From the Pastor — February 19, 2017

Posted by on Feb 21, 2017 in From the Pastor Columns, Uncategorized

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, With all the conversation recently around refugees, I want bring to your attention a service of our Jesuit Family that is seeking to meet the rising demands of refugees. Many of you have asked how you can help those fleeing persecution and oppression in distant lands, so the Jesuits in the USA are encouraging those we serve to consider supporting the good work of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). This blurb, taken from the JRS website, best explains who they are: The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is an international Catholic organization with a mission to accompany, serve and advocate on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. JRS programs are found in 50 countries, providing assistance to: refugees in camps and cities, individuals displaced within their own countries, asylum seekers in cities, and to those held in detention centers. The main areas of work are in the field of education, emergency assistance, healthcare, livelihood activities and social services. At the end of 2016, more than 900,000 individuals were direct beneficiaries of JRS projects. Gratefully, the Jesuit Refugee Service celebrated its 35th year in service to those in need. In addition, Pope Francis’ invitation to the Church to reveal Christ’s mercy, especially to those most in need, goes hand in hand with JRS’ mission. Again, Pope Francis has stressed that each of us are invited “to rediscover and make fruitful the mercy of God, with which all of us are called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time.” When addressing the current refugee crisis, the Holy Father has also said “the world is suffering from a ‘globalization of indifference,’ ignoring those who cry out for mercy. But it is time to change that.” If you are interested in supporting the ministry of refugees, please consider the work of JRS, and see their website for more information. Additionally, Dr. Bethany Welch, the steadfast chairperson of our Social Justice Committee, recently offered our parish community these additional agencies that will allow you to support services to refugees and refugee resettlement activities in our region: Welcome the Refugee – Catholic Social Services, Archdiocese of Philadelphia welcometherefugee.org 610-876-7101 HIAS PA hiaspa.org 215-832-0900 Nationalities Service Center nscphila.org (215) 893-8400 Bethany Christian Services bethany.org/Philadelphia (215) 376-6200 Thank you and God Bless. In the Lord, Fr Phil Florio,...

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From the Pastor — February 12, 2017

Posted by on Feb 13, 2017 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, On the 14th of this month the world will celebrate Valentine’s Day. This day, while currently celebrated as a secular holiday, was once solely a Catholic feast day in honor of an actual Christian saint. In truth, there were at least two or three St. Valentines, all of whom were likely martyrs of the early church. I say “likely” because much of what we know about them is attributed to legend and not history or fact.  Given this ambiguity, this church feast day is no longer celebrated in our liturgical calendar as we are not even sure which Valentine we honor that day! All we do know is that a Saint Valentine existed. Notably, the secular holiday is now associated with love and romance (and greeting cards!) Again, there were” likely”  two or more  St Valentines and we know that the first was a Roman priest martyred on the Flaminian Way under the Roman Emperor Claudius and the second was a bishop of Terni, who was taken to Rome and martyred in the public square. Again, the accounts of martyrdom of both St Valentines are legendary, although each legend possess some elements of truth. What we do know is that at least two Valentines were martyred, having suffered persecution and death for our faith. Accordingly, red, the Church’s liturgical color for martyrs, was used on St. Valentine’s Day to represent the blood that was spilled for God. Over time, the feast of these martyred saints grew in popularity and, eventually, began to be associated with love and romance. How and why that happened, no one is sure, but some scholars have speculated that the association with romantic love on Valentine’s Day is related to customs associated with the Roman celebration of Lupercalia, a festival of purification and fertility, which fell in mid-February. Today, Saint Valentine’s Day customs and traditions, while devoid of their religious significance, are nonetheless rooted in the Catholic practices of old. For example, sending Valentine greetings or “prayer cards,” as well as the giving of candies, treats, and flowers were traditional ways that Catholics honored a person on their saint’s day or name day. So while the Church no longer celebrates this mid- February day as a feast day, there is nothing to stop a Catholic from honoring—in prayer, word, or deed—one of the Saint Valentines on the 14th! God bless, Fr Phil Florio,SJ...

