to those who speak that language.

“Active religious participation has been an essential way of life for a Catholic from Gujarat, where churches provide the social structure to support and sustain their faith in their language and culture after Vatican II,” he said.

“For immigrants to the United States, immigration is a disruptive event that alienates them from that religious practice. … It is important for Catholics who speak Gujarati to have a clergy member to minister to them who speaks their native language, who can become a bridge to cross the immigration barriers and have a clear line of communication.”

Deacon Christian and his wife, Ila, have three children.

He was employed at Amspec as a laboratory manager, operations manager and client coordinator at locations in Linden and Avenel and as application support specialist in Cranbury.

He is completing his second unit of Clinical Pastoral Education and hopes to work in a hospital, nursing home or adult day care center.

He enjoys many activities including listening to music and singing, family and social gatherings, pilgrimages, nature and bird watching, sports (especially cricket), family vacations, photography and poetry in his native language.

Deacon Christian is a founding member and past executive member and current advisor of a Gujarati Catholic Samaj, an organization of Gujarati-speaking Catholics of India residing in North America.


deacon that appeal to Deacon Christopher G. Curran. “I am told the deacons like Baptisms. Why not? Babies and young children are fun to be with,” he said.

He is excited to have the opportunity to preach and serve at the altar during Mass. “Having a hand in bringing the Word and the Eucharist to people will be great,” said the member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Whitehouse Station. “Being a servant of Christ will allow me to interact with people like I have never done before,” he said. “There will be many opportunities to serve the Church and community.”

He was ordained at The Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi in Metuchen on May 3.

Deacon Curran had often thought about the permanent diaconate and had asked his wife, Barbara, her thoughts about it, and they decided he should look into it. “I have been part of many charitable projects at work and the church over the years. The calling to the diaconate is an extension of that charity,” he said.

He belongs to three prayer groups, and his prayer life brings him closer to God. “Praying as part of a community group elevates my prayers. Being part of the community helps me know Christ intellectually and spiritually,” he said. “Every time the groups meet, we learn something about ourselves and about God.”

Born in South Amboy, Deacon Curran, 59, credits his parents for instilling faith in God and the Church in their nine children: “Throughout our lives they kept the conversation of God alive. My father’s love for the Eucharist and my mother’s simple faith in Jesus were powerful influences.”

Deacon Curran received a bachelor’s degree in 1999 from the College of St. Elizabeth in computer programming and a master’s of theology from Seton Hall University in 2023.

A former UPS systems programmer, he currently is a middle and high school substitute teacher in the Readington School District.

A faith formation teacher, RCIA team member and Knight of Columbus, he enjoys running, bike riding, golf and reading historical fiction.

He and his wife have two children adopted from Kazakhstan.

hopes to use humor in his ministry as a way to put people at ease. “Many people are very serious and need to have a little laughter to break up the tension,” he said.

But he turns serious when he contemplates his call to the permanent diaconate for the Diocese and identifies the Holy Spirit, his wife and the two deacons in his parish as most influential in his answer to the call to ordained ministry.

Born in New Hyde Park, New York, and now a parishioner of St. Augustine of Canterbury Parish, Kendall Park, Deacon De Freitas, 66, graduated from St. John’s University in Jamaica, New York, with a bachelor’s degree in government and politics with a minor in speech, communication and theater.

His recent master’s in theology degree is from Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University.

He and his wife, Janet, have three children.

Ordained in the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, Metuchen, by Bishop James F. Checchio on May 3, Deacon De Freitas has always had a passion for loving and serving God.

“In kindergarten I was asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, and I said I wanted to be a priest. I pretended to be a priest as a child and used to make hosts out of Wonder Bread and offer Mass for my family in my living room,” he recalled.

A former project manager and senior trainer for MCII/Verizon Business, he now works as parish catechetical leader at St. Ambrose Church, Old Bridge.

He enjoys singing and writing and teaching songs to teach children about prayer or Scripture, as well as walking and praying the Rosary.

Asked what he is most looking forward to doing as a permanent deacon, he replied: “Helping the poor. Teaching the doubter, and just being a loving presence wherever and whenever I can.”

Lady of Fatima Parish, Piscataway, but as he spent time in Adoration at the chapel, he contemplated how he could spend more time with the Lord. That desire fueled his call to the permanent diaconate, and he was ordained at The Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi in Metuchen by Bishop James F. Checchio on May 3.

He said “service to our loving and merciful Lord Jesus Christ and His Church” led him to pursue that calling.

Deacons are ordained as a sacramental sign to the Church and to the world of Christ, who came “to serve and not to be served.”

Deacon Fernandes is involved in different ministries at Our Lady of Fatima Parish including serving as a guardian at the Adoration chapel that is open 24 hours a day seven days a week, as an extraordinary minster of Holy Communion, a Heritage Day participant, an annual picnic participant and a finance committee member. He is the coordinator of the Corpus Christi procession, sexton, daily Mass altar server and lector.

Born in Masura, Maharashtra, India, in 1972, Deacon Fernandes attended high school there and then attended St. Andrew’s College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai, India, earning a bachelor’s degree in commerce in 1993. He later attended Aspen University in Denver, Colorado, where he earned a master’s in information management in 2008.

He works for Bank of America as a technology service lead.

Asked how he lives his faith in the workplace, he replied, “Simply just by following Jesus’ teachings.”

The deacon prays and works to bring “fellow brothers and sisters back, who have been away from the Church, to build a faithful community.”

He and his wife, Monica L. Fernandes, have two teenage daughters.

Deacon Fernandes enjoys watching sports and movies, going on treks, traveling to visit new countries, taking cruises and spending time with friends. He likes to volunteer at the events hosted at work and to lead some of those events.

Catholic in 2009. In 2024 he was or dained to the permanent diaconate.

“I had no religious affiliation whatsoever other than being taught the Lord’s Prayer when I was six years old by my paternal grandmother,” he said.

But a conversation stuck with him that he had had in mid-2019 with Monsignor Eugene Prus who baptized him. “During that conversation, Msgr. Prus told me he thought I would make ‘great deacon material,’” recalled Deacon Koppi. “The role of service has been part of my whole life. I thought this pursuit of the permanent diaconate was a continuation of the calling the Holy Spirit gave me in 2008.”

The word “deacon” comes from the Greek word “diakonia,” which means “service.” The Order of Deacon has three essential functions: proclaiming the Gospel, serving at the liturgy and doing charitable works.

Born in Kankakee, Illinois, Deacon Koppi, 64, is a member of Blessed Sacrament Parish, Martinsville. He and his wife, Eileen, have two children. She supported him as he answered the call to the permanent diaconate by listening to him when he had doubts, by loving him when he felt alone. “Her wisdom and clarity of mind helped smooth my path,” he said, noting that he has looked to St. Joseph for guidance as he has pursued this calling.

He attended Illinois State University where he received a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1982. He received a master’s in theology from Seton Hall University in 2023. He was ordained May 3 by Bishop James F. Checchio in the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, Metuchen.

A retired medical coder from RWJ Barnabas Health (Somerville and Mountainside locations), Deacon Koppi is involved in religious education at his parish and volunteers at Jewish Family Services in Somerset County, assisting the homebound by shopping and delivering their groceries along with visits of companionship.

He enjoys helping his wife with gardening and landscape projects, reading and weightlifting.


“I served as an altar boy growing up through high school,” said Deacon David Lang, a resident of Somerville and lifelong member of the town’s Immaculate Conception Parish. “My greatest encounters with our Lord always have been while serving on the altar.”

Born in 1965 as one of five children to the late Gilman and Marian Lang, the altar boy attended the parish’s Immaculate Conception Elementary and Immaculata High Schools before earning a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Scranton.

He completed studies for the diaconate in Seton Hall University, South Orange, earning a master’s degree in Systemic Theology. He has worked for nearly 40 years at the Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings, most recently as associate vice president and laboratory manager.

Newly ordained Deacon Lang has served the parish as lector, cantor, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, a member of the parish council and on parish fund raising committees. He and his wife, Heather, created the JPII Cultural Arts Ministry.

Deacon Lang brings his management experience to the Heritage Trail, where he is a former member of the board. He is also founder and artistic director of the Middlebrook Theatrical Society, a group dedicated to historic education through artistic engagement; presenter for the League of N.J. Historical Societies, and vocalist with the N.J. State Opera and the New York Grand Opera Company.

The deacon also fulfills the duties of Official Town Crier for the Borough of Somerville.

Deacon Lang is looking forward to a new role at the parish, near the very altar he served as acolyte so long ago. He stated, “The opportunity to serve as an ordained deacon is an opportunity to encounter Christ in new and deeper ways.”

The seeds of Deacon Michael Mac chiarola’s journey of the diaconate were planted two generations ago, he asserted.

“I come from a family with a working-class background that placed a high value on serving others,” he said, naming his two grandfathers (both of whom served in the military, then went on to blue-collar careers.) Born in Staten Island in 1970 to Robert and Cecelia Macchiarola, the youngster spent many weekends with his grandparents tending to their garden and attending Mass where his grandfather served as lector.

Deacon Macchiarola graduated from St. Peter’s College, Jersey City, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in international business and trade and an associate’s degree in business management, and later, a master of art’s degree in systematic theology from Seton Hall. Deacon Macchiarola has a distinguished career as an equity professional for companies like Bloomberg LP, R.W. Baird, and Simplicity Holdings.

Among those who nurtured the seeds of faith, Deacon Macchiarola credits his grandfather, Michael; Father Edward Heavey, a Jesuit priest he met while at St. Peter’s College, and Father Edmund Luciano, with whom he worked while discerning the diaconate. “Father Edmund was our parochial vicar at St. Bernard of Clairvaux [Parish, Bridgewater] and has been a great source of support and guidance,” he said.

The new deacon also credits his wife of nearly 30 years, Christine, with whom he has three children, and his sister, Maria Carlucci, for their support. “Deacon Patrick Cline, Deacon Gerry Simms, Msgr. Joe Celano, and Msgr. Randy Vashon (his pastor and vesting priest) have been my cornerstone over the past five years. Their unwavering support has given me the strength, courage, and persistence to fully embrace God’s graces, and I am forever grateful for their love and guidance,” he said.

Deacon Macchiarola shared his plans about continuing the legacy of faith with a new generation of faithful. He said, “I would like my ministry to focus on being present in all that I do and one that builds bridges between the clergy and laity.”

the way to service for Deacon James Ohe.

“Fourteen years ago, I was in a car accident that almost took my life,” recalled Deacon Ohe, a communicant of Our Lady of Mercy Parish, South Bound Brook. “I thought about what I could do to make my life meaningful. I wanted to do something to make me and others happy.”

Born in 1960 in Seoul, Korea, Deacon Ohe attended elementary school there, then high school in Port Richmond, N.Y. He earned food handler certificates and spent the next four decades owning and/or managing delicatessen/grocery stores in Queens, N.Y., Tewksbury and New Brunswick. He and his wife, Teresa, have two children.

Post-surgery, fellow parishioner Deacon Ignatius Youn invited him to consider the diaconate, but the challenges of working in the deli full-time and rigorous diaconate studies tabled the choice. Deacon Ohe accelerated his retirement savings just in time to qualify to begin his studies before age 60, the program’s cutoff age. “It was all in God’s plan,” he said with a smile. “I was right on time.”

Deacon Ohe has served the Korean Catholic Community of the Diocese as director of vocations at Woodbridge’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, and as director and coordinator of liturgy at Transfiguration Parish, Edison.

Additionally, he visits the sick of his parish and volunteers at the Unity Square food pantry, New Brunswick, under the aegis of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen. Deacon Ohe has chosen Father John Lee, Our Lady of Mercy parish administrator, as his vesting priest.

Bthat God’s call to diaconal service may be postponed, but the creator’s love cannot be denied.

The member of St. Ann Parish, Raritan, revealed, “I first felt a strong attraction to the diaconate some 23-24 years ago but, with two kids in diapers and a busy family life, I discerned it was not the time and did not pursue it. Mercifully, God kept calling and, happily, the Church discerned both the validity and the timing of the call and, by the mercy of God, here I am.”

Rego was born in La Coruña, Spain, in 1958, one of three children of the late German and Carmen Rego. Upon completion of elementary and high schools in his native country, he continued his education in the United States, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology, and a master’s degree in computer science from Marist College. Over the course of his career, he has worked at a number of companies as an engineer and in system analysis and database management, most recently for UBS Investment Bank as director, service and product management IT security.

Deacon Rego chose his pastor, Father Thomas Odorizzi, as his vesting priest. His service to his Raritan parish includes work as lector and Eucharistic minister, as well as bringing the Eucharist to the homebound and sick; he also serves as a volunteer chaplain at St. Peter’s University Hospital. He and his wife, Patricia, have four children.

The new deacon has a request for his fellow followers of Christ: prayer. He said, “I would like to ask the prayers of the faithful – pray that I may love and serve the people of God with the heart of Jesus and persevere in that service.”

y the imposition of the bishop’s hands and the specific prayer of consecration, the deacon receives a particular configuration to Christ, the Head and Shepherd of the Church, who for love of the Father made himself the least and the servant of all”

Pope St. John Paul II, 1995


Ricardo Rivera, a member of Parish of the Visitation, New Brunswick, credits the Lord’s patience and guidance for his decision to pursue the diaconate. “My journey of becoming a deacon has been all about opening my heart to the Lord, listening to Him and saying ‘yes’ without hesitation,” he said.

The first life-changing ‘yes’ was uttered to his wife, Brenda, when she asked for his help with the parish’s Christmas play. “Looking back, I would have never imagined that volunteering to help my wife … would have resulted in me joining the Knights of Columbus,” said Rivera. “[It] led me to establish a personal relationship with holy priests who demonstrated the beauty of falling in love with our Lord and serving His Church.”

Deacon Rivera was born in Boston in 1971 to the late Ramon Rivera and Carmen Hernandez; the family moved to Puerto Rico when he was a toddler. He graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Puerto Rico. Relocating to New Jersey two decades ago, he has worked at major pharmaceutical companies, and currently serves as executive director of clinical supply operations at Bristol Myers Squibb.

Rivera earned a master’s degree in theology from Seton Hall University’s Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology; he selected Father Michael Fragoso, pastor of his parish, to vest him as a deacon. The deacon has ministered at his parish as an acolyte, lector and catechist to adults.

As for the future, Deacon Rivera admitted, “I don’t have a specific plan about what I want to achieve… At this time, my goal as a deacon is ‘not to be served but to serve,’ and, as one of my favorite prayers says, ‘Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.’”

T“I am looking forward to serving the Church and guiding all who wish to journey towards our Lord, whether they are already on their way, or have questions and wish to learn about our faith,” said Deacon Anthony Scarpantonio when reflecting upon his new role in ministry. Sometimes, that service might not have to include any questions at all, he continued, adding, “I could just be their ear when they need someone to talk to.”

Born in 1967 in Brooklyn, N.Y., as one of five children of the late John and Rachael Scarpantonio, Anthony attended elementary and middle schools in the borough of Queens, returning to Brooklyn to graduate from Brooklyn Tech High School. He earned his HVAC certification from Apex Technical School, and has worked at the National Grid (formerly Keyspan / Brooklyn Union Gas Company) since 1987, currently holding the position of lead tech, facilities management.

Deacon Scarpantonio is a member of Christ the Redeemer Parish, Manville; his pastor, Redemptorist Father Stanislaw Staby, was his vesting priest. His ministry at the parish has included leading Bible study, lectoring, serving as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and teaching religious education. He and his wife, Linda, have two children.

The new deacon spoke once again about how he might be a source of comfort to those seeking the truth. He observed, “I believe that there is a lot of loneliness and misunderstanding in the world today. Sometimes people just need someone to listen to them, and once that’s done, then I could walk with them on their own journey.”

Asked to explain the reasons he pur sued the diaconate, Deacon Anthony Woods of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Whitehouse Station, gave three. “I was asked by my pastor [Father Leonard Rusay,] and my wife, and I have always been a ‘Bible nerd,’” he freely admitted. “I have always been involved in the community and with my kids, so this is a good next step.”

Woods was born in Irvington in 1964 as one of two children of James and Mary Woods. He attended Christ the King elementary school, Hillside, then South Orange’s Seton Hall Preparatory School. Woods earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Seton Hall University.

The deacon has spent his professional career at major firms in the roles of data analyst, engineer and architect, most recently as principal data architect at Pershing.

At Our Lady of Lourdes, Deacon Woods has served as lector and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion; contributions to the community include membership in the Knights of Columbus, scoutmaster, junior baseball youth coach and player/treasurer/vice president of the Celtic Theater Company. He and his wife, Elizabeth, whom he calls “my greatest ally” in pursuing the diaconate, have three children. His pastor, Father Rusay, served as his vesting priest at the ordination.

