From the Pastor-January 29, 2017

Posted by on Jan 30, 2017 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, Last week we honored the legacy of our great Civil Rights Leader, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who by his words, deeds, and martyrdom taught us the true meaning of the word freedom. During the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King preached nonviolence was the only way to fight for freedom, successfully leading many in their pursuit of their “unalienable rights” promised by our Constitution. He often credited his Christian faith, and his role as a Baptist Minister, for providing him with the drive to fight for freedom. Freedom is something that, at times, many take for granted in our great country. Yet we know that freedom is never easily gained and must always be protected. Indeed, freedom is one of those “inalienable” rights and beautiful gifts given to us directly from God. One of my favorite quotes about freedom is that which is inscribed on the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier just a block away from OSJ in Washington Square.  On the stone wall behind the statue of George Washington, just over his head, are inscribed these words: “Freedom is a light for which many men have died in darkness“. Jesus, the Light of the World, is the one who inspires Christians to defend and protect our freedom so as to truly live as the Sons and Daughters of God. It is Jesus, as we pray at Mass, who “by his cross and resurrection has set us free.” It was his blood that was spilled to bring us true freedom, that same freedom that inspires men and women of every age, like Dr. King, to work tirelessly to promote authentic freedom that leads to peace. With that, I offer here the inspiring words of a prayer that I used in my homilies last week by the late Jesuit Archbishop Alban Goodier: This Is Freedom To be the slave of nothing, to be the slave not even of myself. To be able to make myself obey. To make myself say no. To make myself say yes. To have a noble end in view, to make myself live for it. To be able to use all things for that end. A life of sacrifice. A life of strong endeavor. To be rid of useless burdens. To shoulder burdens that belong to me. To shoulder burdens that belong to others. Understanding all. In sympathy with all. To live thus nobly, to hear and obey, this is freedom! The freedom of the children of God, the freedom where with Christ has made us free. Together as we usher in and pray for our new President and new leaders for our government, let us rally against...

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From the Pastor-January 22, 2017

Posted by on Jan 30, 2017 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, In the meaningful rituals of our Roman Catholic tradition, various elements–the scriptures to be read, the psalms to be sung, the communion to be shared–call for many gifts from many different people acting together. That is when the Church best celebrates liturgy with great reverence, dignity and beauty. We strive for those elements here at OSJ at each Mass. By the nature of our baptism, all of us are called to minister to one another in our sacred worship. With that, I ask that as the New Year begins and resolutions are made, you please consider joining one of our liturgical ministries at OSJ. We need you, and it is your right and privilege to serve! Please consider serving in the following liturgical ministries: Lectors: Lectors proclaim the Word of God and are an integral part of all liturgies. Individuals interested in this ministry must be in at least the fifth grade and must be able to proclaim loudly and clearly so that all can hear and learn from God’s word. Altar Servers: An altar server assists the Presider in the sanctuary at all liturgical celebrations throughout the year. This ministry is open to all youth in fifth grade and above as well as all of our adults. Liturgy Committee: The Liturgy Committee works closely with Sister Asunta, our Liturgy Coordinator, and collaborates on the planning and coordinating of all the various ministries involved in our parish worship. Extraordinary Ministers of Communion: Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion assist the priest each week with the distribution of the Body and Blood of Christ. We welcome persons 15 years of age or older, and a fully initiated Catholic in order to participate in this ministry. Hospital Ministers: These Ministers of Holy Communion administer the Body and Blood of Christ to our sick sisters and brothers at Pennsylvania Hospital (the hospital which our priests cover and visit frequently). We welcome persons 18 years of age or older, and a fully initiated Catholic in order to participate in this ministry. Ushers: It is the usher’s ministry to greet people warmly, to help people sit together, to pass out hymnals, song sheets, to care for any needs (if someone gets sick, or other emergencies), to take up the collection, to help with good order at communion and to distribute bulletins. Environment: The Environment Committee is responsible for seasonal decorations in our worship space, the courtyard, and the Walnut Street patio. They also help with large parish gatherings such as St. Ignatius Day and St. Joseph Day. Hospitality Ministers: These generous persons organize, execute and promote the coffee hour socials that follow the 9:30 am and 11:30 am Masses. Music Ministry:...

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From the Pastor-January 15, 2017

Posted by on Jan 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

AMDG Dear OSJ Family A few of our parishioners asked me to share some startling statistics that I used in my homilies last weekend regarding the ongoing persecution of Christians all around the world. Sadly, but because we need to earnestly reflect on what this means for us as a body of believers and as a human family, I share this information with you, taken from my Epiphany homily: “To believe in Christ, to obey his Gospel and to execute his teachings, means that we will unquestionably need to take some risks. We will be forced to move beyond our comfort zones and at times move into danger zones.  Being a Christian, especially in the unbelieving world in which we live today, is a risk.  Sadly as we begin 2017, The Catholic News Agency reports that Christianity has become the most persecuted religious group in the world. In 2016 there were over 90 thousand Christians killed around the world, with 63 thousand of those on the African continent. Twenty-seven thousand of that 90 thousand were murdered by terrorists, terror sponsored groups, and governments that participate in the persecution of its religious minorities, including North Korea. Today we gather here, in our beautiful and welcoming parish church, freely and without fear, but 500 million other Christians cannot freely practice their faith.  We must pray and work to change that!” (Florio homily of January 8, 2017) Indeed, this sad reality must be addressed by our civil and religious leaders as we move in to the New Year, and like the early Christians, we must not allow the pressures and trials of the world around us to cast us into shadow and darkness where the light and radiance of our holy faith can be extinguished. Religious freedom ought to be a right for all people regardless of what they believe or with which faith they identify. This does not exclude our Christian sisters and brothers who continue to suffer, mercilessly, for their faith. And you will be hated for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved – Matthew 10:22 May God bless and protect all who suffer for their faith. In the Lord, Fr Phil Florio, SJ...

