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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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 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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