“I love being part of the liturgy,” Deacon Woods said, and anticipates assisting the parish in myriad ways. He advises others contemplating the diaconate to “pray a lot,” and shared advice from two friends.

“When I first heard the call, I went through all the emotions and wondered if I was worthy,” he recalled. “Two of my friends told me, ‘It is not your decision if you are worthy or not. If you believe the call is genuine, you are worthy.”

his ministry] can equally be the link between the lay world, the professional world, and the world of the priestly ministry... In this way, you give witness in the world of today, as well as in the working world, of the presence of faith, of the sacramental ministry and the diaconal dimension of the sacrament of Orders. This seems very important to me: the visibility of the diaconal dimension.”

Pope Benedict XVI, 2008

mpo sees his ordination as a milestone allowing him to “increase my desire and knowledge on how to live my life as a priest,” he said.

Deacon Ocampo was born in 1994 in Malolos Bulacan, Philippines to Malourdes and the late Isagani Ocampo. He attended grammar and high school in the Philippines, then earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from that island nation’s St. Camillus College Seminary. He also completed further studies in theology from Seton Hall University’s Immaculate Conception Seminary, South Orange.

Deacon Ocampo was ordained May 3 by Bishop James F. Checchio in the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, Metuchen.

His assignments include ministry in Immaculate Conception Parish, Spotswood; Our Lady of the Mount Parish, Warren; St. Joseph Parish, Carteret, and his current assignment in Parish of the Visitation, New Brunswick. He was vested as a deacon by Deacon Vincent Brigande of St. John Vianney Parish, Colonia.

“To be a deacon is inseparable in the life of the priest,” he explained, “because the life of the deacon is the life of service. The word ‘deacon’ is from the Greek word diakonos meaning ‘servant’ or ‘messenger.’ Being at the service of others and to be a messenger of God’s love to people is the core mission of the priest.”

I“ like to meet you now, while you are deacons, because one does not become a pastor without first being a deacon. The diaconate does not disappear with priesthood: ... it is the foundation on which it is based.”


PCL Professional Day features speaker from the Augustine Institute

Parish catechetical leaders gathered April 18 at the St. John Neumann Pastoral Center, Piscataway, to listen to a threepart presentation by Sean Fitzgerald of the Augustine Institute. In his introduction, Fitzgerald emphasized that “it’s all about souls” and that “God has picked us to be ‘boots on the ground’ at this time.”

Fitzgerald began his presentation with an overview of Word of Life, Augustine Institute’s new K-8 curriculum series for parishes and Catholic schools. This Christ-centered series is organized around four ‘golden threads:’ salvation history, Christian anthropology, heroic virtue and character formation, and learning through discipleship.

After a brief statistical review which revealed that less than half of the children baptized in the United States in 2005 had later celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation, Fitzgerald pointed out that one possible conclusion is that many parents do not see the relevancy of practicing the faith because they have not been evangelized. Based on this premise, the Word of Life series is designed with the evangelization of parents in mind, using state-ofthe-art digital tools from the Augustine Institute and Ignatius Press.

In addition to a focus on parent evangelization, the Word of Life series employs a blended learning model utilizing both on-

line tools and textbooks and includes a robust ‘teach-the teacher’ component, which serves to fortify the catechist or Catholic school teacher with the resources necessary to present lessons effectively.

The second part of Fitzgerald’s morning presentation included an introduction to the Augustine Institute’s Catholic streaming service: Formed. The idea for Formed began with the success of Symbolon, the richly produced video based formation series, and the merger with Lighthouse Catholic Media about ten years ago. Since the time of that merger, Formed has grown substantially and has reached millions of Catholics in thousands of parishes.

The day concluded with a fascinating presentation on the Shroud of Turin. As a holder of a Postgraduate Certificate in Shroud Studies from the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome, Fitzgerald is considered a regional expert on the Shroud of Turin – the most studied relic in the world, requiring the interweaving of Scripture, science, art history, and theology. This multi-dimensional approach has resulted in an indepth exploration of both the humanity and the divinity of Jesus.

As captivating as the study of the Shroud of Turin has been, Fitzgerald stressed that we are all able to come in contact with Jesus in the Eucharist on a daily basis in a way that would not be possible

Sean Fitzgerald of the Augustine Insti tute gave a presentation to PCLs of the Diocese April 18 in the St. John Neumann Pastoral Center, discussing the Word of Life K-8 curriculum, the “Formed” Catholic streaming service and the Shroud of Turin.

—Gerald Wutkowski Jr. photos

even if we were able to have direct contact with the Shroud of Turin. He further re marked that even if scientists are able to someday prove without question that the Shroud of Turin is not a relic of the Resurrection, the “Shroud has done its job” in prompting many to dive deeply into the Paschal Mystery and experience an encounter with Jesus.

Jill Kerekes serves as dioce san director, Office of Discipleship Formation for Children.

On behalf of Fr. Michael Fragoso, Pastor, the clergy, staff and parishioners of Parish of the Visitation, we offer our congratulations and prayers for our new Deacons


Parish of the Visitation

St. John the Baptist Church, 29 Abeel Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901 St. Mary of Mount Virgin Church 190 Sandford St., New Brunswick NJ 08901 St. Theresa of the Infant Jesus Church, 15 Fox Road, Edison, NJ 08817
192 Sandford Street,
God Bless.
New Brunswick, NJ 08901 (732) 545-5090

Canonical retreat for deacons prepares class of 2024 for Ordination

Fifteen men who initially met as strangers in August 2020 gathered together April 15, 2024, as brothers preparing to be ordained permanent deacons on May 3. They were beginning the fiveday retreat required by Canon Law as a final step before Ordination.

The retreat was held at the St. Francis Retreat House in Easton, Pa., and consisted of days filled with Mass, prayer, both personal and communal, along with a variety of liturgical celebrations each day. Also included were quiet times for reflection and social events.

Monday was a time for the men to move from their busy everyday activities of family, work and other outside activities and enter a time of quiet and calm. The grounds of St. Francis provided opportunities for the men to reflect on the upcoming week and the impact of the sacrament they were scheduled to receive after five years of preparation and studies.

To allow a deeper immersion in a very special week, Tuesday was a day of silence structured around the monastic practice of gathering together to sanctify the day by praying and reflecting. Pausing all other activities, seven times they celebrated the Liturgy of the Hours; upon awakening, mid-morning, midday, mid-afternoon, evening and nighttime. The day ended with the 15 men keeping vigil in turns throughout the night in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

Father Michael Fragoso, pastor of Visitation Parish, New Brunswick, was the speaker on Wednesday. Once ordained these men who are all married will have cares, concerns and demands on their time not shared by celibate priests. Father Fragoso is uniquely qualified to address these issues and challenges. Prior to being ordained he was a pediatrician and happily married for 32 years. After his wife, Carmen, died he discerned a call to the priesthood and in 2013 was ordained.

In his presentations, Father Fragoso quoted Pope John Paul II who, “Spoke of the vocation of the human person to love;

either in marriage or the celibate priesthood.” He reminded the men that while the Roman Catholic priesthood calls men to the celibate life, all Catholics are called to live the virtue of chastity.

These men will be required to pray Morning and Evening Prayers everyday after their Ordination. Father Fragoso celebrated Evening Prayer that afternoon within the context of the Mass. This combination of the two great prayers of the Church, the sacrifice of the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours, while not a common practice, provided a deeper insight into the prayer life of the Church.

As the men begin to exercise their new ministry they will be working very closely with their pastors and other priests in the parishes to which Bishop James F. Checchio will assign them. In addition they will have relationships with the parish staff, parishioners and others to whom they will minister. Although all the members of the group have been dealing with many of these same relationships for years, these can take on different aspects once ordained.

On Thursday Father Edmond Luciano, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, South Plainfield, spoke about various dimensions of these relationships, especially between priests and deacons, once ordained. Father Luciano also offered Mass for the men and was available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation that afternoon.

Over their years of formation the men had weekly opportunities to lead Evening Prayer and many were introduced to liturgical roles since becoming acolytes last September. The retreat provided other opportunities for the men to exercise some of the liturgical roles they will be fulfilling in the future.

Paul Cain, a candidate from Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Bernardsville, in a reflection at Morning Prayer said, “I am more convinced that this diaconal ministry is truly where the Lord wants me to be.”

On Friday morning the final presenter of the week was Rev. Mr. Steven Bolton of the Raritan Oratory. He gave his perspective of the diaconate based on his year as a transitional deacon in preparation for priesthood.

Deacon candidates spend time in prayer with the Stations of the Cross, top photo, and again during Nocturnal Adoration, bottom photo, while on a five-day retreat at St. Francis Retreat House, Easton, Pa., prior to their May 3 Ordination. —Patrick Cline photos

As the men returned to their homes and families they were asked to complete an evaluation for the retreat house. One of the comments summed up the week, “These five days allowed me time to focus on and prepare for the gift of Ordination.”

Deacon Patrick Cline served as associate director of Formation for the Ordination Class of 2024 and serves in St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish, Bridgewater.

Bishop addresses guests at Hope Through Education luncheon

Bishop James F. Checchio, center, opened the 2024 Hope Through Education Spring Luncheon held April 25 at Hamilton Farm Golf Club, with inspirational words to some 120 guests.

The event included a reception, pop-up shop, and student and parent participation with Call to Heart, an auction during which donors received bouquets of tulips from students in attendance.

Hope Through Education is an independent 501(C)3 organization that provides disadvantaged children in Central New Jersey with scholarships to attend academically excellent, values-based schools. For more information visit www.hopethrougheducation

Courtesy photo

The event was emceed by Elizabeth Nader, C.O.O. of the Common Sense Club, pictured right, and featured nationally recognized keynote speaker and best-selling author Dr. Carol M. Swain.


16 First Holy Communion is a time for the ‘Five Fs Prayer of Thanks’

Boys and girls, your day has come. This month, you finally receive the Eu charist. You know the word “Eucharist” comes from the Greek word eucaristia, which means “thanks.”

From now on, after you receive Holy Communion, I want you to return to your seats and kneel for a few minutes in prayer with your hands covering your face so that no one or thing can distract you. And while you are kneeling, I want you to offer what I like to call “The Five Fs Prayer of Thanks.”

The first “F” stands for our Fa ther in heaven. Thank God the Father for sending you Jesus. Without Jesus, more than you know. They will be with you today and throughout your life.

We have been made little less than the angels

Then, thank God for your friends, the third “F.” These are the boys and girls that you enjoy spending time with. These are your classmates and teammates

who support you when you succeed and comfort you when you fail. They are the people who chose to be your buddy and whom you chose to be your friends.

After this, thank God for the gift of freedom, the fourth “F,” because

Immigration is a delicate subject nowadays. Nonetheless I am wading into the discussion because I want to sponsor an immigrant. However, my immigrant is not a person who seeks to cross the border into this country. My immigrant is a word that I want to bring into mainstream use in the English language.

With Pope Francis’s approval, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith recently published Dignitas infinita, a document on the infinite dignity of each and every human being. As Catholics, we believe that we are created in the image and likeness of God. Psalm 8 marvels at our nobleness: “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.”

That’s us that the author is speaking about, you and me and every human being in existence, especially since the Resurrection, when Jesus drew all things

this gift allows you grow up and become whatever you want in life. Freedom is the gift that God gave us so that we are not puppets but people with a mind, heart and soul of our own. The gift of freedom makes it possible for us to turn our dreams into reality.

Finally, thank God for the gift of faith, the fifth “F,” because this gift allows you to believe that God is real, that Jesus is your Lord and Savior, your eternal Best Friend Forever Jesus is really and truly the Bread of Life. To receive him, is to receive God’s love!

Boys and girls, let’s review. When you return to your seats after receiving your Holy Communion, you are going to kneel, cover your face and offer “The Five Fs Prayer of Thanks,” in which you will thank our Father in heaven for sending us his Son, Jesus. You will thank God for your family, for your friends, for freedom and for faith. Do you think that you can remember these five “Fs”?

Well, then I just have one more piece of advice, after Mass today, I want you all to remember one more “F.” Have fun!

Father Comandini is coordinator of the Office for Ongoing Faith Formation

to himself. Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you have been crowned with glory and honor. You may not feel like it, you may not see the crown on your head, but it is there simply because we are created in God’s image and likeness and redeemed by the blood of Christ.

But do we think like that? Even more – and here is where I sponsor my immigrant – do we talk like that? “What are human beings that you are mindful of them?” To be a human being isn’t worth much nowadays. In fact, the phrase itself hardly expresses nobility and honor.

To say that someone is a human being says that he or she is more than an animal, but it certainly doesn’t give the impression that they are “little less than God.” The phrase “human being” expresses the lowest common denominator for members of our race.

That is why I want to propose to add another word to our everyday English language. English is already a melting pot of words from other languages. It began as a mixture of words from old French and Germanic languages, then, as people from other groups came to the United States, other words were added, such as café, croissant, delicatessen – a lot of them seem to have to do with food! – entrepreneur, extravaganza, fiasco… you can find various lists of them online.

Yiddish has added a rich vocabulary to American English. You will find bagels in every grocery store. (There we are back at food again!) As a klutz I often trip over my own feet, both figuratively

and literally, but that doesn’t make me a meshugenah or a crazy person, just a schlemiel

Calling up all my chutzpah, I propose that we adopt another word from Yiddish, the word mentsh or mensch. According to Leo Rosten, a mensch is “someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being ‘a real mensch’ is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous.” Being a mensch is simply being fully human. It means being the person that we were created and graced by God to be.

It also involves seeing others as mensches or menschen, of seeing them as they are in God’s sight, as “crowned with glory and honor.” When we see people as God sees them, we will treat them as he treats them, with love and respect and dignity. We will also treat ourselves with the same graciousness. Little by little, this way of seeing one another will spread. Grace is contagious!

The more we see people as God sees them, the more we will treat them with glory and honor, and they will respond to our respect. We live up or down to how others see us. To see ourselves and others as the images of God, as mensches, changes our behavior and theirs. It can change our culture and even change the world.

Sister Gabriela of the Incarnation is a member of the Discalced Carmelites order in Flemington. Learn more at www.

i am nah photo/unsplash

OSV News/Bob Roller photo

92-year-old parishioner finds joy creating prayer intention cards

Dolores Jules, inset, a 92-year-old member of the Order of Secular Franciscans has created nearly 5,000 prayer intention cards for others who are remembered in prayer at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi’s Blessed Sacrament chapel. Courtesy photos

Ninety-two year old Dolores Jules has a deep love for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. “When I enter the Adoration Chapel the first thing I remember is that Jesus is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament and as I sit and pray I know he hears every word I say, and every thought that crosses my mind. [It] is the most peaceful time to sit before our Lord, to give your heart and soul to him. I just love it.” Her deep enjoyment for this time in prayer inspired a heartwarming project that has been a labor of love for over fifteen years. Now a parishioner of St. Helena’s in Edison, Dolores was professed with the Order of Secular Franciscans since 1992, and has been an active minister in the St. John Vianney Fraternity since 2007.

Dolores was inspired to create a way that adorers can pray especially for the intentions of others. When St. Francis Cathedral in Metuchen began having Adoration in 2007, she was busy creating and donating blank, fillable prayer cards as a “Gift Of Prayer” that could be filled out and sent via the person whose intention was prayed for.


Dolores, who is impressively comfortable with technology for her age, designs the cards via computer program on a CD-ROM, averaging about 300 cards per month. To date, she has made a total of 4,920 cards! And as she nears her 93rd birthday this summer, Dolores emphasized that as long as she knows the Cathedral needs to be restocked with prayer cards, she’s thrilled to keep making them.

While she finds joy in this ministry, Dolores notes that the particular gift in it is that someone can find comfort in knowing that they are being prayed for. She emphasizes that consistent prayer life as well as “keeping busy” as she puts it, has given her a strength and vitality for life.

In addition to making the prayer cards, Dolores also creates and sends greeting cards for members of the fraternities who are celebrating anniversaries, stays connected with prayer ministries online, and enjoys crossword puzzles and spending time with her fifteen great-grandchildren. An embodiment of faith in action, Dolores says, “Going from Gospel to life and life to the Gospel, I try to live my life, my ideas, my prayers and my lifestyle as a witness to God’s Holy Spirit which guides me every day.”

KOPPI ON YOUR ORDINATION AS DEACON 1890 Washington Valley Road Martinsville, NJ 08836 Deacon Eric Koppi ad, quarter page, 4.71 x 5.85" May 10, 2024

St. Matthias Parish

“Confirmation to me is not just any Sacrament. Confirmation is the reception of Jesus Christ in our hearts, which we confirm we believe in through Confirmation,” said Isabel McGuire, a recent Confirmandi in St. Matthias Parish, Somerset.

Bishop James F. Checchio celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation for 44 youth, their sponsors and families May 3 in St. Matthias Church. Father Abraham Orapankal, pastor, and Father Lancelot McGrath, parochial vicar, served as concelebrants.