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From the Pastor-January 8, 2017

Posted by on Jan 20, 2017 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, I take this opportunity, after what has been a great celebration of the Christmas Season at OSJ, to express our thanks and appreciation to so many who generously and lovingly served together at our parish. Our celebration of Christmas this past year was remarkable. We had so many visitors who told me that they purposely sought out our parish for Mass as they have heard great things about the worship and prayer at our beautiful little church in the alley! Indeed, each Sunday (and for daily Mass), we come together to worship and praise God and to remember God’s love, God’s quite assurance of our salvation and peace in Jesus Christ. A beautiful celebration of the Eucharist has the power to move us at the very depths of our souls. At the same time, a beautiful liturgy does not just happen on its own, and we all know that we are very blessed with beautiful and reverent liturgies at OSJ!  This is due, in part, to the talent and generosity of so many people who give of themselves so that we can worship here with joy and fervor and thereby grow in deeper faith, hope, and love. With this in mind, I am blessed to offer, on behalf of the entire OSJ community, our heartfelt thanks to all who helped to make our Christmas and holy day celebrations so special and so incredibly beautiful. We are grateful to our Priests, our guest Deacon, our Liturgy Coordinator, our Altar Servers, Sacristans, Lectors, Ushers, Eucharistic Ministers, and all who helped us to pray so well and with such dignity. On the musical front we are indebted to our music director Pasquale Montenegro, who with his cantors, choirs, and musicians, provided stirring sacred music. Special thanks to Dr. Madeline Becker, Christine Szczepanowski and Collen Evans for forming the children’s choir who moved us all so deeply at the children’s liturgy on Christmas Eve. They were terrific! Thanks to Joe Casey and to his crew of dedicated volunteers who transformed our already beautiful sanctuary into a true place of splendor and awe, and provided such welcoming hospitality in the courtyard. We are also in debt to all who donated to the Christmas flower and music fund. We cannot thank you enough for your kindness! Thanks also go to Peggy and Mike Connolly for donating the candy canes that were enjoyed by our children at the 4:00 PM Mass. The kids loved them! Finally, a special word of thanks to our Funeral Director and fellow parishioner, Ron Rex Piselli, who for so many years now has gifted us with the “Gesu Bambino” (Holy Child) statue that graces our sanctuary for...

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From the Pastor-January, 1 2017

Posted by on Jan 9, 2017 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, Happy New Year! Today, in addition to ushering in 2017, our Church throughout the world celebrates the Solemn Feast of Mary, the Holy Mother of God which is in the Octave of Christmas. Interestingly, only Christmas and Easter enjoy the privilege of an “Octave” or an eight-day extension of the feast.  The Church, in her wisdom, gives us this solemn feast on January 1st so that with Holy Mary as our model, we can better prepare for the beginning of a new year. The scripture readings and the prayers of our liturgy today bless us with images of peace, life, and joy. These are the same gifts of God that the shepherds in today’s gospel discover upon coming to Bethlehem where they find Mary and Joseph, and the Baby Jesus. Imagine the peace and joy that the shepherds experienced upon encountering the Holy Family! In a special way, too, the Church asks us to draw inspiration from Mary as the “Mother of God.” This beautiful title “Mother of God” has its roots in the Greek Theotokos, which means “God-bearer”.  On this day, we are reminded of the unique role that the Blessed Virgin played as the “God-bearer” in the plan of our salvation through Jesus Christ. It is through the faithfulness and sacrifice of Mary (“blessed among women”) that the Divine Savior is unlocked to the world. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God the Father prepared Mary to be the sacred dwelling place where His Son and His Spirit could reside among all people.  Mary alters history as we know it by her “fiat” or her “acceptance and affirmation” of her role as the Mother of God. To the Archangel Gabriel she declares, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to you word.” Therefore, in our Catholic tradition, calling Mary the “Holy Mother of God” is the highest honor that we can rightly give to her.  Just as Christmas honors Jesus as the “Prince of Peace,” the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, honors Mary as the “Queen of Peace.” Additionally, New Year’s Day is also designated as the “World Day of Peace,” further acknowledging the role of Mary in our hearts and in our world. Today as we begin a “new year” let us each strive to look forward to the opportunities, challenges and experiences that await us in the year to come. With Holy Mary and all of the saints at our side and with Jesus Christ as our faithful companion and guide we can face the New Year with greater faith, confidence and zeal. Today we pray that the peace, life, and...

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