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From the Pastor — February 5, 2017

Posted by on Feb 13, 2017 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, In recent months, we have seen many of our fellow Americans exercising their constitutional right to peaceful assembly and to freedom of expression/speech as provided for by the first amendment. Peaceful and lawful marches and non-violent protests are an essential part of the very fabric of our American way of being and proceeding. In the past few years, peaceable marches in which Americans have participated have focused on a number of issues including; climate change and the environment, the war in Syria, Veterans rights, federal divestment from fossil fuels, the cessation of offshore drilling, immigration reform fair housing, health care, LGBT rights, racial justice, prison reform, freedom of religion, workers’ rights, and education reform, just to name a few. We saw several weeks ago, the “Million Woman March” where millions marched peacefully in support of numerous issues facing women and other social justice related concerns. Over a week ago, hundreds of thousands peacefully gathered to represent their beliefs and positions at the annual “March for Life” where supporters, on behalf of the voiceless unborn, call for an end to abortion and the defense of human life from birth to natural death. Finally, we saw most recently, thousands of concerned citizens protesting at airports and the nation’s capital in support of refugees and immigrants These issues facing our country are serious and demand our consideration as Americans and as Catholic Christians as they affect the lives and wellbeing of others. It is critical to remember that the position of our Church, consistent with Christ’s teachings, calls for each of us to uphold the dignity and worth of every person, especially those most vulnerable in our communities; the poor, the aged, the youth, the disabled and infirmed, the refugee and immigrant, the unemployed, the abandoned, the marginalized, abused, addicted, the voiceless, the persecuted and the homeless. The Church teaches that all human life is sacred because God creates it, and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our Catholic Social Teaching. Truly, our bishops, pastors and church leaders have asked us to renew our call as individual Catholics and as the Body of Christ to unite our efforts to restore respect and the legal protection for every human life—to be what Saint John Paul II asked us to be: “a people of life and a people for life” (The Gospel of Life, no. 78). Together then, with respect for all people, like Jesus himself, let us never tire of working for justice and for being a voice for all who cry out for peace, healing, acceptance, reconciliation, life...

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USCCB Chairmen Statement in Response to Refugee Executive Order

Posted by on Feb 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

On January 27, 2017, President Donald J. Trump issued an executive order that, among other things, suspends issuance of visas and other immigration benefits to nationals of seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days, indefinitely suspends resettlement of refugees from Syria (a predominately Muslim country), subject to a possible exception for those who are “religious minorities” in their home countries and facing religious persecution, and suspends virtually the entire U.S. refugee resettlement program for 120 days, also subject to a possible exception for such “religious minorities.” Most Reverend Mitchell T. Rozanski, Bishop of Springfield and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Most Reverend William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore and Chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, and Most Reverend Oscar Cantú, Bishop of Las Cruces and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, jointly issued the following statement in response to this action: We recognize that Friday evening’s Executive Order has generated fear and untold anxiety among refugees, immigrants, and others throughout the faith community in the United States. In response to the Order, we join with other faith leaders to stand in solidarity again with those affected by this Order, especially our Muslim sisters and brothers. We also express our firm resolution that the Order’s stated preference for “religious minorities” should be applied to protect not only Christians where they are a minority, but all religious minorities who suffer persecution, which includes Yazidis, Shia Muslims in majority Sunni areas, and vice versa. While we also recognize that the United States government has a duty to protect the security of its people, we must nevertheless employ means that respect religious liberty for all, and the urgency of protecting the lives of those who desperately flee violence and persecution. It is our conviction as followers of the Lord Jesus that welcoming the stranger and protecting the vulnerable lie at the core of the Christian life. And so, to our Muslim brothers and sisters and all people of faith, we stand with you and welcome you....

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