Throughout the year, Bishop Checchio administers the Sacrament of Confirmation to youth in the many parishes of the Diocese, ensuring the young people complete their Sacraments of Initiation, which include Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace” (1285).

Confirmandi from both St. Matthais School and the parish Growing in Faith Together religious education program are prepared together for Confirmation, providing an opportunity to “form a parish

youth community,” said Dee Nann, pastoral associate for faith formation, who has been involved in Confirmation prep at the parish for 20 years.

As pastor, Father Orapankal shared, “It gives me great joy to see 44 of our young men and women receiving Confirmation. This milestone in their faith journey, as we too have experienced, completes their Sacraments of Initiation to become adult disciples of Jesus. But this is not an end of their faith journey, but a big step in the awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit who enables them to live the values of Jesus in the midst of the present-day culture giving contrary values.

“My hope is that these newly empowered young men and women will continue to be enriched as they stay close to this parish community especially through the Sunday worship and their participation in our youth ministry.”

In addition to the necessary catechetical formation, the parish “partners with the Center for Faith Justice (now Goodfaith) in their service opportunities for middle school youth called ServiceWorx camp,” a one-week experience for students in their 7th and 8th grade year of preparation, said Nann, noting the experience “is facilitated by young adults and

is always a highlight of our program. …”

Highlights from last year’s Confirmation prep include the Grow a Row farm in Pittstown, the Center for Great Expectations in Somerset and the Hillside Food Bank, as well as a church charity in Highland Park where youth helped new immigrants.

Nann explained that youth also participate with one parent in a Confirmation retreat with presenter Colleen Kelly-Raynor, of CKR Retreats, who has been providing informational and transformational retreats for youth and adults for 25 years.

Confirmandi Abigail Joseph acknowledged, “My favorite parts of my Confirmation preparation were the service week and the retreat. I really enjoyed serving alongside my peers and was glad I could help others through my actions. We packed food at the food bank, watched children at the daycare, and helped out around the nursing home. The retreat was a beautiful experience. The presenter, Colleen, did an excellent job of reminding us why we were receiving Confirmation. Colleen ended her session with Adoration. That was an awesome experience …”

Isabel recalled the Confirmation sessions “hosted in order to prepare for such a beautiful Sacrament helped me develop a much better understanding of

why I would desire to be confirmed and prepared me for all the steps leading up to Confirmation, such as ServiceWorx [which] was a huge eye-opener for me.

“It allowed me to see how much of an impact kindness and helpfulness make on others. Through ServiceWorx, I was able to see that God calls us to help everyone willingly and selflessly, and that was exactly what everyone participating did. All in all, I would not have known the true meaning of Confirmation if it had not been for all the sessions and ServiceWorx.”

Jill Kerekes, diocesan director, Office of Faith Formation for Children, reflected on the Sacrament, saying, “Confirmation makes you a soldier in Jesus’ army. If you are open to the increase and deepening of the baptismal graces this sacrament provides, you are fortified with the power to proclaim, defend, and be a Christian witness to the world.

“My hope is that all those that have received the gift of the Sacrament of Confirmation embrace their role of being the salt and light in the world, especially in their families, in their schools, and with their friends. Continue to live the sacramental life, pray, and grow in knowledge and love of Jesus. The Church needs you!”

Top, Bishop James F. Checchio celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation May 3 in St. Matthias Parish, Somerset. Left, the Bishop confirms a beaming young man, one of 44 students confirmed at the Mass. Right, pastor Father Abraham Orapankal and parochial vicar Father Lancelot McGrath were concelebrants. —John Batkowski photos

The Church needs men to be active, involved, open to the Spirit

Catholic men need to be involved in their Church; the Church needs its men to be involved. These were two strong messages that emerged from the Leadership Summit for the Men of the County Seat Deanery held at Mary Mother of God Parish, Hillsborough, on Friday and Saturday, April 26-27. The event was organized by the diocesan Office of Evangelization and Communication.

More than 40 men from the nine parishes of the Deanery attended the sessions on Friday evening and Saturday. The speaker for both days was John Edwards, founder of Pew Ministries, an organization dedicated to bringing the person of Jesus Christ to the person in the pew in a relatable way. He is also the host of the podcast “Just a Guy in the Pew.”

After Msgr. Joseph Curry, pastor,

welcomed participants, Adam Carlisle, Secretary for Evangelization and Communication, began the Friday evening session with some sobering and frightening statistics about the state of the Church in the United States today: since 2000 infant baptisms are down 28%; Catholic sacramental marriages have decreased by 41%; one in three Catholic men have stopped practicing their faith and many who remain are at best casual Catholics.

Carlisle suggested one potential solution to this crisis is, “the need to make the Church more attractive and welcoming to fathers who might lead their families back to active participation of the faith.”

Edwards then shared his conversion story entitled, “from addict to evangelist.” It was the story of a man who had lost his way and contact with the Church and how his journey back to the faith inspired him to develop a proven method

“Many Catholic men are in the same boat. We are looking for a means to join with other men in celebrating and sharing our faith.”

of building a brotherhood of Catholic men who aspire to virtue. After Edwards outlined the program for the next day, there was an opportunity for informal discussions and fellowship.

Saturday began with Mass, followed by the first of four sessions outlining the program and steps to implement it. Edwards said that men are taught to hide and repress their feelings and emotions and this reticence tends to hold them back from visible displays and practice of their faith, but from his experiences, he learned, “Catholic men want to live and share their faith with other Catholic men. They need other Catholic men to support them as they seek to become better husbands, fathers, and disciples of Jesus.”

Frank Ratkowsky a parishioner at Immaculate Conception, Somerville,

said he realized from listening to the presentations and in discussions with other men at the sessions that “Catholic men must learn to be vulnerable and open to the Spirit if they are to have any impact on their Parish.”

“This program for a ministry to and with other Catholic men sounds great and I believe it is where the Lord is leading me,” said Patrick Dillon of St. Matthias Parish Somerset.

Edwards said many men’s groups get started but eventually seem to run out of steam. His program has been successful because it deals directly with that problem, it is structured to provide what men want and need.

Kevin Hart from the Church of the Holy Trinity, Bridgewater, felt that Edwards’ presentation highlighted a fact that “many Catholic men are in the same boat. We are looking for a means to join with other men in celebrating and sharing our faith.” Hart believes that the program as presented might be very successful here in New Jersey if two or more parishes coordinated in developing and hosting such a program.

John Edwards’ message throughout the summit was that the success he has had in his own parish and 30 others can be duplicated in many parishes if men are inspired to develop and lead programs that offer what men want in their Church.

Participants in the Summit used the time to share stories and discuss the program that seeks to enable men to be a positive influence in filling the pews.

Keynote speaker John Edwards, top photo, spoke with men during a Leadership Summit for the Men of the County Seat, April 26-27, in Mary, Mother of God Parish, Hillsborough. —Hal Brown photos

Women’s Cursillo a time of personal encounter, growth in Christ


The beautiful and quiet rolling hills of Warren County belied the intense spiritual activity inside the Blue Army Shrine in Asbury, where eleven women from a variety of parishes gathered for a powerful three-day Cursillo experience April 11-14, connecting them to the teachings of the Church, her sacramental life and witnessing to Christ.

Cursillo has its roots in Spain and the 1940s, including Pope Pius XII’s exhortation to address the great number of fallen-away Christians, challenging Church leaders to help people return to their Christian values. In response, a group formed in 1941 and soon realized the need for education, which began with Cursillo de Christiandad, or Short Course in Christianity. Today it has grown into a vast international movement.

For three days, the women embarked on a journey of encounter with Christ and each other, seeking to promote a desire for a deeper, more profound relationship with God. This happened through a series of 15 talks, 10 from laity and five from clergy or religious, based on living what is fundamental to being Christian, group discussions, times of silence, opportunities for prayer, Confession, Mass and meditation all within a Eucharistic community.

The closing on Sunday afternoon, April 14, began as participants and other invitees gathered in the small chapel. Cursillo Rectora Regina DePrima summarized the experience, saying, “So, we just had to be our authentic selves, and our Lord was palpable.”

DePrima invited participants to offer testimonies about the weekend, with no shortage of volunteers wishing to speak about their experiences, and they did so with deep affection.

Parish, Branchville, Diocese of Paterson, spoke of the “nonstop love that overflowed everywhere, and the simplicity to just ‘be’.”

Eileen Walsh, also from Queen of Peace, shared her reticence to speak up to others with her beliefs about such critical issues as abortion, “but now I’m not timid,” she acknowledged. Fellow parishioner Patti Ehrhardt wanted to “thank my team, [and] Jesus,” saying, “I love you all.”

Claudette Gaspard, from St. Matthias Parish, Somerset, rose to thank her sponsor, Bill Grippo, who sponsored five women from the parish and who serves as diocesan coordinator for Metuchen Cursillo. In his letter of invitation to the women’s weekend, Grippo, explained, “The Cursillo Movement encourages small groups of Christians, baptized Catholics, to become apostolic leaders and witnesses in their normal everyday environment.”

During the weekend’s closing Grippo reminded participants and invited guests, “Cursillo is a mission and a movement.” Calling attention to the beautiful stone walls of the chapel which lends itself to prayer and reflection, he concluded with the exhortation that, “It is comfortable to stay in here, but the roughest part of Cursillo is when you go back outside these beautiful stone walls (and evangelize).”

In order to continue formation and keep enthusiasm and commitment strong for Cursillistas, those who have completed a Cursillo three-day weekend, DePrima encouraged the women to participate in what is known as The Fourth Day, which includes small, informal Reunion Groups, which meet locally, and a monthly meeting called an Ultreya, which meets throughout the Diocese.

DePrima gave special thanks to Do-

Above left, a joyful, inspired group of 11 women, and invited guests offer praise and thanksgiving at the April 14 closing ceremony of a three-day Women’s Cursillo experience at the Blue Army Shrine, Asbury. Above right, at the closing, Cursillo Rectora Regina DePrima summarized the experience for the women, saying, “We just had to be ourselves and our Lord was palpable.” Bottom photo, Claudette Gaspard, a parishioner from St. Matthias, Somerset, offers her testimony and thanks her sponsor, Bill Grippo, diocesan coordinator for Metuchen Cursillo. —Hal Brown photos

minican Sister of Peace Cathy Buchanan, who travelled from Connecticut to both serve as a speaker and assist with the Cursillo; Father John Primich, Metuchen Cursillo’s spiritual advisor, who gave a talk and celebrated Sacraments; Franciscan Friar of the Renewal Father Luke Mary Fletcher, Blue Army Shrine chaplain who celebrated Mass and gave a talk; Deacon Pete DePrima, who serves in St. James Parish, Basking Ridge, and gave two presentations, and Father Ron Jandernoa, pastor, St. Jude Parish, Blair-

stown, who also gave a presentation.

Special thanks also went to speakers Mary Wolfram, Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Fords; Denyse Giannone, St. John Vianney Parish, Colonia; Linda Ambrosio, St. John the Evangelist Parish, Dunellen, and Ronnie Collingwood, Mary, Mother of God Parish, Hillsborough.

For more information about the Metuchen Cursillo Movement visit Mary Morrell, editor-in-chief, contributed to this story.


Immaculata robotics team super-charged at world competition

Robotics club members from Immaculata High School showed some Jersey moxie during a recent world championship in Texas. The Somerville Catholic high school’s “Team 1279 Cold Fusion” ranked 73rd amongst 600 competitors from around the world in the 2024 FIRST Robotics Competition held April 17-20 in the George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston.

“Qualifying is a big thing,” asserted Andrew Simon, moderator of the eight-member club and physics/engineering teacher in the Somerset County school. “All the other schools in the competition took along 50 kids and had 10 times the budget. But the important thing is what our kids had between their ears.”

The FIRST Robotics Competition is a unique mix of sport, science and technology, with teams of students designing, building and testing their academic skills by constructing a robot destined for competition. Immaculata’s build season runs from early January to late February, meeting three hours per day, four days per week, and six hours on Saturdays. Wood, metal, electronics and wiring are assembled by the students and tested by the work of their peers during competitions in March and April.

The journey to the world competition in Houston was preceded by competitions in Mount Olive, Warren Hills, and a Mid-Atlantic District championship at Pennsylvania’s Lehigh University. Simon detailed a particularly difficult day in Warren Hills when, though nothing seemed to go as planned, challenges tested the mettle of the young IHS club members and found them worthy.

“They overcame a lot of adversity, obstacles and roadblocks to achieve [second place],” he recalled. “Everything went wrong – we had wiring issues, student illness and low team morale. Any other team would have given up, but our kids did not. They never complained, blamed, or gave up.”

Simon detailed the team’s “stellar” results at the Mid-Atlantic District championship in an email to the school and supporters, noting Cold Fusion had finished in the top eight of 60 teams. “Our team was one of only 600 out of almost 10,000 from around the world invited to compete,” he proudly announced. “Our Mid-Atlantic District only sent 22 out of the 128 teams comprising it. We finished ranked 22 out of 128.”

Immaculata ranked third amongst Catholic schools in the entire Mid-Atlantic; second amongst New Jersey Catholic schools, and the first-ranked Catholic co-ed school in the state. Including the Houston competition, Team 1279 Cold Fusion was 24-34-0 in 2024 official play.

This year’s FIRST Robotics competition, entitled “Crescendo,” pitted two alliances of three teams against opponents

competing to score or play notes in each of three field elements: amplify their speaker, get on stage or harmonize in the spotlight before time runs out. Giant rings are hurled toward a target by the robot; the human player also lends his or her skill to help the team amass points. Livestreaming from the Houston convention center revealed hundreds of young competitors cheering on their multicolored creations with decibels rivaling a rock concert.

Simon, an IHS 2017 alumnus, recalled his days in the club and said the skills he and current members gained went beyond proficiency in the STEM realm. “It goes beyond STEM. It teaches self-confidence, teamwork, time management and a sense of belonging; we would take and all students that were interested,” he said. “It’s a lot more than building a robot, and they can be an ambassador to other teens.”

Robotics taught me so much about fostering meaningful relationships and gaining insight into the intricate world of mechanics. The collaborative atmosphere allows me to embrace creativity and share unforgettable moments together. Despite facing stressful moments and heartbreaking losses, these experiences have taught me to push even harder every time we fell down, striving for victory even when so many things went wrong. Robotics is not just a club, but an experience that completely altered my perspective on life, showing me that nothing is truly impossible.

Will Cantono, sophomore

During my time on the team I developed more effective communication, improved my time management skills, and increased my confidence, even taking on a role as co-captain … Being confident in my abilities and knowledge is something that will greatly impact my life as a student and help me to succeed in whatever future path I take. I am very grateful for Team 1279 Cold Fusion! Arianna Sviderskis-Carroll, junior

We, in competing, have learned a big lesson that will help us through even more than our academic career. We learned to respect our competitors. In competitions our competitors from one round will become our allies in the next, so we must be well mannered to everyone at all times.”

Erikson Wadehn, freshman; Max Wadehn, junior

To read all the team members’ reflections, visit

Top, the Immaculata High School Cold Fusion robotics club is all smiles at their strong finish at the 2-24 FIRST Robotics Competition held April 17-20 in Houston. Bottom left and right, the Somerset Catholic school’s robot 1279 accomplished feats against mechanical and human opponents to score 73rd amongst 600 competitors. —Courtesy photos

The clergy, the staff and the members of Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Piscataway, NJ, rejoice with

on the occasion of his Ordination to the Diaconate.

May God Bless you, Jacinto, as you begin your new ministry!

I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry.

Timothy 1:12

Our Lady of Fatima Roman Catholic Church

Our Lady of Fatima, half page, 9.6 x 5.85”, May 10, 2024

St. Thomas Aquinas High School STREAM Faire showcases creativity, innovation

Innovation and creativity were on display at the St. Thomas Aquinas High School STREAM Faire, Edison, April 18, when students from all disciplines came together to display their remarkable projects, drawing in classmates, grammar schoolers, teachers, and parents alike.

The STREAM Faire, now in its sixth year, embraces a broad variety of student talents, including science, technology, religion, engineering, arts, music, and math. This year’s event featured an array of projects, 34 prepared by STA students and eight by grammar school students, ranging from a demonstration of the quantum mechanics double-slit experiment, robotics displays, metal forging, and even chicken anatomy featuring an appearance by live chickens. Outside, attendees were treated to live music and grilled food, adding to the festive atmosphere.

Olivia Locandro, co-creator of the Science of Music booth along with Carlie Kolomyetz and Selena Catanzano, commented on the group’s inspiration for the project: “We wanted to combine our love for music and science and create something unique that would give others a different perspective on something that everyone enjoys: music.”

