Ideally, this column would have run LAST week; but “doubting” Thomas intervened. Anyway, I hope you’ll agree that it is never too late for thanks and congratulations. Just TWO weeks ago, we completed another memorable celebration of the Triduum and Easter; and many, many thanks and congratulations are in order. First off, thanks to our liturgy planning and coordination group (Fr. Ed O’Donnell, S.J., Norm Gouin, Stephen Paesani, Luanne Balestrucci, Chuck Burke) for all of the advance work which they did by way of planning and preparation.
Stephen Paesani was kind enough to volunteer to revise and type the new “scripts” incorporating the texts from the new translation of the Roman Missal; thanks for all those hours at the computer keyboard, Stephen! The priceless Chuck Burke, our head sacristan, made sure as usual that everything needed for these very elaborate and complex celebrations was present and easily accessible, as well as clean and shined up and ready to go.
Norm and his amazing Schola Cantorum – which is surely one of the most outstanding parish choirs in the Archdiocese – mastered amazing amounts of beautiful (and difficult!) music and performed it all with beauty and deep prayerfulness. (Don’t miss their concert on Saturday, May 19!!) And yes, Virginia, there IS (and WAS) a new organ for Easter – so congratulations and thanks to Emery Brothers for completing their work with so much care, and in a timely fashion. (And thanks to all our donors to the organ restoration for your patience, and for not losing faith! The formal dedication and inaugural concert will take place in the early fall, by the way…)
Grateful congratulations to our “environment ministers,” too – especially the indispensable Joe Casey. I received many, many comments on the beauty of our church and its décor for the high holy days. You all do stellar work, and it shows… Thanks, of course, to all those generous parishioner benefactors who funded our Easter flowers… And the usual tip of the hat to long-time parishioner Ron Rex Piselli who continually beautifies our high holy days by loaning his priceless antique chalices, ciboria, relics, tabernacle of repose, and devotional statuary. You’re one of a kind, Ron – as are the riches of your private collection of sacred vessels and Catholic devotional objects.
Our emcees, servers, lectors, and Eucharistic ministers were out in force, and carried out their ministries with their customary competence and devotion. Extra special kudos to our ushers and ministers of hospitality; I received any number of unsolicited testimonials from our many visitors attesting to the warmth with which they were greeted and made to feel “at home.” A visiting Lutheran deaconess singled out our hospitality ministry for special recognition, and quipped that “whatever we pay our ushers, it couldn’t possibly be enough” for their outstanding work.
Which prompts a word of appreciation for the more “social” dimension of our hospitality, coordinated by Parish Life under the leadership of Joe Casey (when he is not singing in the Schola or decorating the altar!) and Donna Soultoukis (when she is not wrangling servers in the role of emcee!). The courtyard reception after the Easter Vigil was especially lovely. These opportunities to gather informally and to break bread after worship go a long way toward establishing our character as a warm, engaging, welcoming, and vibrant faith community. The Parish Council and I thank you…
Thanks certainly are due to our R.C.I.A. team – Fr. Ed, Nick Lorenzetti, Christine Szczepanowski, Wilson Colon, and Carolyn Lyons – for your careful work all year with our numerous catechumens and candidates, as well as for all you did to make the rehearsal and the Vigil as smooth as they were. Congratulations and warm welcome, too, to the neophytes (i.e, the newly initiated members of the Church); you were and are living symbols of faith, hope, and love for us all.
A large word of gratitude, of course, to my brother Jesuits here at OSJ – particularly to our Holy Thursday presider and preacher, Fr. Jerry McGlone, S.J. (a non-resident member of our OSJ Jesuit community who runs the St. John Vianney Center for the Archdiocese), and to our Good Friday presider and preacher, our own Parochial Vicar, Fr. Ed O’Donnell, S.J. And last, but hardly least – warm thanks to each and all of you, for attending in such great numbers and for praying and singing with your customary zeal and devotion. Our liturgical life would not be what it is without our engaged worshipping assembly. Thanks, too, for “sharing the wealth” by inviting so many of your relatives, neighbors, and friends to join with us in prayer over these holy days. And of course, profound thanks for your outstanding generosity in the Easter collection; your pastor is humbled and grateful.
In closing, let me share one testimonial which I received via e-mail on Easter Monday; because you really all have a share in prompting it. It read: “Dear Fr. Ruff, My wife and I wanted to take a minute to tell you how much we enjoyed the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Joseph’s. This is the third year that we have attended. Our daughters live/go to school in Philly, so we have
met them for an early dinner on Saturday followed by the Vigil service. The girls have also enjoyed the service, which is particularly telling as one of them pointed out that … her [regular] mass attendance is spotty at best. I was particularly impressed by the fact that, in spite of the length of the service, everyone stayed until the closing song had been completed, and it seemed that everyone sang! We will have to speak to our pastor about that, as our church here in (out of state location) used to be like that but seems to have lost the energy. We are always drawn to the Jesuits,…but we would not have returned had we not been greeted so warmly each time we came. As my wife says, it’s like we are part of the family. Thanks again, Happy Easter, and God bless!”
©2012 Fr. Daniel M. Ruff, S.J.