From the Director of Food, Faith, & Friends: 6/21/15

Posted by on Jun 16, 2015 in From the Pastor Columns

On the first Saturday in June a volunteer appreciation day was held for the Food, Faith & Friends volunteers. The day was organized and implemented by the men who attend Old St. Joseph’s outreach program. They have been asking me if they could do this since I became the coordinator of the program last September. So that Saturday in June the tables were turned. Guests who regularly attend the program took over the kitchen, prepared and served the meal for the parish volunteers who make the program happen. I wish all of you could have been there because without your generous help and support this program could not have had such a successful year. Thanks to 2884 volunteer hours, we were open 111 days and served 6226 meals. Meals will continue to be served into August this year. Parishioners donated meals to celebrate special occasions in their lives this year including milestone birthdays. A full Thanksgiving dinner and a Christmas party were also donated meals. During the year community sponsors got involved with Beneficial Bank staffers helping serve every month. Berkshire Hathaway Fox Roach staffers donated their time and cooking talents to prepare and serve a meal. And when the Ancient Order of the Hibernians took over the kitchen to prepare their famous sloppy “doe” burgers, the hall went wild – wild for venison that is. In addition to a nutritious meal, Food, Faith & Friends offers a series of programs. Parishioner Jeanmarie Zippo provides the men with casework services every Saturday. The monthly University of Penn Hospital programs, under the direction of Matt Menard, focus on health topics important to our guests. Hospital professionals present programs on topics such as diabetes, nutrition, and anger management. Fr. Dan conducts a monthly discussion group. And Fr. Ed and three members of the parish – Cynthia Locke, Carolyn Lyons, and John Trumbore – direct Saturday Prayer Groups based on the Ignatian Examen. A new initiative this year is the Newsletter. The original idea was to provide our guests with a monthly list of what programs were happening when. But after forming an editorial board made up of guests who attend regularly, it quickly developed into an opportunity for men and volunteers to share stories, history, inspirations and artwork. The newsletter continues to evolve. Full color copies can be found on the OSJ church website. There were many unexpected blessings and random acts of kindness this year. The brutal February weather caused a Massachusetts man to be delayed in Philadelphia for a day while heading home to Boston. Arriving home he sent us a ten pack of SEPTA tokens with the following note:   “…unfamiliar with SEPTA’s fare system, (we) ended up purchasing...

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From the New Music Director: 6/14/15

Posted by on Jun 10, 2015 in From the Pastor Columns

It was after a 5:30 Liturgy at a nearby church in March that I found out that the Old St. Joe’s hiring committee had decided to select me to be your new Music Director. Dan Carney, the head of the committee, came to me after the Mass, gave me the good news, and me and my family’s lives changed. At the time, Lauren and our daughters Mia, Sofia, and Olivia, were living in two bedrooms in a hotel, having been displaced due to a house fire, small enough that there was no serious damage and no one was hurt, but large enough that we were forced to vacate and become nomads for a while. We were out for five months, actually. In fact, the year 2015 began as one of our worst in recent memory – struggles with banks to accept our offer on a short sale home, entanglements with utility companies as we hurried to make repairs on the home that we didn’t even own, a house fire in our present home, and the constant wheeling and dealing with adjustors, cleaners, hotels, and contractors that followed – but, we have no complaints (anymore), and I am not writing to tell you any of this anyway! By mid 2015, we have made progress on repairing our first home, and are now the proud owners of that beautiful new home in Williamstown, NJ. Along the way I was invited to become the new director of the Chorale at Widener University, and I was invited to join your family here at Old St. Joe’s. Things took a real turn for the better, and we thank God! It was faith indeed that pulled us through the trying times. And it is my faith that assures me that being here at St. Joe’s is right. I was born, baptized, raised, and confirmed Catholic in South Philadelphia, at Epiphany of Our Lord Parish. I was the young altar boy defying the principal’s order to look forward and not turn around, as I would not stop turning to gaze back to the choir loft at the pipe organ facade and watch the choir as they sang. The church at Epiphany Parish is beautiful, with its marble and wood, towering Gothic ceilings, magnificent organ, and gorgeous acoustics. What musically inclined youth would not fall in love? I was hooked. Fast forward, and a clear path to Old St. Joe’s, led by God, is formed. Education at The University of the Arts, eight years as the organist at Epiphany, one as its Music Director, ten years with Lutherans, serious organ study with Joseph Jackson, grad school at Temple, eight years with Presbyterians. As for denominations, I traveled...

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