Reflecting on the event’s success,

STEM Director Mike Lewon empha sized the dedication of the STEM Club and STEM homeroom students, who put in significant time and effort to make the event a reality: “This has been a very successful event, with an emphasis on science and technology projects. The col laboration and teamwork among students in STEM Club and the STEM homeroom have been truly remarkable.”

Months, if not years, of preparation culminated in this extraordinary event. STEM Club leaders Sandra Abrantes, Victoria Aldridge and Natalie Mercado shared similar insight into what went into preparing for this event: “It’s an all-year long process of planning, brainstorming, and encouraging people when they en counter obstacles in their projects. What really gets it done is everyone working together.”

The STREAM Faire is a testament to the talent, creativity, and collabora tive spirit of St. Thomas Aquinas High School students. As projects were un veiled and shared with the community, it became evident that the STREAM Faire has become a highlight of the school year, fostering a culture of innovation and exploration.

For more information about St. Thom as Aquinas High School and its STEM ini tiatives, visit

Michael Kowalczyk serves as commu nications director of St. Thomas Aquinas High School.

The Solo Parent Ministry, now in its 26th year, is inviting you to a spiritual weekend retreat conducted in an atmosphere of prayerful reflection and designed to give you a fresh outlook on your role as a solo parent or as a mature single.

The Solo Parent’s Encounter is open to all Roman Catholics, Christians, all those who want to encounter Jesus, all nationalities, all age groups, including but not limited to the following profile:

1. Widow/Widower

2. Divorced

3. Single with child/children, natural or adopted

4. Single, 40 years old and over without children

5. Married but separated from spouse

6. Married whose spouse is incapacitated

7. Married with a spouse working abroad

June 28-30, 2024

Sacred Heart Retreat Center 20 Old Swartswood Road, Newton NJ 07860

Fee: $160 (2-nights, 2-day stay, includes food and lodging for two nights)

Contact persons: Ofel Paypon & Ruth Ureta (201-456-0982) or email for more details

Please register online at https://www. or scan the QR code with your smart phone camera to register.

Top, Seniors Ashley Calix and Suhana Divatia demonstrate the principle of viscosity at “The Human Bubble” booth. —Maria Giannotto ‘24 photo Below, Freshman Sofia Pedroso recreates the famous quantum physics double slit experiment. —Mike Kowalczyk photo
BLD - BUKAS-LOOB SA DIYOS Solo Parents Encounter #24
BLD ad, quarter page, 5.85 x 4.71” horizontal May 9, 2024 That’s what’s missing from The Catholic Spirit! Send your ideas for stories about your parish or school to We’ll be glad you did!

First Grade

First Place

Aliah Rousseau

St. James the Less, Jamesburg Religious Education

Second Place

Sneha Cheruku

St. Helena Catholic School, Edison

Honorable Mention

Leo Kim

Our Lady of Mercy, South Bound Brook Religious Education

Second Grade Fourth Grade

First Place

Jasper Manibo

St. Matthias Catholic School, Somerset

Second Place

Daviel Rodriguez

Perth Amboy Catholic School, Perth Amboy

Third Grade

First Place

Juliana Antonia Arroyo

Perth Amboy Catholic School, Perth Amboy

Second Place

Jimmy Smith

St. Bartholomew Catholic School, East Brunswick

First Place

Caroline Watkins Immaculate Conception Catholic School, Annandale Second Place Amora Marie Hawkins St. Stanilaus Kostka Catholic School, Sayreville Aliah Juliana Caroline Amora Jimmy Daviel Sneha Leo Jasper

The Office of Human Life & Dignity held its annual Respect Life Poster Contest for Catholic Schools and Religious Education students, grades 1-8.

Fifth Grade

First Place

Lucas Perrotta St. Ambrose Catholic School, Old Bridge

Second Place

Arianna Taveras

St. Matthias Catholic School, Somerset

This year students were asked to reflect on the “Beauty of Motherhood” and to draw a picture showing how moms celebrate and share the selfless blessing of the opportunity for new life with happiness and unconditional love.

There were 160 entries with 16 Catholic Schools and 12 religious education programs participating. The posters were judged by diocesan staff based on creativity, clarity of message and visual appeal.

Once again, the winning posters will be used to make a 2024-2025 calendar. To order a calendar contact Angela at 732-562-1543 or amarshall@ Cost is $5.

Seventh Grade Sixth Grade Eigth Grade

First Place Tie

Anthony Romero Enriquez

Most Holy Name of Jesus, Perth Amboy

Religious Education

First Place Tie

Srinasini Marimganti

St. Augustine of Canterbury Catholic School, Kendall Park

Second Place

Malia H. Holy Savior Academy, Bound Brook

First Place

Khushi Kaur Randhawa

St. Bartholomew Catholic School, East Brunswick

Second Place

Layla Villanueva

St. Matthias Catholic School, Somerset

First Place

Sophia Stadtmiller St. John Vianney Catholic School, Colonia

Second Place

Aleah Theresa Rodriguez

St. Matthias Catholic School, Somerset

Lucas Khushi Sophia Aleah Layla Anthony Malia Arianna Srinasini



Deacon Carl E. Psota recalls the exact day he began to consider taking up the mantle of servant in the Church, a 35-year commitment which continues today.

“My call to serve God came very early to me” said Deacon Psota. It was the day of my First Holy Communion, however, it was the discernment process that took much longer. I think that I began to think of the permanent diaconate when I first heard that Pope Paul

“I am filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and humility. Serving God’s people, journeying with them in good times and bad has been a privilege and an honor.”

Born in South Amboy in 1942, Psota attended Middlesex County College, Edison, and earned Blue Seal License and Real Estate License. He worked at Public Service Electric and Gas, Linden, as a Blue Seal Operator; at Amerada Hess, Port Reading, as a terminal operator, and at Gerdau Ameristeel, Perth Amboy, in quality control.

Deacon Psota began his diaconal training when his younger daughter was in grammar school, studying at the College of St. Elizabeth, Morristown, and earning his pastoral training certificate in 1998. He was ordained at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, Metuchen in June, 1989 by then-Bishop Edward T. Hughes.

Deacon Psota spent the entirety of his diaconate at St. James Parish, Woodbridge, serving the parishioners via baptismal preparation, separated/divorced ministry, pre-Cana and marriage encounter. He has been married to his wife, Judith Ann, for 59 years, has two daughters, Beth Ann and Amy Patricia, and eight grandchildren.

Though he has retired and moved from the Diocese of Metuchen, Psota continues to serve the faithful, this time about 850 miles to the south. The deacon assists the new parish administrator at his new spiritual home: St. Theresa of the Little Flower of Jesus Church in Douglasville, Ga.

“Since I retired last June from active ministry,” the longtime deacon reflected, “I am filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and humility. Serving God’s people, journeying with them in good times and bad has been a privilege and an honor.”

Being a deacon helped Frank J. Quinn grow not only his spirituality, but that of his two children, he said, coupled with a mission of serving those who need spiritual or other nourishment.

“I think back to all the different things we have done: food banks, housing, pregnancy aid …” said Deacon Quinn, to name a few. But there is an added dimension to Deacon Quinn’s ministry that he has shared for 35 years at the parish where he grew up: Immaculate Conception in Somerville.

“I take after St. Francis of Assisi, my patron saint,” he said. “We have a rosary garden that I worked on.” The garden, which is behind the parish’s chapel, features Blessed Mother statues, a fountain, memorial trees and more. “It’s a real place of meditation,” he said.

Deacon Quinn was ordained June 17, 1989, by the late Bishop Edward T. Hughes in the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, Metuchen.

While Deacon Quinn has also served the parish for marriage preparation, fundraising as well as administering or witnessing the Sacraments for parishioners, one of his joys in diaconate ministry has been teaching faith formation to children, with many of them immigrants who fell through the cracks in terms of missing their early Sacraments, notably Reconciliation and Eu charist. “It was a remarkable experience,” he recalled.

“I think back to all the different things we have done: food banks, housing, pregnancy aid …”

Deacon Quinn also has come full circle, he said. “I had a girl the other day come to me; she said, ‘My mother told me to remind you that you baptized me,” he said. “She was coming to me to get married.”

Now retired as Somerville’s parks and recreation director, Deacon Quinn continues serving, celebrating or assisting at Baptisms, weddings and funerals and more. He preaches, takes care of the garden and teaches a Confirmation class. He most recently was asked to take care of the parish cemetery.

“I should have read the fine print of my contract,” he said, chuckling.

“When I serve at Mass and especially when I preach, I feel that I am contributing to Christ’s mission.”

Deacon Gerard Sims has crammed plenty of ministry to the flock in his church role. He has served at St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish in Bridgewater since his ordination 35 years ago, encouraged by his late pastor, Father John Brundage.

“I didn’t know much about it,” Deacon Sims said of the diaconate, “but my wife [Debbie] and I learned more about it and prayed about it.”

Since then he has learned by doing: teaching Baptism and marriage preparation classes; starting an annual golf outing that continues; and holding “Donut Sunday,” a community-building social gathering.

The Bergen County native has also run programs for new parishioners, facilitated a prison ministry, conducted Communion services at area nursing homes, and volunteered in missionary work in Guatemala.

“The diaconate has been a great blessing to me,” Deacon Sims said. “I truly enjoy serving God’s people. When I serve at Mass and especially when I preach, I feel that I am contributing to Christ’s mission.”

He has found opportunities to evangelize in the sacramental classes, parish retreats and tending to the poor.

Like many deacons, Deacon Sims also noted it has been especially meaningful for him to preside at the weddings of his children and his grandchildren’s Baptisms.

The deacon and his wife, who are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year, have four children: Ian, Luke and Carmella DuBois. A son, Jason died at age 10. They also have six grandchildren.

While gratified to play the role of serving his fellow parishioners and others in the Somerset County parish and community, Deacon Sims said he was fortunate to witness the work others did in wanting to follow Jesus Christ more closely and seriously. They inspired him.

“I saw some true Christian servants in my parish,” Deacon Sims said.

Deacon Sims was ordained in June of 1989 by the late Bishop Edward T. Hughes in the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral, Metuchen.

, Correspondent

Taking an active part in society belongs to the baptismal mission of every Christian in accordance with his or her state in life, but the permanent deacon has a special witness to give. The sacramental grace of his ordination is meant to strengthen him and to make his efforts fruitful, even as his secular occupation gives him entry into the temporal sphere in a way that is normally not appropriate for other members of the clergy. At the same time, the fact that he is an ordained minister of the Church brings a special dimension to his efforts in the eyes of those with whom he lives and works.”

Pope St. John Paul II, 1987

Deacon GERARD C. SIMS St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Bridgewater
Deacon CARL E. PSOTA Retired - St. James, Woodbridge
FRANK J. QUINN Immaculate Conception, Somerville


St. Mary, Alpha


Dennis K. Webster credits a priest with planting the seed that slowly sprouted toward Webster becoming a deacon.

“In the early years following my marriage to my wife Kathleen, and the birth of our first three children, I would attend Mass in the Church of St. Michael, Cranford, as a non-Catholic,” Deacon Webster said. He met the late Msgr. John Davis, who served the parish as pastor from 1969-1982.

“He took an interest in me, and invited me, in a welcoming way, to join the Catholic Church,” said Deacon Webster, who was eventually ordained by the Metuchen Diocese’s second bishop, the late Edward T. Hughes. The late Rev. J. William Mickiewicz, who was pastor of St. John Neumann Parish, Califon, vest ed Deacon Webster during his 1989 ordination at St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral.

“I give thanks to God, who I feel called me to this vocation to serve.”


Immaculate Conception, Somerville


Deacon George always had a calling to be a priest but then he met his wife, Mary Elizabeth. However, the Lord was not done seeking him out. “I think our Blessed Mother pointed me to the diaconate,” he revealed. While visiting the Shrine of the Blessed Mother in Washington, he remembers kneeling before her statue and reading a sign, which said, “’Please do not touch our Blessed Mother, she will touch you.’ And she did.”

Deacon John Czekaj has a three-pronged approach to serving God’s people. He said, “First, I use the ministry of presence which fosters the building of relationships with those to whom I minister. As a sower, I provide seeds for parishioners to have thoughts about Jesus. This leads to a deeper spiritual union with God.”

Along with the regular duties of a deacon, he enjoyed his time spent ministering to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities at Green Brook Regional Center from 2000 to 2010.

The Hunterdon County resident has served three Hunterdon County parishes including St. John, Immacu late Conception, Annandale, and St. Catherine of Siena, Baptistown.

He said he has felt accepted and welcomed over the years into church members’ most intimate and pre cious moments of their lives, from birth to death.

Among the highlights of his ministry, Deacon Webster cited witnessing a wedding of a St. Catherine’s parishioner at the Naval Academy Chapel, Annapolis, Maryland, and participating in several funerals for parishioners from St. John at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

While family obligations keep Deacon Webster from being as active in ministry as he would like,he still tries to attend to one area that has been his main interest: shut-ins.

“Before being ordained I would bring communion to a woman who had multiple sclerosis,” he said. “I always seemed to be drawn to people who were sick. I did feel a connection and still do to this day.”

The Elizabeth native trained to be a certified shorthand reporter in federal court but changed careers within the federal government and has been working under the Department of Veterans Affairs at the Lyons VA Medical Center in New Jersey.

He and Kathleen have five adult children and six grandsons.

“As I look back over these last 35 years,” Deacon Webster said, “I give thanks to God, who I feel called me to this vocation to serve.”

“The experience not only brought me closer to Christ but also to our Blessed Mother.”

to St. Mary Parish, Alpha, for five years, then trans ferred to St. Joseph Parish, Washington, from 1999 to 2007, and then back to St. Mary’s through 2022.

“I still remember when Bishop Hughes told us at our first meeting … that we would become a lot closer to Christ, and that was absolutely true,” he recalled. “The experience not only brought me closer to Christ but also to our Blessed Mother.” Thus, his mission has always been: “To bring everyone closer to Christ and our Blessed Mother.”

After serving for 27 years, Deacon George retired from ministry two years ago. His wife passed away five years ago, after 65 years of marriage, but he is blessed with three children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren. “Serving as a deacon was a wonderful experience,” he expressed. He enjoyed serving the people most of all, especially teaching the RCIA pro gram and bringing the Eucharist to those who could not get to Mass.

DHaving been educated in Catholic schools for most of his life, Deacon Czekaj said that he was “always aware of the importance of having a relationship with God.”

He feels that the calling to his vocation was “specifically Trinitarian.” He responded as each person does when called, “such as Mary responded to the

Deacon Czekaj earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh in 1970, while also majoring in theology. Ciba-Geigy Pharmaceuticals, later Novartis, employed him as a biologist from 1971 to 2009.

He completed his diaconate training in St. Elizabeth College, Convent Station, in 1994, and was ordained that same year by the late Bishop Edward T. Hughes in St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral, Metuchen. Deacon Czekaj also earned a Focus Group Pre-Marital

He began ministry as a deacon in Sacred Parish, New Brunswick, then served in St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Three Bridges, followed by Our Lady of Mount Virgin Parish, Middlesex, and moving to Immaculate Conception Parish, Somerville, from 2012 to

Deacon Czekaj and wife, Barbara Ann, have three children, and he is an avid fisherman and gardener. , correspondent

“As a sower, I provide seeds for parishioners to have thoughts about Jesus. This leads to a deeper spiritual union with God.”

eacons remind the Church that what Saint Theresa discovered is true: the Church has a heart enflamed by love. Yes, a humble heart throbbing with service. Deacons remind us of this when, like the deacon Saint Francis, they bring God’s closeness to others without imposing themselves, serving with humility and joy. The generosity of a deacon who gives of himself without seeking the front ranks has about him the perfume of the Gospel, he tells of the greatness of God’s humility in taking the first step – always, God always takes the first step –to meet even those who have turned their backs on him.”

Pope Francis, June 19, 2021

Deacon DENNIS K.WEBSTER Retired - St. Catherine of Siena, Pittstown


Our Lady of Lourdes, Milltown


For Deacon Stephen Holzinger II, his personal mission as a deacon has always been “to serve the Church and help build up the Kingdom of God around me.”

He acknowledged being inspired by the example of Deacon Francis Morano, St. Matthais Parish, Somerset, especially by how he lived his life and how he treated and ministered to others.

“He was holy without being pious and probably the gentlest man I’ve ever known,” Deacon Holzinger shared. “I met him when I joined St. Matthias Parish in the early 80s. He passed away about five years ago and I assisted at his funeral Mass,” he said.

“My mission has been to serve the Church and help build up the Kingdom of God around me.”



“It meant everything to me,” said Deacon Richard McCarron when he spoke about his service in St. Augustine of Canterbury Parish, Kendall Park, from 1994 to 2013.

Born in the Bronx, Deacon McCarron attended Hunter College in 1965 and worked on Wall Street as a foreign currency broker from 1970 to 2003.

His diaconal training was in St. Elizabeth College, Convent Station, from 1990 to 1994 where he received a Certificate in Ministry.

The late Bishop Edward Hughes ordained Dea con McCarron in 1994 in the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, Metuchen. The late Msgr.William Capano served as his vesting clergy.

Deacon McCarron and his late wife, Susan, had seven children – Richard McCarron Jr., Kevin, Brian, Terence, Erin, Colleen and Daniel.

Over the years, said Deacon McCarron, he came to learn “how supportive Susan was because a deacon’s wife has to do many things alone when her husband has church commitments.”

The couple met Patrick Kilcoyne at a Marriage Encounter in 1978, and observed him go through the process of diaconate formation. This inspired Deacon McCarron to become a deacon himself. “We were like brothers,” he said. The late Deacon Kilcoyne served at St. Bartholomew Parish in East Brunswick.


During his life, Deacon Joseph Moscinski came to realize that “growth in the interior life is a process.”

Deacon Moscinksi first attended Fordham University, N.Y., where he developed his love of writing, earning a Master of Arts Degree in English.

“It taught me not to say much, but that listening to them was most important,”

Deacon Holzinger, who has been married to wife Patti for 49 years, has two children and two grandchildren. He has lived out his personal mission through his ministry assignments in both Saint Matthias Parish, Somerset, and his current parish of Our Lady of Lourdes, Milltown, including visits to the sick and elderly, both at home and in institutions, preaching, assisting at the altar, celebrating sacraments, Order of Christian Initiation for Adults, and serving as pastoral staff liaison for marriage and baptismal preparation among other ministries.

“I especially enjoyed doing prayer services at nursing homes and assisted living centers,” he said.

Deacon Holzinger received his certificate in ministry from the College of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station, where he studied from 1990 – 1994. He was ordained in 1994 in the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, Metuchen, by Bishop Edward T. Hughes. Father John Barbella served as vesting clergy.

Having studied to become an electronics technician at DeVry Technical Institute, Deacon Holzinger has had a distinguished and varied career in the field, including various positions at Somerset County Transportation, Bridgewater, ending with Community Transit manager from 2000-2015. Since retiring in 2015, he enjoys golf and assisting in the active adult community where he lives.

“... how supportive Susan was because a deacon’s wife has to do many things alone when her husband has church commitments.”

During his ministry in St. Augustine of Canter bury Parish, Deacon McCarron conducted Pre-Cana classes and bereavement support, made hospital visits, performed marriages, and baptized more than 1,000 babies. He was also the confidant of married individ uals who had problems. At St. Joseph High School, Metuchen, he served as director of Pastoral Life and Campus Ministry.

Today, church obligations such as OCIA (Order of Christian Initiation of Adults) classes, bereavement sup port and paperwork for marriage preparation and annul ments, still take up most of his time. Having relocated to North Carolina, Deacon McCarron continues to serve as a deacon in St. Mark Parish, Huntersville, which, he said, “has 15,000 parishioners and is super active.”

For a time, he was in formation with the Jesuits, but eventually discerned God was calling him to a different vocation. He later married his wife, Patricia. Among his three children was Christopher, who became Franciscan Friar of the Renewal Father Fidelis Moscinski, ordained for the Archdiocese of New York

Deacon Moscinski served as homilist for Father Fidelis’ first Mass.

The late Bishop Edward T. Hughes ordained Deacon Moscinski in 1994 in the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, Metuchen, after diaconal training was completed in St. Elizabeth College, Convent Station.

Deacon Moscinski served in ministry in St. Joseph Parish, Carteret, and St. Joseph Parish, Hillsborough, performing a “gamut of deacon’s duties.” He especially liked preaching, though he acknowledged that the most meaningful ministry for him was the 11 years he spent serving mentally ill patients in Carrier Clinic, Belle Mead. “It taught me not to say much, but that listening to them was most important,” he said.

Deacon Moscinski, who taught English in Colonia High School for 36 years, continued to write, authoring the book, “Notes from the Desert: A Canticle of Prayer” which highlights the life of the Hermits of Bethlehem, Pa.

He is quoted often on their webpage, where his thoughts lead others to understand and seek out a life of silence, solitude and sacrifice. He writes, “In solitude God takes off our masks. The bad news, or so we may think, is we have nothing to hide behind. The good news is we are now face to Face.”

Now retired, Deacon Moscinski is a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Three Bridges. By Marianne Komek, Correspondent and Mary Morrell, Editor

irstly, I expect you to be humble. … Let all the good you do be a secret between you and God. And so it will bear fruit. Secondly, I expect you to be good spouses and good fathers. And good grandparents. This will give hope and consolation to couples who are going through difficult times and who will find in your genuine simplicity an outstretched hand. … Doing everything with joy, without complaining: it is a testimony that is worth more than many sermons.”

Pope Francis, 2021


Deacon MICHAEL MURTHA Relocated, PA


While Deacon Michael Murtha is currently serving in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, he makes it clear that a piece of his heart is still very much in the Diocese of Metuchen. Born in Pittston, Pa., Deacon Murtha spent his early life in Pa. before moving to N.J. in 1980. He then became a parishioner at Our Lady of Victories, Sayreville.

After a few years there, he was approached by one of the associate priests and asked if he ever considered the diaconate. While he was praying about this, Msgr Terrance Lawler, then pastor, mentioned the question to Murtha again. Deacon Michael recalls, “[This was] without knowing it had been brought up before, and I knew it was a call from the Holy Spirit.” Deacon Michael attended the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown, and was ordained May 21, 1994, by the late Bishop Edward T. Hughes.


St. John Vianney, Colonia

“I always feel the call and do what I am asked.”

“I’m constantly reminded of the goodness of the people of the parishes because I see it every day.”

Deacon Murtha continued his service to the diocese in St. Cecilia, Monmouth Junction, until he returned to his home state of Pennsylvania in 2019. To day, he serves in St Joseph’s in Downingtown, Pa., as parish ministry coordinator where he oversees a total of 75 ministries. It is the vibrancy of the parish that speaks to Murtha’s heart. “We have seven masses each weekend and each one is full!” he said.

Particularly meaningful for Deacon Murtha is his work in bereavement ministry and walking with parishioners through grief. Witnessing how the members of the group support and love one another while carrying their own cross, has particularly inspired him. “This has been the biggest source of grace for me. I marvel at the fact that we are all wounded healers.”

In reflecting on his 30th anniversary. Deacon Murtha calls the work he has been able to do over the years “truly humbling.” He continues to find the Lord’s sustaining goodness in the love and support of his family and the parishioners. I’m constantly reminded of the goodness of the people of the parishes because I see it every day.”

Deacon Joseph Ragucci has spent the past thirty years serving the parish of St. John Vianney in Colonia. Originally from Woodbridge, his call to the diaconate began at St. Joseph’s Parish, Carteret, where he and his wife Rose were parishioners during their first fifteen years of their marriage.

It was in meeting, learning and serving alongside the Servite Priests and the Servants of Mary there when he first felt called to and encouraged to use his gifts to become a deacon. Though he and his wife moved from Carteret and became active at St. John Vianney Parish, the connection to the community there inspired them to continue to serve at St. Joseph’s for a time.

Deacon Ragucci attended the College of St. Eliz abeth, Morristown, and was ordained a deacon on May 21, 1994, by the late Bishop Edward T. Hughes in the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, Metuchen. Over the years he has served at the helm of many parish ministries at St. John Vianney including being parish coordinator for adult education working with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, Pre-Cana, and adult Confirmation, as well as young adult ministries just to name a few.

Deacon Ragucci notes, however, that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed some things. Though he is less involved in coordinating these pro grams today, there is no shortage of ways for Ragucci to serve the parish. “The diaconate has been a real gift to me. Fundamentally, I’ve been a servant my entire life,” he said, “I always feel the call and do what I am asked.”

In reflecting on his thirtieth anniversary, Deacon Ragucci is particularly grateful to have known the fam ilies of the parish for the past thirty years and to have walked with them through generations of Sacraments including many Marriages and Baptisms. Outside of his ministry, Ragucci loves spending quality time with his family especially his wife, Rose, daughter Rosalie, son-in Law John, and grandson, Benjamin.



If a man is considering the permanent diaconate, Deacon Corpus Valentin “always” encourages him. Afterall, the Church needs more workers, and deacons – ordained clergy – are needed in areas like service, evangelization, catechesis and liturgy.

Plus, Deacon Valentin enjoyed being a deacon and therefore recommends it.

A native of Puerto Rico who moved to New Jersey in 1960 after serving in the U.S. military, Deacon Valentin, 86, worked as a machine operator. He is married and had three children (two are living); he has 10 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Though he had been going to Mass all his life, he did not consider the permanent diaconate until his pastor at Assumption Parish, Perth Amboy, Father Vidal Martinez, suggested it. “I never could say no to him,” Deacon Valentin said with a laugh. “One day he asked if I would like to be a deacon, and I said yes. I saw other deacons, and I liked what they were doing.”

After training for the permanent diaconate through the Diocese of Metuchen, Deacon Valentin was ordained in 1994 at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, Metuchen; Father Martinez vested him.

During his years of service, Deacon Valentin preached – mostly in Spanish – performed baptisms, volunteered at a soup kitchen, presided at funerals and burials and visited the sick. He also was involved in

“I love my church. The best years of my life have been spent there.”

The deacon served for about a dozen years before

He and his wife, Ana, now live in an apartment in

But he keeps in touch with many people from the parish who visit and call; some even visit to pray the Rosary occasionally.

The best part of being a deacon was the people, he said. “I love my church. The best years of my life have been spent there.”

Thirdly, I expect you to be sentinels: not only to know how to spot the poor and the distant - this is not so difficult - but to help the Christian community to recognise Jesus in the poor and the distant, as He knocks on our doors through them. It is also a catechetical and prophetic dimension of the sentinel-prophet-catechist who knows how to see beyond and help others to see beyond, and to see the poor who are far away. … Whatever the need, see the Lord. So you, too, recognise the Lord when, in so many of his smaller brothers and sisters, He asks to be fed, to be welcomed and loved.” Pope Francis, 2021


Mount Saint Mary’s Annual Service Day aids local residents, patients, veterans in need

In the span of one half days, the Mount Saint Mary Academy community in Watchung bands together to illustrate the importance of the Mercy Core Values – Inspired by Faith and Compelled by Mercy – by reaching out to improve the lives of others in need during Service Day. This annual event, which was held on April 10, featured separate grade levels under the advisement of faculty/

staff in different shifts, assisting various organizations on and off campus.

After freshmen heard a presentation from Mansi Shah of Operation Smile regarding the mission of the organization, students designed smile bags, blankets, and friendship bracelets. Sophomores traveled off campus to lend their assistance at Crossroads School, Jardine Academy, Inspire Family Life Center,

Mount Saint Mary Academy

Senior, Nicole Parisi, receives UNICO Scholar Athlete Award

Helping Moms, Runnells Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare, and McAuley Hall Healthcare Center.

After listening to an inspiring speech from military veteran Lucy DelGaudio, juniors packed boxes for Operation Shoebox, and crafted bookmarks, cards, and Stand Down bags for veterans. Tim Wynn from the Community Food Bank of New Jersey addressed seniors about

Nicole Parisi ‘24 was awarded the Brian Piccolo Scholar Athlete Award by the UNICO National NJ District X, The Plainfields’ Chapter during an award ceremony on Sunday, April 14, at the Gran Centurions Banquet Hall in Clark. Award winners from all the Unico NJ District X chapters were honored. Nicole was one of two winners from The Plainfields’ chapter.

The award is given to high school athletes in pursuit of higher education and who demonstrate qualities similar to Brian Piccolo such as courage, friendship, loyalty, teamwork, dedication, humor and anti-bias. Applicants must be graduating high school athletes with both academic and athletic achievements.

The UNICO Plainfields’ Chapter Brian Piccolo Committee Chairman is Robert Bengivenga. The Chapter President is Debbie Boyle, and the UNICO NJ District X Governor is April Bengivenga.

Nicole has been a member of the MSMA cross country team for four years and the spring track team for three years. She is a member of the National Honor Society, the National English Honor Society, the National Latin Honor Society, and the Tri-M National Music Honor Society. She is involved in the music program as both a cellist in the instrumental program, and handbell ringer and she is a member of both Chorale and the audition-only a capella group GraceNotes.

Left photo: pictured, left to right, Caroline Heinze of Westfield, Sophia Barghash of Watchung, Natalia Colon of Spotswood, and Lia Chiang of Mountainside prepared packed meals for Rise Against Hunger.

photo: pictured, left to right, are freshmen Catherine Nolan of South Orange and Molly Kinsella of Fanwood.

the importance of his organization in the Mother Mary Patrick Gymnasium. They packed meals for Rise Against Hunger, and in the Student Center, they packaged hygiene kits and Ziti for the Needy.

At the conclusion of Service Day, students, faculty, and staff gathered in Immaculate Conception Chapel to pray and reflect on the impact that had been made during the morning of outreach and service.

Her extra-curricular activities at MSMA include founder and president of the American Sign Language (ASL) Club, peer facilitator, co-leader of Helping People Everywhere (HOPE) Club, co-leader of Women’s Empowerment Club. Mount Theater Crew and the Environmental Club.

Outside of the MSMA, Nicole has been a Girl Scout for 13 years and has run numerous activities and community service projects over the years. She is a member of her church youth group, sings in the youth choir and plays handbells in the youth handbell choir. For the past three summers, Nicole has participated in a weeklong Habitat For Humanity trip to Roanoke, Va. to build houses with her church youth group. In youth group she is an active participant in many activities and community service events that address food insecurity and homelessness.

In the fall, Nicole will attend Ursinus College where she will be a member of the cross country and track and field teams. At Ursinus, Nicole was also selected as one of 15 students (out of 500 applicants) to be an ABELE Scholar. An Abele Scholar makes a difference in their life and the lives of others by pursuing excellence, valuing diversity of all kinds, being civically engaged, and serving their communities as a leader who commits to honoring the legacy of Benjamin Franklin’s belief in paying it forward.

Nicole Parisi is pictured with her award from UNICO. —Courtesy photo Moms Right —Courtesy photo

Knights of Columbus honors PACS teacher of the year

Knights of Columbus San Salvador Council #299 honored Perth Amboy Catholic School teacher, Margaret Wilson, as Teacher of the Year at an awards ceremony at Assumption Catholic School, Perth Amboy, on March 16.

Wilson has been teaching at Perth Amboy Catholic School for thirty years. Students in grades one, three, four, and six have benefitted from her commitment, enthusiasm, and faith.

program and serving on numerous committees, Wilson models and cultivates a spirit of service that encourages her students to help others.

In her introduction to Wilson, PACS principal Anacelis Diaz said, “Every school needs a Margaret Wilson. Her dedication to her school family, her vocation for teaching and her passion for her favorite sports teams make her the heart and soul of Perth Amboy Catholic.”

The Knights annually honor individuals who have contributed their gifts and talents to the City of Perth Amboy.

Contributed by Karen Ninehan, Perth Amboy Catholic School

Perth Amboy Catholic School teacher Margaret Wilson is pictured with her husband, Charles Wilson, after being honored as Teacher of the Year by Knights of Columbus San Salvador Council #299 March 16.

—Courtesy photo July 9-13, 2024, 6pm-11pm


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As women, children starve, Sudan in desperate need of help, say Catholic aid workers

KHARTOUM, Sudan (OSV News) –Catholic agencies, along with other Christian charities in Sudan, have intensified their food distribution campaign across the country to save hundreds of thousands of suffering Sudanese people from extreme hunger as the civil war entered its second year. The agencies are urging the international community to include the suffering people of Sudan among its priorities even as they attend to the needs of victims of violent conflicts in other regions of the world. “As we speak, the situation is dire, and the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate rapidly. … Urgent action is needed to avert the looming famine because women and children are starving,

and they need immediate help,” said Telley Sadia, country representative for Sudan for the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, or CAFOD. The northeastern African nation of more than 46 million people erupted into a bloody civil war a year ago as a result of a power struggle between the generals that head the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces following the ousting of longtime dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir. The war was initially concentrated in Khartoum, the country’s capital, but spread quickly to other parts of the country, including Darfur. One year on, the conflict has displaced more than 8.6 million people from their homes and killed over 14,000 people.

Kansas awards Benedictine abbey $5 million grant to expand local child care

ATCHISON, Kan. (OSV News) – The state of Kansas awarded St. Benedict’s Abbey a nearly $5 million grant to help fund the monastery’s proposal to partner with a local childhood learning center and increase much-needed childcare facilities for the surrounding local Atchison community. In 2021, the abbey purchased an adjacent 160 acres during an Atchison County tax sale. Soon after, the monastery connected with First Steps, a childhood learning center in Atchison. After the partnership began, First Steps announced that it would be launching First Steps with Abbey, a nonprofit childcare group that would manage and operate the future site. In November 2023, the abbey learned of the Capital Projects Fund Accelerator, a Kansas state grant that awards money to organizations working to expand childcare offerings. The monastery decided to apply for the grant, outlining its plan to use the money to renovate five existing buildings on the property, and was awarded the highest grant level: $4,999,999. Once property renovations are complete, First Steps childcare services are anticipated to begin

Catholic bioethicists: Lack of agreement about brain death imperils patients, organ donations

late spring 2025. Dwight Stephenson, executive director of operations and finance for the monastery, told OSV News their partnership and plan has received “lots of very positive feedback,” especially from local families that have been looking for affordable childcare and cannot find it.

PHILADELPHIA (OSV News) – Catholic bioethicists are sounding the alarm about a critical lack of agreement on what constitutes brain death – and the implications for organ donation are “profound,” they said. The National Catholic Bioethics Center, based near Philadelphia, released an April 11 statement on “Integrity in the Determination of Brain Death: Recent Challenges and Next Steps.” The NCBC said in its statement there had been “a decisive breakdown in the public consensus on death and organ donation,” following “the failure of recent efforts to resolve an important dispute regarding the determination of brain death.” More than 103,000 individuals in the U.S. await organ transplants. Catho-

lic teaching supports organ donation, so long as the donation is made with free and informed consent, and the donor is truly dead. The Church teaches the act of removing the organs must not kill the donor. But recent efforts by the American Association of Neurology and other groups to change the Uniform Definition of Death Act stand to erode those ethical standards, said the NCBC. It added, “Catholics must restate and explain better a clear, philosophically coherent concept of death that is compatible with Catholic teachings and rigorous, consistent clinical testing.” The NCBC underlined that only a “whole brain death standard” – and not a partial standard – can be acceptable to Catholics.

Seek contact with nature to change polluting lifestyles, Pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Human ity must have more direct contact with nature to counter the modern lifestyles that are destroying the planet, Pope Francis said. Respect ing and loving the earth as well as seeking direct contact with nature “are values that we need so much today as we discover ourselves increasingly powerless before the consequences of irresponsible and short-sighted exploitation of the planet,” he told members of the Italian Catholic Movement of Adult Scouts. Meeting with the members, dressed in their scouting uniforms, at the Vatican April 13, the Pope said people in modern society are “prisoners of lifestyles and behaviors that are as selfishly deaf to every appeal of common sense as they are tragically self-destructive; insensitive to

the cry of a wounded earth, as well as to the voice of so many brothers and sisters unjustly marginalized and excluded from an equitable distribution of goods.”

Compiled from Our Sunday Visitor and the Catholic News Service
A sign is pictured at the entrance to St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison, Kan., April 25, 2024. The state awarded the abbey a nearly $5 million grant to help fund the monastery’s plans to develop childcare facilities for the surrounding community. —OSV News photo/Megan Marley Pope Francis greets members of the Italian Catholic Movement of Adult Scouts during a meeting at the Vatican April 13, 2023. —CNS photo/Vatican Media A 2024 handout photograph shows women and babies at the Zamzam displacement camp close to El Fasher in North Darfur, Sudan. —OSV News photo/Mohamed Zakaria, MSF handout via Reuters A file photo shows surgeons extracting the liver and kidneys of a brain-dead woman for organ donation and transplantation. The National Catholic Bioethics Center released an April 11, 2024, statement calling for consistent clinical, legal, and ethical standards regarding the declaration of brain death. —OSV News photo/Fabrizio Bensch, Reuters

Trinity Sunday reminds us of God’s immense love for his people

Trinity Sunday (B)

“Did anything so great ever happen before?” (Deut. 4:32). Moses asked this question to help his people realize how precious they were in God’s sight. From the beginning of creation, Moses fervently argued, God had showered great favor upon his people. He presented all of Israelite history as a long string of God’s saving interventions in the affairs of his chosen ones. Now, these beloved people must respond properly to God’s goodness by following his commands –not out of fear, but so that they and their descendants might prosper.

“Jesus empowers every follower to be the instrument by which others are brought into God’s family.”

God’s immense love for his people is the theme which runs through all our readings this Trinity Sunday. The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity is a somewhat unusual feast. Most celebrations during the Church year involve special events in the life of Our Lord, the Blessed Mother, or the Saints. This feast which Pope John XXII gave to the whole Church in 1334, however, celebrates not a particular event in the history of salvation, but rather a key point of divine revelation. Far from being a dry, idea-centered feast, though, the observance of Trinity Sunday focuses our worship on the Three Persons in One God, the Font and Goal of all salvation history.

Our feast this Sunday gives us a special moment to cherish the continual acts of love by which God reveals himself to us. From the beginning of creation, through Old Testament times, and culminating in the sending of Jesus Christ, God has sought to enter into a loving rapport with humanity. “The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #234).

All Three Persons of the Trinity play

a special role in calling to us; as St. Paul explains in this Sunday’s second reading, “All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God” (Romans 8:14). The Holy Spirit unites all believers with Jesus. By being united with Jesus, we are then privileged to share in his relationship with the Father – we become God’s much-loved children who reflect the Father’s love by our reverence and obedience. We share in the riches and the responsibilities of Jesus’ Divine Sonship.

This Sunday’s Gospel reading, the conclusion of St. Matthew’s text, clarifies how Jesus wishes us to live out the life of Heavenly grace which enlivens and ennobles us. Promising to be with us always, a promise he will fulfill by the sending of the Holy Spirit, Jesus leaves three final commands. These three commands lay out the duties of all Jesus’ followers during the Age of the Church.

First, Jesus instructs us to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). No longer will God’s attentions be focused solely upon one particular people. With the coming of the Holy Spirit, God’s loving embrace is intended to reach out to all people of every time and nation. His first followers, and those who will subsequently believe based upon their testimony, are called upon to proclaim the Person and message of Jesus everywhere.

Next, Jesus asks us to “baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Jesus entreats his Church not to gain for him just new followers, but rather new family members. By Baptism, a person enters into the very life and love of God himself. Jesus seeks such a relationship with every individual. He reveals that “the ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God’s creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed Trinity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #260).

Finally, Jesus instructs us to “teach [these new followers] to carry out everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). Of course, the best way to accomplish this task is by living out Jesus’ teaching fully in our lives. Jesus empowers every follower to be the instrument by which others are brought into God’s family.

As we celebrate Trinity Sunday, then, our readings inspire us to remember the Triune God’s ongoing, active involvement in our world, to cherish our status as his beloved daughters and sons, and to take up our call of drawing all people into a fellowship of love and peace. For that, may we give thanks by worshiping this God in our prayer and with our lives.

Msgr. Fell is a Scripture scholar and director, diocesan Office for Priest Personnel.



Gospel for May 26, 2024

Romans 8 :14-17 / Matthew 2:16-20

Following is a word search based on the Second and Gospel readings for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Cycle B: Living in the Father, Son and Spirit Words run in all directions in the puzzle.



M D I S C I P L E S C H O E S L A V E R Y H W L U L B E A B B A R D H W N E V A E H W I E J O K T V C C P L S P N H A H A E J N A T I O N S R H I N A E C H I L D R E N N A N A S T E Z A B L H E L L R P U I I I G E T V J O O B C S I R N D R I W D W I T N E S S G A G A M M O F T H E A G E © 2024 TRI-C-A Publications;


If you would like to join our Corpus Christi Procession Committee or participate in any of the following ways: donate flowers, have your child take part in the procession dressed as an angel or saint, volunteer to carry a banner or the processional canopy, please call our Parish Office at 732-968-5555. Our Lady of Fatima Roman Catholic Church

501 New Market Road, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854 732-968-5555

Light Refreshments will be served following the Procession

If you would like to join our Corpus Christi Procession Committee or participate in any of the following ways: donate flowers, have your child take part in the processi on dressed as an angel or saint, volunteer to carry a banner or the processional canopy, please call our Parish Office at 732-968-5555 OUR LADY OF FATIMA ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

501 New Market Road, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854 732-968-5555

THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT MAY 23, 2024 35 OUR DIOCESE The Parish Family of Our Lady of Mercy South Bound Brook, NJ Congratulates Mr. James Ohe as he is ordained to the Diaconate. "Those who serve well as Deacons gain a worthy place for themselves and much assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus." 1 Timothy 3:13 Call us today for a FREE consultation! 732-548-5400 • 475 Main St. 2nd Floor, CHASE Bldg. Metuchen, NJ Helping families in the Metuchen area for more than 15 years! Free parking in CHASE lot Handicap Accessible □ Probate □ Asset Distribution □ Taxes □ Will Contests □ Accounting Estate Administration □ Medicaid □ Guardianships □ Social Security □ Estate Planning □ Asset Sheltering Elder Law □ Last Will and Testament □ Power of Attorney □ Living Will □ Income Only Trust □ Asset Protection Estate Planning Join us as we conclude the Second Phase of the National Eucharistic Revival
prepare to celebrate the National Eucharistic Congress!
Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Sunday, June 2, 2024 The Solemnity of the

Stepping forward in charity

The current mental health crisis affecting many people in our country has led Bishop James F. Checchio to request Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen, to address this significant need.

As a leading social service provider in central and western New Jersey, CCDOM did just that and has launched a transformative initiative to address the pressing mental health crisis. Announced in February 2024, the innovative Mental Health Navigator program, rooted in the principles of Catholic social teaching, marks a significant step towards providing essential mental health support and resources to those in need.

Funded by the Bishop’s Annual Appeal, the Mental Health Navigator is a free service available to all residents within the four counties of the Diocese of Metuchen (Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon, and Warren), regardless of faith or background, to empower individuals to navigate the complexities of common barriers to care.

Julio Coto, executive director of CCDOM, underscored the urgency of the program’s launch, stating, “Since the pandemic, the demand for mental health services has surged. The Mental Health Navigator is designed to offer a lifeline to those within our community who are struggling and need support.

“Current clients, prospective clients, parishioners, and students who attend schools in the Diocese of Metuchen will now have the opportunity to receive support and education on how to understand and obtain mental health services.”

The program’s design goes beyond mere assistance, offering vital resources and advocacy to ensure individuals

receive the care they deserve. Mental Health Navigators will aid residents in determining insurance coverage, provide recommendations for nearby resources, and offer guidance on what to expect when seeking assistance.

“It’s happening right here in our local communities,” said Anthony P. Kearns, Esq., CEO and chairman of the board of CCDOM. “Whether people are facing depression, isolation, loss of employment, substance abuse history, or a state of desperation, we need to be able to help those who need it. Catholic Charities takes its faith into action by providing services regardless of faith, ethnicity, and income.”

“Many things are affecting the mental health crisis,” stressed Bishop Checchio. “Our youth following the pandemic, the opioid crisis, and the assisted suicide initiatives pressuring our elderly, sick, and disabled, which indicates to those suffering that their lives are not worth much anymore. We believe that every life is a gift from God and is precious,” he continued, stressing, “We need programs like the Mental Health Navigator to aid those in our communities to remind them that their life is precious and we’re here to help.

With services provided in both English and Spanish, residents in Middlesex County seeking support through the Mental Health Navigator can access the program by calling 732-857-3811 or 908333-2282 for those residents of Somerset, Hunterdon, and Warren counties. Participants are encouraged to leave a message on a confidential voicemail line, ensuring prompt assistance within 24 hours.

Tiffany Workman is diocesan Communications Specialist. Gerald Wutkowski, Jr. diocesan assistant director of communications contributed to this story.

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen, launches Mental Health Navigator

Catholic Charities is offering a free service to assist residents of our Diocese in receiving support and education on how to understand and obtain mental health services and help remove the barriers that often exist when trying to figure out where to start.

The Navigator will –

assist with educating you on how to find out if your Health Insurance will cover these services; make recommendations for resources that are near to your home or work; inform you on what to expect when you call for services; advocate for your rights within a challenging mental health system.

Stepping forward in charity

The Mental Health Navigation Services will be easy to access by two methods:

1. The QR code listed on the right will bring you to a screen with a few questions to complete. Navigator will contact you within 24 hours.

2. If you are not able or comfortable using the QR code, you can contact a confidential voicemail line where leaving your name, number, and a brief description will prompt a call back from a Navigator within 24 hours.

If you or a loved one would benefit from this service, please call • 732-857-3811 Middlesex County • 908-333-2282 Somerset, Hunterdon, Warren Counties

Spanish speaking navigator available • Tenemos navegadores we hablan español.


Diocesan youth day a journey with the Lord and each other

“The journey is tough but the destination, friends, is so beautiful ... The destination is worth the struggle and that destination is heaven.”

There was no shortage of fun and inspiration in St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Edison, April 20 as the Office of Youth and Adult Ministry held Diocesan Youth Day. Chika Anyanwu served as keynote speaker, and Bishop James F. Checchio issued a challenge to the youth to listen to God speaking.

Chika Anyanwu is a Catholic evangelist, former Confirmation coordinator/ youth and young adult minister, and the author of “My Encounter: How I Met Jesus in Prayer.” She describes her ministry as “talking to teens, young adults, and adults about the importance of being rooted in Jesus, especially when life gets hard and confusing.”

Emily Hajduk, who volunteers in youth ministry at St. Ann Parish, Hampton, shared what she hoped for the students. “Largely, I want them to learn how to journey with the Lord,” she said. “Chika is a very inspirational individual. I’m hoping that from her talks, and through her small group discussion questions that it’s not only fun for the kids, but they also get to have a personal journey and they get to continue that journey after the event.”

Fiat Ventures set the stage with opening activities, such as, Human Bingo, guess the song’s decade and group trivia, followed by lunch, Adoration, Confession, Mass and several big and small group discussions.

“I was very happy with the turnout, we have a great group of kids here,” said Father Michael Tabernero, theology teacher and director of Catholic Identity at STAHS.

Ned Rossi, member of the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, Metuchen, Bold Youth Group, was there spending the day with his sister and friends. “I came with no expectations,” he said, “just seeing what God has in store for me.”

During her talk, Anyanwu spoke about difficulties everyone faces in life and related it to a scary but thrilling zip line experience she had. “Maybe in your life you don’t have this rock wall or zip line experience, but we are all called to a beautiful, or as Pope John Paul II calls it, a wonderful adventure. … Life is not easy, especially life as a Catholic … [but] Jesus says, ‘in this world you will have trouble but take courage because I have overcome the world.’ The journey is tough but the destination, friends, is so beautiful ...The destination is worth the struggle and that destination is heaven.”

Before lunch Bishop Checchio offered a prayer for the youth, asking God to bless them with the “gifts of peace, joy and happiness, and the gift of greater faith.” He then spoke about his trip to Rome the previous week and his visit with Pope Francis. “He always asks for the people in our Diocese,” Bishop Checchio said, “and he is always very concerned about the youth.”

The Bishop recounted that the Holy Father asked him to tell the youth of the Diocese “’not to be afraid to give themselves to Jesus. Jesus wants nothing from them. He just wants to accompany them and be with them throughout their lives, throughout all of life’s ups and downs, which we all have, so we are never ever alone.’ So I pass on the Pope’s words to you.”

Dozens of teens from Catholic schools and parish youth groups gathered for Diocesan Youth Day April 20 in St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Edison, and shared a day of group conversations, top photo; discussion questions and games, middle photo; a presentation by Catholic evangelist Chika Anyanwu, bottom left photo, and a blessing and conversation with Bishop James F. Checchio, bottom photo.

—John Batkowski photos


The Gospel of John Club

Continued from page 3

Campus Chaplain Father Tom Lanza, a guiding figure within the club, notes the genuine desire for knowledge and growth among its members. But what struck him the most was how the club

was completely run by students.

“You have student leaders that have gotten other students to think about where true joy and happiness comes from,” Father Tom said.

Beyond knowledge and understanding, the Gospel of John Club also fosters the Saint Joe’s Brotherhood.

“It’s a judgment-free zone where

students are free to ask questions,” Father Tom said. Tracey Coudriet, director of campus ministry, notes the impact of the club on its members as they listen to the discussions and insights each week.

“You can see their openness to what they’re hearing,” she said.


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Acts 6:6

Saint Peter’s University Hospital’s


V. O’Shea Birth Center

Receives Reaccreditation

The Mary V. O’Shea Birth Center at Saint Peter’s University Hospital has been reaccredited through 2026 by the Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers (CABC). The state-of-theart Birth Center is New Jersey’s first birth center to be located on the grounds of a hospital and is also the location of Saint Peter’s midwifery practice, where prenatal office visits, birthing classes, and the actual birthing experience take place.

The Birth Center has proudly delivered 228 babies since its opening in November 2019. Re-accreditation signifies that the Mary V. O’Shea Birth Center’s services are in substantial compliance with the CABC alongside Maternity Center Standards and the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative Criteria. Eligibility is assessed according to a variety of standards including Organization and Community, Model of Care Facility, Equipment and Supplies, Health Record and Continuous Quality Improvement.

The Mary V. O’Shea Birth Center at Saint Peter’s is designed for women who are looking for a more physiologic childbirth experience under the care of certified nurse-midwives. A variety of

nonpharmaceutical pain management op tions are offered including hydrotherapy, aromatherapy and nerve stimulation.

The Center is also equipped with various tools including birth balls, peanut balls, and birth stools to facilitate a variety of different position options in labor. Central to the experience is the mother’s birth plan. Throughout the pregnancy, expectant mothers document their personal preferences and wishes for how the labor should progress — everything from designating support individuals in attendance to labor expectations and preferences for medical intervention, should the need arise.

“We offer a home-like setting for patients and a focus on patient-centered care that is grounded in shared decision-making,” said Katelyn Rasmus, midwifery clinical director at Saint Peter’s. “The reaccreditation of the Mary V. O’Shea Birth Center is a testament to the high-quality care we provide through our midwifery practice.”

Women interested in establishing care with Saint Peter’s certified nurse-midwives should reach out to the Birth Center soon after they receive a

positive pregnancy test. The 4,100 square foot Birth Center includes two birthing suites which look and feel more like a home than a delivery room.

Each birthing suite has a queen bed, spa-size tub, and shower, plus space to accommodate family and other support individuals. The Birth Center also includes a reception area, exam rooms, a lounge, dining area, and kitchenette. Women also have access to a private garden if they want to walk outside during labor. Every expectant mother’s risk is evaluated during their prenatal appointments and communicated with them consistently throughout the duration of their pregnancy.

“Accreditation by the CABC offers expectant mothers and their families an added level of security and assurance that the services rendered meet national standards of excellence,” said Pamela Harmon, director of the Women and Chil-

dren’s Division at Saint Peter’s University Hospital and administrative director of the Mary V. O’Shea Birth Center. “At Saint Peter’s, we have long been the model of care when it comes to maternal health services and our Birth Center reaccreditation is confirmation of that. In addition, we recently launched TeamBirth, a series of protocols that prioritizes person-centered care, trusting relationships, transparency, and informed decision-making.”

TeamBirth is a structured method that fosters better communication between laboring mothers and the clinical care team caring for them, whether an individual is giving birth in Saint Peter’s Birth Center or its Labor and Delivery unit at the hospital.

Its goal is for expectant mothers to feel heard and supported making their own right choices for themselves, their neonates, and their families. Having a conversation at every intervention offered throughout care and supporting the patient’s informed consent or refusal ensures that everyone is on the same page about her wishes as well as the risks throughout the pregnancy and delivery.

As a result, the program includes a discussion between the expectant mother and her birth team, reviewing the procedures to be followed throughout the birthing process – one that aligns with her hopes, desires and concerns.

To learn more or to make an appointment, visit midwiferyservices or call 732-339-7879. luma-pimentel/unsplash

offer our most heartfelt congratulations to

Monsignor Randall Vashon, together with the clergy, staff and people of St. Bernard Church on the occasion of his 35th Anniversary of ordination to the Diaconate

St. Mary Parish Alpha, NJ

Feast of Saint Anthony June 4 - 8, 2024

Our Lady of Czestochowa 807 Hamilton Blvd, South Plainfield, NJ 07080 908-756-1333,

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After first 9-0 start in 12 years, Immaculata baseball aims to finish off stellar season

The Immaculata High School var sity baseball team was unsatisfied with taking one of New Jersey’s top squads down to the wire, but it was another sign of why this could end up being one of the best seasons in program history.

The Spartans went toe to toe for nine innings with Bridgewater-Raritan, thenranked No. 3 by, before falling in 10 innings, 7-1, on May 7 at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

It was a minor setback in what has been a stellar spring. Immaculata started the season with a 9-0 record for the first time since 2012, and as of May 13 it was 13-4 with all its lofty postseason goals still in sight.

“The mission of this team all sea son has kind of just been take it pitch by pitch,” senior catcher Danny Ferguson said. “We know we’re good enough, we’ve shown we’re good enough. We started 9-0, so when we went down, we had to try and figure it back out, and I think we did. We played well today until the wheels fell off, so it does go to show that we can hang with any team in the state if we really play together and just keep energy the whole game.”

This year, Immaculata is loaded with talented upperclassmen including three college baseball commits: Ferguson (Roanoke), senior infielder Josh Thompson (Siena) and senior infielder Troy Rabosky (Moravian).

“I’m really happy with how the team is. For years we’ve had a young team, or the ‘this team shouldn’t be here’ team, but I think now we have the ‘these guys are here to battle,’” Thompson said. “We’re here because we’re supposed to be here, not because we got a chance to be here.”

That might have been the feeling to some outsiders two years ago when Immaculata made a surprising late-season run to the NJSIAA Non-Public B state championship game. But these Spartans have been a force from the get-go thanks

to their depth and varsity experience.

Immaculata has a shot to surpass the 2018 squad’s 21 wins, which are the most since Kevin Cust became the head coach in 2013. Heading into late May, the program was also seeking its first Somerset County title since 2019 and first state title since 2010.

“We only had one senior last year, so we had a lot of development on our team,” Ferguson said. “Starting with the first scrimmage we kind of knew that we had something special if we play together.”

As of May 13, Thompson was leading the team in hitting with a .449 batting average. Six others were batting at least .300 including Rabosky (.447), Colin Kassai (.415), Jayson Labrador (.387), Jayden Capindica (.353), Owen Schilling (.314) and Ferguson (.304).

Rabosky had team highs in home runs (three) and RBI (22), while Ferguson was leading the team in walks (14) and second in stolen bases (eight) behind Capindica’s 11. Thompson had 22 hits, 10 walks and two hit-by-pitches for a team-best .557 on-base percentage.

“I feel like I get in the box and I’m

a senior has come from his mental approach rather than adjusting his physical mechanics. “It’s just knowing that I can get the result and just let it happen.”

On the mound, Immaculata’s team ERA of 3.78 was nearly a full run better than last season as of May 13. Nick Bozzo was leading the pitching staff with 28.2 innings and a 2.69 ERA, while Sean Henry had been a dominant late-inning reliever with 21 strikeouts in 12 innings.

Thompson, in addition to playing all around the infield, has improved his pitching this year with 13 strikeouts and only one earned run allowed in 17 innings. Ferguson said from catching him that he notices more bite on Thompson’s offspeed stuff and more ride on his fastball, which stems from offseason training.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that get a little banged up, but everybody is really staying resilient and putting their best foot forward,” Ferguson said. “We’ve done a great job pitching this year I think.”

Thompson noted that the players gain invaluable experience learning from Cust, who also played at Immaculata and in the minor leagues with the Atlanta

“In the big picture, he’s doing everything to get us better. It’s not just making

Immaculata seniors


us better players, but it’s molding us into better men,” Thompson said. “From not even just little things we do at practice – from team gatherings and our team hangouts and our bible study, all the stuff we do, it’s built through all the stuff he’s taught us. There’re more than just baseball skills that he’s taught us.”

Cust is also the director of Baseball Operations at Diamond Nation, so the Immaculata kids have access to the facility and train there in the winter as well as at Branchburg Sports Complex, which is one reason why they mesh so well together as a team.

Some of the players also suit up in the offseason with the Diamond Jacks, an 18U program that has fostered future major leaguers such as Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe.

To Thompson, what makes the high school team so special is its family environment. His father, who also played at Immaculata, is an assistant coach and leads the team’s pregame prayers.

“It’s awesome. Everybody is so connected,” Thompson said. “It’s great to have all these resources in the dugout, at the school, at the facility here where guys have gone through Immaculata. They know the faith. It’s all one big family.”

Danny Ferguson, left, and Josh Thompson, right, have committed to play baseball next school year at Roanoke and Siena, respectively. Left photo, senior infielder Josh Thompson bats during a game against Bridgewater-Raritan on May 7 at Diamond Nation in Flemington. Thompson was leading the team with a .449 batting average as of May 13. Right, senior Danny Ferguson plays catcher during a game against BridgewaterRaritan on May 7 at Diamond Nation in Flemington. —Greg Johnson photos

Call for singers for 2024 summer choral festival hosted by NPM

The National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM) Diocese of Metuchen Chapter will host Summer Choral Festival 2024, July 24-28 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 390 County Road 523, Whitehouse Station, NJ. The Festival is open to choral singers of all skill levels ages 18 and up. Singers will experience extraordinary repertoire, three skilled conductors, and the delight of making music with new friends. Registration is now open at Enrollment is limited.

Led by Festival director Jim Cole and co-conductors Sandy Hayes-Licitra

and Bill Alford, participants will sing with fellow choral singers from the Diocese of Metuchen and beyond. Each day will start with a physical and vocal warmup. The repertoire includes the music of W.A. Mozart, Stephen Paulus, Felix Mendelssohn, Dan Forrest, Rollo Dilworth, Carl Schalk, Mack Wilberg, and others. The week ends with a concert on Sunday, July 28 at 3:30 pm open to the public.

For further information, including a detailed schedule and to register for the Festival please visit

On behalf of Msgr. Joseph Celano, pastor, the clergy, staff and people of Immaculate Conception Church, Immaculate Conception School and Immaculata High School, we offer our heartfelt congratulations, prayers and support for our new Deacons Tuan Bui and David Lang .

We also celebrate the 35 th Anniversary of the Ordination of Deacon Frank Quinn and 30 th Anniversary of the Ordination of Deacon John Czekaj.

“May you continue to serve with the heart of Christ.”

Deacon Paul Cain on your Ordination to the Diaconate

Monsignor Randall Vashon and the Parish Community of St. Bernard of Clairvaux


May God bless you abundantly in your ministry !

Jim Cole Our Lady of Perpetual Help 111 Claremont Road, Bernardsville, NJ 07924 Quarter page ad, 4.71 x 5.85” May 9, 2024

Crossword Puzzle

THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT MAY 23, 2024 43 OUR DIOCESE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 0 1 3 3 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 9 0 5 6 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 com wordgamesforcatholics www ACROSS 1 Our ___ of Fatima 5 He held up the sky 10 Arizona-Vatican connection 14 She, in Paris 15 The Diocese of Portland is here 16 Island converted in the 5th century 17 Frequent Mayberry jail occupant 18 Sleep disorder 19 Howl 20 Last Supper question 22 Universal 24 “Tantum ___” 27 Bring together again 28 Written guarantee 32 “Agnus ___” 33 Highest mountain in Crete 34 Emirate on the Persian Gulf 36 Belittle 40 Notre ___ 42 Traditionally placed under the altar 44 Cupid 45 Condition of the tomb on Easter morning 47 Ransack 49 Cell “messenger” 50 One of two epistles (abbr.) 52 Divine time 54 Like jaywalking 58 Flat-fish 59 Appropriate 61 Biblical measure 65 Pay for a hand 66 Police symbol 69 Israeli round dance 70 Teen and new follower 71 “That is…” 72 Arabian VIP 73 Wax, at the drugstore 74 Vegas Casino 75 What the flesh is sometimes DOWN 1 They say this pope met with Attila 2 Mtn. stats 3 552, to Nero 4 Day starter 5 Doctors’ org. 6 Kind of dance 7 Hayes of “The Mod Squad” 8 Lend ___ 9 “___ at the right hand of the Father” 10 She is referred to in the sixth station of the cross 11 Garlic-flavored mayonnaise 12 Distinguishing characteristic 13 9 AM prayer 21 The Garden of Eden might have been in this modernday state 23 Colors 25 Growl 26 Frisky mammal 28 Describes the gate that leads to destruction 29 He was an original 30 Incline 31 An Eli 35 Fissures 37 Commander of the army who was made king over Israel 38 Baptismal basin 39 Some people wade into it 41 And so forth 43 Queen of the Nile, to her friends? 46 Indian exercise method 48 Perry’s creator 51 Jewish religious leaders 53 Lot, to Abraham 54 Cousin of 53D 55 Pounce 56 Unit of capacity 57 South American ruminant 60 Biblical site 62 Nazareth, to Jesus 63 Opera highlight 64 What you should do when the herald angels sing 67 Seventh son of Jacob 68 Abstract being Answers can be found on page 44
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Jenna Marie Cooper, who holds a licentiate in canon law, is a consecrated virgin and a canonist whose column appears weekly at OSV News. Send your questions to

What role might artificial intelligence play in catechesis?

ANo, an artificial intelligence program cannot receive the sacrament of Holy Orders (or any other sacrament, for that matter). Sacraments can only be received by humans, as only human beings are made in the image and likeness of God, and therefore only human beings are capable of becoming more closely configured to Christ, healed and redeemed from sins or ordained to serve God’s people as an image of Christ in the sacramental priesthood.

QCan an artificial intelligence program licitly receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders? And regardless, what role do you think AI might be able to play in catechesis, if any?

(Bridgeport, CT)

In contrast, an artificial intelligence program is fundamentally just a very sophisticated computer application. While there have been some interesting philosophical and scientific discussions about whether it might be possible for AI to eventually become advanced to the point of becoming dangerous, or to the point of developing something that resembles self-aware consciousness, this would not change the fact that AI is something entirely man-made and lacking the human immortal soul that only God can create.

An AI creation cannot be validly ordained, meaning that any fanciful attempts at “ordaining” a computer program simply wouldn’t work. And although our current Code of Canon Law never discusses AI explicitly, my thought is that it would also be illicit – meaning not permitted by law

– for any bishop to attempt to ordain an AI program in earnest.

As a corollary, an AI application also cannot confer any sacraments validly. As we learned from the recent short-lived Catholic AI “Father Justin” program, even if an AI pro gram “listens” to one’s sins and generates the words of absolution, this would not constitute a valid confes sion. And although a lay person (or even a non-Cath olic) can validly and licitly baptize in an emergency, if there was a hypothetical AI robot that could pour water while broadcasting the bap tismal formula over speak ers, this would not result in a valid baptism.

But to address the sec ond part of your question, I think AI could certainly have some legitimate catechetical uses. The Catholic community has already benefited from things like search engines for the Catechism of the Catholic Church or other magisterial documents for many years. In a similar vein, an AI program based on the catechism could potentially share the riches of the catechism in an even more user-friendly way.

That being said, I also think we need to be realistic about what AI can and cannot do for our catechetical efforts. For one thing, while AI can share information on a given topic in perhaps a more accurate or more efficient way than would be possible for many humans, nothing can replace the value of a person-to-person relationship in evangelizing and handing on the faith. Human beings can bear a personal witness to the reality of Christ in their life, which is something that no commuter program – no matter how sophisticated – will ever be able to do.

Additionally, while I myself am not a computer scientist, my understanding is that AI, like all computer programs, can essentially only repeat information that it has been “told.” AI might be able to search the internet in general, and it might be able to recognize patterns in highly sensitive ways, but it will lack the creativity and intuitive insight of a human mind.

So for example, while AI might be able to quickly generate the relevant catechetical facts in response to a question about Catholic doctrine, AI will not be able to take into account all the pastoral nuances of why a person is asking such a question and what information is really going to be helpful to them in their life of faith. Sometimes bare facts are what is needed in answer to a question, but an experienced priest or skilled human catechist will be better able to pick up on the “questions behind the question.”

The Parish Family of Our Lady of Mercy South Bound Brook, NJ Congratulates Deacon Seock Ro Youn as he celebrates his 20th anniversary of ordination to the Diaconate. May God Bless you abundantly for your generous service to our congregation. Crossword Puzzle Answers: L A S V A T T I N E E I R E N E A R O A R C A T H O L I C R E U N I T E W A R R A N T Y D E I I D A Q A T A R S C O F F D A M E R E L I C A M O R E M P T Y R I F L E R N A C O R E T E R N I T Y I L L E G A L S O L E S U I T A B L E E P H A H A N T E B A D G E H O R A A G E R I M E A N E M I R C E R A S A N D S W E A K com ics ho wordgamesforca www
• goes to press
• ad space reservation deadline - May 31 • ad artwork deadline - June 5 • late requests considered if space allows
June issue of
Catholic Spirit
June 17
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Books of the Month

You don’t have to travel overseas to discover our Blessed Mother’s miraculous love for her children. Mary’s Miracles: A Traveler’s Guide to Catholic America takes you to more than 50 Marian shrines, chapels, and statues, right here in the United States, each with a riveting story to tell. Stories about:

• The United States’ only Church-approved Marian apparition (Champion, Wisconsin)

• A family’s safe passage to America after invoking the intercession of the Star of the Sea, and the chapel they built in thanksgiving (Cheektowaga, New York)

• The Grotto, the fulfillment of a boyhood vow to do a “great work” for the Blessed Mother (Portland, Oregon)

• An old Spanish shrine to Our Lady of La Leche, the powerhouse of answered prayers for babies (St. Augustine, Florida)

• A priest who looked like Dean Martin and sang like Bing Crosby – and commissioned a statue as big as his love for Mary (Santa Clara, California) Written by the author of the blockbuster Monuments, Marvels, and Miracles (OSV, 2021), this book is another must-have for all Catholic travelers. Organized by region and state, Mary’s Miracles can help you easily plan your next vacation or pilgrimage and find Marian sites you haven’t yet discovered. Additional features include color photos, miracle stories, and an explanation of site-specific Marian titles and devotions. Websites, phone numbers, addresses, and

other information are included to help you plan your visit.

Friendship with Mary is possible. She is real, accessible, and relatable. She is our companion in the life of prayer and in our whole life with Jesus.

Filled with reflections and brief imaginative sequences, Come to Mary’s House invites you to imagine you are with the Blessed Virgin – visiting in her living room, working in her garden, or catching up over coffee. The goal is to encourage your encounter with Mary as a friend, sister, and mother – in a comfortable, gentle way. By developing a personal relationship with her, you’ll let her lead you closer to Jesus.

This book is for all who long for Mary and want to live in spiritual companionship with her. If you want to pray more deeply, love Jesus more, and serve

authentically from the heart, you couldn’t choose a better master of the spiritual life than Our Lady.

Our Lady’s appearances to young Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France, in 1858 are well known and well documented. Just one year later, a lesser-known but still important Marian apparition took place in an American frontier settlement.

Based on historical documents, testimonies, personal interviews, and expert analysis, America’s Mary: The Story of Our Lady of Good Help chronicles for the first time the United States’ only Church-approved Marian apparition.

In 1859 on the Door County Peninsula of northeast Wisconsin, Mary appeared three times to a young Belgian woman named Adele Brise. She identified herself as the Queen of Heaven and gave Adele

instructions to teach the children their catechism, pray, do penance, sacrifice, and receive the sacraments frequently. Adele was initially met with skepticism, and during her lifetime she experienced many trials, including persecution. Still, she maintained that she was telling the truth and courageously carried on the mission the Blessed Mother had given to her.

Although the local community accepted Adele’s story as real, and popular piety built up around Mary’s appearances and messages, it was more than 100 years before the Church conducted a thorough investigation. In 2010, the apparition was approved.

Since then, thousands of pilgrims each year have visited the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, WI, seeking the Queen of Heaven’s intercession for peace, healing, and help.

These books are available at

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NEW YORK (OSV News) – “We’re in the Nazi killing business, and cousin, business is a-boomin’” blithely declares Brad Pitt’s character, U.S. Army officer Lt. Aldo Raine, in the 2009 film “Inglourious Basterds.” The same might be said by the core cast of the fact-based World War II action comedy “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” (Lionsgate).

Director and co-writer Guy Ritchie’s adaptation of Damien Lewis’ 2014 history “Churchill’s Secret Warriors” showcases some clever ruses and innovative, spurof-the-moment thinking on the part of the U.K.’s Special Operations Executive (SOE). But the mission on which the main characters embark also involves the enthusiastic slaughter of extras by the dozen.

Thus, while the educational nature of the story might otherwise make it valuable fare for older teens, the morally dubious gusto with which Hitler’s minions are dispatched renders this dramatization safest for grown-ups. Even many of them may not care for scenes in which throats are slashed and, in one case at least, a human heart extracted from its owner’s chest.

With Britain facing defeat in the Battle of the Atlantic in 1942, the SOE’s Brigadier Colin Gubbins (Cary Elwes) turns to a seemingly unlikely ally, Maj. Gus March-Phillipps (Henry Cavill), for help. Just how unusual their partnership is can be

Hacksaw Ridge

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

gauged from the fact that, when we first see March-Phillipps, he’s a prisoner in handcuffs, presumably fresh from the clink.

At Gubbins’ behest, March-Phillipps assembles a team of special operatives to strike a decisive blow at German naval power. Their goal is to sink an Italian warship, presently anchored in a neutral African port, whose cargo is vital to the continued success of the Nazi regime’s rampaging U-boats.

Anders Lassen (Alan Ritchson), wily Irishman Henry Hayes (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) and expert saboteur Geoffrey Appleyard (Alex Pettyfer). As the action kicks off, Appleyard is in German captivity. But this, of course, proves no stumbling block for the resourceful March-Phillipps.

the attention of black marketeering local Nazi commander Heinrich Luhr (Til Schweiger). As Stewart distracts Luhr, March-Phillipps and his cohorts prepare to attack by sea.

There’s a smug tone to the narrative suggesting that the picture is a little too pleased with itself. And some of the details are off, as when Luhr plays a song from Bertolt Brecht’s “The Threepenny Opera” on the gramophone. Both leftist Brecht and his “Threepenny” musical collaborator, Jewish composer Kurt Weil, were anathema to the Nazis.

But the main hurdle to any enjoyment of “Ministry” remains its vivid mayhem, which seems to exact about as many German casualties in two hours as the Soviets did in six months at Stalingrad. While, within the context of the period in which the picture is set, the only good Nazi may have been a dead one, the relish with which they’re wiped out remains unsettling.

The film contains frequent stylized but often brutal violence, some images of gore, a glimpse of rear nudity, at least one use of profanity and a couple of rough terms. The OSV News classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is R – restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

The extraordinary heroism of Army medic Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield) during the Battle of Okinawa in the closing days of World War II is vividly realized in this fact-based drama, directed by Mel Gibson. A committed Christian and conscientious objector who refused to bear arms, Doss was nonetheless eager to serve his country, despite the misgivings of his parents (Hugo Weaving and Rachel Griffiths) and his fiancee (Teresa Palmer). Doss overcomes the ridicule and abuse of his fellow recruits in boot camp as well as an effort to discharge him led by the sergeant (Vince Vaughn) heading his platoon and the captain (Sam Worthington) commanding his company. Once in combat, he single-handedly saves the lives of over 75 wounded soldiers while under

Among those March-Phillipps enlists for this mission are hulking Dane

The crew’s on shore agents include saloon owner Mr. Heron (Babs Olusanmokun) and fetching Marjorie Stewart (Eiza González) who’s been posing as a New York-based gold merchant to grab

John Mulderig is media reviewer for OSV News. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @JohnMulderig1.

constant enemy fire. As might be expected with Gibson at the helm, Doss’ religious convictions, which are integral to his story and his performance on the battlefield, are not sidelined. Yet, while no doubt realistic, the carnage is extreme and its portrayal will necessarily restrict this ultimately inspiring film’s audience to those mature viewers willing to endure such sights. Graphic war violence with much gore, brief rear male nudity, a scene of marital sensuality, considerable crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L – limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R – restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Though inspirational, this screen version of Laura Hillenbrand’s best-selling account of one U.S. airman’s (Jack O’Connell) experiences during World War II emphasizes its subject’s sufferings at the expense of the remarkable attitude of forgiveness he was eventually able to adopt toward those who had abused him.

A former Olympic runner-turned-bombardier, he and two crewmates (Domhnall Gleeson and Finn Wittrock) survived a crash landing at sea, only to face nearly seven weeks adrift on the open ocean. Eventually taken prisoner by the Japanese, he was singled out for mistreatment by the unbalanced commander (Miyavi) of his POW camp. In response, he drew on the same determination that had enabled him to rise to the top as an athlete to endure

through a marathon of cruelty. Director Angelina Jolie vividly re-creates the brutality to which Allied captives in the Pacific Theater were all too often subjected. But she relegates her main character’s unusual, if not unique, spiritual achievement – which seems to have been inspired, at least indirectly, by his Catholic upbringing – to a written epilogue. Combat and other violence, including torturous beatings, rear male nudity in a non-sexual context, a couple of uses of profanity and of crude language, a few crass terms, a bit of mild sexual humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

MAY 23, 2024 THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT ARTS & MEDIA 46 Movie Reviews
Andrew Garfield stars in a scene from the movie “Hacksaw Ridge.” —CNS photo/Cross Creek Pictures Jack O’Connell stars in a scene from the movie “Unbroken.” —CNS photo/Universal
Alex Pettyfer and Henry Cavill star in a scene from the movie “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.” —OSV News photo/Daniel Smith. Lionsgate


Hispanic Pilgrimage to the Blue Army Shrine – 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. All are welcome to participate in the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Confessions, praying the Rosary and Angelus and closing Mass at the Blue Army Shrine, Washington, N.J. Sponsored by the Office of Hispanic Evaluation and Pastoral Ministry, the event is free. No prior registration is required. Please bring your lunch, the Shrine does not have a cafeteria service. For more information, please contact:

Calling Black Catholics – 9 – 11 a.m., – St. John Neumann Pastoral Center, Piscataway. Sponsored by the Office of Multi-Cultural Ministries, at the meeting the Planning Committee for the Black Catholic Congress XIII will discuss its Pastoral Plan of Action. The committee is interested in having 18–39-yearold Black Catholics join the meeting, but anyone can be part of the Committee. If interested, contact Sister Miriam Periz, coordinator for Multicultural Ministries at

Bible Seminar: Book of Ruth – 7 – 9 p.m. via Zoom. Sponsored by the Office of Hispanic Evangelization and Pastoral Ministry, the program will be led by Deacon Edgar Chaves. Cost is $10 with a special discount for those attending the Diocesan Hispanic Bible School. For more information and registration visit: or contact:

Confirmation Retreat Resource for PCLs and Youth Ministers– 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., St. John Neumann Pastoral Center, Piscataway. Crystal Marchand from Project YM will present “Greater”, a customizable, downloadable, Confirmation Retreat resource. For PCLs, Youth Ministers, and all involved in the planning and running of Confirmation Retreats. Sponsored by the Office of Discipleship Formation for Children. For more information contact Jill Kerekes, director, Office for Discipleship Formation for Children at:

Partnership Launch for Ministry Leaders – 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. at St. Magdalen De Pazzi Church, Flemington. Members of the leadership team of the Catechetical Institute of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, will launch the newly created diocesan partnership which will allow for unlimited access to Franciscan at Home, the Catechetical Institute’s unique, accompaniment based, on-line formation platform. The principles behind this workshop-based platform will be explained and use of the platform will be demonstrated. The August 14 event is for ministry leaders in the Diocese including: PCLs, youth ministers, RCIA directors, Hispanic ministry leaders, adult faith formation leaders, marriage ministry leaders, and Catholic school principals. For more information contact Jill Kerekes, director, Office for Discipleship Formation for Children at:

NJ State Mass & March for Life – SAVE the DATE, 9:30 a.m. Mass, Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, Trenton; 11 a.m., rally at the Statehouse with speakers; noon, march in streets around Statehouse. For information visit: or contact: jruggiero@diometuchen. org or


Adoration and Mass at Pastoral Center – Now that the pandemic is over, Bishop Checchio would like to offer Eucharistic adoration at the St. John Neumann Pastoral Center, Monday through Friday, from 9:00-11:45 a.m. As St. Pope John Paul II noted. “The Church and the world have a great need of Eucharistic adoration.” Anyone who is interested in signing up should contact Angela Marshall at

Bible Study in a Year – This virtual women’s group will be following Father Mike Schmitz’s “Bible in a Year” podcast and meeting each Sunday at 2:30 p.m. on Zoom to discuss insights from the week. For details or to participate contact Cristina at:

Lectio Divina for Couples & Families – This virtual program for couples and families is held two Thursdays per month at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom. The program includes praying a meditative reading of a short scripture passage. For questions and more details, contact

Immigration Talks - the Office of Hispanic Evangelization and Pastoral Ministry will be resuming immigration talks in coordination with Catholic Charities. If your parish is interested in hosting an immigration talk, email: and indicate the best day for an immigration talk to your parish and community.


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Must have experience writing news stories, articles, feature stories; experience in writing for a diocesan newspaper a plus. Knowledge and practice of the Catholic faith is essential. Must be willing to learn and apply appropriate style, follow through with research as needed, undertake fact checking and provide text that is accurate and meets deadlines, which are often short. Willing to travel locally to cover assignments. Please send letter of inquiry and resume to


June 2 – Corpus Christi Procession from Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Piscataway at 3 p.m. The faithful are invited to gather outside of the church before 3 p.m. The procession will walk through the neighborhood of the church located at 501 New Market Road, Piscataway. A short service will take place in the church after the procession. Refreshments will be available afterwards. Please contact Roberta Maurer at 732-245-9124 with any questions.

June 29 – Hope and Healing for Adult Children of Divorce: A Conversation and Book-Signing1 p.m. at St. Bartholomew Church, East Brunswick. The program will be presented by Dr. Daniel Meola, Founder of Life-Giving Wounds: A Catholic Guide to Healing for Adult Children of Divorce or Separation Sept. 23-Oct. 3 - Pilgrimage to Spain, featuring Fatima, Lourdes, Barcelona. Hosted by Father Edmund Luciano III. $3899 FROM NEWARK (Air/land tour price is $3379 plus $520 gov’t taxes/airline surcharges).

Featuring: Roundtrip airfare from Newark; first class/ select hotels; most meals; comprehensive sightseeing with a professional tour guide; entrance fees and hotel service charge. For more information call the parish office of the Church of Sacred Heart, South Plainfield, at 908-756-0633 (CORRECTED PHONE #) or email at

Carnival Directory

June 4-8

Our Lady of Czestochowa Feast of St. Anthony

807 Hamilton Blvd, South Plainfield, NJ 07080

Tues-Thurs, June 4-6, 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm Fri, June 7, 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm Sat, June 8, 1:00 pm - 11:00 pm

Homemade Polish, Italian and Vietnamese food, plus American classics. Great games and rides. 908-756-1333

June 5-8

St. Matthew the Apostle Carnival

100 Seymour Ave, Edison NJ 08817 (behind Wick Plaza) Wed-Sat 6:00 pm - 11:00 pm

Great food, rides and games. Fun for the entire family! Pay One Price wristbands available every night! Call for directions


June 7-9

Saint Sharbel Church Lebanese Festival 2024 526 Easton Ave, Somerset, NJ 08873 Fri, June 7, 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm Sat, June 8, Noon - 11:00 pm Sun, June 9, Noon - 10:00 pm

Lebanese Food and pastries, live music and dancers, games and crafts


June 8

Good Shepherd Parish at Most Holy Rosary Church, Festa Di San Antonio

625 Florida Grove Rd, Hopelawn, NJ 08861

Msgr. Gambino Hall, Noon-7:00 pm

Italian Food & deserts, activities for kids. Classic car show, church parking lot, 11:30 am3:30 pm


June 19-23

Immaculate Conception Parish 21st Annual Festival

316 Old Allerton Road, Annandale, NJ 08801 Carnival rides, nightly entertainment, games. Great assortment of foods and more! 908-735-7319

June 25-29

St. Ambrose Parish Carnival 83 Throckmorton Lane, Old Bridge, NJ 08857 Tues-Thurs, 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm Fri & Sat, 6:00 pm - 11:00 pm Rides, games, food and fun! Mega Pass online sale- $100 for all 5 nights $35 per night/prepaid. See website for details. 732-679-5666

July 9-13

St. John Vianney 51st Annual Fair

420 Inman Ave, Colonia, NJ 07067 6:00 pm - 11:00 pm

Food prepared by Tony’s Sausage. Major carnival rides, fun kiddie rides, entertainment. Wristbands every night. Summer Splash drawing Sat., July 13 at 11:00 pm 732-574-0150

July 24-27

Christ the Redeemer Parish Festival

Sacred Heart Church Grounds 98 South 2nd Ave, Manville, NJ 08835 Wed - Fri 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm Sat 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Polish food, games and more! Volunteers register online. 908-725-0072

To advertise your carnival, call Mary Gregory at (732) 529-7934

JUN 3 & 10 JUN 22 AUG 14 SEPT 26 JUN 1 MAY 25


Harry De Freitas

PCL for St. Ambrose Parish

Best wishes as you are ordained a Deacon for the Diocese of Metuchen. May your ordination be a blessed reminder of God’s calling, and your commitment to serve Him.

With love from your St. Ambrose family

Fr. John C. Grimes, Pastor • Fr. Tholitho, Associate Pastor Mrs. Joan Abitabile, Parish Business Manager • Mrs. Rita Naviello, School Principal • Mrs. Vivian Ting, PCL Administrative Assistant

The Catholic Spirit, half page ad, 9.6 x 5.85”, 2024-04-30

The priests, deacons, religious sisters, and people of Saint John Vianney Parish congratulate

Deacon Joe Ragucci

On the 30th anniversary of his ordination to the diaconate.

We thank God for your many years of ministry, your thoughtful homilies, and the many unseen and unselfish things you do for our parish.

St. John Vianney Church

420 Inman Avenue, Colonia, New Jersey 07067 (732) 574-0150 Website:

“Those who serve well as deacons gain a worthy place for themselves and much assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.”

1 Timothy 3:13

The Catholic Spirit, half page horizontal ad, 9.6w x 5.85h” April 24, 2024


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